Update: 2013-02-10 09:25 PM +0630


The founding villages and early palaces of Pagan: Part 1

- an exploration of some chronicle and parabaik sources via computer mapping, field survey and archaeological excavation.


by Bob Hudson, Archaeology Department, University of Sydney, Sydney 2006, Australia, “Texts and Contexts” Conference, Yangon, 2001 December. 29 pdf pages.
- http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/villages_parabaik.pdf 130119
- http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/villages_parabaik.pdf 080918
- http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/villages_parabaik.pdf 071124

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Contents of this page

UKT 130121:
I have split up this paper into two parts for ease of editing. Secondly, the newer English spellings for place names (such as Bagan & Ayeyawaddy) used by Bob Hudson, have been changed back into the  older and more familiar ones.

The nineteen villages
The dimensions of Pagan
A Brief History of Pagan : from parabaik
  King Anawrahta : religious reformation
  King Kyansittha : soldier-hero
  King Alaungsithu : the sailor
Discussion and future prospects

fn01 to fn28

UKT notes
NyaungU Sawrahan {Ñaung-U: sau:ra.hûn:}
  aka Taungthugyi-min {taung-þu-kri: ming:}

Contents of this page


Pagan {pu.gän} is an urban centre in upper Myanmar. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130117:
Names of places such as villages, mountains, and rivers can survive many generations perhaps extending into thousands of years, and we should be careful to spell and pronounce them correctly taking note of the changes in the script if there are any.

The current name Pagan {pu.gän} is inappropriate and we should spell it Puugan. There is another place, a city in the Irrawaddy delta by the name Bassein {pu.þaim} which should be changed to Puuthain.

If the word {pu.} had any significance, we should take note of the name of a town between Bassein {pu.þaim} and the sea by the name {nga.pu.tau:}. We should note that these areas were Mon, and  before them Pyu, but certainly not Burmese. Therefore the word {pu.} should not be lightly dismissed with the gloss given in Bur-Myan as 'short in height', and one should not seriously take the suggestion that {nga.pu.tau:} is the "forest from where pygmies" came from!

So let us look into the possibility that {pu.} is Mon-Burmese (Mon speech written in Myanmar script - the unifying script of Myanmarpré. Rev. Haswell has given in his Vocabulary:

{pu.} v. to swell, as rice in cooking -- Haswell-089
{pu.} v. to swell being inflated, to bloat, to puff up -- Haswell-089
{puing} (not in Bur-Myan) - n. cooked rice -- Haswell-089
   For such words Kicsi {kic~sæÑ:} allows {þé:þé:ting} be used, and we get {poän}.

From the above, I suggest that {pu.gän}, {pu.þaim}, and {nga.pu.tau:} are all derived from Mon-Myan that has to deal with cooked rice or food.

Pagan reached its peak in terms of the construction of religious monuments and political dominance over the upper Irrawaddy valley region between the 11th and 13th centuries AD. The origin of the city, or at least the origin of settlement in the general area that later became Pagan, is traditionally attributed to a confederation of nineteen villages dated to 107 AD (fn01). The first part of this paper summarises some recently collected data, ranging from chronicle descriptions and oral history to archaeological survey and excavation, which has pinpointed many of the claimants for founding village status (fn02). It must be stressed that these are contenders whose claims remain to be tested by further historical and archaeological study.

The chronicles agree that the earliest civilisation in Myanmar was that of the Pyu. Four chronicles compiled between 1672 and 1829 AD mention the founding of Sri Ksetra, also called Thayekittaya {þa.ré-hkít~ta.ra} [UKT: which may be shortened to {hkít~ta.ra}], and all have it precede Pagan (fn03). [UKT ¶]

UKT: See my note on the name of Sri Ksetra स्री क्षेत्र  «sri kṣetra» or श्री क्षेत्र «śri kṣetra».

The four largest Pyu settlements, Beikthano, Halin, Mongmao and Sri Ksetra, which all enclose areas of 600 hectares or more within brick walls, have been the subject of extensive archaeological investigation. [UKT ¶]

Beikthano appears to be the earliest, according to the available radiocarbon dates, possibly operating between the 2nd century BC and 7th century AD. Radiocarbon dates have indicated activity at Halin between the 1st and 8th centuries AD. Mongmao, at the south end of the Kyaukse valley, has been assigned on stylistic grounds to the 2nd to 6th centuries. Sri Ksetra (Thayekittaya) is considered the latest, [{p01end}] between the 4th and 10th centuries AD (fn04). [UKT ¶]

The Pyu are also identified with Waddi (fn05), a smaller walled site west of Mongmao (Maingmaw), and a cluster of settlements around Binnaka. The latter, located at E 96.15° N 20.5666° in the Samon River valley, appears to have been continuously occupied from the Pyu to Konbaung periods (fn06).

Excerpt from Maharazawin, vol.3, p133.

The story of Pagan was summarised in 1829 in the Hmannan Yazawin, later translated as the Glass Palace Chronicle (fn07). The Glass Palace Chronicle says that the Pyu founded Yon Hlut Kyun, a name with folkloric origins, about fourteen kilometres from Pagan on the eastern side of Mount Tuyin, in the second century AD (fn08). The local story is that Pyu soldiers fleeing from a war saw a hunter and his dogs chasing a rabbit. The rabbit turned on its pursuers and drove them away, and this was taken as an omen that such a place would be a site worth defending against enemies. [UKT ¶]

Despite such obstacles as a malicious flying squirrel and other aggressive faunal and floral totems King Thamoddarit {þu.moad-da.raiz} then “began to build a city with the dwellers in nineteen villages” (fn09). [UKT¶ ]

UKT 130122:
The name Thamoddarit {þu.moad-da.riiz} is clearly Sanskrit. In Skt-Dev समुद्र = स म ु द ् र «samudra» + राज «raja» or 'King of the Ocean" . Writing in conjunct form and taking out the virama at the end would give us {þa.moad~da.ra ra-za}.
   Since the Pyus from Sri Ksetra aka Prome were under heavy influence of Sanskrit [I am unable to pinpoint the religion because some Buddhist schools were using Sanskrit instead of Pali]. If Thamoddarit {þu.moad-da.riiz} had been originally from Prome. He would surely bring over Pyu Nats as well.

