Mysterious Animist Tree Worship Symbols (or a sophisticated attempt to find Lottery Numbers?) in Sepon, Laos.
Above Photo: Animist symbols around an old tree in Laos.
When I was in Sepon (old Tchepone), I was intrigued to come across some unusual structures made of small earth mounds, string, wicker, candles, fragments of cloth, pieces of paper, talcum powder, twigs and small saplings.
They surrounded a very old tree in a cemetery which had been almost destroyed in bombing during the Vietnam War. They may be some kind of offering to a God or Spirit linked to the tree – a form of dendrolatry (tree worship).
I assumed they were Animist symbols, because many Laotians, especially in remote rural areas, still adhere to old beliefs about spirits in the natural world.
Animism was a belief system I explored when writing my novel BACK, where it crops up in a more threatening way, when a group of backpackers are alone in the vast Laotian jungle.
Supernatural beliefs in the war-torn jungles of Laos also play a part in our film M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
I have no idea what these delicate and carefully-made structures represent, but a lot of work had gone into making them.
Asians and tree beliefs have often caused me to wonder.
For example, more frivolously, in Thailand, I have seen Thais cover tree bark with talcum power and rub it, hoping that the next month’s lottery numbers will magically appear…
Our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
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