Viṣṇuvarman in the Golden Peninsula

  • Nicolas Revire Thammasat University, Bangkok


This article develops from recent numismatic studies and discoveries made at the site of Khuan Luk Pat, in Khlong Thom district, Krabi province of Peninsular Thailand. Some of the gold coins found there are inscribed on the reverse with the name Viṣuvama in Prakrit, possibly equivalent to Viṣṇuvarman in Sanskrit, and may refer to a local Indianized ruler of the first centuries CE. This would be the earliest royal title suffixed by °varman that we know for a king in Thailand. This Vaiṣṇava name, moreover, has, to date, not been found in the rest of mainland Southeast Asia, although there are a few epigraphic occurrences ascribed to Viṣṇuvarman known in South Asia from the late 1st century BCE to the 6th century CE. In addition, and most remarkably, an inscribed seal from the 5th–6th century discovered long ago in Peninsular Malaysia contains the same name in Sanskrit, thus giving rise to speculation regarding the identity and relationship between these two Viṣṇuvarmans uncovered in the Golden Peninsula.


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