Item description for Art & Archaeology of Fu Nan by James C. M. Khoo...
The pre-Khmer culture of Funan played an important role in maritime trade in southeast Asia, as early as the first few centuries of the Common Era. Abundant evidence exists for wide trade links within the region, and possibly also with Mediterranean people. Chinese annals also contain tantalising references to this kingdom, still largely unknown, despite its pivotal role as the early precursor of the Khmer culture. In this book, seven authorities on this rich early civilization describe its material remains, including architecture, sculpture, metalwork, jewellery and pottery, as well as trade wares which include, among many other riches, Roman coins.
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A must-have for Southeast Asian scholars and devotees Oct 29, 2008
Funan, or Fu Nan, is often conceived as the first full-fledged Southeast Asian state which flourished in the first half of the first millennium C.E. on international trade routes between India and China. Most scholars, however, doubt that it was a state and prefer to speak about an agglomerate of chiefdoms or a kingdom. Despite these scholarly debates, it's a well-known fact that one of Funan's ports, Ok Eo, was a great trade centre whose commercial connections covered vast areas reaching the Roman Empire as well as China. The monograph edited by James Khoo contains papers written by different scholars. The current state of the Funan problem is investigated by John Miksic. Vo Si Khai describes the archaeological culture of Ok Eo and gives a survey of its history. Miriam Stark discusses the archaeology of the Lower Mekong Delta. Heidi Tan studies a pottery of the Ok Eo culture whereas Kwa Chong Guan reconstructs a historiography of Pre-Angkorian Art. Ha Du Han and James Khoo take under examination some religious sculptures found in the Mekong Delta. To my mind, the monograph is a must-have for anyone who carries research on early Southeast Asia as it gives a full picture of our knowledge of Funan. I know no other detail survey of the Ok Eo culture comparable with that of Vo Si Khai's. His paper also contains some translations of the inscriptions and Chinese chronicles referring to Funan. John Miksic's paper shows many problems needing future research: Who were the inhabitants of Funan, how it was organized, did it have a real currency, why it disappeared, and so on. In some cases the monograph has inaccuracies. For example, a gold strip with repousse inscription found at Go Xoai is pictured on p. 74 but when it's mentioned on the p. 56, the reader does not find a reference to the picture. The text is defined as written in Sanskrit but its transliteration and translation are omitted. By the way, I should repeat that it's a must-have for anyone interested in early Southeast Asian history as it's the only monograph completely concerning to Funan. (I also highly recommend Michael Vickery's paper on the subject published in the Bulletin de l'Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient in 2003).