Migration and settlement of Shans in Burma

Long march of Shans

to Shwe Bamar Pavilion

Dear Nan,

                  I still remember the bed time stories you used to tell our children so that they would not forget their roots. Once upon a time, long long ago (round about 650 B.C. ) there lived our great great grand mother named Daw Daw Shan (also known as Daw Tai). She lived independently up north in a far far away land at present day U Ta Yoke’s village place at the lower part of the Yangtze River.

1. Daw Daw Shan’s (also known as Daw Tai) brothers, sisters, cousins and her family traveled down through the present day Ko Yu Nan’s village and migrated further down into our Shwe Bama village and settled in the Shan quarters at the eastern part.

2. A large group of her sisters made a detour U turn and went up north and climbed the Tibet hills and stayed there forming the Tibeto-Burman ancestors of the whole region.

3. One brother continued his journey west, up to the present day Ko Ya Khine’s village.

4. Another brother even decided to continue his long march up into the present day north eastern part of U Ka Lar’s village.

5. One of her brother continued south in our Shwe Bama village and settled in lower Shwe Bama closely with Daw Daw Mon and U Ka Yin.

6. Few sisters refused to follow them in a long journey, decided to continue to just settle in present day Ko Yu Nan’s village.

7. One cousin sister broke away from all others who headed to the south west, and decided to go straight southwards and settled in present U Tai’s village.

8. One distant cousin sister also broke away from all and moved to the east, settling in present day U Lao’s village and U Kam Bo Dia’s village. Actually they are a little bit different, some had more of U Ta Yoke’s blood and some even have mixed blood with U Kha Mars and some even went further and said to be settled in Daw Viet Nam’s village.

9. One of her sister, known as Daw Daw Thet married to U Pyu and their decedents are part of my ancestors, U U Bamars.

10. Some of the children of the sister who made a detour U turn and went up north and climbs the Tibet hills later, came down and they were known as U Kan Yan’s family and formed one of the great grand parents of Shwe Bama villagers.

11. At last intermarriage of distant cousins who were the descendents of U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet give rise to my Shwe Bama ancestors.

Note: the long march travelers of Daw Daw Shan’s relatives came down in different times in batches. Because it happened in the prehistoric times, I have searched and collected data, and made it simple and easy from: the folk tales of our Ethnic Minorities, the old records of Chinese and Indian travelers’ chronicles, Thailand and Khmer chronicles, from Hman Nan Yar Za Won, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma (Pe Maung Tin and G.H.Luce, Rangoon University Press, Rangoon, Burma, January 1960.), Dr Than Tun (History Professor, Mandalay University) “Chin, Myu and Khumi, Notthern Rakhine” in Myanmar Magazine Kalya 1994 August and other publications, and HGE Hall History of Southeast Asia and Burma’s old history text books published by Burmese Education Ministry.

I hereby wish to go into some details of what I had given as a gist above: Daw Daw Shan’s other cousins descended from the same ancestors, now inhabit northeast Assam or Asom at Ko Ah Than’s village in U Ka Lar’s village tract at the north west of our village.

Note: they established the Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, where the Burmese General Maha Bandula’s troops committed indescribable cruelties and barbarities  as to decimate something like 2/3 of the population and certainly 1/3 of the men and boysdisemboweling them, eating their flesh and burning them alive in cages to intimidate and suppress the Shan Ahom of Assam,India.

<ref>  Edward Albert Gait’s “A history of Assam” book, published by Thacker, Spink in1963 at Calcutta</ref> 

This event so weakened and disorganized the Shan Ahom that by 1839 the kingdom was completely annexed by the British. Before that from about 1220 – 1812 AD they maintained themselves under one Dynasty, (that of Mong Mao  568-1604 AD when its descendants ruled Hsenwi or Theinni in Burmese). Indeed the Shan Ahom resisted conquest by the Mughals who had conquered much of India before the British incursion.

<ref>“DIALOGUE WITH A SHAN LEADER, H.R.H HSO KHAN PHA” . Tiger Yawnghwe or His Royal Highness Prince Hso Khan Pha; he is the eldest son of Sao Shwe Thaik, the former Saopha[Prince] of Yawnghwe[Nyaung-Shwe] and the first President of Burma after Burma’s Independence from British colonial rule. Interview with Dr Tayza, Chief Editor of Burma Digest.</ref>
http://www.tayzathuria.org.uk/bd/2006/2/12/dialouge.htm

Some cousins of Daw Daw Shan settled along the way, at Ko Yu Nan’s village in the north east of our village. Some distant cousins, mixed blood with U Ta Yoke and U Kha Mar, went to the east and founded the U Laos’ village and Daw Kam Bodia’s village. Others went down to the southeast and settled in U Thai’s Land or village. No wonder U Thai’s Land was known as Siam or we could even call Shan.

