A Change of Guard

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Friday, 23 July 2010

The Khmer-Thai Royal Family Tree

Double click to read this family tree diagram.

By Khmerization
23rd July, 2010

1. Introduction

It is intriguing to learn that the Khmer and Thai royal families share the same ancestry. After an extensive search, I was able to obtain some crucial ancestry data and family lineage that have linked the two royal families together. What is more interesting is that both royal families were linked to the feudalistic family of Abhaiwongse, the rulers of Cambodia’s Battambang province and the aristocratic family of Bunnag, the most prominent and powerful family of ancient Thailand. With these interesting information, I will piece the jigsaw puzzles together in an attempt to link their ancestry in the article below.

2. The Khmer-Thai royal families are of Persian-Mon descent

Both the Khmer and Thai royal families were descended from the Persian (Iranian) (1) and Mon ancestry (2). The first Persians to have come to Siam was Sheikh Ahmad the Persian Muslim merchant, along with his brother Muhamad Sa-id and his subordinates, who settled in Siam around 1600. Sheikh Ahmad was native to Qom, Safavid Iran, south of Tehran. Sheikh Ahmad established himself as a rich merchant in Ayutthaya. Then, he came under the service of Songtham, who appointed him as Lord of the Right Pier who supervised the traders that came from the West i.e. the Persians, the Indians, the Europeans, and Chularachamontri (palace official)- who oversaw all Shiites in Siam.

After subjugating a Japanese revolt under Yamada Nagamasa, Sheikh Ahmad became Samuha Nayok (First Prime Minister). Descendants of Sheikh Ahmad exerted control over Siamese politics, trade, and foreign affairs. Many of them became Samuha Nayok. They also monopolized the post of Chularachamontri. Some of them even converted to Buddhism.

One of Ahmad’s descendant was a man called Bunnag (3), who was a Buddhist. Bunnag married Nuan, who was the daughter of a wealthy Mon family and who was the sister of Nak (4). Nak, or Queen Amarindra (1737–1826), was the wife of Thong Duang, King Rama I (1736-1809) who took the name of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke when he ascended the Siamese throne in 1782, establishing the first Chakri Dynasty.

3. The Bunnag family

The Bunnag family of Thailand was as powerful as the Thioun family of Cambodia. Thioun, a powerful palace minister in the late 1800s, and his descendants, the likes of Thioun Hell, Thioun Horl, Thioun Mumm, Thioun Chum, Thioun Thioeun, and Thioun Prasith, held high offices in the Cambodian political hierarchy. Bunnag, the first direct descendant of Ahmad, was then kinsmen to Thong Duang, Rama I. Though Thong Duang emerged as a powerful noble in Thonburi, Bunnag stayed far from the bureaucracy due to his childhood conflicts with King Taksin.

Thong Duang then became Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, a child of ethnic Mon family (10), the first king who established the Chakri Dynasty in 1782, after he brutally usurped the throne and executed King Taksin, his childhood friend. During the Nine Armies War, Bunnag led the Siamese forces against the Burmese. Bunnag was then awarded the higher rank and eventually became the Samuha Kalahom as Chao Phraya Akka Mahasena.

The House of Bunnag was a powerful Siamese noble family of the Persian descent of the early Rattanakosin. By the nineteenth century, their power reached the zenith, as they were favoured by Chakri monarchs and monopolized high-ranking titles. Three Somdet Chao Phrayas came from the Bunnag family - Prayurawongse, Pichaiyat, and Sri Suriyawongse. They played a key role in government and foreign relations of Early Rattanakosin. However, after the Front Palace Crisis, the Bunnags gradually withdrew from Siamese politics as Chulalongkorn sought to undo the power of nobility and pursued centralization, though the Bunnags continued to fill important official ranks.

Akka Mahasena (military title) Prayurawongse was, of course, the primogenitor of the House of Bunnag. He sent his sons, including Dis and That, into the palace as the royal pages of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke as an entrance to Siamese bureaucracy. Dis quickly rose to higher official ranks as Buddha Loetla Nabhalai favored the nobles from the Bunnag and Bangchang (his mother's family) family. Dis then became the minister of Krom Tha, supervising trade and foreign affairs under King Jessadabodindra (Rama III) - a powerful post.

He was offered the position of Samuha Kalahom (Second Prime Minister) by the king but Dis said that the Prime Ministers died early. Dis then became Samuha Kalahom instead.

Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Sri Suriyawongse (personal name Chuang Bunnag December 23, 1808 - January 19, 1883) was a prominent 19th century Thai figure and served as the regent during the early years of the reign of King Chulalongkorn.

