Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Lecture | Friends of the Kern Institute lecture

VVIK lecture by Kunthea Chhom and Melinda Zulejka Fodor

  • Dr. Kunthea Chhom
  • Dr. Melinda Zulejka Fodor
Thursday 24 May 2018
Drinks afterwards at Matthias de Vrieshof 3 (basement)
Lecture series Society of Friends of the Kern Institute (VVIK)
University Library
Witte Singel 27
2311 BG Leiden
Heinsiuszaal (2nd floor)


‘Sanskrit elements in Old Khmer language: a case study of benedictions and imprecations in epigraphy from Ancient Cambodia’ by dr. Kunthea Chhom (Apsara National Authority Siem Reap, Cambodia; IIAS, Leiden, the Netherlands)

Ancient Cambodia (6th – 14th century CE) is relatively rich in stone inscriptions. Sanskrit and Old Khmer are the main languages of those inscribed texts. Sanskrit elements appear densely clustered in various domains in the Khmer inscriptions. Boons and curses constitute a context which suggests an imbrication of Old Khmer and Sanskrit. They represent one of the earliest elements of Sanskritic culture picked up not only by Khmer people but also by Malay, Javanese and Cam peoples. My presentation is divided into two parts. Firstly, I will argue that there is no division of role of Sanskrit and Khmer in the formulas of benedictions and imprecations. Yet, there are plenty of Sanskrit elements in Khmer expressions which show that Sanskrit has impacted not only on Khmer vocabulary but also on its syntax. Secondly, I will examine the connection between the practice of cursing-blessing and the making of a “pious act/foundation (dharma)” in Old Khmer inscriptions. Examples from inscriptions in Old Malay, Old Javanese and Old Cam will also be discussed.

Connecting ancient to modern: The Saṭṭakas, Prakrit dramas between the 10th and 18th century India’ by dr. Melinda Zulejka Fodor (UMR 7528 ‘Mondes iranien et indien’, Paris, France; IIAS, Leiden, the Netherlands)

The saṭṭaka is a hybrid genre of the classical Indian drama, mentioned first by Kohala, a contemporary of Bharata (2nd century), as a kind of nāṭikā. Both are romantic comedies in four acts, characterized by using many female characters, dances, songs and music. Due to this aspect, the nāṭikā was noted among the ten major dramatic genres and enjoyed a great popularity within royal courts. Although the saṭṭaka differs thinly from the nāṭikā, it was appreciated only thanks to the Karpūramañjarī of Rājaśekhara (9th-10th century, Kannauj). This play won fame for the author’s language choice: it was written entirely in Prakrit and not according to the socio-multilinguistic rules of classical theatre, as we can find in a nāṭikā. It became the reference of this genre, cited by theorists and copied by poets. Five later saṭṭakas came down to us between the 14th and 18th centuries, when Prakrit was far removed from spoken languages.

Kunthea Chhom

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, Kunthea 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.

Melinda Zulejka Fodor

Melinda Zulejka Fodor completed her PhD at the EPHE-PSL, Paris (2017). She is specialized in Prakrit (MA, EPHE, Paris 2009-2010), Pali, Sanskrit, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit and classical Tibetan languages (BA, TKBF, Budapest 2001-2005), her research fields are kāvya literature, poetry and Buddhist philosophy. She is member of the UMR 7528 (‘Mondes iranien et indien’) in Paris and obtained a six-months Gonda Fellowship in Leiden (2018) where she is working on a critical edition of a saṭṭaka, Ghanaśyāma’s Ānandasundarī (18th century, Thanjavur).

VVIK website

This website uses cookies.  More information.