Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


A Note on Buddhistic Millenarian Revolts in Northeastern Siam

Yoneo Ishii

The Royal Autograph Edition of the Phrarātcha-phongsāwadān or Royal Chronicles gives one of the oldest known accounts of a rebellion led by a magic-man, generically called phú mi bun or a “man of merit.” In 1699, a Lao named Bun Kwāng who styled himself a phū mī bun terrorized the governor of Korat with his reputed magical powers, according to the chronicle, and managed to establish himself as the ruler of a city which had been made a Siamese outpost by King Phra Narai (1656–88). Despite the superior military strength at his command, the intimidated governor was unable to order the immediate arrest of the phū mī bun and furthermore, humiliated himself by acceding to the insolent demand of the latter for armed men, elephants and horses.

(Online publication September 1975)