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Epithets and Subordinates: A Postscripts to Sukhothai Epigraphy

  • Christian Bauer


In my discussion of Khmer jā ‘amcās’, Thai pen cau2 “[who] is the Lord”, occurring in Buddhist texts as an epithet for the Buddha himself or his followers and in contexts referring to the Scriptures, the Doctrine, or relics, I cited two instances from the Wat Sri Chum inscription at Sukhothai, Sd.2/#2, dated to the late fourteenth century, and the inscription from Nakhorn Chum, Kamphaeng Phet, Kb.1/# 3, dated to 1357 in which the expressions cau kū and cau rau “my Lord”, “our Lord” occur.



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1 See my contribution “L'épithète du Maître et son origine mône”, in Bizot, François, ed., Le Chemin de Lankā (Paris, Chiangmai, Phnom Penh, 1992), ch. 9, pp. 277–85. The spellings are modern standardized forms. Detailed glosses as well as variant forms in early epigraphic Thai and Old Mon are provided there; ETh. caucau 2 “lord, master”, kū“[pers. pron.] I, me”, rau “[pers. pron.] we, us”. For OM caiques in ETh. see my Sukhothai inscription II: Late Old Mon affinities and their implications for the history of Thai syntax”, BSOAS, LVI, 2 (1993). in press.

2 Griswold, A.B. and Nagara, Prasert na in “King Lödaiya of Sukhodaya and his contemporaries: epigraphic and historical studies No. 10”, JSS, LX, 1 (1972), pp. 21152, translate the passage as “the precious great relics of our [sic] lord” (here p. 131).

3 Or, alternatively, “the holy Buddha, our Lord”. Griswold and Prasert's translation in The epigraphy of Mahādharmarājā 1 of Sukhodaya: epigraphic and historical studies No. 11, part i”, JSS, LXI, 1 (1973), pp. 79111, reads “our Lord the Buddha” (here p. 95).

4 OM citation forms have been regularized here. For the first see DMl, p. 174, for the second DMl, p. 172. For addenda consult my Notes on Mon epigraphy [I]”, JSS, LXXIX, 1, (1991 [1992]), pp. 3183 (here p. 78 and occurrences in Khmer inscriptions p. 44) where earlier occurrences than given in DMl are listed. OM tarla‘ “master, lord”, ‘ey “[personal pronoun, first person] I, me”, poy “[personal pronoun] we, us”.

5 This inscription is not provenanced; based on internal evidence it is to be dated not earlier than 1404. Superscript -ă- occurs only in pre-nasal contexts. Sd.6/#9 used to be regarded as part of a series of three slabs, now registered Sd.6 [#9.1], Sd.7 [#9.2], Sd.8 [#9.3], written in a Khmer variety and not Sukhothai script.

6 Griswold, A.B. and Nagara, Prasert naEpigraphic and historical studies No. 12, Inscription 9”, JSS, LXII, 1 (1974). PP. 89121, adding in a note (p. 106, n. 21): “[…] ‘my lord’ — an honorific for a monk —could mean either ‘His Lordship or ‘Your Lordship’. We take it to mean ‘His Lordship’, i.e. Tilokatilaka; but the statement could also mean: ‘No one can (decide) better than Your Lordship’, i.e. Mahākalyānathera (cf. Coedès, Recueil, p. 127 and no. 1).”

7 Griswold/Prasert, Ibid. Notice that Griswold/Prasert translate the first person plural pronoun ETh. ro with the English singular.

8 Sd.2.B.20 was previously read as cau2…cau rau låk hay kadām brah mahādhātu; a newly proposed reading of the same passage does not recognize cau2 rau, read now as (n cau2) (‘au) khau leåk ka kadāṁ… For exact source references see BSOAS, LVI, 2 (1993), passim

9 “The Buddha, Our Lord”.