Daw Daw Shan’s relatives had been gradually pushed south, at about the beginning of the Christian era by the advancement of the U Tar Tar. About 650 A.D. the Daw Daw Shan’s cousins formed a powerful village in Nan Chao, now that village is known as Ko Yu Nan’s village.

Daw Nan Chao, your great grand aunty was quite powerful and could resist U Ta Yoke’s attempts at conquest until 1253. During the years 754 to 763 A.D. the Daw Nan Chao, cousin of Daw Daw Shan extended her rule even up to the upper basin of the Irrawaddy River and came into contact with the U Pyu.

Dear Nan, I hope you could immediately recognize that he was my great grand uncle U Pyu. He was one of three brothers who founded our Shwe Shwe Bama village: viz, U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet. U Pyu was then the ruler of the Upper Shwe Bama Village Plains.

Some of Daw Daw Shan’s descendents ventured beyond Upper Shwe Bama village into Lower Shwe Bama village to mingle and live together with the Daw Daw Mons.

During the heydays of the Daw Shan’s cousin Daw Nan Chao Village, her children had even crossed Upper Shwe Bama to reach far west and established the once powerful Ahom Village, in the northeastern part of Ko Ka Lar’s village tract, now known as Assam or Assom village, as I had stated above.

Daw Daw Shan herself had moved into the area now known as the Shan Pyae or Shan quarters of our Shwe Bama Village in large numbers and settled down and were well established by the time our first ‘Shwe Bama village head’ King Anawrahta ascended his throne in 1st century.

Daw Daw Shan’s relatives tried desperately to defend their Daw Nan Chao village kingdom from the U Ta Yoke attackers, but in 1253 the Daw Nan Chao village Kingdom fell. Some of the cousins of Daw Daw Shan, unwilling to live under foreign domination there; move towards the south in strength, to seek freedom in present day U Tai’s Land or village area.

They joined forces with the Daw Daw Shan’s other cousin sisters, who had already settled in the area, and in 1262 took over Mr Chiang Rai’s village, in 1296 Miss Chiang Mai village and in 1315 took Ms Ayu Dhya village, and established their own village tract kingdoms.

In Upper Shwe Bama the Daw Daw Shan established the village kingdoms of Mo Gaung village (Mong Kawng), and Mo Hnyin village (Mong Yang), and in the Shweli basin, the Mao village Kingdom.

My great great grand father Anawrahta ruled the Pagan village for 43 year. He was able to unify the whole Shwe Bama Village tract under his rule for the first time in history.

During this time he sent his armed villagers into the Daw Daw Shan’s part of the village to help ensure the security of his village Kingdom. However, he had no intention of annexing or taking over of the Daw Daw Shan’s village. He merely wished to defend the low lying plains of his Shwe Bama village from raids by the Daw Daw Shan’s disgruntled village militias. For this purpose he established a string of fortified villages along the length of the foothills.

Relations between Daw Daw Shan and Shwe Bama village tract became friendlier under Anawrahta’s successors , but the Shwe Bama Village Kingdom of Pagan fell to the attackers from U Ta Yoke village in 1287 A. D. and was destroyed.

Then in1312 A. D. one of Daw Daw Shan’s son took the kingly Title of “Thihathu” and ascended the Shwe Bama village head or throne in the village of Pinya.

Daw Daw Shan’s cousins, the (Mao) Shans, who had established villages in Mo Hnyin, Mo Gaung and the Shweli areas then overran the villages of Pinya and Sagaing in 1364 A.D.

After they had withdrawn, a Daw Daw Shan’s younger son from Ava village, whose title was Thadominbya, combined Pinya village and Sagaing village and established a new Village Kingdom, over which he ruled. So your great great grandmother Daw Daw Shan’s children effectively became village heads in our Upper Shwe Bama village tract from 1282 A.D. to 1531 A.D.

In 1527 A.D. due to the attacks of the Mo Hnyin village’s Saw Bwa on Ava village, the Daw Daw Shan’s children and U Bama’s children of the area left their homes and descended southwards towards Toungoo village, where they established a new village.

Thohanbwa, the son of the Moehnyin village Saw Bwa, who became Head of Ava village, was soon assassinated due to his lack of skill in statecraft and administration, and in 1543 A.D. Onbaung Khun Maing succeeded him as the village head.

Meanwhile from Toungoo village, in the year 1555 A.D. King Bayinnaung succeeded in unifying the whole of Shwe Bama Village for the second time in our history.

He was able to “persuade’ the Daw Daw Shan’s grandchild, Shan Saw Bwa to submit his suzerainty. In accordance with the traditions of the earlier Burmese Village Heads, the administrative setup was that the Daw Daw Shan’s descendents, Saw Bwas who submitted to the suzerainty of the Burmese King retained full powers to rule over their own village. This relationship was based on mutual respect. The military forces of Burma village include contingents of Shan soldiers who proved their valour on the foreign battlefields.

That is how Daw Daw Shan and U Bama’s descendents had lived closely together, like brethren, till the fall of Upper Burma in 1886.

