Note on Names of Queens in Ancient Cambodia

by Tain Gree

The etymology and meaning of the names of twenty-six illustrious queens of Ancient Cambodia.

Queen soma amazing kingdoms

Publication: Communication to the 6th International Conference on Southeast Asian Cultural Values, Siem Reap, 16-17 Dec 2010 | Royal Academy of Cambodia, Asia Research Center | Digitized paper courtesy of the author

Published: 2010

Author: Tain Gree

Pages: 8

Language : English

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Thai archaeologist and epigraphist U-Tain Wongsathit offers here a brief yet detailed study on the names of Ancient Cambodia's queens from various inscriptions. While most of them are not known by their "maiden name", the author shows that the fact that these illustrious women were named after their husbands (or fathers) did not mean that they were not honored for their own merits, knowledge and dedication to the well-being of their people.

The study also shows that remarriage of a widowed queen was widely accepted in the Khmer elites, as well as the lasting high status of the queen of a previous king, "such as in the case of Nṛpatīndralakṣmī and of Vijayendralakṣmī [1]."

Of note:

  • The two Kambujarājalakṣmīs: 1) "Kambujarājalakṣmī, queen of Bhavavarman I (K.273, 908). Name means ‘fortune of the king of the Kambujas’. She was a princess of Sūryavamáśa of Kambu and Mera through the maternal family of Śreṣtáhavarman. According to Coedes (1968: 66) she married Bhavavarman I. The inscriptions of Jayavarman VII, K.273 and K.908 compared her with the goddess Lakṣmī (V.8 jātā tadīye nanvagītakīrtti-candrollasanmātṛkulāmvurāśau rarāja lakṣmīr-iva yā satīnām agresarī kamvujarājalakṣmīḥ)." 2) "Kambujalakṣmī also called Prāṇa, queen of Jayavarman II (K.382, 534) K.382 and K.534 of the same date 893 A.D. tell us that Kambujalakṣmī was also called Prāṇa which means ‘the breath of life’ (Kambujalakṣmīs sā Prāṇākhyāpy-anujā satī). Prāṇa is considered as her original name. She got the prestige name of Kambujalakṣmī probably after becoming Devī of the king. She was a daughter of Piṅsvaṅgrāmavatī, and had a son named Dharmavardhana."
  • Indradevi I: "Indradevī was the queen of Indravarman and mother of Yaśovarman. She descended from the line of King Puṣkarākṣa, the ancient royal family of Vyādhapura, Śambhupura and Aninditapura. According to 14 digraphic inscriptions (K.42, 45, 47, 57, 95, 101, 110, 223, 309, 323, 346, 362,479 and 1005) of Yaśovarman, Indradevī was a daughter of king Mahīpativarman, and this Mahīpativarman was the son of Rajendravarman I of Chenla with his queen Nṛpatīndradevī. Rajendravarman I was connected with the royal family of Vyādhapura through his mother, and was a descendant of Puṣkarākṣa. Indradevī’s mother was the queen Rajendradevī who was descended from a royal family founded by Agastya [2], a Brahmin from Aryadeśa i.e. India. Since Indravarman was a remote relative of the former kings, Jayavarman II and III, the marriage to Indradevī might have paved the way for his accession to the throne."
  • Indradevi II: "Indradevī, queen of Jayavarman VII (K.485 B/42, C/13, D/30): her name implies the Devī of Lord and she was the elder sister of Jayarājadevī, the first queen of Jayavarman VII. After the death of Jayarājadevī the King married her. She was prised in the inscription that ‘her knowledge surpassed the knowledge of the philosophers’, and was appointed as principal teacher of the Buddhist monastery. She was credited for composing the impeccable Sanskrit in K.485, Phimanakas inscription containing a panegyric of her sister and biographical information on career of Jayavarman VII."

[1] Queen Vijayaendralakhsmi (11th century) married first the yuvaraja of Mahidharapura, then Jayavarman VI and finally Dharanindravarman I.

[2] In Prof. Bagchi study on Tantric Texts in Ancient Kambuja, we read that In the inscription of Prah vat we find mention of a Brahmin, named Agastya related to the royal family, who originally came from the Aryadesa."

Photo: a modern visualization of Queen Soma សោមា (Neang Neak), the legendary or real first queen of Funan and thus of Cambodia (photo Amazing Kingdoms)

Tags: Queens & Kings of Cambodia, Indradevi, women, Lakhsmi, goddesses, epigraphy

About the Author

U tain wongsathit

Tain Gree

Tain Gree (also U-Tain Wongsathit อุเทน วงศ์สถิตย์) is a researcher in Epigraphy, Philology, Historical Linguistics and History of Religion, lecturer at the Department of Oriental Languages and at the Faculty of Archaeology, Silpakorn University, Thailand.

He specializes in the study of Indian Inscriptions, and Southeast Asian inscriptions and manuscripts in Sanskrit, Pali, Khmer and Thai languages.