Professor Tun Aung Chain (born 1933)

Biographic Essay

Thin Thin Aye


U Tun Aung Chain has been writing books and articles on Myanmar history. As a historian, his work is meticulously crafted, cleaves closely to the available evidence, stresses accuracy and precision, and rarely contends with issues for which the available data provides little guidance. In the course of his influential and productive career, he has published original works as well as translations, including the translation of U Kala’s The Great Chronicle (1597-1711), the first of the Myanmar national chronicles.

U Tun Aung Chain served in the University of Yangon for a great part of his life and belongs to the generation of post-colonial Myanmar historians who took Myanmar history into a new direction after Myanmar independence in 1948 as well as shaped the development of historical studies in the universities and colleges.

U Tun Aung Chain not only served in the University of Yangon for nearly 40 years but also continued his connection with the University after retirement as a part-time professor. I had the opportunity of not only being a student while he was Professor but also of having him as a referee for my PhD dissertation in 2005.


U Tun Aung Chain was born on 7 January 1933 in Myeik, southern Myanmar, while his father Dr Ba Than Chain was serving there as a Civil Surgeon. His mother was Daw Lucy Chain (née Hla Htoo). He has four siblings, two of them medical doctors, the others a mining engineer and a theologian. He was brought up in Pathein, his father’s native town, where his early education was in St Joseph’s Convent. His education, interrupted by the Second World War, was resumed after the War with a year at the Bahan Post-Primary School in Yangon and then the Kothabyu Sgaw Karen High School in Pathein run by the American Baptist Mission.

Matriculating in 1949, he graduated from the University of Yangon in 1954 with an Honours degree in history and the Moay Twe Main Gold Medal for standing first in his class. He joined the Department of History as a tutor in 1954 and, except for five years at the University of Mandalay and a few months at Mawlamyine University (then still a College), spent the whole of his academic career in the University of Yangon until retiring as Professor in 1993. With leave of absence granted by the University, he pursued postgraduate studies at Harvard on scholarships of the Rockefeller and Asia Foundations and spent a year as Visiting Scholar a year at Cornell University as a Fulbright Fellow, a year at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and a few months at the Institute of Asian Studies of Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok) on the invitation of the host institutions. Other brief absences from the University included a fortnight at the University of Philippines, Diliman, as Visiting Lecturer on the South East Asian Studies Regional Exchange Programme, and study tours of higher education institutions in the United States, United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany, Japan and the People’s Republic of China arranged by the host countries.

Tun Aung Chain in Kayin dress

Although U Tun Aung Chain’s contribution to the University as it went through several changes was mainly with regard to the academic programme in history, he also played a major role in the creation of two new departments at the University, the Department of International Relations and the Department of Archaeology, giving shape to their initial programmes and helped staffing them using the resources of the Department of History.

The resources of the History Department were also drawn upon in two projects of national significance in whose implementation U Tun Aung Chain served as Secretary. The first, commissioned by the Burma Socialist Programme Party, resulted in the publication of five volumes on the traditions and customs of five national minorities, Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin and Shan, with the Kayah volume accomplished by the Department of Anthropology and the other four by the Department of History. The second project, commissioned by the State Law and Order Restoration Council, was a study of the reasons for the military coup of 2nd March 1962 which had a profound and far-reaching effect on Myanmar’s post-independence development. The project resulted in the publication of two works: the two-volume The 1947 Constitution and the Nationalities, and the three-volume Myanmar Politics (1958-1962).

U Tun Aung Chain’s effort to promote historical studies and scholarship extended beyond the University. The Myanmar Historical Commission was established in 1955 to create a credible past based on sound scholarship for the nascent nation. However, in the general reorganization of administration in 1972, the Commission was turned into a regular government department, depriving it of the senior scholars which had aided and guided its efforts. With the revival of the Commission in 1991, U Tun Aung Chain became a member, then Secretary in 1996, which enabled him, together with other members of the Commission, to aid and guide the work of the research staff and to fittingly celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Commission in 2005 with a Conference which attracted many international scholars and the publication of the writings of twelve members of the Commission in the series Selected Writings. Currently, U Tun Aung Chain continues to be a part-time member of the Commission and to contribute occasional articles to its Myanmar Historical Research Journal.

Another initiative in history in which U Tun Aung Chain played a part was the establishment of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for History and Tradition in 2000 which emphasized Myanmar’s commitment to the SEAMEO vision of “enhancing regional understanding and cooperation in education, science and culture for a better quality of life in Southeast Asia.” He was active in the preparations for establishing the Centre, served briefly as Centre Director, and lectured on Bagan art and architecture in the Centre’s programme for regional understanding, “Myanmar History from Myanmar Perspectives.”

U Tun Aung Chain’s work not only extended beyond the University but also beyond history. For a great number of years he served on two committees of the Sarpay Beikman, established in 1947 with the motto, “Light Where Darkness Was.” Both committees were responsible for the annual National Literary Awards; he served firstly on the committee for manuscripts, then later on the committee for published works. His contact with literary scholars and critics as well as with current literary works through the Sarpay Beikman enriched his work on history.

Aims and Achievements

When the Department of History was established in the University of Yangon in 1921, the history curriculum, patterned on those of British universities, was confined to British and European history, Following Myanmar independence in 1948, an effort was made in the 1950s to expand the history curriculum and U Tun Aung Chain was one of the scholars sent abroad to develop the study of East Asian history in the University. With the advent of a military government in 1962 and a policy of national isolation, it became difficult to further develop the programme of East Asian history. U Tun Aung Chain’s attention therefore turned towards Myanmar history for which there were abundant resources within the country.

U Tun Aung Chain has written much on Myanmar history and some of his books have received literary awards: the Tun Foundation Literary Award in 2011, the Dr Tin Shwe Literary Award in 2014, and the National Literary Award in 2015. He has also been named Ambassador of Peace (Shantidut) by the Peace Movement Trust in India in 2016 and his literary work and scholarship given recognition by the Lifetime Literary Achievement Award in 2019 and the title Theippa Kyawswa (Outstanding Scholar) in 2020. Among his outstanding books are:

A Chronicle of the Mons, awarded the Tun Foundation Literary Award in 2012, is a translation of a text in Myanmar of an earlier Mon text which is now lost. For a great part of Myanmar history, the Mons occupied southern Myanmar, while the Bamars (now the majority population) occupied the north. There was warfare between the two, the earliest in the 11th century with the conquest of the Mon kingdom of Thaton by the Bamars in AD 1057 providing the stimulus for the development of Bagan, and the last in the middle of the 18th century when a brief resurgence of the Mons in the south which resulted in the downfall of the penultimate Myanmar kingdom was ended by Alaungpaya who established the last Myanmar dynasty. This history of conflict between north and south has resulted in the loss of many Mon records and writings so that there is a paucity of Mon chronicles and historical writings. A Chronicle of the Mons, which covers Mon history from the legendary arrival of the Buddha at Suvannabhumi to the reign of Daka Ratpi (Benefactor of the Three Gems, 1525-1539), is mainly anecdotal and does not have the solidity of Myanmar chronicles, but is still of value because of the rarity of Mon historical writings.

Flowing Waters: Dipping into Myanmar History was awarded the Dr Tin Shwe Literary Award in 201. It contains is a collection of nine articles studying Myanmar history from the late 11th to the early 20th centuries. The lead article, “Flowing Waters, Freshening Life: The Ayeyarwady in the Late 18th Century”, studies Myanmar social and economic life along the Ayeyarwady river, running through the Myanmar heartland uniting north and south, in the late 18th century, the high noon of traditional Myanmar society and culture which was to come to an end in the course of the 19th century as the British annexed the country and brought about a sea change. Two articles deal with Bagan, one on financial transactions, the other on its gardens. There are also two articles on the Chinese in Myanmar in the early part of the 20th century, one providing a demographic profile based on the 1931 census, the other providing profiles of some prominent members in the early 20th century. They came from Guangdong and Fujian, escaping from the conditions of dynastic decline, fitted in and made their way in a Myanmar society in change under British colonial rule, such as Ho Wah Kain, starting his business with the sale of opium and spirits on licence, then graduating to rice milling, and creating endowments in the University of Yangon in his name and that of his wife, Moay Twe Main, for awarding medals to outstanding students.

Maung Yin Maung and Ma Mè Ma, awarded the National Literary Award in 2014, is a translation of a work of historical significance published in 1904 as the first Myanmar novel. Traditionally, Myanmar literature had been created in a court setting, with monks or those with a monastic education writing for an elite circle. The author of Maung Yin Maung and Ma Mè Ma, James Hla Gyaw, had been brought up in a Christian setting, educated in a Christan institution, St John’s College in Yangon, and served as an interpreter at Mandalay soon after the British annecation of the Myanmar kingdom in 1886. He wrote for an emerging Myanmar middle class, reaching out to them through the use of the printing press. The setting of the novel was in the first half of the 19th century, with the main character, Maung Yin Maung, the son of a merchant carrying on trade along the Ayeyarwady in a large cargo boat. Maung Yin Maung is accused of involvement in a conspiracy against the King and imprisoned, but escapes in the manner of Edmond Dantès in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and goes through a series of trials and hardship before restoration to his position and reunion with Ma Mè Ma, the bride from whom he had been separated by his arrest on their wedding night. To his readers of the middle class in British colonial society, James Hla Gyaw gave the message of exertion, comparing Maung Yin Maung to the Buddha in his existence as Mahājanaka when he perfected the virtue of exertion. U Tun Aung Chain’s translation was hailed as “an excellent example of the few Myanmar novels available to the world in English.”


U Tun Aung Chain belongs to a generation whose education was adversely affected by the Second World War. Yet that generation made an effort to overcome that handicap and, in the period following Myanmar independence, when a great wave of young Myanmars was sent to premier universities in the United Kingdom and the United States in order to fill the gaps in government departments and the University of Yangon created by the departure of British and Indian staff, made a success of the opportunity offered and returned to build Myanmar as an emerging nation. By the 1950s the returning wave of scholars had resulted not only in the departments of the University of Yangon being headed by Myanmars but also in the establishment of new departments.

As a member of that generation tasked with the building of the new Myanmar, U Tun Aung Chain has, throughout his career in the University of Yangon, tried to develop and advance the academic study of history. As his interest turned towards Myanmar history, he has, with other members of his generation, tried to develop and take Myanmar history into new directions. Furthermore, in order to acquaint the world with the new directions being taken in Myanmar history, he has published most of his work in English.

As the universities of Myanmar embark on a new period of growth and development, U Tun Aung Chain remains a shining light, inspiring a new generation of Myanmar historians towards higher levels of achievement.

Works of U Tun Aung Chain


  • Selected Writings of Tun Aung Chain. Yangon: Myanmar Historical Commission, 2004.
  • Broken Glass: Pieces of Myanmar History. Yangon: SEAMEO Regional Centre for History and Tradition, 2004.
  • Texts and Images: Glimpses of Myanmar History, Yangon: SEAMEO Regional Centre for History and Tradition, 2011.
  • Flowing Waters: Dipping into Myanmar History, Yangon: Myanmar Knowledge Society, 2013.
  • Founders: Yangon: Department of History, University of Yangon, 2020.


  • The Minami Organ, by Izumiya Tatsurō, Yangon: Department of Higher Education, 1981.
  • Chronicle of Ayutthaya, Anonymous, Yangon: Myanmar Historical Commission, 2005.
  • A Chronicle of the Mons, Anonymous, Yangon: SEAMEO Regional Centre for History and Tradition, 2010.
  • Maung Yin Maung and Ma Mè Ma, by James Hla Gyaw, Yangon: Myanmar Knowledge Society, 2014.
  • The Great Chronicle (1597 – 1711), by U Kala, Yangon; Myanmar Knowledge Society, 2016.