A member of a family originally of Persian origin, Sri Suriyawongse was born the eldest son of Dis Bunnag and Tan Poo-Ying (Lady) Chan. Chuang was well educated for the time. King Mongkut made him Samuha Kalahom, one of the two Prime Ministers of old Siam.

4. How were Khmer and Thai royal families related?

One of the Bunnag descendants, Tuptim Bunnag (Thanpuying Tuptim Bunnag), married Lord Nhonh, better known as Yia Abhaiwongse, who was the Lord Governor of Battambang until 1895. Lord Nonh and Tuptim Bunnag produced 5 children. Two of them, Lord Chhum (Choom Abhaiwongse (1849 ( or 1861)-1922)), the last Lord governor of Battambang, and Lady Yem (Khun Chom Yem Bossaba Yem (?-1944)) who became the 20th wife of King Norodom (1834-1904) of Cambodia. King Norodom and Lady Yem Bossaba (5) produced two children and one of them was Prince Sutharot (1872-1945) who was Sihanouk’s grandfather. Prince Sutharot married Lady Phangangam (1874-1944) and produced King Suramarit (1896-1960), who was King Sihanouk’s father. According to some sources, Lady Phangangam was a Thai commoner. But according to Henry Szosinski, a compiler of Cambodia’s royal genealogy, she carries the Norodom surname, so she could be one of King Norodom’s children.

Lord Chhum (6) had more than 40 wives. One of his Thai wives, Lady Rord, produced him a son named Khuang Abhaiwongse who later went on to become the prime minister of Thailand three times in the 1940s (7). Lord Chhum also married Lady Ing (Khunying Sa-Ing Kathadhorndhoranintra) and produced 4 children and one of them is Loeum, better known in Thailand as Luam Abhaiwongse. Luam married Lady Lek Bunnag and produced a daughter named Krua Kaew, better known as Tew Abhaiwongse. In 1924, Tew Abhaiwongse married King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) of Thailand and became Princess Consort and took the name of Phra Nang Chao Suvadhana (8). King Vajiravudh and Princess Consort Suvadhana produced one daughter in 1925 named Bejaratana Rajasuda. Now, Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda’s maternal grandmother, Dame Sri Sunthornnat (Thao Sri Sundhornnath - formerly Kaew Abhaiwongse) was a sister of Khun Chom Iem Bossaba (Yem Bossaba Abhaiwongse)[1864-1944], the 20th wife of King Norodom (1834-1904). Khun Yem Bossaba and Dame Sri Sunthornnat were daughters of Lord Nhonh and sisters of Lord Chhum, who was Bejaratana’s direct grandfather. So, Sihanouk is a great grand nephew of Lord Chhum and a descendant of the Abhaiwongse, a family he once allegedly called traitor.

The Khmer royal family also related to the Thai royal family through Lady Nuan and Lady Nak, the daughters of the wealthy Mon family who married Bunnag and King Rama I respectively. Bunnag and Thong Duang (Rama I) were very good friends before Thong Duang became king. Rama I was the great-great-great grandfather of Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda (9), who was the third cousin of ex-King Sihanouk of Cambodia, and the great-great-great grandfather of the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, who took the title of Rama VIX. There are claims that the kings of the Chakri Dynasty had also married some of the Bunnag descendants who could then be direct relatives of the present Khmer king, but I am unable to trace their marriages here.

However, according to a book “Battambang During the Time of the Lord Governor” by Tauch Chhuong, there are verbal anecdotes which passed down from generations to generations which claimed that Rama I, or Thong Duang who took the name of Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke when he ascended the throne, was a Khmer child from Kampot province who grew up in the royal Thai capital of Ayuthaya. The anecdotes claimed that he was from Tram Sorsor village, Samrong commune, Touk Meas district in Kampot province. The anecdotes went on to claim he and his family was taken prisoner by the Siamese troops and brought to the Siamese royal capital of Ayutthya. When he grew up, he became a powerful military commander, usurped the throne, killed King Taksin, who was his childhood friend, and proclaimed himself king in 1782. It must be noted that there is no historical records to substantiate this claim and the claim that he was a Khmer. However, there are historical records to say that he was, like his wife Nak, a child of a wealthy Mon family. He came to power through usurpation, by killing his childhood friend, King Taksin, and executed all of Taksin’s relatives, including Prince Kasatranuchit who was his own grandson through a marriage to Taksin’s relative.

