Traditionally, most boys and young men in Luang Prabang became monks for a certain period of time to study Theravada Buddhism. In addition to learning about Buddhist doctrine and practice, they also learned the artistic skills needed to preserve and maintain their vat [monastery] and its ritual objects. They were the city's master builders and craftsmen.
In the 1970s, political and economic shifts resulted in a decline in traditional Buddhist practice. As fewer boys and young men became monks and as older monks died, many skills were lost. But today, the revival of traditional Buddhist practice has resulted in a new movement to preserve the cultural heritage of the city's vats. In Luang Prabang, The Quiet in the Land is working with the monks associated with the Cultural Survival and Revival in the Buddhist Sangha project organized by UNESCO.