Supplement to Thin Thin Aye’s biographic essays of Professor Tun Aung Chain

I am a fan of the few articles written by Tun Aung Chain that I have read whom I had the chance to meet at different occasions. One of the was the Kayin New Year Festival celebrated in the compound of a Buddhist monastery in Insein where he delivered a speech. I did not not understand anything he said but it was clear that he was a very respected member of the Kayin community. Some time later, I acquired his „Selected Writing“ published by the Myanmar Historical Commission of which he was the Vice Chairman (see bibliographical note of Thin Thin Aye’s essay). I noticed a particular approach taken by him towards historic research that appealed to me because the reconstruction of past events were linked to the present in a sophisticated and unobtrusive way allowing the reader to draw his own conclusion.

I was therefore not surprised to learn later that Professor Saw Tun Aung Chain – the “Saw” denoting him as a Sgaw Kayin – had got engaged in the peace talks between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the military government. He combined his scientific work with practical public service. The following remarks shed some light on his way of combining historical research and practical engagement.

1 Highlighting the meaning of history

I would like to illustrate Tun Aung Chain’s special approach to historical research by the first and ninth contribution of the collection of his writings published in the volume that I acquired. Th first essay deals with a review of a famous – and rare – joint venture in the history of Burmese scholarship, the translation of the Glass Palace Chronicles into English by Pe Maung Tin and his British brother-in-law Gordon Luce published for the first time in 1921 by the newly founded Burma Research Society and reprinted many times since then. The work is widely acclaimed as a pioneering work throwing „much light on the mentality of the Burmese as well as on their history“ as an early reviewer worded it in 1924.1

In an article written to honour Pe Maung Tin on his 110th birthday in 1998, Tun Aung Chain point to some shortcomings of the work, particularly with regard to the Burmese author who did the main work of translation. He notes that the chronicle, commissioned by king Badyidaw after the first Anglo-Burmese War, is not just a „copy“ of previous chronicles but a notable step forward in Burmese historiography. Tun Aung Chain further notes that the reasons for not translating the first chapters of the chronicle dealing with the „legendary“ prehistory of the Burmese kingdoms given by Pe Maung Tin, are „a bit unreasonable“. These parts are important because they

set down the fundamental principles on which Myanmar kings are to guide their action […], and furnish an ideal of kingship in the life and activities of Asoka. (Tun Aung Chain 2004:

This way, Tun Aung Chain contributed to a developed interpretation of the chronicles as not just containing historical „facts“ but also the „meaning“ of history in the context of Burmese royal history that might influence the country’s modern history as well. He closes his review with the comment that the book still is a „great monument“ but a „monumental reproach to us“ as well because the missing parts of the translation have not yet been translated – and thus the hope expressed by the first reviewer in 1924 was still unfulfilled.

The second article is the text of a lecture given in 1980 at Cornell University entitles „Legitimation Ploys in 18th century Myanmar“. It commences with a general statement to introduce the foreign listeners to a difference between Burma and the West.

In Myanmar there are two measures of time: the Western calendar and the Myanmar lunar calendar. All important official documents are dated both in the Western and Myanmar manner. Since the Myanmar political leadership lives in two kinds of time, there can be varied responses to the question of legitimacy. On the one hand, there can be constituencies, parliaments and elections, and, on the other, the building of pagodas, the purification of the sangha,2 etc. (Tun Aung Chain 2004: 151)

He illustrates this observation on the example of achieving legitimacy in the establishment of the last Burmese dynasty by king Alaungphaya, the founder of the last Burmese royal dynasty. He argues that the king used two traditional concepts, hpon and dhammaraja, to underpin his legitimacy to rule over the power centres of the region. Both terms designate the quality of the ruler but include a quantitative element. Hpon, meaning „merit“ (as in the word for a monk, hpon-gyi, great merit), „glory“ and „power“ is an attribute in which past merits and present achievements come together and result in the claim that the particular „owner“ is superior to others as a ruler. The concept of the dhammaraja (Dhamma-King) is connected to the idea that the present ruler has the qualities toe become a future Buddha.

Alaungphaya used these concepts skilfully in many ways, one of them being to build pagodas both in his home town Shwebo on the place where his parents had lived and in Bago. Through these buildings as well as his proclamations of promoting the religion together with uniting the various power centres, Alaungphaya symbolically legitimised his authenticity to rule.

Tun Aung Chain closes his presentation with another general remark on „one aspect of the traditional Burmese state“:

The actual apparatus of administration and control was very flimsy, and therefore one of the important props of the state was an image of kingship which was in great part created and sustained by symbolic action. (Tun Aung Chain 2004: 161).

The sentence might be regarded as an invitation to the reader to draw conclusions about what is happening today. The two versions of measuring Myanmar time are still in use. The same applies to the and legitimation of political power. One may conclude that Tun Aung Chain used his research on history to stimulate critical reflections about present developments.

2 Engagement for peace

From the rare sources available to me one can conclude that Tun Aung Chain got involved in the peace talks form the beginning of direct contacts between the military junta that took over the government in 1988 and the Karen National Union (KNU) the political representation of the Kayin that had started a rebellion against the Burmese government shorty after independence.3 In December 1995, he was one of six members of a Kayin “group comprising of peace intermediaries”4. He continued to be pa member of this advisory group to the Kayin political and military leaders for some years. Shortly after in January 2012, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the Myanmar government and the KNU, Tun Aung Chain was reported to be the Honorary Moderator of the Kayin “Peace Support Team” located in Insein where he lived.5 He was almost 80 years old at that time.

In his double role as a respected member of the Kayin community and a historian teaching at Myanmar’s most most prestigious university, Tun Aung Chain addressed the two sides who had been involved in an armed conflict since early 1949. Over the years, he spoke on various occasions to his fello Kayin and “highlighted the need for a creative response to the challenges facing the Karen community.”6

On the other hand, a number of his academic writings can be seen as suggesting a change of the state’s use of history to justify the claim that multi-ethnic Myanmar from the beginning had been a united nation. This was most clearly expressed in an article written in 2000 in which Tun Aung Chain outlined three attempts of Burmese writers to historically underpin a statement of Burma’s first Prime Minister U Nu declared on 4 January 1948, Independence Day, “that although Mons, Burmans, Rakhines, Kayins, Shans, Kachins and Chins each live by their own culture they come together before the world as a single nation.”7 It was the later UN General Secretary U Thant who wrote a three-volume history of Burma on U Nu’s request. Two more accounts followed in the scialist period after 1962, the last officially endorsed by the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) that ruled Burma between 1974 and 1988.

Tun Aung Chain closes his review of the three records:

A type of history emerged in post-independent Myanmar which attempted to make itself politically relevant and of use in the nation-building effort. In an ethnically diverse and problematic situation, the creation of Myanmar nationhood was high among the priorities of nation-building, and the aspiration of Myanmar nationhood was projected back into the historical past. Addressing itself to the general public and not to a critical scholarly audience, the history resorted to a number of simplifications and unhistorical positions. Rather than thinking of nationhood as a process developing in the course of history, it regarded nationhood as an underlying constant of Myanmar history innate through the political fluctuations of the Bamar history. Bearing the weight of traditional Myanmar historiography, it conceived of the Bamar centre from the Bagan dynasty to the Konbaung as the centre of Myanmar nationhood without taking into account other equally valid political and cultural centres – Mon, Rakhine and Shan – of Myanmar nationhood. Thinking of nationhood primarily in political terms, it did not take into account the social and cultural interactions which contribute to the development of Myanmar nationhood. Since the creation of Myanmar nationhood out of its ethnic diversity still remains high on the agenda of Myanmar nation-building, the formulation of a more sophisticated history of Myanmar nationhood still remains as a challenge to Myanmar historians.8

Some two decades later, the mentioned “challenge” still exists. The preamble of the constitution of 2008 shows that an unsophisticated Bamar-centred historical perspective still dominates. Its first paragraph can be seen as a summary of the previous attempts to historically “unify” Myanmar from the Bagan period onward:

Myanmar is a Nation with magnificent historical traditions. We, the National people, have been living in unity and oneness, setting up an independent sovereign state and standing tall with pride.

Given the still were problematic course of Myanmar’s recent development, it seems quite clear to me that Tun Aung Chain’s writings deserve to be read not just in Myanmar but outside the country as well. As the biographical essays shows, a number of his writings are available in English, but just a few are available in western libraries and book shops.

Hans-Bernd Zöllner, November 2021

1Review of C.O. Blagden in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 56,1: 19 (; accessed 2.5.2021).

2This remark refers to the reform adopted by the Burmese Sangha on the initiative of Ne Win’s government in the year of holding the lecture.

3For more information on the conflict see the biographies of

4The Karen and Their Struggle for Freedom: 19 (; accessed 31.10.2021).

5KNU » Myanmar Peace Monitor ( (accessed 1.11.2021).

6Alan Saw U 2007 Reflections in Confidence-building and Cooperation among Ethnic Groups in Myanmar: The Karen Case. N. Ganesan and Khyaw Yin Hlaing, Myanmar. State, Society and Identity. Singapore, ISEAS:219-235: 230.

7Tun Aung Chain 2000 Historians and the Search for Myanmar Nationhood. Tun Aung Chain 2004, Broken Glass. Pieces of Myanmar History. Yangon, SEAMEO Regional Centre for History and Tradition, 9-24: 9.

8Tun Aung Chain 2000: 19-20.

Phyu Ei Thein (born 1971)

Lwin Lwin Mon

Co-editors: Lilly Seiler & Hans-Bernd Zöllner


In 2003, 32 years old Phyu Ei Thein started to consider running a small business after finishing her studies in Japan. This happened in cotogether with Yumiko Ichihara whom she had met at her stay in Japan. She saw many handloom weavers there and got the idea to help them by selling woven products from the region to Japan. From 2006 on, the first textiles were exported.

In early January 2015, the Myanmar Times reported that Phyu Ei Thein had been awarded the „Accelerating Women Entrepreneurship Award“ by the GIZ, the state owned German enterprise operating in international cooperation aiming at sustainable development. More awards should follow.

Two years before getting the award, she had co-founded the Sunflower group in 2012 together with some other loom initiatives that aims to promote Myanmar arts and quality textile products. In 2013, she curated the „Art of Textile and Accessoires, Made in Myanmar“ exhibition at the Lokanat Galleries in Yangon. Shortly later, she offered handicraft training for ethnic Kachin women in one of the many IDP camps for people in Myanmar’s northern Kachin State who had to leave their homes because of the civil war there. In January 2020, she opened the textile Weaving Design Competition of 14 Textile Vocational Training Schools of the whole Myanmar. In early July 2020, one can learn from Facebook that the weaving studio in Nyaung Shwe donated 2000 washable masks with a flower motive to monastic schools and nun schools with the assistance of a Myanmar company.1 The designs had been drafted by various artists.

This enumeration indicates that is not easy to find just a single term that covers her various activities, talents and concerns. She might be called a social inspirer and entrepreneur whose activities are widespread and touch core issues of Myanmar’s politics and social life like the peace process and gender equality.


Phyu Ei Thein was born in Yangon in 1971. Her father U Maung Maung Thein is a famous art educator and artist called Pathein Maung Maung Thein. Her mother is Daw Mya Mya. Her elder sister Chaw Ei Thein is a well know artist2 living in the USA. She further has two younger brothers, Nay Myo Thein, an artist, and Maung Maung Myo Sane, a graphic designer and co-founder of Mae Latma (Little Thumbling) Weaving Studio in Paungde, located some 220 km north of Yangon in Bago Region.

In 1994, the Sunflower Art Gallery was opened in Yangon’s Sanchaung Kamayut township3 as a family business in which Phyu Ei Thein participated as a curator. The gallery not just displayed pictures of Maung Maung Thein, his eldest daughter and other artists, but offered art courses as well. Already in 1984, art classes for children aged between 6 and 14 had been offered. Later, the paintings of children were shown to the public as well. From 1996-2000, she further was active as a freelance tour guide after attending a training program offered by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism and very early shared her knowledge of Japanese with others. even before he had started to study at the University.

