September 14, 2016

2338, 2532, 2751 LAOS (Louangphrabang) - Town of Luang Prabang (UNESCO WHS)

2751 That Pathoun in Luang Prabang

Posted on 29.02.2016, 08.05.2016, 14.09.2016
Luang Prabang (literally: "Royal Buddha Image") is located in northern Laos, at the confluence of the rivers Nam Khan and Mekong. Actually, the main part of the city consists of four main roads on a peninsula between the two rivers. Mountain ranges (in particular the PhouThao and PhouNang mountains) encircle the city in lush greenery. It was formerly the capital of a kingdom of the same name, and also the royal capital and seat of government of the Kingdom of Laos, until the communist takeover in 1975.

2532 Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang

The city is an outstanding example of the fusion of traditional architecture and Lao urban structures with those built by the European colonial authorities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its unique, well-preserved townscape illustrates a key stage in the blending of these two cultural traditions. The richness of its architecture reflects the mix of styles and materials. The majority of the buildings are wooden structures. Only the temples are in stone, whereas one- or two-storey brick houses characterize the colonial element.

2338 Royal Palace in Luang Prabang - The King's office
during Sisavang Vong's reign (1905-1959, Reception Hall
during Sisavang Vatthana's reign (1960-1975),
a hall of National Museum since 1995.

That Pathoun (Stupa of the Great Lotus), also known as That Mak Mo (Watermelon Stupa) due to its similarities to the fruit, lies within the walls of Wat Visounnarath, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang, erected in 1513 and rebuilt in 1898. Built between 1559 and 1560 by the Lao King Setthathirath, Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art.

There are over twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens. The building of the wat have carved gilded wooden doors depicting scenes from Buddha's life. In the sim the ceiling displays Dharmachakras - dharma wheels symbolising Buddhist law and the circle of reincarnation. The outer walls of the sim depict Lao legends and the rear gable is decorated with a glass mosaic depicting the tree of life. The outer walls of the Sanctuary of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Red Chapel, are decorated with mosaics.

The Royal Palace (Haw Kham) was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. After the death of the king, the Crown Prince Savang Vatthana and his family were the last to occupy the grounds. In 1975, the monarchy was overthrown by the communists and the Royal Family were taken to re-education camps. The palace was then converted into a national museum. The architecture of the building has a mixed of traditional Lao motifs and French Beaux Arts styles.

On the right of the entrance is the King's reception room, where busts of the Luang Phrabang and, later, Lao monarchs are displayed along with two large gilded and lacquered Ramayana screens, crafted by the local artisan Thit Tanh. The room's walls are covered with murals that depict scenes from traditional Lao lifestyles, painted in 1930 by a French artist, Alix de Fauntereau. Each of the walls is intended to be viewed at a different time of day, depending on the light that enters the windows on one side of the room, which matches the time the day depicted.

About the stamps
On the postcard 2338
The first stamp is part of the series Monument of Lao Heroic, issued on December 1, 2014:  
• King Fa-Ngum (1316-1393), founder of the Lao kingdom of Lan Chang in 1354
• King Setthathirath (1534-1572), one of the most important king of Lan Xang
• King Anouvong (1767-1829), leader of the Lao Rebellion of 1826-1828 against the suzerainty of Siam - It's on the postcard 2338

The last stamp was a joint issue of Laos and Russia, released on November 11th, 2015, to mark the 55th anniversary of Russia-Laos relationships:
• The Church of the Intercession of the Holy Virgin on the Nerl River - It's on the postcard 2338
• Pha That Luang Temple

On the postcard 2532

The first stamp is part of the series National Day, issued on March 30, 1984:
• the flag of Laos (0.60 LAK)
• the emble of Laos / purple (1.00 LAK) - It's on the postcard 2532
• the emble of Laos / pink (2.00 LAK)
The stamp was overprinted on March 13, 2015, with the face value 11.00 LAK. Even more interesting is the fact that the emblem depicted on the stamp was changed in 1991, so in 2015 it wasn't anymore the official emblem.

The second stamp is part of the series World Heritage Site - Wat Phou Temple, Champasak, issued on February 14, 2003. The last stamp is part of the series Palm Leaf Manuscripts, issued on September september, 2013.

On the postcard 2751
The first stamp is part of the series Traditional Laotian Handicrafts, issued on April 1, 1977:
• Silversmith (1 LAK) - It's on the postcard 2751
• Weaver (2 LAK)
• Potter (20 LAK)
• Basket Weaver (50 LAK)

The second stamp is part of the series Honey Bees, issued on June 23, 2008.
• 1000 LAK - It's on the postcard 2751
• 4000 LAK
• 6000 LAK
• 8500 LAK

The third stamp was issued on April 1, 2000, to mark the Year of the Dragon.

The last stamp is part of the series National Day, about which I wrote above.

Town of Luang Prabang - UNESCO official website
Wat Xieng Thong - Wikipedia
Royal Palace, Luang Prabang - Wikipedia

Sender 2338, 2532, 2751: Pumipat
2338, 2532: Sent from Luang Prabang (Louangphrabang / Laos), on 20.01.2016
Photo 2532: Jatuporn Rutnin
2751: Sent from Vientiane (Vientiane Prefecture / Laos), on 22.08.2016

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