The Glass Palace Chronicle lists the members of this confederation as:

01. Nyaung-U,
02. Nagabo,
03. Nagakyit,
04. Magyigyi,
05. Tuti,

06. Kyaussaga,
07. Kokkethein,
08. Nyaungwun,
09. Anurada,
10. Tazaunggun,

11. Ywamon,
12. Kyinlo,
13. Kokko,
14. Taungba,
15. Myegedwin,

16. Tharekya,
17. Onmya (with a quibble as to whether this should actually be Singu),
18. Yonhlut and
19. Ywasaik (fn10).

UKT: Insert is from U Kala Maha Yazawun, vol. 1 (?), Part 3, p133, 5th printing 2006 July. The numbering of villages is mine. I have also numbered the villages given in this paper. Readers of Bur-Myan would notice that though the names given by U Kala and Bob Hudson tallied to a large extent, there are spellings differences between the two lists.
   In another version of U Kala Maha Yazawun, we find some slight differences in spelling.

Collection of data on the sites mentioned in the list of nineteen villages has ranged from a re-examination of English and Myanmar documentary sources and inch-to-the-mile [{p02end}] survey maps to interviews with local residents, including the abbots of monasteries, who are often custodians of local history. The locations of places that may not easily be found again, such as abandoned habitation sites, were pinpointed with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver. All site locations are reported in this paper in decimal degrees, which is the standard form of longitude and latitude used in computer mapping (fn11). The sites are listed in the order of their distance from the walled medieval elite centre now known as “Old Pagan” (Figure 1).

Contents of this page

The Nineteen Villages

UKT, 130120:
I wish Bob Hudson had made his key-box smaller. I have tried to remedy it by making it smaller, because of which some "drainage" are not connected in Fig.01

The "drainage" are actually dry river beds, along which would come a rushing flood as soon as it started to rain on higher grounds. The local population would never cross a dry river bed whenever they see clouds on the hills. The river would be impassable for a few hours to a couple days.

These river beds usually retain water underground and villagers, including my grandmother Daw Choak when she was young, had to fetch water for the family from temporarily dug surface wells in such river-beds. U Yan Shin -- my great-grandfather -- a village elder on becoming wealthy had dug a water-tank near one of his villages -- I can't remember which, and I had failed to ask my father who had told me about his grandfather. The tank was named {min:kûn} 'royal tank'.

According to my uncle U Aung Myin, his grandfather was known as Bo Yan Shin, and he was well respected by the villagers around him who would readily come to serve him with their swords and horses, because of which he became the target of envy of the mayor of Salé who reported to the King that "{nga.rûn-shin:}" was plotting to rebel. My great-grandfather after beheading his enemy had to take refuge at Gyo-bing-kauk in the British-territory. The British welcomed him and made him take the oath of allegiance.

I hope the reader will forgive me for going over these pages as a source of history of my own-family -- the family of Bo Yan Shin whose "finger-ring with a very-dark ruby - the protective stone" still "protects" my daughter Daw Nini Tun. -- UKT 130120

UKT, 130120:
I have given below the Bur-Myan names (the closest to those of Bob Hudson) given by U Kala without implying that the names given by U Kala are to be preferred.

From the Bur-Myan names, we can conclude that some of these villages were not Burmese suggesting that they were Pyu.

In my paper on Nats, I have given the names of seven house-hold nats. The first is the Lord of the Great Mountain who in human existence was {pûn:pè:maung-ting.tèý}. The third is Lady Golden Sides {rhwé-na.pé} who was supposed to be a female Naga and married to the Lord of the Great Mountain {ma.ha-gi.ri.} nat.

However, Dr. Htin Aung wrote in his Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism p.085:
-- flk-ele-indx.htm (link checked on 130120)
"My (Dr. Htin Aung's) family has belonged to MIndon {ming:toan:mro.} since the Prome period of Burmese history and, until the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824, Mindon was the capital of the 'Seven Hill Districts' which lay between Arakan and the Irrawaddy. The Lady Golden Sides was one of my family ancestors and, according to tradition in our family, she was appointed to succeed her husband as the king's representative at MIndon, as both her sons were in the service of the king at Prome. (It may be mentioned that under the Burmese kings no official was hereditary but, other things being equal, the son or brother, or occasionally the widow of a deceased official, was often chosen by the king as his successor.)
... ... ... Yet the very old ritual song relating to her as one of the Thirty-seven begins with the words:

For the golden Naga to wear,
Bring we a robe of satin-velvet.

The song seems appropriate as it gives the emphasis to the robe of satin-velvet -- the robe trimmed with gold, ..."

The seven are listed as:

#1. Lord of the Great Mountain (DHA - Dr.HtinAung), 
{ma.ha-gi-ri.} (UPK - UPoKya)

#2. Princess Golden Face (DHA),
{nha.ma.tau} (UPK)

#3. Lady Golden Sides (DHA),
{rhwé-na.pé} (UPK)

UKT: The word "Naga" sometimes attached to her, in Sanskrit may mean not only the Naga-serpent, but also a protecting entity. It may also mean something big -- an elephant. -- 130120

#4. Lady Three Times Beautiful (DHA),
{þoän-pûn-lha.} (UPK)

#5. Little Lady with the Flute (DHA),
{ma.nè:mi.} (UPK)

#6. Brown Lord of Due South (DHA),
{rhing-Ño} (UPK) 

#7. White Lord of the North (DHA),
{rhing-hpyu} (UPK)

UKT 130120:
The brothers, the sons of Administrator Lady {rhwé-na.pé}, were condemned to wrestle each other to death by the Pyu king of Prome. There is still a residential quarter in Prome dedicated to them. The mother died broken hearted. -- info provided by U Rama as personal communication. 


