Veang Thiounn

Portrait of Veang   Thiounn

Samdech Chaufea ('Lord Excellency', in Khmer) Véang Thiounn (8 Apr. 1864, Kompong Chhnang - Sep. 1946, Phnom Penh), also called Oknya Thiounn, was Minister of The Royal Palace, Treasury and Fine Arts under the French Protectorate. He started his public career as an interpreter and advisor for several French explorers, in particular as an attaché to the Mission Pavie. He also served as Prime Minister under King Norodom Sihanouk.

In 1885, Auguste Pavie recommended him to the École Cambodgienne in Paris, where young Cambodian were traind as interpreters (the school was located in Hotel de Saxe, rue Jacob). Three years later, Thiounn served as interpreter for the Pavie Mission.

In 1906, Thiounn assisted King Sisowath of Cambodia during the King's official visit to France, witnessing the performances (the first ones ever outside of the Royal Palace) of the Cambodian Royal Ballet. His account of the journey during which he developed his interest in Khmer classical dance (Voyage du roi Sisowath en France, translated from Khmer into French by Olivier de Bernon in 2006) has helped many historians (1).

After publishing a documented study on the frescoes at the Royal Pagoda Preah Oubosoth Rottanaram in 1903, with important insights on the Reamker mythology and symbolic, Samdech Chaufea (or Chauffa) wrote an important essay on Khmer classical choreography, Danses Cambodgiennes (published by Phnom Penh Buddhist Institute and illustrated by artist-researcher Sappho Marchal).


(1) Samdech Chaufea Thiounn's relation of King Sisowath 1906 journey has been published in Khmer in 2006, edited by Olivier de Bernon and Michel Antelme (Phnom Penh, National Library Press, 189 p)