10 BSOAS, LVI, 2 (1993), passim.

11 Variant form ‘e’.

12 Attested only in OM frescoes, and there denoting “he, him”.

13 Variants attested include ḍeḤh, ḍeh, ḍe, ḍa, and may also refer to inanimates. Anaphoric use is predominant.

14 Shorto interprets pronominal clitics t’eh etc. as contractions of ta’ “ [plural clitic]” and ‘eḤ.

15 As for the pronominal plural clitic t’eh being reanalyzed as simple plural ETh. hlāy, see the author's The Wat Sri Chum jātaka glosses reconsidered”, JSS, LXXX, 1 (1992), in press.

16 In ETh, two distinct pronominal systems can be distinguished, occurs only in Sd.37 / #95, about contemporaneous with Sd.6–8, apart from Sd. 1. pheia is confined to Sd. 1, Sd.37 and Sd. 11 / # 14 of 1536. There are also correlations between the occurrence of man and kho, man being attested in Sd.I, Sd.I I, Sd. 17 / #38 (1373?)andSd.15/# 45 (1392).

17 BSOAS, LVI, 2 (1993). My statement, though, still holds if one takes the view that K 413 is one of the earliest Middle Khmer inscriptions, and not Old Khmer anymore. Arguments in favour of such a view are the defricativization in complex initials and medials, such as OKhm, wr-> EMKhm. br-, OKhm. -mw-> EMKhm. -mb-, and the absence of the subordinate/attributive marker man. In K 413.D.2 only sentence-initial man occurs. By contrast, the occurrence of markers such as “[locative]” and the aforementioned anaphoric man betray its Old Khmer connections. K 413 shares certain grammatical characteristics with K 144, K 489 and K 177, a Pali—Khmer inscription which Cœdès characterized as “intermédiaire entre celle des inscriptions d'époque angkorienne et celle des inscriptions d'époque médiévale, et elle est farcie des mots pāli” (Inscriptions du Cambodge (Paris, 1964), vii, pp. 37–9 [here p. 37]).

18 Conventionally known as the “Mango Grove inscription”; in fact, they are regarded as a set of two quadrifacial pillars, one registered as Sd.3, formerly #54 Cœdès's inventory K 413, written in Khmer, the other Ay. 1, formerly # 5, written in Thai. The exact original location of these inscriptions in Sukhothai is not known. The two texts are largely parallel without, however, being verbatim translations. For earlier studies see references in Griswold, A.B. and Nagara, Prasert na, JSS, LXI, 1 (1973), op. cit., pp. 71178, for K 413 / Sd. 3 / # 4 pp. 127–44, for Ay. 1 / # 5 pp. 145–59 and Pou, Saveros, “Inscription dite de Brai Svāy ou ‘Bois des manguiers’ de Sukhoday”, BEFEO, LXV (1978), pp. 333–59.

19 Griswold/Prasert translate as follows: “…he sent a royal pandita to invite the Mahāśāmi to come from Nagara Bann [sc. following the sentence closure # ], who observes the precepts, who has studied the Three Piṭakas in their entirety, and who has resided in where there are teachers of the precepts like the saints of old” (Griswold/Prasert, op. cit., p. 139); Pou largely follows this translation: “[envoya] une lettre de cour pour inviter un Grand Maître , pourvu des vertus religieuses, connaissant la Triple Corbeille en entier, qui résidait dans 1'île de , laquelle fournit des maîtres religieux comparables aux saints traditionnels” (Pou, op. cit., pp. 349–50). Griswold/Prasert and Pou interpret the last occurrence of ta in the context ta mān śilācāryy as being subordinate to the head ; but it can also be interpreted, especially if parallels from early Thai and Mon inscriptions are adduced, from which I think this pattern diffused, as if referring back to the head mahāśāmi . But even if my assumption was incorrect K 413 would still be exceptional in having two clauses subordinated to the same head by ta. In the corresponding Thai text (Ay. 1) Griswold/Prasert translate the Thai passage in question (see here Table I(a)) as “many Mahāsāmīs living in…” (Griswold/Prasert, op. cit., pp. 156–7), and presumably inferred from this interpretation their reading of the Khmer text; however, it should be noted here, as shown in Table 1, that the Khmer and Thai texts are not identical; in the Thai version it is unambiguous that both ‘ann clauses, ‘ann/’ayūl1 nay [ ] ann mī sīlācār / rab jaww kån, refer to the same head [ ] nakk mahāsāmī; yet, this head does not occur at all in the Khmer text, and therefore 1 interpret the corresponding Khmer ta clause to be subordinated to the head mahāśāmi in B.12 of K 413.