Nagabo {na.ga:so:} (E 94.8757° N 21.1767°)
is now a palimpsest of Pagan era and later buildings, located to the east and southeast of modern Taungbi village.

Nagakyit {na.ga:kyic} (E 94.8946° N 21.1929°)
was located between the Wetkyi-in stream and the Shwezigon Pagoda, according to an inscription in the Shwezigon that mentions a village called Naga Kyitmaw.

Anurada {a.nu.ra-Da.} (E 94.8654° N 21.1552°)
is called today Myinkaba {mring:ka.pa}, and is the only Pali name found among the nineteen villages.

UKT 130121, 130210: 

#1. The word Anurada {a.nu.ra-Da.} may be Sanskrti as well. Whatever the case may be there are three words based on the same word: Anurada - the village in Myanmarpré, Anuradhapura - the place in Sri Lanka, and Anawrahta - the king.

Now the statue in Sri Lanka is a  "bodhisattva" which in Bur-Myan would be {Bu.ra:a.laung: nût-þa.mi: ta-ra} which could be shortened to {ta-ra nût-þa.mi:}. When I heard from a source which I do not recall that that there is a wall painting depicting a procession of {pûn:U:hsak} in Paya Thonhsu {Bu.ra:þoän-hsu} in Pagan, I took a trip to the pagoda sometime in 1969.

I saw the painting and there at the site, I met a chemist from the archeological department doing preservation work. He was my class-mate, and he showed me the painting. It was just a procession, and there was nothing suggestive of a bride-to-be being sent to the Ari-monastery to be deflowered before her wedding night. 

Now, here is something on our cultural mind-set. We in Theravada Myanmarpré could very well understand an "Immediate-Buddha-to-be" {Bu.ra:a.laung:} in the Deva world enjoying sex as a male. We can accept the idea of a {Bu.ra:a.laung: nût-þa:} but not a {nût-þa.mi:} - a sexual object. We can never accept a scantily dressed female {ta-ra nût-þa.mi:} as an "Immediate-Buddha-to-be" {Bu.ra:a.laung:}!

#2. Anawrahta killed his foster brother Sokkate {soak~ka.té:} the natural son of NyaungU-Sawrahan or Taungthugyi-Min. King Taungthugyi had 3 queens. The first and the second were pregnant with when he was killed. Both gave birth to sons - Taungthugyi's genetic sons. Sokkaté was the second son. The third queen was not pregnant when Kunzaw took Taungthugyi's queens as wives. She gave birth to Anawrahta.

Thus, Anawratha was Kunzaw's genetic son and the first two were his foster sons. Though the queens were described as "sisters", they might not be related by blood: it is usual for the older to be referred to as the "elder-sister", and the younger as the "younger-sister".

Eventually the two elder foster-sons deposed King Kunzaw by forcing him to become an Ari-monk, and the older one became king. When he died in a hunting accident, the second son, Sokkaté became king and Anawrahta's mother as his queen. This angered Anawrahta who rebelled against Sokkaté, and killed him a dual on the bank of the Myinkaba creek. When Anawratha offered kingship to his father, the latter refused citing his age as an excuse.

Anawratha had another set of regalia (including the white umbrella) made, and made his father a "king-as-a-monk". This implies that as a king he would have the usual royal retinue of female attendants. According to the list in the Thirty-Seven Nats, when the monk-king died he became a nat with the title the Nat in the shade of the White Umbrella. However, there is another nat, The Mother of Nat of the White Umbrella -- so far I have not come across this entity in history books.

Ywasaik {rwa-so-ka.} (E 94.8918° N 21.15°)
is estimated to have been near the modern villages of east and west Phwasaw. The “third palace”, said to have been founded by King Thiketine-min in 514 AD, is believed to have been located here on the perimeter of the Pagan archaeological zone. The palace site, south of West Phwasaw village, is today marked by an inscribed brick and concrete pillar, as are Pagan’s other supposed palaces.

Nyaung-U {Ñaung-U:} (E 94.9101° N 21.2011°),
a modern market town and administrative centre, retains its archaic name. Housing developments in area make new archaeological discoveries difficult, though open excavations from construction work remain potential sources of information.

Kyaussaga {kyauk-sa.ka:} (E 94.8681° N 21.1277°),
east of the present day Thiripyitsaya village, is south of New Pagan and on the southern bank of Ye-O-Zin stream. Thiripyitsaya is said to have been the second capital, located near the Lokananda pagoda, a riverside structure that prominently marks the southern extent of the city. It is credited to King Thinlikyaung {þíñ-læÑ-kraung} (344-377 AD) (fn12).

Kyinlo {kring-lo} (E 94.9133° N 21.0792°) 
is a site in a cultivated field east of Kinka on the Pagan-Chauk road, and north of Kyaukkan. Potsherds, elephant-shaped pendants and [{p03end}] spherical and barrel shaped green and orange beads (fn13) have been discovered in this village. Archaeological excavation at Kyinlo in 1906 recovered iron implements, a stone image of the Buddha, stone receptacles supposed to be reliquaries, and mutilated bronze figures of the Buddha and two disciples (fn14). Field survey has revealed two major scatters of pottery, suggesting abandoned habitation sites, near Kyinlo.

Taungba {taung-pa.} (E 94.9656° N 21.1259°)
is a village near the road between Nyaung-U and Kyaukpadaung, within view of the Tooth Relic Pagoda on Tuyin Mountain. It was relocated in modern times due to highway construction. There are several sites of historic and archaeological significance. The Phaya Hti Saung or Hti Ta Hsaung pagoda, located one kilometre northwest of Taungba village, is reputed to enshrine bodily relics of the medieval monk, Shin Arahan, who is credited with being mentor to King Anawrahta (fn15). It was most recently restored in 1985, and is an active religious site, with an attached monastery. [UKT ¶]

On the southern side of Taungba {taung-pa.} village is a small pagoda (E 94.9681° N 21.1193°) that was restored in 1907, according to an ink inscription inside. There is evidence to support local opinion that it was originally a medieval structure. A circular stone slab, now used as a stepping stone at the entrance, resembles the capstones found in old relic chambers, although it might also be a traditional monastery entrance-stone. Part of a stone capsule or container, possibly a reliquary or a container for offerings, was found among brick debris nearby, in a depression formed by a disused water tank. This site appears on the 1945 British Army Survey map 84 K/16 as a monastery.

