Earth in Flower

Earth in Flower

Earth in Flower is a comprehensive historical analysis of Southeast Asia’s most esoteric female performing art: the ancient Khmer classical dance formerly known as the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. Over the past millennium, these women were living goddesses, priestesses, performers, queens, concubines, hostages and diplomats.

In May 2008, the first print edition of Earth in Flower will be released revealing complete details of this dance tradition and offering new insights into the origins and spiritual basis of this unique performing art.

Research History

A wartime twist of fate during Cambodia's tumultuous Lon Nol regime made University of Hawaii researcher Paul Cravath one of the only Westerners in history to gain full access to the formerly sequestered troupe of royal dancers, their teachers, theater and archives. Following primary research in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, the author spent ten years doing archival and primary research in the United States. After submitting the study as his doctoral thesis, the paper was only seen by a handful of researchers on microfilm available from UMI
The primary sources that the Cambodian Ministry of Culture made available to the author where themselves unique. Even more critical was the time he gathered the information; between January and April, 1975. The author escaped Phnom Penh on a military transport with his research intact on April 6, 1975; the city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 15th, beginning one of the most destructive genocides in human history. Under the Khmer Rouge, most of the people and archives the author accessed were destroyed. It is estimated that 90% of Cambodia's dancers and teachers perished.

Beginning in 2005, the publisher and author collaborated to issue a publicly available edition of this research to add to the cultural record of the Cambodian people. The book edition of Earth in Flower contains the complete original thesis with additional photos, new graphics, and supplemental information.

About the Cover

Saem in Her Festival Attire By Jean Despujols

In the 1930’s, Saem was a dancer with Princess Wongat Say Sangvann’s royal troupe in Phnom Penh. The princess married the youngest son of King Sisowath Monivong, Prince Yong Kath, when she herself was a royal dancer. Saem’s skill impressed the princess, who adopted her as a foster child. In 1937, Despujols painted Saem on the Rainbow Bridge at Angkor Wat where special dance performances were held; she holds her right hand in the classic gesture symbolizing a flower.

Saem’s “Cinderella story” embodies the history of the Cambodian dance tradition and the hope of Cambodia’s future. In ancient times, girls from all levels of society pledged their service to temples and to learning the dance. Saem’s devotion to the art led to her royal adoption. Her story speaks to the modern Spirit of Cambodia, empowering women and men from every level in society to participate in the Khmer Renaissance.

The Artist - Jean Despujols

Jean Despujols gained renown early in his career when he won the Prix de Rome scholarship in 1914. In 1936, the Société des Artistes Coloniaux in Paris selected Despujols to travel throughout French Indochina to record his impressions on canvas and paper. His evocative works were only exhibited a few times until 1969 when they became part of the permanent collection of the Meadows Museum of Art at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Meadows Museum of Art granted permission to feature this artwork on the cover of Earth in Flower.

Table of Contents

Earth in Flower - The Divine Mystery of the Cambodian Dance Drama

TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES & ILLUSTRATIONS

PUBLISHER’S INTRODUCTION

NOTES ON TRANSLITERATION

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE FOOTNOTES

AUTHOR’S INTRODUCTION

AUTHOR’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

PREFACE

CHAPTER I
SOURCES OF THE STUDY

Historical Perspective of the Present Study
Structure of the Present Study

CHAPTER II
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF PRE-ANGKOREAN DANCE

Earliest Evidence of Dance in Southeast Asia
Cultural Similarities throughout Southeast Asia
Dance in Funeral Rites and Megalithic Cultures
Royal Genealogy Derived from Apsaras
The Devarāja, Source of the King's Power
Pre-Angkorean Temple Dance
Sculptural Evidence
Jayavarman II and Javanese Influence

CHAPTER III
ANGKOREAN DANCE: 802-1431

Angkorean Cosmology
Religious Syncretism
The Myth of the Origin of Dance
Temple Dance
Court Dance
The Devatā
The Apsaras Prior to Angkor Wat
The Apsaras of Angkor Wat
Twelfth Century Dance
Dance in the Reign of Jayavarman VII
The Dancer in Late Angkorean Bronze
Post-Bayon Period Dance
The Fate of Angkorean Dance

CHAPTER IV
KHMER DANCE: 1431-1981

The Fifteenth Century

The Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries
The 1688 Account of La Loubere

Dance in the Early Nineteenth Century

Dance in the Reign of Ang Duong (1841-1859)

Dance in the Reign of Norodom (1860-1904)
''' Thai Dancers at Norodom's Court
Early European Accounts of Dance

Dance in the Reign of Sisowath (1904-1927)
The Khmer Dancers in France
Condition and Finances of the Lakhon
Politics and Chanchhaya Pavilion
Dance Personnel and Activities
Non-Royal Dance
French Attitudes Toward the Dance

Dance in the Reign of Monivong (1928-1941)
The Contribution of Princess Say Sangvann
The Contribution of Khun Meak
The Water Festival
Monivong's Dancers
The Thai Perspective

Dance in the Sihanouk Era (1941-1970)
Relations with the French Government
The Contribution of Princess Kossamak
Occasions of Performance
Performance Locations
The "Friendship" Dance
Dance Personnel

