U.S. Support Keeps Traditional Folktales Alive

U.S. Ambassador Daniel Clune on December 6 attended the unveiling in Luang Prabang of 25 short films depicting traditional folktales from the Hmong, Kmhmu, and Tai Lue ethnic groups.  The program was part of the U.S.-supported Women and Folktales Project, a partnership of the Luang Prabang Film Festival (LPFF) and the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC). The LPFF and TAEC launched Women and Folktales Project to preserve the rich oral tradition of Laos and to empower women to document and disseminate traditional stories using film. 

During the event, Ambassador Clune met six inspiring women storytellers, who shared traditional folktales in their native language, which were filmed and subtitled in English and Lao.  Three of these folktales, one from each ethnic group were turned into animated shorts with the input of the storytellers. “The Dog and Her Three Daughters” (Hmong), “The Spider Man” (Kmhmu), and “What the Buffalo Told the Human” (Tai Lue) are traditional yet vibrant cartoons that will be used by TAEC’s Education and Outreach Team in local primary schools and distributed to local libraries and children’s originations, exposing a whole new audience to the rich cultural heritage of Laos.

“The U.S Embassy is committed to working with its partners to preserve diverse cultural heritage of Laos, which includes not only, beautiful architecture and handicrafts, but also the vibrant oral tradition in Laos.” said U.S. Ambassador Clune.

During the unveiling event, Tara Gujadhur, who co-founded the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, said, “Women are important storytellers and bearers of cultural heritage in Laos. However, their voices are rarely heard outside their communities, due to their traditional homebound responsibilities and their lack of confidence in participating in public forums.”

This project is one of many U.S- supported cultural preservation projects in Laos. Through the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), the United States has provided more than $1 million (8 billion LAK) to a total of seventeen cultural preservation projects in Laos.  These projects include the renovation of Wat Xieng Thong, conservation of Buddhist archives in Luang Prabang, and the preservation of artifacts at the National Museums in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. 

Lao version (PDF 108KB)

U.S. Ambassador Clune and his wife, Judy, pose with women storytellers featured in Women and Folktales project.
U.S. Ambassador Clune and his wife, Judy, pose with women storytellers featured in Women and Folktales project.