Journal of the Siam Society
Volume 97 2009


Chris BAKER and PASUK Phongpaichit
The career of Khun Chang Khun Phaen

Abstract. This article traces the development of the long Thai narrative poem, Khun Chang Khun Phaen. The poem began life in a troubadour tradition of recitation. The best evidence suggests the tale originated around 1600, and the early development of the text probably took place in the Narai era. In response to popular demand, an original story, possibly once recited in a single session, was developed into some twenty episodes, and three ‘sequels’ were later added. Between the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the ‘ownership’ of the poem passed from the folk tradition to the court. As a result, the poem shows a mixture of folk and court styles, sometimes separate, and sometimes layered upon one another. Starting around 1850 and ending in 1918, the ever-developing text was converted into the static form of a standard printed book. In this last stage of its career, the plot, characterization, and meanings of the work were substantially changed. Download the whole article>>>

Edward VAN ROY
Under duress: Lao war captives in Bangkok in the nineteenth century

Abstract. Over the course of the Thonburi period and the first five reigns of the Bangkok era, large numbers of Lao war captives were transported to Siam. While most of those prisoners were settled as slaves in the outlying provinces, the core of the captive Lao aristocracy along with their retinues of nobles and craftsmen were settled in Bangkok. This article examines the history of seven of the Lao settlements in Bangkok: first, the Vientiane royal compound at Bang Yi~khan and the Lao Phuan and Champasak communities at Bang Khun Phrom and Thewet, both upstream of the walled city of Bangkok; second, the Lao commoner communities at Bang Sai Kai and Ban Kruai downstream from the city; and third, Ban Lao Phuan, Ban Kraba, and Ban Ti Thong within the city. Clarification of the history of those communities provides a number of insights into the changing spatial structure and social organization of nineteenth-century Bangkok.

Joachim GABEL
Lao weights and the Luang symbol

Abstract. This investigation reveals that a weight system reform in the middle of the fourteenth century in Laos introduced a basic mass unit of 1.23g, which was unchanged until the nineteenth century. For weighing small quantities of precious goods, two classes of compatible weights were in use one pot-shaped and one geometric. While the shape of the former probably owes its origin to a Buddhist background, the design of the latter is more obscure, but the few facts point to an influence from the Roman/Byzantine Mediterranean world via the ancient port Oc Eo and the Khmer empire. Also examined is a snake symbol called luang, appearing on certain geometric weights and having a particular significance regarding Lao royalty and mythology.

Elizabeth MOORE
Place and space in early Burma: a new look at 'Pyu culture'

Jean-Noël JUTTET
Phnom-Penh, April 1975: a personal souvenir


Observations on Wat Si Chum

Sop-Li, a late fifteenth century bronze workshop in Lan Na

From the archives

Memoirs of PIERRE POIVRE: The Thai Port of Mergui in 1745
Edited and translated by Kennon Breazeale

HSH Prince SITHIPORN Kridakara, ‘Memorandum on Opium in Siam’ (1921), introduction by Dr Tej Bunnag

From the archives

Memoirs of PIERRE POIVRE: The Thai Port of Mergui in 1745
Edited and translated by Kennon Breazeale

HSH Prince SITHIPORN Kridakara, ‘Memorandum on Opium in Siam’ (1921), introduction by Dr Tej Bunnag


Peter Skilling, ed., Past Lives of the Buddha : Wat Si Chum – Art, Architecture, and Inscriptions Bangkok, River Books, 2008
Reviewer Hiram Woodward

Dawn Rooney, Ancient Sukhothai, Thailand’s cultural heritage
Bangkok, River Books, 2008
Reviewer Carol Stratton

Damrong Rajanubhab, H.R.H. Prince, A Biography of King Naresuan the Great Translated and edited by Kennon Breazeale
Bangkok, Toyota Foundation, 2008
Reviewer Michael Charney
Leonor de Seabra, The Embassy of Pero Vaz de Siqueira to Siam (1684–1686)
Macau, University of Macau, 2005
Reviewer Kennon Breazeale

Direk Jayanama, ed. Jane Keyes, Thailand and World War II
Chiang Mai, Silkworm, 2008
Reviewer Chris Baker

Anders Poulsen, Childbirth and tradition in northeast Thailand; forty years of cultural development and change Copenhagen,
NIAS Press, 2007
Reviewer Lisa Vandemark

Michael Montesano and Patrick Jory, eds, Thai South and Malay North:Ethnic interactions on a plural peninsula
Singapore, NUS Press, 2008
Reviewer Thak Chaloemtiarana

Martin Stuart-Fox, Naga Cities of the Mekong: A guide to the temples, legends and history of Laos
Singapore, Media Masters, 2006
Reviewer Milton Osborne

Vatthana Pholsena, Post-War Laos: The Politics of Culture, History and Identity
Institute of South-East Asian Studies, Singapore, 2006
Reviewer Mayoury Ngaosrivathana

Sao Sanda, The Moon Princess, Memories of the Shan States
Bangkok, River Books, 2008
Reviewer Susan Conway

Penny Edwards, Cambodge, the cultivation of a Nation 1860–1945
Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books, 2008
Reviewer John Tully

Anne Ruth Hansen, How to behave: Buddhism and modernity in colonial Cambodia 1860–1930
Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books, 2008
Reviewer Ian Harris 257

Milton Osborne, Phnom Penh, a cultural and literary history
Oxford, Signal Books, 2008
Reviewer David Chandler

Pratapaditya Pal, ed., Buddhist Art: Form and Meaning
Mumbai, Marg Publications, 2007
Reviewer Donald M. Stadtner

Olga Dror, Cult, Culture, and Authority: Princess Liễu Hạnh in Vietnamese History
Chiang Mai, Silkworm Books
Reviewer George Dutton

Philip Taylor, Cham Muslims of the Mekong Delta: place and mobility in the cosmopolitan pheriphery
Copenhagen/Singapore, NIAS/NUS Press, 2007
Reviewer Amnuayvit Thitibordin

G. L. Balk, F. van Dijk, D. J. Kortlang, F. S. Gaastra, H. E. Niemeijer, and P. Koenders, The Archives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and the Local Institutions in Batavia (Jakarta)
Leiden, Brill, 2007
Reviewer Bhawan Ruangsilp

Greg Bankoff and Sandra Swart, et al, Breeds of Empire: the ‘invention’ of the horse in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa 1500–1950
Copenhagen, NIAS Press, 2007
Reviewer Duncan Stearn

Lee Hock Guan and Leo Suryadinata, eds, Language, Nation and Development in Southeast Asia
Singapore, ISEAS, 2007
Reviewer Titima Suthiwan

Christopher Duncan, ed, Civilizing the margins: Southeast Asian Government
policies for the development of minorities
Singapore, NUS Press, 2008 Reviewer Nicola Tannenbaum

Howard M. Federspiel, Sultans, Shamans, and Saints: Islam and Muslims in Southeast Asia
Chiang Mai, Silkworm, 2008
Reviewer Patrick Jory


Mom Kobkaew Abhakara na Ayudhya 1908–2008
M. L. Manich Jumsai 1908–2009
Prok Amranand 1925–2008
Heng Thung 1934–2009
Anthony Farrington 1939–2008
Michael Wright 1940–2009
Roxanna M. Brown 1946–2008
Smitthi Siribhadra 1949–2008
Domnern Garden 1928–2009

In-house note: Khun Euayporn’s semi-retirement 310

New publication: As Mother Told Me HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana

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