On April 27, 1858, Alexandre Henri Mouhot, aged 31, sailed from London to Bangkok with the aim of exploring the remote interior regions of mainland Southeast Asia. He was particularly interested in ornithology and conchology, but he also had a passion for philology, photography, and foreign languages. Born in 1826 in Montbeliard, France, Mouhot became a Greek scholar, and at the age of 18 went to teach Greek and French at the Military Academy in Saint Petersburg, where he quickly picked up Russian and Polish. At the same time he learned about the new photographic process invented by Daguerre, which he tried out as a new art form during extensive travels to Germany, Belgium, and Italy from 1854 onwards. Two years later, Mouhot settled down in England and married Annette, a relative of the Scottish explorer Mungo Park. John Bowring’s newly published book, The Kingdom and People of Siam (1857) is said to have inspired Mouhot to travel outside Europe, but the growing French presence in mainland Southeast Asia and the adventurous travels of Mungo Park may as well have played a role. Presented here are facsimiles of Sanskrit, Thai, Lao, and Khmer inscriptions from Angkor (present-day Cambodia) and Korat (then Siam, present-day Thailand) made by Mouhot. Also shown are Mouhot's travel documents issued by the Siamese authorities.
Title in Original Language
Alphabets Cambogiens/ รูปอักษรเขมร
Type of Item
- British Library manuscript reference number: Or 4736
- Jana Igunma, “Henri Mouhot’s (almost forgotten) epigraphic notes," Asian and African Studies Blog, November 15, 2013, http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/asian-and-african/2013/11/henri-mouhots-almost-forgotten-epigraphic-notes.html.
Last updated: February 17, 2016