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Dr Emmanuel GUILLON (INALCO, Paris) In order to know more about Mon archaeology, I think that it is necessary to insert it into South East Asia as a whole, first in the peninsula, later with the islands, Sumatra for instance. And, of course, not to limit it to Burma or Thailand. It is the direction being taken in current archaeological field-work in proto-history in Thailand and Vietnam, for instance. Here I just want to present the ways in which I having been working for some years now. 1. The dun Mon and the word Ramanya The most ancient mention of Mon words (Tun Sun, "five cities", third or fourth century A.D.) was found in Chinese Chronicles. I have already discussed this fact in my book A Civilisation (p. 6971). According to our present knowledge these kingdoms where situated in the north of the Malay peninsula ("Cross-Road of the Maritime Silk-Road", according to M. Jacq-Hergoualch). But, if we follow the recent works of the Mergui Archipelago Project (2004), almost all have to be done in archaeology, in the Tenasserim area, even in study of the toponyms. Nevertheless we know, from the Liang –shu (chapter 45, folio 9), that, at the beginning of the third century A.D., the "five cities" were attacked by the king of Fu-nan, Fan-man. Even if it is not sure that this king actually won or not, the most important fact is the mention of links between preAngkorian power and ancient Mon states of the Malay peninsula and lower Burma. In a recent article (2003, in Vietnamese), published in the journal Dan Toc Hoc, Professor Luong Ninh, of Hanoi University, who has worked on Fu-nan and ancient Champa, mentions the importance of Mon Tun Sun and believes that there are Mon people not only in lower Burma, but also at the east of Khorat. * * * * * Some centuries later we again find the mention of the Môn, but, this time, in an inscription on a stele, found in present Cambodia In this inscription appears, for the first time, it seems, the word Ramanya, the ancient name of the Mon (people and kingdoms). This inscription, in two parts, is called "inscription of Snay Pol" (K 66), after the name of the village (Prei Ven province). where it was found at the end of nineteenth century. It was published several times, and is now in the Pnom Penh Museum. It was dated, by palaeography, to the seventh century A.D. by Georges Coedès. Some words in Cham mention titles and one name of the goddess. But the text is mainly a list of men and women given as slaves to a temple of the goddess Bhagavati. And, on line 25 of the A side we can read va ramañ, meaning "a male Mon" (the vowel a of va is long)
2 Image 1 : The Snay Pol inscription This word ramañ is here an ethnonym, and linguistically the same as Ramanya. Its presence in a list of people bears witness, in a seventh century inscription, to the existence of a Mon population at that time. This may correspond to one of the three waves of migration of the Khmers into the territories of Fu nan (again according to Professor Luong Ninh). And later, in the middle of 10 th century A.D., there was again mention of Ramanya in Khmer epigraphy. In 1937 a French archaeologist, Bezacier, discovered, near Ben Vien (near Roluos, Siem Rap province) a Buddhist Sanskrit inscription, carved on the southern engaged pier (northen face) of a Prasat which had fallen into ruins (K 872). It was dedicated to King Rajendravarman , and was made just after 946 A.D. In stanza seven we can read (following the translation by Coedès) : « victorious in the battle with the powerful and malicious Râmanya and Campa, throwing his arrows tot left and right he [the king] was like another Râma » The last nasal of the word Râmanya became, from a front nasal, a cerebral nasal, because the word is Sanskritised. Therefore this text proclaims that, if we except Burma, there were in peninsular South East Asia and in the middle of tenth century three powers : Môn (Râmanya), Khmer and Cam. As a provisional conclusion, I will say that we have the clear beginnings of proof that the Mon were living in the Malay peninsula, at least from the third century A.D. , and living at the East of Khorat, at least by the seventh century. Work still needs to be carried out upstream, with archaeological excavations of proto-historical sites, and downstream, with more detailed studies of the Mon kingdoms, from Dvaravati to Pegu. 2. Towards a complete inventory of Mon epigraphy. We have seen how important the inscriptions of ancient South East Asia as primary sources. Actually, in peninsular South East Asia, and from east to west (that means from the coastal plains of central Vietnam to present-day Bangladesh) there are only three big corpuses of old inscriptions on stone or on bricks : Cham, Khmer and Môn. For these three, writing on stone began around 6th/7th centuries A.D. and continued up to the 12th/13th , and the scripts all came from Indian scripts. At the beginning theses all belonged to the same "family" in terms of their shape. This is not the case for Pyu inscriptions. Three years ago I made an investigation on this subject, and found that the "Pyu epigraphy" is quantitatively insignificant and does not belong to the same family : between seventeen and twenty texts were found, and the script, which is more square, is completely different.