An ash lens (E 94.9652° N 21.1209°) dense with potsherds was excavated and sampled at Taungba {taung-pa.} for radiocarbon dating. The sample, OZE 765, had a radiocarbon age of 530 ± 40 BP, giving a calendar date range of 1300-1450 AD at 95.4% probability (fn16). About 300 metres west of the earthenware deposits there is a mound, [{p04end}] apparently a pagoda ruin. There are pieces of worked sandstone among the debris. It fits the description of a mound “near Taungba village” excavated early last century (fn17).

Yonhlut {yoan-lwut} (E 94.9647° N 21.1133°),
also known as Yon Hlut Kyun, is a name that has been variously translated as Free Rabbit Island, Free Animal Forest, A Jungle Where Rabbits Were Set Free, or The Place of the Hare’s Release. [UKT ¶]

UKT: Here we find a problem with the spelling of the name. Since, the rabbit by its own effort had expelled its enemies, the word should be {lwut} without the {ha.hto:} sound -- not {lhwut}. I use Romabama to avoid this type of English transcription problem.

The archaic word “kyun” {kywan:} is still used for “jungle” in this area, though it more generally means “island”. [UKT ¶ 

UKT 130120:
Many Burmese place names have the names of plants attached. Here the word {kywun:} may mean teak trees, lofty trees with very broad leaves. Myanmarpré is still famous for its teak timber. A prominent street in Sanchaung township is Kyundaw-lan, literally 'teak-forest road'. -- UKT130120

To confuse matters, an island in the Irrawaddy River opposite Pagan is also called Yon Hlut Kyun {fn18}, although its claim to historical status barely goes back 50 years. The current residents, when interviewed, appeared to have forgotten the names of the villages that were mapped there in 1945 (Burma One Inch Series, Map 84 K/16). Field survey in 1999 indicated that the location of the villages on the island, as well as the island’s shape, has substantially changed since 1945 due to regular inundation.

In 1905, the archaeologists at Pagan spent 200 rupees [UKT: a huge sum of money in those days when an ounce of gold was selling for about 30 rupees. Price of gold to be checked.] to erect masonry pillars marking all of the old palace sites mentioned in the chronicles. This included a pillar at Yon Hlut Kyun identifying it as the home of Pagan's first dynasty. The masonry pillars were referred to only peripherally in a list of “expenses sanctioned and incurred”, with no explanation as to why the particular sites were chosen (fn19). However a handwritten version of the New Pagan Chronicle by Saya Be [UKT: pronounced as {hsa.ra hpé} -   the grandfather of Daw Khin Myo Chit] reputedly contains a drawing of brick foundations at Yon Hlut Kyun (fn20), so the site may have been well known locally at the time the monument was erected.

In 1999, the author and U Nyein Lwin, now director of excavation at Pagan, investigated Yon Hlut Kyun at the suggestion of Assistant Director for Upper Myanmar, U Aung Kyaing. There was no above-ground structure visible. However the excavation program (fn21) resulted in the discovery of a rectangular structure made of sun-dried brick with roof tiles, iron nails, worked sandstone pieces, a pivot-stone from a doorway and earthenware pottery fragments that included several near-intact pots, including a 20th century burial (indicative of continuing use of the site for ritual purposes) and kendi, or [{p05end}] sprinkler pots (fn22) (Figure 2). [UKT ¶ ]

The structure is located on the eastern approach to Pagan from Mount Popa, a well-known pilgrimage site, beyond which is the medieval rice growing area and putative homeland of the Burmans, Kyaukse. When measurements of bricks from a number of archaeological sites in Myanmar were subjected to statistical comparison by multivariate analysis (fn23) the bricks at Yon Hlut Kyun corresponded closely with samples from Gu Gyaung, a Pyu-style monument several kilometres to the north, and also with Pagan bricks of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Deposits of roofing tiles were also found, along with iron nails. The nails were characteristically square in the shaft, and turned at the top. A pivot stone, with an indentation to take a vertical wooden doorpost, similar to those seen in pagodas at Pagan, was found while excavating a section along the eastern wall. There was at least a centimetre of wear around the indentation in the pivot stone. Carbon was found in relative abundance, but none was found in a context that would justify radiocarbon dating. The dating, and for that matter the function, of the building at Yon Hlut Kyun remains an open question. Augering of the site down to natural soil at five metre intervals failed to locate any central structure, which one might expect if the wall had enclosed a temple or monastery complex.

UKT 130120:
The structure at Yon Hlut Kyun may very well be a teaching institution of the Ari monks. I am surprised that none of their monasteries and teaching sites have been discovered so far.

Myegedwin {mré-hkè:twing:} (E 95.0024° N 21.1337°).
The present village of Mye-thindwin is only 150 years old, but the area is claimed in local folklore to have been the birthplace of Pagan’s first king, Thamoddarit. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT, 130119:
During my work on MMPD (Myanmar Medicinal Plant Database), I came across recipes that include {mré-hkè:} 'solidified-earth' or 'earth-cake'. I am beginning to wonder if the site of {mré-hkè:twing:} is the pit or mine from where this material was obtained.