From 1991 to 1996, she studied Physics at the University of Yangon. Physics because of her interest in science in her childhood. She received B.Sc. (Phys), M.Sc. (Q2), Physics Major Bachelor Degree. After that, she studied Japanese language at Yangon University of Foreign Languages from 1996 to 1998 after already having started to learns the language from 1988 on. She received her diploma in Japanese and proceeded to Japan for further studies from 2000 to 2003 where she continued her studies in Tokyo’s Taisho University and the National University Yokohama in Japanese language and Educational Social Science. Back in Myanmar, she got the idea to work as an official travel guide, but it proved to be difficult to get a job. Therefore, she turned to the textile business. In 2015, she continued her studies in Japan by attending another program as a Researcher in Textile, Weaving & Dyeing, at the Kanazawa College of Art, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.

Learnin at Kanazawa College of Art

After her return from her first studies in Japan, she founded the Sunflowers Organic Dye Weaving Studio, Nyaung Shwe in Southern Shan State in 2015. This happened after she had visited the place together with Yumiko Ichihara, a teacher she had met during her stay in Japan who was “like a mother to her” as she remembers. They established Myanmar Clothes Co. Ltd. in Japan in 2006.

At the same time, Phyu Ei Thein’s mother, Daw Mya Mya, and sister, Chaw Ei Thein established Naga Land Co. Ltd. in Yangon, Myanmar. A number of local women from Inle lake produced woven fabric using local techniques and designs with chemical dyes. Then, produced clothes in Naga Land Co.Ltd. with those fabric. From 2006 on, the first textiles of Naga Land were exported to Japan and showed in Shimizu Trade Fair in Shizuoka. And Myanmar Clothes Co. Ltd. engaged with JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) and sell products in One Village One Product(OVOP) Narita Airport and Osaka Airport until now. From 2007 on, Myanmar Clothes Co. Ltd. started to sell natural dye products derived from fruit, roots, flowers and other organic sources. The usually used chemical colours, she realised, polluted the Inle Lake, therefore she decided to use natural dyes that had been in use in the country for a long time.4

Phyu Ei Thein together with (from left to right) Mrs. Aya Shibato, Mrs. Akie Abe, the ex-Firtst Lady of Japan and Mrs. Yumiko Ichihara at a Myanmar festival in Japan

The main aim was to help building a sustainable future for Myanmar’s weavers by making use of traditional skills in combination with innovative techniques. The usually used chemical colours, she realised, polluted the Inle Lake, therefore she decided to use natural dyes that had been in use in the country for a long time. The first products of the new enterprise were sold in various shops in Myanmar and exported to Japan through a company founded for that purpose named “Myanmar Clothes”. The Logo of the company “Yn’P” stands for Yumiko & Phyu. She visits Japan every year and is still in contact with Yumiko.

Phyu Ei Thein’s role concentrated on developing, designing clothes and networking in order to promote handloom schools to cope with the need to adapt to the requirements of the market and to help the teaching personal earn a living.. Over the years, the weaving workshop in Nyaung Shwe developed into a centre of a country-wide network of initiatives and like minded people assisting women to earn a living by producing high quality garment products that could be sold both locally and abroad.

From 2014 to 2015, Phyu Ei Thein co-founded the River Ayeyarwady Gallery in Yangon’s 35th Street (Middle Block) together with three other people. The gallery combined art exhibitions on the ground floor of the house and displayed handicraft products on upper floors with a focus of works of handicapped people. The following list illustrates her various activities in cooperation with other agencies:

  • Worked as a local coordinator in Research Residency Program and Lat Khat Than (Sound of Weaving) Project of the British Council in partnership with Small Scale Industries Department, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to explore the artisan practices and social conditions of crafts people in Myanmar.
  • Gave Natural Dye and Development training of weaving skills in Myanmar’s Dry Zone (Mboutik Program of ActionAid).
  • Gave Natural Dye Training in Mudon, Mon State, Program of Ministry of Hotel and Tourism & ADB (Asia Development Bank)
  • Gave Development of Women Entrepreneurship Skills, Bago, Metta Foundation
  • Working as a National Advisor and Trainer for the Economic Empowerment of the Poor and Women in the East-West Economic Corridor Project with ADB and Ministry of Hotel and Tourism since 2017.
  • Worked with Bridge Asia Japan (BAJ) as a local professional expert for UN Women Project in Rakhine State from 2018 to 2019.
  • Gave Natural Dye Training in Sittwe, Rakhine State (project of the Lutheran World Federation).

Furthermore, from 2006 on, she worked as a Textile Designer for Myanmar Clothes Co. Ltd, Tokyo. Her advice is sought by a number of government agencies and her activities are shown in the government TV channels MRTV 4 and 7.

Aims and Achievements

At the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, Phyu Ei Thein is a Myanmar celebrity regarded as one of the women impersonating a bright future of her country in the footsteps of and together with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. This assessment is mainly founded on her activity as an entrepreneur producing goods that can proudly claim to be “Made in Myanmar”. A book about “Transformative Women Leaders in Myanmar Society” published by the Myanmar Gender Equality Network together with Mizzima Media portrays Phyu Ei Thein under the rubric “business”.5 Such appraisal is correct but covers only a part of what Phyu Ei Thein tried to achieve. She describes herself as a person who wants to promote „social business“ in Myanmar. The following paragraphs deal with some aspects of this aim that is based on her background as a member of a family of artists.

a) „Green“ business.

Phyu Ei Thein’s career began through a combination of her appreciation of the pretty designs produced by weavers at the Inle Lake and her experiences in Japan that helped her to conceive the general idea to export hand-woven silk fabrics to Japan and thus to increase the productivity of the weavers. She established contacts with the Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO) that helped to sell the products „Made in Myanmar“ in Japan. As a consequence, the need for quality control and the special feature of Myanmar traditional handicraft had to be combined. Zips were not used and special buttons designed. A special innovation was the use of natural instead of chemical dye that resulted from her observation that the Inle Lake got poisoned and that the loom workshops might contribute to the problem.

b) Communal welfare.

In November 2013, Phyu Ei Thein was interviewed by the Kumudra News Journal about her activity of parahita to people in need. This Pali term can be translated as „welfare for others“ or „community welfare“. In the interview, she shared her idea that she started to perform this activity after she had learned about the meed of socio-economic and political equality in refugee camps in Kachin and Shan States. In December 2001, she attended a painting training at a Monastic Education School in Shwebo, Sagaing Division. One of her friends explained to her about the situation of internal displaced refugees living camps in nearby Kachin State. People did not have enough warm clothes and fuels for fire there during the actual cold season there. When she heard this information, she felt sorry. She remembered this feeling on her next visit to Japan. Weather was very cold there, but her room had a heater and she could enjoy the warmth. She tried to find out how to help and then asked for donations of warm clothes from her Japanese friends and also informed her Yangon friends.

In the end, an initiative named “Helping Hands for Kachin ethnic brothers and sisters living in Kachin refugee camps” participated in the Shwe-da-gon Pagoda Festival. With the help of cartoons and other means, information about the difficulties of ethnic people who suffered from the impact of Civil War was made public. In March 2012, the first group left from Yangon to the Kachin State with donations collected. After her return from Japan and the arrival of the clothes donated there, in the end of April, 2012 she travelled to refugee camps in Kachin State with boxes of clothes and money. She was accompanied by a magician and other donors. When they arrived at the camps, the people were entertained with magic tricks, songs, games and drawing paintings with children. The main intention was temporary stress reduction and building mutual respect and confidence. According to her interview, she shared her experiences from the feedback of the people in the camps as a means to spread the spirit of mutual understanding and the effect of Civil War.

c) Contributing to peace building.

In June 2014 Phyu Ei Thein started yet another project connected to her work in the field of women’s social development and her activities for the people living in the IDP camps. As a response to the precarious situation of Kachin women in refugee camps located in northern Myanmar, Phyu Ei Thein started to offer handicraft training, teaching them to make small pieces of jewellery which can be sold in Yangon and help to provide an income for these women who otherwise do not have the possibility to work. The products are described as high quality, produced with a mix of traditional techniques and some of Phyu Ei Thein’s own ideas and styles. The project’s long term goal is to get those women back on their feet and provide a job opportunity and a steady income for the time they leave the camps. Apart from that Phyu Ei Thein is trying to encourage some of the younger girls without proper education in the camps to attend loom institutes to secure them with long lasting job opportunities. With this project Phyu Ei Thein does not only continues to pursue her work in the field of social entrepreneurship, in working together with people from refugee camps her involvements take on a political dimension in terms of supporting women and gender equality as well as in engaging in what can be called a small scale peace building process. In addition, she supported training fees and expenses for four youths from the camp to attend a vocational traning according to their wishes. :

The following gallery gives an impression of Phyu Ei Thein’s acitivities. From first row, left to second row, right: Volunteer work in a monastic school, 2010; Knitting and Knotting Workshop in Man Wein Gyi IDP Camp, Kachin State (2014); In Kachin State (2016); – Talk about Social Entrepreneurship in the Dry Zone (2018); Natural dye rteaining in the Dry Zone (2018); Basic handicraft skill training (based on fishing net weaving in Oh Taw Cyi IDP canp, Rakhine State (2020)

d) Social Networking.

Another aspect of her performance „social business“ is to help women earning a regular income. The Sunflower group aims at connecting initiatives that cares for more financial security for women. The beginning started in 2007 when Phyu Ei Thein came in contact with the Saunders‘ Weaving and Vocational Institute in Amarapura (near Mandalay) named after a British civil servant who established a training centre in 1914 to spread the power loom technique.  Saunders found that the business of hand weaving loom was nearly extinct and made the power loom to become very popular.

Together with the women being trained there, she developed ways of weaving new designs. Then it came into her mind, that the weavers would not be able to concentrate on their work if they were poor. She therefore besides offering technical advice for design, quality production and fair trade paid a basic salary and encouraged local hand-loom weavers and vocational weaving schools to do the same.

She also tries to create more responsible business for the younger generation through the development of community enterprise, with the empowering of young women. She encourages people who are working for the supply chain in the cotton fields, yarn production, natural dyeing, hand weaving and marketing for textile artisans in Myanmar.

Other interesting jobs she does is acting locally and globally as advisor and co-coordinator for collaborating projects. She worked as a local coordinator of the Lat Khat Than Project of British Council that aims at developing a weaving and vocational institute into a Centre of Excellence through an innovative pilot model, which will be adapted to 13 other schools nationwide.

Furthermore, she gave natural dye weaving skill training in Myanmar’s dry zone for a project of Action Aid) as well as in other regions in cooperation with a variety of organisations. among them the Metta Foundation, Ministry of Hotel and Tourism and the Asia Development Bank (ADB).

e) Curating

On September 5, 2017, a special kind of art exhibition kicked off at the National Museum in Yangon named „Lat Khat Than“ like the project of the British Council. It showed products from Myanmar traditional weaving. Phyu Ei Thein helped curating the event and thus tied in with her work at her father’s art gallery. She participated in a number of similar exhibitions like the „3rd Made in Myanmar Exhibition, The Art of Textile & Accessories – 2016”, at the renowned Lokanat Galleries, Yangon. In 2014 she participated in a special event on the occasion of Aung San Suu Kyi’s 69the birthday. Originally, the exhibit planned to put 69 portraits of Suu Kyi on display, some of them pained by her sister. But some more were added later, among them two by the famous artist Khin Maung Yin who had just died shortly before. The exhibition was held at the River Ayeyarwady Gallery co-founded by her. In November 2012 “The Art of Peace” Art Exhibition took place in the Thiri Hall, Royal Rose Restaurant as a fundraising for the victims of the civil war in Kachin State. In Japan, she assisted in holding a number of “Myanmar Art and Crafts” exhibitions from 2006 to 2014.

The Art of Textile & Accessories 3, Made in Myanmar” Exhibition exhibited at the Lokanat Galleries, 2016


To assess Phyu Ei Thein’s impact is not yet possible, because she is still performing a lot of activities in a number of professional and societal fields that are absolutely not finished yet. Her many activities grew out of the artistic and social traditions of her family that were broadened by her contacts in Japan and her sense for meaningful innovation. She is now widely recognised as one of the outstanding women of contemporary Myanmar. She has been gifted with many talents which she puts at use to empower other women to get a decent salary for their work and thus reduce their dependency within the rather shaky Myanmar labour market. At the same time connecting Myanmar traditional textile crafts with global technology and international trade thus contributing to uplift the reputation of her country that is often characterised as „backward“ in many regards. Her main motivation seems to be rooted in the Burmese-Buddhist tradition of „helping others“ as a practical way of cohering society. Therefore, it is not an accident that a picture showing her together with Aung San Suu Kyi can be found on her Facebook page, to whom Phyu Ei Thein, an outspoken NLD supporter, by her own account maintains a close relationship.


