Astatue of a man named Phraya Sikhottabong stands in Khammuan province in the district bearing his name, but who was he, and what did he do to be so highly honoured? According to legend, Sikhottabong was born in the 6th Century in central Laos to a poor couple who named him Thao Si. At this time no one knew he had the strength of character to become a great leader. His parents had him ordained as a novice and he stayed in a monastery for eight years before becoming a layman and changing his name to Xieng Si. Young Xieng Si was sent by his parents to be a servant to the king, and one of his duties was to go to the forest with the other servants and collect resin from dipterocarpous trees. But because Xieng Si was thin and weak, he would cook for his friends while they worked. One day he was steaming sticky rice and cut a branch of a black kapok tree to stir the rice with, but the rice turned black when he touched it with the branch. Afraid of what his friends would say,Xieng Si ate all of the black rice. When he ﬁ nished eating a transformation occurred and he felt his body change as he became stronger. He was so strong he was able to bend a dipterocarpous tree in half. At that time Vientiane had been invaded by elephants, which were destroying houses and injuring people. The king promised that whoever defeated the elephants could marry his daughter as a reward. Xieng Si made a giant club from a black kapok tree and headed for Vientiane. He chased all the elephants from the city and fought their leader for three days and three nights before the animal gave in. Xieng Si married the king's daughter, Nang Khiewkhom, and the royal couple were sent to rule a city called Meuang Sikhot. Xieng Si became known as Phraya (governor) Sikhottabong and the name of the city was changed to Meuang Sikhottabong. This city is believed to have been located in what is now Khammuan province, and the area is now named Sikhottabong district. The king soon became paranoid that Phraya Sikhottabong would one day try to seize his throne, so he plotted against him and eventually had Phraya Sikhottabong killed. The 3.5 metre tall statue at Pha That Meuang Khao stupa in Sikhottabong district depicts him holding a club in one hand and pointing forward with the other. An annual festival of worship is held in the third month of the lunar calendar (February) at Pha That Meuang Khao in remembrance of this legendary ﬁ gure, who saved Vientiane from a herd of marauding elephants.