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Chapter Three: Living with new gods

This chapter of Stone Masters approaches stone veneration in South East Asia from the vantage point of fieldwork in Kandon village in Sekong Province, Lao PDR, an ethnic Kantu village. It is arranged around four ethnographic vignettes, presented chronologically. The first two are drawn from observations in Kandon village itself: first I discuss Old Kandon, and the evidence that a stone cult was sustained there up until 1964, when it was desecrated as part of a staged ‘power encounter’ that was evidently an important event in the incorporation of the village into the wider socialist movement. The second describes the stone cult that was adopted by Kandon villagers after they relocated to a plains area in 1996. The final two investigate the calls made by the local authorities for the residents of New Kandon to participate in parades for state-backed stone cults: first for the Sekong city pillar, and then for the Ong Keaw stupa (both parades occurred in 2018).