One of the foremost cultural figures of Laos, Ms. Douangdeuane Bounyavong has contributed to promoting traditional Lao culture, particularly textiles and traditional weaving techniques, and studying and disseminating Lao literature.
Born into an intellectually active family, Ms. Bounyavong received her higher education in Laos and France. After returning home, she dedicated herself to the study of classical Lao literature and traditional culture. She devoted herself to studying the Lao classical epic, "Thao Hung Thao Cheuang." She received wide acclaim after publishing the results of her research into Lao rituals and tradition described in this epic.
As she began to see her studies into classical Lao literature bear fruit, Ms. Bounyavong extended her interest in traditional culture beyond literature. She turned her attention to textiles, another aspect of the country's traditional culture. Laos has a rich heritage of traditional textiles. Indeed, there are so many that it is said each family has its own distinctive textiles and clothing. From her research into the significance of the different motifs incorporated in these textiles, her activities grew to encompass a wide range of textile-related subjects. In addition to historical research into traditional Lao textiles, she became involved with preserving and succeeding traditional textile techniques, activities to raise awareness, efforts to improve the social status of the women weaving the textiles, and exhibiting these textiles abroad.
She established the Group for the Promotion of Art and Lao Textiles in 1990 as part of a group of five women, beginning full-fledged efforts to preserve the textiles and the traditional techniques used to make them. The following year, she served as a consultant to the Preservation and Promotion of Lao Textiles project conducted by the Lao Women Union with a grant from UNICEF. As part of this project, she established the Sin Sai Mai textile gallery. That same year, 1991, she attended the Asia Textile Conference held at Chiang Mai University in Thailand as a representative of Laos. She also exhibited textiles designed under her supervision and received the UNESCO Craft Prize. Ms. Bounyavong has continued her enthusiastic activities for restoring and developing traditional Lao textiles by holding textile exhibits and workshops in Thailand, the United States, France, and Japan in addition to Laos. Her book, "Infinite Design: The Art of Silk", published in 1995, won plaudits in Laos and abroad as the first research work on traditional Lao textiles written by a Lao. She further promoted her textile research through a project with the Japan Foundation. That research led to the publication of "Legends in the Weaving" in 2001.
Ms. Bounyavong's wide-ranging activities are supported by the strong resolve shown in her statement, "The traditional Lao textile is an integral part of our culture. It has great value, and I devote myself to protecting its techniques and tradition." These activities have made a significant contribution to preserving, inheriting, and developing traditional Lao and Asian culture. She is indeed a worthy laureate of the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.