This biography is based on talks with Phyu Ei Thein during 2019 and 2020. Information provided by people who know her and some sources comes from website and local and international articles and interviews, for example:

Interview with Phyu Ei Thein, Kumudra News Journal, 12 November 2013

Interview ‚The Can Stand on Their Own“, August 26, 2014, Irrawaddy (; accessed 17.7.2020)

Interview with Phyu Ei Thein, Popular News, Vol.6, No.49, December 11, 2014

Nandar Aung 2015 Building a sustainable future for Myanmar’s weavers. Myanmar Times 2.1.2015

Gender Equality Network 2018 Transformative Women leaders in Myanmar: 78-84 (; accessed 9.7.2020).


1 (accessed 9.7.2020).

2For some more details see

3The gallery and the shop selling sunflower products is located at No. 54 (1st Fl), Shan Gone St, Myenigon, Sanchaung, Yangon, Myanmar.

4Gender Equality Network 2018 Transformative Women leaders in Myanmar (78-84): 78. (; accessed 9.7.2020).

5The other rubrics are: Peace, Health and Sport, Education, Social and Others. One can argue that Phyu Ei Thein could have been listed under the other rubrics – with the e4xception of “Health and Sports” as well.

Daw Kyan (1918-2019)

Myanmar Historian Daw Kyan, Drawing on the occasion of her 100th birthday

Thin Thin Aye

Burmese version of this biography

1. Introduction

Daw Kyan is a scholar well known in Myanmar who has devoted much of her time to research and record the country’s history. For a long time, she was regarded as the most senior among the historians of the country. She has been written books and articles in history since the 1960s. Her pen name is Ma Kyan, but sometimes she used her real name Daw Kyan. As a historian, the contents of her writings are historically accurate and effective. She was compiling and co-editing many books on a variety of subjects such as the Myanmar Encyclopedia Year books and the English–Myanmar Dictionary. She was a member of steering committee for the doctorate programme at the History department in Yangon University from 2002 to 2005. She was also a member of the Myanmar Literary Awards Selection Committee and U Ohn Pe Literary Awards Selection Committee1, the most important of their kind in Myanmar. One can say that she helped laying the foundations for understanding the history of Myanmar for many of her students – even if she has not become famous outside of Myanmar. Daw Kyan passed away at the age of 102 years

2. Biography

Daw Kyan was born on July 1st, 1918 in Thandwe Township, Rakhine State. Her father was U Kyaw Tun, Health Official of Thandwe in the service of the British colonial administration. Her mother was Daw Ngwe Hnint. When she was nine years old, her father died. She therefore spent her childhood life with her mother and her siblings, two younger brothers and one sister. Her siblings were all good students, who – like herself – based their lives on a good education built their life with education. All her siblings passed away before her.

Ma Kyan as graduare

Daw Kyan passed the High School Final Examination in 1935 and worked as a Junior Assistant Teacher at the Government High School in Thandwe and later as an Upper Division Clerk in Thandwe later and Sittawe Post Offices in Rakhine State. Because she was the eldest child and her father passed away when she was nine years old., she felt that it was her duty to support her young sibilings. Only after all of her sibilings passed the matriculation and one young brother had got a job in Rangoon, she gave up her work continued her education at Rangoon University at the age ofs 32 in 1951. She assumed that she was old by than. After graduating studies. she received the M.A in history in 1959. While being still an M.A. candidate, Daw Kyan joined as a part time tutor in the Department of English Language and Literature of Yangon University for two years. In 1956, she was appointed as a Research Officer in the Burma (now: Myanmar) Historical Commission.

In 1957, Daw Kyan went to a School of Oriental and African Studies in London University to collect the Myanmar historical documents on administration, politics, economics, social activities, commerce and trade, revenue, police and education as well as census reports of 1872, 1881, 1891 and the records of the Home Affairs Department and Gazetteers of Myanmar. After finishing her M.A. in 1959, she went again to London to find (identify), select and microfilm documents on the situation of Burma under British colonial rule. She brought rare documents of the British Government until the 1900s and rare Myanmar Parabaiks2 and ancient Myanmar historical records on palm leaf as well as the collections of Major Henry Burney and Colonel E.B. Sladen.3

In London

The Bulletin of the Burma (Myanmar) Historical Commission was published as a research journal similar to the much earlier Journal of Burma Research Society. The initial intention was to publish the Bulletin twice a year. In June 1960, volume one (part one) of the Bulletin was published and volume one (part two) came out in December of the same year. Daw Kyan was selected as a new member of the reformed Bulletin Committee.4 The following year, in 1963, Daw Kyan was promoted to a Senior Research Officer. She continued writing research papers and she presented them at seminars held by the Burma Research Society (BRS) at Kanthar Sane Lei, the Ghandi Hall and Sarpay Beikman Building.

Doing fieldwork

Daw Kyan made a study tour of major cities in Australia under a Cultural Award Scheme in 1977. She retired at the age of 60 in 1978 but continued serving as an advisor for about four years in the Historical Research Department till 1984. From 1986 to 1991. She was further invited by the Ministry of Industry (1) to work as a consultant. During that time and her work as a consultant to the ministry it was that she completed the six volumes of the History of Myanmar Industrial Enterprises.

She joined the Myanmar Language Commission under the Ministry of Education as a full time member in 1991. She worked at the Commission until her death. She became a representative of National Convention to draft the New Constitution of Myanmar in 1993.

On the occasion of her 100th birthday, she was honored with a big reception given at the Sarpay Beikman (“Palace of Literature”) Building in Yangon. A report broadcasted on Myanmar Information Television (MITV) was posted on you tube by her nephew (

Daw Kyan with senior historians Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt (left), Dr. Toe Hla (standing), and Dr. Kyaw Win (right) at the ceremony of Centennial Daw Kyan)

3. Awards and Achievements

Daw Kyan contributed a lot of historical books and journals and achieved numerous literary awards in her literary life. She received five National Literary Awards, Pakokku U Ohn Pe Lifetime Literary Award5 in 2004, Medal (First Class) for Excellent Performance in the Field of Art in 2006, Tun Foundation Literary Award (2006), Outstanding Women Award (2003, 2005, 2007) and was honoured with the “Sithu” title by the President in 2012.

Her book “The Conditions of Burma (1885-1886)” was awarded the National Literary Award in 1976 while she was serving as Senior Research Officer in the Burma Historical Research Commission. It was one of her research works on early Colonial Period. She did detailed research on the situations under the dynasty of Konbaung. Some missing facts as well as the new findings are presented in the book by citing rare palm-leaf sources and parabaik manuscripts. It is very distinctive that the situation of the State is presented from various aspects of military, economic and social points of view. Daw Kyan and Dr. Yi Yi6 together with a group of six people copied the inscriptions found on almost 6000 copper bricks of the Shwedagon Pagoda in 1976. The workload took about six months. Those copper bricks were dated back to 1869 and had been donated by the public for the renovation of the Shwedagon Pagoda before King Mindon tiered a new umbrella (tiered and ornamental finial of a pagoda) to the country’s most revered Buddhist edifice in 1871. The donors came from all social groups, but where mostly from Lower Myanmar which was named British Burma back then. Based on these findings, a monograph was prepared by Daw Kyan and Dr. Daw Yi Yi. As a result, they presented their research papers at seminars held by the Burma Research Society (BRS) at Kanthar Sane Lei, the Ghandi Hall and Sarpay Beikman Building in 1977 – shortly before the society was dissolved by the government. After revising and editing the research papers and finishing all necessary preliminaries, their script was sent to the press to be published as research works on the Shwedagon Pagoda No. 2.

“The Quest of History and Other Papers” was awarded the National Literary Award in 2002. This book consist of 50 historical articles which had been published in the research journals and magazines. Myanmar history during the Konbaung Period, Colonial Period and Japanese Period are mentioned in this book.

“Administration of Chief Commissioner (1886-1897)” was awarded the National Literary Award in 2003. It deals with the British administration in Burma in Upper Myanmar after the Third Anglo-Burmese War. For the pacification of British Burma, the British government created the post of Chief Commissioner as the head of their administration from 1885 to 1897.7

“Village Administration Early Colonial Period (1886-1897)” was awarded the National Literary Award in 2005. This book highlights the deterioration of the village administration system for the practicing to press the Burmese traditional and village culture. And she also illustrated the official writing style and terminology in the colonial period.

“Revenue in Konbaung Period” was awarded the National Literary Award in 2009. In this book she described revenue system under Burma’s monarchical government during the Konbaung period (1752-1885). The people were responsible to pay the revenue duty to the government. The government allocated the budget from this revenue for the interest of state and social well-being for the people. Before the reign of Mindon Min there was no proper system of taxation. But during the Mindon Min, he introduced the Thathameda Tax. Each group of ten houses was required to give Rs. 100 as Thathameda tax annually. But each house did not have to pay the same amount. The rich payed more and the amount to be given by each home was decided by village headmen or ten house leaders. Daw Kyan identified the terminology of revenue in successive periods in this book.

Daw Kyan did not do much research on the former kingdom of Arakan, just about the history of Thandwe township where she was born. She was critical of some Rakhine vies on the history of the former kingdom and was criticised for that by some Rakhine people, she told.

4 Assessment

Besides her many achievements in describing and documenting Myanmar history, Daw Kyan was an impressing and strong personality. She surrendered her personal interests to those of her family. When she started her academic career at the age of 32, she thought that she was too old to marry. She however adopted the daughter of one of her brother and helped her to obtain a good education as well. The is now in medical doctor working in the United States.

In her life as a researcher, she followed the steps of Prof. Than Tun (1923-2015) whom she admired. In her later years, she displayed her great sense of duty by using her expertise in Pali, Myanmar and English literature, and in history to gives helpful comments for her fellow Myanmar historians as well as to foreign scholars. Even in her old day around the 100th birthday, she had no bias to anyone and she worked truthfully and is still highly respected for this.

With Lilian Handin (Northern Illinois University) and the author

5. Sources

Ma Kyan, “Terminology of British Administration” ( In Myanmar Language) , Historical Research Journal, Vol. II, Yangon, Historical Research Department, 1959

———— “The Economic Condition of British Burma at the time of Thibaw’s dethronement” (In Myanmar Language), Tekkatho Pyinnya Padethar Sar Saung, Vol. III, Yangon, 1968

———— “How the British Divided and Ruled National Races” (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Burma Socialist Programme Party, 1971

————. Condition of Myanmar (1885-86) (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Sarpay Beikman Press, 1978

———— The End of Feudalism in Myanmar (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Sarpaybeikman Press, 1981

———— The Quest of History and other Papers (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Myanmar Yadana Sarpay , 2002

———— Chief Commissioner Administration 1886-1897 (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Myanmar, Yadanar Sarpay, 2003

———— The Last Strength of Konbaung Period (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Sarpay Lawka Press, 2004

————. Village Administration during the Colonial Period (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Yonkyichet Sarpay, 2005

———— Selected Writings of Daw Kyan (In Myanmar and English Language) Yangon, Universities Press, Myanmar Historical Commission, 2005

———— Westerners who had Relations with Myanmar History (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Aungtagun Press, 2005

———— Village Administration of the Early Colonial Period (1886-1898) (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Myanmar Yadana Press, 2005

———— Myanmar Soldiers during Konbaung Period (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Sarpay Lawka Press, 2006

————- History of Our Burma (Myanmar) Historical Commission (1955- 1984)” (In Myanmar Language), Journal of Myanmar Historical Commission,( 1955-2005) for Diamond Jubilee, Yangon, Myanmar Historical Commission, 2006

———, Yi Yi, Dr Copper Bricks from the Shwedagon Pagoda (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Department of Historical Research , 2007

———— Revenue in Konbaung Period (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Myanmar Book Centre, 2009

———— Centenary History Devi Sayamagyi Daw Kyan (In Myanmar Language), Yangon, Seikkuu Cho Cho Press, 2018


1 The prize was established in 1992 by the businessman Pakokku U Ohn Pe. He initially provided K7.6 million to be used for prizes.

