More than 1,000 years ago, the Khmer civilization began blossoming in Southeast Asia. In the following centuries, the Khmer changed the art, architecture and culture of the entire region. In the millennium that followed kingdoms rose and fell as people throughout the region fought and loved, sharing and intermingling their creativity, ideas, dreams and destiny.
Today, the modern lands of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam use the latest technology. But there we also see ancient traditions that stretch back to the roots of these rich lands.
Told over countless generations, folktales reveal the essence of these people. Legends express origin myths and sacred ideals, the humor and aspirations of the people, and they can even preserve historical truths, hidden in what seems to be innocent fiction.
DatAsia Press presents a series of legendary Southeast Asian works in English, French and Khmer, allowing modern readers to once again enjoy tales that have entertained for generations.
The Naga Prince
Originally published as “The Serpent Prince – Folktales from Northeastern Thailand” in 1969.
In 1963, Kermit Krueger joined the Peace Corps to begin the greatest adventure of his life…and he had no idea where that adventure would take place.
John F. Kennedy had just founded the Peace Corps and they were seeking projects around the world where Americans could contribute to local cultures. Kermit was soon sent to teach English to future teachers in Mahasarakham, Thailand, located in “Isan” as Northeast Thailand is known.
One brilliant assignment he gave his students was to write down folktales and legends they heard growing up in their home villages. His students came from all over Isan and their papers became a “folktale time-machine.”
His students, then in their early 20s, recalled stories told in the villages in the 1940s. Parents and grandparents who told these tales heard them when they were young in the early 20th century.
The 1969 edition of the book included less than half of the tales Kermit collected. The new DatAsia edition will include more than 40 of these rare, entertaining legends, preserved by storytellers of the region for more than a century.
Tales of the Hare
The Asian Kingdom of Cambodia has many ancient legends about powerful jungle animals. But in this surprising book you’ll meet an unlikely hero: a small rabbit!
As you’ll discover in these 27 classic folktales, Mr. Hare uses his brain to make up for his size. Time and again he outsmarts huge elephants, hungry crocodiles, fierce tigers…and even men!
Khmer language expert and translator Chhany Sak-Humphry presents Mr. Hare’s tales here in Khmer and English, with side-by-side translation, so students of both languages will continue his tradition. Now available on Amazon.com.
Cambodian Legends Collected by G.H.Monod
In 1922, Guillaume Henri Monod published “Légendes cambodgiennes que m’a contées le gouverneur Khieu“. As the title implies, the stories are based on a Cambodian governor’s account of these classic tales. This fascinating collection of legends entertains readers with psychology, humor and clever insights into Cambodian people and their culture.
Khmer folktales in the book include:
The Father Who Chooses a Son-in-Law
Apuk Khmek Roeus Kaun Prâsa
Tales of Alev
- How Alev Became an Orphan
- How Alev Arranged a Romance
- How Alev Taught His Father to Make Money
- How Alev Took a Bride
- How Alev Fought the Pirates
- How Alev Saved the Pirate Village from Ghosts
- How Alev Became Wealthy
Kung the Courageous
The Tale of the Female Partridge and the Male Partridge
Roeung Totea nhee, chmaol
- The Princess Who Would Speak To No Man
- The Brilliance of Stupidity
- The Princess and the Four Magicians
- The Man Who Swallowed His Wife
- The Four Women of Siam
- Turpolpheap and the Secret of the Soul
The Foundation of Angkor
In this new edition, Cambodian scholar Solang Uk translates these tales to English for the first time, adding a foreword with his own perspectives of life in Cambodia. Fascinating, funny and always entertaining these tales preserve the oral traditions of his birth country. In 2010, Solang and his wife Beling Uk released a new English translation of the 12th century account book, A Record of Cambodia’s Land and Customs by Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan.