Laos was known for centuries as Lan Xang. Lan Xang, which translates as “The Land of One Million Elephants”, is the precursor kingdom to modern Laos. It dominated the Indochina region from the 14th to the 18th century. The Laotian monarchy provided 750 years of continuity for the traditions of Lan Xang through the the Khun Lo Dynasty ending in 1975, the concluding year of the Civil War, in which Communists came into power.
Elephants have long been associated with power and kingship and wealth in Indochina. In the 15th century, war broke out between Vietnam and Laos, Lan Xang, which has become known as the War of the White Elephant.
By the time of this sad 2012 article, elephants have been reduced vastly in number with an uncertain future.
The National Emblem adorns the front of our featured 1979 banknote, and is illustrated here. Left-center illustrates the electricity powering the nation, while right-center is the forest on the traditional paddy field; the road forward is between the two.
At left is the National Emblem of Laos on the front of a 2003 banknote. Much will be seen to be the same, and some changes are self-explanatory. The hammer and sickle, symbolizing the union of the industrial and agricultural workers, the great symbol of the Soviet Union, is, of course, absent. The rapid demise of the Soviet Union came with stunning surprise to the leaders of Laos, as indeed it came to much of the world. I am curious as to the alteration in the script wrapping the rice stalks on the right, as well as that below the gear at center. The script below the gear in the center is the name of the State, which apparently has not changed since 1975. If a reader has any insight on this, I would very much appreciate your contribution by way of comment or email.