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Conclusion Henri Mouhot was one of the widely admired explorers of the 19th century who came to Southeast Asia. Mouhot arrived in via Singapore in Bangkok and used it as a base for his four journeys into the inner parts of Siam , Cambodia and Laos. A sketch of Henri Mouhot.
That is factually wrong; other Westerners visited Angkor since the 16th century several times. Though, Mouhots posthumously published travel narration made the Angkor site for the first time popular in Europe. According to his brother Charles he left the family in the age of eighteen and travelled to Russia, where he spent some ten years and gained a professorship in philology. Mouhot travelled also through Europe and was fascinated by early photography, developed by Louis Daguerre.
He married an English women who was supposedly the granddaughter of the famous Scottish early 19th century Africa explorer Mungo Park. They lived for a while on the isle Jersey. Interestingly, French institutions declined financial support, which was granted finally by the British Royal Geographical Society and the Zoological Society of London. His tasks were collecting animals and sending them back to England as Alfred Russel Wallace did at the same time further southwards , describing the countries and people and mapping the areas he would travel to.
T ravelling Indochina The king of Siam Mongkut, reign and the queen. Image drawn after a photograph of the time. The worst thing he describes were the mosquitoes who were around in great amounts at day and night. Ayutthaya was an easy starter for travelling inner Indochina , because it is close to Bangkok and was already known by Westerners.
After coming back to Bangkok he prepared for a second journey along the coasts east of Bangkok, travelling via Chantaburi passing by Koh Kong on boat and entering the port of Kampot. I placed three quotations on the Kampot page where he described the place and met the king of Cambodia in an audience.
After visiting Kampot Mouhot travelled the land road to Phnom Penh and Udong, where he met the second king of Cambodia in another audience. Next he visited some mountain tribes somewhat riverupwards the Mekong River. In one of his letters to the Royal Geographical Society he describes the area as close to Laos and Vietnam.
That sounds much for the area what is now Ratanakiri. He spent two month among the Stieng people, apparently one of the hill tribes, before he turned to Angkor. Mouhot spent only three weeks in Angkor and went on then via Battambang back to Bangkok. The view of Bangkok in the year In the background Wat Arun, Thonburi. Image after a sketch of Mouhot. F irst Reflexions on Mouhot Mouhot started studying natural sciences from on, only two years before he left Europe.
His scientific orientation was accordingly superficial. In many things he describes in his books he was wrong or very wrong.
He believed also, that these fevers were produced from gasses who come out of the river waters. He believed that the water streamupwards was mixed with certain minerals and other substances who would cause the fever.
The scientific proof that malaria is transfered by mosquitoes was done later, in Mouhot was a strong Christian believer of Protestant confession. The religious devotion is evident for him, scientific thinking is minor. When he came to places inhabited by a western community, he always stayed together with the western almost always French missionaries. The local Buddhist religion and all the superstitions among the native people he came in contact with were for him merely manifestations of the barbarous and primitive ignorance of the existence of the only one and true Christian god.
When once established it came clearly out that the central intention was in fact the profane exploitation of the colonialized countries and people. Mouhot also utters at many occasions racist ideas in his books. Racism was very popular in the 19th and 20th century. Although Mouhot is in many publications not seen as an advocate for western colonialization, he favours the idea in several parts of his books.
He expresses his regret for that the natural richnesses of the countries he visited are not developed in an industrial and commercial manner. It lies near to Cochin China, the subjection of which France is now aiming at, and in which she will doubtless succeed: under her sway it will become a land of plenty.
I wish her to possess this land, which would add a magnificent jewel to her crown; but it is also my earnest desire that she may make a judicious choice of governors, and that the name of France, my dear and beautiful country, may be loved, respected, and honoured in the extreme East, as it should be everywhere.
Populist Napoleon III hold dictatorial power, based on the army and the church. Members of the opposition like Victor Hugo and Alexis de Tocqueville had to leave the country or got imprisoned as the latter. Political prisoners faced deportation to the notorious devils island Ile du Diable. Napoleon III was a guarantor for the bourgeoisie to clean France up of revolutionaries of all kind, persecuting the followers of the ideas of and The foreign politics were aggressive and expansive.
In his reign France was involved in a number of wars. The example of the road construction up to Bokor Hill Station in Cambodia gives a lively insight of what kind of government the colonial rule later was factually. On page he then elaborates all the economic aspects and benefits for a colonial power who takes Cambodia over and lists up all the riches of the country including the potentials for the implementation of agricultural monocultures as cotton and resine production and the various kinds of precious timber who can be made to money by logging the forests.
The reports of the Chinese and Annamites who had seen the taking of the town of Saigou were not flattering to the pride of a Frenchman. I had not seen the glorious bulletins of our Admiral, but had the pain of hearing our enemies stigmatise us as barbarians, and, describing the burning of the market, and the conduct of the soldiery towards defenceless women, speak of it as "the behaviour of savages. Attrocities are excused by the suffering of the poor soldiers murderers, robbers and rapists under the climate.
Mouhot does not care for the reports of the victims, but longs for the "glorious bulletins of our Admiral" - who was the butcher-in-chief and is the last to be expected to give a fair statement, but put war crime in a civilized order. These ever repeated phrases are a witness for Mouhots arrogant ethnocentric view, denying the fact that the really nasty war crimes in colonial history were always committed by western conquerers.
