Cambodian Epigraphy Workshop: the stele K. 1297

A blogpost by Louise Roche

The unpublished Cambodian inscription K. 1297, engraved in Sanskrit on a two-sided stela, provides rich information about political and religious life in Cambodia in the  12th century. The stela was purchased by a collector at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris by a collector before 2011, and the work of publishing the inscription was entrusted to Arlo Griffiths.

Photo of the stele

In order to push  the study of this document towards a conclusion, a dedicated workshop was organized as part of the DHARMA project in collaboration with Brice Vincent (EFEO-CASE) and Louise Roche (EFEO-EPHE/PSL-CASE) at the EFEO center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from January 20th to 26th 2020.

This text, issued by king Tribhuvanādityavarman (1149/50-ca. 1177 CE), begins with an invocation to the Buddhist deity Vajrasattva and the four bodies of the Buddha. The inscription mainly evokes one of the great Angkorian religious sites, the Buddhist temple of Vaṅśārāma (“Bamboo Grove”), known nowadays as the Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, located in the current province of Preah Vihear, at the eastern end of the eastern Angkorian road.

Ruins of the former Vaṅśārāma: the Preah Khan of Kompong Svay

This text mentions also a Buddhist fire house (vauddhavahniśilāgṛha) at Yaśodharapura (Angkor), placed  at the western end of the road that heads East from Angkor.

From west to east, this workshop was therefore an opportunity to combine text readings and field visits and to confront textual sources and material culture.

Brice Vincent, Louise Roche and Arlo Griffiths in front of the suspected ‘Buddhist fire house in stone’ at Angkor


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