Jacques P. Leider

Alaungmintaya - King of Myanmar (1752-1760)
Representations in Burmese and Western historiography

In 1752, a local Burmese chief led a revolt against the rule of the king of Pegu over Central Burma. Adopting the title Alaungmintaya (‘future dhammarāja'), Aung Zeya five years later became the lord of a unified kingdom. Recognized by his subjects as a great and mighty king, Alaungmintaya soon took his place among the heroic figures of the country in Burmese historiography. This paper deals with the perceptions and the image of the king in Western and Burmese historiography. A summary of the historical context is followed by a recounting of the king's metamorphosis from ordinary human being to cosmic figure.
While Michael Symes' travelogue (1800) and a few other contemporary English accounts laid the groundwork for positive representations of the king in early nineteenth century western descriptions, later British colonial and post-colonial writers took a negative view, interpreting the reign as a precursor to later rulers of the last Burmese dynasty, generally portrayed negatively.
Myanmar's predominantly nationalist historians have tended to interpret Alaung­mintaya with a focus on his political and military accomplishments while eliding much of the rest of his history. This historiographical process of rationalizing the record of a quasi super-natural ruler paved the way to represent the king as a wise statesman and moral leader. Only the most recent Burmese-language scholarship has been open to greater analytical complexity in presenting Alaungmintaya's reign, such as by examining administrative and other sources outside the traditional chronicle account.

Steven Prigent

The Life of the Villagers of Cheung Kok during the Khmer Rouge Regime

Based on long-term fieldwork, this paper describes the living conditions of people of Cheung Kok village in Kompong Cham province in Cambodia between 1973 and 1978. This study goes beyond the village only to mention the names of specific leaders of the commune and the district, and presents itself as an ethnographic contribution to the study of the Khmer rouge regime. Specifically, the author considers a population of farmers who did not leave their homeland during and after the era of Democratic Kampuchea. The focus is a village which didn't host any ‘new people', urban people who could not flee the country and were forced to live in rural areas by the Khmer rouge, and who, in contrast to the ‘old people' experienced an explicit ideological discrimination by the regime.

Apiradee Techasiriwan and Volker Grabowsky

Note on Tai Lue Wooden Buddha Image Inscriptions and Buddhist Manuscript Colophons from Northern Laos

This note is related to ongoing research in the paratexts found in Tai Lue manuscripts from Yunnan and northern Laos in the framework of an interdisciplinary research group working on manuscript studies based at Hamburg University. Our work investigates general patterns of wooden Buddha image inscriptions and Buddhist manuscript colophons from Tai Lue areas in Laos and studies of the specific components of those patterns.

Andrew Skilton and Phibul Choompolpaisal

The Old Meditation (boran kammatthan), a Pre-Reform Theravāda Meditation System from Wat Ratchasittharam
The piti section of the kammatthan matchima baep lamdap

Meditation practices currently associated with Theravāda Buddhism are largely text-based methods stemming from nineteenth-century reforms in Burma and Thailand. Despite pioneer work by a small number of French, Thai and British scholars, there is little awareness in western scholarship of meditation as practised prior to these reforms, and no research into its lineages of transmission or internal diversity. This article attempts to remedy this by describing in detail a single meditation practice from the Old Meditation (Thai boran kammatthan) cycle as transmitted by the Supreme Patriarch (Thai Sangkharat) Suk Kaithuean and currently taught uniquely at Wat Ratchasittharam, Thonburi. This involves invoking the eidetic ‘signs' (Pali nimitta) for the five ‘delights' (Pali pīti), and moving them in predetermined patterns around the practitioner's body. We examine the unique and unexpected use of meditation and Abhidhamma terminology employed in this tradition, locate the pīti practice within the broader frame of the Old Meditation, and assess its probable links to Abhidhamma. The authors hope that this account will facilitate future studies which can begin to explore the diversity of the Old Meditation techniques.

