Asia Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)
Asia-Pacific Database on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)

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Performing Arts
Lao P.D.R.

Lam Phi Fa

Singing to call the sky spirits


This music accompanies a ritual in which the sky spirits are called upon to help a sick person. Often the participants dance in order to achieve a trance-like state.

Reasons for selection

The ritual of Lam Phi Fa and its accompanying music is being performed less and less in modern day Laos. Good documentation of this genre is required before it dies out.

Area where performed

All of Laos

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Lam Phi Fa, singing to call the sky spirits, occurs when a patient who does not respond to either traditional or modern medicines, is thought to have become ill because spirits have been offended. Ritualists, usually older women accompanied by a khaen and percussion instruments, sing to invite the offended spirits to enter their bodies and reveal the cause of the illness, while the patient observes the ritual. It occurs in a home around an assortment of ritual objects ( kheuang busa )and may last several hours. A molam seun (a ritualist)ministers to a sick person whose khuan (a kind of soul or spiritual essence)has left. The ritualist uses magic formulas to call this essence back, singing the melody from the genre of Lam Somk.

Publication and textual documentation

not yet available

Audio documentation

not yet available

Visual documentation

not yet available

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

National School of Music and Dance

Data provider

Mr. Douangchampy Vouthisouk
National School of Music and Dance
Address: Vientiane, Lao P.D.R.