5. Conclusion

Now, the ancestry links between the Khmer and Thai royal families had been established. Sheik Ahmad, produced the Bunnag descendants and the Bunnag descendants produced the Cambodian princes, princesses, and kings. Some Thai kings were known to be married to some of the Bunnag descendants. Or at least Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda is a third cousin of Sihanouk because both were descended from the Abhaiwongse and the Bunnag ancestry. Yem Bossaba, the 20th wife of King Norodom was described by Henry Szosinski, a Cambodian royal genealogy compiler, as a daughter of a Battambang mandarin and a distant relative of the King of Thailand (5). The Khmer and the Thai royal families were related by blood of some sort because of their marriages to the two Mon sisters, Nuan and Nak. Nuan was married to a Bunnag who was a maternal ancestor of Prince Sutharot, King Suramarit, King Sihanouk and King Sihamoni. Nak was married to King Rama I, Thong Duang or Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke who was of a Mon descendant, was the ancestor of the present King Bhumibol Adulyadej (2), who is described as a distant relative of Yem Bossaba, the 20th wife of King Norodom and the great grandmother of Sihanouk.

References
(1). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunnag#Rise_of_Prayurawongse
(2). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddha_Yodfa_Chulaloke
(3). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunnag
(4). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarindra
(5).http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~royalty/cambodia/i135.html#I135
(6).http://khmerization.blogspot.com/2009/03/mansion-fit-for-king-mansion-of-chhum.html
(7).http://khmerization.blogspot.com/2008/11/aphaiwong-family-lords-of-battambang.html
(8).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suvadhana
(9).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bejaratana
(10).http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mon_people
(11).“Battambang During the Time of the Lord Governor” by Tauch Chhuong.

* I am forever grateful to Heng Soy of Ki-Media for drawing a wonderful Khmer-Thai Royal Family Tree diagram for this article.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very good article with clear family tree diagram. I think Bhumibol might be related to Sihanouk in some way. Also, there were claims that in the 1700s, Ayutthaya and Sukothai were ruled by Khmer kings. All the customs and dress codes are in Khmer traditions. Khmer was the official language in those two municipalities. The first Chakri king (Rama I) might be a Khmer prisoner of war from Kampot and Hatien when Thai troops attempted to conquer the area in the mid-1700s. He and his family was taken to Ayutthaya to worked as slave laborers. He studied there and joined the army, rose to the rank of Chakri, usurped, killed the king and become King Rama I. Can anyone answer if this claim is true?

Anonymous said...

All these facts might true, but why are we care so much about when Thai gov today try to oppose in every way to be prosperous.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of Ahmed and no Ahmed in Khmer history.
Read Royal Ark for Khmer royal family.

http://www.royalark.net/Cambodia/cambodia.htm


Khmer are not Persian-Mon descendant. Khmer were Indian-Khmer native descendant from Rattanak Kiri, Mondol Kiri, Steung Treing. Just look at the stone carving on Bayon temple Khmer Kings and Khmer Warriors wear Peung just like Khmer native from Ratanak Kiri, Mondol Kiri, Steung Treing. Even Khmer native Chak Krabei Pheuk Sra ចាក់ក្របីផីកស្រា
are carved on the stone wall of Bayon.

Anonymous said...

It proved that it was right.
Whomever has the royal-Blood,was allowed to get out from the Thai camp
in 1980 before the ordinary Khmer refugee.
....If so ex King N.Sihanouk and the family should move from Beijing to Thailand.

Anonymous said...

You're wasting your time, friend. Thai still hated Khmer because they know that their culture, custom, and other are from the Khmers.

Anonymous said...

Thai tonal speaking language is proved that Thai are descendant Tai people from Nanchao (Yunan) China.

Anonymous said...

@ 23 July 2010 11:26 AM

King Sihanouk moved from Cambodia to China not from China to Thailand.

Anonymous said...

@ 23 July 2010 11:26 AM

China and Cambodia have longest good relationship as seen Chinese people carving on Cambodia Bayon temple.

Anonymous said...

11:09 AM, According to the family tree in this article, Ahmad was not a direct ancestor of the Khmer royal family. He was an ancestor of the Bunnag. Bunnag married a Mon woman called Nuan then produced a descendant called Tuptim Bunnag who then married Nhonh and produced Yem Bosaba. Yem Bosaba married Norodom and produced Sutharot who was Sihaouk's grandfather.

In a way, Sihanouk got some Mon and Thai blood and a bit of Persian Muslim blood through Ahmad.

Anonymous said...

hmmmmm!..Who cares where those idoit Kings are coming from...they the once that fight amongst themselves and lost Khmer Empire's to Thai and Vietnam. We Khmers want those lands back.

Anonymous said...