3 Khmer epigraphy is, in the present state of our knowledge, the most important of the three : more than one thousand items have been discovered. This is due mainly to the huge work of some epigraphists, like George Coedes or Louis Finot, and it is easy to find the publications of their deciphering in specialist libraries. I have heard that there is a project to make a complete catalogue of Khmer inscriptions, from K1 to around K1000. As for the Cham epigraphy, for almost fifty years no work was carried out at all. Now Anne Valerie Schweyer has, up to the present time, compiled an inventory of 220 inscriptions, from C1 to C 220. The order is not the date of the inscription itself, but the order of their discovery : for instance C 1 is an inscription of the fourteenth century, and the oldest bears the number seventy two. Such work should also be done for Mon epigraphy. It will be a very useful tool for linguists and historians, particularly for cross - studies. In spite of the work of H.L. Shorto (1971), and, more recently, of C. Bauer, nobody has attempted to make such an inventory, or, at least, has not started to publish it. I suggest taking the list compiled by Shorto (p. xxviii – xxxiii of his book) - which follows more or less the chronological order - and ascribing a reference number to each inscription, and completing it. This would give us, for instance, M 1 …M 120, and would need to include, for each inscription, the place where it was found, the language used, the date, the king or other important people mentioned, whether it is Buddhist or Hindu, any references, and good photos of any rubbing made. This could be the work of a Ph D, or could be put on the Internet. I have myself counted about one hundred and twenty Mon inscriptions, and some are huge, particularly in the Middle Mon of Pegu kingdoms. And I think that we have, in lower Burma, some inscriptions at least as old as the Dvaravati ones in Thailand, such as the inscription of Kawgun cave, and of the Botahtaung pagoda of Rangoon. Image 2. Two oldest inscriptions of Southern Burma 3. Towards new studies of Ancient Mon Iconography In the same way, I believe that we must insert the study of the sculptures found in lower Burma into a broader area than Burma proper. I shall take two examples : the sculptures on the wall of ancient Sudhammavati (Thatön), and the sitting bronze Buddha of Twente. My first example are the laterite sculptures recently discovered on the western city wall of Thatön. This archaic work, directly under the influence of India, may be the most ancient of mainland South East Asia, and dates back to at least before the fifth century AD. There are devotional scenes, of "prophylactic" use to protect the city from evil, with floral and animal motifs. Of course we need more scientific study of this very important work, and also more excavations. Nevertheless it is another proof of antiquity and importance of this archaeological site.
4 Image 3. Archaic laterite sculptures My second example is from a small seated bronze Buddha found at Twente, near Rangoon. The Buddha images seated in pralambapadasâna are very rare in mainland South East Asia. I thought before (Guillon 2003 p. 273) that the ninth century seated Buddha image of Son Tho, now in the Fine Arts Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, was the missing link between the ancient Buddhist Champa and Dvaravati. We can see now that the small bronze image of Twente should be compared with other works bearing a resemblance to it, outside Burma. A well-known seated Buddha is in the Khao Ngu cave of Ratchaburi province of Thailand and another, also well-known, was found at the Cham Buddhist site of Dong Duong, in Vietnam. All have the same position of the legs, the same kind of hair, and the same upper part of the cloth on the right shoulder (except the one from Dong Duong). But they do not show the same mudrâ. The closest image to the Twente one is to be found in Thailand, in a carved relief on the wall of the Bodhisattva cave, in Saraburi province (South of Lopburi). We shall see that the Buddha (on the left of the relief with halo) has the same position of the legs, and above all the same mudrâ, the vitarka mudrâ, the mudrâ of teaching. Image 4. Seated Buddha images Fortunately we can date this last image, as did Virginia Di Crocco in 1999, by the swallowtail garments of the apsaras. This was found in the Buddhist art of the Northern Wei dynasty, around the fifth century AD, and this seems to me to be characteristic of a Buddhist sect, which was living from Mon states in lower Burma to Buddhist Champa for centuries. Therefore we can also infer that the Twente image must be dated much earlier than G.H. Luce did. It is surely not ninth century, but at least sixth. At last we have proof here that there were Buddhist exchanges between early Mon places and the rest of mainland South East Asia, with a Chinese Buddhism influence. 4. Towards a new history of different Mon schools of Buddhism This visit to ancient Buddhist iconography can help us to re-consider the history of the Buddhism of the Mon, with several Sanskrit – Nikaya, or schools, which are rather different from the present Theravadin Buddhism of Burma, Thailand, etc. I will now demonstrate the steps that I used, years ago, to study the Mon plates on the basements of the Ananda temple of Pagan, and will use the Power Point. There were five steps in this work,
