Photo of the week 2014 – Week 10

The sun burnt off any remnants of morning dew as it rose higher in the sky. What it left was a scene unchanged for thousands of years; a Plain of Jars.

People pick their way between these stone jars, quiet and solemn, contemplating why these vessels were formed, thinking what manner of hands could have created such simple beauty.

Individually, one stone jar is remarkable – at up to three metres in height, it’d be impossible to move on your own – but collectively, these jars become ethereal, shrouded in mystery.

Scattered in the field like the farmer sowing seed, there seems no point or purpose to the Plain of Jars; to me, their existence is enough…


Near the small town of Phonsavan in northern Laos, a town quite indifferent and uninspiring, you’ll find the Plain of Jars – field after field of giant stone jars of which very little is known about.

These stone jars appear in clusters, ranging from a single or a few to several hundred jars, all in different sizes. Dating all the way back to 500BC, it is thought these jars were used in ancient burial practice, but without any documented evidence it is all speculation, which is all you can do when you walk through this historic site. One thing is for certain though, with the surrounding mountains and the peaceful plateau, it’d be a magnificent place to spend eternity.

If you believe the locals, these jars were created by giants to contain Loa-Loa, home-brewed rice whiskey. It is thought that a local cave was used as a kiln, that these giants took the stones from the ground and shaped them with their own hands. When you see the Plain of Jars up close, it is easy to get caught up in the story.

Whatever these jars were used for, you can’t help but be transfixed by their secret. Even looking at photos of the Plain of Jars, you have to question why they were created, and what they were created for.

For me, it was enough to gaze upon them. Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a higher purpose; they just have to exist, and within that existance they belong.

Without answer, the Plain of Jars will remain shrouded in mystery, and even though they are just jars, they will always be far from plain…