There is evidence in local fields of earthenware pottery manufacture. Numerous abandoned furnaces for smelting iron have been located near the neighbouring village of Zi-o (E 95.0411° N 21.1087°, Map 84 O/4). The unrestored Gu Gyaung pagoda complex (E 94.9888° N 21.1504°) near Mye-thindwin features a stupa on the western side of a small temple. There is also a brick foundation of a third structure, eight by ten metres. The complex sits on a brick platform, twenty-six by twenty-two metres, and there is evidence of an enclosure wall. Temple doorways open to the east, north and south. The roof of the temple has collapsed and the structure is filled with rubble, but the temple appears to have had a vaulted chamber with no central pillars. A brick base that presumably supported a Buddha image abuts the western wall, indicating that the image faced east in the conventional manner. A sandstone spire about a metre high, with seven multi-tiered umbrellas, was found here and is now in the Pagan archaeological museum. The relic chamber in the stupa, broken [{p06end}] open in times beyond the memory of the local people, is lined with stone, and has a capacity of more than one cubic metre.

UKT 130205:
There are two place names in the above para that needs to be analyzed:
  ¤ Zi-o
  ¤ Gu Gyaung
Because row #2 fricatives, {sa.}, {hsa.}, {za.}, {Za.}, & {Ña.}, are involved, I need reliable Bur-Myan spellings. Similarly, there is one place name below the needs to be checked:
  ¤ Shenme

Kokko {koak~ko} (E 95.0195° N 21.0989°)
was abandoned, according to local records, in 1878 and families transferred to neighbouring villages, including Mye-thindwin. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130205:
The year 1878 is intriguing. It was the year when King Thibaw ascended the throne, making it secure by murdering his brothers and sisters. It was about this time that my great-grandfather, U Yan Shin, had to flee his native villages near Salé and sought refuge under the British in Gyobingauk in Lower Burma.
See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thibaw_Min 130205

Locals believe that Myin-kwe-min, said to have become king at Pagan in AD 716, was the son of a wealthy man from Kokko. On an unexcavated mound of potsherds up to two metres high, remains from the Pagan and Ava periods have been recovered. In this general area near Shenme there are two mounds (Map 84 K/16 E 94.9868° N 21.0795°), each about twenty metres in diameter, containing bricks as well as pieces of shaped and pecked sandstone. There are two other groups of apparently early pagoda ruins southeast of Shenme. These include a pair of mounds about eight metres in diameter (E94.9947° N 21.0848°), and a small monument known as the Shwe Anadaw Phaya (E95.0006° N 21.0888°). Restored in 1973, the Shwe Anadaw Phaya has a ruined pagoda mound beside it, containing dressed sandstone reminiscent of the capping of a medieval relic chamber. The presence of sima {þaim}-stones, which customarily mark the site of ordination halls, suggests that it may have been the site of an earlier monastery.

Kokkethein {oat-htè:þaim} (E 95.06267 N 21.03181)
is claimed by the people of Panidwin to be the original name of their village. It is one of several villages in the eastern hinterland of Pagan with a substantial presence of old furnaces for extracting iron from natural iron nodules in the soil.

Tuti  {htu-htæÑ} (E 95.0163° N 20.9850°),
modern Suti, has at least three fields nearby which contain old potsherds. A hint of antiquity is contained in the name of the village monastery, Than-bo or “iron smelting”. There are old iron furnaces nearby, and local people report digging up bronze bowls with lids.

Nyaungwun {Ñaung-wûn:} (E 94.9905° N 20.9597°),
the present Tetma village, is near the southernmost tip of the Tuyin mountain range. Its older name was Nyaung Bin or Banyan Tree village, on account of big banyan trees that once surrounded it. Around the village are old and ruined furnaces for smelting iron.

Ywamon {ywa-moän} (E 95.0707° N 21.2861°)
is an abandoned settlement known today as Shwetaung Ywahmine, near Letpanchibaw (E 95.0627° N 21.2828°). Parts of a circular brick wall can be seen here, somewhat eroded by the river. In 1978 and 2001, excavations by the Archaeology Department revealed evidence of Neolithic, Bronze and Iron (Pyu) Age activity. Artifacts found included potsherds, domestic utensils, stone and bronze weapons, beads, ear plugs and stone rings. The evidence suggests [{p07end}] continuous occupation, or regular re-occupation, from prehistoric times through to the Pagan and Konbaung periods.

There is disagreement in the Great Chronicle, the New Chronicle (fn24) and the Glass Palace Chronicle (fn25) as to whether Onmya (E 94.8675° N 20.9065°), or Singu (E94.8675° N 20.9065°) should be in the canonical list of nineteen villages. Conveniently for the purposes of regional settlement analysis, at least, both are in the same geographical area in relation to Pagan.

There remain several claimant villages with dubious or unknown locations. [UKT ¶ ]

Magyigyi ,
according to local informants, is a name that appeared in a stone inscription which had been removed from a pagoda near Old Pagan that was washed away by the Irrawaddy river. On the strength of this, Magyigyi has been assigned to a hypothetical spot in the river, at E 94.8562° N 21.1808°.[UKT ¶ ]

according to the New Pagan Chronicle, was near Myingyan, a considerable distance upriver from Pagan. Tazaung (E 95.3291° N 21.4426°) may be the place the chronicle’s author had in mind, but field survey has found no apparent link with antiquity. A village elder in Nyaung-do, which is on the eastern side of Tuyin Taung, suggested during a visit to collect oral history that Tazaunggun had been on the west side of the Irrawaddy opposite Pagan. [UKT ¶ ]

Tharekya {þa.rak-ra.}
were described as “not existing now” in the New Chronicle, and no claimants have so far been found.

