Ever heard of Rāma and Sītā? Of course! And Arjuna and his friend Kṛṣṇa? Absolutely! What about Sinxay? If the answer is no then I can recommend this new website that is aimed at raising the profile of the Laotian epic of Sinxay: www.sinxay.com
The site has been set up by husband and wife team Peter and Bai, who have been researching the story for many years and are preparing an English translation of one of its main forms. I have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of the translation, and found it utterly gripping. The story has many elements familiar from the Indian epics, such as a demon abducting a woman and taking her off across the water to his kingdom, and a brother betrayed by his family and exiled to the forest. Characters that are particularly popular from Southeast Asian culture are also prominent, especially the hoards of nagas and garudas who form alliances with the hero. Rather unique to the story, however, are the two brothers who support the hero Sinxay, Siho (a lion-elephant) and Sangthong (a conch shell) – images of these intriguing characters can be found on the sinxay site.
The story is clearly deserving of greater attention from scholars and it is therefore a great pleasure to find Peter and Bai so keen to give the epic a higher profile and open it up to a wider public.