Laos: Portraits of a Laven Tribe

Laven Ethnic Tribe Playing Music

An ethnic Laven playing a native guitar

Just a short walk from Pa Suam Falls, is an ethnic village where we found a community of Laven Tribe. The Laven Tribe is the most predominant tribe in Southern Laos. Bolaven Plateau actually came from the name Bolaven which means “Home of the Laven”. Before, when people say Laos, the first picture that comes to mind for me are monks and temples. So I’m glad to be able to interact with some indigenous tribes in Laos as well.

Laven Ethnic Tribe Women

Laven Tribe generations of Women

The Laven are hillside tribes living mostly at the altitude of more than 600 meters and still wears their traditional cloths unlike the minorities of the north as I was told. At first look, the tribe reminded me a lot of our Ifugao Minority. Their red clothes and weaving patterns but they don’t have the elaborate head dresses the Ifugao have.

Laven Ethnic Tribe Girl

A young Laven girl by the door

What some of the women has are facial tattoos and elaborate earings, bracletsa nd necklaces. Laven tribe are known for their hand woven cloths and unique bead patterns woven into their clothes. I also noticed their strong inclination to music. They’ve got a lot of native instruments.

Laven Ethnic Tribe Portrait

Laven Ethnic Tribe Portrait

Laven are also believed to follow animistic beliefs while some groups still practices animal sacrifice. Though a small number has already Buddhist beliefs. I also noticed that these people enjoy living high altitude that some of their houses are as high as the trees. They also have interesting pottery at their central museum.

Laven Ethnic Tribe Smoking

An elder Laven with a bamboo smoke

If one wishes to experience living with the Laven tribe, they accept home stays here at the ethnic tribe near Pa Suam Falls. It would have been an interesting experience if I had more time. Still I enjoyed taking a glimpse of the lives of a Laven. This was our last stop for the day and we made our way back.

Laven Ethnic Tribe Flute Player

A Laven Flute Player

On our way back to Pakse, I told Lomee to stop first for a late lunch. On the road we stopped by a local lao eatery. I met a few friends of Lomee who happens to be eating there as well. An English professor from his university and his companions. There I learned how to properly eat Sticky Rice Lao Style. Which is to roll the rice on the palm of my hand to shape it like a ball and attach some of the viands to it then eat. We arrived back at Pakse by almost mid-afternoon, ending my exploration of Bolaven Plateau.