Compassionate letter six, “Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”
As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest
You are not satisfied and questioned me why I never write anything praising Ko Phone Maw, commemorating Burma’s Human Rights Day. Dear Nan, I could not believe that you do understand me. I just copy your habit or your ways of doing things to impress others. During any examinations, you tried not to answer the question others would choose, or favourite questions tipped earlier before the examination. When answering the essay types, especially in literatures, you told me that you used to try presenting the answer from the different point of views from others. So you got a better score than me. Sorry dear, if I even failed to impress you. I thought many people would write about Ko Phone Maw, so I avoid directly writing about him but indirectly wrote about all kinds of Human Rights. If there were respect for Human Rights everywhere, Ko Phone Maw would not have died.
I will try to switch back to my lighter form for your question regarding the origin of Shan, Ethnic Minorities and Burma or history and roots of our ancestors. But don’t worry dear; although I intend to start writing the answer to you as a serious official, history document, I now know that it will be very dull. So instead of answering your questions directly, dear darling, kindly allow me to answer using our village peoples’ migration format. It may be more appropriate and appeared informal as I am writing it to you, my love and my estranged wife.
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. Her 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 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 Cam 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 Vietnam.
9. One of her sister, known as Daw Daw Thet married to U Pyu and their decedents are part of my ancestors.
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 book publishedshed 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.
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 Cambodia’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 Burma 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 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 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 Chiang Rai village, in 1296 Chiang Mai village and in 1315 took 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 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 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 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 10. 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 accept 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.
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 Shans’ conquering over the Shwe Bama, which our government 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 have 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 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. 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, our village or Shwe Myae is actually the virtual highway link between the villages in the south and their origin Ko Yu Nan’s village in northern part. Ko Indo Nesia, Daw Ma Lay traveled through our village in 2500 BC and 500 BC.
And those villagers on the numerous Islands up to U Au’s and Daw Zee Lans’ place, now we called Ko Poly Nisian also thought to have came down the same road.
Many of our cousin brothers like U Ka Yin (Pha Thi) and Daw Mon even came down earlier than Daw Shan from far north of Ko Ta Yoke village. U U Bamas and other cousin brothers of Tibet-Bama family villagers also came down from above. You and your half brother Ko Thai, Ko Laos and Ko Cambodia also came down from Ko Yu Nan’s village.
In the official Thailand History books, they even claim that all of the above came down from Ko Ta Yoke place through Ko Yu Nan’s village and even Daw Tibet had made an almost U turn and climbed beck onto the Tibet High Lands.
Those came down from north were met by the travelers from Ko Kala’s village. They came down from northwest. There was an old silk road from U Ta Yoke village at north-east to U Kala’s village at south-west. And that high way was in our Shwe Bama land.
Later they built the Burma Road which linked Burma and China. Its terminals are Kunming in China and Lashio in Burma. The road is about 1,130 kilometres long and runs through rough mountain country. This remarkable engineering achievement was built by 200,000 Chinese labouers during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and completed by 1938. It had a strategic role in World War II, where the Allied Powers used the Burma Road to transport war supplies to China. Supplies would be landed at Rangoon and moved by rail to Lashio, where the road started in Burma. In charge of the Operation was General Merrill and General Stillwell. At that time, Burma was a colony of the United Kingdom.
When the Japanese overran sections of the Burma Road the Allies flew supplies over the Hump and built the Ledo Road, also later known as the Stillwell Road. Ledo Road was built from Ledo in Assam into the Hukawng Valley as an alternative to the Burma Road, which had been closed by the Japanese. It was completed in January 1945 and was renamed Stilwell Road by Chiang Kai-shek.
(From the Wikipedia encyclopedia.)
Now China and India are negotiating with Shwe Bama villagers to build a modern high way liking their villages through our land. Recently Ko Ka Lar’s village chairman U Mus Lim went to Shwe Bama and signed an agreement to lay natural gas pipe line from Ko Ya Khine’s part of our village to Ko Ka Lar’s village. And there is already an agreement to connect the gas pipe line from Ko Ya Khine’s part of the village to Ko Yu Nan’s village. So these pipelines would become the renaissance of our forefather’s migration.
Dear Nan, why are you very sensitive, I am just mentioning the coincidences but not supporting those pipe-lines. You already know that I supported your policy of sanctions on SPDC. If you are not short sighted, you could still read the Burma Digest’s strong condemnation of TOTAL in recent issues. It is funny that those who play with fire and burnt sometimes blamed the fire. Recently the Malaysia PM complaint that their Petronas oil company suffered some losses because of the sanctions in the host countries they operate. Then why did they foolishly decided to follow their greed to buy the shares of TOTAL and invested in Myanmar/Burma oil exploration? They should now redeem themselves by supporting the US, UK and EU led pressure on Myanmar Generals for the rapid democratization.
So there were a lot of travelers, migrants, victims of disasters and famine, war refugees and etc moving along the road and some of them settled in our Shwe Bama Village as we are located along their high way through out the history.
Dear Nan, do you now accept the concept that our village was and still is a highway from west Ko Kala’s village to Ko Ta Yoke’s village in the north. People from Northwest of Ko Kala’s village came to our village through Ko Ya Khine’s village. Since 500 BC Hindu Orrisa village colonists had migrated towards Southeast and settled in lower part of our Shwe Bama village. Later other migrant villagers from the Andhra Dynasty from Ko Kala’s village similarly migrated to our village in 180 BC. Some took the long march on land and then some had sailed here.
