Angkor Database

Zhou Daguan's Customs of Cambodia new translation

by Solang & Beling Uk & Daguan Zhou

Languages : English, Khmer, Chinese

146 pages - Hardback DatASIA

ISBN: 978-1-934431-18-4

Though the Chinese merchant and emissary's travelogue to Cambodia has been previously translated to French (the oldest one by Jean-Pierre Abel-Ramusat in 1819) and then English, this is the first direct translation from ancient Chinese by authors born in Cambodia and China

This linguistical and historical prowess was initiated in 2004, when Solang Uk discovered a copy of Zhou Daguan's vivid relation of the "customs of Cambodia" in a Khmer translation authored by a famous writer killed by the Khmer Rouge, Ly Thiam Teng.

Foreword by Amir D. Aczel

For cooking, "people of Zhenla (Cambodia) bury three stones in the ground to form a fire stove", notes Zhou Daguan after his trip to Angkor in 1296. Here below, a cooking pit in a farmer's house near Kratie in 2018 (Photo DR)

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About the authors

Solang & Beling Uk

Solang (b. Tuk Meas, Cambodia) and Beling (b. Hunan, China) Uk are the authors of the first translation of Zhou Daguan's account on Angkor in the 13th century sourced from Chinese and Khmer versions of this essential testimony about the Angkorian power at its peak, before the Siamese and Cham invasions.

Daguan Zhou

Zhou Daguan (French: Tcheou Ta-Kouan) (c. 1270–?), a Chinese diplomat under the Temür Khan, authored the sole written and direct account of the customs of Cambodia and the Angkorian power that has been preserved.

Arrived at Angkor in August 1296, he remained at the court of King Indravarman III until July 1297. We know only a third of his account, The Customs of Cambodia (真臘風土記), first translated into French by the sinologist Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat in 1819, then by Paul Pelliot in 1902. In 2007, the linguist Peter Harris completed the first direct translation from Chinese to modern English. 

Angkor Database recommends the direct translation established from the ancient Chinese text into English and Khmer by native Chinese Ms. Beling Uk and native Cambodian Solang Uk in 2010 and 2011.