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The Laos historic and Modern Collections




 Dr Iwan Suwandy

Private limites E-Book in CD-ROM Edition

Copyright @ Dr Iwan suwandy 2011


 When I visit Laos in 2011, very difficult to get the Laos Hsitoric and modern Informations, after seeking everywhere i have found some info,and when back to Jakarta I am starting to seeking more info to write some articles about Laos such as Pathet Lao Historic Collections,Laos during Indochina,now other info will put in this E-BOOK

This is onle the sample ,If you want to geet the complete info please subscribed as premiuj member via comment

Jakarta Janary 2012

Dr Iwan suwandy

Note: be patient the info still on upload processing

 I write this E-Book special for traveler and someone who interest about Laos


 After my arrival in Laos my perception of South East Asia would be changed forever, as would my way of thinking and seeing the broader world.

4 days in Bangkok had left me a tad overawed as to what I had got myself into (a 6 month project travelling the length and breadth of Laos); I was not the type of person who wanted to be thrown into the deep end in an ever changing fast paced metropolitan society. 

As the Laos Airways ATR-72 (2nd hand from Vietnam Air I was assured?!) descended through the sparse cloud covering into Luang Prabang I was left wondering as to the whereabouts of town. As far as I could see it was large rolling hills covered in lush green rainforest and red soil. It was at this stage I regretted not researching more about Laos. A check and US$30 handed to customs later I had my first (of six) Laos visas stuck into my passport. Upon stepping out of the airport I became very confused very quickly, what I had become accustomed to in Bangkok, the constant touting of anyone slightly tourist looking, was completely absent. It then struck me, how would I get to where I was going without a tuk-tuk? I quickly spied the tuk-tuk rank 100m away from the entrance I made my way over where I discovered it was more like an impromptu siesta stop. After finding one tuk-tuk driver that was willing to take me into town I took a deep breath, threw my back pack on the tray of the tuk-tuk and had one of those ‘well here goes nothing’ moments.  

After one month of getting used to the lifestyle in Laos it was time to get out and explore what this magnificent country had to offer. Of the six months I was in Laos I was travelling / exploring for four of them both on public transport and an old brown land cruiser which I named Piripi. I had a couple of guide books which I promptly threw out as information held within these tomes was often different from what was on the ground or even obsolete. The locals of Laos are by far the best guides as they will always take you that step further to some amazing off the beaten path places.  

Slowly getting accustomed to Laos is the only thing you can do. And slowly (read Lazy) is the most apt way to explain how things get done in Laos. This is by far from a negative though, as it provides respite from what can often be seen as the blur and fury of activity of South East Asia. So with a lack of tourist infrastructure and this laid back nature you get one of the most charming and generous countries you will ever visit as well as one of the final bastions of true explorative travel.

A view from Laos

Why Laos

Laos is a country that people know little about and they often ask why they should go. The main reason is that Laos has not been exposed to tourism and western culture (and often many other local cultures) for so long. This gives Laos a very undiscovered and natural fell to it, uncommon in large parts of South East Asia. In 1975 the country became communist and tourism was stopped and it was not until the mid 90’s that the government allowed people into the country, even then it was only Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane that people were allowed to visit. This is why 90% of travellers will only travel this route as it is all that is well know (really taking the emphasis out of a unique Lao adventure). It reminds me of a quote from Alex Garland (who wrote The Beach): “everyone tries to do something different, but you always wind up doing the same thing.” The countries south opened up in the early 2000’s and is now becoming a more popular tourist destination and as a gateway to Cambodia and Vietnam as well now drawing travellers to this region. However, it is the unknown that keeps drawing voyagers to Laos.

Culture Identity and Protection

I decided to write this section before any other information as keeping Laos the way it is now will be the only way to sustain it as the jewel of the Mekong (people are always saying this is what Thailand was like before the tourists arrived!). Like the rest of South East Asia many people can see that a flood of tourists could potentially do more harm than good. There are a number of actions that you as travellers can do to protect these ideals.  Firstly, is to learn the cultural do’s and don’ts of Laos, this as a bare minimum will help to maintain the local culture, you can find these at the Tourism Laos website.

Secondly, where you can you should support local markets and goods as this puts money back into the community and keeps the real ‘old world’ feel about Laos. Supporting local and government backed projects are also a really good way to help out the local communities (Laos is consistently rated as one of the poorer countries in the world). One of the better and karma inducing projects is the Big Brother Mouse Group. Picking up a bunch of these books and giving them out to local children is far better than handing out money as the former often encourages begging.

Monks in Luang Prabang


Much like the rest of South East Asia, Laos can be divided up into two main seasons, wet and dry. 

The wet season usually lasts from May through to August. The dry season is November through to March. In between the seasons there are shoulder months which can go either way depending on weather patterns. The busiest season to travel in Laos is definitely the high season but often the better season is the wet season owing to fewer travellers. Also, the rain rejuvenates the rainforest bringing out the full flourish of the flora and fauna. The rain is always a welcome relief for the hot weather as well! 

As a general rule any mountainous regions north of Luang Prabang can get quite cool during the winter (as low as 5 degrees) so be prepared for that if you are considering trekking and down the south during summer can see the temperature pushing 40 degrees centigrade with almost 100% humidity.


I decided to just write about the main points that I know here otherwise I would just be paraphrasing a majority of information from other well-known publications.

The history of Laos is long and varied. So long and varied that I don’t want to repeat most of it here so I will just talk about the main points. Laos, as a country has been the site and often centre for many of South East Asia’s conflicts for the past 600 years or so and this could be the reason for the dozens of different cultural groups which are present all through Laos and what gives it the patchwork like ethnic and social make up it has to this very day.

Laos was once known as Lan Xang, the land of a million elephants and it was the cultural centre of South East Asia. Since the mid fifteen-hundreds Laos has been fought over and the one time capital Luang Prabang used to be the capital of a larger South East Asian region. It was also home to the famed emerald Buddha which now resides (after stolen by the Siamese) in Bangkok. Throughout the last 500 years Laos has been the site of many a battle and a few wars. The latest leaving the longest and largest scars on the people and the Landscape. During the Vietnam war Laos (under the Geneva Convention) declared itself neutral, but this did not stop both sides (Vietnamese and USA) courting the Laos government with aid and all sorts of other gifts. At one stage the USA even gifted the Laos government enough concrete to build an international airport runway which the Laos people then went and used to build a large national memorial with. After the Vietnamese war ended the Pathet Laos took over the government restricted tourism to virtually nothing until the mid nineties giving Laos, today, its old school charm.

History of Laos


Previous, during and after my travel to Laos I have heard some really good stories from people about their visas for Laos. One of the most common stories is that people only receive 15 days for Laos on entry. This is not true.  Most visas are (at the time of writing) 35 USD for 30 days. You can get these visas at your local Laotian embassy or the much easier option is to get them on entry to Laos. It doesn’t matter whether you come by bus, train, boat or plane all visas are for 30 days. Be aware the relaxed Laos customs workers don’t like working on weekends so you will be charged 1 USD extra for entering Laos.


Transport in Laos can often be worrying and bordering on death defying but does not need to be. There are three main ways of travelling between local centres, flying, boat and bussing. All of these have there positives and negatives and I will try and lay them out below


There are three international airports in Laos – Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse. For these airports most of a South East Asia’s main hubs can be reached from these airports. You can also reach many of the smaller centres internally by flight as well. It’s definitely the quickest way to get from one place to another in Laos (a very un-Lao way of getting around) but with few airlines operating in and out of Laos this means flying is expensive.  The worst part about flying in Laos is the fact that you will miss out on all the amazing things in between towns which you fly over.


The river systems in Laos are often the next best way of getting around locally in Laos. For some really amazing places this is frequently the only way to get these places. During dry season some of the boat routes may not be passable due to low river levels. However, the Mekong River and its main tributaries are navigable almost all year round many people will get a 2 day long boat from Huay Xai in the North West to Luang Prabang. This journey (as with public busses) often has a 50% success rate. What I mean here is that 50% of the people that you talk to have said they thought the boat was a good idea, 50% said sitting on a small wooden slat for two days rated as one of the worst experiences they ever had. A quicker speed boat which travels the same route but only takes only takes one day is available; this is definitely a very dangerous way to travel. I have done this once which resulted in a minor boat accident that resulted in me using my backpack as a flotation device.


Public busses most common form of transport within Laos. Again, if you have a group of people standing in front of you, as with the boats about 50% of them will say they had an ok time and 50% would say they had a horrible experience and never do it again. Busses are commonly divided into three groups – express, Bus and VIP. The good thing about these busses is that they are cheap. But that’s about where the good ends. 

A common occurrence is busses not leaving until they are full and timetables changing minute before busses leave. The worst I found was the fact that they were point-to-point direct busses, stopping once along the way for a combined food and toilet stop. This means missing out on some amazing stuff along the way. The busses are large and on small windy roads this does nothing for motion sickness. It should also be noted that almost all Bus stations are out of town and you will have to pay for a tuk-tuk to your guest house or other destination. The smaller minivans are definitely the better way to travel. Unfortunately for anyone over 182cm in height they aren’t that great as the mini in minivan really means that – Laotian minivans built for Laotian sized people.

There are a number of private tours you can do with fixed itinerary and guides with companies such as Intrepid, Gap, Kamuka and Exetissimo through the main destinations. A flexible, guided, hop-on hop-off style bus (Stray Asia) has also recently started operating through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia which seems like the best way to visit some out of the tourist limelight destinations and it’s something that I would really recommend. 


Most towns will offer up the option of motorbike/scooter hire. This is often a popular option for day trips and multi-day trips should only be experienced by experienced riders as the roads (and sometimes trails) in some parts could be described by the phrase ‘poor at best’.

A Laosation boat

Places to Visit – Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage area famed for its blend of beautiful old Buddhist temples and nineteenth century French architecture. This town quickly becomes a favourite in most people’s eyes throughout the entire globe. From the daily alms ceremony at dawn every morning to the morning meat markets which follow just south east of town on the main road (Pothisalath) to the stunning waterfalls and Asiatic Black Bear at Kuang Si this town can easily waste away your days and weeks. 

Phou Si Mountain is a great place to invest in locally produced goods and just to see what the ladies bring in from in villages all around Luang Prabang. This market springs up around dusk every day. Another thing to check out while in Luang Prabang is the myriad of villages accessed by boat both up and down the Mekong River. Aptly named examples such as the Paper making village and Whisky village can be reached by the boat jetty near the amazing Wat Xieng Thong (well worth two hours walking around and exploring in itself). Be careful when touting a boat ride that your captain gives you a fair price (ask around other captains and travel agencies in town) and is not drunk. 

This reminds me as well about the tuk-tuk mafia. These guys are all around town and sit around the main tourist haunts. While these guys can give you a really good price for a trip out to Kuang Si waterfall park they are less than ideal for getting about town. For getting about town I would recommend using the New York City Taxi approach and just flag one down on the side of the road.   

Luang Prabang is where I spent a majority of my time and every time I returned I was able to be entertained by something different. If heading out of town try and find a restaurant in Ban Khoy. Here you can try and catch your fish for dinner in the ponds at the rear of the building then try your hand at on of the fiercest Petang (the national sport, similar to Pentanque or Boules) courts in all of Laos. 

Most things you may wish to do in Laos can be done in Luang Prabang or at least accessed from here any way. Another popular attraction is Phou Si Mountain. A rather large hill (the highest point) in the idle of town, this can be climbed (for around 20,000 Kip) and is well worth the view. However, everybody knows about this place and consequently goes there at sunset. 

If you are going to get up for the morning Alms ceremony with the monks, get up about half an hour earlier and head up here for sunrise, all to your self. The food in Luang Prabang can be either western based (I say this with a word of caution, nothing will be quite the same as home) or local. The best local fares are to be had down a side alley of the night market. Always fresh and cooked on the spot you can eat whatever you want and like a king. 

For a more restaurant style of food check the restaurants at the Phou Vao end of Manomai (particularly the amazing Lao BBQ) and for desert you have to hit up my best bud old man crepes, who sells crepes from his mobile kitchen here most nights.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Where to from here?

You can get Nong Khiaw or Phonsovan from Luang Prabang but beyond here in the northeast you will most likely struggle to find consistent and safe public transport to the amazingly isolated towns of Vieng Xai, Sam Neua, Vieng Thong and Muang Khoun. These places really are the heart of Laos and are not really geared up for tourism (except for Phonsovan) so are truly eye opening and humbling to any regular backpacker.

Most people come down the river from Huay Xai via Long boat but miss the amazing North West of Laos. Huay Xai is home to the original Gibbon Experience and although you may not necessersarily get to see them you will get to hear what David Attenborough describes as the voice of the jungle. 

However, they will miss out on the amazing country that is there. Up here is the highest (reported) diversity of ethnic groups (numbers range from 30-130) which makes this place the best for any trekking to hill tribes in Laos.  You may also want to access Phongsali, from Odoumxai which again is a very secluded beautiful mountainous area exploding with home stay and trekking opportunities.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng definitely knows what it is. It is the most Thai like of any of the towns in Laos. If you haven’t already heard about tubing there then you probably haven’t heard much about Laos. It was this tubing attraction that initially attracted tourist here in the early 2000’s (with some getting a tubing trip with out any bars?!). 

Basically the main attraction in town is a 2km section of the Nam Song River. After surrendering around 100,000 kip you will be given a tube and a tuk-tuk ride to the Bar 2. Here starts a very vibrant and sometimes hazy trip down a river. During this two kilometre section of river there are a dozen bars in which you should expect to find buckets, beers, loud music, mud football, mud volleyball, slides, jumps, and a lot of partying. Just remember if you get to the red bridge you need to get out of the river as it’s quite a long float back into town.

There are many other things to do in Vang Vieng now thanks to the tourism. Rock Climbing, kayaking, rafting, trekking, hot air ballooning, motorbike hire or even just checking out one of the many caves to the west of the town. 

When walking down the main street of town you will grow accustomed to the sound of canned laughter as constant reruns of Friends, The Simpsons and Family Guy echo down the road. One also needs to be acutely aware of the word ‘happy’ prefixing a meal or drink choice as this normally leads to a mind altering experience. A beautiful place to relax during the day  is the north end of  Don Khang but this is will quickly turn into a Thai style party area come nightfall.

If you want to avoid all this then it is very easy to do by crossing the permanent bridge just south of town towards the west where you will find a number of small, cosy and most importantly quiet, guest houses.

Vang Vieng, Laos

Where to from here?

It’s either north or south from Vang Vieng as Route 13 is the only road that services it. To the north lies Luang Prabang and just before this lies the turn off for Phonsovan and the amazing heritage rich north east area along Routes, 7, 6 and 1C. Have your cameras ready along this route though as it winds it way up through stunning kaarst landscape. South lies the capital Vientiane as well as the large man made lake of Nam Ngum Dam.


The 450 year old Lao capital that sits on the side of the Mekong isn’t exactly the most exciting prospect on the face of it, however, a little delving and there are some fairly interesting things that can be done in and around this city. 

Vientiane and Luang Prabang both pay homage to the French Indochina time period, Luang Prabang has retained a lot of the buildings where Vientiane has retained a large portion of the Culture. To get in and out of Laos to Thailand from Nong Khai (from the train) requires about a 20 min tuk-tuk ride. Most overnight busses from Thailand will take you to the bus station in Vientiane. 

A few things that are a must to check out and do in Vientiane are Xieng Khuan (the Buddha Park), Patuxai, That Dam, Pha That Luang, Thong Khan Kham Market and the Mekong night food markets.

Xieng Khuan is one two Buddha parks the other is on the opposite side of the Mekong river) built in the 1950’s. A crash course in the Lao Buddhist culture and Buddhism statues in general for the uninitiated. 

Patuxai is the national memorial built of concrete that was intended to be an airport runway. It harks back to the French influenced times. 

That Dam is one of the oldest standing stupa in the city. It provides a stark contrast to that of the busy motorcycle filled roads of the capital. 

Pha That Luang on the other hand is a more modern and far larger complex. It consists of a number of large golden temples as well as one of the largest stupa you will ever lay your eyes on. As you walk in to your left you will see a large open concrete area that most likely used to be a runway at some point. 

Thong Khan Kham market is a large local market with just about everything under the sun in it. Particularly interesting for its live food fare which (not for the squeamish) can often be prepared for you right on the spot. 

There is no better way to finish of a day in Vientiane than going down to the Mekong waterfront in the centre of town and chowing down on some local fare on the sand then cruising up to the 3rd story bar Bor Pen Yang for a cool, refreshing Beerlao. The old sector of town just back from Bor Pen Yang is also a really cool little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Some street food

Where to from here?

I have travelled to some amazing places outside of Vientiane. Two of them lie to the east and I tried desperately to reach them on public transport (twice!) proved impossible so I had to make a trip back with my trusty Land Cruiser. The first spot is nestled in the Phu Khao Khuay national protected area, a little spot called Tad Leuk. It’s a really cool little waterfall campsite with a few little treks around the area. Stunningly peaceful during the dry season and powerfully forceful during the wet season makes this waterfall a real pleasure to visit. 

Just down the road from Tad Leuk but also in the Phu Khao Khuay national park is the well known village Ban Na. The locals have constructed a large tree top platform with cooking and sleeping facilities cool enough by itself, but when the local elephants come to taste the salt lick it becomes incredible. It should be noted that of the two times I visited I only saw the elephants once.  Its nature, nobody can control it. 

The second area that I was astounded by was Kong Lor. This translates to something like 7km cave and the locals don’t lie. This huge cave structure (7 km long fondly enough) has a large cathedral like open area in the middle. For a fee of around 50,000 kip the local boat man can take you through the cave, have a feed with the local tribe on the other side then take you back through. Truly an amazing experience.


Pakse is really just a gate way to some of the most amazing sites in Laos. It is quite far removed from the tourist hub of the north. The Mekong is the life and soul of this town and it winds its way through the centre. Most people consider Pakse a transit point for Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand but there are definitely a few things you must check out while around the region. 

The Wat Phou complex is Laos’ second UNESCO world heritage area and dates back 1,500 years. It is rarely visited as again it’s off the track where most travellers fail to visit but you can get there by boat from Pakse or further south at Muang. I heard that the Lao were building a bridge across the Mekong down so access may become a lot easier. 

The Bolaven Plateau is also has a really good few days in it with some cool spots to check out along the way. My favourite place to reside while here is either the quaint dusty road settlement of Tad Lo or the more upmarket places hidden amongst the jungles around Tad Fan. Tad Lo is home to a constantly flowing water fall, thanks to a dam further up stream and an elephant ride through the waterfall always feels really good. In the middle of Tad Fan and Tad Lo are plantations of some of the strongest coffee beans on the planet. These bad boys will have you seeing straight and true for kilometres and there are a few plantations where you can join a tour that lets you pick your own beans and take them through the entire roasting process right up to the drinking the coffee itself. 

For those tea people out there many of the coffee plantations also have tea trees growing on site and for those of you that don’t enjoy hot drinks a cold Beerlao is never far away. As well as the plantations there are a few interesting villages along the way, one which slightly escapes my mind but I have a feeling they worship the dead (maybe) and some other villages that produce some really nice textiles and weaves and such.

The best place close to Pakse however is Si Pha Don or in English, the four thousand islands. This area of the Mekong is up to four kilometres wide in sections and during the dry season there really are four thousand islands.  There are three main islands that you can stay on (read; dry all year round), the well structured and larger of the three Don Khong, and Don Det and Don Khon which are connected by an old French bridge. The former two have much older world charm to the and better access the dolphin spotting areas as well as the Li Phi and Koh Phapeng water falls. The people here are so laid back it’s really refreshing. These islands are a perfect place to relax as well with almost every guest house having access to a hammock over looking the Mekong. The highlight of this area is the presence of the Irrawaddy river dolphins. These dolphins are super rare and you can take sight seeing trips from most of the islands. Again, it is nature so it’s not guaranteed that you will see them but if you are there between the months of November and March you have the best chance due to the lower water levels.  Another awesome thing to do down here is hire a boat guide to take you and your mates fishing in the afternoon, then after getting enough for a feed he can take you to your own island, you can sit back and relax while dinner is prepared and cooked with a satisfying Beerlao and then watch the sun go down on the way home. 

Boating on the Mekong

Where to from here?

From Pakse you can easily get into Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Remember for Thai visas you need to present your transport out of Thailand to get in, Cambodian visas are best applied for in advance however you can get them on entry into Cambodia as well. Vietnam requires you must have a tourist visa prior to entry so that must be applied for before you start travelling.


 The legend of Wan Hu, whose tale seems a particularly fine jump off point for an alternate history story.

One account by Herbert Zim in 1945 claims that “Early in the sixteenth century, Wan decided to take advantage of China’s advanced rocket and fireworks technology to launch himself into outer space. He supposedly had a chair built with forty-seven rockets attached. On the day of lift-off, Wan, splendidly attired, climbed into his rocket chair and forty seven servants lit the fuses and then hastily ran for cover. There was a huge explosion. When the smoke cleared, Wan and the chair were gone, and was said never to have been seen again.”
Wan Hu was a minor official of the Ming Dynasty believed to have died around 1500 CE or what would have been the Lao year 2043. It would be interesting to examine how different history would have been if he had succeeded.Depending on who you turn to in China, Wan Hu possibly managed to lift himself a foot using rockets. In most Chinese accounts though, he is considered just an unfortunate pioneer of space travel who burned to death or was blown to pieces because of the explosion caused by the rockets, and didn’t really succeed in becoming the first astronaut in history.Still, he gets credit for having the nerve to try.

From a Lao point of view, if 1500 is accurate,
Victory gate of Lan Xang
In Lan Xang,
this is the transition period between Somphou, who reigned between 1495-1500 and Visunarath who reigned between 1500-1520.
Lan Xang is approximately 150 years old, and 141 years away from first contact with the Dutch.
A few years earlier, Wan Hu would have been alive as Laasaenthai, the sixth son of King Sai Tia Kaphut, ruled. Crowned in 1491, Laasaenthai enjoyed peaceful relations with his neighbours in Annam and cultivated good relations with Ayudhya, “spending much of his time contemplating religious and legal matters, furthering the spread of Buddhism and building monuments.” Sompou, who succeeds Laasaenthai, is his only son, according to historic records.I imagine they all would have been very interested in the inquiries of Wan Hu. Even today, Lao celebrate our rocket festivals with great enthusiasm. What support might they have given him, what ventures might they have taken up on their own? And to be fair to Wan Hu’s own experience, what misadventures?

For reference sake, this was also the era of the Hongzhi Emperor, Zhu Youcheng, who reigned between 1470-1505, and just a few years after Columbus reached the Americas in 1492, while Henry VII rules England. Ramathibodhi II rules Autthaya and Sukhothai. In Cambodia, they are ruled by Thommareachea I in the Charktomok era.


The ancient Khmer religious complex of Wat Phu is one of the highlights of any trip to Laos. Stretching 1400 m up to the lower slopes of the Phu Pasak range (also known more colloquially as Phu Khuai or Mt Penis), Wat Phu is small compared with the monumental Angkor-era sites near Siem Reap in Cambodia. But the tumbledown pavilions, ornate Shiva-lingam sanctuary, enigmatic crocodile stone and tall trees that shroud much of the site in soothing shade give Wat Phu an almost mystical atmosphere. These, and a site layout that is unique in Khmer architecture, led to Unesco declaring the Wat Phu complex a World Heritage Site in 2001.

Sanskrit inscriptions and Chinese sources confirm the site has been worshiped since the mid 5th century. The temple complex was designed as a worldly imitation of heaven and fitted into a larger plan that evolved to include a network of roads, cities, settlement and other temples. What you see today is the product of centuries of building, rebuilding, alteration and addition, with the most recent structures dating from the late Angkorian period.

At its height the temple and nearby city formed the most important economic and political center in the region. But despite its historic importance, the 84 ha site remains in considerable danger from the elements. Detailed studies reveal that water erosion is pressuring the site and without a systematic water management plan the buildings will eventually collapse. Italian and Japanese funded the projects have helped stabilize the southern of two ancient canals built to channel water away from the central structures. However, the equally important northern side of the site. To see it, compare the relatively intact terraced steps and pavilions on the south of the site with those on the north, With about 1 million needed to repaired the northern canal and terrace, Wat Phu’s future is by no means secure.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Years of work by the Italian Archaeological Mission and the inimitable Dr Patrizia Zolese, the leading expert on Wat Phu who has been working at the site since 1990, have resulted in the first detailed map on the site and surrounding 400 sq km, revealing much about way the ancients lived. During the last two years the local and falang archaeologists have restored the ceremonial causeway, replacing slabs and re-erecting stone makers that had been scattered across the site. Restoration of the Nandi Hall is underway and is expected to be finished in 2009.

Don’t miss the museum ( 8am – 4.30 pm) beside the ticket office. Extensive cataloging work has recently been completed on the dozens of lintels, nagas (mythical water serpents), Buddhas and other stone work from Wat Phu and it associated sites. Descriptions are in English.


Under the palm trees and rice paddies 4km south of Champasak town is the remains of a city
that was about 1500 years ago, the capital of the Mon-Khmer Chenla kingdom. The site is known today as Muang Kao (Old City), but scholars believe It was called Shreitapura.

Aerial photographs show the remains of rectangular city measuring by 2.3km bay 1.8 km, surrounded bay double earthen walls on three sides and protected on the east by the Mekong river. Other traces of the old city include small baray, stone implements and ceramics. The sum of all this is an extremely rare example of an ancient urban settlement in the southeast Asia, one whose design reveals how important religious belief was in the workings of everyday life.
The original of the city remained a mystery until Southeast Asia’s oldest Sankrit inscription was discovered here. The 5th century stele stated the city was founded by king Devanika and was called Kuruksetra and also mentions the auspicious Sri Lingaparvata nearby, A clear reference to the mountain near Wat Phu Champasak. The “Honoured since antiquity” the mountain was believed to be the residence or the manifestation of the Hindu god Shiva, and even today local people honoured the mountain as the place of Phi Intha (the soul of protecting spirit of the mountain)
By the end of the 5th century the city was thriving. It continues as a major regional center until at least the 7th century, as showed by two Nandi Pedestal ( Shiva’s bull mount ) sculptures discovered in 1994-1995 bearing inscriptions by king Citrasena- Mahendaravarman, the conqueror who later shifted the kingdom’s capital to Sambor Prei Kuk in northeast Cambodia. Archaelogical material suggest the city was inhabited until the 16th century.

On going research bay Dr Zolese and her team has reveal that a second city was built near the Wat Phu after the 9th century. She believes the Nang Sida temple was at the centre of this city, which was probably Lingapura, a place mentioned in many ancient inscriptions but which has not been categorically identified by modern scholars.




Laos Travel GuidePakse

Pakse sits a the confluence of the Mekong River and the SeDon ( Don River ) and is the capital of Champasak province. The town has grown quickly since the Lao –Japanese Bridge across the Mekong was opened in 2002, facilitating brisk trade with Thailand. Its position on the way to Si Phan Don in the far south, the Bolaven Plateau and remote provinces to the east, and Thailand to the west means anyone choosing to travel in the south will almost certainly spend time in Pakse.

The centre of Pakse retains the sort of Mekong river – town lethargy found in Savanakhet and Tha Khaek futher north. Fewer conolial – era buildings remain, though do look for the Franco – Chinese – style Chinese society building on Th 10 in the centre of town.

The vast Talat Dao Heung ( new market ) near the Lao – Japanese Bridge is one of the biggest in the country. Famous for its selection of fresh produce of coffee from the fertile Bolaven Plateau. Short day trips from the Pakse can made to Ban Saphai and Don Kho weaving centres 15 km north of town.


Champasak historical Heritage

Has a few artifacts and a lot of boring documents chronicling history of the province. Once you get past the Lao and communist hammer – and – sickle flags at the entrance you are in the best part of the museum – three very old Dong Son bronze drums and striking 7th –century sandstone lintels found at Uo Moung (Tomo Temple). The simple textile and jewellery collection from the Nyaheun, Suay, and Laven groups is also interesting for its large iron ankle bracelets and ivory ear plugs since these are rarely worn nowadays.

Also on the ground floor are musical instruments, stelae in the Tham script dating from the 15th to 18th centuries, a water jar from the 11th or 12th century, a small lingam ( Shiva phallus ), plus a model of Wat Phu Champasak.

One you head upstairs you’ll be beginning you last five minutes in the museum. Apart a small collection of Buddha images and forlorn – looking American weaponry. It’s all headshots of party members.

There are about 20 wats in the city, of which Wat Luang and Wat Tham Fai ( both founded in 1935 ) are the largest.

A monastic school at Wat Luang features ornate concrete pillars whimsy departs from canonical art without losing the traditional effect. Behind the sim is a monk’s school in an original wooden building. A thaat on the ground contains the ashes of
Khamtay Loun Sasothit,a former prime minister in the Royal Lao Government.

Wat Tham Fai, near the Champasak Palace Hotel is undistinguished except for its spacious ground, making it a prime site for temple festival. It’s also known as Wat Pha Baht because there is a small Buddha footprint shrine. The stupas and Pepsi billboard near Rte 13 make good photos in the afternoon.

It will be 21 years before Magellan reaches the Philippines and 11 years before Malacca is conquered by Portugal, ending almost 100 years of the Malacca sultanate, which at the time was led by the sultan Mahmud Shah. Mahmud Shah is connected with the Malay legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang, which is about his failed courtship of a fairy princess.

In the century before, movable type printing has also been developed in Asia. Under the rule of Yongle Emperor, the Ming Dynasty territory reaches its pinnacle, the Forbidden City is built and Zhenghe has been commanded to explore the world overseas. Tamerlane established a major empire in the Middle East and Central Asia, in order to revive the Mongolian Empire. Also, the Inca Empire has risen to prominence in South America.


Possible steampunk or alternate history directions could be: What if Wan Hu didn’t make it to the moon, but made it to Lan Xang. (Or made it to the moon and found a way back to earth, landing in Lan Xang?) Or perhaps, what happens if Wan Hu’s experiment is still a failure but news of it inspires others to try, and perhaps someone in Lan Xang figures it out. Or thinks of something more interesting to do than try to go to the moon.

As the old saying goes, “Aim for the moon, hit the cow.”

“Court forms of dance theatre were established as Lao kings copied customs of powerful neighboring monarchs. Tradition holds that Cambodian (Khmer) court dance, along with the Ramayana and Jataka repertoire were introduced to Laos by Prince Fa Nguan in 1353. During the 14th century the Lao kingdom of Lan Sang (‘Million Elephants’) was established and in this time the Khmer monarchs with their troupe of female wives-dancers were the epitome of potent kingship in the region. Keeping up with the Khmer meant establishing female court dance with movement and repertoire modeled on Khmer practice. The Lao kings were never as rich as the rulers of Angkor. Nor could the Lao compete later in the 15th century with Thai rulers who, first at Ayutthaya and later in Bangkok, emulated Khmer practice… Just as Lan Sang in the early period aped Angkor, the small courts established by partition in 1700- Luang Prabang, Wiangjun and Chapassak – imitated Thai models: Thai female court dance LAKON FAI NAI, male masked dance drama KHON and shadow play NANG yai were taught and performed at court. The Lao chose not to alter the forms: the Royal Lao Ballet of the 1960s in Luang Prabang included only female dancers, the best of whom had trained in Bangkok. Rather than staging full dance dramas like the Thai and Cambodians, this smaller court favoured solo and small group dances” (Brandon, 191)

 It has been 123 years since the Dutch first came to visit Laos in 1641, but they have never really had much contact with Europe since. It is approaching 60 years since Lan Xang splintered into three kingdoms. Ong Long is nearing the end of his reign in Vientiane, which is a vassal state to Burma, and will be succeeded by Ong Bun. In Champassak, Sayakumane is in the middle of his reign (1737-1791). In Luang Prabang, Sotika-Kuomane is the ruler, and also approaching the end of his 19-year reign (1749-1768) but by 1765 they will also be a vassal state to Burma.

Because of this, we should make note of Hsinbyushin, the Burmese monarch, who has just started his reign in 1763. He will go on to be recognized as the most militaristic king of his dynasty, and will successfully repel 4 Chinese invasions and end the Ayutthaya Dynasty, at the time led by Somdet Phra Chao Ekkathat, who would die in 1767.With the end of the Ayutthaya Dynasty, their kingdom descends into chaos as provinces proclaimed independence under generals, rogue monks, and various members of the royal family. King Taksin would eventually rise from this to try and reunite the kingdom.Cambodia is in the middle of its Dark Ages, while the Nguyen Lords are in charge of what we would today consider South Vietnam, notably Nguyen Phuc Koat, who is approaching the last year of his reign, and will be succeeded by Nguyen Phuc Thuan VERY briefly. Trinh Doanh of the Trinh Lords is nearing the end of his reign (1767).

Malacca, or what we know as Malaysia, is under Dutch control, with a recent transition in power from David Boelen to Thomas Schippers. The Dutch have ruled for 123 years now, after ousting the Portuguese in 1641.

To the north, in China, we see the reign of the Qianlong Emperor, Hongli, who ruled between 1735–1796, during the height of the Qing Dynasty’s power as they ruled over 13 million square kilometers of territory. In 1755, or nine years earlier, the tallest wodden Bodhisattva statue in the world has been erected at the Puning Temple in Chengde.

Historically, in 1764, the new Ottoman Sultan Mustafa IIIhas just risen to power. Over the course of his reign he would not be considered very good at selecting his councilors and commanders. History regarded him as a headstrong and hasty man, which further compounded the effects of his poor decisions. However, historians consider him very industrious and talented, and that he was dedicated to promoting the interests of the Ottoman Empire. Recognizing he was not very good at war, he did what he could to avoid it.Catherine the II of Russiahas been on the throne just 2 years, and will eventually annex the Crimea from the Ottoman Empire. Interestingly, in 1765, she will also authorize a new way to prepare vodka. Notably, in 1766, Ivan Polzunov will invent a two-cylinder engine. Might an earlier version emerge elsewhere in Asia?

In Japan, the 117th emperor is the Empress Go-Sakuramachi. She is two years into her reign as regent after her brother, the Emperor Momozono abdicated in 1762 and died later that year at the age of 21. 

Korea is known at the time as Joseon and, the ruler of this era is Jeongjo of Joseon who will become widely regarded as one of the most visionary of the rulers of Joseon.


Meanwhile in 1764, historically, we see the Battle of Buxar, where the British East India Company defeats the combined armies of Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal, the Nawab of Awadh, and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. King George the III rules Britain and is dealing with some rascal colonists abroad talking about liberty and other notions. Among European nations, muzzle-loaded flintlock muskets are the primary firearms used in conflicts at this time (and will be until approximately 1840.) 

Louis XVis the king of France and currently paving the road to the French Revolution with awful financial policies, unpopular wars and disgraceful debauchery.Clement XIII has been the pope for 6 years at the Vatican, notably getting embroiled in issues with the Jesuits.
I would also take into account that the Spanish, under the rule of Charles III, have just ended the 7 Years War that resulted in them losing significant territory. 
If steampunk technologies and social philosophies were prominent in this era, what would be the technologies people want, and what about the lives of the regular people living within each of these nations? Some very interesting questions indeed, and I can see why one might opt for 1764 as an interesting start off point for an alternate history story.
So, in our ongoing research and expansion of our understanding of the supernatural traditions in Southeast Asia, for a few weeks we’ll look at different phi and other creatures connected or likely to be connected to the region.In Thailand, one of the many Phi is the Phi Hai, also known as a Phi Tay Hong. The same term is used in Laos.This type of spirit inhabits places or areas where someone has died an unanutural or violent death. You’ll be able to identify them because they’re easily offended and like to possess a victim for any reason, if they’re given the excuse and opportunity. They are usually hungry and amoral according to the more common accounts.Most folklore suggests they can be tempted to give up the host they’re possessing in exchange for an offering of some sort. If the Phi Hai is being stubborn, an exorcism with incantations and lustral water can be used, and in more extreme cases, whipping apparently is enough to set things back to normal.Although you had best be prepared to explain to everyone why you were whipping someone if it goes that far.What are stories you’ve heard or remember about phi hai?

Lao theater: Court Forms

In 1993, James R. Brandon’s The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre discussed the different forms of Lao theater, noting that there were three key forms: proto-theatrical indigenous forms, court forms that emulated Khmer-Thai models, and modern popular genres from the 20th century combining folk forms and popular Thai theatre elements such as the likay. Lao American theater is taking some different directions and inspiration. It will be interesting to see what the next forms will be when these communities get an opportunity to connect for an extended period of time with adequate resources to create a meaningful exchange.

This entry is obviously approaching 20 years old, but it’s an interesting start to consider how we discuss the journey of Lao theater and where we might see it go in the years ahead.

Geopolitics of 1764
A big thanks to Silver Goggles for pointing out a new example of Filipino Steampunk, High Society, and its write-up at Tinamats.

So, their framing setup is a big what-if regarding the Spanish being repelled from the walled city of Manila in 1764. It’s not a bad proposal, and I find myself wondering what a Lao experience and perspective would be in 1764. Would it be an interesting year to start from?
For the Lao, historically, this is the year 2307. (But for simplicity sake, we’ll use the Western calendar for the rest of this post.) What is the world like for them?



after 1893 when Vientiane and Champassak had been bundled together with Luang Prabang to create a state that was a French protectorate called Laos, and a Lao narrator who worked often enough with the falang that he might reasonably refer to it as Laos. For stories set earlier than 1893, we have to be even more aware of anachronisms that take us out of a story, that suspension of disbelief.


In fiction, when we write place names, do we employ French or US/English romanization to keep it authentic?  It’s not always cut and dry. For a historical example, many Americans secretly stationed in Laos during the civil war in the 1960s commonly referred to the Plain of Jars as the PDJ, an abbreviation of Plaines des Jarres.

When we’re using an ethnic Lao narrator, one might argue, it may not matter and you could even use a non-standard romanization instead of Long Tieng (Long Cheng), or Luang Prabang (Luang Phrabang).

Radically, there could be great power in this: Lao names and geography written by Lao the way Lao themselves feel it should be spelled, and not just the way some falang missionary or policy wonk decided we should write the names of our cities and landmarks.  That would be significant step towards decolonization.

But we also need to decolonize time. Not everyone uses the solar calendar, after all.

LAOS  Culinary arts

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself discussing the UNESCO Creative Cities Network that is designating various cities as model examples of different art forms, and also had a fun twitter conversation on what Southeast Asian Steampunk cuisine would look like.Addressing the UNESCO Creative Cities network concept, what we saw were the usual forms you’d expect: Literature, film, music, crafts and folk art, design, media arts, and what I thought was particularly interesting, gastronomy.Before we go too much further, I should note that I’m also a fan of cryptogastronomy: the consideration of hypothetical recipes for mythic, theoretical and extinct species of flora and fauna. How might you pair a good wine with a 18th century Triceratops filet in the Lost World, for example?




1. Lao American Speculative Arts Anthology


 Approaching 40 years in the US, we know Lao Americans love science fiction, fantasy, horror, myths and legends. Now we’re looking your stories and art for the first full-length anthology of Lao American speculative art and literature.

Whether it’s a story of Lao astronauts in a distant future, nak or phi in ancient Lan Xang, the missing adventures of Sithong or Xieng Mieng, or wild weretigers and kinnali in Laotown, we want to hear about it! Tales of time-traveling silapin, Lao cyborgs and superheroes, or visitors to haunted villages are all encouraged and welcomed.

Send us your best original stories between 250 to 5,555 words in length. We also accept up to 10 poems, up to 255 words per poem. For longer or shorter works, please inquire. We are also looking for examples of visual art: painting, illustrations, textiles, mixed media, photography. Visual artists can submit between 5 to 10 pieces.

All genres and sub-genres such as steampunk are welcomed, but no “fan fiction” or use of characters and settings you do not have the rights to. No glittering vampires. Work should have a reasonably clear Lao connection.

This anthology is requesting one-time electronic and print rights, after which further publication rights revert to the creator. A physical contributor’s copy and e-book copy are provided.

To Submit: 
We accept RTF files by e-mail only. Put the words: LAO ANTHOLOGY in the subject line with your name. Double spaced manuscript in Times New Roman. Use italics, not underlines when necessary. Use of Laoglish is fine and encouraged, but absolutely NO italicizing Lao words. Have your contact information of the first page of the manuscript including e-mail address. Good grammar and spelling appreciated. No simultaneous submissions.

 Visual art submissions should be able to be reproduced well in black and white and sent as a digital file at 600 dpi or higher. Portrait orientation preferred, but landscape orientation accepted.


The fourth anniversary issues of CHA has arrived.

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years already, but a big congratulations to all of them in Hong Kong. This issue was guest edited by Robert E. Wood (poetry) and Royston Tester (prose).

 This issue, they have poetry from Christopher Barnes, Robert Masterson, John McKernan, Tristan Coleshaw, Chris Santiago, Sonia Saikaley, DeWitt Clinton, Kenneth Alewine, Dena Rash Guzman, Samuel Arizpe, Judith Toler, Rheea Mukherjee, David W. Landrum, W.F. Lantry, Mia Ayumi Malhotra, Anuradha Vijayakrishnan, Nicholas Y.B. Wong, Bernard Henrie, Mike Ladd, and Louis Marvin.

 In Fiction, they have pieces from Alzo David-West, Gun G. Ayurzana, Matthew Davis, John David Harding, Sharon Hashimoto, Shivani Sivagurunathan, and Genevieve Yim.