2 Parabeiks, written a special durable sort of paper that could be folded, were used as the main medium for writing and drawing in early modern Myanmar.

3 Ma Kyan, ‚ History of Burma (Myanmar) Historical Commission (1955- 1984)”, Journal of Myanmar Historical Commission,( 1955-2005) for Diamond Jubilee, Yangon, Myanmar Historical Commission, 2006, p. 205.

4 After the political changes happening in 1962, the name of the Burma Historical Commission changed to the Burma Historical Department and the publication of the Bulletin stopped. Much later, in 1986, Burma Historical Department and the Research Section of History Department of Yangon University were merged. It became the Universities’ Historical Research Centre (UHRC) in 1991. In 2007, UHRC was renamed the Department of Historical Research.

5The prize is named after a Pakokku businessman who established it in 1992.

6 Dr Yi Yi (1929-1984), Senior Research Officer of the Myanmar Historical Commission and winner of the National Literary Award in 1975, who devoted her short span of life on Myanmar history, especially on the later part of the Konbaung era.

7 In her work she had describe the British administration, judicial and revenue system und the Chief Commissioner in Myanmar, which was a system created by the British after the occupation of Upper Myanmar subsequent to the Third Anglo-Myanmar War.

အောင်စိုးမင်း (၁၉၇၀ မွေးဖွား)

Lilly Seiler
Translated by Lwin Lwin Mon

English Version of this article


၂၀၁၈ ခုနှစ်။ မေလ(၁)ရက်နေ့တွင် မာတိကာအမည်ရှိ ရန်ကုန်မြို့၊ ၃၇ လမ်းအလယ်ဘလောက်တွင် မူရင်း ဆိုင်အစား ဖွင့်လှစ်ပြီး မြန်မာ့ရိုးရာအစားအစာများကို ရောင်းချလျက်ရှိပါသည်။ အထက်ဖေါ်ပြပါ ဓါတ်ပုံရိုက် ထားသည့် ဆိုင်အသစ်တည်ထောင်ခြင်း၊ အထိမ်းအမှတ်အနေနှင့် အတိတ်ပြူတင်းပေါက်ဟု အမည်ရသည့် မြန်မာတိုင်းဆောင်းပါးကို ဆိုင်ထဲတွင် ခင်းကျင်းပြသထားပါသည်။ ထိုဆောင်းပါးသည် တိုင်းပြည်၏ ကိုလိုနီ ခေတ်လက်ရာ အဆောက်အဦးဟောင်းထဲတွင် ခင်းကျင်းပြသထားသည့် ဆိုင်အသေးလေး၏ တစ်စိတ် တစ်ပိုင်းကိုသာ ဖေါ်ပြတိုင်ပါသည်။ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ၏ စာအုပ်ဟောင်းများအပြင် မဂ္ဂဇင်းများ၊ ရုပ်ရှင်ပိုစတာများ၊ ဆိုရှယ်လစ်ခေတ် အမှတ်သင်္ကေတများကို လာရောက်လည်ပတ်သူ ဧည့်သည်များ တွေ့မြင်နိုင်ပြီး နံရံပေါ်တွင် ချိတ်ဆွဲထားသည့် ခေတ်ပေါ်ပန်းချီကားများ၊ အဝတ်အထည်များ၊ ငွေထည်၊ကြေးထည်လက်ဝတ်ရတနာ များကို ဝယ်ယူနိုင်ပါသည်။ အားလုံးသောပစ္စည်းများမှာ မြန်မာပြည်တွင် ထုတ်လုပ်ထားသောပစ္စည်းများ ဖြစ်ကြပြီး ပိုင်ရှင်အောင်စိုးမင်းကိုယ်တိုင် ဒီဇိုင်းထွင်ထားသည့် အနုပညာလက်ရာများဖြစ်ကြောင်း ဆောင်းပါး တွင် ဖေါ်ပြထားပါသည်။ ဆိုင်အသစ်သို့ လာရောက်သောဧည့်သည်သည် တစ်ခါတစ်ရံတွင် အနုပညာရှင် ကိုယ်တိုင် ဆိုင်အနောက်ဖက်ရှိ အခန်းထဲတွင် လက်ကောက်များ ပြုလုပ်နေသည်ကို တွေ့မြင်နိုင်ပါသည်။


အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် မွေးချင်းညီအစ်ကိုသုံးဦးအနက် တစ်ဦးဖြစ်ပြီး ၁၉၇၀ ခုနှစ်၊ နိုဝင်ဘာလ၊ ဆိုရှယ်လစ် ခေတ်အတွင်း၊ ပုပ္ပါးတောင်အနီးရှိ ရွာငယ်လေးတစ်ရွာဖြစ်သည့် ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်းမြိုံတွင် မွေးဖွားခဲ့ပြီး ၁၉၈၆ ခုနှစ်အထိ ထိုမြို့တွင် ကျောင်းနေထိုင်ရင်း နေထိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုစဉ်ကာလ ကတည်းက အောင်စိုး မင်းသည် တစ်ချိန်တွင် အနုပညာရှင်တစ်ယောက် ဖြစ်လာရမည်ဟူသည့် သေချာသောရည်မှန်းချက် ထားရှိခဲ့ ပါသည်။ ငယ်စဉ်ကလေးဘဝထဲက သူသည် ကဗျာ၊ ပန်းချီနှင့် စာရေးသားခြင်းများကို အထူးသဖြင့် စိတ်ပါဝင် စားခဲ့ပါသည်။ ဆိုရှယ်လစ်ခေတ်အတွင်း အောင်စိုးမင်းအပါအဝင် မြန်မာပြည်ရှိ မိသာစုအတော်များများမှာ ဘဝရပ်တည်ရေးအတွက် ရုန်းကန်လှုပ်ရှား နေကြရပါသည်။ တိုင်းပြည်၏ စီးပွားရေးကျဆင်းမှုမှာ ၁၉၈၇ ခုနှစ်တွင် အထွဋ်အထိတ်သို့ ရောက်လာခဲ့ပြီး ထိုရလဒ်သည် ဆိုရှယ်လစ်အစိုးရ၏ ချမှတ်ထားသည့် စီးပွားရေး စနစ်ကို တစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်းအားဖြင့် လိုက်နာဆောင်ရွက်စေခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထို့အပြင် လူငယ်များအနေနှင့် ထိုအချိန် ကာလများတွင် ပညာရေးဆိုင်ရာ အခွင့်အလမ်းများလည်း များများစားစားမရှိသေးပေ။ ထိုအကြောင်းရင်း ကြောင့် အောင်စိုးမင်းအနေနှင့် အင်ဂျင်နီယာဘာရပ်ကို ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်းမြို့အနီး မြန်မာ့ရေနံလုပ်ငန်း၏ အချက်အချာဖြစ်သည့် ချောက်မြို့တွင် ဖွင့်လှစ်ထားသည့် အစိုးရနည်းပညာတက္ကသိုလ်တွင် သင်ကြားခဲ့ ပါသည်။ သူ၏အနုပညာရှင်တစ်ဦးဖြစ်ရေး ရည်မှန်းချက်ကို ဆက်လက်အကောင်အထည်ဖေါ်ရင်း အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် အနုပညာရှင်များ၊ စာအုပ်ရောင်းချသူများ၊ ပညာတတ်သူ အသိဉာဏ်ထွန်းကားသူများနှင့် သူငယ်ချင်းဖြစ်လာခဲ့ရင်း စာအုပ်၊စာပေများကို ဖတ်မှတ်ခြင်း၊ ကိုယ်တိုင်စုဆောင်းခြင်းများ စတင်ပြုလုပ်လာ ခဲ့ပါသည်။ အနုပညာလက်ရာ ပုံစံ အမျိုးမျိုးနှင့် စာအုပ်အမျိုးမျိုး ကျယ်ပြန့်စွာ မရရှိနိုင်အောင် တားမြစ်ထား သည့် ဆိုရှယ်လစ်ခေတ်အစိုးရ၏ တင်းကြပ်သော တည်းဖြတ်မူဝါဒအောက်တွင် ထိုသို့စုဆောင်းခြင်းမှာ လွယ်ကူသော ကိစ္စရပ်မဟုတ်ခဲ့ပါ။

သူစာသင်ကြားနေဆဲ ကာလအတွင်းမှာပင် ၁၉၈၈ ကျောင်းသားလှုပ်ရှားမှု ထွက်ပေါ်လာခဲ့ပြီး ရန်ကုန်မြို့ တွင်းသာမက တစ်ပြည်လုံးအတိုင်းအတာအထိ ကျောင်းသားများ၊ ရဟန်းသံဃာများပါဝင်ကာ စတင် ဆန္ဒပြ ခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်းဒေသအတွင်းမှာပင်လျှင် နိုင်ငံရေး အင်အားစုများစွာ ဖွဲ့စည်းလာခဲ့ ကြပါသည်။ အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့် သူ၏ညီအကိုများလည်း ပါဝင်ခဲ့ကြပြီး မြေအောက်တော်လှန်ရေးလှုပ်ရှားမှု အဖြစ် ဆိုရှယ်လစ်အစိုးရ၏ ဆိုးဝါးသောနည်းလမ်းများနှင့် မည်သို့ဆန်ကျင့်တော်လှန်ကြမည်ဖြစ်ကြောင်း လူထုကို သတင်းပေးမည့်လက်ကမ်းစာစောင်များ၊ စာရွက်စာတမ်းများကို ဖြန့်ဝေခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ သူတို့သည် လူထုအုံကြွမှု တော်တော်များများနှင့် ဆန္ဒပြပွဲ တော်တော်များများမှာလည်း ပါဝင်ခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ ရှစ်လေးလုံး ပူးသောနေ့တွင် ငယ်ရွယ်သော အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် ဒေသတွင်း ရဲစခန်းရှိ အချုပ်ခန်းတွင် တစ်ညအိပ်ခဲ့ ရပါသည်။

ပထမပိုင်းတွင် သူ့အနနှင့် ထိုလူထုအုံကြွမှုတွင် ပါဝင်ပတ်သက်ခဲ့ခြင်းကြောင့် ပညာဆက်လက် ဆည်းပူးခွင့် ရ၊ မရ မသေချာခဲ့ပေ။ ရှစ်လေးလုံး လူထုအုံကြွမှု အပြီးကာလတစ်လျှောက်တွင် အမျိုးမျိုးသော လူထုအုံကြွမှု များနှင့် အစိုးရ၏ တန်ပြန်ထိန်းချုပ်မှုများကြောင့် ကျောင်းများ မကြာခဏ ပိတ်သောကြောင့် သူ၏ပညာရေး မှာလည်း အကြိမ်ပေါင်းများစွာ ရပ်တန့်သွားခဲ့ရပြီး ၁၉၉၂ ခုနှစ် ရောက်မှသာ ပြီးဆုံးသွားခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထို့နောက် အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် ၁၉၉၃ ခုနှစ်တွင် ရန်ကုန်မြို့သို့ ပြောင်းရွေ့လာခဲ့ပြီး အင်ဂျင်နီယာတစ်ဦးအဖြစ် အချို့ လုပ်ငန်းငယ်လေးများကို လုပ်ကိုင်ရင်း ဝင်ငွေရှာခဲ့ပါသည်။ သူ၏ဘဝတွင် အရေးကြီးသောကဏ္ဍတစ်ခု ဖြစ်သည့် စာအုပ်ဆိုင်များနှင့် ပုံနှိပ်ထုတ် ဝေရေးဆိုင်ရာ စီးပွားရေးသမားတစ်ဦးအဖြစ် စတင်နိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထို့အပြင် စာအုပ်ဆိုင်နှင့် စာကြည့်တိုက် အတော်များများတွင် ပါဝင်လုပ်ဆောင်ရင်း သူသည် ကိုယ်တိုင်စာရေး သားခြင်းနှင့် ပုံနှိပ်ထုတ်ဝေခြင်းများကို ပါဝင်လုပ်ဆောင်လာနိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။

