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 stands informally set up along the town’s brick sidewalks. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the paper as it’s been 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.
Where in the World?
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.