They are accepting submissions for Issue #16, which is scheduled for February 2012. Ankur Agarwal (poetry) and Mag Tan (prose) will act as guest editors and read the submissions with them. Deadline is set at 15 December.


Lao American Steampunk:

 Decolonizing Space and Time

Silver Goggles recently posted a great commentary on the need to decolonize geography within Steampunk literature, and I would argue we should do so within both historical fiction and speculative literature as well.As an applied example, when I wrote my Lovecraftian historical horror story “What Hides and What Returns,” there were questions I had to address as a writer in order to bring a reader into Laos, minimizing confusion with a minimum of compromise.For Lao, the year 2011 is mostly 2554, at least since April (Deuane Si or Mesa), depending on the system we’re using. These days, we’re following a system that figures 543 BC as Year 1.The Lao calendar has elements of Sino-Vietnamese and Thai-Khmer calendars, and are based on a solar-lunar mix.Lao years are reckoned by solar phases, but our months are determined by lunar phases. This is different from European and American calendars where the months are also determined by the sun. There is also reportedly an earlier Lao system in which year one would correspond with the year 638 BC, just to complicate things.

It’s not just a case of calibrating a time machine by simply setting a dial + or – 534 years.As a further example of the complicated nature of Time, especially in a decolonized Steampunk setting, bear in mind the traditional Chinese time-keeping system. Here we see the hours associated with different creatures of the zodiac. Chinese hours are actually about two Western hours:

23:00 – 01:00: 子 Rat
01:00 – 03:00: 丑 Ox
03:00 – 05:00: 寅 Tiger
05:00 – 07:00: 卯 Rabbit
07:00 – 09:00: 辰 Dragon
09:00 – 11:00: 巳 Snake
11:00 – 13:00: 午 Horse
13:00 – 15:00: 未 Goat
15:00 – 17:00: 申 Monkey
17:00 – 19:00: 酉 Rooster
19:00 – 21:00: 戌 Dog
21:00 – 23:00: 亥 Pig

Talking about time in a truly multicultural Steampunk world should take this into account. Time travel a la H.G. Wells’ classic ‘The Time Machine’ now becomes interestingly complicated when we consider whose sense of time applies. The visitor, or the visited?

But let’s look at an additional challenge for the role of time in Lao fiction: In Laos, we can run into big headaches because time is not homogeneous among the 100+ cultures who live within its frequently shifting borders.

To elaborate on the importance of this question, consider that in the mountains and jungles of Laos, highlanders such as the Hmong used time as the measure of distance. “It’s two days of walking to the next village.” Miles, kilometers, etc. are very abstract concepts to them in the old days, let alone 20,000 leagues under a sea to people born in a landlocked nation.

This is, of course, just the tip of the temporal iceberg, but I think it opens up some very intriguing questions for better Steampunk set among Southeast Asian cultures. And I hope it raises the bar for anyone who decides to use a English protagonist using a modified Mayan time travel device to visit ancient Mayao in the highlands of Annam to discover the secret to immortality or some other fantastic scenario.

Today we’re taking a quick look at the phi known as the phi kra-hang, which is a nocturnal spirit.According to most accounts, the phi kra-hang has the appearance of a flying man with two rice trays for wings with a pestle for tail. Some less common accounts say it is a feathered flying man with a bird-like tail who should NOT be confused with the kinnali or kinnon.Some believe it to be someone who has become skilled in the use of magic and can now grow wings and fly.  Others think it is someone who wronged a teacher, especially by breaking a promise to one. Another possible method is from eating certain gourds or walking under a bridge, but this isn’t considered a very common way to become a phi kra-hang.Upon finishing his transformation, according to the more common accounts, he now uses two circular, normally used for sifting rice, as his wings, and a small pestle as his tail held between his legs. You can see one depicted in the classic Thai light bulb commercial:


The preferred diet of the phi kra-hang is filth, but other than that, little is know of its ecology and habits. Some say it’s touchy about people touching his behind, for fear of his true nature being discovered if you see his stump of a tail. There are some accounts that connect him to the krasue, but this may be a stretch. A few claim these beings are restricted to central Thailand for the most part.

There is some dispute as to whether he hurts people, or is merely ambivalent towards them. Most consider it a phi to avoid in any case. There are accounts that at night, he gives off a glowing aura. But of course, it might be a different phi in the shape of a phi kra-hang. You never can be too certain with this sort of thing.

What stories do you know about the phi kra-hang?

On a lighter note, today we look at the Phi Kee of Southeast Asia, especially Laos and Thailand. This one is arguably one of the more helpful of the spirits, or at least ambivalent towards humans. It is encountered when you go to the toilet, following a nightmare.Folklore suggests you should politely ask your excrement to go peacefully before flushing so that the Phi Kee will also take away any bad luck with it on its way out. No one seems to have any accounts of the consequences if you’re rude or demanding about it, although given its domain, it seems something you really shouldn’t push. But what are some of the stories and advice you’ve heard regarding this spirit?


Fungi Horror Anthology coming


The Innsmouth Free Press has announced plans for a horror anthology centered on fungi!

Naturally, for a Lovecraftian anthology, there’s all manner of potential angles you can approach with this one. William Hope Hodgson’s “The Voice in the Night”, and its Japanese film adaptation, Matango have already been cited as inspirations, and naturally, “The Fungi from Yuggoth”. But let’s see some stories and works that really go beyond with this one.

I would add the advice that the editors really appreciate non-traditional perspectives and settings. Take them places we’ve never been as readers. They’re also interested in steampunk entries involving fungi if you have them. Good luck! They want to release it by October 2012, so keep an eye out for more details!


Laos is proceeding with the potentially environmentally disastrous Xayaburi Dam. Studies calculate it will “block fish migration on the Mekong, threaten between 23 and 200 fish species, have damaging effects on sediment flows and put unpredictable pressures on ecosystems around the river. More than 60 million people live in the river basin of the lower Mekong and about two-thirds of those depend on fishing for all or part of their livelihood.” What’s not to love?

Laos and the World Bank celebrated 50 years of “partnership”. Said one official, “Today we can take pride in the achievements of our enduring partnership. Laos has seen remarkable success in lifting millions of people out of poverty and improving their lives. In less than a generation, the incidence of poverty in Laos has dropped from about 50 per cent to just a little over 25 per cent.”

Laos faces challenges in creating productive jobs, said an expert from the International Labour Organization at a national workshop in Vientiane to discuss the Rural Employment Strategy for Poverty Reduction. With a population of 6.3 million, and 60 percent of the population is under 25 years old, Laos has opportunities but also challenges.

Meanwhile, Lao officials have been urged to actively lead local people in undertaking commercial ventures, so they can find their way out of poverty, saying “the growing of crops and livestock rearing should tie in with local needs.”

Air America veteran Richard O’Hara of Northville, Michigan and his service in Laos were discussed in the Observer & Eccentric.

In West Virginia, the story of Master Sergeant  Edward Ziobron’s bravery in Laos was discussed.

In the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Lee Hines shared his experiences in Laos in “Lessons we must learn again.”

The mayor of Frisco, Bill Pelham shared his story as a Forward Air Controller near the Laotian border in the Summit Daily.

The Gilroy Patch has an article on Joe Kline, who served in Vietnam and a mission in Laos to fly South Vietnamese troops in to cut off the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Bill Flittie was profiled in the Shoreview Press. Flittie was in the navy and later joined International Volunteer Services, stationed in Savannakhet.

Newsweek has a story on “What Made the Spooks Disappear,” covering CIA operatives like Tony Poe who served in Laos with the Hmong.

USAID has a press release on 80-year old Hal Freeman, who was an education Foreign Service Officer with service around the world including Laos with the Hmong.

Thailand and Laos have officially opened a new Friendship Bridge.

And, Justin Bieber is auctioning off his snake to help a charity that builds schools in Laos, Nicaragua and Guatemala. His baby boa constrictor, Johnson.

“The Last War Poem” originally appeared in the 2002 anthology, Bamboo Among the Oaksfrom the Minnesota Historical Society Press.

The Last War Poem

I tell you, this is the last word for this war.
This little side war we were the center of.
 There is no justice from poetry-
 Any veteran can tell you that.

They want their land, their lives
Their livestock back.

Grenade fishing in the aftermath of Phou Pha Thi
Has lost its novelty
To the man with a bullet fragment rattling
In his body, slowly tearing him apart.

Write, they tell me. Write what?

We lost, we were forgotten, we are ghosts.
We are victims of fat tigers and foreign policy.

There is no Valhalla, only memories of Spectre gunships
There is no Elysium, only pleas for asylum.

This jungle was filthy.

There was shit. There was blood.
There were refugees
Who to this day can not explain why they were the enemy
When the war came.

Their sons fought. Their brothers died.

Their uncles, maimed, were hauled screaming into the shadows of the PDJ.

Write, they tell me, so people won’t forget.
So someone will know.

Lift the broken bodies with my words, bring them out
And say ‘we did not die in vain’.

For every bullet hole, let there be a word to stand as a monument.

For every lost limb let there be a sonnet to stitch the truth back together.

For every eye gone blind, let there be something to take its place.
Something. Anything.

How can you not have words for the war of whispers?

How can you not shout, now that the whispering is done?

And I swear, each time I break this promise, that the next time
Will be the last word I write about this damn war.



Saymoukda Vongsay a 2011 Changemaker


Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is the Lao American author of No Regrets, a collection of poetry and haikus published by Baby Rabbit Publishing.

Her work has been published by Altra Magazine, the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement, and Bakka Literary Journal, to name a few. A Minnesota-based spoken word poet, she has performed and taught creative writing workshops nationally across the United States and internationally in Italy and Japan.

She has worked with the Anchorage Urban League of Young Professionals lecturing and performing at the university-level and local high schools to urge voter registration and civic engagement and also served as liaison between local government and the Southeast Asian community regarding public policy.

Vongsay is a co-founding member of The Unit, a collective of emerging playwrights of color. Her short plays are staged at The Playwrights Center. Her piece, Yellowtail Sashimi, was part of the 2010 MN Fringe Festival. She was a co-chair of the first Lao American Writers Summit in Minnesota and has worked actively to support the work of Lao women writers and artists across the country to celebrate heritage, diversity and community development.


A multidisciplinary, multicultural arts center, Intermedia Arts supports a broad spectrum of artists, with a particular focus on voices you are unlikely to hear anywhere else. They were gracious hosts to the groundbreaking Legacies of War: Refugee Nation exhibit we held in Minnesota in 2010.


Their Queer Voices reading series is the longest running GLBT literary series in the nation. Their multimedia festival, B-Girl Be: A Celebration of Women in Hip-Hop, is the first of its kind worldwide, showcasing and celebrating the contributions of women to a revolutionary art form. Their annual performance series, Indigenous Voices, (co-presented with Pangea World Theater), explores First Nation issues of identity and human rights; and their youth media programs allow at-risk youth to create films and TV shows about issues in their lives and communities.

Intermedia Arts is a nationally recognized leader in empowering artists and community leaders to use arts-based approaches to solve community issues. Their leadership program, The Creative Community Leadership Institute, is one of only a few programs in the country to provide comprehensive, professional-level training and support for local community-engaged artists and community developers. Led by a core faculty of four of the leading thinkers in the field of community cultural development, Intermedia Arts’ Creative Community Leadership Institute has trained over 62 of the Twin Cities’ most active community artists, organizers and developers.

Again, a big congratulations to Saymoukda Vongsay for her much deserved recognition, and here’s to many more great things ahead from both her and Intermedia Arts!


The New Yorker has new piece by Daniel Mendelsohn contemplating a slimmer, faster Iliad, based on Stephen Mitchell’s new translation, which, among other things, completely cuts out Chapter 10, or the Doloneia. The abstract is extremely truncated, but the actual article is filled with some very interesting observations that would also apply for Lao American writers as we wrestle with our own literary traditions, for epics such as that of Sinxay.

We can spend so much time focused on the preservation and historicity of the classical Lao texts that we forget to make them living, breathing texts for ourselves. But that’s for a larger discussion in the years ahead, I suppose.


“Indochina’s Vicious Swamp Demons”

Author Brad Steiger, in his 1999 work, The Werewolf Book, notes a curious 1940 account in Ed Bodin’s Scare Me! A Symposium on Ghosts and Black Magic. In Steiger’s entry “Indochina’s Vicious Swamp Demons,” he retells Bodin’s story of a Colonel Marchand supposedly sent in 1923 to a French military colony. It isn’t clear which part of Indochina, but he brought his daughter Yvonne Marchand with him.A native thief,  faced between the choice of turning himself in to the authorities or crossing a haunted swamp, chose to surrender to the French.Colonel Marchand, amused by the superstition, ordered the thief cast into the middle of the swamp. The thief begged for lenience and threw himself at the feet of Yvonne Marchand, but to no avail. He was marched into the swamp at bayonet point.However, later that evening, he came back to the French camp and carried off the colonel’s daughter to the swamp.A search party was organized and they found the thief bleeding to death, covered in severe bites and scratches, his jugular torn open. With his dying breath, the thief claimed Yvonne did this horrible thing to him.Pressing further into the swamp, the men found Yvonne, “naked except for a strip of cloth about her thighs. The searchlights caught the streaks of blood on her body, but her father was more horrified by the fiendish grin that parted her lips. Yvonne stood there before them, her teeth flashing as if she were some wild thing waiting for prey to fall within reach of her claws and fangs. To the astonishment of the entire search party, the girl rushed the nearest soldier, ready to gouge and bite.”They subdue her, but when Yvonne comes to her senses, she describes her capture. When they stopped in the swamp, hideous, fanged demonic faces bobbed all around the pair.She described the strange sensations that came over her that drove her to kill the thief, remarking “I gloried in tearing away his flesh, in hearing him scream, in seeing him drop to the ground and crawl away. Then the faces summoned me on into the swamp. I tore off my clothes and began to bite myself. The faces laughed at me, and I laughed too.”Bodin’s account is difficult to corroborate.

I haven’t found any resources highlighting the service of a Colonel Marchand being stationed in Indochina around this time, but that does not wholly rule out the possibility. Proper, serious research of Southeast Asian metaphysics and the supernatural was not extensive among Europeans at the time, so we can only speculate what exactly they had encountered.

The floating fanged faces could have been any number of phi, including krasue, but there may be other possibilities. What do you think?

In Christopher Robbins’ 1987 book, The Ravens, there is a brief passage in Chapter 10:”Oddjob-the original Raven orphan, was long gone-officially adopted by an Air Force mechanic and taken back to the States…”If anyone happens to know what happened to him, I’d be very interested in finding out.


40 years ago in 1971, the secret airbase of Long Tieng in Laos was attacked on Valentine’s Day. Christopher Robbins’ wrote about the incident in his 1987 book The Ravens, Chapter 10, “Valentine”. Here is an excerpt that illustrates many of the lingering issues we’ve been discussing over the years:
The F-4 went in, but instead of returning to make multiple passes the pilot took the lazy course and pickled off his entire load of six CBU [Cluster Bomb Unit] canisters at once. Shep, his leg hastily bandaged, was outside with Burr Smith and a platoon of Meo [sic] guerrillas when the plane screamed over. Shep looked up and saw the CBU pods come off the aircraft and then watched in horrified fascination as the clamshells flew apart and the bomblets were spewed out. He yelled to his companions and hit the gorund. When he raised his head, after the CBU had passed beyond him, Burr Smith, himself, and a single Meo survived.
The exploding CBU tore through the village like a hurricane. Huts, trees, and telephone poles disintegrated before the Ravens’ eyes. “You’re dropping on the friendlies! Swedberg yelled into his radio. “You’re dropping on the friendlies!”
A wall of destructive flame raced toward the Raven hootch. “You sorry-assed son of a bitch,” Duehring shouted, and dived for the floor.
It was even worse than Swedberg feared. The pilot had misunderstood his instructions regarding the tracer and exactly reversed them-he had not dropped the deadly load where the tracers were ricocheting, but on the friendly machine gun itself.
Those in the hootch had hit the floor and were squirming on their bellies to get under the bed or behind some sort of cover. The CBU broke over building, peeling back the roof. It set the operations shack on fire, along with the Company sleeping quarters, the Air America hostel, and the Raven dining room, blasting the pool table into fragments. The CIA bar took a direct hit and burned to the ground. But the wily bears survived the holocaust by pressing themselves against the rock wall at the rear of their cage, which was built out from a cave.
It was obvious that the F-4 had dropped CBU, and from a great enough height for it to have a large pattern, (Clamshell CBU explodes in a doughnut patter, creating a circle of fire around a hollow. What looked to the Ravens like a solid wall of fire approaching them was actually a circle surrounding them-and the .50 caliber machine gun was directly in the center of it.)
With the building burning down around their ears, the Americans prepared to move back to the bunker, where a series of sporadic explosions made them think they were under renewed attack. It then dawned on them that the continuing explosions were their own ordnance. “Christ,” somebody groaned, “some of that shit is time delayed.”
“Confirm CBU-24,” Swedberg radioed Cricket. 
“CBU-24 confirmed,” Cricket responded. There was a pause. “Also CBU-49 mixed in there.”
CBU-49 was a canister of time-delayed, baseball-sized bomblets that, according to the book, went off randomly over a thirty minute period, each one blasting out 250 white-hot ball bearings. In reality, they often continued to explode for as long as two hours, and now they were littered throughout the compound.”

From The Night They Burned The Mountain, by Dr. Thomas A. Dooley (1960) in the village of Muong Sing in Northwest Laos:
“Frequently at night we show a movie on the wall of our house. Some 1,000 people sit on the grass and watch in wonder. Little Guntar loves the movies. I think movies have just as much therapeutic value as antibiotics. Walt Disney gave me a 16 mm. version of Dumbo. Dumbo has enchanted North Laos, and the children watch for him every time we show this movie. They never seem to tire of it. “What a wonderful land America must be,” they say. “They have huge elephants and the elephants are pink and green and blue and purple. And some of these elephants have ears so big that they can fly through the air.” Dumbo is winning friends in the ten-year-old bracket for sure.” 



Lydia Laube’s Lost in Laos
It’s an encouraging sign that people now are expecting a lot more out of stories by falang trampling all over Muang Lao.
Over 3,500 mail order brides were rescued  from Laos who were victims of human trafficking

Lao Civet Coffee?

A few weeks ago we talked about the growing range of Lao coffees being offered to the market. Lao forests are facing significant reduction by a wide range of development projects and illegal lumber harvesting reducing the habitat for any number of creatures, including civets.We often associate civet coffee with islands such as the Phillipines, or Sumatra and Vietnam where a pound can cost as much as $600. But these little guys are certainly plentiful in Laos, too, and maybe we should pay a little more attention to its choice in Lao coffee berries. 
Personally, I’m not in that much of a hurry to drink civet coffee, but there are certainly many others in the world who are, and this approach might be more ecologically sound than, say, making a massive hydroelectric dam without taking anyone else’s opinion into consideration. But it’s just a thought. 

Lao farmers need an alternative to opiumaccording to Irin News. Antinarcotics efforts slashed opium production from 26,800 hectares to 1,500 hectares between 1998 and 2006. Since 2007 opium farming has doubled to 3,000 hectares and the upward trend is still continuing, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Sychan Vakongxiong, a Hmong opium farmer is interviewed, as is Edna Legaspi and Khamen Phomally, deputy district governor of Xay District in Oudomxay and chairman of the local committee on drug control.

Lao are apparently involved in smuggling exotic animal parts. Members of an international syndicate allegedly use Thai prostitutes to ‘hunt’ and export South African rhino horn and also lion bones to supply the “Vichai Company” which it turns out is actually Xaysavang Trading Export/Import and its owner in Laos is said to be a man known as Vixay Keosavang. It’s stuff like this that seriously makes me want to start rumors that other things besides animal parts are effective “natural viagra.”

The India Pre Colonial Historic Collections

The India Pre Colonial Historic collections

Created By

dr Iwan suwandy,MHA

Private Limited edition E-Book In CD-ROM

@copyright dr Iwan suwandy 2012


The Ram Bagh Garden At Agra


The Delhi Sultanate – 1211 – 1526

During the last quarter of the 1100s, Muhammad of Ghor invaded the Indo-Gangetic Plain.  Qutb ud-Din, one of his generals, proclaimed himself Sultan of Delhi and established the first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mamluk Dynasty (mamluk means “slave”) in 1211.  Various Moslem dynasties succeeded the Mamluks over the years 1211 to 1526.   They presided over a flowering of Moslem / Hindu arts, and were powerful enough to insulate India from the rampaging Mongol hordes in the north in the 1200s, though Tamerlane did get through to sack Delhi in 1398.   The Sultanate period came to an end with the arival of Babur in 1526 …..



The Mughals were a Moslem dynasty which originated in central Asia.  One of the secrets of the success of the greatest of the Mughal Emperors like Akbar was their religious tolerance, and indeed their enthusiasm for embracing all the religious groups within their domains.


Babur   1483 – 1526 – 1530 (47)


The first of the Great Mughals was Babur (“The Tiger”), who invaded and conquered India in 1526.  He was also a diarist, an enthusiastic hunter and lover of gardens.


He died in the Ram Bagh gardens in Agra, and his tomb lies in gardens bearing his name in Kabul, Afghanistan. 


Babur was the great great great grandson of the Mongol Warlord Tamerlane.  




Humayun 1508 – 1530 – 1540 – 1556 (48)

Born in Kabul, Humayun was the eldest of Babur’s sons, and had helped his father with the conquest of India.   He humayun ascended the throne at Agra on December 30 1530 at the age of 23, but did not have the skills to manage the immature empire, Afghan warlords, Hindu Rajput princes and his own brothers.  He would have liked nothing better than to pursue his passions of mathematics and astronomy, but he had not been dealt that hand! 


In 1540 he lost his empire to Afghan leader Sher Shah, but he hung in and managed to get it back 16 years later in 1556.  However, only six months later he died as a result of falling down the steps of his library.  Had he known all of this at the time, he might not have chosen a name which meant “the fortunate”.


Humayun did, however, do one memorable thing for posterity, and that was to introduce Persian artists who blended with the locals to produce what we now know as the classic mughal artistic tradition.


Humayun’s tomb in Delhi was built by his widow Baga Begam in 1565 – 1569.  It is the earliest  example in India of large scale Mughal architecture – not just the building itself, but the large formal gardens with water channels and fountains, which led to the perfection of the Taj Mahal 70 years later. 


It was here in Humayun’s Tomb that the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775 – 1862 (87)), was hunted down and taken prisoner by a certain Lieutenant Hodson following the Indian Mutiny in 1857, a prelude to direct rule of India by the British from 1858. 


Hodson was the son of an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Lichfield in Central England.  After public school, Cambridge University and the Grenadier Guards he was tasked with raising and operating an irregular cavalry unit which became known as Hodson’s Horse.   He was killed and buried at Lucknow in 1858, just a year after capturing Zafar.  Monuments to dad Hodson and Hodson of Hodson’s Horse were later put up in the south choir aisle of Lichfield Cathedral.


Akbar   1542 – 1556 – 1605 (63)

The greatest of the Mughal Emperors, Akbar,  was born in exile and ascended the throne at the age of 13 after his father’s short restoration. 


In many ways Akbar was the Indian equivalent of Suleiman the Magnificent (1494 – 1520 – 1566).  He conquered massive new territories including much of Rajasthan, created a long lasting civil and military administrative system (called Mansabdari), introduced standard weights and measures, tax structures and a workable police force.


Akbar was married to at least seven wives, one of them a Rajput Hindu princess from Jaipur.  He was enormously liberal for his time, promoting religious tolerance (and even his own hybrid Islamic / Hindu / Christian / Zoroastrian religion called Din – i llahi), abolishing slavery and forbidding forced sati.


Akbar collected Persian poets, painters and musicians (including Tanzen) at his court like they were  going out of fashion.


Finally he gave full vent to the emerging Mughal architectural style in a new purpose built 7.5 sq km administrative capital at Fatehpur Sikri near Agra (1570 – 1582).  This  was the least practical of his ventures because a lack of water forced its abandonment 16 years after its completion.  However the state buildings have been well looked after over the intervening 400+ years and can be visited today as perhaps the finest example of Mughal architecture (after the Taj Mahal).


Akbar died in Agra in 1605 and is buried in Sikandra.

Above and below right:  Fatehpur Sikri (built 1570 – 1582)
1600The British East India Company is Born

On 31 December 1600, England’s Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1558 – 1603 (70)) signed the Royal Charter which created the British East India Company. Originally a monopoly joint stock trading company, it grew to being the administrator of the whole of India until, in the wake of the rebellion of 1857, India was made a Crown Colony and the assets of the Company were taken over by the British Government.


 Babar was more of a soldier than a politician.
 It has been suggested by historians that the government he set up was saifi (by the sword ) and not qalami (by the pen). Considerable parts of his empire were ruled by his ministers with full sovereignity. He was an orthodox Sunni muslim and loved architecture and music; he was also a master of Turki, his mother tongue, as well as Persian. The chronicles of his life, the Babarnama, remains widely used and is a masterpiece of that genre of literature. Babar appears not to have been enamored of Delhi and India, and in recent years his name has been mired in controversy. A mosque by the name of Babri masjid, apparently built in 1526 at his command, was destroyed on 6 December 1992 by Hindu militants. They claim that a Hindu temple, marking the site of Lord Rama’s birth, was destroyed at Babar’s orders, and a mosque built at that very site. For Hindu militants and chauvinists, Babar’s name has become synonymous with the history of Muslim tyranny and oppression, but almost nothing in the historical record warrants this reading

King Humayun


Flag of the Mughal Empire.svg 2nd Mughal Emperor of India
Reign 26 December 1530 – 17 May 1540
(&100000000000000090000009 years, &10000000000000143000000143 days)
22 February 1555 – 27 January 1556
(&100000000000000000000000 years, &10000000000000339000000339 days)
Coronation 30 December 1530, Agra
Predecessor Babur
Successor Akbar
Spouse Hamida Banu Begum
Bega Begum
Bigeh Begum
Haji Begum
Miveh Jan
Shahzadi Khanum
Akbar, son
Mirza Muhammad Hakim, son
Aqiqeh Begum, daughter
Bakshi Banu Begum, daughter
Father Babur
Mother Maham Begum
Born 17 March 1508(1508-03-17)
Died 27 January 1556 (age 47)
Burial Humayun’s Tomb
Religion Islam

Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun (Persian: نصیر الدین محمد همایون; full title: Al-Sultan al-‘Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Jam-i-Sultanat-i-haqiqi wa Majazi, Sayyid al-Salatin, Abu’l Muzaffar Nasir ud-din Muhammad Humayun Padshah Ghazi, Zillu’llah; OS 7 March 1508–OS 22 February 1556) was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled present day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1530–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early, but with Persian aid, he eventually regained an even larger one. On the eve of his death in 1556, the Mughal empire spanned almost one million square kilometers.

He succeeded his father in India in 1530, while his half-brother Kamran Mirza, who was to become a rather bitter rival, obtained the sovereignty of Kabul and Lahore, the more northern parts of their father’s empire. He originally ascended the throne at the age of 22 and was somewhat inexperienced when he came to power.

Humayun lost Mughal territories to the Pashtun noble, Sher Shah Suri, and, with Persian aid, regained them 15 years later. Humayun’s return from Persia, accompanied by a large retinue of Persian noblemen, signaled an important change in Mughal court culture, as the Central Asian origins of the dynasty were largely overshadowed by the influences of Persian art, architecture, language and literature and also there are many stone carved and Persian language In India from the time of humayun also thousands of Persian manuscript in India..

Subsequently, in a very short time, Humayun was able to expand the Empire further, leaving a substantial legacy for his son, Akbar. His peaceful personality, patience and non-provocative methods of speech earned him the title Insan-i-Kamil, among the Mughals.[1][Full citation needed]



[edit] Background

Babur’s decision to divide the territories of his empire between two of his sons was unusual in India, but it had been a common Central Asian practice since the time of Genghis Khan. Unlike most European Monarchies which practised primogeniture, the Timurids, following Genghis Khan’s example, did not leave an entire kingdom to the eldest son. Although under that system only a Chingissid could claim sovereignty and khanal authority, any male Chinggisid within a given sub-branch (such as the Timurids) had an equal right to the throne.[2] While Genghis Khan’s Empire had been peacefully divided between his sons upon his death, almost every Chinggisid succession since had resulted in fratricide.[3][Full citation needed]

Timur himself had divided his territories between Pir Muhammad, Miran Shah, Khalil Sultan and Shah Rukh, which resulted in inter-family warfare.[2][Full citation needed] Upon Babur’s death, Humayun’s territories were the least secure. Babur had ruled only four years, and not all umarah (nobles) viewed Humayun as the rightful ruler. Indeed earlier, when Babur had become ill, some of the nobles had tried to install Humayun’s uncle, Mahdi Khwaja, as ruler. Although this attempt failed, it was a sign of problems to come.[4][Full citation needed]

[edit] Personal traits

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The Zamburak was introduced as a major weapon in the Mughal Empire by the Mughal Emperor Humayun.

Humayun was portrayed in the biography Humāyūn-nāma written by his sister Gulbadan Begum, as being extraordinarily lenient, constantly forgiving acts which were deliberately aimed at angering him. In one instance the biography records that his youngest brother Hindal killed Humayun’s most trusted advisor, an old Sheikh, and then marched an army out of Agra. Humayun, rather than seek retribution, went straight to his mother’s home where Gulbadan Begum was, bearing no grudge against his younger brother, and insisted he return home. Humayun was loyal, gentle and humane man by the standards of the day. As a warrior he had served honorably alongside his father Babur during the Battle of Khanwa while he was just seventeen years old.

He was interested in poetry and fascinated by Astrology and the Occult. Upon his accession as Padishah (Emperor), he began to re-organise the administration upon mystically determined principles. The public offices were divided into four distinct groups, for the four elements. The department of Earth was to be in charge of Agriculture and the agricultural sciences, Fire was to be in charge of the Military, Water was the department of the Canals and waterways while Air seemed to have responsibility for everything else. His daily routine was planned in accordance with the movements of the planets, so too was his wardrobe. He refused to enter a house with his left foot going forward, and if anyone else did they would be told to leave and re-enter. His servant, Jauhar, records in the Tadhkirat al-Waqiat that he was known to shoot arrows to the sky marked with either his own name, or that of the Shah of Persia and, depending on how they landed, interpreted this as an indication of which of them would grow more powerful.

Early reign

The Mughal Emperor Humayun, fights Bahadur Shah of Gujarat, in the year 1535.

Upon his succession to the throne, Humayun had two major rivals interested in acquiring his lands — Sultan Bahadur of Gujarat to the south west and Sher Shah Suri (Sher Khan) currently settled along the river Ganges in Bihar to the east. Humayun’s first campaign was to confront Sher Khan Suri. Halfway through the counter offensive Humayun had to abandon it and concentrate on Gujarat, where a threat from Ahmed Shah had to be squelched. In this he succeeded and annexed Gujarat and Malwa. Champaner and the great fort of Mandu followed next.

During the first five years of Humayun’s reign, these two rulers were quietly extending their rule, although Sultan Bahadur faced pressure in the east from sporadic conflicts with the Portuguese. While the Mughals had acquired firearms via the Ottoman Empire, Bahadur’s Gujurat had acquired them through a series of contracts drawn up with the Portuguese, allowing the Portuguese to establish a strategic foothold in north western India.[5]

Humayun was made aware that the Sultan of Gujarat was planning an assault on the Mughal territories with Portuguese aid. Showing an unusual resolve, Humayun gathered an army and marched on Bahadur. His assault was spectacular and within a month he had captured the forts of Mandu and Champaner. However, instead of pressing his attack and going after the enemy, Humayun ceased the campaign and began to enjoy life in his new forts. Bahadur, meanwhile, escaped and took up refuge with the Portuguese.[6]

Sher Shah Suri

Sher Shah Suri, the usurper to the rule of Mughal Emperor Humayun.

Shortly after Humayun had marched on Gujarat, Sher Shah saw an opportunity to wrest control of Agra from the Mughals. He began to gather his army together hoping for a rapid and decisive siege of the Mughal capital. Upon hearing this alarming news, Humayun quickly marched his troops back to Agra allowing Bahadur to easily regain control of the territories Humayun had recently taken. A few months later, however, Bahadur was dead, killed when a botched plan to kidnap the Portuguese viceroy ended in a fire-fight which the Sultan lost.

Whilst Humayun succeeded in protecting Agra from Sher Shah, the second city of the Empire, Gaur the capital of the vilayat of Bengal, was sacked. Humayun’s troops had been delayed while trying to take Chunar, a fort occupied by Sher Shah’s son, in order to protect his troops from an attack from the rear. The stores of grain at Gauri, the largest in the empire, were emptied and Humayun arrived to see corpses littering the roads.[7] The vast wealth of Bengal was depleted and brought East giving Sher Shah a substantial war chest.[5]

Sher Shah withdrew to the east, but Humayun did not follow: instead he “shut himself up for a considerable time in his Harem, and indulged himself in every kind of luxury.”[7][Full citation needed] Hindal, Humayun’s 19-year old brother, had agreed to aid him in this battle and protect the rear from attack but abandoned his position and withdrew to Agra where he decreed himself acting emperor. When Humayun sent the grand Mufti, Sheikh Buhlul, to reason with him, the Sheikh was killed. Further provoking the rebellion, Hindal ordered that the Khutba or sermon in the main mosque at Agra be read in his name, a sign of assumption of sovereignty.[6][Full citation needed] When Hindal withdrew from protecting the rear of Humayun’s troops, Sher Shah’s troop quickly reclaimed these positions, leaving Humayun surrounded.[8]

Humayun’s other brother, Kamran, marched from his territories in the Punjab, ostensibly to aid Humayun. However, his return home had treacherous motives as he intended to stake a claim for Humayun’s apparently collapsing empire. He brokered a deal with Hindal which provided that his brother would cease all acts of disloyalty in return for a share in the new empire which Kamran would create once Humayun was deposed.[8]

Sher Shah met Humayun in battle on the banks of the Ganges, near Benares, in Chausa. This was to become an entrenched battle in which both sides spent a lot of time digging themselves into positions. The major part of the Mughal army, the artillery, was now immobile, and Humayun decided to engage in some diplomacy using Muhammad Aziz as ambassador. Humayun agreed to allow Sher Shah to rule over Bengal and Bihar, but only as provinces granted to him by his Emperor, Humayun, falling short of outright sovereignty. The two rulers also struck a bargain in order to save face: Humayun’s troops would charge those of Sher Shah whose forces then retreat in feigned fear. Thus honour would, supposedly, be satisfied.[9]

Once the Army of Humayun had made its charge and Sher Shah’s troops made their agreed-upon retreat, the Mughal troops relaxed their defensive preparations and returned to their entrenchments without posting a proper guard. Observing the Mughals’ vulnerability, Sher Shah reneged on his earlier agreement. That very night, his army approached the Mughal camp and finding the Mughal troops unprepared with a majority asleep, they advanced and killed most of them. The Emperor survived by swimming the Ganges using an air filled “water skin,” and quietly returned to Agra.[5][8]

 In Agra


When Humayun returned to Agra, he found that all three of his brothers were present. Humayun once again not only pardoned his brothers for plotting against him, but even forgave Hindal for his outright betrayal. With his armies travelling at a leisurely pace, Sher Shah was gradually drawing closer and closer to Agra. This was a serious threat to the entire family, but Humayun and Kamran squabbled over how to proceed. Kamran withdrew after Humayun refused to make a quick attack on the approaching enemy, instead opting to build a larger army under his own name. When Kamran returned to Lahore, his troops followed him shortly afterwards, and Humayun, with his other brothers Askari and Hindal, marched to meet Sher Shah just 240 kilometres (150 mi) east of Agra at the Battle of Kanauj on 17 May 1540. The battle once again saw Humayun make some tactical errors, and his army was soundly defeated. He and his brothers quickly retreated back to Agra, humiliated and mocked along the way by peasants and villagers. They chose not to stay in Agra, and retreated to Lahore, though Sher Shah followed them, founding the short-lived Sur Dynasty of northern India with its capital at Delhi.

In Lahore

The four brothers were united in Lahore, but every day they were informed that Sher Shah was getting closer and closer. When he reached Sirhind, Humayun sent an ambassador carrying the message “I have left you the whole of Hindustan (i.e. the lands to the East of Punjab, comprising most of the Ganges Valley). Leave Lahore alone, and let Sirhind be a boundary between you and me.” Sher Shah, however, replied “I have left you Kabul. You should go there.” Kabul was the capital of the empire of Humayun’s brother Kamran Mirza, who was far from willing to hand over any of his territories to his brother. Instead, Kamran approached Sher Shah, and proposed that he actually revolt against his brother and side with Sher Shah in return for most of the Punjab. Sher Shah dismissed his help, believing it not to be required, though word soon spread to Lahore about the treacherous proposal and Humayun was urged to make an example of Kamran and kill him. Humayun refused, citing the last words of his father, Babur “Do nothing against your brothers, even though they may deserve it.”[10]

Withdrawing further

The Mughal Empire during the reign of Humayun.

Humayun decided that it would be wise to withdraw still further, Humayun and his army rode out through and across the Thar Desert, when the Hindu Rajput ruler Rao Maldeo Rathore allied himself with Sher Shah Suri against the Mughal Empire. In many accounts Humayun mentions how he and his heavily pregnant wife, had to trace their steps through the desert at the hottest time of year. All the wells had been filled with sand by the nearbyHindu inhabitants in order to starve and exhaust the Mughals further, leaving them with nothing but berries to eat. When Hamida’s horse died,no one would lend the Queen (who was now eight months pregnant) a horse, so Humayun did so himself, resulting in him riding a camel for six kilometeres (four miles), although Khaled Beg then offered him his mount. Humayun was later to describe this incident as the lowest point in his life.[11][Full citation needed]

He asked that his brothers join him as he fell back into Sindh. While the previously rebellious Hindal Mirza remained loyal and was ordered to join his brothers in Kandahar. Kamran Mirza and Askari Mirza instead decided to head to the relative peace of Kabul. This was to be a definitive schism in the family.

Humayun expected aid from the Emir of Sindh, Hussein Umrani, whom he had appointed and who owed him his allegiance. The Emir Hussein Umrani welcomed Humayun’s presence and was loyal to Humayin just as he had been loyal to Babur against the renegade Arghuns. Whilst in the oasis garrison of Umerkot in Sindh, Hamida gave birth to Akbar on 25 October 1542, the heir-apparent to the 34-year old Humayun. The date was special because Humayun consulted his Astronomer to utilize the astrolabe and check the location of the planets.

While in Sindh, Humayun alongside Emir Hussein Umrani, gathered horses and weapons and formed new alliances that helped regain lost territories. Until finally Humayun had gathered hundreds of Sindhi and Baloch tribesmen alongside his Mughals and then marched towards Kandahar and later Kabul, thousands more gathered by his side as Humayun continually declared himself the rightful Timurid heir of the first Mughal Emperor Babur.

Retreat to Kabul

After Humayun set out from his expedition in Sindh, along with 300 camels (mostly wild) and 2000 loads of grain, he set off to join his brothers in Kandahar after crossing the Indus River on 11 July 1543 along with the ambition to regain the Mughal Empire and overthrow the Suri dynasty.

In Kamran Mirza’s territory, Hindal Mirza had been placed under house arrest in Kabul after refusing to have the Khutba recited in Kamran Mirza’s name. His other brother Askari Mirza was now ordered to gather an army and march on Humayun. When Humayun received word of the approaching hostile army he decided against facing them, and instead sought refuge elsewhere. Akbar was left behind in camp close to Kandahar for, as it was December it would have been too cold and dangerous to include the 14-month old toddler in the forthcoming march through the dangerous and snowy mountains of the Hindu Kush. Askari Mirza found Akbar in the camp, and embraced him, and allowed his own wife to parent him, she apparently treated him as her own.

Once again Humayun turned toward Kandahar where his brother Kamran Mirza was in power, but he received no help and had to seek refuge with the Shah of Persia.[11]

Refuge in Persia

Shah Tahmasp greets the exiled Humayun.

Shah Tahmasp I and the Mughal Emperor Humayun in Isfahan.

Humayun fled to the refuge of the Safavid Empire in Iran, marching with 40 men and his wife and her companion through mountains and valleys. Amongst other trials the Imperial party were forced to live on horse meat boiled in the soldiers’ helmets. These indignities continued during the month it took them to reach Herat, however after their arrival they were reintroduced to the finer things in life. Upon entering the city his army was greeted with an armed escort, and they were treated to lavish food and clothing. They were given fine accommodations and the roads were cleared and cleaned before them. Shah Tahmasp, unlike Humayun’s own family, actually welcomed the Mughal, and treated him as a royal visitor. Here Humayun went sightseeing and was amazed at the Persian artwork and architecture he saw: much of this was the work of the Timurid Sultan Husayn Bayqarah and his ancestor, princess Gauhar Shad, thus he was able to admire the work of his relatives and ancestors at first hand. He was introduced to the work of the Persian miniaturists, and Kamaleddin Behzad had two of his pupils join Humayun in his court. Humayun was amazed at their work and asked if they would work for him if he were to regain the sovereignty of Hindustan: they agreed. With so much going on Humayun did not even meet the Shah until July, some six months after his arrival in Persia. After a lengthy journey from Herat the two met in Qazvin where a large feast and parties were held for the event. The meeting of the two monarchs is depicted in a famous wall-painting in the Chehel Sotoun (Forty Columns) palace in Esfahan.