Then the Daw Daw Shan’s grandchildren Saw Bwas, with the intention of restoring freedom to Burma and to the Shan State, chose the U Bama Princes Limbin and U Saw Yan Naing to head their alliance, and started waging war against the colonialism.

Dear Nan, while you were away, I used to spend most of the time with your old history books, which we bought for your Ph.D. thesis. As your thesis is related to Diaspora, migration and immigration, we had a lot of books related to this subject. Now only, because of your questions, I learned and began to understand the basis of our village’s cultures, our dialects, literature, religions, and the history of migrations.

But dear darling, my answers about Daw Daw Shan were adapted from your uncle U Shan’s website. I am using your own method of appeasing the examiners, now you all have no choice but to accept my answers and also have to give high marks to me: may be perfect 100. Do you now understand or realize my idea or style of answering your questions based on your own concepts and ideas?

Dear Nan, I have to admit that I had learned this secret technique from you.

Once, I could not understand why although we learned together in the university, you could score better marks than me, and lecturers and even some professors were pleased with your answers.

You told me your secret weapon against the lecturers, to try to find out which text book the lecturers are using; sometimes it may be different from the prescribed text book. Different chapters from various subjects were taught by different lecturers and they used to teach from the book they like best. You taught me to read from the lecturer’s book of choice. Then only we would get the best marks and praises from the examiners.

Now I am practicing as you preached me. Although I could quote from various history books I had chosen my answers from your Uncle Shan’s favourite web site.

(I hereby acknowledged that I have adapted the above facts from the Shan Herald Agency News’ Shan State Affairs section, Shan History.)

We could see in the above mentioned era how Daw Daw Shan’s children migrated and grew mightier. We should study how political, economical, social and philosophical patterns changed according to their coming.

To sum up again, after the fall of Bagan village, Ava village kingdom was built in 1364 M.E. Subsequently, until Pinya village, Sagaing village and Myinsaing village eras, the power of Bagan village collapsed and rebellious small village kingdoms spread. When the invading conqueror Daw Daw Shan’s children came across Shwe Bama’s children, they accepted the Buddhist cultures and Shwe Bama cultures.

In this case, the saying, ‘conquerors are conquered’ need to be explained thoroughly.

Sorry dear darling, I adapted this last paragraph from the “Story of Myanmar told in pictures” by Dr Than Tun and translated by Maung Win War.

Anyway no one is sure the source of your ancestors’ conversion to Buddhism. We should consider the fact that your relatives had very good relations with Daw Mon and U Kha Mar. You could even get the Buddhism directly from them. I am neither an expert nor a historian but I could see with my own eyes that your Shan Pagodas look more like Thai and Cambodia Pagodas than our Burmese. Never mind dear, it is not important or became a big issue for us as both of us are essentially the same Buddhists.

from (http://www.mchronicle.com.mm/pages/v2n5/thantun.shtml)

When I adapted the whole story from the Shan Herald, you looked down on me as a cheap plagiarist. So now I am just showing off a little bit to you and just as usual trying to tease you.

I purposely chose the episode of the history, your Daw Daw Shansconquering over the Shwe Bama, which our successive Bama governments’ history text books just used to mention one line only and skipped forward to the glorious Shwe Bama warrior Toungoo village head or King Baying Naung who successfully established our 2nd Shwe Bama Empire.

Dear Nan, I need to show some of my general knowledge to earn some more extra marks or points from you.

The same thing happened to the conqueror U Tar Tars. They took over Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and they killed millions of the men and children but married those Muslim women.

Their new wives strangely converted them into Islam and they accepted the Islamic cultures. In this case also, as the saying goes, ‘conquerors are conquered’. And those

Tar Tar/Turk descendents’ armies invaded Afghanistan, India subcontinent (future India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.) and established the Moghol Islamic Empire.

So the Central Asia Muslims, Chinese Muslims, Yunan Chinese Muslims and Burma’s Chinese Muslims or Panthays and many of the Burmese Muslims are also their descendents. You would not believe me but it is the truth that even the Muslims in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia got Islam from those Chinese Muslims.

I know that I frequently have an overdose of humour which you don’t like and used to sway from the main topic often.

I am so happy that you could not fail me in front of Dr Tayza and Burma Digest readers. If I just answer on the phone, you would just simply cut off the line. Now you get what you want, on paper in front of all. You cannot stop me now. I am sure that you would not be able to bribe Dr Tay Za and Burma Digest editors as they are not like the greedy SPDC generals. I hope I could impress you with my general knowledge in history, migration and may be even some radical views.

Dear Nan, now I have answered part of your questions and hope to pass with flying colours.

You could not accuse me of loving to eat the fruits without knowing the roots!

I hope I have successfully proved that I love you; I know and respect not only you but also your ancestors .

Your loving hubby

(Ko Tin Nwe)

BO AUNG DIN

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