Isan Travels: Northeast Thailand's Economy in 1883-1884. Etienne Aymonier.

Isan Travels: Northeast Thailand's Economy in 1883-1884

White Lotus. 8.2 x 11.6", 339 pp., numerous maps, paper, Bangkok, 2000. Item #15425
ISBN: 9747534444

This volume contains the most detailed report on Northeast Thailand that have ever been collected by an nineteenth-century explorer. Etienne Aymonier was a specialist in Cambodian studies and traveled together with trained Cambodian assistants through Isan from south to north and from east to west, visiting many of the region's districts. He reports on the political situation, dependency relationships among districts and provinces and their relations with the Court in Bangkok, agricultural and forestry commodities, usage and value of various local and national currencies, ethnic and language groups living in all villages he passed through, superstitions and religion, betel and opium use and other vices, population data and numbers of registered taxable men, taxes paid to Bangkok, and 'corruption money' paid to various authorities including the Siamese Court and ministry officials.

Most of all, Aymonier accurately describes the accessibility overland and by water of many extremely remote areas of the interior and their trading relations. There are also detailed descriptions of important crafts such as salt production, basket weaving, iron forgery and casting, and various non-agricultural occupations and sidelines of farmers. Naturalists will find that the varieties of vegetation the author and his assistants encounter are accurately described, with special attention to various tree species, including those that produce timber and dyes, and to the availability of water, that life-bringing commodity still so scarce in today's Isan.

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