The Shah urged that Humayun convert from Sunni to Shia Islam, and Humayun eventually and reluctantly accepted, in order to keep himself and several hundred followers alive.[12] Although the Mughals initially disagreed to their conversion they knew that with this outward acceptance of Shi’ism, Shah Tahmasp was eventually prepared to offer Humayun more substantial support.[12] When Humayun’s brother, Kamran Mirza, offered to cede Kandahar to the Persians in exchange for Humayun, dead or alive, Shah Tahmasp refused. Instead the Shah threw a party for Humayun, with 300 tents, an imperial Persian carpet, 12 musical bands and “meat of all kinds”. Here the Shah announced that all this, and 12,000 choice cavalry were his to lead an attack on his brother Kamran. All that Shah Tahmasp asked for was that, if Humayun’s forces were victorious, Kandahar would be his.

Kandahar and onwards


An image from an album commissioned by Shah Jahan shows Humayun sitting beneath a tree in his garden in India.

With this Persian Safavid aid Humayun took Kandahar from Askari Mirza after a two-week siege. He noted how the nobles who had served Askari Mirza quickly flocked to serve him, “in very truth the greater part of the inhabitants of the world are like a flock of sheep, wherever one goes the others immediately follow”. Kandahar was, as agreed, given to the Shah of Persia who sent his infant son, Murad, as the Viceroy. However, the baby soon died and Humayun thought himself strong enough to assume power.

Humayun now prepared to take Kabul, ruled by his brother Kamran Mirza. In the end, there was no actual siege. Kamran Mirza was detested as a leader and as Humayun’s Persian army approached the city hundreds of Kamran Mirza’s troops changed sides, flocking to join Humayun and swelling his ranks. Kamran Mirza absconded and began building an army outside the city. In November 1545, Hamida and Humayun were reunited with their son Akbar, and held a huge feast. They also held another, larger, feast in the childs’ honour when he was circumcised.

However, while Humayun had a larger army than his brother and had the upper hand, on two occasions his poor military judgement allowed Kamran Mirza to retake Kabul and Kandahar, forcing Humayun to mount further campaigns for their recapture. He may have been aided in this by his reputation for leniency towards the troops who had defended the cities against him, as opposed to Kamran Mirza, whose brief periods of possession were marked by atrocities against the inhabitants who, he supposed, had helped his brother.

His youngest brother, Hindal Mirza, formerly the most disloyal of his siblings, died fighting on his behalf. His brother Askari Mirza was shackled in chains at the behest of his nobles and aides. He was allowed go on Hajj, and died en route in the desert outside Damascus.

Humayun’s other brother, Kamran Mirza, had repeatedly sought to have Humayun killed, and when in 1552 he attempted to make a pact with Islam Shah, Sher Shah’s successor, he was apprehended by a Gakhar. The Gakhars were one of only a few groups of people who had remained loyal to their oath to the Mughals. Sultan Adam of the Gakhars handed Kamran Mirza over to Humayun. Humayun was tempted to forgive his brother, however he was warned that allowing Kamran Mirza’s continuous acts to go unpunished could foment rebellion within his own ranks. So, instead of killing his brother, Humayun had Kamran Mirza blinded which would end any claim to the throne. He sent him on Hajj, as he hoped to see his brother absolved of his hateful sins, but he died close to Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula in 1557.

India revisited


The Mughal Emperor Humayun, gathered a vast army and attempted the challenging task of retaking the throne in Delhi.

Sher Shah Suri had died in 1545; his son and successor Islam Shah died too, in 1554. These two deaths left the dynasty reeling and disintegrating. Three rivals for the throne all marched on Delhi, while in many cities leaders tried to stake a claim for independence. This was a perfect opportunity for the Mughals to march back to India. Humayun placed the army under the able leadership of Bairam Khan. This was a wise move given Humayun’s own record of military ineptitude, and turned out to be prescient, as Bairam was to prove himself a great tactician.

 Marriage relations with the Khanzadas

The Gazetteer of Ulwur states:

Soon after Babar’s death, his successor, Humayun, was in AD 1540 supplanted by the Pathan Sher Shah, who, in AD 1545, was followed by Islam Shah. During the reign of the latter a battle was fought and lost by the Emperor’s troops at Firozpur Jhirka, in Mewat, on which, however, Islam Shah did not loose his hold. Adil Shah, the third of the Pathan interlopers, who succeeded in AD 1552, had to contend for the Empire with the returned Humaiyun.[13]

In these struggles for the restoration of Babar’s dynasty Khanzadas apparently do not figure at all. Humaiyun seems to have conciliated them by marrying the elder daughter of Jamal Khan, nephew of Babar’s opponent, Hasan Khan, and by causing his great minister, Bairam Khan, to marry a younger daughter of the same Mewatti.[13]

Bairam Khan led the army through the Punjab virtually unopposed. The fort of Rohtas, which was built in 1541-43 by Sher Shah Suri to crush the Gakhars who were loyal to Humayun, was surrendered without a shot by a treacherous commander. The walls of the Rohtas Fort measure up to 12.5 meters in thickness and up to 18.28 meters in height. They extend for 4 km and feature 68 semi-circular bastions. Its sandstone gates, both massive and ornate, are thought to have exerted a profound influence on Mughal military architecture.

The only major battle faced by Humayun’s armies was against Sikander Suri in Sirhind, where Bairam Khan employed a tactic whereby he engaged his enemy in open battle, but then retreated quickly in apparent fear. When the enemy followed after them they were surprised by entrenched defensive positions and were easily annihilated.

From here on most towns and villages chose to welcome the invading army as it made its way to the capital. On 23 July 1555, Humayun once again sat on Babur’s throne in Delhi.

Ruling North India again


Copper coin of Humayun

With all of Humayun’s brothers now dead, there was no fear of another usurping his throne during military campaigns. He was also now an established leader, and could trust his generals. With this new-found strength Humayun embarked on a series of military campaigns aimed at extending his reign over areas to East and West India. His sojourn in exile seems to have reduced Humayun’s reliance on astrology, and his military leadership instead imitated the methods he had observed in Persia, allowing him to win more effectively and quicker.

In the year 1540,

 the Mughal Emperor Humayun met the Ottoman Admiral Seydi Ali Reis. During their discussion in the Durbar, Humayun asked which of the two empires was bigger and Seydi Ali Reis, stated that the Ottoman Empire was “ten times bigger”, Humayun was very inspired and he turned towards his nobles and remarked without resentment: “Indeed Suleiman the Magnificent, deserves to be called the only Padshah on Earth”.[14]

This also applied to the administration of the empire. Persian methods of governance were imported into North India in Humayun’s reign. The system of revenue collection is held to have improved on both the Persian model and that of the Delhi Sultanate one. The Persian arts too were very influential, and Persian-style miniatures were produced at Mughal (and subsequently Rajput) courts. The Chaghatai language, in which Babur had written his memoirs, disappeared almost entirely from the culture of the courtly elite, and Akbar could not speak it. Later in life, Humayun himself is said to have spoken in Persian verse more often than not.

Trusted Generals


After defeating Bahadur Shah’s confederacy in Gujarat, Humayun placed the following Generals in Gujarat:

  1. Mirza Askurry at Ahmedabad
  2. Yadgar Nasir at Patan
  3. Kasim Hussein Sultan in Bharoach
  4. Hindu Beg in Baroda
  5. Tardy Beg Khan in Champaner

However, these officials and generals could not contain uprisings and left Gujarat to be occupied by Bahadur Shah again.

Death and legacy


On 27 January 1556, Humayun, with his arms full of books, was descending the staircase from his library when the muezzin announced the Adhan (the call to prayer). It was his habit, wherever he heard the summons, to bow his knee in holy reverence. Kneeling, he caught his foot in his robe, tumbled down several steps and hit his temple on a rugged stone edge. He died three days later, and was succeeded by the 13-year old Akbar.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Sharaf Al-Din: “Zafar-nama”.
  3. ^ Svat Soucek: “A History of Inner Asia”.
  4. ^ Nizamuddin Ahmad: “Tabaqat-i-Akbari”.
  5. ^ a b c Rama Shankar Avasthy: “The Mughal Emperor Humayun”.
  6. ^ a b S.K. Banjerji: “Humayun Badshah”.
  7. ^ a b Jauhar: “Tadhkirat al-Waqiat”.
  8. ^ a b c Bamber Gascoigne: “The Great Moghuls”.
  9. ^ Badauni: “Muntakhab al-Tawarikh”.
  10. ^ Abul-Fazel: “Akbar-nama”.
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ a b John F. Richards, Gordon Johnson (1996). Cambridge University Press. ed. The Mughal Empire (illustrated, reprint ed.). p. 11. ISBN 0521566037.
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^



When Vasco da Gama rounded the Cape of Good Hope

 and landed at Calicut in 1498,

the trade with India and the Far East passed into a Portuguese channel.

A budgerow, Calcutta

The old routes had been in the hands of Mohammedan traders, who shipped their goods by the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and so overland to Syrian and Egyptian ports, whence the merchandise found its way to Europe in Venetian bottoms. These routes were tapped at their source when Portugal acquired the command of the Indian Ocean. In the hands of such heroes as Pacheco, Almeida, and


the control of Portugal over the whole of the commerce with the East Indies, Spice Islands, and China was assured. Arab traders and Egyptian navies sought in vain to oust the invaders of their ancient privileges. From the Cape of Good Hope to China the extended coast-line was armed with a chain of Portuguese fortresses, and no ship could sail without a Portuguese passport. 

But the age of heroes for Portuguese India passed away, and there were still no signs of a consolidated Portuguese empire in the East. Albuquerque had dreamed of such an empire, in the spirit of a Dupleix or a Clive, and he had exhausted his little nation by the constant drain of colonization. His policy had not been continued, and an empire on Indian soil was abandoned in favour of fortified trading centres supported by the command of the Eastern seas. The forts remained, but no attempt at any more ambitious settlement was made; and should the command of the seas be lost, there was nothing to save the commerce of Portugal with the East.


Akbar’s Reforms – The Divine Faith – 1566–1605 A.D.

This assimilation of the Hindu chiefs was the most conspicuous feature of Akbar’s reign. His wars were like other Indian wars, only mitigated by his sovereign quality of mercy to those who submitted, and by his scrupulous care that the peasants should not suffer by the passage of his troops. The empire was gradually extended till it stretched from Kandahar to the Bay of Bengal, and included the whole of Hindustan down to the Narbada. But the remarkable points about this expansion to the old limits of Ala-ad-din’s realm were, first, that it was done with the willing help of the Hindu princes, and, secondly, that expansion went hand in hand with orderly administration. This was a new thing in Indian government, for hitherto the local officials had done pretty much as it pleased them, and the central authority had seldom interfered so long as the revenue did not suffer. Akbar allowed no oppression by his lieutenants, and not a few of his campaigns were undertaken mainly for the purpose of punishing governors who had been guilty of self-seeking and peculation. Much of the improvement was due to his employment of Hindus, who at that time were better men of business than the uneducated and mercenary adventurers who formed a large proportion of the Mohammedan invaders.

No Moslem served Akbar more zealously or with more far-reaching results than the great financier, Raja Todar Mal, a Khatri Rajput, who had served in his youth under the able administration, of Sher Shah, and had thus gained priceless experience in the management of lands and revenues. He assisted Akbar’s first chancellor of the exchequer, Muzaffar Khan, in settling the newly acquired kingdom, and


 in 1566 took a leading part in suppressing the revolt of Ali Kull. It was the first time, in Moghul rule, that a Hindu had been sent against a Moslem enemy, and his employment was doubtless due to Akbar’s suspicion that the Mohammedan generals might act in collusion with their old comrade, the rebel. After this he was employed in settling the revenue system of Gujarat, and


then again took military command in the conquest of Bengal in 1574–7 and its reduction in 1581, when he distinguished himself by his firm courage. He was rewarded soon afterwards with the office of vizir, and

in 1582

 became chief finance minister, introducing the famous reforms and the new assessment known as Todar Mal’s rent-roll, the Domesday Book of the Moghul empire. He died in 1589. “Careful to keep himself from selfish ambition,” writes Abu-l-Fazl, “he devoted himself tothe service of the state, and earned an everlasting fame.”

There is no name in mediaeval history more renowned in India to the present day than that of Todar Mal, and the reason is that nothing in Akbar’s reforms more nearly touched the welfare of the people than the great financier’s reconstruction of the revenue system. The land-tax was always the main source of revenue in India, and it had become almost the sole universal burden since Akbar had abolished not only the poll-tax and pilgrims’ dues but over fifty minor duties. The object was now to levy a fair rent on the land, which should support the administration without unduly burdening the cultivators. Mr. H. G. Keene, an able modern Indian administrator, thus describes the system: “The basis of the land-revenue was the recognition that the agriculturist was the owner of the soil, the state being entitled to the surplus produce. Sometimes an official or a court favourite obtains an alienation of the state’s demands on a township or group of townships; but the grant, even if declared to be perpetual, is usually treated as temporary, in the sense that it is liable to be resumed at the death of the grantee or at the demise of the crown. That being the normal conception in systems like that of the Moslems in Hindustan, the agriculturists – especially if they were Hindus – were taillables et corvéables à merci1. It was Sher Shah who, first among these rulers, perceived the benefit that might be expected from leaving a definite margin between the state’s demand and the expenses of cultivation. The determination of this margin, and the recognition of the person who should be secured in its enjoyment, formed the basis of the system which, under the name of ‘settlement,’ still prevails in most parts of India.

“A fixed standard of mensuration having been adopted, the land was surveyed. It was then classified, according as it was waste, fallow, or under crop. The last class was taken as the basis of assessment, that which produced cereals, vetches, or oil-seeds being assessed to pay one-third of the average gross produce to the state, the other two-thirds being left to the cultivators. This was a complete departure from the law of Islam, for it made no difference between the revenue raised from Moslems and that raised from unbelievers. Sher Shah’s demand was in no case to be exceeded. It is very noticeable that Akbar added to his policy of union the equally important policy of continuity of system. He aimed at securing to the peasant the power of enjoying his property and profiting by the fruit of his labours. The needy husbandman was furnished with advances, repayable on easy terms. The assessments when once made were assessed for nineteen years; and after the twenty-fourth year of the reign, the aggregate collections of the past ten years having been added together and divided by ten, the future collections were made on the basis of this decennial average.

“Care was taken to provide easy means of complaint when undue collections were exacted and to punishs everely the guilty exactors. The number of minor officials employed in realizing the recorded dues was diminished by one-half. The cultivators were to be made responsible, jointly as well as severally; the cultivators of fallow land were to be favoured for two years; advances of seed and money were to be made when necessary, arrears being remitted in the case of small holdings. Collectors were to make yearly reports on the conduct of their subordinates. Monthly returns were to be transmitted to the imperial exchequer. Special reports were to be sent up of any special calamities, hail, flood, or drought. The collectors were to see that the farmers got receipts for their payments, which were to be remitted four times in the year; at the end of that period no balance should be outstanding. Payments were if possible to be voluntary, but the standing crops were theoretically hypothecated, and where needful were to be attached. Above all, there was to be an accurate and minute record of each man’s holding and liabilities. The very successful land-revenue system of British India is little more than a modification of these principles.”

One special feature of Todar Mal’s system was the enactment that all government accounts should be kept in Persian, instead of in Hindi, as heretofore. As Blochmann well says, “He thus forced his co-religionists to learn the court language of their rulers – a circumstance that may be compared with the introduction of the English language in the courts of India. The study of Persian therefore became necessary for its pecuniary advantage. Todar Mal’s order, and Akbar’s generous policy of allowing Hindus to compete for the highest honours – Man Singh was the first ‘Commander of seven thousand’ – explain two facts: first, that before the end of the eighteenth century the Hindus had almost become the Persian teachers of the Mohammedans; secondly, that a new dialect could arise in Upper India, the Urdu, which, without the Hindus as receiving medium, could never have been called into existence. Whether we attach more importance to Todar Mal’s order or to Akbar’s policy, which when once initiated his successors, willing or not, had to follow, one fact should be borne in mind – that before the time of Akbar the Hindus as a rule did not study Persian and stood therefore politically below their Mohammedan rulers.”

Such changes, which put the subdued Hindu absolutely on a level with the conquering Moslem, were naturally repugnant to Akbar’s more bigoted followers. The contemporary historian Badauni writes bitterly on the subject, and his cynicism is a useful corrective to the enthusiastic panegyrics of other writers of the time. Yet even when he wishes to make things appear in the worst light, he really shows the excellence of the intentions, at least, of the new measures, while exposing some of their defects. For instance, referring to one of the early attempts at land assessment,

in 1574,

he says:

“In this year an order was promulgated for improving the cultivation of the country and for bettering the condition of the rayats, or peasants. All the parganas, or fiscal unions of the country, whether dry or irrigated, in towns or hills, deserts or jungles, by rivers or reservoirs or wells, were to be measured, and every piece of land large enough to produce, when cultivated, one crore of tankas was to be divided off and placed under the charge of an officer called the crori, selected for his trustworthiness and without regard to his acquaintance with the revenue officials: so that in three years’ time all the uncultivated land might be tilled, and the treasury be replenished. The measurement was begun near Fathpur, and one crore was named Adampur, another Sethpur, and so on after prophets and patriarchs. Rules were laid down, but were not properly observed, and much of the land was laid waste through the rapacity of the croris; the peasants’ wives and children were sold and dispersed, and everything went to confusion. But the croris were brought to account by Raja Todar Mal, and many pious men died from severe beatings and the torture of rack and pincers. Indeed so many died after long imprisonment by the revenue officers that the executioner or headsman was forestalled.”

All this is intended by the writer to cast ridicule on the reforms, but it really shows that they were good, and that they were, moreover, strictly enforced. The same cynic can see no advantage in Akbar’s system of territorial commands. The Moghul officers, whether Hindus or Moslems, were spread over the land, and the state taxes were granted to them in certain districts (except the Khalisa, or exchequer lands) in return for military service. They had to bring a fixed number of men-at-arms, horses, and elephants into the field, and were rated, according to the number they brought, as mansabdars of ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand, and the like. It was no invention of Akbar’s, for we have seen it at work in much earlier times, and of course it was liable to abuse, though Akbar did much to remove the old dangers and corruptions of the system. Badauni said that the laziness, license, extravagance, and greed of the mansabdars ate up all the grant, and that no money was left to pay the soldiers, so the amirs dressed their grooms and servants as men-at-arms and passed them off at the muster, and then sent them back to their duties. “The treasure, tax-gathering, and expenditure of the mansabdars remained unchanged, but in every way dirt fell into the plate of the poor soldier, and he could not gird up his loins. Weavers, cotton-dressers, carpenters, and Hindu and Moslem chandlers would hire a charger, bring it to the muster, obtain a mansab [or order on the land-revenue], and become a crori, trooper, or substitute for some one: a few days later not a trace would be found of the hired horse, and they became footmen again. This sort of trade was carried on to a great extent [and Akbar knew it]; nevertheless the emperor’s good luck was such that his foes were everywhere crushed, and soldiers were not so much wanted.” As the enemies could not be crushed without soldiers, the system, though abused, appears to have answered its purpose.

There were doubtless many imperfections and many cases of malversation in spite of Akbar’s efforts; but this is only to say that the best system in the world is open to abuse, especially in an Oriental country, where to cheat the government is a virtue and to grind the faces of the poor a venial fault. The real reason that Badauni is so severe upon these reforms is that they were but a part of a general tendency to lax views on the part of the emperor. It was not merely in his just and equable treatment of the Hindus that Akbar showed his broad and open mind. There were other influences at work besides those of his Hindu wives and friends, and they all made for what the orthodox Badauni denounced as latitudinarian. A king who was constitutionally unable to see why a Hindu should pay more taxes than a Moslem was also liable to equally deplorable liberality in matters of faith, and Akbar had been deeply moved by the mystical doctrines of the Persian Sufis as revealed to him by two brilliant brothers. From the time when Faizi, the mystic poet, joined the emperor’s suite at the siege of Chitor in 1568, and still more when seven years later he introduced his young brother, the gentle and enthusiastic scholar Abu-l-Fazl, Akbar’s mind had been unsettled in religion. He was essentially eclectic, and saw good in almost every form of worship. From his youth he had delighted in the conversation of scholars and philosophers and had shown the greatest deference to real learning; he had books read aloud to him daily from his rich library, and would go through them again and again; and now under the influence of the speculative mind of Abu-l-Fazl – a man of wide culture and pure spiritual ideals, who recognized his hero in his king, and devoted himself to him with his whole heart – he began to encourage debates on doctrinal and philosophical questions and displayed an eager curiosity in the discussions.

The Divan-i-Khas, Fathpur-Sikri

These debates took place in a hall called the Hall of Worship (Ibadat-Khanah – supposed to be identical with that now known as the Divan-i-Khas), founded in 1574 at the city of Fathpur, which had become the emperor’s favourite residence. The city itself was the offspring of faith. Akbar, at least in the earlier part of his reign, was a devout visitor of holy places, and frequented the tombs of Moslem saints. We read again and again how he made solemn pilgrimages to famous

Sheikh Salim Chisti’s Tomb at Fathpur-Sikri. shrines;

Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti, Sufi saint during Mughal Empire, in Uttar Pradesh, India


Tomb of Shaikh Salim Chisti, Sufi saint during Mughal Empire, in Uttar Pradesh, India

 and one of his objects was to secure an heir, for up to the fourteenth year of his reign none of the sons born to him had lived. He repaired to a holy man dwelling in a cave at the village of Sikri, not far from Agra; the hermit promised him a son, and Akbar placed his wife, the Princess of Amber, under the care of the saint till her time should be accomplished. Sikri, as well as its local prophet, waxed rich and populous by the numerous visits of the anxious king.

Palaces began to rise by 1569,

 and the prophet, Salim Chisti,

set up a new monastery and a noble mosque. The aristocrats built them mansions near the palace. Sikri knew itself no more, and its name was changed to Fathpur, “the town of victory.” Happily the seer was justified in the event, and Akbar’s son, named Salim after the holy man, but better known as the Emperor Jahangir, was safely ushered into the world. Fathpur derived fresh lustre from this auspicious event, and Akbar lavished all the taste and art of the age upon its adornment.

Nothing sadder or more beautiful exists in India than this deserted city, the silent witness of a vanished dream. It still stands, with its circuit of seven miles, its seven bastioned gates, its wonderful palaces, peerless in all India for noble design and delicate adornment; its splendid mosque and pure marble shrine of the hermit saint; its carvings and paintings – stands as it stood in Akbar’s time, but now a body without a soul. Reared with infinite thought and curious care, it was deserted fourteen years later. When William Finch visited it five years after its founder’s death he found it “ruinate, lying like a waste district, and very dangerous to pass through at night.” Ruinate it has remained ever since, desolate and abandoned. No later ruler of India has ever aspired to dwell in Akbar’s Versailles, just as none ever rose to the height of Akbar’s ideals. In the empty palaces, the glorious mosque, the pure white tomb, the baths, the lake, at every turn we recognize some memory of the greatest of Indian emperors. We may even enter his bedroom, the Khwabgah, or “home of dreams,” and see the very screens of beautiful stone tracery, the same Persian couplets, the identical ornament in gold and ultramarine on which Akbar feasted his eyes in the long sultry afternoons of the Indian plains. We may walk into the houses of Faizi and Abu-l-Fazl, the laureate and the premier of his empire, who sang his glory and chronicled his reign. We may stand in the audience-hall, with its pillar throne and galleries, where the keenest dialectic of Moslem schoolmen, Catholic priests, Pantheists, Zoroastrians, Brahmans, and Buddhists rose in heated battle for their creeds, till quarrels and coarse vituperation called up the bitter sneer of the puritanic Badauni and the regretful contempt of the royal seeker after truth.

Fathpur, with its beauty in desolation, has stirred the poetic vision of a Heber, and compelled the homage of the wisest critic of Indian art. Fergusson wrote of the “Turkish Sultana’s House,” which still overlooks the Pachisi Court where Akbar is said to have played his games of living chess with slave-girls as pieces moving on the checkered pavement, that nothing can be conceived so picturesque in outline, so richly and so marvellously carved, without one touch of extravagance or false taste. The five-storied Panch Mahal, a kind of Buddhist Vihara, and the house of Akbar’s witty Hindu favourite, Raja Birbal, have their individual charm; while the frescoes in “Miraim’s Kothi” are curious documents in the history of Indian painting, of which we obtain some glimpses in the albums of Moghul portraits, drawn by artists of the Panjab and now preserved in the British Museum and a few private collections. The presence of Jesuit Fathers at Agra, attracted by the liberal views of Akbar, accounts for some of the characteristics of these curious paintings. Aureoles and angels appear; a little later we find the Blessed Virgin represented in a kiosk of Jahangir; and scenes of Christian hagiography were favourite subjects with Moghul artists. The Annunciation is believed to be depicted in a fresco at Fathpur-Sikri, while another strongly resembles the fall of Adam. There are even traces of the work of Chinese artists in the Buddhist paintings in the “Home of Dreams.” Indeed this Indian Pompeii, with its unique and never iterative designs, is a museum of exquisite aesthetic genius. Akbar’s views on art were characteristic. One day he remarked to some friends: “There are many that hate painting, but such men I dislike. It appears to me as if a painter had quite peculiar means of recognizing God; for a painter, in sketching anything that has life, and in devising its limbs one after the other, must come to feel that he cannot bestow personality upon his work, and is thus forced to think of God, the giver of life, and will thus increase in knowledge.” He had always been fond of painting, and kept a number of painters at court, whose work was displayed before him every week.

“The Turkish Sultana’s House.” Fathpur-Sikri

“Hence the. art flourishes,” wrote Abu-l-Fazl, “and many painters have obtained great reputations, while masterpieces worthy of [the famous Persian court painter] Bahzad may be placed beside the wonderful works of the European painters who have attained world-wide fame. The minuteness in detail, the general finish, the boldness of execution, and the like, now observed in pictures, are incomparable.” This was written in Akbar’s lifetime, and it is noteworthy that the historian distinguishes the Hindu painters as the best among the hundred famous masters of the age, though he mentions some great artists from Persia.

In this fairy city Akbar’s dream of a universal religion grew into definite shape. It was in the Hall of Worship that he sought wearily to elicit truth from the debates of professors. “The unity that had existed among the learned,” says Blochmann, “disappeared in the very beginning; abuse took the place of argument, and the plainest rules of etiquette were, even in the presence of the emperor, forgotten. Akbar’s doubts, instead of being cleared up, only increased; certain points of the Hanafi law, to which most Sunnis cling, were found to be better established by the dicta of lawyers belonging to the other three sects; and the Moral character of the Prophet was next scrutinized and found wanting. Makhdum-al-mulk [the head of the ultra-bigoted orthodox party] wrote a spiteful pamphlet against Shaikh Abd-an-Nabi, the Sadr [or chancellor] of the empire, and the latter retorted by calling Makhdum a fool and cursing him. Abu-l-Fazl, upon whom Akbar from the beginning had fixed as the leader of his party, fanned the quarrels by skilfully shifting the disputes from one point to another.” The heated discussions of the learned men whom he gathered on Thursday nights to defend the dogmas of their creeds only inspired him with compassion for the futility of their reasoning and contempt for the narrowness of their grasp. In Akbar’s eyes there was truth in all faiths, but no one creed could hold the master-key of the infinite As Abu-l-Fazl wrote:–

“O God, in every temple I see those who see thee, and in every tongue that is spoken, thou art praised.

Polytheism and Islam grope after thee.

Each religion says, ‘Thou art one, without equal.’

Be it mosque, men murmur holy prayer ; or church, the bells ring, for love of thee.

Awhile I frequent the Christian cloister, anon the mosque :

But thee only I seek from fane to fane.

Thine elect know naught of heresy or orthodoxy, whereof neither stands behind the screen of thy truth.

Heresy to the heretic – dogma to the orthodox –

But the dust of the rose-petal belongs to the heart of the perfume-seller.”

Tennyson has finely expressed Akbar’s dream of a pure and universal faith:–

“I can but lift the torch

Of reason in the dusky cave of Life,

And gaze on this great miracle, the World,

Adoring That who made, and makes, and is,

And is not, what I gaze on – all else Form,

Ritual, varying with the tribes of men.”

It had taken many years to develop this new religion of catholic comprehension. Akbar would often sit, in the first hour of dawn, on a stone in his palace court, watching the rising of the sun and meditating on the mystery of life. He was passing through a stage of earnest doubt. He listened eagerly to the words of the Christian fathers, to the Vedanta philosophy of ascetic yogis, and he must have known the Buddhist doctrine and the profound metaphysic of India. He had versions of the Sanskrit classics to be made for him and he ordered a translation to be made of the Gospels of Christ. Badauni, the Mohammedan writer, says:– “In the year 986 A.H. (1578 A.D.) the missionaries of Europe, who are called Padres, and whose chief pontiff, called Papa, promulgates his interpretations for the use of the people, and who issues mandates that even kings dare not disobey, brought their Gospel to the emperor’s notice, advanced proofs of the Trinity, and affirmed the truth and spread abroad the knowledge of the religion of Jesus. The emperor ordered Prince Murad to learn a few lessons from the Gospel and to treat it with all due respect, and Shaikh Abu-l-Fazl was ordered to translate it. Instead of the prefatory Bismillah, the following ejaculation was enjoined: O thou whose name is Jesus Christ.’ ”

Islam no longer satisfied him, though his instinctive devoutness still took him on pilgrimages to Moslem shrines, and as late as the twenty-first year of his reign he was contemplating a journey to Mekka. But Islam was too narrow for his expanding soul. The outward symbols went; the Moslem shibboleth vanished from the coinage, and the ambiguous formula “Allahu Akbar,” “God is most great” (or, as detractors construed it, “Akbar is God”), took its place. When Moslems met, instead of the customary salam, they were to say “Allahu Akbar,” and the reply, “Jalla Jalaluh,” “May his glory shine!” was construed as containing another suspicious reference to Akbar’s surname, Jalal-ad-din. While plainly declaring that he pretended to no divine incarnation, such as the Shi’as acknowledge, the emperor assumed a wholly new position in relation to matters of faith. He found that the rigid Moslems of the court were always casting in his teeth some absolute authority, a book, a tradition, a decision of a canonical divine, and, like Henry VIII, he resolved to cut the ground from under them; he would himself be the head of the church, and there should be no Pope in India but Akbar.

His first assumption of the role of priest-king was unintentionally dramatic. Following the precedents of the caliphs of old, he stood before the people in the great mosque of Fathpur one Friday in 1580, and began to read the bidding prayer (khutba), into which Faizi had introduced these lines:

“The Lord to me the Kingdom gave,

He made me prudent, strong and brave,

He guided me with right and ruth,

Filling my heart with love of truth;

No tongue of man can sum His State –

Allahu Akbar! God is great.”

But the emotion of the scene, the sight of the multitude, and the thought of his high office were too much for him. Akbar faltered and broke down, and the court preacher had to finish the prayer.

Soon afterwards Akbar promulgated a document which is unique in the history of the Mohammedan world. It was drawn up by the father of Faizi and Abu-l-Fazl, himself a Shi’a pantheist, and it was signed, sorely against their will, by the orthodox divines and lawyers of the court. It set forth in unmistakable terms that the authority of the just king was higher than that of a Mujtahid (or sublime doctor of the faith), and that, should a religious question arise regarding which the Mujtahids were at variance, the emperor’s decision should be binding on the Moslems of India, and any opposition to the imperial decrees should involve the loss of goods and religion in this world, and ensure damnation in the world to come. In other words, Akbar’s judgment was set above every legal and religious authority except the plain letter of the Koran. It was a promulgation of a doctrine of imperial infallibility.

After thus breaking sharply with the principles of Mohammedan tradition, Akbar went, as of old, on pilgrimage to a saint’s tomb. Badauni smiled grimly and said “it was strange that his Majesty should have such faith in the good man of Ajmir while rejecting our Prophet, the foundation of everything, from whose skirt hundreds of thousands of first-class saints had sprung.” With the same superstitious bent, oddly contrasting with his philosophic theory, Akbar is said to have varied the colours of his clothes in accordance with the regent planet of the day, to have muttered spells at night to subdue the sun to his will, to have prostrated himself publicly before the sun and the sacred fire, and to have made the whole court rise respectfully when the lamps were lighted. On the festival of the eighth day after the sun entered Virgo, the emperor came forth to the audience-chamber with his brow marked in

Hindu fashion and with jewelled strings tied by Brahmans on his wrists to represent the sacred thread. He was not above charms and sortileges. He studied alchemy as well as astronomy, and is reported to have exhibited the gold he had professedly transmuted, and he took boundless interest in the tricks and miracles both of the Hindu ascetics, or yogis, and of the Moslem fakirs.

The truth is that Akbar was singularly sensitive to religious impressions of every kind, and that his new religion, the Din-i-Ilahi, or “divine faith,” an eclectic pantheism, contained elements taken from very diverse creeds. While overthrowing nearly every ceremonial rule, whether of Islam or of Hinduism, and making almost all things lawful save excess, he took ideas from learned Brahmans as well as from Portuguese missionaries; he adopted the worship of the sun as the symbol of the Creator, and himself daily set the example of “adoring Him the Timeless in the flame that measures Time “; as the starting-point of his new Ilahi era he introduced the solar year which begins at the vernal equinox; he forbade cow-eating, in deference to Indians, and had himself ceremonially weighed in Hindu fashion on both his solar and his lunar birthday; he instituted the sacred fire adored of the Parsis, and encouraged the hem sacrifice of the Hindus in his palace. The new cult was cordially professed only by a small band of courtiers calling themselves “the elect,” and including Faizi, Abu-l-Fazl, and other Persians, chiefly poets, as well as one Hindu, Birbal, but the rest, even of the court, remained indifferent, when not hostile. Some boldly refused to join the new faith, but the most part temporized for fear of losing favour. Of course an eclectic religion never takes hold of a people, and Akbar’s curiously interesting hodgepodge of philosophy, mysticism, and nature-worship practically died with him; but the broad-minded sympathy which inspired such a vision of catholicity left a lasting impress upon a land of warring creeds and tribes, and for a brief while created a nation where before there had been only factions.

Darugha Pershad’s house, Fathpur-Sikri

With the promulgation of the emperor’s infallibility the debates in the Hall of Worship came to an end; the leading bigots Makhdum and Abd-an-Nabi were sent to refresh their fanaticism at Mekka, and the pantheists under Abu-l-Fazl and his brother enjoyed a brief triumph. Both held high rank, but Faizi prized his office of poet-laureate above any political power, while Abu-l-Fazl became Divan, or Treasurer, of the Province of Delhi. These two brilliant and sympathetic brothers were now Akbar’s chief intimates, and he found in their devotion more than compensation for the solitary elevation that is the inevitable fate of a reforming sovereign born centuries before the accepted time. Probably they encouraged him in the fancies and extravagances which somewhat marred his later life. One of these fancies was a belief that the religion of Islam would not survive its millennium, and that its collapse would be accompanied by the advent of the Mahdi, the Lord of the Age, in whom Akbar was easily induced to recognize himself. He ordered a “History of the Millennium” (Tarikh-i-Alfi) to be compiled by a company of scholars, including the reluctant Badauni, to put a seal, as it were, upon an extinct religion. The events of the thousand years of doomed Islam were related from a Shi’a point of view, and, to add to the confusion, the chronology was reckoned from the death of the Prophet instead of from his flight (Hijra).

This was an example of Akbar’s love of innovation, and it is impossible to deny that he was fond of experiment and novelty for their own sake. “All good things must once have been new,” he remarked, and accordingly he tested the novel habit of smoking tobacco, which was first introduced in India in his reign. As Dr. Holden has said, “He experimented in all departments, from religion to metallurgy,” and som of his changes appear to have been dictated by mere whim and restless curiosity, rather than by reason and judgment. His experimental spirit was displayed in the way he endeavoured to ascertain the natural religion of the untaught child. He separated a score of hapless babies from their mothers, and shut them up in a house where none might speak to them, in order to see what faith they would evolve. After three or four years the children were let out, and they came forth – dumb! The emperor’s experiments were not always wise.

Nevertheless, he had wise counsellors, and it was an age of great literary abundance. Faizi was one of the most exquisite poets India has ever produced, and Abu-l-Fazl’s “Book of Akbar” (Akbarnamah), written in 1597, the third volume of which forms the celebrated Ain-i-Akbari, or “Acts of Akbar,” will always retain its fascination as a minute record of the customs and institutions of the greatest age of the Moghul empire. As Col. H. S. Jarrett, one of its translators, has said, “it crystallizes and records in brief for all time the state of Hindu learning, and, besides its statistical utility, serves as an admirable treatise of reference on numerous branches of Brahmanical science and on the manners, beliefs, traditions, and indigenous lore, which for the most part still retain and will long continue their hold on the popular mind. Above all as a register of the fiscal areas, the revenue settlements, and changes introduced at various periods, the harvest returns, valuations and imposts throughout the provinces of the empire, its originality is as indisputable as its surpassing historical importance.”

While Akbar was busy in enlarging the boundaries of faith, his material empire had not stood still. The conquests of Gujarat and Bengal, though requiring more than one repetition, had brought the empire to the normal limits of Hindustan. Kabul and the Afghan country, ruled by his disloyal brother Hakim, had repeatedly revolted; Badakhshan was finally lost in 1585,

and the merry Raja Birbal fell in a disastrous attempt to coerce the wild Yusufzais in 1586.

 But after Hakim’s death Kabul was pacified, and Kashmir was annexed in 1587, while in 1594 Kandahar was included in the empire. These were small changes, but more important conquests were attempted in the south. Again and again in Indian history we find in the Deccan the bane of Delhi kings. Nature never intended the same ruler to govern both sides of the Vindhya mountains, for people, character, and geographical conditions are dissimilar. Nevertheless, to conquer the Deccan has been the ambition of every great King of Delhi, and the attempt has always brought disaster. Akbar was not immune from the Deccan fever, but it seized him late in life. Up to the last decade of his reign his power had scarcely been felt south of the Satpura range, and although he had taken Burhanpur and made the rajas of Khandesh and Berar his tributaries as early as 1562, their tribute was intermittent and their fealty barely nominal.


A viceroy of the Deccan was eventually appointed

The Tomb of Akbar the Great at Sikandra

Five miles northwest of Agra stands the magnificent tomb in which the dust of the great Moghul emperor Akbar reposes. The approach to the mausoleum is beneath a grand portal and up a handsome pathway lined on either side with trees and fragrant shrubs. The building itself is of red sandstone, except the upper story, which is of the finest white marble. In the midst of this upper tier is a superb white marble cenotaph resting upon a tessellated pavement and standing directly above the place where, in a vaulted chamber, three stories below, lie the remains of him who was India’s noblest consolidate authority, but in the hands of the emperor’s bibulous son Murad, and his equally intemperate successor, Prince Daniyal, the office became contemptible. Murad’s incompetence to subdue open rebellion in Berar led to his recall and the appointment of Abu-l-Fazl to the command of the army which in 1599 resolutely set about the re-conquest of the Deccan. Akbar himself arrived at the seat of war, and success soon followed. Ahmadnagar, formerly strenuously defended by the Princess Chand Bibi, had again fallen after six months’ siege, and Asirgarh, the strongest fortress in Khandesh, opened its gate in 1600. An inscription on that glorious gateway, the Buland Darwazah at Fathpur, records how “His Majesty, King of Kings, Heaven of the court, Shadow of God, Jalal-ad-din Mohammad Akbar Padishah conquered the Kingdom of the South and Dandesh, which was heretofore Khandesh, in the Ilahi year 46, which is the year of the Hijra 1010. Having reached Fathpur he went on to Agra. Jesus (on whom be peace!) hath said: ‘the world is a bridge; pass over it, but build no house there: he who hopeth for an hour may hope for eternity: the world is but an hour – spend it in devotion: the rest is unseen.’ ”


In these last sad years the great heart of the emperor was weighed down with grief. He had lost his beloved friend, the poet Faizi, in 1595, two of his own sons were sinking to their dishonoured deaths; the eldest, Salim, was little better and had shown flagrant insubordination. And now the closest of his friends, the inspirer of many of his best thoughts and acts, was to be sacrificed. Prince Salim, jealous of Abu-l-Fazl’s influence and impatient of his censure, caused this upright and faithful servant of his father to be murdered on his return from the Deccan in 1602. It was the last and crowning sorrow, and Akbar never recovered from the shock. The quarrels and intrigues of his worthless family hastened the end. At an elephant fight there was a scene of jealous disputing in his presence; the weary king gave way to ungovernable fury, as he too often did in this stricken period of his decay, and was led away sick unto death. Round the bed of the dying Akbar the intrigues for the succession went on shamelessly, but at the last he received his only surviving son, Salim, and invested him with the sword of state. He died in October, 1605, the noblest king that ever ruled in India

the end @ copyright Dr Iwan suwandy 2012

The rare and Amizing Pictures Of antiquarian Book Illustrations Collections


 Pictures Illustrations Collections



Dr Iwan suwandy,MHA

Private limited E-Book Edition in CD-ROM

Copyright@Dr Iwan suwandy 2011


Many rare, strange and amizing antiquarian Books illustrations as the God Creations through  Human hand still exist now although still many undiscovered, that is why we must save that rare and amizing collections in other to save the human haritage.

