chapter  9
10 Pages

Hat Ang: Spirit and Tale

There was once a man called Ba Hat, who started to build a stone city at San Ang.1 Therefore, we call him Hat Ang. Hat Ang and his sister wanted to build a new city to replace Luang Prabang.2 Many people were working together, as many as the number of seeds in 36 kilos of sesame. Their leader was Hat Ang. He had a drum with nine tympani, an iron stave, and an iron axe to cut stone. The drum he used for calling people to come to work, and water spurted wherever he hit the ground with his iron stave. When there was not enough water to drink, he used his stave and they would immediately have water. But just as Hat Ang had started building, the King of Luang Prabang and his people heard about San Ang. At that time, Luang Prabang was the biggest city in Laos, so it scared the King and his people to hear that Hat Ang was building an even bigger city at San Ang. The King knew that Hat Ang’s sister was very beautiful so he sent his associate, a vigorous man, to work with Hat Ang at San Ang. The man was strong, worked hard, and did everything Hat Ang told him to do. After some time, he gained Hat Ang’s trust, and received permission to marry his sister. As soon as they were married, the deceptive brother-in-law tried to convince Hat Ang that his three important instruments were losing their power. At first, Hat Ang listened to him. But when he said that the axe could not be used anymore, Hat Ang did not believe him. He took the axe together with the staff and the drum to a safe hiding place. After this failure to stop Hat Ang, the deceiver returned to Luang Prabang to discuss with the King, and when he came back to San Ang he started to build a tall watchtower. He made stairs so that people could climb up, and told everyone that they could see Luang Prabang from the top of the tower. Many people climbed to the top because they were curious to see Luang Prabang. When they were all high up in the tower, he set fire to it. The tower burned down and all the people in it died. After Hat Ang had seen all these people, including his sister, die in the burning tower, he did not want to live at San Ang anymore. He took his powerful instruments from the hiding place, a hole covered with a

Stones Standing: Archaeology, Colonialism, and Ecotourism in Northern Laos, by Anna Källén, 157-165. © 2015 Left Coast Press, Inc. All rights reserved.