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The New York Times, May 10, 1874, p.4:


    The outer wall of Nagkon Wat—which words signify a city or assemblage of temples or monastaries—about half a mile square, is built of sandstone, with gateways upon each side, which are handsomely carved with figures of gods and dragons, arabesques and intricate scrolls. Upon the western side is the main gateway, and passing through this and up a causeway (paved with slabs of stone three feet in length and two in breadth) for a distance of a thousand feet, you arrive at the central main entrance of the temple. About the middle of the causeway, on either side, are image-houses, much decayed and overgrown with rank parasitic plants; and a little further on are two small ponds, with carved stone coppings, which in most places are thrown down.

    The foundations of Nagkon Wat are as much as ten feet in height, and are very massively built of the same volcanic rock as that used in the construction of the "Angels' Bridge." The entire ediface—which is raised on three terraces, the one about thirty feet above the other—including the roof, is of stone, but without cement, and so closely fitting are the joints as even now to be scarcely discernible.
    The quarry where the stone was hewn is about two day's travel—thirty miles—distant, and it is supposed the transportation of the immense boulders could only have been effected by means of a water communication—a canal or river, or when the country was submerged at the end of the rainy season.

    The shape of the building is oblong, being 796 feet in length and 588 feet in width, while the highest central pagoda rises some 250 odd feet above the ground, and four others, at angles of the court, are each about 150 feet in height.

    Passing between low railings, we ascend a platform—composed of boulders of stone 4 feet in lenght, 1½ feet in width, and 6 inches in thickness—and enter the temple itself through a columned portico, the façade of which is beautifully carved in basso-relievo with ancient mythological subjects. From this doorway, on either side, runs a corridor with a double row of columns, cut—base and capital—from single blocks, with a double, oval-shaped roof covered with carving, and consecutive sculptures upon the outer wall.
    This gallery of sculptures, which forms the exterior of the temple, consists of over half a mile of continuous pictures, cut in basso-relievo upon sandstone slabs 6 feet in width, and represents subjects taken from Hindoo mythology—from the Ramayana—the Sanskrit epic poem of India, with its 25,000 verses describing the exploits of the King of Oudh. The contests of the King of Ceylon, and Hanuman, the monkey god, are graphically represented.

    There is no keystone used in the arch of the corridor, and its ceiling is uncarved. On the walls are sculptured the immense number of 100,000 separate figures (or at least heads.) Entire scenes from the Ramayana are pictured; one, I remember, occupies 240 feet of the wall.
    Weeks might be spent in studying, identifying, and classifying the varied subjects of this wonderful gallery. You see warriors riding upon elephants and in chariots, foot soldiers with shield and spear, boats, unshapely divinities, trees, monkeys, tigers, griffins, hippopotami, serpents, fishes, crockodiles, bullocks, tortises, soldiers of immense physical development, with helmets, and some people with beards—probably Moors.

    The figures stand somewhat like those on the great Egyptian monuments, the side partly turned toward the front; in the case of the men one foot and leg are always placed in advance of the other; and I noticed, besides, five horsemen, armed with spear and sword, riding abreast, like those seen upon the Assyrian tablets in the British Museum.
    In the processions several of the Kings are [indecipherable] by musicians playing upon shells and long bamboo flutes. Some of the Kings carry a sort of battle-ax, others a weapon which much resembles a golf-club, and others are represented as using the bow and arrow.

    In one place is a grotesque divinity who sits, elegantly dressed, upon a throne surmounted by umbrellas; this figure, of peculiar sanctity evidently, has been recently gilded, and before it, upon a small table, there were a dozen or more "joss-sticks" kept constantly burning by the faithful.
    But it is almost useless to particularize when the subjects and style of execution are so diverse. Each side of the long corridor seemed to display figures of distinct feature, dress, and character. These figures are sculptured in high relief (nearly life size) upon the lower parts of the walls about the entrance; all are females, and apparently of Hindoo origin.