20 In Table I a longer segment has been selected; in its very first occurrence ta in K 413.B.10 fulfils a different syntactic function, corresponding to Thai nay “[locative]“ In the second case one finds in the Thai text simply a juxtaposition without any linking marker, K 413 ta mān śil ryyan cap brah pitakatray, Ay.I mī sīlācār lē rū brah /(ray).

21 Several occurrences of ta in the same sentence are attested in Khmer inscriptions of all periods, pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and Early Middle Khmer, but in these cases ta has different functions and does not subordinate, or link, a number of clauses to, or with, a single head. Cases such as K 22.38–9 wnur man [–]ak wrah kamratāñ luc lak añ ti ‘añ oy wrah kloñ ‘añ show “stacking”, but not in the way it is defined here: man and ti are indeed subordinate to the same noun-head, wnur, but stacking refers to constructions in which the subordinate marker is the same; notice that here in K 22 ta [underlined] acts as preposition “[benefactive]”, just as it does in OM. For a discussion of ta and subordination in Khmer generally see Jenner, P.N., “The role of ta in pre-Angkorian Khmer”, ASEMI, XII, 1–2 (1981), pp. 7590, and his “The form in Angkorian Khmer”, in: Davidson, J.H.C.S. (ed.) Austroasiatic Languages — Essays in Honour of H. L. Shorto (London, 1991), pp. 227–40; for a different interpretation of ta and see J. M. Jacob “A diachronic survey of some Khmer particles (7th to 17th centuries)”, Ibid., pp. 193–225.

22 In a footnote Pou draws attention to this construction in K 413, without, however, elaborating (Pou, op. cit., p. 350). Even if diffusion from Mon into Khmer, possibly via Thai, is discounted — and one should remember that K 413 is Early Middle Khmer and originates from the northern periphery of what is today central Thailand — the Khmer ta stacking is still structurally parallel to Mon ma stacking. Unusual in K 413 is also that the occurrence of mān in K 413.A.10 which is a structural equivalent of ta mān; the collocation mān is not attested elsewhere in OKhm. The following orthographic variation in K 413 should also be noted: s-∼ śin native words such as sruk ∼ śruk (in B.21, B.21, B.32, C.50 and A.8 respectively), or -s- ∼-s-in loans, such as ‘abhisek (A.12) ∼ ‘abhisek (C.48), dis (B.56, D.16) ∼ dis (B.16, B.17, B.53), pratisthā (B.40) ∼ pratisthā (A.52, B.55); lexical variation in the use of honorific epithets such as EMKhm. brah > OKhm. wraḥ occurs in

K 413.B.15 laṁtap sān brah kuti wihār brai swāy

K 413.B.24 nā kuti wihārasthān #

“to build kuttis and a vihāra in the Mango Grove”

“where the kutis and the vihāra had been built”


K 413.B.27 thwe brah pūjā kriyā cren

K 413.B. 19 thwe pūjā trā/p mārgg

“[he] paid homage by [offering] so many things”

“and paid him homage along the way ”

although in both cases one might argue that brah precedes a compound noun, or, alternatively, that pūjā in the brah context must be analyzed as a noun whereas pūjā in B. 19 could be analyzed as a serialized verb construction; this would still leave us, however, with variation in the use of brah in the first instance.

23 For a summary discussion see Jacob 1991, op. cit. I agree with Jacob's analysis in that ti should be regarded as marking focus, rather than encoding voice as Jenner and Pou suggest. The use of ‘ann in Ay.i actually strengthens the argument for rejecting ti to be interpreted as a passive marker, ti is not attested in Middle Khmer.

24 Such as gi, mān, or other verbs.


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