In Laos—one of the few remaining ‘officially’ socialist countries—Buddhism was abolished as a state religion after the revolution in 1975. However, since the 1990s the communist government has been increasingly using its patronage of Buddhism to gain legitimacy. With reference to the divine sources of power in Theravāda Buddhism, this article explores the extent to which modern Lao state socialism is still imbued with pre-revolutionary patterns of Buddhist kingship and statecraft. The analysis will focus especially on ritual patronage of a Buddhist relic shrine and on the recent inauguration of statues of deceased kings in the Lao capital, Vientiane. With reference to the ritual animation of ‘opening the eyes’ of the statues, and with regard to theories exploring the agency of objects, I argue that the Lao palladium has to be understood as being made up of ‘living’ entities. Finally, the article explores to what extent the control, worship, and creation of statues and relics today are still essential for the legitimacy of rule in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.