After reading the recent article about Uighur-Han Chinese relationships ("A civil rights movement for Uighurs", July 16), I sought out my copy of Paul Pelliot's Memoires sur les coutumes du Cambodge de Tcheou Ta-Kouan, vaguely remembering a reference to links between the Uighur and Khmer alphabets.
I found what I was looking for in section 12. Writing about the Khmer alphabet, Tcheou Ta-Kouan asserted: "On the whole the characters look exactly like those of the Uighurs." This strikes me as being rather curious. It is most unlikely that Pelliot would have made a mistake in translation, being a master of over a dozen languages and an explorer of Central Asia.
I am not sure if there were links between these peoples, each in the outer circle of the contemporaneous Chinese suzerain, but it does not seem beyond the bounds of possibility, especially as Tibetan religious books are cited as a source of the name Kan-p'ou-tche. I wonder if any readers of The Phnom Penh Post might throw further light on the matter?
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