This is a compilation of various ethnic groups living in modern days LAOS, focusing on southern provinces of CHAMPASAK, ATTAPEU, SEKONG, SARAVAN.
Unlike the Khmer in Cambodia, the Thai in Thailand, The Kinh in Vietnam or the Han in China who are the overwhelmed majority in their country, the LAO are only half of the population of the 7 millions people living in Laos and they ve traditionally divided Laos in 3 populations categories :
1 The LAO LOUM (Lao in the plains, 68 %) where the LAO belong with other TAI-KADAI (LAO_TAI) populations (Track D1)
2 The LAO THEUNG (highlanders, 22%) or Austro-asiatic (MON-KHMER) who used to be called KHA (slaves) by the valleys kingdoms, the KHMU being the largest of those 31 ethnic groups. (Tracks A3, A4, B1, B4, C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, D2, D3, D4, D5)
3 The LAO SUNG (new comers from China in the highlands, 9%) including the HMONG/MIEN and TIBETO-BURMESE like the AKHA. (Tracks A1, A2, A5, B2, B3)
This classification is supposed to no longer exist, but to me it illustrates the ZOMIAN s concept of altitude as a social marker, kingdoms in the valleys with wet rice cultivation, written culture linked to Buddhism and the control of the Mekong versus other populations of oral animist cultures with slash and burn agriculture outside of the plains and seen as inferiors…
Most recordings available in the western world focus on the dominant culture in Laos, as you might know, I focus on marginalized ethnic minorities, I was based from 2003 to 2006 in north-east Cambodia and worked with a Canadian “human geographer” Ian Baird in 2006 to document mostly the BRAO music in southern Laos, then from 2006 to 2013 was based in southern China and had access to the northern Laotian provinces. Between 2006 and 2013 I was traveling alone in northern provinces and was also helped by Lee Yunxia, Chinese anthropologist who introduced me to Hmong and Akha villages, by the owner of Manotham Guesthouse in Meuang Khoua who introduced me to Khmu culture, by Nathan Badenoch American linguist who introduced me to the Bit in northern Laos , by Emanuel Gschiel Austrian coffee dealer in Tadlo who introduced me to Ta oi, Katu and Pacoh villages, and by Yves Bernard Frenchman who introduced me to Champasak city Lao musicians.