    The interior of the quadrangle bounded by the long corridor just described is filled with galleries—halls, formed with huge columns, crossing one another at right angles. In the Nagkon Wat as many as 1,532 solid columns have been counted, and among the entire ruins of Angkor there are reported to be the immense number of 6,000, almost all of them hewn from single blocks and artistically carved. On the inner side of the corridor there are blank windows, each of which contains seven beautifully-turned little columns.
    The ceilings of the galleries were hung with tens of thousands of bats and pigeons, and other birds had made themselves nests in out-of-the-way corners. We pass on up steep staircases, with steps not more than four inches in width, to the centre of the galleries which here bisect one another. In one of the galleries we saw two or three hundred images—made of stone, wood, brass, clay—of all shapes and sizes and ages (some of the large stone idols are said to be 1,400 years old.) "Joss-sticks" were burning before the largest images, which were besides daubed with red paint and partially gilded.

    We walk on across another causeway, with small image-houses on either hand, and up a steep flight of steps, fully thirty feet in height, to other galleries crossing each other in the centre, above which rises the grand central pagoda—250 feet in height—and at the four corners of the court four smaller spires. These latter are much dilapidated, and do not now display their full height; the porticoes also bear evidence of the "heavy hand of time."
    Upon the base of the highest spire are colossal images of Budha—made of plaster—and other smaller divinities in various positions. These figures of Budha are grandly placed, for when the doors of the inclosing rooms are opened, from their high position they overlook the surrounding country; and the priests of Nagkon Wat worship here at the present day...
—From The Land of the White Elephant, by Frank Vincent.

The New York Times, July 24, 1893:



Minister Pavie Preparing to Leave Bangkok
and Board a French Cruiser—The King of Siam Willing to Grant
About Half of the Territory Claimed for Cambodia—
Forts in the Area Surrendered to be Evacuated Within a Month—
Heavy Indemnities Offered to French Subjects.

    PARIS, July 24.—At midnight it was stated that Siam's reply to France's ultimatum is considered unsatisfactory.
    M. Pavie probably will leave Bangkok on Wednesday to go aboard the cruiser Forfait. The refusal of M. Develle, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, to give Siam an extension of time for her reply to the ultimatum is ascribed to his desire to force Siam's hand and prevent her negotiating for British support.

    PARIS, July 23.—Siam's reply was handed to M. Pavie, French Minister Resident in Bangkok, at 2 o'clock Friday afternoon. The forty-eight hours allowed by France's ultimatum for a reply had not then expired. The text of the communication is as follows:

    "M. Le Ministre: In reply to the communication, which, by order of your Government, you handed me on Thursday, July 20, at 6:45 in the evening, his Majesty the King, my august sovereign, charges me to make to you the following declaration:
    "His Majesty regrets that no precise definition has been given him of what his Majesty is to understand by the expression, 'Rights of the Empire of Annam and of the Kingdom of Cambodia on the left bank of the Mekong River and islands of the Mekong River.' His Majesty has been ever ready to abandon all the territories over which the existence of these rights should have been proved, and five months ago his Majesty proposed to submit all contested points to international arbitration.

    "Now he submits to the pressure of circumstances in order to restore peace to his people and security to the numerous commercial interests at stake in his country. His Majesty therefore consents to a delimitation of the frontiers between Siam and Cambodia. All the territory on the left bank of the Mekong River south of a line drawn from the most northerly of the Siamese military posts, recently occupied by the France-Annamite troops, to another point situated in the same latitude, that is, on the 18° north latitude, will be regarded as Annamite and Cambodian territory, the river below the point indicated becoming the line of separation between the neighboring States as far as to the point at which the river enters Cambodian territory, and the use of the islands in the river being common to the three coterminous States.
    "The two Siamese military posts now existing in the above described territory will be evacuated within a month.