၁၉၉၅ ခုနှစ်တွင် အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်မြို့သို့ သူ၏မသားစုကို ကူညီပံ့ပိုးပေးရန် ပြန်လည် ရောက်ခဲ့ရပါသည်။ ထိုစဉ်အချိန်က ဖြစ်ပေါ်နေသည့် နိုင်ငံရေးအခြေအနေနှင့် ဆက်စပ်ပြီး မိသားစုအနေနှင့် ငွေကြေးအခက်အခဲများကို ရုန်းကန်နေရဆဲဖြစ်သောကြောင့် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ထိုမြို့ မှာပင် အောင်စိုးမင်း၏ ပထမဆုံးသော စာအုပ်ဆိုင်နှင့် ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်းမြို့၏ ပထမဆုံး စာကြည့်တိုက်ကို နှစ်ပေါင်းသုံးဆယ် ကြာပါမှ စတင်တည်ထောင်နိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ ယခုအချိန်တိုင် ထိုစာအုပ်ဆိုင်နှင့် စာကြည့်တိုက်တို့သည် ဆက်လက်တည်ရှိနေပြီး အောင်စိုးမင်း၏ပူးတွဲ တည်ထောင်သူများအဖြစ် ရှိနေဆဲဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ထိုစဉ်အချိန် ကတည်းက သူ၏ကိုယ်ပိုင် အယူအဆ နှင့်နည်းလမ်းများအရ ထိုသို့ ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဆိုင်ရာ လုပ်ငန်းတစ်ခုကို စတင်ရင်း လုပ်ဆောင် လာခဲ့သည်မှာ အကြိမ်ပေါင်းသုံးဆယ်တိုင် ရှိလာခဲ့ပြီး ဖြစ်ပါသည်။

သူ၏နည်းလမ်းတွင် ပါဝင်ရမည့်အချက်များမှာ – စိတ်ကူးစိတ်သန်းတစ်ခု ရှိရမည်ဖြစ်ပြီး ထိုစိတ်ကူး အပေါ် အခြေခံ၍ရလာသည့် ဗဟုသုတကိုလည်း ပြီးမြောက်အောင် အကောင်အထည် ဖေါ်နိုင်ရမည်ဖြစ်ကာ လူမှု ကွန်ယက်တစ်ခုကိုလည်း တည်ထောင်နိုင်ရပါမည်။ ထို့အပြင် အချို့သောကိစ္စ ရပ်များတွင် လုပ်ငန်းငယ်လေး ဆက်လက်ရပ်တည်နိုင်အောင် လိုအပ်သောငွေကြေး ထောက်ပံ့မှုရရှိရန်လည်း လိုအပ်ပါသည်။ ထိုသို့ လုပ်ဆောင်ရင်း နောက်ပိုင်းတွင် သူသည် ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်း မြို့တွင်သာမကဘဲ ရန်ကုန်မြို့နှင့် မြန်မာနိုင်ရှိ အခြားမြို့များသို့ပါ လုပ်ငန်းများ ဆက်လက် တိုးချဲ့သွားနိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ သူတည်ထောင်သော လုပ်ငန်းနှင့် ပူးတွဲ တည်ထောင်သော လုပ်ငန်းများ၏ နယ်ပယ်များမှာ-စာအုပ်ဆိုင်နှင့် စာကြည့်တိုက်များ၊ ဆံပင်ညှပ်ဆိုင်များ၊ အယ်လ်အီးဒီ မီးအိမ်များ ထုတ်လုပ်သောလုပ်ငန်းများအထိ ကျယ်ဝန်းလာခဲ့ပါသည်။

Pansodan Gallery (2017), (c) Hans-Bernd Zöllner

ကျောက်ပန်းတောင်မြို့တွင် နေထိုင်စဉ်ကာလအတွင်း အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် သူ၏ဇနီးလောင်း၊ ကနေဒီးယန်း လူမျိုးဖြစ်သည့် နန်စီကူနင်းဟမ်နှင့် တွေ့ဆုံခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုစဉ်အချိန်က သူမသည် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတွင် လူထု ကျန်းမာရေးစီမံကိန်း လာရောက်လုပ်ဆောင်နေစဉ် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ နန်စီသည် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံသို့ အမြဲတမ်းနေ ထိုင်ရန် ပြောင်းရွေ့လာသူဖြစ်သော်လည်း သူမ၏ဗီဇာသက်တမ်းကို သုံးလတစ်ကြိမ် အသစ်ပြန်လည် သက်တမ်းတိုးရန် နိုင်ငံမှ မကြာခဏ ပြန်လည်ထွက်ခွာရပါသည်။ ထိုစဉ်အချိန်ကတည်းက နိုင်ငံခြားသား တစ်ဦးအနေနှင့် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံသားတစ်ဦးဖြစ်နိုင်ရန် မလွယ် ကူပါ။ သူမသည် မြန်မာဘာသာစကားသာမကဘဲ အခြားတိုင်းရင်းသာ ဘာသာစကားဖြစ်သော ရှမ်းဘာသာစကားနှင့် ထိုင်း၊ ပြင်သစ်၊ ဂျာမန်ဘာသာစကား များကိုပါ ပြောဆိုနိုင်သူ တစ်ဦးဖြစ် ပါသည်။ သူမ၏ မြန်မာစစ်အစိုးရအပေါ် ပွင့်လင်းစွာ ဝေဖန်ပြောဆို တတ်မှုကြောင့် အာဏာပိုင်များက သူမ၏အမည်ကို နာမည်ဆိုးစာရင်း သွင်းခြင်းကို ခံထားရပါသည်။ အကျိုးဆက်အနေနှင့် သူမသည် မြန်မာပြည်တွင်းသို့ ဝင်ရောက်ခွင့် မရတော့သောကြောင့် ချင်းမိုင်မြို့၊ ထိုင်းနိုင်ငံတွင် နှစ်အတော်များများ နေထိုင်ခဲ့ရပါသည်။ ထိုမြို့တွင် သူမသည် အနုပညာပြခန်းနှင့် ကော်ဖီဆိုင် တစ်ခုကို တွဲဖက်ဖွင့်လှစ်ရန် စီစဉ်နိုင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ နန်စီသည် အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့် ရန်ကုန်မြို့တွင် အလုပ်အတူ တွဲလုပ်ရင်း အပြည်ပြည်ဆိုင်ရာ ထူထုကျန်းမာရေးကဏ္ဍ စီမံကိန်းအတော်များများတွင် ပါဝင်ဆောင်ရွက် ခဲ့ပါသည်။ ဉပမာအားဖြင့် ၂၀၁၈ ခုနှစ်တွင် သူမသည် ပါကစ္စတန်နိုင်ငံတွင် ကိုးလကြာသွားရောက်နေထိုင်ပြီး ကနေဒီးယန်းအစိုးရ၏ ထောက်ပံ့ပေးမှုဖြင့် စီမံကိန်းတစ်ခုကို လုပ်ဆောင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။

၁၉၉၉ ခုနှစ် အောင်စိုးမင်း ရန်ကုန်မြို့သို့ ပြန်ရောက်လာပြီးနောက် သူနှင့်နန်စီသည် ရန်ကုန်မြို့လယ်၊ ဆိပ်ကမ်းသာလမ်းရှိ ဓါတ်လှေခါးမပါသော ရှစ်လွှာတိုက်ခန်းဟောင်းသို့ ပြောင်းရွှေ့လာခဲ့ ကြပါသည်။ အစပိုင်းတွင် ထိုနေရာကလေးမှာ တစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်းအားဖြင့် သူတို့၏နေထိုင်သော နေရာလေးဖြစ်သကဲ့သို့ အခြားတစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်းအားဖြင့် မြန်မာ့သမိုင်းနှင့်ယဉ်ကျေးမှုကို စိတ်ဝင်စားသူတိုင်းအတွက် ဘဏ္ဍာတိုက်                                           တစ်ခုလည်း ဖြစ်လာခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုတိုက်ခန်းလေးတွင် ကြီးမားပြီး အမျိုးအားစုံလင်သည့် မော်ကွန်းဝင် တံဆိပ်ခေါင်းများ၊ အကြွေစေ့များ၊ စာအုပ်များ၊ ပန်းချီများ၊ အခြားသော အနုပညာလက်ရာများ၊ ပို့စကတ်များ၊ သတင်းစာများ၊ စာအုပ်များ၊ သမိုင်းဝင်ဖလင်များ၊ ကိုလိုနီခေတ်မှတ်တမ်းဖိုင်များ၊ ရှေးဟောင်းပစ္စည်းများကို ခင်းကျင်းပြသထားပါသည်။ သူတို့ နှစ်ဦးသည် ထိုနေရာမှစတင်ကာ ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဆိုင်ရာ စီမံကိန်းများကို ရင်းနှီးမြှုပ်နှံ့ခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ များလှစွာသော ထိုပစ္စည်းများသည် သူတို့ဇနှီးမောင်နှံ၏တိုက်ခန်းတွင် ယခုတိုင် ရှိနေဆဲဖြစ်ပြီး အချို့မှာလည်း အခြားနေရာများသို့ ရွှေ့ပြောင်းပြသခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ အချို့မှာမူ ၂၀၁၈ ခုနှစ်တွင် မာတိကာဆိုင်သို့ ပြောင်းရွှေ့ပြသထားပါသည်။

ထိုသို့ ဖရိုဖရဲဖြစ်နေရသည့် မော်ကွန်းတိုက်ကလေးသည် နောင်တွင် ထင်ရှားလာမည့် ရန်ကုန်မြို့၏ သက်ဝင်လှုပ်ရှားပြီး မတူကွဲပြားသည့် သမိုင်းကြောင်းများ၊ ယဉ်ကျေးမှုနှင့် အနုပညာမြင်ကွင်းတို့ စုစည်းရာ ပထမ်ခြေလှမ်းအဖြစ် ပေါ်ထွက်လာခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုသို့ ပစ္စည်းများကို စုဆောင်းခြင်းအပြင် အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် ပန်းချီနှင့် ဂီတအနုပညာရှင်၊ ဒါရိုက်တာ၊ စာရေးဆရာနှင့် ထုတ်ဝေသူတစ်ဦးပါ ဖြစ်လာပါသည်။

၂၀၀၈ ခုနှစ်၊ ဩဂုတ်လတွင် သူတို့ဇနီးမောင်နှံသည် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းအနုပညာခန်းမကို စတင်ဖွင့် လှစ်ခဲ့ပြီး အောင်စိုးမင်း၏အပြေအရ-“မြန်မာ့အနုပညာရှင်များ၏ လက်ရာများကို ပြည်တွင်းပြည်ပ မျက်မှောက်ဈေး ကွက်များတွင် တင်ပြနိုင်စေရန် ထောက်ပံ့စီစဉ်ပေးလို သောကြောင့်” ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ဤအနုပညာနေရာ လေးတွင် မြန်မာ့ပန်းချီပညာ ရှင်များ၏ ပန်းချီကားပေါင်း(၂၀၀)ကျော် ခင်းကျင်းပြသထားပါသည်။ အများ စုမှာ ခေတ်ပြိုင်လက်ရာများ ဖြစ်ကြသော်လည်း တဖြေးဖြေးလက်ဆင့် ကမ်းလာကြရင်း မော်ကွန်း တိုက်နှင့် အနုပညာခန်းမများအဖြစ် တိုးတက်လာကာ များပြားလှသော ရှေးကျပြီး ရှားပါးသည့်ပန်းချီဆရာကြီးများ ဖြစ်ကြသော ခင်မောင်ရင် သို့မဟုတ် ပန်းချီ ဗဂျီ အောင်စိုး၏ လက်ရာများပါ တွေ့ရှိနိုင်ပါသည်။ အနုပညာ ခန်းမတည်ထောင်ရခြင်း ရည်ရွယ်ချက်မှာ မည်သည့်မြန်မာ့အနုပညာရှင်အတွက်ကိုမဆို သူတို့၏အနုပညာ လက်ရာများကို ခင်းကျင်းပြသပြီး ရောင်းချနိုင်သည့် အခွင့်အရေးရရှိစေရန် ထောက်ပံ့ပေးနိုင်သော နေရာလေး တစ်ခု ဖြစ်စေချင်သောကြောင့် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။

