SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Within the Shadow of Dancing Shiva: from the Devarāja to the Pañcaksetr

Illustration - Mikaelian - Bordonneau
Eric Bourdonneau and Grégory Mikaelian

Date: 20 June 2018Time: 2:00 PM

Finishes: 20 June 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B204

Type of Event: Workshop


The Devarāja may be understood, in a first approximation, as a tutelary cult of the king and kingship dedicated to Shiva, lord of the worlds. In all likelihood the cult was founded no earlier than the first half of the 10th century, at Chok Gargyar (Koh Ker), an ephemeral capital of the Angkorian period. We will also show that it has a much longer history than previously thought. In its successive forms, the ‘Devarāja’ remained a living cult at the core of the Khmer royal palace until the 20th century in a Buddhist context. We will suggest as well that even far from the royal court, in the everyday life of the people, its legacy appears remarkable. The main goal of this talk will be, then, to demonstrate that it is the uninterrupted series of changes in the meanings and rituals of this cult that has enabled its exceptional continuity for more than one millennium, from the 10th century up to the present day.

Speaker Biographies

Archaeologist and Historian Eric Bourdonneau has been Associate Professor at the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient since 2007. He is currently the Head of the EFEO Center in Siem Reap and teaches Khmer Epigraphy and History of ancient Cambodia at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Using a wide range of source materials, his research on the Devarāja cult develops from an archaeological and art historical base to also make incisive contributions to social and cultural history.

Historian Grégory Mikaelian has been a researcher at the Centre national de recherches scientifiques, Paris,  since 2008. He is currently assistant editor of the journal  Péninsule. Études interdisciplinaires sur l’Asie du Sud-Est Péninsulaire. Specialized in the pre-modern history of Cambodia (the ‘middle period’), his research mainly concerns Khmer Kingship. Recent collaborative work with Eric Bourdonneau has brought him to further interests in the art historical source materials within this context.

Free Event. Please register here.

Event sponsored by the SOAS Centre for Southeast Asian Studies with the generous support of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme, funded by the Alphawood Foundation.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

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