Several issues come to the fore in the light of this preliminary investigation into whether the nineteen founding villages of Pagan are mythological, historical, or something in between. The activity in Pagan’s eastern hinterland is intriguing. Ritual buildings at Gu Gyaung, Taungba and Shenme appear to date from some part of the Pagan monument construction period, and further investigation might find them a more clearly defined place in the timescale. The geographical location of this cluster of villages would also fit Stargardt’s model of first millennium settlements locating themselves along secondary streams, rather than major rivers, to enable more efficient control of water resources (fn26). [UKT ¶ ]

UKT, 130119:
The English transcription "dwin" appearing as suffix in many place names suggest a mining activity of some sort. The Bur-Myan suffix would be {twing:} 'a hole in the ground'. I recommend to the researchers to include Bur-Myan names in Romabama to throw more light on their work. From the name we can also get some idea of the language, Burmese, Pyu or Mon, used by the old inhabitants. -- UKT130119

A recent discovery is the presence of an estimated 1,000 iron-making furnaces in the eastern region, notably near the villages of Zi-o and Panidwin. These are as yet undated, but they suggest substantial economic activity at some time in the past. The structure [{p08end}] found at Yon Hlut Kyun remains a puzzle. The mytho-historical view is that it should be the palace of King Thamoddarit, as described in the Glass Palace Chronicle, although it does not immediately appear to be related in terms of its layout to palaces of the historical era, or for that matter to other buildings of the Pagan period.

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The dimensions of Pagan

In the second part of this paper, I would like to present and briefly comment on a parabaik, or traditional folding book (fn27), which contains a description of Pagan that includes a record of its dimensions. The translation (fn28) is based on two copies of the same document, apparently dating back to at least 1790 AD. [UKT ¶ ].

UKT 130123: I wonder who the author of the parbaik was. Since Bob Hudson has dated the parabaik to "at least 1790 AD", it was comparatively recent. This date would place it during the reign of Badon Min -- dubbed Bodawpaya (1745-1819 AD), during the time-period of Father Sangermano's stay in Myanmarpré. I would like to see the cellulose fibres of the parabaik itself being analyzed by methods of fibre-analysis. The fibres would not be well-beaten, and they would be in a perfect condition to provide much information. Moreover, I would like to know the antiflocculent used to indicate the area from which the paper of parabaik came.
   Since the king himself was named "Maung Waing" {maung weing:}, the childhood friend who turned enemy of Bo Bo Aung who was "Maung Aung" -- the master-alchemist who had become the top {waiz~za}, he was the recipient of many "bogus" messages written on paper from the Thagyamin himself. These messages were known as "Shwé-pé-lhwa" literally the 'golden-palm-message'. I wonder whether this parabaik had been written with the intention of fooling the king.
   The names of Nat-guardians of the city-gates should be compared to those of the Thirty-seven Nats -- the "green-nats" -- who had died tragic deaths. Most of these "green-nats" were not of the fighting kind suitable to guard the gate. I wonder from where the author of the parabaik had got these names. Were they made up by the author himself?

A version owned by the late scholar, U Maung Maung Tin, which contained the first few pages, including the measurements of the city, was brought to my attention in 1999. A complete version was later located in the library of the Archaeology Department at Pagan. Metric measurements, dates in years AD, and some brief explanations in parentheses have been added in an attempt to enhance and clarify the meaning of the original. Gaps have been left where words or sentences in the document could not be clearly deciphered. Complex and difficult to follow listings of the genealogies of men and buildings are dealt with here by leaving the translation as literal as possible. It is hoped that English speaking scholars will find this document a useful resource. [{p09end}]

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fn01 Pe Maung Tin and G. H. Luce. 1923. (trans) The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma. Rangoon University Press. (Reprinted 1960). 28-29. fn01b

fn02 A more detailed account of this survey is to appear in Hudson, Bob, U Nyein Lwin and U Win Maung (Tanpawady) (in press) Digging for Myths: Archaeological Excavations and Surveys of the Legendary Nineteen Founding Villages of Pagan. In The Silver Gong is Struck: New Research in the Art and Archaeology of Burma. British Museum, London. fn02b

fn03 Maung Hla. 1923 The Chronological Dates of the Kings of Burma who reigned at Thayekhittaya (ancient Prome) and at Pagan. Journal of the Burma Research Society 13(2): 82. fn03b

fn04 Aung Thaw. 1968 Report on the excavations at Beikthano. Revolutionary Government of the Union of Burma, Ministry of Union Culture, Rangoon. Myint Aung. 1970 The excavations at Halin Journal of the Burma Research Society. 53(2): 55-62. Sein Maung U. 1981 Mongmao, a forgotten city. The Working People’s Daily. Jan 21 & 23, Feb 3.There is no equivalent monograph in English for Sri Ksetra, as for Beikthano and Halin, but research dating back to the early 20th century (such as Archaeological Survey of India.1909-1910 Excavations at Hmawza near Prome. Annual report of the Archaeological Survey of India. Manager of Publications, Delhi) is neatly summarised in Aung Thaw 1972 Historical Sites in Burma. Ministry of Union Culture, Rangoon, 16-33. The scientific evidence for Pyu chronology is discussed in detail in Hudson, Nyein Lwin and Win Maung, in press, op cit. fn04b

fn05 Aung Myint. 1999 Ancient Myanmar Cities in Aerial Photos. Ministry of Culture, Yangon (in Burmese). fn05b

fn06 Aung-Thwin, Michael. 1983 Burma before Pagan: The Status of Archaeology Today. Asian Perspectives 25(2): 1-21. Win Maung (Tanpawady). 1981 Binnaka Myohaung (“Binnaka Ancient City”). In Burmese. Privately circulated manuscript. fn06b

fn07 Pe Maung Tin and G. H. Luce. 1923. op cit: ix fn07b
fn08 ibid 28-36. fn08b
fn09 ibid 28. fn09b
fn10 ibid 29. fn10b

fn11 Decimal degrees = degrees + (minutes/60) + (seconds/3600). fn11b

fn12 Pe Maung Tin and G. H. Luce, op cit: 45 fn12b

fn13 These beads are considered characteristic trade goods of the Pyu period - see Moore, Elizabeth & Aung Myint. 1993 Beads of Myanmar (Burma). Journal of the Siam Society 81(1): 55-81, Aung Myint 1999, op cit. fn13b

fn14 Archaeological Survey of Burma. 1907 Report of the Superintendent, Archaeological Survey of Burma. Rangoon: Office of the Superintendent, Government Printing: 9 (referred to in subsequent notes as ASB). fn14b

