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  • History

    Pyu and Introduction of Buddhism
    With the penetrating of Buddhism across the Indian ocean in early centuries AD there were trading settlements appeared along Myanmar's southern coastline. But by this early stage religious life in Myanmar was still mixed. Archaeologists have found in Thaton both Theravada and Mahayana Images as well as Hindu or Brahmanic works.

    By the 5th century AD other civilizations were springing up along the length of the delta valley as well as in the Rakhine (Former Arakan), the maritime region of modern day Myanmar close to present day Bangladesh. They are called Pyu and have been described as the proto-Burmese. Judging from the Images and icons of bronzes belonging to this period one can imaging merchants, monks or brahmans bringing favored objects of worship from India. Thus began the Myanmar tradition of sculpture, drawing from the great tradition of India and the native genius.

    The Pyu possessed a brick based culture and early city states like Sri Ksetra outside modern Prome took the Stupa and Temple, the principle Buddhist forms of architecture that were to reach a high point later at Bagan period. They had a script of their own and produced numerous small terracotta votive plaques bearing a legend usually in Sanskrit but occasionally in Pyu. As they also had connections with the Chinese we can learn from the Chinese court chronicles that the Pyu were a devout Buddhists and its civilization had spread from walled city-states oases to dominate the Irrawaddy valley from Prome on the fringes of the Delta to as far north as Tagaung close to th Chinese Nanchao kingdom.
    The First Myanmar Standardize Empire
    After the Pyu civilization had collapsed due to the invasion of Nanchao Chinese in AD 832, a new tribe known as today Myanmar came to prominence. Their language also belonged to the same Tibeto-Burmese language family as Pyu and it is debatable whether they migrated down the Irrawaddy valley from the Himalayas or Yunan province, or they were the direct descendents of the fallen Pyu. In fact Bagan's earliest Temples, Stupas and sculptures show a close connection with Pyu prototypes found at Sri Kestra.

    The Burmese chronicles of 18th and 19th centuries had it that Bagan may have been one of the many Pyu city states. By the 11th century AD, however, in the reign of two great Kings, Anawrahtar and Kyansittha, Bagan came to dominate the entire valley, from Bhamo in the north to the Mon port of Thaton in the south. The other significant change at the time is the transformation of Theravada Buddhism, whilst various sects had co-existed before this time, and the Bagan Kings undertook a 'purification'.

    As a consequence of Myanmar religious life the Bagan Kings embarked on a program of monument construction. During the three energetic centuries the arid plain of Bagan became a world center of the Buddhist faith, and its art and architecture. A recent UNESCO survey counted no less than 3,000 Temples, Pagodas and mounds scattered across the valley. Great Kings raised monuments that were technically in advance of contemporary European Cathedrals. Since the Theravada faith can be un-egotistical, we do not find any dedicatory inscriptions in which they boast of wealth or power but rather humbly pray for salvation for themselves, their subjects and all mankind, while in contemporary Cambodia kings were God and the centers-of-megalomania-cults living in Temple Palaces.
    Reunification of the Country
    After the Bagan empire collapsed the last pocket of Bamar civilization remained at Taungoo which had established itself as a Bamar chieftenate in 1280. By the 16th century during the reign of two remarkable kings, Tabinshwehtee (1531~1752) and Bayintnaung (1551~1581), the Bamar reestablished hegemony over the entire Ayaeyarwaddy Valley, and conquered the Mon Kingdom of Bago (Pegu). During this energetic period of military expansion, their empire was said to be extended to encompass up to Chian Mai and Ayudaya of Thailand, and some parts of Laos and Cambodia, and succeeded in building the powerful dynasty in southeast Asia. At no point in the country's history, before or since, did the Bamar control so much territory. They built the new capital at bago upon the Mon old one and absorbed and embellished Mon architecture and culture rather than repressing it.
    However the Taungoo Dynasty was perished soon after Bayintnaung's death internecine squabbles resulted in an Rakhine (formerly Arakan) sack of Bago in 1600 and the rise of an independent Portuguese state at Syriam under de britto. Though they endeavored to found the dynasty in today Innwa (Ava was then known) again, it was gradually fell down into a state of anarchy, overrun by Mons and dacoits, and in 1752 Ava was sacked.
    The Last Myanmar Dynasty
    Though they was once defeated by Mon, the Bamar were enable to reunite the power and drive back the Mon down the river by which they came during the reign of King Alaungpaya (1752~1760), founder of the Konebaung Dynasty. They also succeeded in conquering the Ayudaya of Thailand again in his reign. The ruins of nowadays Ayudaya is the undeniable evidence of this. But it was under the Konebaung Dynasty that Myanmar for the first time in her history was to fall under a foreign yoke as the British Raj annexed her territory.
    Facts & Figures of Myanmar history
    Early Mon ? - 11th Century Thaton & various coastal city states Manuha
    Pyu ? - 9th Century Sri Kestra, Beikthano, hanlin and other city states in the Irrawaddy Valley Vikrama line
    Bagan 1044 - 1287 Bagan Anawrahta (1044-77) Sawlu ( 1077-84)Kyansittha (1084-1112)Alaungsithu (1112-67)Narapatisithu (1173-1210)Htilominlo (1210-34)Kyawswa (1234-50)Uzana (1250-4)Narathihapate (1254-87)
    Shan Bamar Chieftenates fall of Bagan to 1555 Pinya, Sagaing , Innwa (Ava) various
    Taungoo 1531 - 1752 Bago till 1635, thereafter Ava Tabinshwehti (1531-50) Bayintnaung (1551-81)Anaukphetlun (1605-28)Thalun (1629-48)Pindale (1648-61)Pye (1661-72)Minyekyawdin (1673-98)Taninganwe (1714-33)mahadammayaza-dipati (1733-52)
    Konebaung 1752 - 1885


    Shwebo - 1752-65  Innwa - 1765-82/1823-37Amarapura - 1782-1823/1837-57 Mandalay - 1857-85 Alaungpaya (1752-60) Naungdawgyi (1760-3)Hsinbyushin (1763-76)Bodawpaya (1782-1819)Bagyidaw (1819-37)Tharrawaddy (1837-46)Pagan (1846-53)Mindon (1853-78)Thibaw (1875-85)
    Periods of Struggling for Independence
    In 1886 Myanmar became the British colony followed by three wars in 1824, 1852 and 1885 with the latter who by that time extended their colonial empire around the world. Myanmar was then tacked as a lesser appendage onto the Indian Empire. During the world war II Myanmar was occupied by Japanese troops for three years. After that they fought back the Japanese in cooperation with the British. The Mandalay Royal Palace was caught fire during a certain fierce battle.
    Myanmar Nativity

    The Young Myanmar patriotic troops finally fought back the British under the leadership of General Aung san, and the country regained her Independence in January 4, 1948. Unfortunately, the country had to fall down into a state of instability again soon after General Aung San and some martyred leaders were assassinated.

    Period of Closed-door Policy

    The country was transformed into socialism and all the private sectors were nationalized after the coup'd etat by the army under the command of General Ne Win. The closed-door policy was issued and kept isolated from the outside world. Though it became the republic of socialist country with a new constitution the country's economy was far left behind the other Asia countries. Once the envy of all Asia, with a cosmopolitan educated middle class, Myanmar was awarded 'poorest nation status' by the United Nations in 1989.

    The Present Situation
    The long economic stagnations and shattering poverty, the increasing numbers of anti-government forces, and the instability of the country were the main causes to end the socialism when the army seized the power in 1988.