Friday, July 13, 2012

The Plain of Jars

Back in 2006, I wrote an article for Dark Wisdom Magazine entitled "The Cryptic Plain of Jars" examining the history and legends surrounding the mysterious Plain of Jars in Laos.  The jars have figured prominently in many of my poems and short stories centered around Laos, from "The Last War Poem" to "Phonsavan." My Lovecraftian short horror story "What Hides, What Returns," also mentions them although this was not one where they played a major role.

One of the early leading figures from Europe who tried to determine their origins was a French woman named Madeleine Colani.

The New York Times recently featured an article by Elisabeth Eaves considering Colani's journey entitled "In Laos, the Lady and the Jars" It's an useful, albeit brief, introduction, if you're interested in the early 20th century history of Laos before the major conflicts began as a French colonial woman saw it. This is significant considering so much of early 20th Century Lao history is informed from the perspective of men who are military, missionaries or diplomats.

It would be fascinating one day to hear an account from one of the native Lao who lived during that time. But those accounts may soon be lost to time irrecoverably and we may soon be obliged to resort to only imagination and empathetic supposition instead. 


Deborah Walker said...

I've come across the Plain of Jars, before. And used them in a story.

I find megalithic monuments fascinating, and they often get into my stories.

Bryan Thao Worra said...

The Plain of Jars in particular lends itself to stories and it's nice because there are so many directions you can take with this, so many eras you can set them in.