AYMONIER, Étienne-François

AYMONIER, Étienne-François. Le Châtelard (Savoie) 26.2.1844 — Paris 21.1.1929. French Colonial Officer and South-East Asian Scholar (the first European Specialist of Khmer and great pioneer of archaeology and epigraphy). Served in South-East Asia in 1869-88. Born in a family of agriculturalists in the then still Sardinian Savoy, son of Claude A. and Jeanne Baptiste Charbonnier. Joined infantry as voluntary when 18, was admitted to Saint-Cyr, joined marine infantry in 1869 and left for Cochin-China. Served in Cambodge until 1884, using his leisure to epigraphic and antiquarian studies. In 1881-82 visited home and started collaboration with Bergaigne, again in France 1884-85. After a few years in Vietnam returned to France in 1888. In 1889-1905 Director of École coloniale, then retired. Also taught Khmer there. As a scholar he was autodidact, but skilled. In Vietnam he found the first traces of Champa. He collected many antiquities for Musée Guimet.

Publications: A Khmer dictionary (1874) and grammar (1875); grammar of Cham (1889) and with A. Cabaton its dictionary (1906); much on epigraphy.

– “Les tchames et leurs religions”, RHR 24, 1891, 187-237, 261-315.

With Barth & Bergaigne: Inscriptions sanscrites du Cambodge. 177 p. 1885 (partly in JA 1880-82).

– “Le Cambodge et ses monuments”, JA 9;9, 1897, 185-222, RHR 36, 1897, 185-222, and 5 further parts in JA 1899-1903; Le Cambodge. 1-3. P. 1900-01-04.

Histoire de l’ancien Cambodge. 198 p. Strasbourg 1925.

Several further works on Cambodge and Cham, on Khmer language, & on South-east Asia in general.

Sources: G. Cœdès, BEFEO 29, 1929, 542-566 (with bibliography); M. Prévost, D.B.F. 4, 956f.; P. Singaravélou, D.O.L.F. 33f.; French Wikipédia with photo.

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