Wow, dear Heng Soy of Ki-Media ,
I am so sorry to inform you,that Khmer's King are not Persian-Môn descendant.Some Khmer Môn are still live in Nicobas 's island (India )this island have taken by India after Independant of India.
Well, Khmer King were Indian-Khmer Môn from Rattanak Kiri ( same name of Rattanak Kiri in India at present too ).
Some time late in the eighth century the Kingdom of CHEN LA suffered an administrative breakdom and disintegrated into small,weak states. At the same time contact with India was lost and trade was interrupted. It is more than likely that the rising fortunes of the Kingdoms of Indonesia ,first at Shrivijaya,and then in central Java,eclipsed CHEN LA's. It is an intersting fact that the Shailendra dynasty of Indonesia claimed to be the direct heirs to the power of FOU NAN; they may in fact have been descendants of a ruling house of FOU NAN who had fled to JAVA as CHEN LA established its hegemony over the Cambodian plains.
The Shailendra were a vigorous ans aggressive dynasty.
They ruled in Malaya,and raided as far afield as Tonkin.They are best known, however,for the large-scale works of Buddhist art they commissioned in Java.etc...
By: S K MONOHA of Cambodia.France

Anonymous said...

Don't try to confuse khmer blood with thai or muslim. learn again khmer history. I'm ever seen one vidéo that the african docteur PhD trys to link khmer with african families.

Khmerization said...

Dear uncle S K MONOHA and 8:30 AM,
Thank you for all your interests in this article. I am sorry that I have made people confused here by saying that Khmer-Thai royal families have Persian-Mon ancestry without stressing clearly about when the ancestry started. Through online searches, I've found that the Khmer royal family only has a very small percentage of Persian and Mon blood in them, started from Sutharot when his father, King Norodom, married Yem Bossaba, a daughter of Yia Abhaiwongse who married Tuptim Bunnag who had a bit of Persian blood through Ahmad and Mon blood through Nuan. If you look at the family tree diagram, you will see that only Sutharot, Suramarit, Sihanouk and Sihamoni have some Persian-Mon blood in them. The rest of the Khmer royal family do not have any of this Persian-Mon blood.

One more thing, Heng Heng only helped to draw the family tree diagram. He has no input in the diagram or the article whatsoever, so if anyone has any disagreement with the article, they should direct all the comments to me alone. Sorry to put you in the hot seat, Heng Soy.

Anonymous said...

Suppose all these are true, what's the implication? It's half baked research. These days there's no such thing as pure blood. It's likely both royal families cross-breed, so what? if they never see eye to eye in anything...

Anonymous said...

Thanks lok S K MONOHA for your reply,I am agree with your analyse.
May be all these are true with thai royal family,but with Khmer Royal family is not true.

Well, thanks to Khmerization publication on this sujet.

Khmer love Khmer.Cambodia

Anonymous said...

Me too, I am 100% agree with Lok phaaun S K MONOHA and his remark about Khmer King were from India-Khmer Môn .

May be some one try to make an implication of Peaceful with Thai-Khmer 's problem.sorry my english is not so good.

Ta Mao. Paris.France

Kampujak Neadh-កម្ពុជនាថ said...

If you do a deeper research on the origin of Khmer-Mon and the name of Kambuja you will be surprised to learn that Khmer-Mon origin did come from Persian Country even before Muslim was taken root in Persia.I put forward my own hypothesis that the Kmir,nowadays Kashmir which has the city called Srinagar was the name of the ancient Khmer-Mon kingdom (Queendom actually) before the Aryan invaded that region.Khmer-Mon took the route East on the Tibet side to escape the invasion. The Mon came down south first around Brahmaputra river but the Kmir continued on till they reached Mekong. Our Khmer ancestors even in Funan(Phnom) or Tchenla (Tunle) era never heard of the name of India which was given by Alexander troops who invaded country of Maha Bharata (and was used later on by European only). They (Khmers)knew only of Kalinga, SriVijaya, Maghatha, Bengal etc...True, Khmer had relationship with ancient india but the Varaman came further and deeper of the Rajaputra region and ultimately came from Persian who just invaded Egyptian.Khmer king of Kambuja and Kmir people had known and lived in Persia quite a long time ago. Even today there is a region called Kammen in southeast Iran.Also the Angkor king title of Kummadeng spelled as Kamrateng had a deep meaning of who they were. As for the word Khmer,the exact spelling should be Kmer unless you prefer (Siam or) Pali version of Khmer.

Dara said...

Some of you commentators are so dense and need to work on your reading comprehension. You guys are taking things and twisting them around to your misunderstandings. Creating your own theories. Funny enough the post by the author provides an example of an unverifiable claim about Rama I being of Khmer origin. This just shows how delusion Cambodian people have. Time to get over this and please learn to comprehend better.