လူမှုရေးနှင့် ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဆိုင်ရာ စွန့်ဦးတီထွင်လုပ်ကိုင်ခြင်း

ဆိုရှယ်လစ်ခေတ်တွင် မွေးဖွားလာသူဖြစ်သော အောင်စိုမင်းသည် ခေါင်းဆောင်ကဏ္ဍမဟုတ်သော်လည်း တိုင်းပြည်၏ကျော်ကြားသည် ၁၉၈၈ လူထုအုံကြွမှုတွင် ပါဝင်ခဲ့ပြီး တိုင်းပြည်အနေနှင့် နောက်ထပ်စစ်အာ ဏာရှင် အုပ်ချုပ်မှုအောက်သို့ ကျရောက်နေသည်ကို မြင်ရသောကြောင့် တိုးတက်လာသည့် သူ၏စိတ်ကူး စိတ်သန်းတို့ကို သက်ဝင်လှုပ်ရှားလာသည့် နိုင်ငံရေးယဉ်ကျေးမှုများတွင် ဖြန့်ဝေရင်း ဒီမိုကရေစီအစိုးရ၏ တစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်းဖြစ်သည့် အောက်ခြေမှ အထက်သို့တင်ပြသည့် အပြအမူမျိုးကိုလည်း ထောက်ပံ့ကူညီ ပေးလျက် ရှိပါသည်။ သူ၏အမြင်အရ လေးစားအပ်သည့် အစိုးရ၏မူဝါဒ သဘောတရားအစား အမျိုးမျိုးသော သွင်ပြင်ဖြင့်ရှိနေသော တိုင်းပြည်၏သမိုင်းကို သတိမူလျက် တိုင်းပြည်၏တည်ငြိမ်သော လူ့အဖွဲ့အစည်းကို အားထားစေချင်ပါသည်။ ဤသို့ ပြုလုပ်ခြင်းမှာ အလှမ်းကျယ်သော စီမံကိန်းဖြစ်ပြီ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံအနေနှင့် အောင်မြင်ရန် မဖြစ်နိုင်မှန်း အောင်စိုးမင်းအနေနှင့်သိသော်လည်း ဤစိတ်ကူးမီးဖွားလေးကို စုဆောင်းသည့် ပစ္စည်းများအတွက် အဆောက်အဦး တည်ဆောက်ခဲ့ရင်း ယခုအခါ တိုင်းပြည်၏အကြီးများဆုံး ကိုယ်ပိုင်မော် ကွန်းတိုက် ဖြစ်လာခဲ့ပြီး လူထု၏စိတ်ဝင်စားမှုများကို ထောက်ပံ့ပေးနိုင်ရန် ရည်ရွယ်ပါသည်။

အထက်ဖော်ပြပါ အောင်စိုးမင်း၏ စိတ်ကူးဖြစ်သည့် စွန့်ဦးတီထွင်ခြင်း စံနမူနာအရ အချို့သော တိုးတက်ဖွံ့ ဖြိုးရေးလုပ်ငန်းများကို အဓိကအားဖြင့် သူငယ်ချင်းမိတ်တွေများ၊ မိသားစုဝင်များအကြားတွင် အကောင် အထည်ဖေါ် လုပ်ဆောင်ခဲ့သော်လည်း လူများက သူ့အား သူတို့၏ပြဿနာများနှင့် စိတ်ကူးများကို ဆွေးနွေး တိုင်ပင်ပြီး အကြံဉာဏ်တောင်းခံကြကြောင်း တွေ့ရပါသည်။ ဤစီမံကိန်းဆိုင်ရာစိတ်ကူး တဖြေးဖြေး ကြီးထွားလာသကဲ့သို့ သူ၏ကိုယ်ပိုင်ရပ် တည်မှုနှင့် အခြေခိုင်စေရန် ဖြစ်လာခဲ့ပြီး အခြားသောသူများ သည်လည်း သူတို့နည်းသူတို့ဟန်နှင့် ယုံကြည်ချက် ရှိရှိ ဆက်လက်အကောင်အထည်ဖေါ်လျက် ရှိသောကောင့် ထိုလုပ်ငန်းမှ အောင်စိုးမင်းအနေနှင့် တဖြေးဖြေး ဆုတ်ခွာစေပါသည်။  ဤအတွေးအခေါ်ကို ကောင်းကောင်း အဖြေရှာ မရပေ။ အကြောင်းမှာ သူ့အနေနှင့် တစ်ဦးဦးလိုချင်သော ငွေကို ထောက်ပံ့ပေးနိုင်သော်လည်း သူသတိမူမိသည်မှာ အချို့သော စီးပွားရေးလုပ်ငန်းများကို သူသည် ကျပ်ငွေ ၅၀၀ ထက်မပိုသော ငွေဖြင့် စတင်နိုင်ခဲ့သောကြောင့် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ သို့သော်လည်း အောင်စိုးမင်းသည် ထိုသို့ စွန့်ဦးတီထွင်လုပ်ကိုင်ရန် ထိုစဉ်က လုံလောက်သော သတ္တိရှိဲ့သောကြောင့် ဖြစ်နိုင်ပါသည်။

သို့ပါသော်လည်း အချို့သောအခြေခံစီးပွားရေး လုပ်ငန်းများဖြစ်သည့် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းနှစ်နေရာရှိ လုပ်ငန်းမျိုးတွင် သူနှင့်နန်စီတို့၏ တိုက်ရိုက်လမ်းညွှန်မှုအောက်တွင် ရှိနေဆဲဖြစ်ပါသည်။ အနုပညာ ပြခန်းများသည် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတွင် ရှည်ကြာသော ရိုးရာဓလေ့များအောက်တွင် ရှိနေခဲ့ပြီး တင်းကြပ်သောတည်းဖြတ်ခြင်း မူဝါဒများကြောင့် အတိတ်တွင် ပြသခဲ့သော အနုပညာလက်ရာ များသည် ရိုးရာစစ်စစ်များသာ ပြသတိုင်ခဲ့ပြီး ခေတ်သစ်အနုပညာလက်ရာများက ပြသနိုင်ခြင်းမှာ ကာလကြာရှည်စွာ မဖြစ်နိုင်သလောက် ဖြစ်ခဲ့ရပါသည်။  ပြသမည့် အနုပညာလုပ်ငန်းအားလုံးသည် အစိုးရ၏ တရားဝင်စီစစ် စစ်ဆေးပြီးမှ ပြုလုပ်နိုင်သောကြောင့် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ထိုသို့ ပြုလုပ်ရခြင်း၏ အကျိုးရလဒ်မှာ ခင်းကျင်းပြသမည့် အနုပညာလက်ရာ တစ်စိတ်တစ်ပိုင်း မကျန် အစိုးရ၏အာဘော်အောက်တွင် ပြသရပြီး အနောက်တိုင်း ယဉ်ကျေးမှုကို ခင်းကျင်းပြသခြင်းကို သူများနှင့်မတူဘဲ တစ်မူထူးသောသူအဖြစ် ထင်မြင်ယူဆခံ ရပါသည်။ ၂၀၀၈ ခုနှစ်တွင် ပန်းဆိုးတန်း အနုပညာ ပြခန်းကို ဖွင့်လှစ်ပြီး မကြာခင်မှာပင် တင်းကြပ်သော တည်းဖြတ်ခြင်း မူဝါဒဖြေလျော့ခြင်းကို ခံခဲ့ရပြီး ခေတ်ပြိုင်မြန်မာ့အနုပညာရှင်များ၏ အနုပညာလက်ရာ များက ကျယ်ပြန့်သောအကျယ် အလှမ်းဖြင့် ပြသတိုင်သည့် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ၏ ပထမဆုံးသော အနုပညာပြခန်း ဖြစ်လာခဲ့ပါသည်။

အောင်စိုးမင်း၏ ပြောကြားချက်အရ-အနုပညာပြခန်းနှင့် မော်ကွန်းတိုက်နှစ်ခုစလုံးတွင် သူ၏ ကိုယ်ပိုင် အဓိပ္ပါယ်ဖြင့် ဖွင့်ဆိုထားသော ရှစ်လေးလုံးမှ ထွက်ပေါ်လာသည့် လွတ်လပ်သောအနု ပညာ၊ လွတ်လပ်ခြင်း၊ ခံစားမှုရသပေါ်လွင်စေခြင်းစသည့် စိတ်ကူးစိတ်သန်းများကို ဆက်လက်ကြိုးစားလုပ်ဆောင်ခဲ့ပြီး အတွေး အခေါ် အမျှော်အမြင်နှင့် ဆန်းသစ်တီထွင်နိုင်သော လူ့အဖွဲ့အစည်း တစ်ခု ထွက်ပေါ်လာအောင် ပါဝင်လှုပ်ရှား ဆောင်ရွက်လျက်ရကာ ဆက်လက်တည်တန့်ခိုင်မြဲစွာ ရပ်တည်နိုင်အောင် ကြိုးစားကူညီထောက်ပံ့ တည်ဆောက်ပေးလျက် ရှိပါသည်။ သူကိုယ်တိုင်လည်း ဆက်လက်၍ ပန်းချီရေးဆွဲခြင်း၊ ပန်းပုထုခြင်း၊ ကဗျာရေးသားခြင်း၊ ရုပ်ရှင်ဇာတ်ညွှန်းရေးသားခြင်း၊ တေးဂီတရေးသားခြင်းနှင့် ထုတ်လုပ်ခြင်း၊ ထူးခြားသည့် ရုပ်ရှင်ဇာတ်ကားရှည်များကို ရိုက်ကူးခြင်း စသည်တို့တွင် ပါဝင်လျက်ရှိနေပါသည်။

သူ၏များစွာသော ကိုယ်ကျိုးမငဲ့သည့် လှုပ်ရှားမှုများအပြင် အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့်သူ၏ဇနီးတို့သည် စွန့်ဦးတီထွင် လုပ်ငန်းများအတွက် သိသာထင်ရှားစွာ ကူညီခဲ့ကြပါသည်။ သူတို့သည် အငယ်စားလုပ်ငန်းအဖွဲ့အစည်း တစ်ခုကို တည်ထောင်ပြီး ရန်ကုန်မြို့၏ အပြင်ဖက်နှင့် မြို့တွင်းတို့တွင် ပိုမိုကျယ်ပြန့်သော ကွန်ယက် တစ်ခုကို စီစဉ်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ သူသည် ငွေရေးကြေးရေးအကြောင်း ပြောဆိုခြင်းကို မနှစ်သက်ဘဲ သူ၏စိတ်ကူး စိတ်သန်းများအားလုံးသည် ငွေကြေးမတည်ပေး သကဲ့သို့ဖြစ်ကြောင်းနှင့် လူတစ်ဦးတစ်ယောက်အနေနှင့် အချို့သော ငွေကြေးများသည် သူတည်ထောင်ထားသည့် မတူကွဲပြားသည့် စွန့်စားလုပ်ကိုင်ခြင်းများမှ လာကြောင်း ယူဆနိုင်ပြီး တစ်ချို့သောကိစ္စရပ်များတွင်မူ နောက်ပိုင်းတွင် သူဆုတ်ခွာခဲ့ပါသည်။ အောင်စိုး မင်းသည် အရေးကြီးသည့် ရှာဖွေစုဆောင်သူနှင့် အနုပညာရှင်နှစ်မျိုးလုံးတွင် ပါဝင်နေဟန်ရှိပြီး သူ၏စိတ်ကူး စိတ်သန်းများမှ ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဆင်ရာ မြင်ကွင်းများနှင့် အတွေးအခေါ်များ ပေါ်ထွက်လာပြီး ရန်ကုန်မြို့တွင် သာမက မြန်မာတစ်နိုင်ငံလုံးကိုပါ ဖြန့်ဝေလျက်ရှိကာ လိမ္မာပါးနပ်သော စီးပွားရေးလုပ်ငန်းရှင်တစ်ဦးလည်း ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ သူသည် ပြိုင်စံရှားသည့် အခွင့်အရေးများကို မည်သို့မည်ပုံသုံးရန် သိရှိနားလည်ပြီး မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ၏ အတိတ်နှင့် မျက်မှောက်ခေတ်ကာလများကို တင်ပြနိုင်သူလည်း ဖြစ်ပါသည်။