fn15 Khin Maung Nyunt. 1997 Hagiography of Maha Thera Shin Arahan and an account of the reconstruction of Shin Arahan’s brick monastery. Ministry of Culture, Myanmar. fn15b

fn16 AMS (Accelerator Mass Spectrometry) dating by ANSTO- the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Sydney. Calibration by OxCal, Version 3.5, a computer program by C Bronk Ramsey, 2000. fn16b

fn17 ASB 1915: 7 fn17b

fn18 Lubeigt, Guy. 1998 Pagan: Historie et Légendes. Editions Kailash. fn18b

fn19 ASB 1906:25 fn19b. fn19b

fn20 This information comes from U Win Maung (Tanpawady). fn20b

fn21 Hudson, Bob & U Nyein Lwin. 1999. Archaeological Excavations and Survey, February-March, 1999, Yon Hlut Kyun, Pagan, Burma: a preliminary report. Report to Director General of Archaeology, Yangon. Hudson, Bob. 2000. The King of “Free Rabbit” Island; a GIS-based archaeological approach to Myanmar’s medieval capital, Pagan. Proceedings of the Myanmar Two Millennium Conference. Volume 3: 10-20. fn21b

fn22 See Myint Aung 1969 The contribution of libation jars to defining historical periods. Tetkatho Pyinnya Padetha 4(2): 35-46 (in Burmese). fn22b

fn23 Wright, R. V. S. 1994 The MV-NUTSHELL program for multivariate archaeology. Author, Sydney fn23b

fn24 The historiography of the various chronicles is discussed at length in the introduction to the Glass Palace Chronicle (Pe Maung Tin and Luce op cit: xvi). fn24b

fn25 This argument is summarised in Pe Maung Tin and Luce, op cit: 29 fn25b

fn26 Stargardt, Janice. 1990 The Ancient Pyu of Burma: early Pyu cities in a man-made landscape. PACSEA Cambridge fn26b

fn27 Parabaiks, folding books made from paper , survive from the Konbaung period, 1752-1885, onward (Herbert, Patricia. “Burmese Court Manuscripts”. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130119:
Parabaiks used paper made by the Goan-Shans. Since the paper was made from long fibers -- a paper-making technology unknown to the West as late as 1930s when Dard Hunter made a trip to the Burmese frontier areas. This paper-making method was described to me when I was studying for my master-degree on chemistry and chemical-engineering related to pulp and paper making at the Institute of Paper Chemistry Appleton, Wis., in 1957-59. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dard_Hunter 130119

The Art of Burma: New Studies. Marg Publications, Mumbai. 1999). Existing examples of palm-leaf documents from Myanmar have been dated to the fourteenth century AD (Singer, Noel F. “Palm leaf manuscripts of Myanmar (Burma)”. Arts of Asia 1991 21(1): p 138). However the palm-leaf form, reproduced and preserved as gold sheets, appears much earlier, in the middle of the first millennium AD (Stargardt, J. “The oldest known Pali texts, 5th-6th century: results of the Cambridge Symposium on the Pyu golden Pali text from Sri Ksetra, 18-19 April, 1995.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 1995 31: p 119-223). A definitive study of traditional documents can be found in Thaw Kaung, U. “Myanmar Traditional Manuscripts and their Preservation and Conservation”. Myanmar Historical Research Journal 1: 241-273. 1995 fn27b

fn28 English translation by U Thaung Lwin. fn28b

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UKT notes


-- UKT, 2008, 130120

When Anawrahta realized that his foster brother Sokkaté, and took (as wife) his mother -- Sokkaté's stepmother -- he decided to rebel. I opined that Sokkaté's mother and Anawrahta's mother could not be sisters related by birth. Otherwise, Sokkaté would be committing incest -- a grave offence not easily condoned in Burma. Yet, I have seen such a case with one of my father's subordinates who had married by own aunt, raising a family with her and having a son who was slightly older than me.

Now from: Glass Palace Chronicle, vol.1, p229. I am giving this page para by para to check on the Bur-Myan spelling of several words, and to present the vivid way in which the text was written about a hundred years ago.

Anawrahta after collecting enough troops came to Pagan and demanded of his elder [foster] brother either to give up the throne or face him in battle. The elder Sokkaté {soak~ka.té:} on hearing the demand was beset with anger and said, "That fellow with the smell of mother's milk still in his mouth has dared me to fight. Let my ministers [and troops] stand aside, and I will give him single combat on horse back."

When Anawrahta heard the answer, he was more than delighted and went on the appointed day to the place riding his Nat horse ["Nat" here means the horse given by a Nat and refers to the story of his father in his days as a tax collector when an unknown elder, purported to be the {þi.kra:ming:} had given him a horse and the "flying" spear, went to the appointed place, on the bank of {þa.ma.hti:} creek.

The elder brother Soak~ka.té greeted the younger. At that Anawrahta said, "Elder brother, since you are senior to me in age, thrust [with your spear] first." Elder Sokkaté thrust his spear [or threw the javelin] at the younger. The younger used his {þi.kra:}-given {a.rain~da.ma} spear to ward off the oncoming spear, and cause it to strike only the saddle of Anawrahta.

When Sokkaté saw that the thrust of his spear had not harm the body of the younger, he became greatly alarmed. At that moment, cried the younger Anawrahta, "Elder, your turn is over. Now, it's my turn. Defend yourself if you can" and let fly {a.rain~da.ma} at Sokkaté.

The spear went in from the front of body and came out of the back. Sokkaté together with his horse fell. ["with his horse" in Bur-Myan is {mring:ka.pa}]. To this day the place is known as {mring:ka.pa}.