    "His Majesty deplores sincerely the losses experienced by both sides in connection with the Kong-Kien and Khammon incidents, as well as the regrettable collision at the mouth of the Menam River. The Bangbien will be liberated and other satisfaction demanded will, if necessary, be given, so far as is compatible with ordinary justice and the independence of the Siamese Government, which the French Government has declared its desire to respect. The four persons found guilty of act of personal aggression, contrary to national or international law, against French subjects, will be punished, and where necessary compensation in money will be made to the relatives of the victims.
    "Long notes have been exchanged by us five times on the subject of certain claims made by French subjects on account of damage alleged to have been suffered by them, owing to the action of Siamese officials. These allegations are contested, however, by the latter. The King, guided by the same considerations as those actuating the foregoing decisions, agrees not to insist on the question of principle, and to hand over to the Government of the French Republic the sum of 2,000,000f. for the benefit of those who suffered the above-mentioned losses.

    "The Siamese Government proposes—without, however, making it a condition—the appointment of a mixed commission to inquire into the question of damages and the amount of money indemnities mentioned Paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of the French Government's demand.
    "The Siamese Government will immediately deposit 3,000,000f. to cover the amoung of indemnifications enumerated above, the deposit ot be made simultaneously with the exchange of notes by the two Governments. His Majesty, having reason to believe that after proper inquiry the sum of 3,000,000 francs will be found to exceed the amoung of indemnities claimable, relies on the justice of the French Government for the refunding of such a balance as shall be available after the settlement of the different cases.
    "The Siamese Government is confident that, in acceding to the demands of the French Government in the manner shown by the foregoing declarations, it has given proof of its sincere desire to maintain good relations with the French Republic, and to settle in the most complete and definitive manner all questions pending between the two Governments."

    The communication is signed by the Siamese Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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    Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, whose Angkor Empire extended over much of Southeast Asia between the 10th and 14th centuries. Subsequently, attacks by the Thai and Vietnamese weakened the empire.

    In 1863, the king of Cambodia placed the country under French protection; it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia became independent within the French Union in 1948 and fully independent in 1953.

    After a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in April 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns; over 1.5 million displaced people died from execution, enforced hardships, or starvation.

    A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy and the final elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999.

    Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial by a UN-sponsored tribunal for crimes against humanity. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed.

    In October 2004, King Norodom SIHANOUK abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Norodom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. Local elections were held in Cambodia in April 2007, and there was little in the way of pre-election violence that preceded prior elections. National elections in July 2008 were relatively peaceful.
    CIA World Factbook: Cambodia

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    The eighteenth parallel of latitude mentioned in the Siamese Government's reply cuts the Mekong River in a line with Khan-Muou, where Capt. Luce is now operating with a French force. The French claim, in fact, fixed the twenty-third parallel as the northern boundary. As the northern frontier of Cambodia is along the fourteenth parallel, Siam in her reply grants only half of the French demands.

    The Paris newspapers, led by the Temps, are conducting a vigorous campaign in favor of the Government's full demands and are warning Great Britain against any interference in the present complication.
    Dispatches from Bangkok this evening say the territorial demands of France are regarded there as very vague. The Siamese, altough intensely excited, are displaying great self-control.

    The Inconstantine. which of all French gunboats in Siamese waters has the greatest draught, will be able to cross the bar easily before July 27, when the monsoon will increase the depth of the water.

The New York Times, May 8, 1938:

King of Cambodia Gets Rid of Half of His 200 Wives

By The Associated Press

    PNOM PENH, Cambodia, April 10 (by mail).—King Sisowath Monivong, ruler of the ancient kingdom of Cambodia, who is reputed to have 200 "dancing girl" wives, find that even a golden-crowned potentate in these lean times cannot afford so many consorts.
    So His Majesty, who now is nearly 60, has decided to reduce the number of his royal favorites by an even half.

    Those who no longer are attached to the King's bed and board will continue their profession as exponents of Cambodia's famous classical dancing, which is known throughout Asia.

    Apparently the King's decision to economize on the number of his dancing wives has the hearty approval of the French Government, whose slender budget for Cambodia will not allow it to increase the King's present civil list and royal allowances, said to amount to 10,000,000 francs a year. Cambodia is a protectorate of France in French Indo-China.

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