Christians like him. Another remarkable notion takes place in a conversation with the second king of Cambodia in Udong. The second king bemoans that Cambodia, his kingdom, lost so much territory to the invading Vietnamese. In the time were already many French missionaries spread in communities over Cambodia. Whenever he met them, Mouhot stayed with them. When Mouhot came to the surroundings of Phnom Penh he met a French priest who made a lot of speculations about the origins of the Cham people called the Thiames by Mouhot , who populate south Vietnam and parts of Cambodia.
This priest was convinced of the Israelite decent of the Chams. Mouhot completely believed this absurd theory and wrote several pages about it. It sounds like that Comparing this with other missionary accounts, and the traces of these people found elsewhere, who will doubt that the torch of truth, which shone formerly between the great sea and Jordan, also shed its light over the extreme East? Whether, to explain these facts, we consider the commercial relations of the Jews with these countries, particularly when, in the height of their power, the combined fleets of Solomon and Hiram went to seek the treasures of Ophir a generic name used perhaps to designate the two Indies , or whether we come lower down, to the dispersion of the Ten Tribes, who, instead of returning from captivity, set out from the banks of the Euphrates and reached the shores of the ocean—whatever ground of explanation we resolve upon, the shining of the light of revelation in the far East is not the less incontestable.
One seldom reads such a bare nonsense. The romantic view on the the 19th century explorer and jungle hero. The servants care for the food, Mouhot is writing down his newest experiences, the rifle always close to him, in the background the elephant s. Many Westerners see Mouhot still in this way. In fact he was an agent for western colonial interests. His task was to map the countries he visited, explore their richnesses in natural resources and to hunt and collect animals and sent them to Europe.
In his travel narratives he does not express a really deeper interest in the countries or their people. The Indochinese people are described by him exclusively negative. He is looking down on the Indochinese with mere contempt. V isiting Angkor Henri Mouhot was the first Westerner who made the civilization of Angkor widely known in the west.
Falsely he is sometimes called the discoverer of Angkor. There are some other records by Westerners who were over the centuries in Angkor. In the province still bearing the name of Ongcor So civilised, so enlightened, the authors of these gigantic works?
One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michael Angelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged. However, falsely he also claims that all the Angkorean temples were dedicated to Buddhism Volume I, p. He describes then Angkor Wat in some details, particularly the bas reliefs: The punishments of the infernal regions, on the contrary, are varied and numerous; and while the elected, who are enjoying themselves in Paradise, are all fat and plump, the poor condemned beings are so lean that their bones show through their skin, and the expression of their faces is pitiful and full of a most comic seriousness.
Some are being pounded in mortars, while others hold them by the feet and hands; some are being sawn asunder; others are led along, like buffaloes, with ropes through their noses. In other places the comphubal executioners are cutting men to pieces with sabres; while a crowd of poorwretches are being transfixed by the tusks of elephants, or on the horns of rhinoceros. Fabulous animals are busy devouring some; others are in irons, and have had their eyes put out.
In the centre sits the judge with his ministers, all sabre in hand, and the guilty are dragged before them by the hair or feet. In the distance is visible a furnace and another crowd of people under punishment, being tortured in divers ways—impaled, roasted on spits, tied to trees and pierced with arrows, suspended with heavy weights attached to their hands and feet, devoured by dogs or vultures, or crucified with nails through their bodies.
These bas-reliefs are perfect; the rest are inferior in workmanship and expression. He admires greatness; the immense human suffering behind, the price for the gigantomanic buildings, are of no concern for him. He is instead mourning the loss of records of all the Angkorean heroes, warriors and artisans, who are lost for history, dying without leaving traces for the afterworld How many centuries and thousands of generations have passed away, of which history, probably, will never tell us anything: what riches and treasures of art will remain for ever buried beneath these ruins; how many distinguished men—artists, sovereigns, and warriors—whose names were worthy of immortality, are now forgotten, laid to rest under the thick dust which covers these tombs!
A generation is counted by historians between 25 to 30 years. In the first he can not come to a conclusion, in the second he dated the Angkorean ruins 2, or more years back. To what epoch does it owe its origin? As before remarked, neither tradition nor written inscriptions furnish any certain information upon this point; or rather, I should say, these latter are as a sealed book for want of an interpreter The state of decay of many of these structures would indicate even a greater age; but they probably date from the dispersion of the Indian Buddhists, which took place several centuries before the Christian era, and which led to the expatriation of thousands of individuals.
Poccourt from a sketch by H. The chirp of the cricket alone breaks the stillness. I was intrigued by this extraordinary human being, and felt compelled to reflect upon the little-known man. For nearly three years, from until his death in Laos in , Henri Mouhot explored the inner regions of Thailand known as Siam at that time , Cambodia and Laos.
Why change the site?
Early life[ edit ] He traveled throughout Europe with his brother Charles, studying photographic techniques developed by Louis Daguerre. In , he began devoting himself to the study of Natural Science. Upon reading "The Kingdom and People of Siam" by Sir John Bowring in , Mouhot decided to travel to Indochina to conduct a series of botanical expeditions for the collection of new zoological specimens. His initial requests for grants and passage were rejected by French companies and the government of Napoleon III.