Dance in the Republic (1970-1975) and After
The American Tour
Dance During the Siege
The Contribution of Chheng Phon
The End of the Republic
The Contribution of Mom Kamel
The Contribution of Phan Phuong

Classical Dance in Kampuchea
The School of Fine Arts

CHAPTER V
THE MYTHOLOGICAL FOUNDATION OF KHMER DANCE

The Myth of Liu Ye
The Myth of Nāgī Somā
The Myths of the Apsaras Mera and the Nāgī Earth Spirit
The Legend of Neang Neak and Preah Thong
The Primordial Maiden as Serpent

The Primordial Maiden as Tree Spirit
The Primordial Maiden and the Moon
The Primordial Maiden as Earth Spirit
The Unity of the Primordial Maiden
Complementary Dualism in the Dance Drama
The Dancer in Female Roles
The Dancer in Male Roles
The Dancer in Yakkha and Monkey Roles
The Archetype of the Androgyne

CHAPTER VI
THE MODERN REPERTOIRE OF THE DANCE DRAMA

The Dramatic Repertoire: Roeung
Dramatic Themes
The Dance Repertoire: Robam

CHAPTER VII
MUSIC. CHOREOGRAPHY & STAGING

MUSIC AND CHANT IN THE DANCE DRAMA
Music History
The Sralay
The Sampho
The Skor Tom
The Roneat
The Kong
The Chhing and Khrab
Rehearsal Melodies
Musical Structure of Entrances and Exits
Dramatic Structure of Entrances and Exits
Pinpeat Melodies
The Chanters

CHOREOGRAPHY IN THE DANCE DRAMA
Khmer Choreography
The Kbach
The Hand Gestures
The Emotions
Floor Patterns
Style of Choreography

STAGING THE DANCE DRAMA
Staging Techniques
The Kré
Floor PIan
Representational Elements
Lighting and Curtains
Back Drops and Set Pieces
Scene Changes
Stage Attendants

CHAPTER VIII
THE ROYAL DANCER: TRAINING & COSTUMES DANCER TRAINING

Entrance to Training
Group Training
Role Training
Teaching Method
Mental Qualities of the Dancer
The Annual Awards Ceremony
Life Style of the Palace Dancers

DANCER COSTUMES
The Costume Room
The Costumes: Some General Distinctions
Masculine Role Costumes
Feminine Role Costumes
Headgear and Flowers
Masks
Hand Props and Fingernails

CHAPTER IX
THE RITUAL FUNCTION OF KHMER DANCE

Dance as a Traditional Offering
The Ceremony of Buong Suong
The Dancer and Spirit Mediumship
The Sampho Drum and the Spirit World
Face Makeup and the Spirit World
The Tway Kru Ceremony and Bai Sei Offerings
The Sampeah Kru Ceremony
Lakhon Khol and the Spirit World
Analogous Mask Empowerments
The Ritual's End

CHAPTER X
CONCLUSION

APPENDICES

I. The Royal Palace Theatre, ca.1910
II. Royal Palace Performance Programs King Monivong Reign 1941-1961
III. The Structure of Chorus, Orchestra and Dance Components
IV. Repertoire of the Pinpeat Orchestra
About the Author
Publisher’s Notes - The story behind Earth in Flower

ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE BIBLIOGRAPHY

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

References

Complete bibliography and source materials for Earth in Flower (PDF download available from book information site)

Complete Table of Contents and Photo Index (PDF download available from book information site)

Books and Articles Citing Earth in Flower

Apsara: The Feminine in Cambodian Art by Amy Catlin. JSTOR Asian Music, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Autumn, 1990 - Winter, 1991), pp. 173-174
The Cambridge Guide to Asian Theatre by James R. Brandon, 1993.
Dance in Cambodia by Toni Samantha Phim, Ashley Thompson, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-9835600593
Dance of Life by Julie B. Mehta, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-9812180858
Domesticating the Empire: Race, Gender, and Family Life in French and Dutch Colonialism Edited by Julia Ann Clancy-Smith, Frances Gouda, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0813917818
Khmer Court Dance JSTOR, Asian Music, Vol. 25, No. 1/2, 25th Anniversary Double Issue (1993 - 1994), pp. 322-326
Ethnomusicology by Helen Myers, 1993. ISBN 0393033783
"Female Imagery in Ancient Khmer Sculpture," by Dr. Robert L. Brown in Apsara: The Feminine in Khmer Art, ed. Amy Catlin (Los Angeles: the Woman's Building, 1987):6-10
Oxford Journals: The Changing Religious Beliefs and Ritual Practices among Cambodians in Diaspora by Chean Rithy Men, 2002.
PDF - Selected Resources - People from Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam Compiled by Judy Lewis, 1993.
Sasagawa Hideo: Post/colonial Discourses on the Cambodian Court Dance Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 42, No. 4, March 2005
Southeast Asian Languages and Literatures: A Bibliographical Guide to... By Ernst Ulrich Kratz, 2002.

External links Earth in Flower

Earth in Flower book website
Center for Khmer Studies - Acquisition Request for Donation of Earth in Flower

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