The Celestial Empire’s Cultural Dissemination in Angkor Civilization Geographic Restoration as a Rajamandala Existence

Yok Man Khei


Henri Mouhot, the French naturalist and explorer is always credited for rediscovering Angkor civilization though he was not the first foreigner to discover Angkor Wat of Cambodia. According to ancient China history, Zhenla (真腊អាណាចក្រចេនឡា) is the ancient name for Cambodia, possibly in a Rajamandala existence—circle of kings which draws the comparison from ancient India emphasizing an otherwise system of kingdom allowing the co-existence of smaller king states physically—as a priori speculated by Oliver William Wolters. The true history of Angkor civilization can be pieced out by Yuan-era diplomat attaché Zhou Daguan’s (Chou Ta Kuan/周达观) Zhenlafengtuji (真腊风土记A Record of Cambodia: The Land and its People or The Customs of Cambodia)—an eye-witnessed, original geographic account of the lives and customs of Cambodians during the Khmer Empire despite at times complacent in deliverance. The rediscovery of Angkor Wat in 1859, the restoration of its glories and popularization across the globe virtually owed ancient Chinese cultural dissemination from the anthropological aspect when Mouhot mistakenly dated Angkor formation to around the same era as Rome. The pivot points of this paper are to reintroduce the cultural contributions and geographic significance of ancient China, including its habitual, faithful recording practice to the ensuing generations through the restoration of Angkor civilization in a situation-inspired approach.


Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Celestial Empire, Cultural Dissemination, Khmer Empire, Rajamandala, Henri Mouhot, Zhou Daguan/Chou Ta Kuan

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