A clearance team last week uncovered Buddha images at a new tourist destination in Xieng Khuang province.
The discovery came as the team cleared land at Xo Mountain in Phoukoud district, finding 12 Buddha images made from silver, bronze and wood, as well as a long piece of metal used for launching a rocket.
The metal object is about 1.38cm in length, and is believed to have been used during the Meuang Feuang rocket festival in the province about 400 years ago.
Acting Head of the provincial Information and Culture Department Buaso Mingkhomdang told Vientiane Times yesterday that the timing of the discovery was good ahead of the official opening ceremony of the new Xo Mountain tourist destination in April.
“We have worked hard to prepare to open the site to the public this year, and we didn't expect to find these images and objects in this area,” he said.
The department estimates that the images date from about 1570, a time when Buddhism flourished in the province. At this time, villagers always placed such images at sites where they organised big events.
The rocket festival on the mountain was considered a special event and has a long history in the province. Villagers recount that the Meuang Feuang rocket is the largest of its type and was launched from Xieng Khuang into other provinces.
Xo Mountain is located about 30 minutes walk from the main road in the province. The mountain is being promoted as a tourism destination because of its long history and the beautiful views it offers. The department has already moved the images to the temple in Xong village of Phoukoud district for further investigation.
In September last year, more than 40 large statues, 30 medium-sized ones and 20 smaller images were found in That Khao temple in Sisattanak district, Vientiane, after a more than 300 year old stupa at the temple collapsed and monks found an assortment of Buddha images in the ruins.
Last month, villagers also found 114 Buddha images in Phanoy cave in Khammuan province.
These discoveries have led people to wonder about the significance of these images reappearing so soon after the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the Lao capital.