Boons and curses appear considerably in the inscriptions from ancient Cambodia and some indianized states of Southeast Asia. They represent one of the earliest elements of Sanskritic culture picked up by the people of the region.
The purpose of our research is to examine three main aspects of the imprecatory and benedictory expressions, namely: hells as threats; duration of condemnations and rewards; and condemnable and rewardable persons. With special reference to Cambodian epigraphy, we propose to explain how the Khmer people in pre-Angkorian and Angkorian periods perceive, adopt and adapt the Sanskritic culture to their faith. By doing so, they create a particularity of practice which has strong hold over Khmer beliefs until the present day.
Kunthea Chhom earned her Master’s degree in Sanskrit from Magadh University – Bodh Gaya (India) in 2008 and her Doctoral degree from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes – Paris in 2016. While working as director of Preah Norodom Sihanouk-Angkor Museum in Siem Reap (Cambodia) and teaching Sanskrit at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, Chhom continues her epigraphical research and publications. An article on boons and curses in Cambodian inscriptions will be published as a result of her three-month Gonda Foundation fellowship.
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Sanskrit elements in Old Khmer language: a case study of boons and curses in epigraphy from Ancient Cambodia