Due to that , I sarting in 25 years to save that human harirtage ,some upload in Driwancybermuseum blog


Because the spece og blog not enough,the complete information were put in E-BOOK in CD_ROM, and If the collectors want to have the complete informations please asked via comment,but before you must subscribed as the premium member via comment

Jakarta ,january 2012

Dr Iwan suwandy,MHA



Dutch Brazil, which officially called itself ‘Nieuw Holland,’ was a short-lived (1630-1654) state in the north-east of Brazil that resulted from the Dutch Republic’s aggressive policy of territorial expansion at the expense of the Portuguese colonies in the first half of the seventeenth century — a policy that also led to the Dutch occupation of Portuguese Angola between 1641 and 1648 and a number of annexations in Portuguese India, including the city of Cochin (see below).

These devestating defeats for the Portuguese crown sprang from a combination of factors — the Dutch were a nation on the rise in this period, and the Portuguese, junior partners in the Iberian Union of the 1580-1640 period, found themselves with diminished resources and man-power to defend their far-flung empire. The tide began to turn in the 1620s (see my previous post on the Portuguese-Spanish defeat of the Dutch in Bahia, 1625), but the Dutch retained a foothold in Pernambuco and the north Amazon region until the 1650s, as shown by the map below.

One result of these geopolitical misadventures was a fascinating episode in the history of European art and the print culture of early modern natural history. The Dutch government encouraged painters, botanists and other observers of nature to visit the new colonies and record their observations of the strange new tropical lands that had fallen into the hands of the Dutch Republic. The painter Albert Eckhout (1610-1665) was perhaps the most outstanding of these imperial observers. Below are a selection of some of his wonderfully observed paintings of Brazil’s flora, fauna, landscapes and peoples. All images are from the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen unless otherwise noted, and were painted during Eckhout’s travels in Brazil between 1637 and 1644:

“East Indies Fruits.”
Tupi Indian woman with child.
Tupi Indian man. Interestingly, this figure appears to be the model for one of the flanking figures in Piso’s Natural History of Brazil.
Willem Piso’s 1668 Historia Naturalis Brasilia (Natural History of Brazil), hand-colored frontispiece. Compare the figure at left to the Tupi Indian painted by Eckhout above. Piso traveled on the same expedition as Eckhout and fellow painter Frans Post, serving as a physician.

The Dutch-Portuguese wars also led to a vacuum of European power in Formosa, present-day Taiwan. Weakened Dutch forces were chased from the island by Chinese military leader and admiral Zheng Chenggong ( 郑成功), known to Europeans as Koxinga, in 1662. The resulting cut-off of European communication with the island allowed the famous eighteenth century impostor George Psalmanazar to invent a series of outlandish falsehoods about Formosa, as detailed in my previous post on this fascinating figure.

For more on these beautiful paintings, see Rebecca Parker Brienen’s Visions of Savage Paradise (2007). Boxer’s monograph The Dutch in Brazil is unfortunately out of print, but Benjamin Schmidt’s Innocence Abroad: the Dutch Imagination and the New World (2006) is a great general survey of Dutch empire and observation in the seventeenth century Americas – highly recommended.


PARRHASIUS, it is said, entered into a pictorial contest with Zeuxis, who represented some grapes, painted so naturally that the birds flew towards the spot where the picture was exhibited. Parrhasius, on the other hand, exhibited a curtain, drawn with such singular truthfulness, that Zeuxis, elated with the judgment which had been passed upon his work by the birds, haughtily demanded that the curtain should be drawn aside to let the picture be seen. Upon finding his mistake, with a great degree of ingenuous candour he admitted that he had been surpassed, for that whereas he himself had only deceived the birds, Parrhasius had deceived him, an artist. – Pliny the Elder, The Natural History (circa 77 CE), Book 35, Chapter 36.

Bronzino’s Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time detail, (c. 1545).

THE ability to trompe-l’œil (“deceive the eye” in French) was among the most highly prized artistic skills of Pliny’s day, as evidenced by the many tales of Greek and Roman painters who boasted that their works were capable of fooling both man and beast. Although most figurative paintings offer an illusionistic “window” into a false reality to some degree, trompe-l’œil works take such verisimilitude to the level of optical illusion. The technique has been called a “triumph of the gaze over the eye.”

My favorite examples of trompe-l’œil come from the Renaissance and Baroque periods (roughly speaking c. 1500 to c. 1700). European culture of this era displayed a strong fascination with the interplay between the beautiful and the hideous, the secret and the visible, and the concept of truth. In the arts, these preoccupations were expressed through masks, stage plays (whose actors often functioned as a metaphor for life in seventeenth-century poetry), and the mask-like, mysterious figures of Mannerist painters, most famously exemplified in the brilliant and vaguely creepy works of Agnolo Bronzino.

It is not surprising, then, that paintings which expressly sought to fool the eye (and the mind) by experimenting with the boundaries between the artificial and the real enjoyed a high level of popularity throughout the 1500 through 1700 period — nor that these works could function as profound reflections on the nature of visible reality rather than as clever but gimmicky visual tricks, which is how we tend to approach trompe-l’œil today. Below are some of my favorite examples.

Domenico Remps, A Cabinet of Curiosity, 1690s.

I included this painting in an earlier post on curiosity cabinets, but wanted to revisit it here to show Remps’ incredible ability to evoke illusionistic details. Notice, for instance, the reflection of the mirror in the upper left part of the cabinet, which, much like Jan van Eyck’s famous Arnolfini Wedding, reveals the room in which it was painted:


Even as Remps points out the artificial nature of the painting by revealing the site of its creation, however, he also creates the illusion that an actual curiosity cabinet (rather than its mere representation on canvas) stands before us. This photo-realistic effect is achieved by clever touches such as the broken glass on the right hand cabinet window.

Portraying paintings within a painting, as Remps does here, was an extremely popular approach — I suppose because it highlighted the painter’s skill in multiple genres while also maximizing the visual delight of the viewer by offering several vistas and scenes at once (modern tastes tend to be more minimalist, but the seventeenth century was all about maximalism). The ultimate example of this that I have seen is David Tenier’s incredibly over-the-top depiction of Archduke Leopold Wilhem‘s gallery:

David Teniers the Younger, ca. 1650, Archduke Leopold Wilhelm in his Gallery in Brussels, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
Another typical approach of the period which I find to be in many ways more interesting was that of including written texts in paintings. This technique is actually visible in a surprisingly large number of famous works (for instance, in Hans Holbein’s famous portrait of a German merchant). It reached an extreme form, however, in paintings such as the following:
Jean-François de Le Motte, c. 1670, Still Life, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon.
A detail of the texts, which include a letter to the artist, a printed pamphlet and what appears to be an accounting
Cornelius Gijsbrechts (c.1630 – 1675), Trompe l’oeil, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Gent, Belgium.
 Edward (or Edvart) Collier, Trompe l’Oeil of Newspapers, Letters and Writing Implements
on a Wooden Board

Incidentally, this last work offers a fascinating glimpse into the origins of the modern newspaper. One of the early “intelligencers” depicted here, the Apollo Anglicanus, can be previewed on Google Books. (Check out the blog Merciurius Politicus for more along these lines).
One interesting example of a painting of an illuminated manuscript can be found on Palazo Strozzi’s online exhibit of trompe l’œil works:

Detail showing early sheet music of a psalm.

Finally, there is the related style of “quadratura,” or painting architectural objects in an illusionistic manner. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Andrea Mantegna’s playful and highly original ceiling fresco for the the Ducal Palace in Mantua, Italy, a detail from which heads this post:

Andrea Mantegna, fresco, Camera degli Sposi, Ducal Palace, Mantua, c. 1470.

An even more interesting off-shoot is anamorphosis, which employs distorted perspective to create coded images that only become understandable when viewed from the right angle. The most famous example of anamorphosis is to be found in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors (one of my favorite paintings), where a strange blur at the bottom of the painting…

…revolves into a skull when viewed from the right angle, designed to remind the viewer of the ever-presence of death:

I’ll stop there. For those interested in learning more, the Palazzo Strozzi museum in Florence has an online exhibit on trompe l’œil with many beautiful images and some interesting thoughts on


The Photochrom photographic process was developed in Zürich, Switzerland in the 1880s by the printing firm Orell Füssli (apparently still in business as a producer of “highly secure banknotes” and “identity documents” — see link). The famous Detroit Publishing Company (née Detroit Photographic Company) purchased exclusive American rights to the process in 1897, which was highly prized prior to the advent of true color film owing to its ability to yield mass reproductions of tinted black and white photographs. Photochroms sold briskly throughout the 1890s. As you can see below, the most popular images were of exotic tourist destinations, crowded urban scenes and landscapes. Today, they fascinate because of the enormously high resolution of the photographic negatives, coupled with the color tinting of an era that we usually view in black and white. I recommend clicking on the photos to get a better of the enormous amount of detail these images contain.

The Photochrom process involved the transfer of black and white film negatives directly onto a series of lithographic plates, which were then inked with various colors matching the scene. Wikipedia provides some further technical info (perhaps more than you wanted to know). Below are some representative images from Wikimedia Commons and the Library of Congress Photochrom collection:

Mulberry Street in the Lower East Side of New York City, circa 1900.
Belgian milk peddlers, 1890s.
“Bedouin Chief of Palmyra,” 1890s, from a photograph by Felix Bonfils.

Since these images are easily accesible on Wikimedia and Library of Congress sites I linked to above, I’ll just restrict myself to pointing out a few neat details in larger photochroms:

A beautifully out of focus shot of two young men crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Tough-looking children and wagon-drivers in Mulberry Street.
A medieval-era town hall in Saxony – this almost feels like peering into a fifteenth-century city high street.
And my favorite photochrom of all, a wonderfully crisp and evocative portrait of an Irish weaver.

A sampling of more old fashioned, extremely hi-res photographs can be found on the photoblog Shorpy. I’ve also posted previously about an early color photographic technique that was used to document pre-Soviet Russia to great effect. More technical details on the photochrom process can be found here. Finally, the website of NYC’s Museum of Modern Art has an interactive website devoted to explaining the workings of lithography, for those interested in how color images were made before the advent of color film

 I was surprised to find that these images exist, but I’m glad they do. Apparently produced as part of a visual ethnography of the world’s cultures written by a Japanese interpreter for the Dutch merchant community in Nagasaki named Nishikawa Joken, they depict “people from each of the 42 barbarian countries outside of Japan.” (My main source for this information, and the images themselves, comes from the wonderful database of early American images maintained by the John Carter Brown library.) Alas, I have only found two of the forty two online, but those two are quite fascinating. The first appears to depict two South American Indians, perhaps Amazonian judging by their dress, while the second portrays a “Native American Patagonian giant.” I would be fascinated to learn what the accompanying Japanese text has to say about these and other New World cultures. If anyone reading this has any further information, please contact me!

“Two South American Indians” in Nishikawa Joken, Shijûni-koku Jinbutsu zusetsu (Kyoto, 1720). Xylograph print on paper with hand coloring, 31.1 x 18.2 cm.
“Patagonian Giant” in Nishikawa Joken, Shijûni-koku Jinbutsu zusetsu (Kyoto, 1720). Xylograph print on paper with hand coloring, 31.1 x 18.2 cm. 
I have yet to read this particular work, but according to the JCB’s online catalog entry the great historian Charles Boxer touches upon these images in his work Jan Compagnie in Japan, 1600-1850, pg. 18-19. A cursory Google search of Joken’s name also turns up this interesting-looking recent essay on Merchants and Society in Tokugawa Japan by Charles D. Sheldon.

Image of the Week 3: “Cats Forming the Characters for ‘Catfish'”


Today’s image is a surreal print by one of the last great masters of traditional Japanese woodblock printing, Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861). An assemblage of black and white, tan and calico cats, looking quite content with themselves, float in an abstract color field of steel gray, cream and blue, their twisting bodies forming an approximation of the Japanese character for ‘catfish.’ I have no idea what the historical background for this image is, but I really like it.

A couple of others by the same artist:

“Scribbling on the Storehouse Wall,” seemingly an attempt to memorialize graffiti and the public doodles of strangers in a print.


“Cats Suggested as the Fifty-Three Stations of Tokaido,” an even more elaborate depictions of cats that playfully alludes to Hiroshige‘s famous print series.

the end@copyright dr Iwan suwnady 2012


Dedicated to Mr Jim Brown

The Creation of Vietnam

Pre-Dynastic era

The area now known as Vietnam has been inhabited since Paleolithic times, and some archaeological sites in Thanh Hóa Province purportedly date back several thousand years. Archaeologists link the beginnings of Vietnamese civilization to the late Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, Phung Nguyen culture, which was centered in Vĩnh Phúc Province of contemporary Vietnam from about 2000 to 1400 BCE.

By about 1200 BCE, the development of wet-rice cultivation and bronze casting in the Ma River and Red River plains led to the development of the Dong Son culture, notable for its elaborate bronze drums. The bronze weapons, tools, and drums of Dong-Sonian sites show a Southeast Asian influence that indicates an indigenous origin for the bronze-casting technology.

Many small, ancient copper mine sites have been found in northern Vietnam. Some of the similarities between the Dong-Sonian sites and other Southeast Asian sites include the presence of boat-shaped coffins and burial jars, stilt dwellings, and evidence of the customs of betel-nut-chewing and teeth-blackening.

Dynastic era

The legendary Hồng Bàng Dynasty of the Hùng kings is considered by many Vietnamese as the first Vietnamese state, known as Văn Lang. In 257 BCE, the last Hùng king lost to Thục Phán, who consolidated the Lạc Việt tribes with his Âu Việt tribes, forming Âu Lạc and proclaiming himself An Dương Vương. In 207 BCE, a Chinese general named Zhao Tuo defeated An Dương Vương and consolidated Âu Lạc into Nanyue. In 111 BCE, the Chinese Han Dynasty consolidated Nanyue into their empire.

For the next thousand years, Vietnam was mostly under Chinese rule. Early independence movements such as those of the Trưng Sisters and of Lady Triệu were only briefly successful. It was independent as Vạn Xuân under the Anterior Lý Dynasty between 544 and 602. By the early 10th century, Vietnam had gained autonomy, but not independence, under the Khúc family.

In 938 CE, a Vietnamese lord named Ngô Quyền defeated Chinese forces at the Bạch Đằng River and regained independence after a millennium under Chinese control. Renamed as Đại Việt (Great Viet), the nation went through a golden era during the and Trần Dynasties. During the rule of the Trần Dynasty, Đại Việt repelled three Mongol invasions. Buddhism flourished and became the state religion.

Following the brief Hồ Dynasty, Vietnamese independence was momentarily interrupted by the Chinese Ming Dynasty, but was restored by Lê Lợi, the founder of the Lê Dynasty. Vietnam reached its zenith in the Lê Dynasty of the 15th century, especially during the reign of Emperor Lê Thánh Tông (1460–1497). Between the 11th and 18th centuries, Vietnam expanded southward in a process known as nam tiến (southward expansion),[10] and it eventually conquered the kingdom of Champa and part of the Khmer Empire.

From the 16th century onwards, civil strife and frequent infighting engulfed much of Vietnam. First, the Chinese-supported Mạc Dynasty challenged the Lê Dynasty’s power. After the Mạc Dynasty was defeated, the Lê Dynasty was reinstalled, but with no actual power. Power was divided between the Trịnh Lords in the North and the Nguyễn Lords in the South, who engaged in a civil war for more than four decades before a truce was called in the 1670s. During this time, the Nguyễn expanded southern Vietnam into the Mekong Delta, annexing the Champa in the central highlands and the Khmer land in the Mekong.

The division of the country ended a century later when the Tây Sơn brothers defeated both and established their new dynasty. However, their rule did not last long and they were defeated by the remnants of the Nguyễn Lords led by Nguyễn Ánh with the help of the French. Nguyễn Ánh unified Vietnam, and established the Nguyễn Dynasty, ruling under the name Gia Long.


The history of Vietnam begins around 2,700 years ago. Successive dynasties based in China ruled Vietnam directly for most of the period from 207 BC until 938 when Vietnam regained its independence.Vietnam remained a tributary state to its larger neighbor China for much of its history but repelled invasions by the Chinese as well as three invasions by the Mongols between 1255 and 1285.Emperor Trần Nhân Tông later diplomatically submitted Vietnam to a tributary of the Yuan to avoid further conflicts. The independent period temporarily ended in the middle to late 19th century, when the country was colonized by France (see French Indochina). During World War II, Imperial Japan expelled the French to occupy Vietnam, though they retained French administrators during their occupation. After the war, France attempted to re-establish its colonial rule but ultimately failed in the First Indochina War. The Geneva Accords partitioned the country in two with a promise of democratic election to reunite the country.

However, rather than peaceful reunification, partition led to the Vietnam War. During this time, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union supported the North while the United States supported the South. After millions of Vietnamese deaths, the war ended with the fall of Saigon to the North in April 1975. The reunified Vietnam suffered further internal repression and was isolated internationally due to the continuing Cold War and the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. In 1986, the Communist Party of Vietnam changed its economic policy and began reforms of the private sector similar to those in China. Since the mid-1980s, Vietnam has enjoyed substantial economic growth and some reduction in political repression, though reports of corruption have also risen.

History of Vietnam
Hồng Bàng Dynasty prior to 257 BC
Thục Dynasty 257–207 BC
First Chinese domination 207 BC–39 AD
Triệu Dynasty 207–111 BC
Trưng Sisters 40–43
Second Chinese domination 43–544
Lady Triệu’s Rebellion 248
Early Lý Dynasty 544–602
Triệu Việt Vương  
Third Chinese domination 602–905
Mai Hắc Đế 722
Phùng Hưng 791–798
Autonomy 905–938
Khúc Family 906–930
Dương Đình Nghệ 931–937
Kiều Công Tiễn 937–938
Ngô Dynasty 939–967
The 12 Lords Rebellion 966–968
Đinh Dynasty 968–980
Early Lê Dynasty 980–1009
Lý Dynasty 1009–1225
Trần Dynasty 1225–1400
Hồ Dynasty 1400–1407
Fourth Chinese domination 1407–1427
Later Trần Dynasty 1407–1413
• Lam Sơn Rebellion 1418–1427
Later Lê Dynasty 1428–1788
• Early Lê 1428–1527
• Restored Lê 1533–1788
Mạc Dynasty 1527–1592
Southern and
 Northern Dynasties
TrịnhNguyễn War 1627–1673
Tây Sơn Dynasty 1778–1802
Nguyễn Dynasty 1802–1945
Western imperialism 1887–1945
Empire of Vietnam 1945
Indochina Wars 1945–1975
Partition of Vietnam 1954
Democratic Republic
 of Vietnam
State of Vietnam 1949–1955
Republic of Vietnam 1955–1975
Provisional Revolutionary
Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 1976

Map of Vietnam showing the conquest of the south (the Nam tiến, 1069-1757). Orange: Before the 11th century. Yellow: 11th century. Light Green: 15th century. Dark Green: 16th century. Purple: 18th century. Lai Chau and Dien Bien (the Northwest): 19th century.

Map of Vietnam showing (roughly) the areas controlled by the Trịnh, Nguyễn, Mac, and Champa about the year 1640. Brown: Trịnh Territory. Yellow: Nguyễn Territory. Green: Champa (under Nguyễn overlordship). Pink (Cao Bang): Mạc Territory.


Map of Văn Lang, 500 BC.
Southeast Asia circa 1010 AD. Đại Việt lands in yellow, Champa in green and Khmer Empire in purple
Trần royal battle standard.

Early kingdoms

Evidence of the earliest established society other than the prehistoric Iron Age Đông Sơn culture in Northern Vietnam was found in Cổ Loa, an ancient city situated near present-day Hà Nội.

According to myth, the first Vietnamese people were descended from the Dragon Lord Lạc Long Quân and the Immortal Fairy Âu Cơ. Lạc Long Quân and Âu Cơ had 100 sons before deciding to part ways. 50 of the children went with their mother to the mountains, and the other 50 went with their father to the sea. The eldest son became the first in a line of early Vietnamese kings, collectively known as the Hùng kings (Hùng Vương or the Hồng Bàng Dynasty). The Hùng kings called their country, located on the Red River delta in present-day northern Vietnam, Văn Lang. The people of Văn Lang were known as the Lạc Việt.

Văn Lang is thought to have been a matriarchal society, similar to many other matriarchal societies common in Southeast Asia and in the Pacific islands at the time. Various archaeological sites in northern Vietnam, such as Đông Sơn have yielded metal weapons and tools from this age. Most famous of these artifacts are large bronze drums, probably made for ceremonial purposes, with sophisticated engravings on the surface, depicting life scenes with warriors, boats, houses, birds and animals in concentric circles around a radiating sun at the center.

Many legends from this period offer a glimpse into the life of the people. The Legend of the Rice Cakes is about a prince who won a culinary contest; he then wins the throne because his creations, the rice cakes, reflect his deep understanding of the land’s vital economy: rice farming. The Legend of Giong about a youth going to war to save the country, wearing iron armor, riding an armored horse, and wielding an iron staff, showed that metalworking was sophisticated. The Legend of the Magic Crossbow, about a crossbow that can deliver thousands of arrows, showed extensive use of archery in warfare.

Recent research has unlocked the discovery of artificial circular earthworks in the areas of present day southern Vietnam and overlapping to the borders of Cambodia. These archaeological remains are estimated to be economic, social and cultural entities from the 1st millennium BC

By the 3rd century BC, another Viet group, the Âu Việt, emigrated from present-day southern China to the Red River delta and mixed with the indigenous Văn Lang population. In 258 BC, a new kingdom, Âu Lạc, emerged as the union of the Âu Việt and the Lạc Việt, with Thục Phán proclaiming himself “King An Dương Vương”. At his capital Cổ Loa, he built many concentric walls around the city for defensive purposes. These walls, together with skilled Âu Lạc archers, kept the capital safe from invaders for a while. However, it also gave rise to the first recorded case of espionage in Vietnamese history, resulting in the downfall of King An Dương Vương.

In 207 BC, an ambitious Chinese warlord named Triệu Đà (Chinese: Zhao Tuo) defeated King An Dương Vương by having his son Trọng Thủy (Chinese: Zhong Shi) act as a spy after marrying An Dương Vương’s daughter. Triệu Đà annexed Âu Lạc into his domain located in present-day Guangdong, southern China, then proclaimed himself king of a new independent kingdom, Nam Việt (Chinese: 南越, Nan Yue). Trọng Thủy, the supposed crown prince, drowned himself in Cổ Loa out of remorse for the death of his wife in the war.

Some Vietnamese consider Triệu‘s rule a period of Chinese domination, since Triệu Đà was a former Qin general. Others consider it an era of Việt independence as the Triệu family in Nam Việt were assimilated to local culture. They ruled independently of what then constituted China’s (Han Dynasty). At one point, Triệu Đà even declared himself Emperor, equal to the Chinese Han Emperor in the north.

Period of Chinese domination (111 BC – 938 AD)

In 111 BC, Chinese troops invaded Nam Việt and established new territories, dividing Vietnam into Giao Chỉ (Chinese: 交趾 pinyin: Jiaozhi, now the Red River delta); Cửu Chân from modern-day Thanh Hoá to Hà Tĩnh; and Nhật Nam, from modern-day Quảng Bình to Huế. While the Chinese were governors and top officials, the original Vietnamese nobles (Lạc Hầu, Lạc Tướng) still managed some highlands.

In 40 AD, a successful revolt against harsh rule by Han Governor Tô Định (蘇定 pinyin: Sū Dìng), led by the noblewoman Trưng Trắc and her sister Trưng Nhị, recaptured 65 states (include modern Guangxi), and Trưng Trắc became the Queen (Trưng Nữ Vương). In 42 AD, Emperor Guangwu of Han sent his famous general Mã Viện (Chinese: Ma Yuan) to quell the revolt. After a torturous campaign, Ma Yuan defeated the Trưng Queen, who committed suicide. To this day, the Trưng Sisters are revered in Vietnam as the national symbol of Vietnamese women. Learning a lesson from the Trưng revolt, the Han and other successful Chinese dynasties took measures to eliminate the power of the Vietnamese nobles. The Vietnamese elites would be coerced to assimilate into Chinese culture and politics. However, in 225 AD, another woman, Triệu Thị Trinh, popularly known as Lady Triệu (Bà Triệu), led another revolt which lasted until 248 AD.

During the Tang dynasty, Vietnam was called Annam (Giao Châu), until the early 10th century AD. Giao Chỉ (with its capital around modern Bắc Ninh province) became a flourishing trading outpost receiving goods from the southern seas. The “History of Later Han” (Hậu Hán Thư, Hou Hanshu) recorded that in 166 AD the first envoy from the Roman Empire to China arrived by this route, and merchants were soon to follow. The 3rd-century “Tales of Wei” (Ngụy Lục, Weilue) mentioned a “water route” (the Red River) from Jiaozhi into what is now southern Yunnan. From there, goods were taken overland to the rest of China via the regions of modern Kunming and Chengdu.

At the same time, in present-day central Vietnam, there was a successful revolt of Cham nations. Chinese dynasties called it Lin-Yi (Lin village). It later became a powerful kingdom, Champa, stretching from Quảng Bình to Phan Thiết (Bình Thuận).

In the period between the beginning of the Chinese Age of Fragmentation to the end of the Tang Dynasty, several revolts against Chinese rule took place, such as those of Lý Bôn and his general and heir Triệu Quang Phục; and those of Mai Thúc Loan and Phùng Hưng. All of them ultimately failed, yet most notable were Lý Bôn and Triệu Quang Phục, whose Anterior Lý Dynasty ruled for almost half a century (544 AD to 602 AD) before the Chinese Sui Dynasty reconquered their kingdom Vạn Xuân.

Early independence (938 AD – 1009 AD)

Early in the 10th century, as China became politically fragmented, successive lords from the Khúc family, followed by Dương Đình Nghệ, ruled Giao Châu autonomously under the Tang title of Tiết Độ Sứ, Virtuous Lord, but stopping short of proclaiming themselves kings.

In 938, Southern Han sent troops to conquer autonomous Giao Châu. Ngô Quyền, Dương Đình Nghệ’s son-in-law, defeated the Southern Han fleet at the Battle of Bạch Đằng River (938). He then proclaimed himself King Ngô and effectively began the age of independence for Vietnam.

Ngô Quyền’s untimely death after a short reign resulted in a power struggle for the throne, the country’s first major civil war, The upheavals of Twelve warlords (Loạn Thập Nhị Sứ Quân). The war lasted from 945 AD to 967 AD when the clan led by Đinh Bộ Lĩnh defeated the other warlords, unifying the country. Dinh founded the Đinh Dynasty and proclaimed himself First Emperor (Tiên Hoàng) of Đại Cồ Việt (Hán tự: ; literally “Great Viet Land”), with its capital in Hoa Lư (modern day Ninh Bình). However, the Chinese Song Dynasty only officially recognized him as Prince of Jiaozhi (Giao Chỉ Quận Vương). Emperor Đinh introduced strict penal codes to prevent chaos from happening again. He tried to form alliances by granting the title of Queen to five women from the five most influential families.

In 979 AD, Emperor Đinh Bộ Lĩnh and his crown prince Đinh Liễn were assassinated, leaving his lone surviving son, the 6-year-old Đinh Toàn, to assume the throne. Taking advantage of the situation, the Chinese Song Dynasty invaded Đại Cồ Việt. Facing such a grave threat to national independence, the court’s Commander of the Ten Armies (Thập Đạo Tướng Quân) Lê Hoàn took the throne, founding the Former Lê Dynasty. A capable military tactician, Lê Hoan realized the risks of engaging the mighty Chinese troops head on; thus he tricked the invading army into Chi Lăng Pass, then ambushed and killed their commander, quickly ending the threat to his young nation in 981 AD. The Song Dynasty withdrew their troops yet would not recognize Lê Hoàn as Prince of Jiaozhi until 12 years later; nevertheless, he is referred to in his realm as Đại Hành Emperor (Đại Hành Hoàng Đế). Emperor Lê Hoàn was also the first Vietnamese monarch who began the southward expansion process against the kingdom of Champa.

Emperor Lê Hoàn’s death in 1005 AD resulted in infighting for the throne amongst his sons. The eventual winner, Lê Long Đĩnh, became the most notorious tyrant in Vietnamese history. He devised sadistic punishments of prisoners for his own entertainment and indulged in deviant sexual activities. Toward the end of his short life – he died at 24 – Lê Long Đĩnh became so ill that he had to lie down when meeting with his officials in court.

Independent period of Đại Việt (1010 AD – 1527 AD)

When the king Lê Long Đĩnh died in 1009 AD, a Palace Guard Commander named Lý Công Uẩn was nominated by the court to take over the throne, and founded the Lý dynasty. This event is regarded as the beginning of a golden era in Vietnamese history, with great following dynasties. The way Lý Công Uẩn ascended to the throne was rather uncommon in Vietnamese history. As a high-ranking military commander residing in the capital, he had all opportunities to seize power during the tumultuous years after Emperor Lê Hoàn’s death, yet preferring not to do so out of his sense of duty. He was in a way being “elected” by the court after some debate before a consensus was reached.

Lý Công Uẩn, posthumously referred as Lý Thái Tổ, changed the country’s name to Đại Việt (Hán tự: ; literally “Great Viet”). The Lý Dynasty is credited for laying down a concrete foundation, with strategic vision, for the nation of Vietnam. Leaving Hoa Lư, a natural fortification surrounded by mountains and rivers, Lý Công Uẩn moved his court to the new capital in present-day Hanoi and called it Thăng Long (Ascending Dragon). Lý Công Uẩn thus departed from the militarily defensive mentality of his predecessors and envisioned a strong economy as the key to national survival. Successive Lý kings continued to accomplish far-reaching feats: building a dike system to protect the rice producing area; founding Quốc Tử Giám, the first noble university; holding regular examinations to select capable commoners for government positions once every three years; organizing a new system of taxation; establishing humane treatment of prisoners. Women were holding important roles in Lý society as the court ladies were in charge of tax collection. The Lý Dynasty also promoted Buddhism, yet maintained a pluralistic attitude toward the three main philosophical systems of the time: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. During the Lý Dynasty, the Chinese Song Dynasty officially recognized the Đại Việt monarch as King of Giao Chỉ (Giao Chỉ Quận Vương).

The Lý Dynasty had two major wars with Song China, and a few conquests against neighboring Champa in the south. The most notable battle took place on Chinese territory in 1075 AD. Upon learning that a Song invasion was imminent, the Lý army and navy totalling about 100,000 men under the command of Lý Thường Kiệt, Tông Đản used amphibious operations to preemptively destroy three Song military installations at Yong Zhou, Qin Zhou, and Lian Zhou in present-day Guangdong and Guangxi, and killed 100,000 Chinese. The Song Dynasty took revenge and invaded Đại Việt in 1076, but the Song troops were held back at the Battle of Như Nguyệt River commonly known as the Cầu river, now in Bắc Ninh province about 40 km from the current capital, Hanoi. Neither side was able to force a victory, so the Lý Dynasty proposed a truce, which the Song Dynasty accepted.

Toward the end of the Lý Dynasty, a powerful court minister named Trần Thủ Độ forced king Lý Huệ Tông to become a Buddhist monk and Lý Chiêu Hoàng, Huệ Tông’s young daughter, to become queen. Trần Thủ Độ then arranged the marriage of Chiêu Hoàng to his nephew Trần Cảnh and eventually had the throne transferred to Trần Cảnh, thus begun the Trần Dynasty. Trần Thủ Độ viciously purged members of the Lý nobility; some Lý princes escaped to Korea, including Lý Long Tường.

After the purge most Trần kings ruled the country in similar manner to the Lý kings. Noted Trần Dynasty accomplishments include the creation of a system of population records based at the village level, the compilation of a formal 30-volume history of Đại Việt (Đại Việt Sử Ký) by Lê Văn Hưu, and the rising in status of the Nôm script, a system of writing for Vietnamese language. The Trần Dynasty also adopted a unique way to train new kings: as a king aged, he would relinquish the throne to his crown prince, yet holding a title of August Higher Emperor (Thái Thượng Hoàng), acting as a mentor to the new Emperor.

Mongol invasions

During the Trần Dynasty, the armies of the Mongol Empire under Mongke Khan and Kublai Khan, the founder of the Yuan dynasty invaded Vietnam in 1257 AD, 1284 AD, and 1288 AD. Đại Việt repelled all attacks of the Yuan during the reign of Kublai Khan. The key to Đại Việt’s successes was to avoid the Mongols’ strength in open field battles and city sieges – the Trần court abandoned the capital and the cities. The Mongols were then countered decisively at their weak points, which were battles in swampy areas such as Chương Dương, Hàm Tử, Vạn Kiếp and on rivers such as Vân Đồn and Bạch Đằng. The Mongols also suffered from tropical diseases and loss of supplies to Trần army’s raids. The Yuan-Trần war reached its climax when the retreating Yuan fleet was decimated at the Battle of Bạch Đằng (1288). The military architect behind Đại Việt’s victories was Commander Trần Quốc Tuấn, more popularly known as Trần Hưng Đạo. In order to avoid disastrous campaigns, the Tran and Champa acknowledged Mongol supremacy.


It was also during this period that the Trần kings waged many wars against the southern kingdom of Champa, continuing the Viets’ long history of southern expansion (known as Nam Tiến) that had begun shortly after gaining independence from China. Often, they encountered strong resistance from the Chams. Champa troops led by king Chế Bồng Nga (Cham: Po Binasuor or Che Bonguar) killed king Trần Duệ Tông in battle and even laid siege to Đại Việt’s capital Thăng Long in 1377 AD and again in 1383 AD. However, the Trần Dynasty was successful in gaining two Champa provinces, located around present-day Huế, through the peaceful means of the political marriage of Princess Huyền Trân to a Cham king.

Ming occupation and the rise of the Lê Dynasty

The Trần dynasty was in turn overthrown by one of its own court officials, Hồ Quý Ly. Hồ Quý Ly forced the last Trần king to resign and assumed the throne in 1400. He changed the country name to Đại Ngu (Hán tự: ) and moved the capital to Tây Đô, Western Capital, now Thanh Hóa. Thăng Long was renamed Đông Đô, Eastern Capital. Although widely blamed for causing national disunity and losing the country later to the Chinese Ming Dynasty, Hồ Quý Ly’s reign actually introduced a lot of progressive, ambitious reforms, including the addition of mathematics to the national examinations, the open critique of Confucian philosophy, the use of paper currency in place of coins, investment in building large warships and cannon, and land reform. He ceded the throne to his son, Hồ Hán Thương, in 1401 and assumed the title Thái Thượng Hoàng, in similar manner to the Trần kings.

In 1407, under the pretext of helping to restore the Trần Dynasty, Chinese Ming troops invaded Đại Ngu and captured Hồ Quý Ly and Hồ Hán Thương. The Hồ Dynasty came to an end after only 7 years in power. The Ming occupying force annexed Đại Ngu into the Ming Empire after claiming that there was no heir to Trần throne. Almost immediately, Trần loyalists started a resistance war. The resistance, under the leadership of Trần Quĩ at first gained some advances, yet as Trần Quĩ executed two top commanders out of suspicion, a rift widened within his ranks and resulted in his defeat in 1413.

In 1418, a wealthy farmer, Lê Lợi, led the Lam son revolution against the Ming from his base of Lam Sơn (Thanh Hóa province). Overcoming many early setbacks and with strategic advices from Nguyễn Trãi, Lê Lợi’s movement finally gathered momentum, marched northward, and launched a siege at Đông Quan (now Hanoi), the capital of the Ming occupation. The Ming Emperor sent a reinforcement force, but Lê Lợi staged an ambush and killed the Ming commander, Liễu Thăng (Chinese: Liu Sheng), in Chi Lăng. Ming troops at Đông Quan surrendered. The Lam son revolution killed 300,000 Ming soldiers. In 1428, Lê Lợi ascended to the throne and began the Hậu Lê dynasty (Posterior or Later Lê). Lê Lợi renamed the country back to Đại Việt and moved the capital back to Thăng Long.

he Lê Dynasty carried out land reforms to revitalize the economy after the war. Unlike the Lý and Trần kings, who were more influenced by Buddhism, the Lê kings leaned toward Confucianism. A comprehensive set of laws, the Hồng Đức code was introduced with some strong Confucian elements, yet also included some progressive rules, such as the rights of women. Art and architecture during the Lê Dynasty also became more influenced by Chinese styles than during the Lý and Trần Dynasty. The Lê Dynasty commissioned the drawing of national maps and had Ngô Sĩ Liên continue the task of writing Đại Việt’s history up to the time of Lê Lợi. King Lê Thánh Tông opened hospitals and had officials distribute medicines to areas affected with epidemics.

In 1471, Le troops led by king Lê Thánh Tông invaded Champa and captured its capital Vijaya. This event effectively ended Champa as a powerful kingdom, although some smaller surviving Cham kingdoms still lasted for a few centuries more. It initiated the dispersal of the Cham people across Southeast Asia. With the kingdom of Champa mostly destroyed and the Cham people exiled or suppressed, Vietnamese colonization of what is now central Vietnam proceeded without substantial resistance. However, despite becoming greatly outnumbered by Kinh (Việt) settlers and the integration of formerly Cham territory into the Vietnamese nation, the majority of Cham people nevertheless remained in Vietnam and they are now considered one of the key minorities in modern Vietnam. The city of Huế, founded in 1600 lies close to where the Champa capital of Indrapura once stood. In 1479, King Lê Thánh Tông also campaigned against Laos and captured its capital Luang Prabang. He made further incursions westwards into the Irrawaddy River region in modern-day Burma before withdrawing.

Divided period (1528–1802)

The Lê dynasty was overthrown by its general named Mạc Đăng Dung in 1527. He killed the Lê emperor and proclaimed himself emperor, starting the Mạc Dynasty. After defeating many revolutions for two years, Mạc Đăng Dung adopted the Trần Dynasty’s practice and ceded the throne to his son, Mạc Đăng Doanh, who became Thái Thượng Hoàng.

Meanwhile, Nguyễn Kim, a former official in the Lê court, revolted against the Mạc and helped king Lê Trang Tông restore the Lê court in the Thanh Hóa area. Thus a civil war began between the Northern Court (Mạc) and the Southern Court (Restored Lê). Nguyễn Kim’s side controlled the southern part of Đại Việt (from Thanhhoa to the south), leaving the north (including Đông Kinh-Hanoi) under Mạc control. When Nguyễn Kim was assassinated in 1545, military power fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Trịnh Kiểm. In 1558, Nguyễn Kim’s son, Nguyễn Hoàng, suspecting that Trịnh Kiểm might kill him as he had done to his brother to secure power, asked to be governor of the far south provinces around present-day Quảng Bình to Bình Định. Hoang pretended to be insane, so Kiem was fooled into thinking that sending Hoang south was a good move as Hoang would be quickly killed in the lawless border regions. However, Hoang governed the south effectively while Trịnh Kiểm, and then his son Trịnh Tùng, carried on the war against the Mạc. Nguyễn Hoàng sent money and soldiers north to help the war but gradually he became more and more independent, transforming their realm’s economic fortunes by turning it into an international trading post.

The civil war between the Lê/Trịnh and Mạc dynasties ended in 1592, when the army of Trịnh Tùng conquered Hanoi and executed king Mạc Mậu Hợp. Survivors of the Mạc royal family fled to the northern mountains in the province of Cao Bằng and continued to rule there until 1667 when Trịnh Tạc conquered this last Mạc territory. The Lê kings, ever since Nguyễn Kim’s restoration, only acted as figureheads. After the fall of the Mạc Dynasty, all real power in the north belonged to the Trịnh Lords.

In the year 1600, Nguyễn Hoàng also declared himself Lord (officially “Vương”, popularly “Chúa”) and refused to send more money or soldiers to help the Trịnh. He also moved his capital to Phú Xuân, modern-day Huế. Nguyễn Hoàng died in 1613 after having ruled the south for 55 years. He was succeeded by his 6th son, Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên, who likewise refused to acknowledge the power of the Trịnh, yet still pledged allegiance to the Lê king.

Trịnh Tráng succeeded Trịnh Tùng, his father, upon his death in 1623. Tráng ordered Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên to submit to his authority. The order was refused twice. In 1627, Trịnh Tráng sent 150,000 troops southward in an unsuccessful military campaign. The Trịnh were much stronger, with a larger population, economy and army, but they were unable to vanquish the Nguyễn, who had built two defensive stone walls and invested in Portuguese artillery.

The Trịnh-Nguyễn War lasted from 1627 until 1672. The Trịnh army staged at least seven offensives, all of which failed to capture Phú Xuân. For a time, starting in 1651, the Nguyễn themselves went on the offensive and attacked parts of Trịnh territory. However, the Trịnh, under a new leader, Trịnh Tạc, forced the Nguyễn back by 1655. After one last offensive in 1672, Trịnh Tạc agreed to a truce with the Nguyễn Lord Nguyễn Phúc Tần. The country was effectively divided in two.

The Trịnh and the Nguyễn maintained a relative peace for the next hundred years, during which both sides made significant accomplishments. The Trịnh created centralized government offices in charge of state budget and producing currency, unified the weight units into a decimal system, established printing shops to reduce the need to import printed materials from China, opened a military academy, and compiled history books.

