C.-E. Bouillevaux

Portrait of C.-E.   Bouillevaux

Père Charles-Émile Bouillevaux (1 Apr. 1823, Montier-en-Der, France - 6 Jan. 1913, Montier-en-Der) was a French missionary and explorer who visited Angkor in December 1850 but waited until 1878 to publish an extensive account of his visit, Ma visite aux ruines cambodgiennes en 1850 (Mémoires de la Société académique indochinoise, T. 1), long after the popular interest encountered by Henri Mouhot's description.

Reaching Cochinchina in 1849, he saw Angkor in 1850 and, a few months later, stayed with the Pnong (Penongs in the French transliteration) people in Northeastern Cambodia, traveled from Sambor to Ha-Tien in nine days, then stayed in Laos from 1853 to 1855, came back briefly to Cambodia in 1855 (Battambang). Following a brief return to Europe, he served as abbot of Choquan from 1867 to 1873. He was with the Société des Missions étrangeres, a French apostolic organization which had started to send missions to the Far East as early as 1661 (to Siam) and 1664 (to Cochinchina).

Contributing several articles to the periodical Courrier de Saigon, Bouillevaux published a Map of Cambodia, two relations of his travels in 'Indochina' (Voyages dans l'Indochine, 1848-1856 (Paris, Victor Palmé, 1858) and L'Annam et le Cambodge, Voyages et notices historiques (Paris, Victor Palmé, 1874).

Many historians of Angkor, including B.P. Groslier, have argued that Pere Bouillevaux did not immediately realize the importance of Angkor, even if he visited the Khmer ruins ten years before Henri Mouhot or John Thomson. George Coedes, however, granted him the privilege to be the first Western visitor of Angkor in the 19th century.

C.E. Bouillevaux

This portrait completed Bouillevaux's paper 'Ma visite aux ruines cambodgiennes en 1850' ['My visit to the Ruins of Cambodia in 1850'] in Mémoires de la Société académique de l'Indochine, t. I, 1877. The caption in French reads: "Abbot C.E. Bouillevaux, former missionary in Indochina, abbot of Longueville (Haute-Marne), first explorer of the ruines of Ancient Cambodia (1850)."

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