July 10, 2014

Book Review: Le Mythe de Khun Burôm - Les Origines du Laos d'après un Manuscrit ancien

Title:  Le Mythe de Khun Burôm - Les Origines du Laos d'après un Manuscrit ancien
By:  Dominique Menguy
Publisher/Year:  SevenOrients, 2007
ISBN:  9782914936132
Price: 25 Euros

Book cover:  Le Mythe de Khun Burôm - Les Origines du Laos d'après un Manuscrit ancien by Dominique Menguy

I bought this book on my visit to Laos back in December 2013.  I bought it from Monument Bookstore in Luangprabang.  What caught my eye about it is that it's not often I come across books on Khun Borom.  In fact it's only the third time I've come across a book that discussed this topic.  The other 2 books were:

(1) Kingdom of Laos edited by Rene de Berval that discusses Khun Borom in 2 short chapters. A chapter entitled: Legendary Origins - From the Translation by Louis Finot.  And another chapter entitled: The Testament of Khun Borom - From the Translation by Auguste Pavie.

And another book, (2) Thai Law - Buddhist Law - Essays on the Legal History of Thailand, Laos and Burma edited by Andrew Huxley.  Specifically, there's a tiny chapter of 7 pages, entitled: An Introduction to the Laws of Khun Borom: An Early Prototype of T'ai Society and Life by Mayoury Ngaosyvathn.

These 2 books discuss Khun Borom as part of a much larger book.  However this one from Dominique is, for me, the first time I've came across a book in recent times that was written exclusively on the topic of Khun Borom.  While other literature does exist on this, they are either not readily available or quite old.

For those who don't know, Khun Borom/Burom is the supposed legendary (or mythical) father of Southeast Asian people.  Lao people hold this myth in much higher regard than compared to its neighboring countries though.

This book delves into the sections of the original Nithan Khun Burom (pronounced neetan koon borom, meaning: story of khun borom).  The neetan koon borom was not just an origin story and its contents were not a single story but rather a collection of different stories, as well as laws and rules of conduct.

This book takes a wonderful look in a succinct manner going into the descriptions regarding manuscript and its contents and style.  Furthermore, it goes into the different sections and stories contained in the manuscript.  And finally it goes on to discuss the subsequent historical affects of the manuscript to Lao society and the additions that are believed to have been made by King Vixun.  This book is written in French and Lao.  It's a good read and definitely worth picking up a copy.

The full table des matières (aka table of contents) is below if you're curious to know all that it covers.

Table des matières
Abréviation et Acronymes
Transcription Phonétique
Carte du Laos et de ces environs

Partie 1 :  Presentation
Chapitre 1. Description du Manuscrit
Chapitre 2. Le Style Littéraire
Chapitre 3. Datation du Manuscrit
Chapitre 4. Le Contenu du Texte

Partie 2 :  Le Mythe de Khun Burom D’apres la Chronique de Khameut
Informations sur la présentation
Partie Légandaire ou Nithan
Le Pantheon Prebouddhiste Lao
L’amenagement du Monde
Les Dynasties des Nyak et des Ophidiens
Les Deux Freres Ermites
Les Quinze Rois Naga
L’avenement de Khun Burom
Khun Burom Descend Regner a Na Noï Oï Nu
Phitsanukam Organise Le Royaume
La Naussance des Sept Fils de Khun Burom
Le Sacrifice de Thai Nyaï et de Më Nya Ngam
Les Cinq Familles et Leurs Interdits
Le Gouvernement du Khun Burom
Le Mariage des Sept Fils
Les Devoirs des Reines
Le Serment Au Père
La Mort de Khun Burom
Annotation et Commentaires

Part 3 :  Enseignements
Chapitre 1. La Partie Légendaire ou Nithan
Chapitre 2. Khun Burôm, Personnage Mythique
Chapitre 3. Le Roi Fa Ngum, Héritier de Khun Burôm
Chapitre 4. Le Roi Vixun, Coauteur du Nithan Khun Burôm


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