Photo Du Jour: Street Art For Sale in Luang Prabang

With vivid strokes and vibrant hues, artists depict Buddha, saffron-clad monks, and shimmering banyan trees on delicate paper. This artwork can be found in Luang Prabang’s night market, as well as at stands set up along the town’s brick sidewalks. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the paper as it’s being made, drying in the sun on a sleepy back street.

When I made my maiden voyage to Laos a few years ago, I purchased a picture similar to these. After exploring Luang Prabang’s markets for a few days, I eventually chose an image of Buddha sitting in lotus position underneath a banyan tree. I rolled the minimalist black and gold painting, tucked it into my backpack, and handled it as gingerly as I could. However, by the time I made it home three weeks (and many bumpy bus rides later) the handmade paper had creases.

Years later, those wrinkles remind me of the journey the picture – and I – went on.

A woman, selling Buddhist-themed artwork, looks on from a sidewalk in Luang Prabang, Laos.
Artwork, hanging for sale depicts golden trees and monks.
Images of Buddha, painted on hand-made paper, hang for sale at a stand in Luang Prabang, Laos.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

8 thoughts on “Photo Du Jour: Street Art For Sale in Luang Prabang

    1. What’s wonderfully tempting is that these lovely pictures (I’m particularly drawn to the trees) are so affordable — just a few dollars! If only I didn’t fear they’d get all crumpled in my backpack during our travels… Thanks for dropping in, Cassie!

    1. Perhaps you can swing by when you swoop back to your home continent! Luang Prabang has one of best handicraft markets I’ve ever seen – it was a bit easier to shop as a single gal during my first trip there, hence my limited purchases this time around! It’s always good to have a hubby ask if something is really needed, though, otherwise my luggage would be extremely obese! :-)

  1. Sometimes picking up the street art is worth the risk of getting crumpled. Especially if your travel plans don’t have you swinging back there again. I was lucky one time to find a unique block print at a farmers’ market in Lyon many years ago and to this day it still proudly hangs on my wall reminding me of my travels.

    1. I so agree! When I tiptoed through Luang Prabang on a 3-week SE Asian adventure in 2009, I purchased a lovely picture similar to these – with Buddha seated under a banyan tree. By the time the rolled piece of art had made it home, it had creases – a now-charming addition that reminds me of the journey the picture went on. It’s now one of the favorites that seems so at home with my other items from around the world. Perhaps now seeing the freedom that can come from having less, I’m trying to minimize my new acquisitions though. :)

      Your block print sounds lovely! Being a francophile, I have a soft spot for French antiques and trinkets.

    1. Jane, as I looked at them more closely, I was wondering if perhaps they could be duplicated back home. Just as many of the temples in Luang Prabang are decorated with stencils, I think the same technique may apply with these pictures. The challenge might be in finding large sheets of beautifully-handmade paper, though!

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