Meanwhile, the Nguyễn Lords continued the southward expansion by the conquest of the remaining Cham land. Việt settlers also arrived in the sparsely populated area known as “Water Chenla”, which was the lower Mekong Delta portion of Chenla (present-day Cambodia). Between the mid-17th century to mid-18th century, as Chenla was weakened by internal strife and Siamese invasions, the Nguyễn Lords used various means, political marriage, diplomatic pressure, political and military favors,… to gain the area around present day Saigon and the Mekong Delta. The Nguyễn army at times also clashed with the Siamese army to establish influence over Chenla.

In 1771, the Tây Sơn revolution broke out in Quynhơn, which was under the control of the Nguyễn. The leaders of this revolution were three brothers named Nguyễn Nhạc, Nguyễn Lữ, and Nguyễn Huệ, not related to the Nguyễn lords. By 1776, the Tây Sơn had occupied all of the Nguyễn Lord’s land and killed almost the entire royal family. The surviving prince Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (often called Nguyễn Ánh) fled to Siam, and obtained military support from the Siamese king. Nguyễn Ánh came back with 50000 Siamese troops to regain power, but was defeated at the Battle of Rạch Gầm–Xoài Mút and almost killed. Nguyễn Ánh fled Vietnam, but he did not give up.

The Tây Sơn army commanded by Nguyễn Huệ marched north in 1786 to fight the Trịnh Lord, Trịnh Khải. The Trịnh army failed and Trịnh Khải committed suicide. The Tây Sơn army captured the capital in less than two months. The last Lê emperor, Lê Chiêu Thống, fled to China and petitioned the Chinese Qing Emperor for help. The Qing emperor Qianlong supplied Lê Chiêu Thống with a massive army of around 200,000 troops to regain his throne from the usurper. Nguyễn Huệ proclaimed himself Emperor Quang Trung and defeated the Qing troops with 100,000 men in a surprise 7 day campaign during the lunar new year (Tết). During his reign, Quang Trung envisioned many reforms but died by unknown reason on the way march south in 1792, at the age of 40.

During the reign of Emperor Quang Trung, Đại Việt was actually divided into 3 political entities. The Tây Sơn leader, Nguyễn Nhạc, ruled the centre of the country from his capital Qui Nhơn. Emperor Quang Trung ruled the north from the capital Phú Xuân Huế. In the South, Nguyễn Ánh, assisted by many talented recruits from the South, captured Gia Định (present day Saigon) in 1788 and established a strong base for his force.

After Quang Trung’s death, the Tây Sơn Dynasty became unstable as the remaining brothers fought against each other and against the people who were loyal to Nguyễn Huệ‘s infant son. Nguyễn Ánh sailed north in 1799, capturing Tây Sơn’s stronghold Qui Nhơn. In 1801, his force took Phú Xuân, the Tây Sơn capital. Nguyễn Ánh finally won the war in 1802, when he sieged Thăng Long (Hanoi) and executed Nguyễn Huệ’s son, Nguyễn Quang Toản, along with many Tây Sơn generals and officials. Nguyễn Ánh ascended the throne and called himself Emperor Gia Long. Gia is for Gia Định, the old name of Saigon; Long is for Thăng Long, the old name of Hanoi. Hence Gia Long implied the unification of the country. The Nguyễn dynasty lasted until Bảo Đại‘s abdication in 1945. As China for centuries had referred to Đại Việt as Annam, Gia Long asked the Chinese Qing emperor to rename the country, from Annam to Nam Việt. To prevent any confusion of Gia Long’s kingdom with Triệu Đà‘s ancient kingdom, the Chinese emperor reversed the order of the two words to Việt Nam. The name Vietnam is thus known to be used since Emperor Gia Long’s reign. Recently historians have found that this name had existed in older books in which Vietnamese referred to their country as Vietnam.

The Period of Division with its many tragedies and dramatic historical developments inspired many poets and gave rise to some Vietnamese masterpieces in verse such as the epic poem The Tale of Kieu (Truyện Kiều) by Nguyễn Du, Song of a Soldier’s Wife (Chinh Phụ Ngâm) by Đặng Trần Côn and Đoàn Thị Điểm, and a collection of satirical, erotically charged poems by the female poet Hồ Xuân Hương.

19th century and French colonization

The West‘s exposure in Vietnam and Vietnam’s exposure to Westerners dated back to 166 BC with the arrival of merchants from the Roman Empire, to 1292 with the visit of Marco Polo, and the early 1500s with the arrival of Portuguese and other European traders and missionaries.[citation needed] Alexandre de Rhodes, a French Jesuit priest, improved on earlier work by Portuguese missionaries and developed the Vietnamese romanized alphabet Quốc Ngữ in Dictionarium Annamiticum Lusitanam et Latinum in 1651.

Between 1627 and 1775, two powerful families had partitioned the country: the Nguyễn Lords ruled the South and the Trịnh Lords ruled the North. The Trịnh-Nguyễn War gave European traders the opportunities to support each side with weapons and technology: the Portuguese assisted the Nguyễnin the South while the Dutch helped the Trịnh in the North.

Main articles: Gia Long and Minh Mạng

In 1784, during the conflict between Nguyễn Ánh, the surviving heir of the Nguyễn Lords, and the Tây Sơn Dynasty, a French Catholic Bishop, Pigneaux de Behaine, sailed to France to seek military backing for Nguyễn Ánh. At Louis XVI‘s court, Pigneaux brokered the Little Treaty of Versailles which promised French military aid in return for Vietnamese concessions. The French Revolution broke out and Pigneaux’s plan failed to materialize. Undaunted, Pigneaux went to the French territory of Pondicherry, India. He secured two ships, a regiment of Indian troops, and a handful of volunteers and returned to Vietnam in 1788. One of Pigneaux’s volunteers, Jean-Marie Dayot, reorganized Nguyễn Ánh’s navy along European lines and defeated the Tây Sơn at Qui Nhơn in 1792. A few years later, Nguyễn Ánh’s forces captured Saigon, where Pigneaux died in 1799. Another volunteer, Victor Olivier de Puymanel would later build the Gia Định fort in central Saigon.

After Nguyễn Ánh established the Nguyễn Dynasty in 1802, he tolerated Catholicism and employed some Europeans in his court as advisors. However, he and his successors were conservative Confucians who resisted Westernization. The next Nguyễn emperors, Ming Mạng, Thiệu Trị, and Tự Đức brutally suppressed Catholicism and pursued a ‘closed door’ policy, perceiving the Westerners as a threat, following events such as the Lê Văn Khôi revolt when a French missionary Joseph Marchand encouraged local Catholics to revolt in an attempt to install a Catholic emperor. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese and foreign-born Christians were persecuted and trade with the West slowed during this period. There were frequent uprisings against the Nguyễns, with hundreds of such events being recorded in the annals. These acts were soon being used as excuses for France to invade Vietnam. The early Nguyễn Dynasty had engaged in many of the constructive activities of its predecessors, building roads, digging canals, issuing a legal code, holding examinations, sponsoring care facilities for the sick, compiling maps and history books, and exerting influence over Cambodia and Laos. However, those feats were not enough of an improvement in the new age of science, technology, industrialization, and international trade and politics, especially when faced with technologically superior European forces exerting strong influence over the region. The Nguyễn Dynasty is usually blamed for failing to modernize the country in time to prevent French colonization in the late 19th century.

the end @ copyright Dr Iwan suwandy 2011

The Japan Historic Collections Era 1400-1700




Created By

Dr Iwan suwandy MHA

Private Limited E-Book In CD-ROM

Copyright@Dr Iwan Suwandy 2012





Anton ever visit Japan several time  and ever stayed one years in 2003 at Toyoya City, he ever go to Kyoto and naother area, this e-book many informations about the old Japan capital Kyoto.

The Kyoto Imperial Palace, or Kyoto Gosho, is the former residence of Japan’s Imperial Family. Even though the family moved out more than 300 years ago, to visit here you have to make reservations and go through an (easy) Kyoto Imperial Palace


The Imperial Palace is quite large and they don’t really let you just wander around. When you fill out an application you choose a date and time slot and during that time slot you get a guided tour of the place. As a photographer, I am not so sure it is worth going to, but just as a tourist I think it is worth it.

Kyoto Imperial Palace

If you plan on going, make your reservation in advance, especially if you are going during peak travel seasons. If you have a choice, go in the fall as everything in Kyoto (and I guess most of the world) is more beautiful in the fall.

Kyoto Imperial Palace




Kyoto Station

File:Kyoto Station (building of the third) Kyoto,JAPAN.jpg

Traditional Japanese immersion in Kyoto.


Kyoto is the old capital of the Japanese empire and is still considered the cultural center of the Japanese culture. Is very close to Osaka, merely 30 minutes in a regular train. Other cities in the Kensai province are Nara and Kobe. In this part of the country there are thousands of temples and shrines, 300 hundred of them only in Kyoto.

We stayed in Kyoto two days to have a glimpse of the Japanese traditional culture. In our first day we visited the Higashi and Nishi Honganji Temple and we had lunch in Shosei-en which is a traditional Japanese garden.

Playing in Shosei-en

We were couchsurfing in Kyoto with Makoto, a very kind Japanese guy that offered us to stay in his guest house. In case you ever read this, thank you for your hospitality Makato!

The next day we visited the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社 Fushimi-Inari-taisha) where the famous tunnel made of thousands of individual orange Torii is. This is considered one of the most beautiful places in Japan and it has appeared in lots of movies. Each one of the Torii represent a wish and you can walk all the way up to another shrine in the top. In the Shinto shrine at the top we ask for a blessing for our future.

After that we went to the Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) temple, and later on we walk around Kyoto visiting other buddist temples and Shinto shrines. In the evening we went to Gion.

Gion (祇園) is the traditional Geisha district. If you haven’t yet, you should read Memories of a Geisha which I seriously recommend to have a picture of what a geisha duties are and what Gion is. There are only around 300 Geishas left in Japan, out of them 80 are in Kyoto. We started walking through Gion and we realized that nowadays it is a strange place where old teahouses are in the same street of (strip)clubs and martini bars just besides traditional restaurants.


We didn’t want to leave Kyoto without seeing a Geisha so we stayed in front of a big teahouse where expensive European cars were waiting in front of the entrance. After a few minutes, the Geishas started to appear in the streets. We were lucky because we saw 5 of them. They don’t mind the people making pictures but they don’t pose, so at the end we were like paparazzi, pursuing them in the rain of Gion’s streets.

Geisha on Gion district

Geisha on Gion district

The imperial palace then move to Tokyo(reverse of Kyoto),

I hope Anton and Cessa will enjoy to look the informations with illustrations below.

Jakarta,January 2012

Dr Iwan suwandy









  • Date: ca. 1480 (made)
  • Place: Iznik
  • Artist/maker: Unknown



Seiryugu Honden Muromachi Period (important cultural asset) / Seiryugu Haiden 

This tutelary shrine is dedicated to the local deity of Daigoji, Seiryu Gongen. The first tutelary shrine was built in Kami-Daigo and then another one was built here. Later, Seiryu-e (also known as “Sakura-e”) began to be held in front of this building. But it was burnt down. The present building was built in 1517. Also, the Oratory was rebuilt by Gien, the rural dean of Daigoji, in 1599. This is the center of various events for the Seiryu-Gongen-Sakura-e held between April 1 and 21 every year.


The Jesuit Missionary who
introduced Christianity to Japan in 1549
St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)

Co-founder of the Jesuit Order St. Francis Xavier

Japanese portrait of Francis Xavier
with Monoyama Inscription Kobe Museum, Kobe Japan

Mt. Fuji in the twilight

St. Francis Xavier was born into the first generation of human beings who truly had a global view of the World and at the beginning of the 16th century which was the first century of the Modern Era and of the Globalization of trade.

The story of the patron saint of Christian missions to Asia and Japan is set in a historical background the richness of which few people have understood or fully appreciated.

In the pages focusing on this period in history will provide additional in depth insights into the complexities of the unfolding drama surrounding the meeting of the East and West in Japan and the relevance of this history to the art we have featured for sale on the site.

Francis Xavier’s life span (1506-1552) roughly corresponds with that of England’s Henry the VIII (1509-1547), Francis I of France, (1494 -1547) Charles V, (1500-58) the Holy Roman Emperor, Martin Luther of Germany (1483-1546) , Suleiman I (the magnificent lawgiver) (1494-1566) ruler of the Ottoman Empire from (1520-1566) at the time of its greatest expansion and conquest into Europe, the most famous of all Muscovites Ivan IV Vasiljevich (the Terrible) (1530-1584), and of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543 – 1616) the first Tokugawa Shogun of Japan.

Portrait of Henry VIII By Holbein

This was a dynamic and historically rich era with the beginning of the protestant reformation, the counter-reformation, the English rule of Henry the VIII, the age of discovery, the Italian High Renaissance, the height and glory of the Aztec and Inca Empires, the earliest settlement by Europeans in the America’s, the Spanish and Roman Inquisitions, the Councils of Trent, the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe, the beginnings of the humanist movement, the unification of Russia and Japan and the Ming Dynasty of China all in full operation during Francis Xavier’s lifetime.

In order to further emphasize the richness of the historic time frame of Xavier’s life span, contemporaries of Francis Xavier in the arts and Sciences were Desiderius Erasmus (1466- 1536), Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Nicholas Copernicus (1473 -1543), Michelangelo Buonarrote (1475-1564), Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (1488-1576), Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), El Greco ( 1541-1614), and Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), with William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) following closely behind.

Desiderius Erasmus By Holbein 1523
Desiderius Erasmus By Holbein

Xavier’s Christian missionary efforts to the Japanese people would bring the newly founded Jesuit Order (The Society of Jesus) and Xavier’s Christian missionaries into direct personal contact with the unifiers of Japan in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These Japanese rulers were Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Oda Nobunaga
Modern Portrait of Oda Nobunaga

The meeting of East and West in Japan and the drama of this history as it played out during Xavier’s lifetime would influence and set the tenor of Japanese domestic and international policies for the next two hundred and fifty years.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Toyotomi Hideyoshi builder and Lord of Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle as it may have looked in the early 17th Century

Tokogawa Ieyasu

Sculpture of Tokugawa Ieyasu the first Tokugawa Shogun
of Japan

The life and times of St. Francis Xavier

In 1492 Spain had just concluded 770 years of wars against the Moors to expel them from Spain. These Spanish military campaigns and the antagonism with the expansionist efforts of the Mohammedan Faith extended well into the 16th century with additional military campaigns by Western Europe against the Ottoman Empire in North Africa , Rhodes, Malta and Greece.

It should be noted that the re-conquista had added much impetus to the development of armor and weaponry used by Europeans and by the Spanish Conquistadors in particular. The late 15th Century through the early 18th century are also the years of the greatest expansion of the Holy Roman Empire whose political influences and rule extended into the Iberian Peninsula and whose influence over European politics made the partitioning of Europe greatly different from its present day borders and structure.

In 1492, the same year the Moors were expelled from Spain, Columbus made his historic voyage to the America’s. Within the next three decades Global Exploration was expanded by the various voyages of Vasca De Gama who reached India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1498 after which additional explorations by the Portuguese were made into the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the spice Islands and into the Pacific Ocean where they made landfall in Japan in 1543.

Throughout the early 16th Century the rulers of western Europe were financing the exploration of the globe with dreams of expanded empires as their motive. The impetus toward building empires set much of the stage for the drama of St. Francis Xavier’s missionary efforts to Japan.

The year 2006 marks the fifth centenary of the birth of Francis Xavier.

Xavier Castle Navarre Spain
Fracis Xavier’s birthplace

Francis Xavier was born into an aristocratic family in 1506 at the Castle of Xavier near Sanguesa in the Aragon River Valley of the Pyrenees Mountains in the State of Navarre in North Eastern Spain. During the time of Xavier’s early childhood the Spanish throne under Ferdinand and Izabella had annexed the kingdom of Navarre in 1512.

The years of Xavier’s childhood and early adulthood would have been filled with the history and stories of the Spanish Re-conquista and the first stages of world exploration.

In the America’s the Spanish Military expansion was being conducted by the conquistadors. In 1521 Cortez had just finished Conquering the Aztec’s of Mexico and between 1519 and 1535 Francisco Pizarro had completely overthrown the Inca Empire in South America. In the year 1522 one of Magellan’s ships had just finished circumnavigating the globe for the first time. The wealth of gold, silver and trade goods returning to Spain from these conquests was financing much of the Holy Roman Empire.

Being born into this political and historically charged environment to an Aristocratic family in Spain offered all of the advantages a young man could have had. It became Francis Xavier’s choice to commit his life to spreading his faith in the gospel of Jesus as the savior of mankind for the Catholic Church. Francis met Igantius Loyola in Paris in 1529 during his early education after Loyola himself had changed his lifelong ambition to spiritual matters from having been brought up in an aristocratic family where the young men were trained to be good soldiers. Loyola was seven years older than Xavier and at the age of 33 had recently changed his career goals and was going back to school for additional training at the time he met Xavier. Loyola had received a severe and disabling injury during the French War against the Spanish in Navarre which also literally changed the direction of his life’s goals from being a military commander to becoming a spiritual soldier for the Catholic Church.

It is noteworthy that Francis Xavier along with Ignatius Loyola became two of the founding members of Jesuit Order (Brothers in Christ) an organization part of whose mission was the reformation of the Catholic Church and the organization of the counter-reformation to assuage the rise of Protestantism in Europe. The original name Loyola came up with for the Jesuit Order was the (Company of Jesus) modeling much of its administrative organization around the ideals of service and discipline he had learned while training for a military career. During the early part of the organization of the Jesuit Order at which time Loyola was writing the constitution of the Jesuit order Xavier had functioned as Loyola’s personal secretary.

Pope Paul III

Formal approval of this new order was given by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540. In the year following the foundation of the Jesuits and after consultation with Ignatious Loyola, Francis Xavier was personally selected by Loyola to be the head of missions to Asia for the Jesuits. He left Lisbon on his 35th birthday April 7, 1541 arriving in Goa India thirteen months later in May 1542. After seven years of service in India, Malaysia and the Spice Islands Xavier arrived in Kagoshima Japan on the 15th of August 1549.

Excerpt from a letter of St. Francis Xavier
to St. Ignatius de Loyola sent just prior to his departure from Goa to Japan, 15 April 1549.

We have now some of the Society in all parts of India where there are Christians. Four are in the Moluccas, two at Malacca, six in the Comorin Promontory, two at Coulan, as many at Bazain, four at Socotra. The distances between these places are immense; for instance, the Moluccas (Spice Islands) are more than a thousand leagues from Goa, Malacca (Malaysia) five hundred, Cape Comorin two hundred, Coulan one hundred and twenty, Bazain sixty, and Socotra three hundred. In each place there is one of the Society who is Superior of the rest. As these Superiors are men of remarkable prudence and virtue, the others are very well content.

I have learnt from good authorities that there is a country near China called Japan, the inhabitants of which are all heathen, quite untouched by Muslims or Jews, and very eager to learn what they do not know both in things divine and things natural, I have determined to go thither as soon as I can….


Not only was St. Francis Xavier’s selected as the head of missions to Asia for the Jesuit Order but he also represented the Crown of Portugal as a political emissary. Both positions required his communications and reports be sent to Rome and Portugal on a regular basis for administrative reasons. Francis Xavier’s close personal and spiritual relationship with Loyola was of the nature that Xavier considered Loyola to be his spiritual father and therefore he corresponded with him personally on a regular basis during his mission years in Asia. It is said that the normally stoic Loyola wept copious tears of sadness and remorse when he learned of Xavier’s death in China in 1552.

Ignatius Loyola founder of the Jesuit Order

Ignatius Loyola founder of the Jesuit Order

The age of discovery with its technological development of ships capable of the exploration of the world’s high seas had played an integral part in the initial success of Xavier’s missionary efforts. These ships carried his correspondence to and from Rome and Portugal as well as bringing provisions and personnel to his Asian missions. By a set of unusual circumstances and the politics surrounding the use of these ships in Japan they would play an even larger role in the plot leading to the eventual repression of Francis Xavier’s Christian missions to Japan in the late 16th and early 17th century.

At the beginning of the 16th century the taste for the expansion of Empires was on lips of Royalty throughout Europe and the rush to create Empires would establish the European nations as the dominant practitioners of seafaring for the next four hundred years until the time of the second world war and the emergence of Japan as a world naval power.

For ten years Francis Xavier sailed the high seas to his ports of call in ships similar to the one pictured above. His initial voyage from Lisbon to Goa on the India’s west coast took thirteen months to complete. The voyage was made only after numerous hardships and perils presented by the environments through which he passed and by hostile natives.

Francis Xavier traveled with a variety of companions during his missionary years. One of the most notable being the Japanese samurai Anjiro, the man who most inspired him to go to Japan. Anjiro was from the port city of Kagoshima on the Island of Kyushu and was living in exile in Malacca when he met Xavier. Anjiro was likely to have been part of the trading system the Japanese had set up called the domain of the Nanban which encompassed Southeast Asia and undertook trade with China. The Japanese were seeking trade relations throughout this area and already knew they had to deal with coming of the Europeans to Japan. Anjiro’s relationship with Xavier would have likely to have been extremely self serving once Anjiro had determined the nature of Xavier’s influences and connections to Rome and European Royalty. Anjiro encouraged Xavier to believe that he would be successful in his missionary efforts to the Japanese. Anjiro became Xavier’s traveling companion and accompanied Xavier from Malacca in Southern Malaysia to Goa on the eastern coast of India and on his first missionary trip to Japan which landed in the port City of Kagoshima, Anjiro’s home port, in the south eastern part of the Island of Kyushu.

Xavier spent the better part of a year in Kagoshima learning the Japanese language and translating scriptures and the catechism into the native Japanese language before leaving for the Kingdom of Bungo in northern Kyushu, where he met the youthful Otomo Sorin, and then to Yamaguchi, Sakai and Kyoto on the Island of Honshu where Xavier’s practical experiences in spreading the Gospel to the Japanese would prove to be a much different experience from what Anjiro had lead Xavier to believe it would be.

The timing of Xavier’s arrival in Japan and the founding of his Christian missions corresponded closely with the end of Sengoku period and of the Onin wars and the beginning of the efforts to unifty Japan by Oda Nobunaga. The same year (1552) that Xavier left Japan seeking entry into China for his missionaries, Oda Nobunaga became the ruler of the Oda Diaymo in Owari Province and began the unification of Japan by a constant series of military conquests. This was a very turbulent time in Japanese history and the internal politics of the unification of Japan was a complex affair of interactions between warring factions within the country. Oda Nobunaga embraced and encouraged the manufacture and use of firearms, a technology that was brought to Japan by the Europeans, and by doing so completely changed the way in which warfare was conducted in Japan.

The internal political interests of the unifiers of Japan would come into sharp conflict with the apparent interests of Empire building by the Europeans and lead to the closure of Japan to all foreign missionary efforts by the middle of the 17th century.

The beginning of the use of Christian and European Iconography in Japanese Tsuba can be closely linked historically with the missionary efforts of Francis Xavier. The end of the use of Christian symbols within these art objects can also be linked directly to the repression of Christian missionary efforts in Japan by the Tokogawa shoguns, therefore those art objects having Christian symbols which were made for Samurai who had converted to the faith are associated with a very specific time frame of Japanese History. This artistic development occurred in a period of Japanese history which lasted less than a full century from 1543 with the arrival of the Portuguese and the birth of Tokugawa Ieyasu in Japan to 1637 and the repression of Christian missionary efforts in Japan and the closure of Japan to Foreign influences by the heirs of Ieyasu the Tokogawa Shoguns.

The purpose of our ARTistory commentaries will be to bring additional emphasis to this period in history and the making of Japanese Tsuba with European influences while focusing on the importance of these art objects as collectibles.

arrival of the Jesuits in Japan 1549

16th Century Japanese Nanban screen
showing the arrival of Jesuits in Japan Circa 1549

Myochin iron tsuba Black Ship motif
Myochin iron tsuba with Black Ship motif 16th Century
Image used courtesy of Byron Shimizu

To assist in putting Kanayama’s art objects into historical Context See:

The life and times of St. Francis Xavier,
(1512- 1552)
Page: 1

Xavier meets Otomo Sorin the King of Bungo,
Page: 2

William Adams arrives in Japan,
(1600 )
Page: 3

The Epic Journey of Hasekura Tsunenaga,
Page: 4

James I king of England (1603-1625) and his personal correspondence with Tokugawa Ieyasu Shogun of Japan
Page: 5

The life and times of Hosokawa Sansai
(1564 – 1645)
Page 6

Timeline of European Events during the life of Hosokawa Tadaoki
Page 7

This Page was co-authored by Chester Comstock in co-operation with Kanayama, For additional information on Kanayama and his collection of Japanese Antiquities from the 16th and 17th Centuries see Kanayama Discusses Sukashi Tsuba.

This text discusses the symptoms of the various diseases mentioned in Su wen (Questions and answers about living matter), supplemented with prescriptions. Su wen is one of the two books which make up Huang-ti Nei ching. Liu, Wan-su, fl. 1186
Huang-ti su wen hsuan ming fang lun: Chung k’an Su wen hsuan ming fang lun (An Advanced Book of Su wen with a Supplement of Prescriptions)
Kyoto, 1740. 5 vols.
NLM Call Number: WZ 260 L7895h 1740.

This text discusses the symptoms of the various diseases mentioned in Su wen (Questions and answers about living matter), supplemented with prescriptions. Su wen is one of the two books which make up Huang-ti Nei ching

Chi, Hisai Kimpi-Yoryaku Kokujikai (The golden chamber of treasures: prescriptions and formularies) Edo, 1780. NLM Call Number: WZ 260 U71k 1780.Chi, Hisai
Kimpi-Yoryaku Kokujikai (The golden chamber of treasures: prescriptions and formularies)
Edo, 1780.
NLM Call Number: WZ 260 U71k 1780.

Honzo Wage Yakusei Zuko Honzo Wage Yakusei Zuko

Oe, Iken
Honzo Wage Yakusei Zuko (Medical Herbs)
Japan, 1697.
NLM Call Number: WZ 250 M267h 1697

A Japanese translation of Shen-nung pen ts’ao (Divine Husbandman’s Materia Medica)

Geka hitsuyoOmura, Ansei
Geka hitsuyo (Surgery Handbook)
Japan, 1684.
NLM Call Number: WZ 250 O56g 1684

Jushikyo Jushikyo

Hua Shou, fl. 1360-1370
Jushikyo (The Routes of Fourteen Channels and Their Functions)
Kyoto, 1716.
NLM Call Number: WZ 260 H868s 1716

Shown here is a description of 20 acupuncture points on the arm that are used to treat colon diseases. It is written in a sonnet style for easier memorization.

Kikerabi kirokuMatsuzawa, Kenshia
Kikerabi kiroku (Selected Case Reports of Surgical Operations)
Japan, 1818.
NLM Call Number: MS B 683These pages show the removal of tumor tissue from a patient’s breast (right) and the pathological specimen (left). This manuscript describes the surgical procedures of the Hanaoka school, which used Chinese herbs as a general anesthetic.Seishu Hanaoka (1760-1835), a Japanese pioneer in anesthesia, performed the first breast cancer surgery using herbal general anesthesia.

Gorui Shimpo Gorui ShimpoWatanabe, Hidetomi
Gorui Shimpo (Studies in Acupuncture)
Tokyo, 1679. 5 vols.
NLM Call Number: WZ 250 W338g 1680This page describes how acupuncture combined with herbs can treat all kinds of diseases, including those caused by parasites.


  28 Legion - Nijuhachi-bushu (busshu)
Nijūhachi Bushū, Nijuhachi Bushu
Lit. = 28 Legions or 28 Attendant Deities
Serving the 1,000-Armed Kannon

Members of Larger Grouping called the TENBU


These 28 deities protect those who believe in Senju Kannon (Kannon of 1000 Hands/Arms). They appear in the Tang period (7th to 9th centuries) in Chinese translations of texts devoted to Kannon. In Japan, the list of the 28 varies among temples and sects. The Gods of Wind & Thunder (Fūjin 風神 and Raijin 雷神) were added to the group in later years. Life-size statues of all 28 (dated to the mid-13th century) are housed at Sanjūsangendō 三十三間堂 in Kyoto, where they guard the principal statue of the seated Senju Kannon (11-feet tall). The temple also features 1,000 standing statues of the Senju Kannon. The group of 28 is not worshipped as an independent object of devotion, but it does appear often in paintings. The below list comes from Sanjūsangendō in Kyoto (aka Myō-hō-in, Renge Ō-in 妙法院蓮華王院). In sculpture, extant examples of the 28 Nijūhachi Bushū are rare. Notable examples include Sanjūsangendō 三十三間堂 in Kyoto, Jōroku-ji Temple 丈六寺 in Shiga, and Kōfuku-ji Temple 興福寺 in Nara (only eight of the 28 are extant at Kōfuku-ji).
1 Naraenkengo-ō
(See Nio Kings)
那延堅固王 (ならえんけんごおう) 
2 Misshaku-kongōrikishi
(See Nio Kings)
密迹金剛力士 (みっしゃくこんごうりきし)
3 Tōhō-ten, Tohoten 東方天 (とうほうてん)
4 Birurokusha-tennō 毘楼勒叉天王 (びるろくしゃてんおう)
5 Birubakusha-tennō 毘楼博叉天王 (びるばくしゃてんおう)
6 Bishamonten (also see the 7 Lucky Gods and Shitennō) 毘沙門天王 (びしゃもんてんおう)
7 Daibon-tennō 大梵天王 (だいぼんてんおう)
8 Taishaku-ten
God of the Center
Also see Shitennō
帝釈天 (たいしゃくてん)
9 Daibenkudoku-tenPhoto: Scanned from Sanjūsangendō catalog.
Wood Statue.
Height = 164 cm.
Kamakura Period.
National Treasure.
Daibenkudokuten at Sanjusangendo in Kyoto, Kamakura Period大弁功徳天 (だいべんくどくてん)
Considered a manifestation of Benzaiten by some, but by others of Kichijōten 吉祥天 (Skt. = Śrī-devī, Lakṣmī, Laksm), the Buddhist goddess of beauty, luck, prosperity, and merit. Says the Sanjūsangendō temple catalog: “Daibenkudoku-ten is a manifestation of Kichijōten. Of Hindu origin. Born from the sea, the wife of Vishnu. It is believed that she grants prosperity and good luck. In Buddhism, she is worshipped as the wife of Bishamonten and the daughter of the Dragon King and Kishimojin (Skt. = Hāritī, Hariti). In Buddhism, she too presides over prosperity.” <end quote> Daibenkudoku-ten, along with the immortal Basūsen (see below), often flank Senju Kannon in the Taizōkai Mandara. She appears often in paintings of Senju Kannon. Daibenkudoku-ten is often confused with or conflated with Benzaiten. The latter is likewise a goddess of prosperity and good luck, and is closely associated with water and the dragon, hence the confusion. In Chinese texts and scriptures, Daibenkudokuten is given as another name for Benzaiten.
10 Mawara-nyoorMawara-ō 摩和羅女 (まわらにょ) or 摩和羅王 (まわらおう)
According to Sanjūsangendō (Kyoto): “The original Sanskrit name of this deity is ’Mahā-bala,’ which can be translated as ’mighty female general.’ The Japanese name Mawara-nyo is conceivably an abbreviation of ’Sassh-mawara,’ which is mentioned in the Senju Darani-kyō Sutra but further details are not known.” 
11 Jinmo-ten 神母天 (じんもてん)
12 Konpira-ō 金毘羅王 (こんぴらおう)
13 Manzensha-ō 満善車王 (まんぜんしゃおう)
14 Hippakara-ō 畢婆伽羅王 (ひっぱからおう)
15 Gobujyōgo-ten 五部浄居天 (ごぶじょうごてん)
16 Konjikikujyaku-ō 金色孔雀王 (こんじきくじゃくおう)
17 Sanshitai-shō 散脂大将 (さんしたいしょう)
18 Nandaryu-ō 難陀竜王 (なんだりゅうおう)
19 Sakararyu-ō 沙羯羅竜王 (さからりゅうおう)
20 Karura-ō 迦楼羅王 (かるらおう)
21 Kondai-ō 金大王 (こんだいおう)
22 Mansen-ō 満仙王 (まんせんおう)
23 Magoraka-ō 摩侯等迦王 (まごらかおう) XX 眼   Magoraka-ou
24 Makeishūra-ō 摩醯首羅王 (まけいしゅらおう)
25 Kendabba-ō
Sendan Kendatsuba
乾闥婆王 (けんだつばおう)
26 Ashura-ō or Shura
Mask of Ashura - photo courtesy阿修羅王 (あしゅらおう)
Ashura are demigods, or semi-blessed beings. They are powerful, yet fierce and quarrelsome, and like humans, they are partly good and partly evil. In their earliest Hindu and Brahman manifestations, the Ashura are always fighting the Ten (Deva) for supremancy (often battling the deities commanded by Taishakuten, the Lord Indra of Hindu mythology).
27 Kinnara-ō 緊那羅王 (きんならおう)  
28 Basū or Basu
Basūsen or Basusen
婆薮仙人 or 婆藪仙人. Buddhist hermit who continually goes on pilgrimage through the wilderness, saving beings who have lost their way. Says JAANUS: Basū, an Immortal or Sennin 仙人. An Indian sage whose Sanskrit name, Vasu, may be an alternative name for one of the Seven Rishi, or “seers.” Basūsen appears as an Indian ascetic who, with Kichijōten 吉祥天, flanks Senju Kannon 千手観音 in the Taizoukai Mandara 胎蔵界曼荼羅. Thus he often appears, along with Kichijōten (although sometimes replaced by Daikudokuten 功徳天, a form of Kichijōten), in paintings of Senju Kannon. Basūsen is also one of the Nijūhachibushū 二十八部衆, the twenty-eight (28) attendants of Senju Kannon. He usually appears either as an ascetic or as a fully dressed old man, and carries a text, usually a palm-leaf book. The later is a symbol of the Prajnaparamita texts, HANNYAKYŌ 般若経; the sutra of “The Perfection of Wisdom,” which is central to the attainment of enlightenment and therefore to all forms of Buddhism. Basūsen is a protector of these texts and, as such, appears in paintings such as the images of Jūroku Zenshin 十六善神 (16 Protectors of Shaka Nyorai, the Historial Buddha), along with other protectors.
Above 28 can be found at Sanjūsangendō 三十三間堂 in Kyoto
(aka Myō-hō-in, Renge Ō-in 妙法院蓮華王院)
The Gods of Wind (Fūjin 風神) and Thunder (Raijin 雷神)
 were later added to this grouping of 28 protector deities.
Says JAANUS: These two gods are based on Hindu deities (Skt. = Vayu and Varun) and Chinese dieties (Fengshe 風神 and Leigong 雷公). In Esoteric Buddhism (Mikkyō 密教), the Wind God is included among the Twelve Deva (Jūniten 十二天) as Fūten 風天, and among the Guardians of the Eight Directions (Happōten 八方天) as the guardian of the northwest. The Wind God is also associated with the constellation Sagittarius (Jp: Iteza 射手座

Rain God (Raijin), Sanjusangendo, scan from temple brochure
Raijin (God of Thunder)
Surrounded by drums, holds hammer to beat drums
13th century, wood, Sanjūsangendō in Kyoto
Scanned from temple brochure
Wind God (Fuujin), Sanjusangendo, scan from temple brochure
Fūjin / Fujin (God of Wind)
13th century, wood, Sanjūsangendō in Kyoto
 Scanned from temple brochure

Raijin, Thunder God, Sanjusangendo in Kyoto Fujin, Wind God, Sanjusangendo in Kyoto

L: Raijin (Thunder God)   R: Fūjin (Wind God)

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Below Text Courtesy of:
Japanese Legendary Lives by Gen-ichi NISHIO
Fujin is the god of wind, and Raijin is a the god of thunder, who are depicted in Chinese legends. Both are thought to live above the clouds. Fujin is usually depicted as a muscled man with a big cloth sack, which is filled with numerous winds. When he opens his sack, a blast of wind escapes.

Raijin (or Raiden) is usually depicted as a muscled man with a series of drums around him, with which he made the rumbling of thunder. Raijin looks like a Oni, and the two are often confused. A legend of Chinese Buddhism says that the two gods were originally evil demons who opposed Buddha. So Buddha ordered his heavenly army to capture the two demons. After a severe battle between demons and 33 gods, the two demons were finally captured. They have been working for heaven ever since. Raijin (or Raiden) got his name from the two Japanese words rai for thunder and den for lightening. According to the Japanese legend he saved Japan from a fleet of invading Mongolians in 1274 AD. The way he managed it was to sit on a cloud, throwing a shower of lightening arrows against the Mongolian fleet. As the god of thunder, Raiden is shown with a drum.

Raijin (Thunder God), painting by Tawaraya Sotatsu, Left Panel, Edo Era, Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto Fujin (Wind God), painting by Tawaraya Sotatsu, Right Panel, Edo Era, Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto
Artist Tawaraya Sotatsu (about 1600-1640 AD)
Thunder and Wind Gods, Screen, Important Cultural Property
Gold leaf and ink on paper; section of a folding screen
Edo Period (1615 – 1868)
 Located at Kennin-ji in Kyoto
Click images for larger photos.

Says Akiyama Terukazu: Expression becomes freer and more dynamic in the pair of screen paintings representing the Wind God and the Thunder God, in the Kennin-ji at Kyoto. By assimilating the classical iconography of these divinities and taking inspiration from the polychrome statues erected in the early 13th century in the sanctuary of the Renge-o-in, and more particularly from the lightning god in the illuminated scroll of Kitano-tenjin-engi, Sotatsu succeeds in reconciling energy of movement with a decorative effect. This composition, often copied by his successors, marks one of the culminating points of his art. One of the few facts we know for certain of Sotatsu’s life is that in the autumn of 1630, having already acquired the dignity of hokkyo (third in rank of the honorary titles of Buddhist monks, which could also be granted to lay artists), he copied four illuminated scrolls of the Saigyo-hoshi-ekotoba (Life of the Poet-Monk Saigyo). 

Raijin (Thunder God), painting by Ogata Korin, Edo Era, Tokyo National Museum Fujin (Wind God), painting by Ogata Korin, Edo Era, Tokyo National Museum
Artist Ogata Korin (1658-1716 AD)
Thunder and Wind Gods, Screen, Important Cultural Property
 Photo and Text Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum.
Click images for larger photos.

Both the Wind God and the Thunder God are originally subordinates to the Senju Kannon, and worshipped together with Kannon’s 28 attendants. This is a copy of Sotatsu’s crowning work by Korin(see above photos). While Sotatsu’s original picture is characterized by a broad gold space and a composition with a strong feeling of tension, where the Wind God and the Thunder God face each other from both ends, Korin showed a difference in creative sense by stabilizing the composition by placing the two gods at the center and trying to depict the figures of the two gods clearly with bright primary colors. <end quote from Akiyama>

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Fūjin 風神 and Raijin 雷神
Full JAANUS Entry: Lit. Wind God and Thunder God. Based on popular Indian deities (Sk: Vayu and Varun) and Chinese dieties (Fengshe 風神 and Leigong 雷公). Although the deities have no basis in early Buddhist scripture, the pair were added to the Twenty-Eight Attendants (Nijuuhachibushuu 二十八部衆), forming part of the retinue of the One-thousand Armed Kannon (Senju Kannon 千手観音). In esoteric Buddhism (mikkyou 密教), the Wind God is included among the Twelve Devas (Juuniten 十二天) as Fuuten 風天 and among the Gods of the Realms and Eight Directions (Gosei happouten 護世八方天) as the guardian of the northwest. He is also associated with the constellation Sagittarius (Jp: Iteza 射手座). The Wind God holds a large drawstring bag over his shoulder, from which he releases wind. Sometimes he grasps a spear with a red pennant. In Japan the Wind God is usually depicted as a green demon with two horns, a grimacing mouth, and claw-like feet and hands. The Thunder God, typically, is red with a horned demon head, simian mouth, and claw-like feet and hands. He is encircled by a ring of drums, and often a small hammer to beat them. In China, the earliest known representations of the Wind and Thunder Gods are found in the 6c caves at Dunhuang 敦煌 (Jp: Tonkou, where they are accompanied by rain and lightning gods. The Wind and Thunder Gods later appeared in 12c woodblock printed books depicting One-thousand Armed Kannon and the Twenty-Eight Attendants. The earliest depiction in Japan is in an illustration of the “Sutra of Past and Present Cause and Effect” (KAKO GENZAI INGAKYOU 過去現在因果経, 8c), in which the Wind and Thunder Gods are included among demons attempting to frighten the Historic Buddha. The two deities appear in several Heian period mandara 曼荼羅, such as in the “Konkoumyou Saishououkyou Mandara” 金光明最勝王経曼荼羅 (12c). The 13c Kei school (Keiha 慶派) sculptures at the Sanjuusangendou 三十三間堂, Kyoto, represent the development of a sculptural tradition. Many legends and folk-tales surround the Thunder God and he is included in various illustrated narrative handscrolls (emaki 絵巻). For instance, according to the Kitano tenjin-engi 北野天神縁起 (“Legends of Kitano Shrine”), the vengeful spirit of Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 (845-903) took the form of the Thunder God, and this illustration became one of the highlights of various versions of scrolls. The Edo period folding-screen (byoubu 屏風) paintings of the Wind and Thunder Gods by Soutatsu 宗達 (?-ca. 1640, Kenninji 建仁寺, Kyoto) and Ogata Kourin 尾形光琳 (1658-1716, Tokyo National Museum) are well known. <end JAANUS quote> 

Fujin, by Koinuma Michio Raijin, by Koinuma Michio

Stoneware statues of the Wind God and Thunder God by acclaimed Japanese
ceramist Koinuma Michio. Fūjin = 42.5 height, Raijin 41 cm in height.

