Early Theravadin Cambodia: Perspectives from Art and Archaeology

$56.00 SGD

edited by Ashley Thompson

with contributions from Hiram Woodward, Tuy Danel, Samerchai Poolsuwan, Ea Darith, Yuni Sato, Nicolas Revire, and Martin Polkinghorne

One of the outstanding questions of Southeast Asian history is the nature and timing of major cultural and political shifts in the territory that was to become Cambodia, starting in the 13th century. What explains the shift in religious doctrine, different language uses (Pāli over Sanskrit, Khmer as a literary language), the radical transformation in architecture and sculptural production? How was the spread of Theravāda Buddhism related to regional political reconfigurations? What exactly was it we rather blindly label ‘Theravāda Buddhism’? Do the esoteric Buddhist traditions the region still harbours relate to this transitional period? What of the exoteric at this time? And how is 'Theravāda Buddhism' entangled with the identity shifts that over the next four hundred years gave rise to the Buddhist state now called Cambodia?

Editor Ashley Thompson has brought together the foremost scholars of premodern Cambodian art and archaeology to reflect on the relevant material evidence to probe these questions - and to push them further in exploring larger issues of Buddhist history, regional exchange networks and ethno-political identities across mainland Southeast Asia. The book will be a crucial reference for historians of Southeast Asia, and its insights into religious change will make it important reading for scholars of broader Buddhist Studies. Fully illustrated in colour, the book will appeal to those with a serious interest in the Buddhism and Buddhist art of mainland Southeast Asia.

“This collection of essays is a significant addition to the fields of Buddhist studies, art history, archaeology, and history. Scholars seeking to understand better how what is now Cambodia figured within transregional, multicentric, and multilingual processes, will benefit from this volume’s empirical and conceptual contributions.” - Anne Blackburn, Chair, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University

“This volume comprises a significant advance in investigations of Buddhism in Cambodia in general, and of Theravāda in particular. The book is the first to successfully demonstrate the complexity of what should be embraced under the term “Theravāda” with regard to Cambodia. Another key contribution is its careful examination of the multiple back-and-forth flows (between Angkor, Ayutthaya, Lan Xang…) underpinning Theravadin expression in different mainland Southeast Asia arenas.” - Ang Choulean, Professor of Historical Anthropology, Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodia

Ashley Thompson is the Hiram W. Woodward Chair in Southeast Asian Art at SOAS University of London.

Publication year: 2022
288pp / 235 x 187mm
114 colour illustrations, 19 b/w illustration

ISBN: 978-981-325-149-6
Series: Art and Archaeology of Southeast Asia: Hindu-Buddhist Traditions

NUS Press (with the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme, SOAS University of London)