Even U Pyu, one of the three founding brothers of Shwe Bama village was believed to be mixture of three groups;
(i) one local inhabitant since Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age,
(ii) another came from Ko Kala’s village bringing in Hinduism and Buddhism along with their cultures and literatures successively
(iii) and the another group believed to came down from north, Tibeto-Burman group.
Daw Daw Mon was also rumoured to have two groups of ancestors:
(i) One came down from above like Daw Daw Shan,
(ii) and another from U Kala’s village tract , Orrisa village and Talingna village bringing in Hinduism and Buddhism to our land. Ko Ta Laings originated from the Talingana village of Ko Kala’s village tract and arrived to lower Shwe Bama village part, met and married with Daw Daw Mon’s children, who came down from Ko Yu Nan’s village, spreads through our village up to Ko Thai, Ko Laos and Ko Cam Bodia’s villages.
They give us the Buddhism arts, culture, literature etc. You see Nan, our Shwe Bama spoken language was from Tibeto-Burman family and there are a lot of similarities with Chinese spoken language. But our writing language was from U Ka Lar’s village, Brami Script we took not from our native Daw Daw Mon but her cousin U Mon resided in U Thai Land’s village.
I am revealing this to you so that my dear Nan could accept our whole Shwe Bama villagers as the same family. Instead of dividing into numerous weak small countries we could even plan for the Future Federal Union of Burma working with ASEAN+++ formula, I proposed to you in my first letter sent together with my Valentine Music DVD.
Dear Nan, when I wrote in formal style, you complained that it was very dull, not attractive, you have to skip some lines and paragraphs, and you admitted that you even fell asleep before finishing my letter.
Now what? When Daw Khin Myo Chit wrote “The Heroes of Pagan” historians said she was playing with the history books like a child with a crayon. Now if you accuse me of attempting to imitate her, I would be glad and would felt honoured and reply with pride, “Thank you with my pleasure.” But I have to admit that my English could not even touch her toes’ level. And in the Story of Myanmar told in pictures by the famous historian Dr Than Tun, he had attempted to simplify the Burmese History.
Dear Nan, you have to understand me that I used to and need to quote the famous personalities frequently because I have an inferiority complex. I am afraid you would not be serious if I cannot support my words or the style of writing with the world accepted great persons’ works. I have to use them at least as an excuse for my deeds or words. You know I am just a graduate and were forced to waste my precious time with my business matters but you had already got two post graduate degrees, a Master and a PhD. So I hope my darling Nan is not sneering at my letter as a show off. Please kindly let me continue to enjoy with my false sense of grandeur by quoting those famous persons.
You see Nan, with the growing age and fading memory, I used to sway away from my primary target of answer your question.
The recent discovery of the Genetic DNA researchers’ claim of the finding of the Chinese to be migrated from Africa or “Out of Africa theory” may reveal the longer and winding trail of our great ancestors. From Africa to China and then continue to Burma. If we consider the origin of the Southern Indians from Africa and Arian Migration from the north or tall blue or brown eyed and fair people proved to be genetically related to east Europeans, some of our ancestors had endlessly marched quite a long distance.
Actually if I am allowed d to sum up the above: U Pyu, U Kan Yan and U Thet were my ancestors. Most of the U Kan Yan’s descendants stayed along Chin Dwin River and between Chindwin and Irrawady rivers. As I had stated above, few groups of villagers came down from northern Ko Yu Nan’s village, one of them went and established Daw Tibet’s village. One group went further west to Ko Ya Khines village and some went further into Ko Kala’s territory. One group stayed along our mother Irrawady and formed my ancestors. One group stayed in Ko Ka Chin’s village. Actually Ko Ka Yin, Daw Mon and almost all our ethnic brother villagers came down the same path.
Dear Nan, no wonder your great grandmother Daw Daw Shan was the elder sister of Ko Thai and Ko Laos’ great grandfathers. Because of the same language and culture you even cruelly planned to divorce me and go and marry with one of them. I know, I know, you just wanted to hurt me because you were angry with me and never really intended to do so.
Dear Nan, because of that, there are larger number of cousins of Ko Ka Chin , Ko Chin and Ko Na Ga in Ko Ti Bet’s village and Ko Kala’s village in Shwe Bama village. And there are a lot more of Ko Ka Yin and Daw Mon’s relatives in Ko Thai, Ko Cam Bodia’s villages.
Dear Nan, now I have answered part of your questions 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 you and your ancestors also.
Your loving hubby
(Ko Tin Nwe)
BO AUNG DIN
TQ for the the interest in my article and for republishing.
May 17th, 2008
poblete wrote an interesting post today on
Here’s a quick excerpt
Compassionate letter six, “Our Long March to the Shwe Bamar Pavilion”
As Bo Aung Din in Burma Digest
You are not satisfied and questioned me why I never write anything praising Ko Phone Maw, commemorating Burma’s Human Rights Day. Dear Nan, I could not believe that you do understand me. I just copy your habit or your ways of doing things to impress others. During any examinations, you tried not to answer the question others would choose, or favourite questions tipped earlier before the examination. When answering the essay types, especially in literatures, you told me that you used to try presenting the answer from the different point of views from others. So you got a better score than me. Sorry dear, if I even failed to impress you. I thought many people would write about Ko Phone Maw, so I avoid directly writing about him but indirectly wrote about […]
Read the rest of this great post here
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