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Entries in Luang Prabang (7)



Interesting thing about a monk walking. Is his mind on the destination? Thoughts of what will transpire when he arrives?  Or, is he reflecting on what he just left, the morning's tak bat (see Morning Alms), or the chores that remain to be done?  Or, is he simply feeling the cool bricks and the occasional flower petal on his bare feet and listening to the bird songs coming from behind the white wall? [NOTE: Image from Luang Prabang].   


Just Sweeping

"There is a body-mind dualism if I am sweeping the floor and thinking about Hegel. But if I am sweeping the floor and thinking about sweeping the floor, I am all one. And that is not trivial, nor is the sensation of it trivial. Sweeping the floor becomes, then, the most important thing in the world. Which it is."

-Gary Snyder
 The Real Work (1980)
 Interviews and Talks (1964-1979)

[NOTE: Image shows monk sweeping temple courtyard in Luang Prabang, Laos. Image from rbleib's Flikr photostream (thx)].



Another look (see Paintingat the renovations and repairs underway at Wat Xieng Thong when I visited Luang Prabang this summer with Case (see Tak Bat). The bamboo scaffolding - tied together with plastic cord - is in place to assist in the re-painting of the large Buddha.


Tak Bat 

Another image from the morning alms procession, or tak bat, in Luang Prabang (see Morning Alms). Lot of details in this image that I really like, e.g. the woman picking up her chair and basket of rice balls once the procession has passed, the solid row of women still sitting along the curb waiting to make offerings to the monks, and the tourist in the red shirt taking a picture of the whole thing - from a little too close for my taste. [NOTE: Go here for a nice article on the etiquette of watching this morning alms-giving ceremony. And here for some useful information about food offerings in Buddhism (thx, Barbara)].


La Chapelle Rouge

Interior shot of the Haw Tai Pha Sai-nyaat temple at Wat Xieng Thong (see Painting) in Luang Prabang, Laos. The temple is named for the rare reclining Buddha (shown above) that dates back to 1569; the French call it the Red Chapel because of the brightly painted and intricately gilded walls.  I find the whole scene strangely reminiscent of the cover of Sgt. Pepper's.


Rat Trap

This wonderful example of handcrafted pest control (see Mouse Traps) is a Khmu rat trap from the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (TEAC) in Luang Prabang. Not really sure how this thing works, but I bet the rock is what interacts with the rat. [NOTE: TEAC is a small but lovely museum with a well-curated collection of traditional art and utilitarian items from a variety of different ethnic groups in Lao PDR].


Morning Alms

Saffron-robed monks make their daily sunrise alms procession, or tak bat, down Sakkarin Street in Luang Prabang. Ladies kneeling at the side of the road bow and respectfully put a single ball of sticky rice in the begging bowl of each monk as they pass. Quite powerful to watch.