In a past issue of Japan’s leading ceramic magazine Honoho Geijutsu, Koinuma Michio was named one the top 100 potters in Japan (see the complete list at That is quite an honor considering the tens of thousands of professional potters here. Koinuma (1936 -) is based in Mashiko but his creations are far from Mingei; they are clay works of highest artistic merit; another past issue of HG (Issue 21, 1988) had a feature called ‘The Appearance of the Next Generation’ that focused on five ceramic artists, those being Kaneko Jun, Takagi Seirei, Morino Taimei, Wada Morihiro and Koinuma. Koinuma has essayed some amazing work –shown worldwide, some based on ancient bronzes and Haniwa figures and some totally his own.

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Modern Wood Statue of Raijin by LA Artist David Bilbrey Modern Wood Statue of Raijin by LA Artist David Bilbrey
Modern Wooden Statue of Raijin by LA-based artist David Bilbrey.
About two feet tall, made from five blocks of basswood.

Modern Wood Statue of Raijin by LA Artist David Bilbrey
Modern Wooden Statue of Raijin by LA-based artist David Bilbrey.
About two feet tall, made from five blocks of basswood.
Drums were later branded with the futatsudomoe 二つ巴 (double tomoe).

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Ashura, Nara Era, Kyofuku-ji; photo courtesy of "Handbook on Viewing Buddhist Statues"

Ashura, Wood, Nara Era, Kyofuku-ji Temple
Photo: Handbook on Viewing Buddhist Statues. Click here to buy J-book at Amazon.

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Kitano Odori Kamishichigen Kaburenjo Hall Kyoto Japan Wallpaper at 1600×1200
Kitano Odori Kamishichigen Kaburenjo Hall Kyoto Japan wallpaper

Kitano Odori Kamishichigen Kaburenjo Hall Kyoto Japan Wallpaper

Ceramics for Japan


Japan has an ancient ceramic tradition, which owes much to China and Korea.

 By the 1600s,

 there was an increased demand for everyday ceramics from all levels of society. Existing production centres expanded and new potteries were established around Japan.

There were several important technical advances around this time, including the production of porcelain and the application of colourful enamel decoration. Meanwhile, the growing popularity of the tea ceremony among merchants and samurai stimulated the production of specially-designed tea wares. These were prized for their irregular shapes and muted colours.


Arita, on the southern island of Kyushu, was Japan’s first centre for the manufacture of porcelain, from around 1600. There were many kilns in the town, producing underglaze blue and enamelled porcelain for domestic use and for export.

Dish with a night landscape (top)   Dish with egrets (top)   Dish with mandarin ducks amongst waves (top)

Dish with floral design in reserve (top)   Dish with three egrets (top)   Shell-shaped dish with poppy (top)

Dish with leaves and waves (top)   Dish in the form of an egret (top)


The Nabeshima kilns, near Arita, were run by the local samurai rulers, the Nabeshima daimyō. They produced high-quality, boldly-decorated porcelain exclusively for the Nabeshima lords’ own use and for presentation to other dignitaries.

Sake cup with abstract design (oblique)   Dish with camellia flowers by a fence (top)   Dish with flowering plants (top)


The Seto area had flourished as a producer of glazed stonewares from the 1200s. By the early 1800s the Seto kilns began making underglaze blue porcelain and soon overtook Arita as Japan’s main producer of porcelain for everyday use.

Writing box with mountain landscape (oblique)


Kyoto was the former capital of Japan. During the Edo period (1600–1868) it was still the cultural centre of Japan and the city of the Imperial Court. In the early 1600s two new types of earthenware were developed there: low-fired Raku wares for the tea ceremony and colourful overglaze-enamel earthenwares known as ‘Kyoyaki’ (Kyoto ware). From the early 1800s Kyoto also became the main producer of utensils for the Chinese-style tea ceremony.

Hexagonal box with cherry blossoms (oblique)   Sake bottle with leaves (side)   Teapot used for the Chinese tea ceremony (oblique)


The Hirado kilns, near Arita, produced fine underglaze blue decorated porcelain from the mid-1700s, initially for the exclusive use of the local samurai rulers, then later for commercial distribution.

Incense burner or koro in the form of an ox (oblique)   Water jar surmounted by a shishi or lion dog (side)



Egg-shaped bottle 1700-1800 Kyoto Japan Kiyomizu ware stoneware with polychrome enamel


The Japan Historic Collections 1700-1900




Created By

Dr Iwan suwandy MHA

Private Limited E-Book In CD-ROM

Copyright@Dr Iwan Suwandy 2012


part two 1800-1900




Anton ever visit Japan several time  and ever stayed one years in 2003 at Toyoya City, he ever go to Kyoto and naother area, this e-book many informations about the old Japan capital Kyoto. and other place with rare Japan old artwork  illustration


Geisha on Gion district

Geisha on Gion district

I hope Anton and Cessa will enjoy to look the informations with illustrations below.

Jakarta,January 2012

Dr Iwan suwandy




Willowy Beauties

These images, possibly by Isoda Koryûsai (fl. mid-1760s to 1780s), were intended for display on support pillars in buildings. In one of the images, a woman is shown engrossed in reading a scroll, perhaps a love letter, while a young man emerges from behind a painted screen and reads over her shoulder. The other print shows two beauties, one holding sumptuous fabric, and the other a long-stemmed pipe that extends beyond the border of the image.

Untitled Untitled

Attributed to Isoda Koryûsai.
Untitled, pre-1789.
Image 1Image 2
Color woodblock prints, hashira-e,
28 1/4 in. x 4 3/4 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (13, 14)
(LC-USZC4-8533, LC-USZC4-8534)


Delicate Beauty

This print by Kitao Shigemasa (1739-1820) is in the style of Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) and shows the small dainty figures associated with his artwork. Harunobu is credited with developing the method of multicolor printing seen here, known as nishiki-e or brocade prints.

Girl with Insect Cage and Girl Reading a Letter
Kitao Shigemasa.
Girl with Insect Cage and Girl
Reading a Letter
, pre-1820.
Color woodblock print, chûban,
10 in. x 7 1/2 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (15)
Assembled Beauties, New Impression
Assembled Beauties, New Impression

(Shinpan bijo-zukushi).
Tokyo: Izutsuya, ca.1870.
Wild cherry woodblock,
13 in. x 6 in. x 1 in.
Asian Division (16)

Beauties Engaged in Various Occupations, Preserved
in Woodblock

This late nineteenth-century woodblock features women attired in dress appropriate for their various occupations. Images here include the servant girl with the umbrella (fourth row) and the girl at writing practice (second row). Prints made from a block such as this may have been pasted to cardboard, cut into small cards, and placed as prizes in bags of sweets. The block itself, a single cut of Japanese wild cherry, has a hardwood surface that can withstand hundreds of impressions.


The “Beautiful People” of Victorian Japan

True Beauties, illustrated by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912), contains delicately hued portraits of a host of “modern” Japanese women who thrived in the new and changing world three decades into the Meiji era (1868-1912). Clad in a kimono bearing her family crest, the young woman depicted here combines East and West in an exciting blend of fashions. From her blue-tinted spectacles to her gold ring, her accessories announce that she is a woman of means and expansive taste. Chikanobu, his carver, and his printer all worked to provide a rich palate of tones to mesmerize the viewer more than a century later.

True Beauties
Toyohara Chikanobu.
True Beauties
(Shin bijin).
Tokyo: Matsumoto Heikichi, 1898.
Woodblock-printed book,
14 in. x 9 1/2 in.
Asian Division (17)
Views and Costumes of Japan by Stillfried & Andersen
Baron von Raimund Stillfried-Rathenitz
and H. Andersen.
Views and Costumes of Japan
by Stillfried & Andersen
Yokohama: ca. 1877.
Silver albumen photograph
with hand-applied watercolor,
14 7/8 in. x 11 5/8 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (18)

Western Photographic Portrait

Although not an Ukiyo-e image, this portrait is evocative of Ukiyo-e bijin-ga, or pictures of beautiful women. Western photographers, working during the nineteenth century in the Japanese city of Yokohama, often drew inspiration from conventions, subjects, and compositions found in Ukiyo-e images–by that time well known to Western audiences. Among the most successful of these photographers were Baron von Raimund Stillfried-Rathenitz and his predecessor, Felice Beato.


Blending Genres:
Beauty in Landscape

Here Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) uses Utagawa Hiroshige’s famous print of the village of Kanbara from the series The Fifty-three Stages of the Tôkaidô as a backdrop for an enigmatic portrait of a beauty riding a bull. The print reveals the extent to which the artists of Ukiyo-e would borrow images from one another as the traditions of this school developed. Not only did Kunisada use Hiroshige’s landscapes in this series, but he also made a second set of half-length portraits of actors paired against these same landscapes.

Courtesan painting a screen
Utagawa Kunisada.
Picture of Kanbara” from
The Fifty-three Stages of the Tôkaidô

(Tôkaidô gojûsan sugi no uchi: Kanbara zu),
ca. 1853.
Color woodblock print, chûban,
10 in. x 7 1/2 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (19)

Beauties of the Yoshiwara

These high-ranking courtesans from Edo’s famous pleasure district, Yoshiwara, are identified on each print by their names, the houses in which they worked, and the locations of the houses. Gorgeously attired from their elaborately coiffed hair to their lofty platform shoes, these women create a dramatic impression. There were several parallels between kabuki actors and high-ranking courtesans during the Edo Period, including the use of hereditary names that could carry the caché of celebrity down through generations.

Shigeoka from Okamotoya house on Kyô Street Sugatano from Ebiya house on Kyô Street Hanamurasaki from Tamaya house on Edo Street

Artist unidentified. New Yoshiwara (Shin-Yoshiwara).
Shigeoka from Okamotoya house on Kyô Street;
Sugatano from Ebiya house on Kyô Street
Hanamurasaki from Tamaya house on Edo Street (left to right)

Late nineteenth century.
Color woodblock print, ôban triptych, 15 in. x 10 in. each.
Prints and Photographs Division (104)
(LC-USZC4-8464, 8465, 8466)


Ninth-Century Poet

This print by Kikugawa Eizan (1787-1867) depicts Ono no Komachi (ca. ninth century), a celebrated poet, famed also for her spectacular beauty and its decline in her old age. The translated inscription on this print reads:

Even if we say life is limited,
The accumulating years would not matter
If one’s appearance did not change.

The Modern Seven Komachi
Kikugawa Eizan.
The Modern Seven Komachi
(Fûryû shichi Komachi), pre-1867.
Color woodblock print, ôban,
15 in. x 10 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (56)
The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige
Andô Hiroshige.
The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige

(Hiroshige gajô), ca. 1840.
Album of hand-drawn sketches in two vols.,
10 in. x 6 1/4 in.
Ink and pigment on paper.
Asian Division (112)

Catching Fireflies

Andô Hiroshige (1797-1858) is world renowned for his masterpieces of graphic art. The album displayed here provides a glimpse of a private side of the artist’s oeuvre not apparent in his published prints. Here a young woman stands on a riverbank and waves an uchiwa fan to catch fireflies. She will keep them in the netted cage on the ground to her left and enjoy their charms at home. Hiroshige employs a moist brush together with a light wash and accents in red and yellow to yield an effective scene, both real and dreamlike in its mood.


Actor prints, considered ephemera at the time, were almost always created to coincide with performances of a particular kabuki play. The prints were inexpensive–costing about the same as a bowl of noodles–and were intended to be sold immediately as souvenirs and enjoyed briefly. While exploiting the public fascination with kabuki, Ukiyo-e artists in turn served to promote the actors, who were viewed as cultural icons, some with a “superstar” status. In some instances artists were allowed to attend dress rehearsals in order to create the most up-to-date portrait of an actor in the latest play.Theatrical prints often focus on actors in a climactic scene in a play–during a moment of epiphany or extreme emotional turmoil. The actors are shown in a frozen position, or mie, a dramatic pose often accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions, essential to kabuki theater tradition.


Rare Actor Print

This print is one of only seven known works, all portraits of actors, by Kabukidô Enkyô (1749-1803), the sole follower of the enigmatic Tôshûsai Sharaku (fl. 1794-1795). Nothing was known of Enkyô until 1926, when it was discovered that he also used the name “Nakamura Jûsuke II”; under this name he was known as an author and kabuki actor. It is likely that the subject here is Nakayama Tomisaburô, a male actor who played female roles, as identified by an identical print by Enkyô in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Portrait of Nakayama
Kabukidô Enkyô.
Portrait of Nakayama

Tomisaburô, ca. 1800.
Color woodblock print,
11 1/4 in. x 9 1/4 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (20)

Theatrical Scene

This triptych by Utagawa Kunisadai (1786-1865) depicts a scene from a kabuki play in which six actors appear–three are dressed as a tiger, an elephant, and a lion. The figures are identified as Hachiman Tarô Yoshiie (left, with parasol), Abe no Sadatô (center, holding tiger), and Sadatô’s wife, Sodehagi, (right, holding long letter).

Hachiman Tarô Yoshiie Abe no Sadatô Sodehagi
Utagawa Kunisada.
Night scene lit by a lantern, ca. 1847-1852.
Hachiman Tarô YoshiieAbe no SadatôSadatô’s wife, Sodehagi
Color woodblock print, ôban triptych,
15 in. x 10 in. each.
Prints and Photographs Division (21)
(LC-USZC4-8444, LC-USZC4-8445, LC-USZC4-8446)

Special Effects in Woodblock Prints

This book of portraits by Hanagasa Bunkyô (1785-1861) and Ryûsai Shigeharu (1803-1853) depicts actors from Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Shown here, an actor sits in his dressing room, pipe in hand, collecting his thoughts before his performance. On the left, the actor is dressed to play an elderly aristocratic woman. This print is a fine example of printing technology and shows great attention to detail. The surface of a mirror gleams with flecks of mica, while the luxurious brocade robe on the right achieves three dimensionality through the use of embossing on the paper.

The Three Kingdoms of Actors' Customs The Three Kingdoms of Actors' Customs
Hanagasa Bunkyô.
The Three Kingdoms of Actors’ Customs

(Yakusha fûzoku sangokushi).
Ryûsai Shigeharu, illustator.
Image 1Image 2
Osaka: Kawachiya Tasuke, 1831.
Woodblock-printed book,
9 in. x 5 3/4 in. Vol. 1 of 3.
Asian Division (22)
(LC-USZC4-8715, LC-USZC4-8716)

The Persistence of Convention

This group of prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) and Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865) illustrates how certain conventions and motifs were sometimes repeated. The two multi-panel prints in particular are strikingly similar in composition. Each of these works shows a figure with a sword wearing an ankle-length costume fringed with tassels. The figures stand in almost identical poses in both Kuniyoshi’s triptych and Kunisada’s four-part work. The single sheet, once owned by Oliver Wendell Holmes, shows the figure in the same style of costume, though in a different pose. The Holmes print, which shows Danjûrô VIII, has a label indicating that it is a scene from the play Tale of the Monstrous Rat of the Priest Raigô (Raigô ajari kaisoden), an adaptation of Kyokutei Bakin’s (1767-1848) famous 1808 novel of the same title.

Kurôda Ukinaga Saitôgo Kunitake & Onna Gyôja Osada no Tarô Nagamune

Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
Actors Kurôda Ukinaga, Saitôgo Kunitake & Onna Gyôja, Osada no Tarô Nagamune
(Osada no Tarô Nagamune), ca. 1847-1852.
Color woodblock print, ôban triptych,
15 in. x 10 in. each.
Prints and Photographs Division (23)
(LC-USZC4-8518, 8519, 8520)

Saitôgo Kunitake Tada Kurôda Yukitsuna Lady Naruto no mae Akugenta Yoshihira

Utagawa Kunisada.
Actors Saitôgo Kunitake, Tada Kurôda Yukitsuna, Lady Naruto no mae, and Akugenta Yoshihira
ca. 1847-1852.
Color woodblock, ôban tetrych, 15 in. x 10 in. each.
Prints and Photographs Division (24)
(LC-USZC4-8521, 8522, 8523, 8524)


In the Tale of the Monstrous Rat

Utagawa Kunisada.
In the Tale of the Monstrous Rat

(Kaisoden no uchi),

ca. 1842.
Color woodblock print, ôban,15 in. x 10 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (25)

Sawamura Sanjûrô III

This print is from the series Forms of Actors on Stage (Yakusha Butai no Sugata-e) by Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825). Each actor in this series is shown full length in a simple, distinctive pose that captures a sense of immediacy. The print on view shows Sawamura Sanjûrô III (1753-1801), a leading actor at the Nakamura theater in Edo, famous for his large, fat ear lobes and his great round eyes. Toyokuni carefully portrayed these features of the actor in this print.

Kinokuni ya Sawamura Sanjûrô III as Ôboshi Yuranosuke
Utagawa Toyokuni.
Kinokuni yaSawamura Sanjûrô III as
Ôboshi Yuranosuke
from the series
Forms of Actors on Stage
(Yakusha Butai no Sugata-e
ca. 1815-1842.
Color woodblock print, ôban,
15 in. x 10 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (26)

Portraits of Actors in Various Roles

This scroll-mounted group of twenty actor prints, many of which are diptychs, includes numerous images of the same actors. Pictured most often is Nakamura Shikan IV (1831-1899), who appears first at the far right. He is shown emerging from a background image amid floating chess game pieces emblazoned with such characters as “performance” and “gold.” He sticks his tongue out in a gesture associated with a humorous dance performed at felicitous occasions such as the start of the new theatrical season. Also shown is Sawamura Tanosuke III (1845-1878), a leading male actor famed for playing female roles. Other actors pictured include Ôtani Tomoemon V (1833-1873), Ichimura Uzaemon XIII (1844-1903), and Ichikawa Kuzô III (1836-1911)

Artist Portrait from scroll Artist Portrait from scroll Artist Portrait from scroll
Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1864), Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900),
and Utagawa Kuniaki (1835-1888).
Half-length Portrait Brocade Prints
(Nishiki-e hanshin ga), ca. 1860-1866.
All 20 images, from left to right:
Image 1Image 2Image 3Image 4Image 5
Image 6 Image 7Image 8Image 9Image 10
Image 11Image 12Image 13Image 14Image 15
Image 16Image 17Image 18Image 19Image 20
Twenty scroll-mounted color woodblock prints, ôban,
15 in. x 10 in. each.
Prints and Photographs Division (27)
(LC-USZC4-8659 through LC-USZC4-8671)

An Album of Toyokuni Actor Portraits

Portrait series, such as this excellent example of thirty-three Edo actors, illustrated by Utagawa Toyokuni I (1769-1825), provided coveted information to fans about actors’ roles, coiffures, makeup, and personal matters. Shown here are (right) Onoe Shôsuke (1744-1815) and (left) Bandô Yasosuke I (1759-1814). Books of portraits of popular kabuki actors were in as great demand as single-sheet prints.

TA Mirror of Actors' Likenesses A Mirror of Actors' Likenesses A Mirror of Actors' Likenesses A Mirror of Actors' Likenesses
Asakusa no Ichihito.
A Mirror of Actors’ Likenesses (Yakusha nigao kagami).
Utagawa Toyokuni I, illustrator.
Image 1Image 2Image 3Image 4
Edo: Yamadaya Sanshirô, 1804.
Woodblock-printed book, 10 1/4 in. x 7 in.
Asian Division



Travel blossomed in Edo society. Driven by an edict requiring that all daimyo (feudal lords with domains awarded by the shogun) maintain residences in Edo and alternate their time between the administrative center and their home domains, the shogunate developed five highways branching outward from Edo. Regular traffic to and from Edo was stimulated by these major thoroughfares–such as the Tôkaidô Highway running three hundred-odd miles along the coast between Edo and Kyoto. The highways were regularly traveled by daimyoprocessions, as well as ordinary people on pilgrimages, merchants, entertainers, and other sightseers and travelers.Ukiyo-e artists celebrated their surroundings in their artwork and, fueled in part by the Edo passion for travel, landscape art became a popular genre in the nineteenth century. Artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai produced numerous prints and books featuring beautiful and famous places; architecture, temples, and monuments; and natural phenomena. Natural beauty was also expressed in microcosm through the detailed depiction of birds, plants, shells, and insects.


The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige
Andô Hiroshige.
The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige

(Hiroshige gajô), early 1840s.
Album of hand-drawn sketches,
10 in. x 6 1/4 in. Two volumes.
Asian Division (28)

An Album of Masterful Sketches

Andô Hiroshige (1797-1858), who is world renowned for his masterpieces of graphic art, including the Fifty-Three Stages of the Tôkaido and One Hundred Views of Famous Places of Edo, was also a gifted sketch artist. This two-volume album provides an intimate look into Hiroshige’s private life. Shown here is Arashiyama, or “Storm Mountain,” a scenic place in Kyôto, famous for cherry blossoms in spring, and the moon and maple leaves in autumn.


Distant View of Kinryûzan Temple at Asakusa

Although both worked fluently in a wide range of styles and subject matter, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) brought landscape imagery in Ukiyo-e to a pinnacle. This scene by Hiroshige comes from a series of pictures of famous places. Hiroshige captures the viewer’s eye by radically cropping the boat and its passenger, and placing them in the extreme foreground. In the distance is the Azuma Bridge, built in 1774, stretching in front of Mount Fuji. To the right stands a five-story pagoda with the golden hall of the Kinryûzan Temple, more commonly known as Sensô-ji or the Asakusa Temple.

Distant View of Kinryûsan from Azuma Bridge
Utagawa Hiroshige.
Distant View of Kinryûsan from Azuma Bridge
(Azumabashi kinryûsan enbô) from the series
A Hundred Famous Views of Edo

(Meisho Edo hyakkei), 1856.
Color woodblock print, ôban,
15 in. x 10 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (29)
Great Bridge at Senju
Utagawa Hiroshige.
Great Bridge at Senju
(Senju no ôhashi)
from the series
A Hundred Famous Views of Edo
(Meisho Edo hyakkei
), 1856.
Color woodblock, ôban,
15 in. x 10 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (30)

The Great Bridge at Senju

This view by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) shows the great bridge of Senju crossing the Arakawa River. The Senju Bridge was built in 1594 and stood for nearly 300 years until it was washed away in the great flood of 1885. Mount Bukô (4,383 feet) is also depicted. The superb printing of the wood grain and the crisp detail attests that this image is an early edition. Notably, the wood grain creates a rhythmic pattern in the water, adding a rich texture to its surface.



Night Rain on Karasaki Pine

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was the first Ukiyo-e printmaker to make landscape a primary concern. This example is from his Eight Views of Ômi series, which depicts beautiful scenes of Lake Biwa in Ômi Province in Japan. The subject represents a Japanese transmutation of an old Chinese theme and depicts the Karasaki pine on a rainy night, using a wide and flat space based on the traditional perspective of Chinese-style painting. The Eight Views of Ômi became a popular theme in Ukiyo-e–there was even an erotic version of Eight Views of Ômi.

Night Rain on Karasaki Pine
Katsushika Hokusai.
Night Rain on Karasaki Pine
(Karasaki no yoru no ame
)from the series
Eight Views of Ômi (Ômi hakkei),
ca. 1800-1802.
Color woodblock, chûban,
10 in. x 7 1/2 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (31)



The Stream of Asazawa in Spring
Utagawa Kuniyoshi.
The Stream of Asazawa in Spring
, 1828.
Color woodblock print, chûban,
10 in. x 7 1/2 in.
Prints and Photographs Division (32)

The Stream of Asazawa

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) produced several privately commissioned prints after 1828, including this view of Mount Fuji from the hot springs at Hakone. The translated poem reads:

In the spring wind, there is the scent of the laughing plum.
The soft snow melts to be the waters of the Asazawa.



Idyllic Life in the Countryside

The renowned Kyoto artist of the Kishi and Shijô Schools, Kawamura Bunpô (1779-1821) demonstrates his familiarity with Chinese motifs in his painting manuals, which appeared in print between 1807 and 1814. In this landscape a bent elderly woman trudges up a mountain path toward her home. Even without an awareness of the Chinese poem which inspired this image, the stillness, broken only by the rushing waters of the mountain stream, as well as the implied loneliness, create a moving tribute.

Bunpô Painting Manual: Second Series Bunpô Painting Manual: Second Series
Kawamura Bunpô.
Bunpô Painting Manual: Second Series
(Bunpô gafu ni-hen).
Image 1Image 2
Osaka: Kawachiya Kihei; Kyoto: Yoshida Shinbei, 1811.
Woodblock-printed book, 10 1/4 in. x 6 5/8 in.
Asian Division (33)
(LC-USZC4-8678, LC-USZC4-8679)



Perspective View of a Post Station

This drawing, executed with a dry brush, or perhaps charcoal, shows the main street of the town of Ômi-hachiman, along the Nakasendô Highway just east of Lake Biwa. The artist employed a vanishing point and horizon in the European manner, as well as a low perspective, indicating training in the Shijô school, which drew from both European and Chinese teachings. From the thick-walled warehouse in the foreground to the inns lining the road ready to feed, entertain, and provide rest for travelers, the sketch compels the viewer to explore the town further.

Sketches from Life Sketches from Life
Anonymous. Sketches from Life (Shasei-jô), ca. 1840.
Image 1Image 2
Album of hand-drawn sketches, 9 1/4 in. x 5 3/4 in.
Asian Division (34)
(LC-USZC4-8735, LC-USZC4-8736)



Fields of Flowers

One of the most delicate collections of flowering plants ever printed is Fields of Musashi. This album reveals a collection of twelve prints of flora from the Musashi Plain, to the immediate west of Tokyo. Shown on the left is a delicate rendering of egrets perched on willow branches. The birds are drawn usinggofun pigment, which is made from ground shells; the willow leaves are done using a silver, mica-based ink. On the right is an autumn scene of the moon shining over tufts of pampas grass. Here the shimmering moon is rendered using mica, giving the image a luminous appearance.

Fields of Musashi Fields of Musashi

Tanaka Ôseki (n.d.), illustator.
Fields of Musashi
Tokyo: Kokkadô, 1894.
Image 1Image 2
Album of woodblock prints, single sheets mounted,
12 in. x 9 7/8 in.
Asian Division (105)




City of Yeddo, 1860: “I was bewildered and confounded when I saw this.”

An article published by Samuel C. Damon in the July 1860 edition of The Friend describes the Japanese city of Yeddo. Today that city is known as Japan’s capital city, Tokyo.

“By the Chaplain of the Powhatan,” writes Damon, “we were presented with a map of the City of Yeddo, executed by Japanese artists. It is nearly five feel square. The streets, public squares, temple-grounds, and residence of the Princes, are drawn with great care. Yeddo is truly an immense city, and probably as large, if not larger, than even London. It is one of the three great cities of the world, viz., London, Pekin, Yeddo.”

I am curious to know what

Hand warmer 1800-1868 Kyoto Japan Kiyomizu ware stoneware with polychrome enamel 


Reform as Resistance: Meiji Modernity and Japan’s Asian Empire/Aoki Girardelli- May 4,2009

Edo(Tokugawa) Period (1602-1868)
Shôgun – Supreme General
Tennô -Emperor
Daimyô -Feudal Lords
Sakoku(country in chain)
-started gradually 1616
Completed 1641 lasted until 1868 (Meiji Restoration)

Commodore Perry’s arrival in Japan

1858-Treaty of Amity and Commerce (US and Japan)

-exchange of diplomatic agents
-Edo, Kobe, Nagasaki, Niigata and Yokohamas opening to foreign trade as ports
ability of United States citizens to live and trade in those ports
-a system of extraterritoriality that provided for the subjugation of foreign residents to the laws of their own consular courts instead of the Japanese law system
-fixed low import-export duties, subject to international control
Similar unequal treaties were signed with Britain, France, Russia and Holland

Black Ships


Square Ao-Oribe ware dish 1573-1615 CE Japan Mino region Gifu prefecture 

Pickle jar

Pickle jar



Pickle jar

Pickle jar

  • Date: 1965 (made)
  • Place: Rongchang
  • Artist/maker: Unknown






  • Date: 1820-1860 (made)
  • Place: Japan
  • Artist/maker: Unknown





  • Date: 1870-1900 (made)
  • Place: Japan
  • Artist/maker: Unknown





  • Date: 1800-1880 (made)
  • Place: Kyoto
  • Artist/maker: Unknown





Kyoto, Japan’s former ancient capital in the late 1800’s, has the reputation for

being Japan’s most beautiful city.  Having an abundance of traditional temples,

shrines, gardens, and castles, you will surely find beauty, peace, and relaxation.

Kyoto is located on the western island of Honshu surrounded by mountains.  It has survived many wars and is now on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list



Monkey netsuke,

Heavenly Angel by Yabe Ryosei
 Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum

Japan Stereoview Card from Late 1800s-062

Japan Stereoview Card from Late 1800s-062
Antique Original Stereoview/Stereoscope card number 658. The main street to Gion temple at Kyoto, Japan- from the late 1800’s in very good condition

Japan Stereoview Card from Late 1800s-095

Japan Stereoview Card from Late 1800s-095
Antique Original Stereoview/Stereoscope card number 614. Approach to the Shinto Temple at Inari, Kyoto, Japan. – from the late 1800’s in very good condition

Wall of Sake Barrels
Matsuo Shrine (松尾大社)
Kyoto Japan

Desktop-Background Versions

Having recovered from a mild but lingering cold, I went out for some lite temple/shrine exploration in western Kyoto with Paul Barr yesterday. The autumn colors are late and weak this year, but it’s always fun to explore new nooks and crannies of Kyoto, so I enjoyed it.

There’s a tradition of sake (rice wine) companies sending donations to shrines in exchange for prominent display of their patronage, and the barrels on display at this particular shrine we came across were particularly large.


It’s the season for children’s “7-5-3” celebrations (as described here, and as seen with my own kid here)…

Cute Photo Op
Child celebrating the “7-5-3” holiday

Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 500 Heading Home
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 320 Weathered

Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 320 — full exif & mapnearby photos
Taking Aim

I’m not really sure what the above thing was about, but I suspect it has to do with fortune telling. The girls were giggling the whole time. She missed, but they clearly got their presumably small fee’s worth of fun.

golden red-orange leaves
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/500 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1800 Finally

Hand warmer 1800-1868 Kyoto Japan Kiyomizu ware stoneware with polychrome enamel

Honke Owariya


Meiji Restoration
November 9 1867 Official end of Edo Shogunate: Restoration of Imperial rule (Taisei Houkan)January 3 1868: Emperor fully regained the power
1868 Boshin War (forces from Chôshû and Satsuma vs. ex Shôguns army)
1872Abolition of the Han system
1877 End of Satsuma Rebellion (Seinan Sensou, Southwestern War)
1885 System of Cabinet was adopted
1889 Meiji Constitution (constitution of the Empire of Japan) (1889-1847)
Cf. Kanunuesasi (December 23 1876-1878)
1890 Foundation of the Imperial Diet

Emperor Meiji

1894-95 First Sino-Japanese War
1894 (1899) Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation
(similar treaties were signed with 14 countries including the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Holland and Italy)

Area: Central
Address: Nijo-sagaru, Kuruyama-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Open Hours: 11:00-19:00 Last Order 18:30
Closed: Open All Year  (However, closed on January 1 and 2)
Recommended: Horai Soba ¥1,800 Seiro Soba ¥650
1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War

Tokyo Street 1905.jpg

File:Crowded Tokyo Street 1905.jpg

Meiji Period The Imperial Army with it’s banner–The patriots of the Meiji Restoration
jidai1.jpg jidai2.jpg

Edo Period Tokugawa Shogun’s Deputy payed a visit from Edo (today’s Tokyo) to Emperor in Kyoto with 1,700 attendants
jidai3.jpg jidai4.jpg

A Shrine Maiden called Okuni performed a prayer dance which was the origin of Kabuki in Kyoto

Azuchi Momoyama Period Lord Toyotomi rides on an ox-cart to visit Emperor
jidai6.jpg jidai7.jpg

jidai8.jpg jidai9.jpg

Muromachi Period

Heian Period Tomoe-Gozen, the wife of lord in men’s armor courageously fought alongside her husband in battle. Heroines of Heian Period are performed by professional Geiko in entertainment district like Gion.

Tokiwa-Gozen, the mother of tragic hero, Yoshitsune–Lady Murasaki wrote the first novel in Japan
jidai14.jpg jidai15.jpg

Ono-no-Komachi, an outstanding poet renowned for her wit and beauty
jidai16.jpg jidai17.jpg

jidai18.jpg While men looks shy or tired with heavy armors, women and women’s costumes always catch an attention of the people. It’s better to include some perfomances by men…., or include samurai movie actors…


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Mikoshi (portable Shrines) At Yasaka Shrine During Gion Matsuri Kyoto Japan July 2007

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Festival (Matsuri) / People Carrying Portable Shrine (Mikoshi), Tokyo, Honshu, Japan. Festival (Matsuri) / People Carrying Po…

Festival (Matsuri) / People Carrying Portable Shrine (Mikoshi), Tokyo, Honshu, Japan. Festival (Matsuri) / People Carrying Portable Shrine (Mikoshi), Tokyo, Honshu, Japan

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Monzen-nakacho Mikoshi Festival

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Gion Matsuri Paper Lanterns And Mikoshi (portable Shrines) At Yasaka Shrine Kyoto Japan July 2007

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Mikoshi (portable Shrines) At Yasaka Shrine During Gion Matsuri Kyoto Japan July 2007

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Japan, Honshu, Tokyo, Festival (Matsuri) / People Carrying Portable Shrine (Mikoshi)

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asi…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Hie shrine Sanno Festival Tokyo Japan Sky Mikoshi Clothes Kimono Shade Paper lantern People Girl Way Road

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Group of people carrying a Mikoshi in a religious procession, Toshu-Gu Shrine, Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

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Mikoshi (portable shrine), Kyoto, Japan

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City View, Nishikawa´s house, Pine of Mikoshi, Omihachiman, Shiga, Japan

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Women carrying a mikoshi portable shrine at Hadaka Matsuri Naked Festival, Hofu city, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, Asia

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Oiyama Kasanarashi, Mikoshi, Hakata Gion Yamagasa, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan. Oiyama Kasanarashi, Mikoshi, Hakata Gion …

Oiyama Kasanarashi, Mikoshi, Hakata Gion Yamagasa, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan. Oiyama Kasanarashi, Mikoshi, Hakata Gion Yamagasa, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan

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Portable shrine, Mikoshi, Danjiri festival, Kishiwada, Osaka, Japan

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A group of men carrying a shrine during Mikoshi, portable shrine festival, in Asahikawa, Japan, Asia

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Gama_mikoshi Mountain Tsukuba Gama festival Ibaraki Japan Frog Paper lantern Flag Rice dumpling in bamboo leaves Tree People

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Yearly matsuri (festival) of Kannon Temple in Asakusa featuring a procession of 200 ´Mikoshi´ (mobile shrines).

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Blue Sky, Clouds, River, Audience, Mikoshi, Balloon, River passage parade of deities festival, Tagawa, Fukuoka, Japan

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Mikoshi Mikoshi Man People The Tomioka Yawata festival Koto Tokyo Japan

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Mikoshi portable shrine festival, Asahikawa City, Japan, Asia

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Asakusa Mikoshi portable shrine parade Annual Festival of Shitaya jinja Shrine

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People carrying a Mikoshi Shrine, Matsuri Festival, Tokyo, Honshu, Japan

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Japan, Honshu, Tokyo, Shinjuku. Crowd Of People Carrying Mikoshi Throught The Street During A Festival Celebration

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Japan, Tokyo, Portable shrine (mikoshi) is carried through the streets during Asakusa Matsuri (religious festival)

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Loincloth, Fundoshi, Mikoshi, Headband, Paper Lantern, Tree, Hakata, Gion, Yamagasa, Fukuoka, Japan

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asi…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Yearly matsuri (festival) of Kannon Temple in Asakusa featuring a procession of 200 ´Mikoshi´ (mobile shrines).Tokyo. Japan

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Japan,Hokkaido,Ashikawa,’Mikoshi’ portable summer shrine festival

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asaku…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Portable shrine Mikoshi, Summer shrine festival, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, Asia

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Zuiki festival Mikoshi Kitano Tenmangu festival Kyoto-shi Kyoto Gateway at the entrance to a Shinto shrine People

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Mikoshi portable shrine being carried at Hadaka Matsuri Naked Festival, Hofu city, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, Asia

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A mikoshi portable shrine being carried to Sensoji Temple during the Sanja Festival in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asaku…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Mikoshi Procession Jidai Festival horen Heian Jingu Higashiyama Kyoto Japan

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10214554, Asakusa quarter, Japan, Asia, life, Mikoshi, Sanja festival, shrine, Tokyo, relocation, move,

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Yearly matsuri (festival) of Kannon Temple in Asakusa featuring a procession of 200 ´Mikoshi´ (mobile shrines).Tokyo. Japan

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Mikoshi procession under torii gate at Futarasan Shrine during the Shunki Reitaisai festival in Nikko, Tochigi, Japan, Asia

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Japan, Tokyo City, Kanda Miyojin Festival, Mikoshi Parading

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Toshogu spring Grand festival Nikko Tochigi Japan Forest Tree Mikoshi People Stone lantern

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Japan, Honshu, Tokyo, Shinjuku. Men Carrying Mikoshi Throught The Street During A Festival Celebration

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Matsuri Shrine festival, Asakusa Jinja Shrine, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Crowd, Mikoshi, Men, Paper Lantern, April 20, Kitawakamiya shrine, Drum, Furukawa, Takayama, Gifu, Japan

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Gion Matsuri Paper Lanterns And Mikoshi (portable Shrines) At Yasaka Shrine Kyoto Japan July 2007

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Nagasaki, Kyushu Island, Japan

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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City view, Nishikawa´s house, Pine of Mikoshi, Oumihachiman, Shiga, Japan

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Ouchijuku, Summer festival, Shimogo, Fukushima, Japan

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Udatsuno, Mino festival, Mino, Gifu, Japan

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asaku…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade and crowds of people, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Mikoshi_takiabi, Hachimori, Akita, Japan

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A mikoshi portable shrine being carried through the streets during the Sanja Festival in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Mikoshi procession under torii gate at Futarasan Shrine during the Shunki Reitaisai festival in Nikko, Tochigi, Japan, Asia

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Mikoshi_makuri, Kisofukushima, Nagano, Japan

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Wooden mikoshi of the India style India

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Yearly matsuri (festival) of Kannon Temple in Asakusa featuring a procession of 200 ´Mikoshi´ (mobile shrines).

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Jidai Festival horen Heian Jingu Kyoto Japan Sky Clouds Mountain Tree Mikoshi Procession People

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Mikoshi (portable Shrines) At Yasaka Shrine During Gion Matsuri Kyoto Japan July 2007

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Bridge, River, Mikoshi, Cherry Blossoms, Takayama Festival, April, Takayama, Gifu, Japan

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Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asi…

Mikoshi portable shrine of the gods parade, Sanja Matsuri Festival, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa Jinja, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo City, Kanda Miyojin Festival, Samurai

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Float, Sakurayama Hachiman, temple, Autumn, Takayama festival, Gifu, Japan

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Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri festival-august Procession of Mikoshi mobile shrine Tokyo city, Japan, Asia

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Japan, Tokyo: children with mobile phones during the Shrine festival, called Matsuri

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Matsuri Shrine festival, Asakusa Jinja Shrine, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Hakata Gion Yamagasa, Float racing festival, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan

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Hakata Yamakasa, Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Japan

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Japan, Honshu, Tochigi, Nikko. Shinto Priests Watch And Bow As The Omikoshi Or Residence Of The Local Kami Or Deity Is Carrie…

Japan, Honshu, Tochigi, Nikko. Shinto Priests Watch And Bow As The Omikoshi Or Residence Of The Local Kami Or Deity Is Carried Past At Futara-Gu Jinga During The Tosho-Gu Festival.

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Japan, Honshu, Tokyo, Men Carrying Mikoshi Shrine Through The Street During A Festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: child with mobile phone during the Shrine festival, called Matsuri

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Nada, Kenkal festival, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Udatsuno, Mino festival, Mino, Gifu, Japan

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Takayama Yatai hall, Takayama, Gifu, Japan

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple distri…

Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through the streets of the Shinto temple district. Local people carrying the shrine on their shoulders, dressed in happi_coats, religious festival

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Matsuri Shrine festival, Asakusa Jinja Shrine, Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Beppu Island of Kyushu Japan

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Japan, Tokyo: Shrine festival, called Matsuri. The Shinto shrines are carried through

1 pair of winter scrolls :rotetsu gain or seal for paintings of Rotetsu—————————————————————————————————————– 2; The box says: Image of a pair of Cockerels

signed by Shouzui (or Shozui) himself (Shouzui Jitei, or inscribed by himself, Shouzui) in the spring of 1929.

( We found a different Shouzui, but that Shozui did subjects of Beautiful women,  and was not known for painting Kacho (bird and flower) )



3 The box:

cover: Image of a rich green (blue green in direct translation) landscape painted by myself.

On the year of 1923 by Hyakuseki .


