Prized family heirlooms and keepsakes from San Diegans make up the heart of the Rites of Passage exhibit, which opens this Saturday, April 6.

One of those families is that of Andrew Mansiouk, who last week stopped by to help dress the mannequins which display the Mansiouks’ gorgeous Laotian outfits. We took a few pictures and thought you might like to see them.

Thank you to Andrew, the Mansiouk family, and all the other community members who made the exhibit possible!

Below, Andrew shows us how to put on Buddhist monk robes. Most Lao males become novice monks in their lives, usually before marriage. Whether completed for a week or a lifetime, the act brings merit to their families. The symbols of this service include the monk’s set of robes, a fan, and an alms bowl. The monks wear three robes to clothe themselves: one wrapped over the upper body and one or both shoulders; and inner robe worn around the waist to cover the lower body; and an outer robe, which can be used to cover up for warmth. The alms bowl is used to collect food from lay supporters.

Below, Andrew dresses mannequins in Lao Hanuman, Thotsakan, and Nang Keo dance outfits, including a bit of stitching and pinning. In Laos, it is a dancer’s greatest honor to be selected to perform the Lao Ramayan — the national epic drama-dance of the Lao people — for the king and royal family during Lao New Year in Luang Prabang. Hanuman, wearing a white mask, represents the Monkey King, who was the son of the wind god. The green mask is worn by the demon, Thotsakan. Nang Keo was the daughter of a king and brought Buddhism with her to the Khmer court; this particular costume design is exclusive to Luang Prabang.

That’s the hand of Karen Lacy, the museum’s collections manager.


Katherine Yee, the creative director of the San Diego Museum of Man, was one of the members of the exhibit team who was on hand to help Andrew.