5 published in Paris in 1999, with a preface by the late art historian, Professor J. Boisselier, in French, but unfortunately not in English. Image 5. Mâra's Army at Ananda temple The first step was to examine what the plates are: glazed figures with one short sentence engraved in old Mon. Image 5.1. The glazed plates Image 5. 2. Distribution of the plates The devata, studied by Shorto in 1966, are on the eastern half. Then , with the help of an early map and with my own drawing, I discovered that, according to this work, the plates are arranged in a precise order, just like a battle order, in two parts : in the centre and in the right and left flanks are the army riding animals, and in the middle, at each side, are the monsters. In short, this is a very large composition. I then deciphered each plate, with translation. Image 5.3. Detailed analysis The life of the Buddha, found in a Mon manuscript of the end of eighteen century AD, then at the National library of Rangoun, describes an army of Mâra very close to the one at the Ananda. And it is very different from other traditions of the same date found in Burma. I further compared the texts of different lives of the Buddha, according to the most important Nikaya. And I found that this Mâra's Army representation belongs to the Mulasarvativadin Buddhist school, which used Sanskrit and not Pâli. Image 5.4. Text describing this episode To make a comparison with other representation of this part of the life of the Buddha, I chose another temple of the same period, and also bearing Mon writings, the temple of Myinkeba Kubiaukgi murals : it is not the same tradition Image 5.5. Different from Myinkaba Kubyaukgyi temple Therefore we have proof that there were different Buddhist schools amongst Mon people of Pagan. Unfortunately, according to my knowledge, nobody has att empted to continue this work in this way.
6 This school, that I would like to call "of one of Mon Buddhist schools", we can find again some centuries later. More precisely in the Mon kingdom of Pegu particularly in the Shwegugyi temple in fifteenth century. Image 5.6. Mâra soldiers at Pegu And according to the late Professor Boisselier, this discovery can help to understand some iconography of ancient Thailand, and its religious history, particularly in the nineteenth century. In brief, there were traces of multiplicity of Nikaya at that time (as show in the modern history of Nikaya in Sri Lanka). 5. Towards a complete inventory of Mon manuscripts, hlapot We find traces of the preceding points in the huge "library" of Mon palm leaf manuscripts – yet to be studied scientifically - which were kept in the Mon monasteries of Burma and Thailand. I think that it is urgent to begin a scientific list of all the Mon manuscripts which are in the Mon monasteries of Thailand. There are thousands of manuscripts, and only very rarely are there catalogues. All the manuscripts ideally need to be digitalized for further study. This is the memory of Mon civilization. From September two thousand three to February two thousand four, I have worked, with a team and the help, at the beginning, of Nai Sunthorn Sripanngern (and at the end of Mathias Jenny) on a project on the Mon manuscripts of the Western provinces of Thailand Image 6. Mon Manuscript Project (2003) At that time, and to the best of our knowledge, no complete list existed of the Mon monasteries possessing manuscripts. We have located these monasteries by firstly following a booklet by Boussaba Prapasapong, and then making local enquiries. I believe that our working method can be useful for scholars who want to continue this task, which is why I am giving some technical details here. After the abbots had given their agreement, the manuscripts were taken from their cupboards, taking care to keep them in their original order. After having them cleaned, we made a quick classification, then we proceeded to identify each manuscript according to the model partly inspired by the Academica Sinica. We consider that each manuscript is unique, even if it is a copy of another, older one. The title was given either by page heading if it existed, by the incipit or eventually by the colophon. This work was done in groups of two who were aided by the monks of the monastery. The manuscripts were book-marked for future identification.