Anawrahta's mother on hearing that her son had speared and killed Sokkaté (now her husband) was so beset with grief that the cloth-cover of her breast fell off, and cried bitterly "Poat-ta Lin, Poat-ta Lin". (I am translating it as "Son and Husband, Son and Husband" probably meaning she loved both. A pagoda is erected to mark this place. Originally this pagoda is known as Poat-ta Lin Pagoda, and later as Yin-wut Kyut meaning where the breast-covering had come off.

Sokkaté had lived 28 years as prince, and 25 years as king. He died at the age of 53. The omen heralding his death was the falling of two meteorites on the palace. He was Saturday-born.

UKT 130210: I am curious about the name "Sokkaté". Is it Bur-Myan or something else? If his name had started with the phoneme dedicated to "Saturday", the numeral corresponding should be 0 or 7. Here the actual name corresponds to the numeral 3 which indicated that he should have been Tuesday-born. You may argue that the astrological custom of naming corresponding to day of the week was not in vogue in Pagan at that time. I rest my case.

After deposing his elder brother, went to the monastery where his father, Kunzaw, was living as a monk. Since the time-period was before the religious reformation, Kunzaw was undoubtedly an Ari. Anawrahta  offered the kingship to his father at which his father replied: "I am old in age. You, my son, take the kingship."

At that Anawrahta was crowned in the year 3029 BE. He presented his father with (another) set of regalia including a white umbrella, and celebrated another coronation for him. His father with his royal retinue of female servants (concubines?) became a "Monk-king".

UKT 130121:
Because Kunzaw was a Monk-king, when he died became the "Nat under the White Umbrella" {hti:hpru-hsaung: nût}. When Prof. Luce and U Pe Maung Tin translated the Glass Palace Chronicles, they being colonialist-historians, "sanitized and christianized" the colorful narrative of the Bur-Myan text.

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NyaungU Sawrahan aka Taungthugyi-min

-- UKT 130121.

There was another king in pre-Anawrahta Pagan known as Popa Sawrahan who is reputed to have ruled 613-640 AD.

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyaung-u_Sawrahan 080919

{Ñaung-U: sau:ra.hûn:} MLCTS: nyaung u: sau ra. han: ; also spelt Ngyaung-ú-Tsau Rahán; died 964 AD) was a ruler of the kingdom of Pagan in what is now Myanmar. He is also known as Taungthumingyi {taung-þu-kri: ming:}.

Nyaung-U Sawrahan usurped the previous king, Theinhko. Previously a farmer, NyangU {Ñaung-U: sau:ra.han:} killed Theinhko when the hungry king took a cucumber from his field. NyaungU Sawrahan was accepted as king by the queen to prevent unrest in the kingdom and became known as the Cucumber King or Farmer King ("Taung-thugyi Min"). There is a similar story in Cambodian history and both stories may be mythical.

NyaungU Sawrahan reigned for 33 years and was overthrown by Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu, who in turn was overthrown by NyaungU Sawrahan's sons Kyiso and Sokka-te soak~ka.té:}.

UKT: It is said that Taungthugyimin was a devotee of the Cult of Naga (the Burmese Dragon) and had a huge image of the Naga erected in his cucumber field to show his devotion to it. It is to be noted that there were two villages with names of naga among the founding villages which were situated near the river - water being the home of naga.

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Sri Ksetra

by UKT 130122 

The Bur-Myan name {þa.ré-hkít~ta.ra} has been named as "Sri Ksetra" by the colonialist-historians. In this form it is not Pali but Sanskrit. To be fair to them they might have followed the Mon-Myan pronunciation which is more allied to Sanskrit than to Pali as is used in Upper Burma. I hope to come to a  better understanding -- first hand -- of this problem by learning Mon-Myan language using Romabama as an intermediary.

The Skt-Dev «ṣa» ष /s/ is not palatal plosive-stop, but dental fricative-sibilant with a prominent hissing sound which is not present in Bur-Myan and was probably absent in Vedic before Panini came on scene to change Vedic into Classical Sanskrit.

The Bur-Myan {sa.} &  {s} are palatal plosive-stops, and their equivalents in Skt-Dev are च «ca» & च् «c». Note the presence of {a-þût} or virama which is quintessential in our scripts. The western philologists and phoneticians could not understand the problem until the term Abugida was invented to differentiate it from Alphabet at about the turn of the century.

Abugida or Akshara scripts, exemplified by Devanagari and Myanmar are phonetic scripts which are based on the science of Phonetics well-known in India for thousands of years, whereas the Western script or Alphabet, exemplified by Latin and Greek, are non-phonetic. Thus in my transcription of Bur-Myan to English in Latin script, I have to use the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) on English.

Only when I came to fully understand this aspect of Linguistics, Romabama could not advance beyond the stage of transliteration. In Romabama, I have to differentiate:

- the palatal {sa.} च «ca» &  {s} च् «c»,
- the dental {Sa.} ष «ṣa» & {S} ष् «ṣ»

Writing the name "Sri Ksetra" with capital letters to conform to the Western way of writing is also a source of confusion. In the akshara form, there are no capital letters and the name should have been written either स्री क्षेत्र  «sri kṣetra» or श्री क्षेत्र «śri kṣetra» - the second spelling being more hissing that the first.

In the name of the city, concentrate on the Skt-Dev conjunct क्ष «kṣa». This conjunct - not medial - has been used in the place of {hka.} ख in {hkít~ta.ra} षेत्र  = ष े त ् र   «kṣetra». 

There is also another source of confusion. This time between Bur-Myan and Skt-Dev. The former uses what is known as a split-vowel, as is found in Bangla-Bengali. The syllable {hkít} is in split-vowel-form. The regular form is consonant-vowel, but in the split-vowel form the consonant is in the middle of the split-vowel. Many internet fonts fail to render such vowels and Bur-Myan script on the internet as in Wikipedia is wrong, and even I, a Bur-Myan native speaker-writer, sometimes cannot decipher them. To avoid this confusion Romabama has to use individually written glyphs-gif pictures. The bonus I am getting is to be able to show how the Bur-Myan words are pronounced by using different colours as in {þa.ré-hkít~ta.ra}.

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