4; Toro Stone Lantern

Stone lanterns were not only decorative elements (especially this type of design) in Japanese gardens, but also served as grave stones for some of the samurai or memorials as found in Toshogu were all the daimyos donated lanterns to the shrine in honor of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Haiga is by a lady named Mitsuko,

Poem says:

Within the fenced area,

a place where the deceased are

a brush from the tree in the corner.



Painted in 1852 by Hanko ( seal says Fukuda Yoshito ) possibly around mid summer from the end of July to the beginning of August in the old lunar calendar. Fukuda Hanko :

Born in Shizuoka prefecture, Mitsuke. In the beginning Hanko was trained under the Kakegawa clan resident artist, Muramatsu Ikou and later with Magata Dairyo. Around 1830-1844 he is trained under Watanabe Kazan. During the Nansha purge of 1839 when Kazan was arrested, Hanko traveled to tawara in Aichi pref. where Kazan was detained. In the beginning, Hanko painted flower and bird subjects, but with his fellow, Tsubaki Chinzan gaining popularity in the theme, Hanko changed his specialty in landscapes.

6; Bairyo, This scroll is interesting, because the theme is summer but the painting was painted around early winter, I assume the artist felt cold and wanted to evoke the heat of summer to keep the artist warm ( in a sense).

Title is: Ryoku in Jiki Kadouryou or The self is content under the shade of green during summer in the cool hut.

c. 1911 around october ( lunar calendar) at the artist’s studio.-


7; Okamura Keiho (b c1920) Tora 1950


8; Yamana Shouei

(seals says, Yamana no in (the top one) and Shoei)

no further information is found on the artist.

New Silks and to be restored

9. Signature says Kounan sanjin houko ( The hermit Kounan learning the old style) sealed with Kounan.

I don’t think this is Tanigami Konan’s work, the characters are not the same except for the last one.

Tanigami Konan is Ko (large or wide) and nan (south), this Konan is Ko (incense, fragrance) and nan (south).


Koyama Ryudo:



Miyake Kazumitsu:

Born in 1939 in Gifu prefecture, learns painting from his father who was also a painter. Later he is trained under Gifu prefecture’s top artist, Kojima Shikou and begins creating his own works. Kazumitsu is skilled in almost all subjects, whether it is kacho-ga (flower and bird), landscapes, or human subjects his has received high praise for his skills and work as an artist. Former member of the Bokujin-kai and President of Toyo Bijutsu Kai.

10 . Signature is Kanseki  Being remounted and new box being made


12. Suizan (seal says suizan gain or painting seal of Suizan)

(note: there are two suizan in the Japanese art world, Yajima Suizan and Miki Suizan, Yajima suizan is way too recent and different in style compared to this painting, and Miki Suizan is known for his bijin-ga or paintings of beauties and while he has not been known to done work on animal or subjects of nature, this might be an exception)


Baiitsu Yamamoto 1783-1856 68×13.2  
Cedar in Snow Sansui Ga  
Two Bujin pines on a empty beach signed Chikuho (?Mizuta (1883-1958)  
Chikuho Mizuta(1883-1958) Crane on Rocks under Bamboo  
KANSETSU HASHIMOTO. A.D 1883-1945. Born in KOBE city, HYOGO pref.  
FUGEN-SAI 1800 Taki Sansui 52×16.7. signature  

Hashimoto Gahō(橋本雅邦; August 21, 1835 – January 13, 1908) was a Japanese painter, one of the last to paint in the style of the Kanō school.Born in Edo, he studied painting under Kanō Shōsen’in, and was influenced as well by the work of Kanō Hōgai. He created many works in the traditional style of the Kanō school, using color & gold, or otherwise monochrome black ink. But while his paintings are very much the works of a traditionalist, using traditional methods and depicting traditional subjects, Gahō, like Kanō Hōgai, incorporated elements of Western art as well. Brush-strokes, various types of detailing, and in particular, attempts at the proper depiction of perspective are evident in Gahō’s paintings and in many others of this period.He opened his own studio in 1860, but the political and economic upheavals surrounding the Meiji Restoration forced Gahō to seek income in other ways than by selling fine art. He produced maps for the Naval Academy, painted on fans, and used his skills in a number of other ways to earn a living.Gahō was invited in 1884, by Okakura Kakuzō, to become the chief professor of painting at the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakkō (東京美術学校, now the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music) which would open five years later. In 1898, Gahō joined Okakura in leaving the Bijutsu Gakkō, and founding the Japan Fine Arts Academy (日本美術院, Nihon Bijutsuin). He would teach there until his death in 1908.As a result of his position as chief painting professor, Gahō had a number of important pupils, including Yokoyama Taikan and Kawai Gyokudō Reserved/ sold


The Retreat in the Mountains  
Kamo. Flying Duck into Reeds  
Keigetsu Matsubayashi (1876-1963) also known as Keigetsu Sanjin/ Ito Atsushi a Nihnga style painter18.8.1876 Born in Yamaguchi

Kikuchi Keigetsu c 1930

Keigetsu Matsubayashi (1876-1963) also known as Keigetsu Sanjin/ Ito Atsushi a Nihnga style painter

18.8.1876 Born in Yamaguchi


Sansui ga Taki Sumei painting of remarkable quality  
SEIDO Lantern and Sakura  
Mending Nets  
Suzume To Sakura -Sparrow and Cherry 1900 70.4×22.1  
RAISHO pine and taki sansui ga 1850 being restored  
UNREI SATOMI. A.D 1849-1928. Born in HIROSHIMA city. His teachers were TAIREI NAKAI, NISHO YAMAGATA.
Most of his art works were lost by the atomic-bomb.
Samurai Armour. With box 46.5×19.8
Autumn Landscape Sansui Ga. With multiple waterfalls this intensely detailed and extremely elegant painting shows an almost deign quality in the artists brush. . A constantly dropping landscape you come down the main falls in teh background and just keep going down the scene. Such movement is hard to achieve other than from a great artist. This painting is of the waterfall known as Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝])70×23.5With Box £190
Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝])The Akiu Waterfall (Akiu Otaki [秋保大滝]; also Akiu Great Falls or just Akiu Falls) is a 55m waterfall on the outskirts of Sendai towards the northern part of Honshu in the Miyagi-ken. It’s said to be one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan.  It is popular in late autumn and just as the leaves start to drop around the end of November. The name of the waterfall has something to do with Autumn since the first character is Chinese for Autumn. 

River in full Speight. This autumn scene is what is called a Red Leaf Scroll. usually shown around October and November, this elegantly painted scene in the mountains is full of movement with the rushing waters and waterfalls through the mist. A fisherman catching carp in a pool under the rocks completes this study. Remounted top and bottom silks retaining the original side silks adds to the scrolls beauty.72.5×25.4 £180
Rising sun and mountain TAIKAN YOKOYAMA.
He was a very famous painter living in 1868-1958 58.3×25
However this is a hand made screen print from the early part of the 20th century  and partially hand painted by the artist. Remounted onto new silks and with a box. This scroll is £160

TORYU-MON Leaping Carp 74.5 x 20.7 The jumping Carp is an analogy  called the Rising dragon’s gate the gateway to success 1900. With a new box
Painted by scroll artist Saneatsu Mushakoji, the little Waka Poem says: Always green’
 The Design  follows Chinese precedents with which the artist was undoubtedly familiar, but the brushwork and composition have an individualistic flair that epitomises Japanese techniques. In particular, the uplifting energy of the work is ubiquitous. Chikuson (Ishikawa Katsumi) was born in Tokyo in 1883. He began his studies under Matsumoto Fuuko, and later Ikeda Kimpo and Okada Kaien 


Jōdo Shinshū (浄土真宗, “True Pure Land School”?), also known as Shin Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran Shōnin. Today, Shin Buddhism  or Shinto, is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan. 
SHINRAN, Jodoshin-shu the founder of Shinto Buddhism by Shunsui 1920 A short scroll beautifully painted by the Buddhist Scroll artists Shunsui. Remounted onto new silks with a box. £195 52.5x23The article below outlines the background to the founder of Shinto Buddhism in Japan.All ten schools of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism will commemorate the 750th memorial of their founder, Shinran Shonin, in 2011 in Kyoto, Japan. 
Shinran (founder)
Shinran (1173–1263) lived during the late-Heian early-Kamakura period (1185–1333), a time of turmoil for Japan when the Emperor was stripped of political power by the Shoguns. Shinran’s family had a high rank at the Imperial court in Kyoto, but given the times many aristocratic families were sending sons off to be Buddhist monks instead of having them participate in the Imperial government. When Shinran was nine (1181) he was sent by his uncle to Mount Hiei, where he was ordained as a Tendai monk. Over time Shinran became disillusioned with what Buddhism in Japan had become, foreseeing a decline in the potency and practicality of the teachings espoused.Shinran left his role as a really low-ranking doso (“Practice-Hall Monk”) at Mount Hiei and undertook a 100-day retreat at Rokkakudo temple in Kyoto, where he had a dream on the 95th day. In this dream Prince Shōtoku (in Japan he is sometimes regarded as an incarnation of Kannon Bosatsu) appeared to him, espousing a pathway to enlightenment through verse. Following the retreat, in 1201, Shinran left Mount Hiei to study under Hōnen for the next six years. Hōnen (1133–1212) another ex-Tendai monk, left the tradition in 1175 to found his own sect, Jōdo shū (“Pure Land School”). From that time on, Shinran considered himself, even after exile, a devout disciple of Hōnen rather than a founder establishing his own, distinct Pure Land school.During this period, Hōnen taught the new nembutsu-only practice to many people in Kyoto society and amassed a substantial following, but also increasingly came under criticism by the Buddhist establishment in Kyoto. Among the strongest critics was the monk, Myōe, and the temples of Enryaku-ji and Kōfuku-ji. The latter continued to criticize Hōnen and his followers, even after they pledged to behave with good conduct, and to not slander other BuddhistsIn 1207, Hōnen’s critics at Kōfuku-ji persuaded Emperor Go-Toba to proscribe Hōnen and his teachings after two of his ladies-in-waiting converted to the new faith.[1] Hōnen and his followers, among them Shinran, were forced into exile, and four of Hōnen’s disciples were executed. Shinran was given a lay name, Yoshizane Fujii by the authorities but called himself Gutoku (“Stubble-headed One”) instead and moved to Echigo Province (today Niigata Prefecture)It was during this exile that Shinran cultivated a deeper understanding of his own beliefs, the Pure Land teachings of Hōnen. In 1210 he married Eshinni, the daughter of an aristocrat of Echigo Province. Shinran and Eshinni had several children. His eldest son, Zenran, was alleged to have started a heretical sect of Pure Land Buddhism through claims that he received special teachings from his father. Zenran demanded control of local monto (lay follower groups), but after writing a stern letter of warning, Shinran disowned him in 1256, effectively ending Zenran’s legitimacy.

In 1211 the nembutsu ban was lifted and Shinran was pardoned, but by 1212 Hōnen had died in Kyoto. Shinran never saw Hōnen following their exile. In the year of Hōnen’s death, Shinran set out for the Kantō area of Japan, where he established a substantial following and began committing his ideas to writing. In 1224 he wrote his most significant book, the Kyogyoshinsho (“The True Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment of the Pure Land”), which contained excerpts from the Three Pure Land sutras and the Nirvana Sutra along with his own commentaries[2] and the writings of the Jodo Shinshu Patriarchs whom Shinran drew inspiration from.

In 1234, at the age of sixty, Shinran left Kantō for Kyoto (Eshinni stayed in Echigo and she may have outlived Shinran by several years), where he dedicated the rest of his years to writing. It was during this time he wrote the Wasan, a collection of verses summarizing his teachings for his followers to recite. Shinran’s daughter, Kakushinni, came to Kyoto with Shinran, and cared for him in his final years and his mausoleum later became Hongwanji (‘The Temple of the Original Vow’). Kakushinni was instrumental in preserving Shinran’s teachings after his death, and the letters she received and saved from her mother, Eshinni, provide critical biographical information regarding Shinran’s earlier life. These letters are currently preserved in the Nishi Hongwanji temple in Kyoto. Shinran died at the age of 90 in 1263

Shinran’s thought was strongly influenced by the doctrine of Mappō, a largely Mahayana eschatology which claims humanity’s ability to listen to and practice the Buddha-Dharma (the Buddhist teachings) deteriorates over time and loses effectiveness in bringing individual practitioners closer to Buddhahood. This belief was particularly widespread in early medieval China, and in Japan at the end of the Heian period. Shinran, like his mentor Hōnen, saw the age he was living in as being a degenerate one where beings cannot hope to be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of birth and death through their own power, or jiriki (自力). For both Hōnen and Shinran, all conscious efforts towards achieving enlightenment and realizing the Bodhisattva ideal were contrived and rooted in selfish ignorance; for humans of this age are so deeply rooted in karmic evil as to be incapable of developing the truly altruistic compassion that is requisite to becoming a Bodhisattva.
Due to his awareness of human limitations, Shinran advocates reliance on tariki, or other power (他力)—the power of Amida Buddha’s made manifest in Amida Buddha’s Primal Vow—in order to attain liberation. Shin Buddhism can therefore be understood as a “practiceless practice,” for there are no specific acts to be performed such as there are in the “Path of Sages” (the other Buddhist schools of the time that advocated ‘jiriki’ (‘self-power’). In Shinran’s own words, Shin Buddhism is considered the “Easy Path” because one is not compelled to perform many difficult, and often esoteric, practices in order to attain higher and higher mental states.Earlier schools of Buddhism that came to Japan, including the Tendai and Shingon sects, gained acceptance because of the way they meshed the Buddhist pantheon with the native Japanese Shinto pantheon. For example, a Shinto god could be seen as a manifestation of a bodhisattva. It is common even to this day to have Shinto shrines within the grounds of some traditional Buddhist temples.Jōdo Shinshū, on the other hand, intentionally separated itself from the Shinto religion, and left out many practices associated with it as they contradicted the notion of reliance on Amida’s Other-power, and are also explicitly prohibited in sutras such as the Mahayana Nirvana Sutra and Pratyutpanna Sutra. Other practices such as accepting donations for special blessings and prayers were similarly omitted from Jōdo Shinshū.Jōdo Shinshū traditionally had an uneasy relationship with other Buddhist schools because it discouraged virtually all traditional Buddhist practices except the nembutsu, and discouraged kami veneration. Relations were particularly hostile between the Jōdo Shinshū and Nichirenshu, also known as Hokkeshu. On the other hand, newer Buddhist schools in Japan, such as Zen, tended to have a more positive relationship and occasionally shared practices, although this is still controversial. In popular lore, Rennyo Shonin (the 8th Head Priest of the Hongan-ji sub-sect) was good friends with the famous Zen master Ikkyu.Jōdo Shinshū drew much of its support from lower social classes in Japan who could not devote the time or education to other esoteric Buddhist practices or merit-making activities.
 Following the unification of Japan during the Edo period, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism adapted, along with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, into providing memorial and funeral services for its registered members (danka seido), which was legally required by the Tokugawa shogunate in order to prevent the spread of Christianity in Japan. The danka seido system continues to exist today, although not as strictly as in the premodern period, causing Japanese Buddhism to also be labeled as “Funeral Buddhism” since it became the primary function of Buddhist temples. The Hongwanji also created an impressive academic tradition, which led to the founding of Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan, and formalized many of the Jōdo Shinshū traditions which are still followed today. Following the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent persecution of Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku) of the late 1800s due to a revived nationalism and modernization, Jōdo Shinshū managed to survive intact due to the devotion of its monto. During World War II, the Hongwanji, as with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, was compelled to support the policies of the military government and the cult of State Shinto. It subsequently apologized for its wartime actions

In contemporary times, Jōdo Shinshū is one of the most widely followed forms of Buddhism in Japan, although like other Japanese Buddhism it faces challenges from many popular New Religious Movements (known in Japan as shin shinkyo religions, which emerged following World War II), and the growing secularization and materialism of Japanese society

All ten schools of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism will commemorate the 750th memorial of their founder, Shinran Shonin, in 2011 in Kyoto, Japan.



House President Nagasaki District Court Glover Garden

First Baptism’s: Yano Riuzan and Murata Wakasa and Ayabe in Nagasaki! (May 1866)

9 08 2010

Yokohama Kaigan Kyokai(Church) was founded on March 10.1872, as the first Protestant church for the Japanese in this country. At the time of its establishment, it inherited the faith and tradition of the Reformed Church and Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The first pastor was Rev. J.H.Ballagh, who arrived in Yokohama with his wife in 1861 as one of the earliest Christian missionaries, after studying at Rutgers College and New Brunswick Theological Seminary.

In November, 1864, occurred the first recorded baptism on Japanese soil of a Protestant Christian. Rev. J. H. Ballagh has given the following account of this person. (* Missionary Herald, 1864, p. 6g.)

Yano Riuzan, a shaven-headed Buddhist, a yabu-isha or quack doctor, who held an inferior position, was selected by the Shogun’s Council of State for a language teacher for Dr. S. R. Brown. On my arrival on November 9nth, 1861, he became my teacher. With him I undertook the translation of St John, more to translate the Gospel into him than for the use of others. In the summer of 1864 he became quite weak. I was impressed with a failure of duty and asked him if he would be willing for me to seek a blessing upon our translation. On his consenting, I made my first impromptu Japanese prayer, which seemed to impress him much and which made a remarkable impression on me.

One day, while explaining a picture of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch, he suddenly said to me : ‘ I want to be baptized ; I want to be baptized because Christ commanded it’ I warned him of the law against Christianity and the fact that, even should he escape, his son might not The son, being consulted, said that whatever would please his father should be done On the first Sabbath in November his baptism took place in the presence of his wife, son, and daughter.’

The next baptisms were those of Murata Wakasa and Ayabe in Nagasaki, May, 1866. The story of their conversion sounds like a romance. Wakasa was born in 1815, and on reaching manhood became a minister {karo) of the Daimyo of Saga. He was a man of unusual stature; his grandson asserts that he was seven feet in height and therefore was obliged to have a house made especially for him, since he was so much inconvenienced by the low rooms of ordinary Japanese buildings. When, in 1855, some French and English vessels anchored in the bay of Nagasaki, Wakasa was put in charge of a patrol appointed to watch the movements of the foreign ships. One day he noticed something floating upon the water and sent one of his men to pick it up.

Nabeshima Naomasa (鍋島 直正?, January 16, 1815 – March 8, 1871) was the 10th and final daimyō of Saga Domain in Hizen Province, Kyūshū, Japan. His honorary title was Hizen-no-Kami, and he was occasionally referred to as “Prince Hizen” in western accounts during the Bakumatsu period.

It proved to be a book printed in some unknown language. After Wakasa’s return to Saga, he became so curious to know what was in the book that he sent one of his retainers to Nagasaki, professedly to study medicine, but really to inquire about the contents of the book. He thus discovered that it was a Dutch translation of the New Testament, the book on which the religion of Europeans was founded * A while after, he learned that a Chinese translation of the book had been made, and he therefore sent a man to Shanghai to purchase a copy. With four other persons, one of whom was his younger brother, Ayabe, he then began an earnest study of the book. In the autumn of 1862, Ayabe went to Nagasaki to see if any of the foreigners there could explain some portions that had been difficult to understand. While there he met Dr. Verbeck, who gladly answered his questions. The following spring, Ayabe again appeared and warned Dr. Verbeck that the latter’s life was in danger, as a company of young men had formed a conspiracy for assassinating him. In consequence of this warning Dr. Verbeck found it advisable to withdraw with his family to China for a few months. On his return to Nagasaki he found that Ayabe had received an appointment that removed him to another part of the country; but soon after this, Wakasa sent one of his servants, named Motono, with a new set of questions. Dr. Verbeck now became, though in a round-about way, the teacher of the little Bible-class, for Motono would frequently come from Saga, a journey occupying about two days, bringing a list of questions to which answers were desired, and after receiving Dr. Verbeck’s explanations would return with them to Saga.

In May, 1866, Dr. Verbeck was informed that some high officials from the province of Hizen (in which Saga is situated) desired to come in two parties to meet him. He writes:

“Accordingly, on the afternoon of the fifteenth of May, my visitor presented himself with a retinue of about thirty men, consisting of a number of attendant officers who quite filled my parlour, and of a greater number of common retainers, all two- s worded, who had to content themselves with an outside view of our premises. . . . My principal visitor proved to be no less a personage than a relative of the Prince of Hizen. . . . After the usual introductory compliments, the absorbing topic of the ‘ Doctrine’ was entered upon with a good deal of interest. I may say that I reasoned with him of ‘ righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come/ but I could hardly brine him and his attendant to dwell on the higher topics of faith, hope, and love; for my august visitor insisted on reasoning concerning the unprofitable subjects of the origin of evil in the world, the mysterious permission of the continuance of evil, the justice of God or the apparent want of it under various aspects, and more of the like. I was prepared for his arguments, as I have found that on heathen ground we are often obliged to rehandle the bones of contention of the church of old, but my principal endeavour was to get him to see the wickedness and danger of all evil; that it is infinitely more important to know how to be now and forever saved from it than to know all about its origin and yet be left helpless; that it is vastly more worthy of our thought to know how we are to escape hell and gain heaven than to find out the exact location of either, if such a thing were possible. Yet my efforts to lead him to higher views at the time were vain. . . . “The interview of the other parties was arranged to take place on the seventeenth of May. My visitors on this occasion were Wakasa, one of the ministers of state or governors of the principality of Hizen, and his younger brother Ayabe. Wakasa was a tall man, about forty-five years of age and looking older: His is one of those faces that make sunshine in a shady place, most pleasing and amiable in expression, with a very dignified bearing, his eyes beamed love and pleasure as I met him He said he had long known me in his mind, had long desired to see and converse with me, and that he was very happy that now in God’s providence he was permitted to do so. . . .

Ranald MacDonald (3 February 1824 – August 24, 1894) was the first man to teach the English language in Japan, including educating Einosuke Moriyama, one of the chief interpreters to handle the negotiations between Commodore Perry and the Tokugawa Shogunate.

“At this time there were admitted to our parlor Wakasa, Ayabe, Wakasa’s two sons, young men of twenty and twenty-two respectively, and the servant, Motono, who had acted the part of messenger between us for four years. How different was this meeting from that of two days before! These men like those of Berea in the Apostles time, had received the Word with all readiness of mind and did not come to puzzle themselves or me with unprofitable controversies, but asked several quite natural  and sensible questions to gain additional light on some points in reference principally to Christian character and customs. They had been taught of the Spirit.

“They showed great familiarity with their Bibles, made several pertinent quotations, and when during the conversation I referred them to sacred passages, they readily identified them and always accepted them as conclusive proofs. They were prepared to believe all that Jesus said and to do all that He required. It must be remembered that these men had been studying the Scriptures and reading a great variety of religious books with great diligence for at least four years, having begun to do so with a favorable disposition of mind. Like perhaps most of the higher classes in this country, they had no faith in Buddhism, the religion of the common people, while at the same time they were graciously with-held from falling into the opposite of a total atheism. Their minds were in a state of expectant transition when, just in time, they were led to search for and find salvation through faith in Christ.

“We spent a delightful afternoon in conversing on the saving power and love of Christ, and just as I thought my friends were about to leave me, Wakasa took me by surprise by inquiring if I would object to baptizing him and his brother Ayabe before they left town. I was surprised because so many Japanese had at different times talked to me of the great peril of becoming Christians in the full sense of the word. I had expected from these men to hear something as follows: “We believe and would like to be baptized; but we cannot think of realizing our wish in this one particular so long as the law of the land hangs the inevitable sword over the heads of all who dare to change their religion; for the present we must remain as we are, but when this cruel edict is repealed, we will come forward for baptism”

“I warned my visitors not to think lightly of the act and not to entertain superstitious notions concerning its efficacy. I urged the solemn importance of the sacrament and the great obligations which devolve on those to whom it is administered; I repeated the questions which, according to our form, they would have to answer with a hearty affirmative; and finally told them to decide, as if in the presence of God who searches the heart. They listened attentively and repeated their desire to be baptized, requesting only that it should be done and kept in secret.

“The following Lord’s Day, the Day of Pentecost [May 20], was chosen, the hour selected being seven o’clock, p. m. Wakasa, whose position did not permit him to move about the streets without a half-dozen followers, and who could not visit me without making himself conspicuous, I did not see again until the appointed hour on Sunday night; but Ayabe came to me twice during the intervening days, and I gave him such instructions for himself and his brother as I thought might be useful to them.

Moriyama Einosuke (森山栄之助?, 1820 – 1872) was a samurai during the Tokugawa Shogunate, and an interpreter of Dutch and English. He studied English under Ranald MacDonald, and as “Chief Dutch Interpreter” was one of the chief men involved in the negotiations with Commodore Perry in regard to the opening of Japan to the outside world.

“At last, when the Sabbath evening came, the two candidates presented themselves, attended into the room by none but Motono. The retinue, consisting of eight followers, was dismissed at our door with orders to return in an hour. I had arranged everything beforehand to avoid unnecessary detention. The shutters were closed; the lamps lit, a white cloth spread on the centre-table, a large cut-glass fruit-dish, for want of anything better, prepared to serve as a font. Besides Motono, my wife was the only witness present, so that there were but five persons in the room. I began by reading Matthew twenty-eight, then dwelt on the concluding verses, spoke of the purpose of missionary societies, and referred to the bearing of the words of Jesus upon our present meeting. I exhorted them not to be discouraged in their peculiarly difficult situation, but rather, by a life of faith, of love, and of holiness, to disarm all the criticism of their neighbors and even persecution itself. We then united in prayer both in English and Japanese, proceeded with our liturgy, translating ex tempore the form for baptism; and after the administration of the sacrament, concluded with prayer and thanksgiving.”

On reaching home, Wakasa and Ayabe reported to their Daimyo what they had done. He left them unmolested. In some way Wakasa’s conversion became known to the Central Government, and the Daimyo was ordered to punish him. Nothing was done, however, except to burn some of Wakasa’s books.

Soon after this Dr. Verbeck removed to Tokyo, and thus had no more direct dealings with Wakasa. The latter soon retired from active life to his country villa, where he spent much of his time in translating the Bible from Chinese into Japanese. He died in 1874, with a firm faith in his Savior.

Though it is in anticipation of our narrative, it may be well here to give some further intelligence of Wakasa’s family. In 1880, Rev. Mr. Booth of Nagasaki noticed in his audience on Sunday morning two strangers, one of whom was evidently a woman of high rank. They gave close attention to his address, and their eyes often filled with tears. At the close of the service they introduced themselves, one being Wakasa’s daughter and the other her former nurse. They had learned from Wakasa the Lord’s Prayer and some other portions of Scripture that he had written out for them in simple characters.

The daughter had married and was living in Nagasaki; but she was acquainted with no Christians there. She was about to remove with her husband to Osaka, and desired to receive baptism before going there. Therefore, she had sent to Saga for her old nurse, and they had attempted to find some Christian teacher. They at first fell in with a Roman Catholic priest, who gave them a prayer-book; but on examination, its teaching did not seem to them like that which they had before received.

They were afraid to make inquiries, fearing that they would be insulted as suspected followers of Christianity. After wandering about the city for some days, they saw a shop where the characters on the covers of the books seemed familiar. On opening one volume, they found the Sermon on the Mount, and recognized its words. They purchased several books and had a long talk with the bookseller, who, as it was Saturday, told them where they could find a Christian service the next day.

As both asked for baptism, Mr. Booth asked their reason for desiring it. ”’Whosever believeth and is baptized shall be saved,’ “they quoted. When he said: “How can I know that you are true believers?” the younger woman replied: *’it has been my custom for years to go into my husband’s storehouse every day for private meditation and prayer to God and the Father of Jesus Christ.” “How do you know that this salvation is for you?” “It is written: ‘ Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.*” After some days had been spent in instructing the women, the rite was administered. The younger woman’s husband was present, paying close attention to the service and afterwards expressing a desire to know more about Christianity.

The nurse soon returned to Saga, where she resumed her work of teaching a small school for girls. She also organized a Bible-class for women, and its members soon became the teachers of a Sunday school. Though she is no longer living, the influence of her work still remains in Saga. Among the believers there was a son of Wakasa. The daughter, who removed to Osaka and later to Tokyo, became prominent in religious and philanthropic work. Her husband also became a Christian.

At the close of a meeting held in Tokyo about 1883, a man stepped forward and said to Dr. Verbeck: “I am Ayabe. Since my baptism I have been in the army and also employed in surveying. During all these years I have always carried the Bible with me, and I have been accustomed to read it daily.” The next day he came with his only daughter, about fifteen years old, asking that she be baptized. At one time he was a local preacher in the Methodist Church.

Former House of the President of the Nagasaki District Court, Glover Garden – 1815
Glover GardenNagasaki’s top tourist attraction features Japan’s oldest Western style house. Glover Garden also features views of Nagasaki Port. – 1815



Goal of 625 Posts Completed.Congratulation!


Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you. — Marsha Norman


the structure of Sukhothai architecture which is the same as Siamese temple and royal palace even Siamese traditional house.
Sukhothai begin 1238-1583
Sukhothai temple

Siamese Thai house

Siamese can pass their culture and wisdom to their offspring although that stone structure left only pole

The Varman dynasty was abolished by a slave revolt
The Varman and their people, the ancient Khmer, were referred to by the local people (mostly slaves) at Angkor back then as Siamese.
When the local people were successful in killing/expelling the Siamese off Angkor they re-named the city as Siamreap, meaning Extinction of Siamese.
The Varman relatives fled Angkor to establish Sri Ayodhaya, which later became the capital of the kingdom of Siam.

I will try to support the proposed theories with evidences, reasons, historical contexts as well as common senses.

1) The Varman dynasty had been ruling the magnificent Angkor Empire for around 500 years (since around 900 AD.) but it had disappeared abruptly in 1336 AD.

2) The new king after that was “Trosok Pream” which in Cambodian means “sweet melon.” The traditional suffix “Varman” has never appeared in Cambodian kings’ names again ever since.

3) A most accepted theory for the disappearance of Angkor has been that of its sacking by the invading Siamese Army. Little is known that the spiritual destruction of Angkor had preceded its physical destruction long before that — and it began in 1336 AD. , the year of the killing field in a sweet melon plantation. This article will propose a new theory and will propose further that Cambodians are not the same group of people as the ancient Khmer who built Angkor.

4) According to the first Chronicle of Cambodia, authored by one of the greatest kings of Cambodia “Nak-Ang-Eng” or Narairacha III (around 1800 AD) –purely Cambodian in his conduct –without as yet any influence of France–Cambodia’s ancestors are this King Sweet-Melon and his son named Nippean-bot.

5) King Sweet-Melon, according to the Chronicle, was formerly a farmer in the royal palace. He grew such a sweet melon that the king gave him a sacred spear in order to fend off thieves who might come to steal the precious melon. One night, the king had been so craving for the melon that he walked onto the melon field to pick one for himself. Mr. Sweet-melon mistook the king for a thief and speared him to death. After that, he took the princess as his wife and ascended the throne.

6) Later Chronicles that were influenced by the ruling French Colony had extended the Cambodian origin up to that of the Varman itself, the Varman whom the Cambodian legendary forefather had erased from the face of Angkor’s history. The extensions were of interest to the French colonialism which was expanding to take more and more territory from Siam, by claiming that these lands were historically linked to the Khmer-Varman empire.

7) Meanwhile sometime later than 1336 AD. at SriAyodhya, along the rim of the Chaophraya river in nowadays Thailand, King U-thong had been busying building his capital from scratches. This city would later become one of the greatest cities on earth, superseding Angkor and even Paris and London, at least in terms of numbers of population.

8) There had been numerous theories proposing the origin of this legendary King of nowadays Thailand. Among others are: He was a son of a Chinese Emperor, He was a rich Chinese merchant from Petchaburi province (Van Vlit’s Chronicles), He was a son of a king from ChiangSaen, A Sultan from Malaya, etc. In this article I am proposing yet another theory that: He was the leader of the Siamese people who were fleeing the “killing field” at Angkor. The killing field ensued from a revolt by the slaves who formed a huge majority at Angkor. And the leader of the slaves was Trosok Pream.

9) The city of Angkor has long been referred to by the Cambodians as “Seamreab”, meaning “annihilation of the Siamese people”. (Seam = siam, reab = flat, no more in existence) This insult ironically and indirectly becomes a strong evidence that the Siamese must have once heavily populated Angkor. ..they were killed and/or expelled away by the dominant slaves in 1336 AD., led by King Sweet Melon, in accordance with the 1st Cambodian Chronicle.

10) According to the record of the now-famous Zhou Da Guan, a China’s commercial envoy member, in 1296 AD., only 40 year before the killing field incident, the city of Angkor was dominated by “slaves”. ……“Most families have more than 100 slaves, some have 20, only the poorest families have none” , he wrote. It is not hard to estimate then that, out of about 1 million population of Angkor, 7 out of 10 were slaves. The rest of them were the King and his royal families, nobles, officials and their families, soldiers and their families, priests, Chinese merchants.

11) SriAyodhya was completed in 1350 AD., 14 years after the killing field incident. This was a very reasonable time span to build a city to accommodate around 2-300 thousand population. (This number was estimated by numerous scholars from various historical evidences and in my opinion is credible on historical contexts, for example in 1352 AD., only 2 years afterward, U-thong invaded Angkor; he must have had a large population base to form his army to fight the huge Cambodian army back then.)

12) The most relevant question to be asked is that: where did these 2-300 thousands come from? The most popular theory which held that they migrated from the nearby city of U-thong has now proved to be flawed since the city had been voided 2-300 hundred years before that. Even if so, U-thong city would have been too small to accommodate 300,000 population. In fact there was no other cities in the vicinity of 300 kilometers of SriAyodhya to have such number of population, except Angkor.

13) Zhou Da Guan writes further that the local people speak a “different language” from those of officials and scholars; …their skins are very dark but you can find people whose skins are as white as jade among the nobles; …they don’t know how to produce silk; ..nor do they know how to stitch and darn with a needle and thread.

14) Let’s pause and think — How could the majority of people who did not know how to weave elaborated clothing with a loom, did not know how to stitch and darn with a needle and thread, would know how to dig, move and carve immense stones to erect the magnificent Angkor? The only logical answer is that the stone temple of Angkor was designed and managed by another tribe of people who held more advanced technology. And within the vicinity around Angkor there were only the Chamese and the Siamese.

15) Given that the Chamese were traditional enemy and that Angkor Wat, Bapuan, Bayon were built in the same style as Phimai castle in Phimai which was completed some 50 years before Angkor. I am now proposing a new theory that: the people who conceived, designed and managed all the building of the stone temples of Angkor was the Siamese from Phimai (who had been blamed by most western scholars as, ironically, the one who demolished the greatness of Angkor.)

16) But these Siamese then were not totally the same people as the present day Thai. In fact they were referred to by the northern Thais as Khom. But apparently the Cambodian people of Ankor back then called them by the name of Siam (pronounced as seam in single syllable).

17) Zhou Da Guan, continued on his record: “The Siamese women did know how to weave silk with loom as well as stitch and darn with a needle. They brought silk worms and mulberry trees from the land of Siam.”

18) The Siamese had not been well known to be keen on mercantilism . But why did they appear at Angkor in such a number, so many so that Zhou had noticed their weaving ability? The answer is perhaps that they went there to accompany their families who were the ruling elites of Angkor, officials, scholars, soldiers and perhaps even some merchants. Some of them were also ‘as white as jade’ since the Siamese, then as is now, were of mixed races.

19) The connections of the ruling elites at Angkor and the Siamese are numerous, indicating that Lopburi, Pimai and Angkor were related not only by interests but also by blood. To mention just a few:

19.1 Suryavarman I is believed to be a Buddhist . Where did he get Buddhism idea from, other than Phimai? His origin was unknown either. But he had fought hard in battle for some years for the throne. It is very possible that Phimai, a predominantly Buddhist culture, sent an armed forces to establish him as a buddhist king? That was why he built Phimai castle at Pimai, not at Angkor.

19.2 Chayavarman VI is now widely accepted as coming from the Korat plateau’s city of Pimai. He built a 220 kilometer super-highway which linked Pimai and Angkor. He also finished the building of Pimai stone temple which was initiated by S-I.

19.3 Most important thing in connection with C-6 is that he claimed to have descended from his mythical father named “Kambhu Svayambhuva” and a mother named “Mera.” These two words, one was his first name and the second was his second name, had perhaps been transformed into two of the most confusing words, namely, those of Kambhuja and Syam (Siam)

19.4 Svayambhuva, was in fact another name for Bhraman. Morever this name had appeared in Pallava, Sanskrit, Pali -stone inscriptions all over the “Land Zhenla” area from wat Pu to Ubonrajatani to Srithep since about the 6th AD. I am thus inclined to believe that C-6 had ascended the throne with the help of Pimai’s army. Phimai troops must have remained in Angkor for a long time to assure stability, so much so that families members from Pimai came to accompany them, bringing silk weaving technology along with them (Pimai has been famous for her supreme silk weaving technology even nowadays.) To accommodate the extreme hardship of family migrations then C-6 ordered the building of the super-highway. The Pimai soldiers and their families were then honorably referred to by the local people as the “Swayam” (descendants of Swayambhuva) which later shortened to “Syam” and later as “Seam” to suit the tongues of the local Cambodians.

19.5 Some analyst even conclude that C-6 spent most of his time at Pimai, not at Angkor.

19.6 Suryavarman II is believed to have come from Lopburi. His name and suffix “II” indicates some relations to S-I, hence Phimai. The fact that he is the only Varman king to worship Vishnu rather than Shiva is still a puzzle to historians. IMO this, too, could be linked to the influence of Lopburi’s and Phimai’s Buddhism. S-I had testified before him that Buddhism would not work out well in the predominantly hindu society, so S-II learned from S-I’s mistakes and employed a new subtle tactic. One should realize that the Buddha was also believed by the Hindu to be the 9th reincarnation of Vishnu. So by adopting Vishnu S-II could win over the minds of both beliefs and that was what making him one of Angkor’s greatest kings, second perhaps only to Chayavarman VII.

20) Here comes accounts of the greatest king of them all—Chayavarman VII. Inscriptions about his origin were vague. Some speculated that he spent his early life in Champa; but I beg to be different for I think that he was from Pimai. The evidences for this are numerous, mostly contextual:

20.1He came from nowhere to expel away the Cham invaders who had occupied Angkor for 4 years. Had he come from Champa, where would he recruit his huge army to recapture Angkor in 4 years?; from the Cham itself?

20.2Only logical answer is : he came from Pimai. As in the case of C-6, Pimai , again, helped him to expel Champa , most likely with support from Lopburi, as is evident by the bas relief on Angkor walls, depicting Lopburi and “Syam Kuk” soldiers side by side.

20.3Do not forget also that C6, S2 and C7 are linked by blood through the Mahendhrapura dynasty and that the founder is C6 who was from Phimai.

20.4 C-7 became a most devout Buddhist. Whose influence was that?, Champa? No way. Because Champa’s culture back then was dominantly hinduistic with some initial Islamic influences. It was impossible for C-7 to have been nurtured in such environments and later became a devout Buddhist.

20.5 After his ascent to greatness, he rewarded Phimai with a renovation of the super-highway, several hundreds of mini-hospitals and rest areas (arokaya-sala) were erected along the highway. His stone monuments were found deep under grounds, not surprisingly in both Angkor and Pimai. These renovations were to facilitate more migration of the Svayamese from Pimai to reunite with their relatives (soldiers, officers, nobles) in Angkor.

20.6 All of the mentioned evidences point to the fact that C-7 was from Pimai. He was also a grand son of the great forefather “Svayam”.

21) One of the most amazing thing that have been hitherto looked over is that the Cambodian people today still count their numbers the same way as recorded by Zhou Da Guan: They count only to 5. For 6 they pronounce it as 5-1, 7 as 5-2 and so on. Counting system and its pronunciation, in my opinion, is the strongest evidence of a cultural linkage. The fact that the ancient Varman and the U-thong people of Ayodhaya used the same counting system and the alphabets from 1-10 were exactly the same, based on a base 10 numerals, at least confirms that they were of different tribes from the Cambodian.

22) The Dhevaraja (God-King) concept is the most prominent feature of the Varman dynasty. King Sweet-Melon , being ascended from a slave class by killing off the Varman, certainly wouldn’t dare claim to be one of such a highly prestigious origin. Turning a crisis into an opportunity, he established himself as a new truly Cambodian king who is “in touch” with the people. That was why he was highly regarded as the legendary forefather of the Cambodia race, as later chronicled by King Nag-Ong-Eng.

23) The dhevaraja traditions, however, had been long rooted in Khmer culture and should not be as easily abolished by a mere spearing of a Varman king. Its seed had been brought to and sprouted again at SriAyodhya. The royal name for King U-Thong is “Rama-I” who was “King of Ayodhya”. According to the Ramayana Epic of India, Rama was none other than the 8th reincarnation of Vishnu, a mythical king of a mythical heavenly city named Ayodhya.

24) Raja-supth (The royal language) is required for any Thai to address their King. This tradition has not been changed much since the time of early SriAyodhya. The language is very refined: mostly a mixture of Sanskrit and Khom (ancient Khmer ). This is another strong evidence that king U-Thong was from Angkor. He was a Khom (ancient khmer), what other languages would we expect him to speak to his people? So he spoke Khom to them. Later, the language was used by the court as the sacred language of the dhevaraja; this was a good strategy in governing the kingdom.

