Reading Sessions of Mekong Delta Inscriptions

The Cambodian section of DHARMA’s Task-Force C (Southeast Asia) is holding weekly reading sessions of Sanskrit and Old Khmer inscriptions from the Mekong Delta region on Friday, 10:00–12:00 (Paris time) / 16:00–18:00 (Cambodian time). The sessions’ organizers are Arlo Griffiths (EFEO Paris) and Kunthea Chhom (Apsara Authority Siem Reap).

Inscription K. 9, photo by Arlo Griffiths

The sessions are designed to help us move forward in carrying out three tasks:

1. Checking published readings of inscriptions against any available estampages or photographs;

2. Translating the texts into English;

3. Encoding our readings and translations in EpiDoc-XML.

The Mekong Delta is the region of provenance of about a hundred inscriptions datable from between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, if we understand the delta to cover the three present-day Vietnamese provinces (An Giang, Dong Thap and Tra Vinh) and six Cambodian provinces (Kandal, Kompong Speu, Kompot, Prey Veng, Takeo and Svay Rieng). The larger part of these inscriptions were composed between the 6th and the 8th century (known as pre-Angkorian period) and in Khmer and Sanskrit languages.

These sessions are intended to help us to better understand the history of religious patronage in the region focusing on the pre-Angkorian period. Perhaps showing some traces of influence from the neighboring Campā, the inscriptions from the delta region also seem to reveal some couleurs locales in the manner Buddhism and “Hinduism” were practised if compared to the contemporary texts of inland Khmer territories.

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