Grégoire Schlemmer

A Few Insights into the Little Known Tai Lue Populations Living in Vietnam
A review of Ngưòi Lự / The Lự in Vietnam, Vũ Khánh (chief ed.), 2012, Hanoi, VNA Publishing House, 168 p.

The Tai Lue of Vietnam form a small community of 5,600 people living in Lai Chau, a province bordering Laos and China, the two countries where Tai Lue people still live in sizeable numbers. This article presents new information about the history, lifestyles and religious organization of this community that was published in a short ethnographical vietnamese publication in 2012. At the same time, it enriches this information and puts it into the perspective of data gathered from various documents from the colonial era. This approach sheds new light on the specificities of this community as compared to other Tai Lue groups in neighbouring countries.

« Dossier thématique » section

Stratigraphic Excavations in Angkor
An unpublished excavation report by B.‑P. Groslier in perspective

Section co-ordinated by Christophe Pottier
Papers by B.‑P. Groslier, Brice Vincent, Jean-Baptiste Chevance, Pierre Bâty, Armand Desbat, Farid Sellami and Sandrine Marquié

"Excavations at the Royal Palace of Angkor. 1958 Campaign-A Preliminary report", which opens this special section, is a preliminary report that B.‑P. Groslier sent to the Director of the École française d'Extrême-Orient in May 1958. It was never published, nor was there ever a ‘final' report. However, despite its provisional character and the fact that part of its conclusions are now obsolete, this report can be considered as a key moment in Angkorian archaeology. The report actually contains an important set of results which remained unknown to the academic community but which later B.‑P. Groslier largely drew upon to orient and justify his research on Angkorian history. It also clearly illustrates the importance that B.‑P. Groslier attached to considering the wide historical context to interpret stratigraphic data. Moreover, the results of these excavations at the Royal Palace of Angkor strongly influenced his approach to Angkorian chronology.
B.‑P. Groslier's report is followed by three papers that complete and update some of the data it contains, putting his report into the perspective of recent archeological research.
In "The Bronze Artifacts from Angkor Thom Royal Palace", Brice Vincent takes an exhaustive inventory and analyses in detail the bronze artifacts that were excavated in the palace by B.‑P. Groslier and his predecessors Henri Marchal and Maurice Glaize. He also provides some insights into a metal workshop located in the vicinity of the palace.
In "Banteay, Royal Palace of Mahendraparvata", Jean-Baptiste Chevance summarizes the results of three excavation campaigns he conducted from 2009 to 2012 on the theretofore never-excavated site of Banteay at Phnom Kulen and he explains what led him to identify that site with the Royal Palace of the capital city of Mahendraparvata.
Last, in "Mound E at Trapeang Ropou: Archaeological and Geomorphological Approach to an Angkorian Habitat", Pierre Bâty, Armand Desbat, Farid Sellami and Sandrine Marquié analyze the results of excavations conducted at Trapeang Ropou in the vicinity of Siem Reap airport. These excavations, which introduced preventive excavation techniques commonly used in Europe, show the rich potential of recent research developments on non-monumental habitats in Angkor.

New Publications
Paris, France,

Territories and Networks of a Southeast Asian Kingdom  

New Publications
Paris, France,

Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient 104 (2018)

Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, vol. 27 (2018) : Buddhism and the Military in Tibet during the Ganden Phodrang Period (1642-1959)

Dossier Angkor in Archeologia

Find the "Angkor, the latest discoveries" dossier to which several EFEO researchers contributed in Archéologia, issue 578, July/August 2019, p. 30-47.
Martin Nogueira Ramos presents his book
Paris, France,

On Monday, May 20, Martin Nogueira Ramos presents his book La foi des ancêtres. Chrétiens cachés et catholiques dans la société villageoise japonaise (XVIIe-XIXe siècles) (CNRS editions, 25 April 2019).
From 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm, in the Salon of the Maison de l'Asie. To attend the presentation, please confirm by email notification.
New publication
France, Paris,

Peintures populaires du Japon
Des imagiers du XVIIe siècle à Miró
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New publication

Arts Asiatiques 73 (2018)

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