25) Early SriAyudhya literatures had been recorded with a mixture of Thai, Khom, Pali, Sanskrit. These are evident in the books of “Ong-karn-Chaeng-Nam” and the “Li-lit-yuan-paii”, for examples. These are additional evidences that the early Ayodhayians were originally from Angkor but later mixed with the affluence of the Thai- (and mon-, and laos-) speaking people and transform into the present-day Thai people.

26) The first Westerner to discover the ruin of Angkor were not the French, but the Portuguese, in around 1600 AD. They recorded that the local people testified that Angkor had been built by foreigners and the Portuguese concluded that these foreigners were the ones who built SriAyodhya.

27) The naming of the various Prasats at Angkor are very interesting for they are very Siamese; signifying that the kings who named them must have had strong links with the Siamese or perhaps the Siamese themselves.

1 First of all Angkor Wat: Angkor is a variation of Nakara in Sanskrit but Wat is simply “temple” in Siamese. Angkor Wat is then “temple city.”
2 Angkor Thom: most scholars translate Thom as ‘big’; but I think Thom here is rather a variation of Tham, a siamese rendition of Dhamma in Pali. So Angkor Thom is really “the city of Dhamma.” It is unthinkable that a Dhammic king like C-7 who built such a magnificent city would have named his city by a ‘little’ name such as ‘big city.” Moreover, the spelling of Thom is also exactly the same spelling of Tham in Pali. (note that only the Siamese used Pali.)
3 NeakPean (NakPan in Siamese) : It means “coiled by Naka (a mythical snake)” The shortening of Sanskrit words such as Naka into “Nak” was a typical Siamese style founded all over in their language. (Raja= Raj, Rama=Ram, Kasatriya=Kasat, Parama= Borom, etc.)
4 PhimeanAkas: (PimanAkas in Siamese ) the word Piman was a pali rendition of Vimana in Sanskrit. Akas was also a shortening of a formerly longer word (perhaps Akasa : thin air, heaven ). The change of V in Sanskrit to P was also unique in Siamese—a Pali influence.
5 Prea….. (Phra… in Siamese): Here again the word Phra is uniquely very Siamese: a prefix for something sacred. This was a Siamese rendition of Vra in Sanskrit. There are so many prasarts beginning with Phra such as PreaKand, PreaPalilay, PreaRup – some are understood readily in Siamese.
6 Ta…(Ancestor, or Eye) : such as TaProm, TaKeaw
7 PakSiJamKrong: (Bird in cage) : Paksi is bird in Sanskrit but JamKrong is Siamese.
8 TepPanom (Respecting Angel): very Siamese, especially Tep is a siamese rendition of Teva in Sanskrit. Here we have both the shortening style and the P in place of V style.
9 ChauSayTevada (Linage of angel): all Siamese
10 Even Bayon might be related since Ba is Learned One in Isan-siamese and Yon is Looking. So Bayon could mean LearnedOne Looking. LearnedOne here is the Buddha whose 216 giant stone faces are Looking all over.
11 Most names of the prasarts at Angkor wat and Angkor thom are very related to Siamese language. Only a few are not readily discernable; like panom-bakeng, Thomanon.

There are still several more evidences in recorded history, contexts, archaeological artifacts, arts, cultures, languages as well as plain common senses to help us to conclude that the ancient Khmer people who built the great Angkor stone temples are not of the same tribe as the present day Cambodians (2011 AD). Quite to the opposite, these mysterious group of people were evidently exterminated by the revolting slaves who formed the majority in Angkor population by a margin of 7:3. I am certain that there would be many more evidences to support my proposed theory coming forth in the future as our minds are no longer blocked by a curtain of pre-conception.

I am also well aware that it is difficult to accept this new theory about Angkor’s past because the French scholastic machine, sponsored by her colonial wealth, had planted quite a strong scholastic root that already grew so deep.

As to the Cambodian people I do not mean to insult their pride; but historical facts sometimes are hard to swallow. We should learn from it constructively in order to not repeating its past cruelty in our present time.

bangkok nakhom pnthom

, there are ancient destinations too proximate and too grand to ignore, such as Nakhom Pathom, which is merely 56 kilometers west of Bangkok or an hour away by bus. this oldest city in Thailand is an opportunity to get amazed by the 127-meter Phra Pathom Chedi, the world’s tallest Buddhist monument.

The comparative of  Khmer architecture and culture
 Khmer Angkor with Siamese

Siamese architecture

Your Apsara

Simese Thai

Your god’s face

Sukhothai Buddha face

See the different?

Khmer is Siam’s territory for many hundred year it ‘s Siam to teach your siamese culture after Angkor fall.


is another worthy catch.Only 80 kilometers north or two hours away by bus, a day stroll along the ruins of this golden city can give you glimpse of how illustrious this city once was. For over 400 years, it was once the country’s capital, starting in 1351 when King Ramathibodi I founded the kingdom of Ayutthaya in an island in the middle of Chao Phraya, and ending in 1767 when it was sacked by the Burmese.

At the zenith of its glory days, Ayutthaya was the most fabulous city in the orient. A series of magnificent palaces, gilded Buddhist temples and pagodas, and towering Buddha statues were placed all over the kingdom. Hundreds of thousands of people lived and worshipped within its protected sphere. After more than 200 years since it was abandoned, and after its structures were exposed to unforgiving elements of nature and endless pillaging of dastardly humans, the ruins of these great artistic and engineering feats are now the only mute witnesses to remind humanity that there once was, in the early dawn of civilization, a kingdom so strong and powerful, and a community of rulers and people so devoted to a faith.

In Ayutthaya, you must visit Wat Maha That (Temple of the Great Relic) built between 1374 and 1395. It has a sitting Buddha with his hands in the bhumisparsha, or “calling the earth to witness” position. Wat Thammikkarat (Temple of the Pious Monarch) and its stone lions; Wat Rarburana (Temple of the Royal Restoration); the huge reclining buddha of the Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon (Temple of the Great Victory); the three stupas of Wat Phra Si Sanphet, where remains of King Ramathibodhi II and some of his family members are interred; and the large Buddha statue of Wat Monkhon Bophit (Tempple of Auspicious Kings)

The Kingdom of Siam in Ayutthaya, which gave troubled Chiang Mai
for centuries, was eventually destroyed by the Burmese

The history of Chiang Mai can be traced back to 1296, when King Mangrai established his new capital there. It was in fact the third time he built a capital, having founded Chiang Rai and Wiang Kum Kam in 1262 and 1288 respectively.

The choice of site for Chiang Mai was not done by chance. The king delved into geomancy and mysticism to find the most auspicious site. Before selecting where to place his capital, he spent many nights camped out in the fields “seeking a dream”. The place was inhabited by the Lawa tribe. One day, he saw two hog-deer confronting a pack of hunting dogs (or in some documents, wolves). The shamans from the Lawa tribe told him to take that as an auspicious sign. With that in consideration, King Mangrai decided upon the location of his new capital. The site in question is said to be somewhere around present-day Wat Chiang Man.

To plan out his capital, King Mangrai roped in his pals, King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao, with whom he had formed alliances. They advised him on the dimension he should built, but Mangrai wanted it on a grander scale. Eventually he settled upon a rectangular fortress city measuring 1000 wa by 400 wa, which corresponds to 2000 meters by 800 meters. This measurement, as chronicled in historical records, bears no resemblence to the medieval walls of Chiang Mai, which measures 1800 meters by 2000 meters. So far, there is no explanation available for the glaring difference.

The site chosen for Chiang Mai is deemed to be auspicious for many reasons, some of which related to water supply. The Ping river was to the east, allowing for ease of transportation, drainage and irrigation. The hills to the west are regarded as sacred and believed to be the dwelling of the Amithaba Buddha. Today there are a few forest wats here.

The city itself was planned to align almost exactly to the cardinal directions, albeit slightly off. In this regard, it follows the layout similar to that of Angkor Thom, which was built by King Jayavarman VII in 1811. The positioning of the royal palace in the northern part of the city also followed that of Angkor Thom while the placement of lak muang, or city pillar, at the centre of Chiang Mai, to represent Mount Meru, the centre of the universe, also had a precedent in Angkor Thom, where the temple of Bayon, also representing Mount Meru, is sited at the very heart of Angkor Thom.

With Chiang Mai as his capital, King Mangrai ruled over a kingdom known as Lanna, which translates variously as “a thousand rice fields”, “ten thousand rice fields”, and “a million rice fields”. By 1298, the year King Ramkamhaeng of Sukhothai died, the Lanna Kingdom had included Lampang, Lamphun, Tak, Pai Valley in the west, Muang Nai, Keng Tung and Jing Hong. With the death of King Ramkamhaeng, Sukhothai went into decline, and before long, the town of Phayao, previously controlled by Sukhothai, passed to Lanna.

King Mangrai died suddenly in 1317, causing a succession dispute for his throne. His second son, Prince Chai Songkhram, ascended the throne briefly. Then he went into retirement in Chiang Rai, and passed the throne to his son, Prince Saen Phu, in 1318. King Mangrai’s youngest son wanted the throne for himself. When his father died, he was a ruler of Muang Nai. Now he returned and seized the throne from his nephew, forcing King Saen Phu to join his father in retirement in Chiang Rai. The usurper ruled for three years before being ousted by King Saen Phu’s brother, Prince Nam Thuam. King Saen Phu then returned to rule for another decade, until he died in 1334.

Succeeding King Saen Phu was his son Prince Kham Fu, who ruled for only three years before he too died, and passed the throne to his son, Pha Yu. King Pha Yu moved the capital to Chiang Rai, where it stayed for just about three years, before being moved back to Chiang Mai, this time for good.

The founding of the Kingdom of Siam in 1347 spelled trouble for Chiang Mai. This new and aggressive kingdom, with its capital in Ayutthaya wasted no time in acquire new land. Within a few short years, most of the Malay peninsula was under its rule. In 1349, Sukhothai became a vassal state to Ayutthaya, and was formally annexed in 1438. From 1380s onwards, Chiang Mai was suffering from repeated attacks from the Siamese. And as if one was not enough, along came confrontation from Burma as well. Despite the political headache, Chiang Mai continued to prosper during that time.

The Lanna Kingdom reached its cultural golden age when King Tilokaraj ascended the throne in 1441. He managed to push back Siamese forces, capturing Nan in 1449, Si Satchanalai in 1459 and Sukhothai in 1461. With this mighty show of force, King Tilokaraj managed to hold back Ayutthaya aggression for the following three decades.

Within a few years of King Tilokaraj’s death in 1487, Chiang Mai was back on the battlefield with Siam. This time, Ayutthaya pushed north as far as Lampang. However, the aggressiveness of Siam soon proved disastrous, not only for Chiang Mai, but for Ayutthaya itself. At that time, the southern Burmese Kingdom of Pegu (present-day Bago) was growing powerful. When Ayutthaya challenge it, Pegu responded forcefully. And Chiang Mai found itself caught in the middle.

Another round of succession dispute again weakened Chiang Mai. It began in 1538 when King Chettarat was deposed by his son. He got back the throne in 1543, only to be assassinated two years later. To fill the power vacuum, Prince Setthathirat of Luang Prabang was invited over to be king. He reigned for just two year when the death of his father compelled him to return to Luang Prabang, plunging Chiang Mai into a civil war. When the Burmese decided to attack, Chiang Mai was in no position to fend for itself. By 1558, Chiang Mai as well as the whole of Lanna was under Burmese suzerainty. Being under Burmese occupation was no bed of roses, for the Burmese used Chiang Mai as the base to attack Ayutthaya.

In 1578, the Mangrai dynasty came to an end with the death of Princess Wishutthithewi. The Burmese king installed his son on the Chiang Mai throne. In 1598, it was captured by Ayutthaya, but when Chiang Rai launched a rebellion against the Burmese, Burma sent an offensive that captured not only Chiang Rai, but Chiang Mai as well. This time Burmese aggression moved south towards Ayutthaya. In 1767, under the powerful King Alaungpaya, the Burmese ransacked Ayutthaya, burning it to the ground.

The Siamese fled Ayutthaya and regrouped downriver, in Thonburi, and then, having stabilized their position, started building their new capital in Bangkok. Under King Rama I, the Siamese launched a counterattack on Burma, defeating them in 1774 in Lampang. Siamese offensive continued northwards, capturing Chiang Mai in 1776 and Chiang Rai in 1786. Chiang Saen was the last Lanna city to fall under the Siamese, in 1804. No independence came to Lanna; just as the Burmese were thrown out, they were replaced by the Siamese. After all those years of warfare, Chiang Mai had become nothing more than a broken down city. The Siamese installed Prince Chao Kawila of Lampang as the ruler of Chiang Mai. To expedite the city’s recovery, Chao Kawila raided nearby villages and forced their population to resettle in Chiang Mai. So through forced resettlement, the towns of Lanna Kingdom were given a new lease of life, Chiang Mai in 1796,

The Kingdom of Siam,

 The Art of Central Thailand,

1350 – 1800

The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, 1350–1800 is the world’s first major exhibition of art from Thailand’s lost kingdom of Ayutthaya, which outlived China’s Ming dynasty and shone with similar brilliance.

The exhibition, featuring rare artworks borrowed from collections in Thailand, Europe, and the United States, showcases the superb but little known arts of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya—one of the largest and most important kingdoms in Southeast Asia. The art works—many on view for the first time in the West—include stone and bronze Buddha images, sculptures of Hindu deities, figural and decorative wood carvings, temple furnishings, illuminated manuscripts, jewelry and textiles. Among the highlights are gold ceremonial objects from a temple crypt sealed in 1424; a full-sized temple pediment; and sections of royally-commissioned temple doors with inlaid mother of pearl. .

While nearly all aspects of the art of culture of China, Japan, and India have been extensively studied, notably less research currently exists on the cultural contributions of Southeast Asia.

The kingdom of Ayutthaya, founded in 1351,

flourished for more than 400 years—longer than China’s Ming dynasty. It was a major trading center with diplomatic ties with China, Japan, Persia, the Ryukyu kingdom (Okinawa), and, from the 17th century on, with Great Britain, France, Holland, and Portugal. In contrast to neighboring kingdoms, including perpetual rival Burma, Ayutthaya was cosmopolitan and outward–looking. The 1600s and early 1700s were a period of great prosperity and cultural accomplishment for the kingdom.


Despite its strengths, increasing pressures from Burma eventually weakened the kingdom, and it was devastated by a Burmese invasion in 1767. As a result, many of Ayutthaya artifacts, especially those made of fragile materials, were destroyed.

The Kingdom of Siam will provide  audiences with the unique opportunity to see some of the finest surviving works.

‘Kingdom of Siam’ reveals a culture absorbed with Buddha’s path to perfection


  • Metal head is one of several representing the Buddha?s previous lives. Photo courtesy of the Asian Art Museum
    Metal head is one of several representing the Buddha?s previous lives. Photo courtesy of the Asian Art Museum

Recent events give added immediacy to several objects in “The Kingdom of Siam: the Art of Central Thailand, 1350-1800″

A 16th century

 copper Buddha stands with both hands raised waist high, palms forward, in a symbolic gesture or mudra known as “restraining the ocean. ” It evokes the legend that the Buddha Shakyamuni once turned back encroaching flood waters by spiritual force alone.

Alas, no such gesture, or anything else, availed against the tsunami that hit South Asia in December, claiming an estimated 8,000 lives in Thailand. That knowledge may enable us who felt none of the tsunami’s direct effects to connect with this show of relics — the first of its kind — from a distant and long-gone culture

The Kingdom of Siam

The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, 1350–1800 and its accompanying catalogue will make an important contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of Southeast Asian art—especially the crucial period of 1400 to 1800.














  19.  Hermit, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloy with traces of gilding.  Click here for description under Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
  20.  Head of a brahman, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; bronzeThe significance of the four incised horizontal lines on the forehead of this object is uncertain. In India, worshipers of Shiva sometimes paint three horizontal lines on their foreheads, but it is not known if a reference to this tradition is intended here.A brahman is a member of the priestly caste of India. The Buddha took many forms in his previous lives, including that of a brahman. National Museum, Bangkok,
  21.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyChao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya, 11/06
  22.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyThe meaning of the half-circular motif on the forehead of this figure is not known.Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya,
  23. Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyChao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya,
  24.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyClick here for description under Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
  6.  Seated Buddha, approx. 1400–1450; wood with traces of lacquer and gildingThis sculpture, carved from a single piece of wood, is one of the most elaborate and complete wooden sculptures surviving from early Ayutthaya.An unusual feature is the pair of parrot-like birds at the sides of the arch. No other examples of Buddha images from Thailand with a pair of birds positioned in this way are known, and in fact birds are seldom associated with Buddha images.  Rather similar pairs of birds do, however, appear in a few other contexts, such as on a ceramic roof ornament from Sukhothai, and a mural painting in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana. Given the extreme rarity of pairs of birds being shown on the arch over the head of a Buddha image, it is startling to note their appearance on the U-shaped arch of a Buddha image from Sri Lanka found in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana.  It appears that the pair of birds (together, perhaps, with the U-shaped arch) are another of the motifs adopted in Ayutthaya from Sri Lanka. (See the discussion in M. L. Pattaratorn’s catalog essay of the likely presence in Ayutthaya in about 1424 of Sri Lankan, Thai, and Cambodian Buddhist monks who had recently arrived from Sri Lanka.)   But few other Sri Lankan sculptures seem to have such birds, so their parentage is not easy to trace. The ultimate source must be the art of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara in today’s Pakistan.



Artistic styles in Ayutthaya were a complex mix. The images below suggest the range of styles and geographically distributed influences shaping the arts of Ayutthaya.

19 20 21 22 23 24

19. through 24. Images of the Buddha-to-be in his previous lives  (see below for individual descriptions)

The stories of the five hundred or more previous lives of the Buddha to- be – the jatakas – were well known and important in much of the Buddhist world. In 1458 Ayutthaya’s King Borommatrailokkanat (Supreme Lord of the Three Worlds) commissioned a set of bronze figures to represent them, showing the Buddha-to-be in such guises as a hermit, a prince, or a deer. What strikes the eye immediately is how varied in style they are. Three representative crowned heads, cat. nos. 21, 22, and 24, are so different in their modeling, their proportions, and the treatment of their crowns, that it may be difficult to imagine their being made for the same project. It nevertheless seems likely that they were.

The best explanation seems to be that casting five hundred or more bronze figures was a big task, and must have been divided among workshops in various cities of the kingdom. If this is the case, no so-called national style had developed (as used to be suggested) in Siam in the mid-fifteenth century, and various regional traditions continued strong. Some work shops would have worked in styles recalling those of Angkor (nos. 23 and 24), and others in styles recalling those of Sukhothai (no. 22). This variation in styles must not have been unacceptable to the king.

The king’s motivation probably had to do with the arrival of the year 2000 of the Buddhist era. Old prophecies suggested that humankind’s understanding of the Buddha’s teachings would decay over time, and the arrival of a millennial anniversary would bring further grievous losses. A great Buddhist king would take steps to halt or reverse the decay by building temples, supporting the monkhood, commissioning didactic artworks such as the jataka statues, and perhaps even entering the monkhood himself – all of which Borommatrailokkanat is said to have done. 1 Several whole figures and more than thirty heads almost surely from the king’s jataka set have survived. 2 One figure and five heads are included in the exhibition.

1 The history of Borommatrailokkanat’s period, his possible motivations, the significance of the jatakas in Ayutthaya, and the sculptures representing them are discussed at lengthin McGill, “Jatakas, Universal Monarchs.”

2 In addition to the article mentioned in note 1, see Woodward, Sacred Sculpture

  19.  Hermit, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloy with traces of gilding.  Click here for description under Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
  20.  Head of a brahman, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; bronzeThe significance of the four incised horizontal lines on the forehead of this object is uncertain. In India, worshipers of Shiva sometimes paint three horizontal lines on their foreheads, but it is not known if a reference to this tradition is intended here.A brahman is a member of the priestly caste of India. The Buddha took many forms in his previous lives, including that of a brahman. National Museum, Bangkok,
  21.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyChao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya, 11/06
  22.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyThe meaning of the half-circular motif on the forehead of this figure is not known.Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya,
  23. Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyChao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya,


  24.  Crowned head, from a set of figures representing the Buddha in his previous lives, probably 1458; copper alloyClick here for description under Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
  6.  Seated Buddha, approx. 1400–1450; wood with traces of lacquer and gildingThis sculpture, carved from a single piece of wood, is one of the most elaborate and complete wooden sculptures surviving from early Ayutthaya.An unusual feature is the pair of parrot-like birds at the sides of the arch. No other examples of Buddha images from Thailand with a pair of birds positioned in this way are known, and in fact birds are seldom associated with Buddha images.  Rather similar pairs of birds do, however, appear in a few other contexts, such as on a ceramic roof ornament from Sukhothai, and a mural painting in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana. Given the extreme rarity of pairs of birds being shown on the arch over the head of a Buddha image, it is startling to note their appearance on the U-shaped arch of a Buddha image from Sri Lanka found in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana.  It appears that the pair of birds (together, perhaps, with the U-shaped arch) are another of the motifs adopted in Ayutthaya from Sri Lanka. (See the discussion in M. L. Pattaratorn’s catalog essay of the likely presence in Ayutthaya in about 1424 of Sri Lankan, Thai, and Cambodian Buddhist monks who had recently arrived from Sri Lanka.)   But few other Sri Lankan sculptures seem to have such birds, so their parentage is not easy to trace. The ultimate source must be the art of the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara in today’s Pakistan. National Museum, Bangkok

The Buddha itself relates to other early Ayutthaya Buddha images of the oval-faced type such as cat. nos. 4 and 5 and fig. 117. 1 Its surrounding, a U-shaped arch above which rises a tree with symmetrically down-curving branches, recalls that of votive tablets like those found in the 1424 crypt of Wat Ratchaburana. 2 Cat. no. 10 is a similar example, although it may not be not from that location.

Some of the decorative motifs of this sculpture, such as the row of rosettes with bars in the base and the triangular pendants below the capitals of the pilasters on either side of the Buddha have been discussed by Dr. Santi in the context of the evolution of such motifs in the early Ayutthaya period. 3

1 See Woodward, Sacred Sculpture, 176–177.

2 See also Phraphuttharup lae phraphim, figs. 278, 279, 284, 294, 299, 306, 357.

3 Santi, Early Ayudhya Period, figs. 125, 282.


  7.  Head of a Buddha image, approx. 1400–1450; copper alloyThis head, with its sense of gravity and meditative repose, embodies many of the ideals of Ayutthaya’s early sculpture. It would have been part of an image approximately like no. 5 on the Wat Rachaburana page.. As postulated by Hiram Woodward, generally similar images were made simultaneously in two modes. 1 One mode hearkened back to the Cambodian-related traditions of Lopburi and had a rather square face and straight hairline; the other, the more oval face and widow’s peak common in Sukhothai and later Thai traditions. 1 Woodward, Sacred Sculpture, 176–177.Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya, 16/14CH 
  38. A Hindu deity, probably Parvati (Uma), the wife of Shiva, approx. 1500–1600; copper alloy with gildingThis image has a number of features that relate it to the sculpture of South India. Among these are:

  • its gently swaying posture. Siamese sculptured figures of the Buddha and Hindu deities usually stand upright and straight.
  • its tall hairdress and the lengths of hair (or garlands) along its shoulders. Siamese sculptures almost never have such arrangements of the hair.
  • its large, round earplugs. Ear ornaments, if any, on Siamese sculptures are usually in the form of heavy pendants hanging from the lobes.
  • the disk-shaped ornament projecting from the back of the head. This type of ornament is common in South Indian sculptures but hardly ever used in Siamese sculpture.
  • the proportions of its body. In Siamese sculptures there is rarely such a marked contrast between the narrow waist and swelling hips.

Many other features of the sculpture, however, especially the modeling of the face and feet, make clear that it was created in Siam rather than imported.

National Museum, Bangkok,

Jean Boisselier, the renowned French scholar of Southeast Asian art, proclaimed this bronze image of Uma (Parvati), wife of the Hindu god Shiva, the finest of its kind: “a work of genuine artistry” that “stands out distinctly from the rest of Ayutthaya sculpture.” 1

Why a Siamese artist would have given this sculpture such a recognizably South Indian appearance is not known. Some guesses can be made. While the overwhelming majority of Siamese were Buddhists, images of Hindu deities were commissioned by kings for use in royal ceremonies. Brahmans were sometimes hired from India to officiate at these ceremonies. Perhaps an Indian brahman brought with him a South Indian statuette of a goddess, and he and the king agreed that sculptors should be directed to make a large copy of it.

The remarkably South Indian appearance of this sculpture – reflected in the swaying posture, style of dress, tall rounded headdress, and large circular ear ornaments, for example – is what makes it unique among Ayutthaya’s bronzes. That there must have been an Indian model, whether directly or indirectly available to the artist, seems to be beyond doubt. The gentle outward thrust of Uma’s right hip, her relaxed left leg, and her extended right arm are all features associated with the classic posture known in India as the tribhanga, or triple-bend, pose. Few other bronze sculptures from the Ayutthaya period, or earlier, make use of this particular stance. 2 Instead, most depict the deities standing or sitting in a rigidly frontal pose, with arms – frequently holding attributes – extended in front of the body or to the sides. 3

The Indian bronze traditions among which this image finds its closest parallels are those associated with the late Chola and Vijayanagara empires, which effectively encompassed much of southern India from the eleventh through the mid-sixteenth centuries. 4 That no more precise identification of the stylistic source can be made indicates the long duration of certain iconographic types in South Indian ritual bronze traditions as well as the transformative abilities of, in this case, Siamese artists. The process by which Southeast Asian artists received and translated foreign forms into ones uniquely their own is a vexing one. Of the numerous sculptures found in Southeast Asia that indicate some contact with Indian artistic and architectural forms, many appear so thoroughly localized in appearance that their exact Indian sources remain speculative.

South Indian images were known in the peninsular area of Thailand from perhaps as early as the fi fth century. 5 A long history of contact with South Indian artistic forms is indicated by such finds as the three eighth- to ninth-century Hindu sculptures from Takua Pa, 6 two tenth- to eleventh century sculptures, one of Vishnu and one of Shiva, discovered at Wiang Sa, 7 and, as late as the seventeenth to eighteenth century, a small bronze statue, identified as Uma, which was found at a Hindu shrine in Nakhon Si Thammarat. 8

The images from Takua Pa are stylistically close to South Indian images of the Pallava dynasty (early fourth to late ninth century), whose power was centered in the region of South India now known as Tamil Nadu state. So close is it, in fact, that Stanley O’Connor suggested “we may assume either that it was made in India, or that it was made at Takuapa by an Indian artist.” 9 Whether the Wiang Sa sculptures were made in India, or in Thailand by an Indian or Southeast Asian artist, is equally unclear. The bronze Uma, now in the Nakhon Si Thammarat Museum, is thought to have been made in Thailand though it is virtually indistinguishable from contemporary South Indian bronzes. 10 Was an earlier image of this type – imported into the Ayutthaya kingdom from India or produced in Thailand by an Indian artist – used as a model for the National Museum’s South Indian-style bronze goddess?

The sheer size of this sculpture, which stands over five feet tall, indicates that it was made for an important – probably royal – patron. That it should depict a Hindu deity is not surprising as Hindu-derived rituals played a vital role in Thai royal ceremonies and continue to do so today. Historical records of various dates indicate the presence at the Thai court of Hindu brahmans able to perform these important services. 11 A family that became prominent among Ayut thaya’s nobility in the late seventeenth century traced its lineage to an Indian brahman who had arrived in Siam during the reign of King Prasat Thong (reigned 1629–1656). 12 It is not known if he came from South India, but other Hindu ritual specialists did. In the early nineteenth century, a priest at the so-called Brahman Temple in Bangkok is reported to have informed a member of the British embassy that he was the fifth-generation descendent of a brahman who originally came from the pilgrimage center of Rameshvaram, in the present-day Indian state of Tamil Nadu. 13

No large bronzes comparable to this one, with its numerous South Indian-style features, are known from the Ayutthaya period. However, a bronze Buddha image cat. no. 42, dedicated in the year 1541, is stylistically similar in the treatment of the facial features and may provide an approximate date for its manufacture. 14 Other large Hindu bronzes were certainly made in the Ayutthaya kingdom, as indicated by an impressive group of fourteen images from the Brahman Temple in Bangkok that have been documented by Prince Subhadradis. None – especially the single goddess image in the group – is close to this sculpture in appearance. 15

The goddess in the exhibition has a curvaceous shape – accentuated by a small waist and full, rounded breasts – that recall late Chola and Vijayanagara period bronzes (fig. 157). 16 The sensuous figure of the image is quite different from the Brahman Temple Uma, which is thicker through the waist and has smaller, flatter breasts. Clothing and ornament are also dramatically different. The lower garment clings to the legs of this goddess in a fashion quite unlike that of the heavy flared skirt worn by the Brahman Temple Uma and, indeed, by most other Ayutthaya Hindu bronzes. 17 This clinging drapery, with the fluttering panels along the sides of the skirt, again finds parallels in South Indian bronzes of the Chola period and later. The sweeping tiered panels along the front length of the skirt seem to be an Ayutthaya innovation, encountered in various permutations across a range of sculptures. The ornamental designs on the waistband, headband, necklace, and skirt are found on several other Ayutthaya-period bronzes. 18

The wheel-like attachment behind the head of the goddess is certainly derived from South India, where these halo devices also served an ornamental function, concealing the knot of the headband. 19 No other Hindu bronzes of the Ayutthaya period have this disk. Other features that appear in South Indian sources include the large round earrings, which are unlike the heavy pendants typically encountered in the Ayutthaya period. 20 The wavy extensions of hair indicated along the shoulders and upper arm are also found on several Chola- and Vijayanagara-period bronzes, as is the tall, rounded headdress. The latter is a marked departure from the flaring diadem and peaked crown of the Angkor-related headdress more commonly encountered on Ayutthaya images.

Nothing is known about the origins of this image and very little is known of its history. Even its identification is not certain; the image has been thought by some to represent Lakshmi, consort of the Hindu god Vishnu. 21 In Chola- and Vijayanagara-period bronzes, which provide the closest models, long-established visual conventions were used to distinguish among deities. When depicted individually, Lakshmi and Uma can appear rather similar in appearance. Lakshmi, however, almost always wears a breastband and is thus differentiated from her Shaivite counterpart. Uma is not the only Hindu goddess to be depicted without a breastband in South Indian bronzes, but of these goddesses – including Bhudevi and Sita – she was the one most frequently depicted in Thailand. For lack of an identifying inscription or companion image, and due to the fact that specific Indian iconographic features may not always have been followed in Southeast Asia, the identification of this sculpture remains tentative. 22 Nonetheless, within the corpus of known Ayutthaya period bronzes, it is another remarkable reminder of the diverse sources that were brought to bear on the art of the Ayutthaya kingdom.

1 Boisselier, Heritage, 178. 2 Two bronze images of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi that were published in the nineteenth century by Lucien Fournereau stand in the swaying posture with their right arms similarly extended along the sides of their bodies. They differ, however, in several details from this bronze image. (Fournereau, Le Siam ancien, pls. XVIII, XXIX.) 3 Some bronze sculptures of Hindu goddesses, while adhering to such frontality, are depicted with one arm extended downward in a manner similar to this image. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the large Uma in the National Museum, Bangkok (SK 17), discussed later in this entry as part of the so-called Brahman Temple group.

4 The Chola empire was founded in the ninth century and ended in 1279. After a period during which competing groups claimed power, the Vijayanagara empire was established and lasted from approximately 1350 to 1565.

5 Stanley J. O’Connor was the first to suggest that a well-known image of the Hindu god Vishnu, found in Chaiya in peninsular Thailand, has its closest parallels in third- to fourth-century sculptures from the region of South India corresponding to present-day Andhra Pradesh state. Previously thought to be an eighth-century work, the South Indian material suggested to O’Connor that the Chaiya Vishnu dated from as early as 400 CE (Hindu Gods of Peninsular Siam, 37–39, fig. 1). Although several scholars have questioned O’Connor’s dating, the Chaiya Vishnu and other sculptures clearly indicate a long pattern of contact between South India and Thailand. (For an alternate opinion about the dating of the Chaiya image, see Woodward, Review, 210–211.) The artistic and cultural links between India and Southeast Asia have been a subject of academic interest for the past several decades. For a consideration of early artistic relationships between Cambodia and India, including South India, see Bénisti’s Rapports. Studies investigating the connections between early mainland Southeast Asia and South India, specifically, include Filliozat’s Kailasaparampara and Wright’s Sacred Gable.

6 O’Connor, Hindu Gods of Peninsular Siam, 52–55, fi gs. 28–31.

7 O’Connor, Hindu Gods of Peninsular Siam, 60–63, fi gs. 32–33.

8 Natthapatra and Saengchan, eds., Nakhon Si Th ammarat National Museum, 95. As discussed later in this entry, the fact that this image wears a breastband indicates that it may not, in fact, represent the goddess Uma, who is conventionally depicted without a breastband in South Indian bronzes.

9 O’Connor, Hindu Gods of Peninsular Siam, 55.

10 Piriya Krairiksh identifies this Uma (13/2515) as a product of peninsular Thailand showing southern Indian influence (Baep sinlapa, 188). The Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum Visitor’s Guide credits it to the “Southern school of art under Southern Indian influence” (Natthapatra and Saengchan, eds., Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum, 95).

11 For example, mention of brahman participation in various ceremonies is scattered throughout the Ayutthayan Royal Chronicles; see, to highlight only a few references to brahmans performing ritual and ceremonial functions, Cushman, Royal Chronicles, 6, 8, 10, 21, 26, 59, 92–93, 101–102.

12 Wyatt, Thailand, 129; see also, idem, “Family Politics in Nineteenth-Century Thailand,” in Studies in Thai History, 106–130.

13 Crawfurd, Journal of an Embassy, 119.

14 This Buddha image was discussed by Prince Subhadradis in his Hindu Gods, 104–106, figs. 57A–57B; and his “Dated Crowned Buddha Image.” The bronze Uma was not considered in either work.

15 Most of the fourteen sculptures are close in size to this bronze Uma. Four are larger, and of those, two are considerably larger (Subhadradis, Hindu Gods, figs. 1–14, illustrated on a foldout between pp. 5 and 6). Subhadradis first published his study of these bronzes in a Thai publication of 1966.

16 Identifying a narrower range of possible source imagery is difficult. A number of innovations were steadily introduced into the South Indian bronze tradition, though many images show a conscious continuation of earlier types. Compare, for instance, a pre-Chola period image of the Hindu goddess Durga (Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, fig. 11b) with examples of the tenth century and thirteenth century (Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred, 134–137, cat. nos. 19–20). With respect to Uma images, which are more pertinent to this discussion, compare the following bronzes: tenth century (Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, fi g. 17a), twelfth century (Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, fi g. 26), fourteenth century (Pal, Indian Subcontinent, 233, cat. no. 170d), and sixteenth century (Sivaramamurti, South Indian Bronzes, fi g. 80a).

17 Compare, for instance, the clinging drapery of this figure to the dress of the Hindu bronzes illustrated in Subhadradis’s Hindu Gods and Fournerou’s Le Siam Ancien.

18 Listopad, Phra Narai, 428–429.

19 Dehejia, The Sensuous and the Sacred, 92.

20 The image of Satyabhama, wife of the Hindu god Krishna, in fig. 157, does not wear rounded earrings of this type. However, heavy round earrings are documented in numerous surviving male and female bronzes of the Chola and Vijayanagara periods.

21 The National Museum identifies the goddess as Lakshmi, as did Boisselier, who used the goddess’s alternate appellation, Shri (Heritage, 178).

22 The bronze image of Satyabhama (fi g. 157) is part of a group of images that were intended to form a set. Had the bronze been found without these accompanying figures, it could easily be misidentified as an image of another female – such as Uma or Bhudevi – for whom the same figural, clothing, and headdress conventions are used. 


  8.  Walking Buddha, probably 1375; stoneThe walking Buddha is often associated with the kingdom of Sukhothai, where sculptors produced a number of superb examples. Walking Buddhas appear fairly frequently in the arts of Ayutthaya as well, however, though seeming to become rarer century by century. Hiram Woodward has pointed out that the walking Buddha is found in central Thailand by the thirteenth or fourteenth century. 1 The crypt of Wat Ratchaburana in Ayutthaya, sealed in 1424, held dozens of the type – mostly in relief on votive tablets, but also in the round, and even painted on a wall. 2 Also, a number of temple buildings in central Thailand that have been attributed to the late fourteenth or fifteenth centuries have representations of the walking Buddha in stucco relief. 3 The representation of the walking Buddha in this exhibition is extremely unusual because it is carved in high relief in stone. 4 Stone sculptures in the round (at least Buddha images) 5 were common in early Ayutthaya, but stone reliefs seem to have been rare.The characteristics of this walking Buddha are similar enough to those of a freestanding bronze example from the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana to suggest a fourteenth- or fifteenth-century date. 6 The pointed frame around the head of the Buddha in the stone relief, with its upcurving flourishes at the shoulders, can be compared to related frames in stucco reliefs mentioned earlier. 7 The nose of the sculpture has been inexpertly restored.Chantharakasem National Museum, Ayutthaya,

The image had long ago been fixed against a wall in one of the museum’s storerooms. When the image was removed to be prepared for inclusion in this exhibition, a twenty-line inscription was noticed on the back. In June 2004, the Thai Inscription Survey Department of the National Library of Thailand recorded, deciphered, and registered the inscription. According to Kong­kaew Weeraprachak, “the Buddha image and the inscription were likely carved about the same time.”

She continues: “The inscription begins with a date: 1918 of the Bud­dhist Era (1375 CE). Khun Soramut, his wife and children, and others made donations to support the construction of monks’ dwellings, a preaching hall, and Buddha images. They also planted bo trees and demarcated the temple grounds. The inscription ends with Bud­dhist blessings for those who made merit through these donations, and indicates their hope to be reborn in the era of the future Buddha, Mai­treya. The inscription notes that those attempting to obstruct these donations are bound for hell with no hope of seeing the Buddha.

“A study of the shapes of the letters in the inscription suggests that they belong to the Thai-Ayutthaya form of the twentieth century of the Buddhist Era (1358–1457 CE) and had evolved out of the Thai-Sukhothai form. . . .

“Knowledge gained from this inscription will shed new light on other Thai inscription studies. Very few inscriptions have been recovered that contain Thai-Ayutthaya letter shapes, especially from the early Ayutthaya period. Thus, the discov­ery of the dated inscription on the back of the walking Buddha image is an invaluable discovery for histo­rians of this time period. Before this finding, researchers had compiled an incomplete alphabet of the Thai-Ayutthaya letter shapes. Thanks to this finding they now have the complete Thai-Ayutthaya alphabet. This finding also helps to verify the accuracy of the existing identification system of Thai-Ayutthaya letters from the late fourteenth century CE.”

(Adapted from a translation by Chureekamol Onsuwan Eyre)

1 Woodward, Sacred Sculpture, 138.

2 For votive tablets, see Bowie, ed., Sculpture of Thailand, cat. no. 56; and Phraphuttharup lae phraphim, for example, figs. 137–154, 219–237; for images in the round, see Piriya, Sacred Image, 196–197; for painting, see Chittrakam lae sinlapawatthu, 9.

3 Buildings at Wat Kai Tia, Suphanburi; Wat Mahathat, Lopburi; and Wat Song Phinong, Chinat, all illustrated in Santi, Early Ayudhya Period, 192–193; southeast corner stupa at Wat Phra Ram, Ayutthaya, illustrated in No. Na Paknam, Lai punpan, fig. 57 (mislabeled Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya).

4 Only one other large stone relief of the walking Buddha from central or north-central Thailand is known, and its proportions and style are quite diff erent from the example in this exhibition; see Stratton and Scott, Sukhothai, fig. 61.

5 For a discussion of the head of this image in relation to a number of other Ayutthaya stone heads, see Prathip, “Baep phraphak,” 83–86.

6 See note 2 above. For possible examples of sixteenth-century Ayutthaya representations of the walking Buddha, see Woodward, Sacred Sculpture, 244–245.

7 Especially those of Wat Kai Tia, Suphanburi; see note 3 above. Another such frame surrounded the head of a standing Buddha in relief on the prang of Wat Phra Ram, Ayutthaya; No. Na Paknam, Ha duan, 170.


  51.  Miniature temple building, approx. 1700–1800; terrsa cotta; aid to have been found at Wat BuaThis miniature building may have served as a “spirit house,” a little shrine for offerings to the spirits of the land.  Large rectangular windows such as those on this miniature building are usually thought to have become common in Siamese architecture during the reign of King Narai (reigned 1656–1688) probably due to Western influence.Its large rectangular windows suggest a date later than that of cat. no. 50. Details such as its half-cylindrical tiles covering the roof and the brackets projecting from the side walls to support the eaves (which would be of elaborately carved wood on a real building) are painstakingly represented.Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya,


  52.  Miniature pavilion, approx. 1700–1800; wood with paint, lacquer, gilding, and mirror inlay The upper corners of the roof of this miniature building would have been decorated with gracefully curved projecting elements; only stubs of these now remain. Along the roof ridge would have been a full row of decorative spines, only some of which have survived. These decorative elements would have given a real building the prickly silhouette characteristic of later Ayutthaya period architecture.Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya, 243/2542