7 As for the classification, the catalogues are classed according to their province number. This number is preceded by a number given in the order by which it was visited. Each monastery is identified in three ways. By its name, by its photo and by the translation of its name in French and English. The date of the visit is at the end of each card. The card includes a photo of the Abbot. We first classified the non Buddhist manuscripts. This classification may be reused for further study. Each card contains, in order, 1. Its number. 2. The field or the name of the manuscript. 3 The romanization of its Mon title (for future comparison with other languages). 4. The title in Mon writing. 5. The number of pages. 6. The number of lines on each page. 7. Whether it is complete or not. 8. The exact size 9. A notable characteristic (for example the gilded edge). 10. The date in Christian era. 12. A brief mention of the contents of the manuscripts. We were helped by the Cultural service of the French Embassy, who published a booklet of one hundred thirty eight pages entitled Working Paper: Preliminary Survey of Mon Manuscripts , which is now out of print. Image 7. Working paper: Preliminary Survey of Mon Manuscripts Later, a CD ROM was made from this booklet at Sangkhlaburi, with the help of Mathias Jenny and the Mon Cultural and Literature Survival Project,. This CD is also now out of print. Image 8. The CD of Mon Manuscripts
8 Provisional conclusions (methodology) We can see that there has been, for more than twelve years now, a real revival of Mon culture in Thailand. Of course I am happy about this revival. But I think, and I have attempted to demonstrate it here, that Mon studies need to be pursued in greater depth. Much may well be discovered in the proto-history of the Mon. But we need the help of independent archaeologists, in order to know more about the ancient cities of lower Burma and the Malay peninsula, for instance. Our archaeological vision should zoom in, and consider that ancient Mon people and states, the Ramanya, were known to the Cham and Khmer states and people. This outlook may help towards a better understanding of the cultural and trading exchanges between the kingdoms, and to refresh the history of South East Asia on the whole. The method that I propose here should be applied to the Mon inscriptions, which must be considered as a part of the most ancient - and considerable - corpus of inscriptions together with Khmer and Cham ones. They belong to the same family of palaeography, which means that the birth of writing appears in mainland South East Asia at the same time, in three cultures, some centuries after the Iron age, all influenced by several Hindu and Buddhist Schools of Thought, coming from India and China. (On this subject, to my knowledge, nothing, or almost nothing, has been done to compare Indonesian and Môn epigraphy). It was also the birth of the State age. In the same way detailed iconographic study of ancient sculptures in old Mon territories can bring new visions, if we bring it closer together with neighbouring cultures. One good example is the relations between Buddhist iconography of present-day Bangladesh and of several sculptures of Pagan. Of course the field study of vestiges has to be completed by the text that is illustrated there or commented, and through the centuries. It is not always easy, for lack of the original texts, mainly in Buddhism. It is why it is so important, and so urgent, to study and to make as complete as possible (not to collect, of course) the huge collections of Mon manuscripts of the Mon monasteries of Thailand (it is now impossible in Burma). This can be done more easily now with computer technology. Here we need the help of more Mon specialists on the square writing of the manuscripts, learned Mon monks who are well-versed in Pâli, and the input of linguists for obsolete words. Here too, one needs experiences made outside, from China, Japan, to Cambodia, etc. This cultural treasure will bring many gems which will decorate the Mon civilization.
9 Selected references COEDES George, 1942, Inscriptions du Cambodge II, EFEO, collection de textes et documents sur l'Indochine, III, Hanoi 1942. GUILLON Emmanuel, 1985, L'Armée de Mara au pied de l'Ananda (Pagan – Birmanie), Paris, Recherches sur les Civilisations, mémoire n° 60, 108 p. 1999, The Mons, A Civilization of Southeast Asia, Bangkok, 1999, The Siam Society, 349 p. 47 . 2003, "Architecture and Symbolic Landscapes, The cases of Ancient Champa and Mon Kingdoms" A. Karlstrom & A. Källén, ed. Fishbones and Glittering Emblems, South Asian Archaeology 2002, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stokolm : 271-279. GUY, John, 1989, Ceramic Traditions of South-East Asia, Singapore, Oxford University Press, 68 pages. JACQ-HERGOUALC'H Michel, 2004, The Malay Peninsula, Cross-Road of the Maritime SilkRoad (100 B.C-1300 A.D.), E. J. Brill, 2004 LUCE H.G., 1985, Phases of Pre-Pagan Languages and History, Vol. 1 & 2, Oxford University Press. LUONG Ninh, 2003, "Su thien di va hinh thanh nhung nhom cu dan co o Dong Nam A (Luc dia)" (The migration and establishment of inhabitant groups in South – East Asia), Hanoi, Dan Toc Hoc, 5 (125), 2003 : 3-11. Mergui Archipelago Project : 2004,"L'archipel Mergui : une liberté surveillée et un littoral à conquérir en Basse Birmanie", 2004 : http://www.mapraid.net/pages/articleaseanie.htm > SCHWEYER Anne-Valérie, 1999, "Chronologie des inscriptions publiées du Campa – Etudes d'épigraphie cam –I", B.E.F.E.O. 1999 : 322-352. 2005 , Le Viêtnam ancien, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, Guide Belles Lettres des Civilisations. SHORTO H. L. , 1971, A Dictionary of the Mon Inscriptions, from the sixth to the the Sixteenth centuries, London, Oxford University Press, 406 p. WHEATLEY Paul , 1966, The Golden Khersonese, Kuaala Lumpur, University of Malaya Press, 388 p.
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