mercredi, décembre 12, 2007

Who Will Succeed Professor Long Seam ?

News from Cambodia N° 0747-E


Khemara Jati
Montreal, Quebec
December 12th, 2007

An inscription, in Sanskrit and in ancient Cambodian dating the reign of Udayaditiyavarman II 1050-1066 (Udaya Aditiya Varman = Rising Sun Defender), was discovered in 1990, in Nokor Reachsima, the central province of current Thailand. This registration was soon translated into English by the Thai professor, Chirapat Prapandvidya, and published in “The Journal of Siam Society”, Volume 78, Part 2, 1990. Thank to Professor Ang Choulean for translating it into modern Cambodian the sentence concerning of the Cambodian's patriotism of the beginning of the XIIth century, the sentence which attract our attention on this passage.

(Excerpt from :

1/. This discovery shows that the Angkor civilization extended its supremacy over the totality of the civilized Thailand of the time. Still there is no serious study on this Angkor civilization history in Thailand which lasted over several centuries. Recently there was a map of Cambodia drawn by American, supplied by satellite, concerning the occupation of the land during Angkor era. This map confirms completely the results of the archaeological excavations of Bernard Philippe Groslier and deposited in his immortal article “The Hydraulic Town of Angkor: Exploitation or Overexploitation of the Ground?” Published in the Bulletin of the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient, of 1979. Before 1970, B. P. Groslier is the only one who makes the real archaeological excavations in Cambodia. For him, it is necessary to confront written documents with the archaeological excavations. Because before him the archaeology consisted in inventorying visible parts and then describing them. Also let us mention that before 1990s, there was no Cambodian archaeologist. Now there are true archaeological excavations which reveal the past of our history even further than the period of Fou Nan. The results of these excavations are always written in foreign language. It is also necessary to note that Groslier tries to place our history in the international trades of time.

Regrettably the foreign historians prefer explain the abandon of Angkor by a certain Bruno Dagen, a historian who has never made any slightest archaeological research in Cambodia. According to Dagen, the weakness of Angkor lie in the megalomania of the kings (sic)! Another well known historian of Cambodia : Claude Jacques, in the magazine Science et Vie N° 201 of December 1997, wonders and asks what the hydraulic system of Angkor is using for? For the king's enjoyment ? At least, not for the agriculture (sic)! We will come back on the errors in the other history books of Cambodia, written by foreigners. It is curious to note that the foreigners do not love the papers of the eminent historian of Cambodia Bernard Philippe Groslier in the point to ignore his name during the recent inauguration of the immense monument in Baphuon mountain. We wish that Cambodians who like to know our history consult and study the B. P. Groslier's papers. His most important articles are gathered binded by his co-worker Jacques Dumarçay in the book called “Mixture on Cambodia's archaeology” Edition Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient, Paris 1997. It is also important to read his very interesting biography by Georges Condominas and the other collections on him, in particular his serious desire in the restoration of Baphuon, in the book “Disciplines Croisées Hommage à Bernard Philippe Groslier”, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris 1988.

Unfortunately the map mentioned ealier is limited only to the part occupied by the current Cambodia. It is recommended to have also such a map for a part occupied by the current Thailand. Until now only Bernard Philippe Groslier alone who contributed to the Angkor monuments restoration in Thailand, had the idea but without having had the time to concretize the project. Maybe there are documents on this subject in the archives? Regrettably, his archives are still inaccessible or with very difficulty accessible.

2/. In Thailand there are scholars capable to read and translate Angkor scriptures into Thai, English and even into modern Cambodian. In Cambodia, except our regretted Long Seam, who is able of doing it so much? Nowadays, are there Cambodians able to translate the Angkor transcriptions into modern Cambodian ? Are we already dependent of the Thai professors, in the intellectual, cultural and linguistic point of vue ? A daughter of the of Thailand is considered as the one who knows our language very well. She knows perfectly the history of her country and also all the Angkor monuments in Thailand and in Cambodia as well. An information to be meditated. Also let us note that in the Thai archives, many documents of Angkor era are still inaccessible for foreigners.

Many Cambodians earn a lot of money and are multimillionaires in term of dollars and euros. Why do not they finance Cambodians to study history in universities and not supervised by the known historians of Cambodia, to form professors of the Thai professors level? Because to understand our history, it is necessary to love our country and her people like B.P. Groslier. Cambodian students also have to learn first of historian's profession and all the history of the world, before approaching the history of our country. Otherwise is it necessary to spend time only waiting for the good will of major powers? Or only enjoy reading history books of our country written by foreigners? Books which show only our weaknesses? Do not forget a saying says that “Help yourself first, God will help you”.

In Cambodia, there was Professor Long Seam who has a great honor and deserves to publish the first "Dictionary of the Ancient Khmer", where the ancient writing is translated into modern writing. In this dictionary we admire the aesthetic beauty of our ancient and modern writing.

When we travel to China and to Japan, there are only Chinese or Japanese letters of all dimensions, in the daytime and at the night as well. In Cambodia, we seem to be ashamed to spread or show our very beautiful and very aesthetic writing. Why? In Cambodian films also, we see our writing very little or even practically none of them !

3/. Richer says that our writing is difficult to learn. Why the Europeans and Anglo-Saxons, more and more numerous, do they begin learning the Chinese and Japanese ideograms which are thousand times more complicated than our writing? We will come back on the attempts of romanising our writing and the current romanisation using by the Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient.

We wish that soon many other Cambodian Professors of Long Seam quality will quickly relieve and give to Cambodia the high-level Professors, capable and able of providing us translations with modern Cambodian, all ancients inscriptions and at the same time begins to edit and writing our history which is closest possible of the reality. A national history is always written by the historians of this nation. To trust totally the history books written by foreigners is to confide and entrust our future to the decisions of the foreigners. It does not mean that all these books of history are to be thrown or rejected. But it is necessary to know how to sort out and extract information, often without knowing the author, which are interesting for our history? Because most of the time we have no access to certain archives besides them. We will elaborate on this subject in another article. Until now no any historian takes into account the Portuguese arrival in our region following by the coming of other Europeans, since the port of Malacca has been seized in 1511. Since this date until nowadays all the history of the world is displease.

4/. The wish to be reborn (reincarnated) Cambodian is also mentioned in Boun Chan Mol’s book “Kouk Nyaubay”. To enjoy with such a wish is it enough to release our country of the vietnamese domination? Because a wish remains always a wish. The most important are to unite together in order to structure organizations capable of realizing and understanding that Long Seam is not the only one who understands the cultural importance of our inheritance. The experience of the history of the world shows that the writing is a fundamental factor to assure and insure the perpetuity of a culture and a nation as well. The dance, the pagoda, the monument, etc. are only the visible parts of iceberg of the cultural matter. The immense invisible part of the iceberg is the paper, the writing. All the history of the humanity confirms it. Since six thousand years, all the historians say that the man is conscious of the history with the birth of the writing. q

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