Year published :December 2010

Pages :984 (xiv+970) pp.

Size :15.5x23.5 cm.

ISBN: 9789749511954

Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, The: Siam’s Great Folk Epic of Love and War—main volume (hardcover)

by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

Translated and edited by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit

Illustrated by Muangsing Janchai

Main Volume

394 drawings, 11 diagrams, 12 maps, glossary, cloth

The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen is the most outstanding classic in the Thai language. The plot is a love story, set against a background of war, ending in high tragedy. This folk epic was first developed in oral form for popular performance with a fast-paced blend of romance, tragedy, and farce spiced with sex, warring, adventure, and the supernatural. It was later adopted by the Siamese court and written down, with two kings contributing. This first-ever translation is based on Prince Damrong’s standard edition of 1917–18, with over a hundred passages recovered from earlier versions.

This English translation is written in lively prose, fully annotated, with over four hundred original line drawings and an essay on the history and background of the tale. The main volume presents the entire tale in translation. The companion volume contains alternative chapters and extensions, Prince Damrong’s prefaces, and reference lists of flora, fauna, costume, arms, and food. The volumes are available separately or as a slipcased set.

According to the leading Thai linguist William Gedney, “if all other information on traditional Thai culture were to be lost, the whole complex could be reconstructed from this marvellous text.”

About the Translators

Chris Baker formerly taught Asian history in Cambridge University and has lived in Thailand for over thirty years.
Pasuk Phongpaichit is professor of economics at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Together they have written A History of ThailandThailand: Economy and PoliticsThaksin, and published several translations.

About the Illustrator

Muangsing Janchai, a native of Suphanburi, the cradle of this tale, was trained in Thai painting, and studied further in Tibet, India, Nepal, Burma, Laos, and China. He has executed several temple murals, including a series on the tale at Wat Palelai, Suphanburi.

Main volume highlights

  • Vivid and lively translation
  • Four hundred line drawings illustrating historical, cultural, and other terms
  • Fully annotated with cultural, historical, and textual notes
  • Afterword explaining the development of the tale and its literary milieu

Companion volume highlights

  • Alternative texts and episodes not included in main volume
  • Prince Damrong’s original prefaces in translation
  • Comprehensive lists of the flora, fauna, clothing, arms, and food mentioned in the text

What others are saying

“The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen is imaginatively designed and illustrated, superbly translated, and beautifully produced. A work of art!”—Peter Skilling,  École Française d’Extrême-Orient, Bangkok, and Honorary Associate, Department of Indian Sub-Continental Studies, University of Sydney


    Other links


    Siam | Thai literature | folk epic | translation | love triangle | execution

    Related products