ယဉ်ကျေးမှုချင်း ဖလှယ်ခြင်း

ယခုအခါ ပန်းဆိုးတန်း အနုပညာခန်းမသည် ပြောင်းလဲတိုးတက်လျက်ရှိပြီး မြန်မာ့အနုပညာ ရှင်များ၊ အတွေး အခေါ်ရှင်များနှင့် နိုင်ငံခြားသားများ၊ ခရီးသွားဧည့်သည်များ၊ ကျွမ်းကျင်ပညာရှင်များ တွေ့ဆုံကြရာနေရာ လေးတစ်ခု ဖြစ်လာခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုသို့ ပြောင်းလဲတိုးတက်လာရခြင်း၏ အကြောင်းရင်းတစ်ခုမှာ အပတ်စဉ်အ င်္ဂါနေ့ညတိုင်း နန်စီနှင့် အောင်စိုးမင်းတို့ ကြီးမှုးကျင်းပလျက်ရှိသော ပါတီပွဲများလည်း ပါဝင်ပါသည်။ ထိုပါတီ ပွဲများတွင် နိုင်ငံခြားသားများနှင့ မြန်မာများ သောက်ကြစားကြရင်း တွေ့ဆုံစကားစမြည် ပြောခွင့်ရကြ ပါသည်။ လျှင်မြန်သော အရှိန်အဟုန်နှင့် ထိုသတ်မှတ် ဆုံရပ်ကလေးသည် ရန်ကုန်မြို့လုံးသို့ ထင်ရှား ကျော်ကြား လာပါတော့သည်။ ထိုရိုးရာ ဓလေ့လေးသည် ၂၀၁၈ ခုနှစ်တွင် ရပ်ဆိုင်းလိုက်သော်လည်း စီမံကိန်း ဒီဇိုင်နာ၏ နောက်ထပ် ရွှေ့ရှားမှုလက္ခဏာရပ် ဖြစ်ပေါ်လာပါတော့သည်။

အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့် နန်စီကူနင်းဟမ်တို့၏ ယဉ်ကျေးမှုဖလှယ်ခြင်း အထူးနည်းလမ်းများအဖြစ် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းရှိ နေရာနှစ်နေရာစလုံးကို တည်ထောင်ခဲ့ခြင်း ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ဤနေရာများမှ ခင်းကျင်း ပြသထားသည့် အဖြစ် အပျက် အကြောင်းအရာများကို လူမှုကွန်ယက်ဖြစ်သည့် ဖေ့စ်ဘုတ်နှင့် အခြားသတင်းမီဒီယာများမှတစ်ဆင့် သိရှိပြီး လာရောက်ကြည့်ရှုကြသည့် လူများသည် မြန်မာ့ သမိုင်းကြောင်း၊ မျက်မှောက်ရေးရာ ကိစ္စရပ်များ၊ အနုပညာရှင်များအကြောင်း တို့နှင့်ပတ်သက်၍ သတင်းအချက်အလက်များနှင့် ရှင်းလင်းတင်ပြချက်များကို သိရှိခွင့် ရနိုင်မည်ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ထင်ရှားသည့် အနောက်တိုင်းသိပ္ပံပညာရှင် အတော်များများသည် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ နှင့်ပတ်သက်ပြီး ပြုလုပ်သော သုတေသနများတွင် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းမြင်ကွင်းအကြောင်း ဆွေးနွေးပြောဆိုကြမြဲ ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ ထို့ပြင် နန်စီနှင့်အောင်စိုးမင်းတို့သည် အင်္ဂလိပ်-မြန်မာအဘိဓာန်ကို ထုတ်ဝေခဲ့ပြီး မြန်မာ စကားလုံး တစ်လုံးတိုင်းကို အသံထွက်နိုင်စေရန် သီးခြားကဏ္ဍတစ်ရပ်ပါ ထည့်သွင်းဖော်ပြ ထားပါသည်။ ထပ်မံ၍ အပတ်စဉ်တွေ့ဆုံပွဲများတွင် မြန်မာဘာသာစကားကို လေ့ကျင့်သင်ကြားပေးပြီး နန်စီကိုယ်တိုင် အစပြုကာ သူမမြို့တွင်း ရှိချိန်များတွင် ပါဝင်ခဲ့ပါသည်။ ထိုတွေ့ဆုံပွဲများသည် အောင်စိုးမင်း၏ ကူညီ ထောက်ပံ့မှုဖြင့် အတွင်းဝန်ရုံး အဆောက်အဦးအနီး၊ ဘိုကလေးဈေးလမ်းပေါ်တွင် နောက်ထပ် တည်ထောင် ထားသည့် ပန်သူရိယယဉ်ကျေးမှုပြခန်းတွင် ကျင်းပလျက်ရှိပြီး နိုင်ငံခြား သားများမကြာခဏ လာရောက်လေ့ ရှိကြကာ အစားအစာများ၊ အနုပညာလက်ရာများ၊ သမိုင်းဝင်ဓာတ်ပုံများနှင့် ပန်းချီကားများကိုလည်း ခင်းကျင်း ပြသထားပါသည်။ နောက်ထပ် ပြောင်းလဲလွယ်သော စွန့်စားလုပ်ကိုင်သည့် လုပ်ငန်းသစ်တစ်ခုကို ယဉ်ကျေးမှုနှင့် လူမှုရေးဆိုင်ရာ တက်ကြွလှုပ်ရှားသူ၊ အနုပညာရှင်နှင့် စီးပွားရေးလုပ်ငန်းရှင်စသူတို့၏ လမ်းညွှန်မှုအောက်တွင် ဖွင့်လှစ်ကာ ၂၀၁၉ ခုနှစ် အစောပိုင်းကာလများတွင် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းမြင်ကွင်းကို အနု ပညာကော်ဖီဆိုင်အဖြစ် ပုံစံပြောင်းပြီး အစားအသောက်များကို ရောင်းချပေးနေပါသည်။ ၃၇ လမ်း စားသောက်ဆိုင်မှ ထိုင်ခုံများနှင့် စားပွဲများကိုလည်း ပြောင်းရွှေ့ပြီး ယခုအခါ မာတိကာအမည်ရှိ အနုပညာနှင့် စာအုပ်ဆိုင်အဖြစ် ပြောင်းလဲဖွင့်လှစ်ထားပါသည်။


အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့်ပတ်သက်၍ ယခုအခါ တစ်စုံတစ်ရာ ကောက်ချက်ချအကဲဖြတ်ရန် မဖြစ်နိုင်သေးပါ။ ရိုးရှင်းစွာ ပြောရလျှင် ယခုတိုင် လုံးလုံးလျားလျား မပြီးပြတ်သေးသောကြောင့် ဖြစ်ပါသည်။ မြန်မာအမျိုးသား အများစု ကဲ့သို့ပင် သူသည် ထူးချွန်သောပါရမီများစွာ ရှိသောအမျိုးသား တစ်ဦးဖြစ်ပြီး ဗုဒ္ဓဘာသာ၏အမြင့်ဆုံး ကုသိုလ် ကောင်းမှုဖြစ်သည့် ဒါနပါရမီကို သူ့နည်းသူ့ဟန်ဖြင့် တင်ဆက်ပြသနိုင်သူတစ်ဦးသာ ဖြစ်ပါတော့သည်။


ဤအတ္ထုပတ္တိသည် စာရေးသူ ပန်းဆိုးတန်း ပန်းချီပြခန်းနှင့် ပန်းဆိုးတန်းမြင်ကွင်းတို့တွင် အလုပ်သင်အဖြစ် လုပ်ဆောင်နေစဉ် အောင်စိုးမင်းနှင့် တွေ့ဆုံမေးမြန်းခဲ့ခြင်းနှင့် ၂၀၁၆ ခုနှစ် နောက်ပိုင်းနှင့် ၂၀၁၇ ခုနှစ် အစောပိုင်းကာလများတွင် သူအားသိသူတို့၏ သတင်းပေးချက်များ အပေါ် အခြေခံ၍ ကိုးကားရေးသားထားခြင်း ဖြစ်ပါသည်။

အခြားကိုးကားချက်များကို အောက်ဖော်ပြပါ လင့်ခ်များတွင် ဝင်ရောက်ကြည့်ရှုနိုင်ပါသည်။ (accessed 25.2.2019).

Sein Bo Tint (1938-1994)

by Daphne Wolf

Burmese version of this biography


Sein Bo Tint was regarded as a leading Burmese musician. He was renowned for his virtuosity in playing the hsaing-waing (also called pat-waing), a set of 21 drums arranged in a circle, for which this traditional Burmese ensemble of instruments is named, and also for his compositions and his innovations in Myanmar’s traditional music, despite the restrictions imposed on the Burmese cultural scene in the socialist period between 1962 and 1988. He can be regarded as a musician who linked the traditional Burmese music of royal times with “modern” elements and as an artist integrating different segments of Myanmar society. He was also one of the three favourite musicians of Ne Win.

Biographical Sketch

He was born in 1938 as Maung Tint, the fifth of ten children in Kyaik-lat, a town in the Ayeyawadi Division some 120 km southwest of Yangon. His father was a hsaing-waing (drum circle) player. At the age of seven, the family moved to a western Yangon township where he lived until the end of his life. As a young boy, he learned – in addition to his father’s instrument – to play patala (a bamboo xylophon), mandolin, flute and hne, a reed instrument. His talent was noticed early. Shortly after having moved to Rangoon, when playing at the Shwedagon Pagoda, he attracted the attention of the national hero and general (Burmese bo-gyoke) Aung San. For that reason, the word “Bo” (commander) was later prefixed to his name. The third part of his name – Sein – was added later, after he had become famous as a hsaing saya, a master of the instrument, like many other Burmese orchestra musicians who had been named “Sein”.

He left school after finishing grade seven at the age of 14; after that he became a full-time musician. It is reported that he composed his first song at the age of 16 or 17, showing his talent to write song texts. Sein Bo Tint was the student of a number of renowned musicians who had been students of musicians who had played at the last royal court in Mandalay. He became famous nationwide after his performances were broadcast via radio and TV, and he was active in a number of state organisations aiming to preserve the traditions of court music. Furthermore, he was member of the board of the Cultural University, engaged in reviving music and dance competitions and promoting the exchange of musicians from different ethnic groups. From time to time he was invited by the country’s Number One, Ne Win, to perform at meetings in his home on Ady Road.

He had to support a large family with his performances – reportedly he had eight children, among them only one who stepped into his shoes by becoming a musician. He was a chain smoker and died in 1994 from lung cancer.

Aims and Objectives

During royal times, until the end of the Burmese monarchy in 1885, a canon of songs called maha-gita (great music) was established, performed by a variety of ensembles and singers. After the British conquest of Burma in 1885, the traditional canon lost its importance due to the abolishment of the royal court and its dominating influence on the country’s culture. New types of songs arose, influenced by the attempts of the British administration and missionaries to adapt Burma to modern times. Of the music ensembles only the orchestras around the hsaing-waing survived. However, one crucial characteristic element of Burmese music did not fundamentally change: the close teacher-student relationship. Students repeated what their teachers played, but at the same time were encouraged to find their own style by inventing ornaments and other variations added to the basic tunes.

Sein Bo Tint received his basic education at a time of great cultural variety after independence during the premiership of U Nu, who had wanted to become a playwright in his early days. U Nu was called thabin-wun – “theatre minister” – because of his affinity with the fine arts. This period, in which musical elements from abroad like swing and other jazz genres became popular, influenced the young musician and contributed to his ability in combining the tradition rooted in royal times and adapted elements coming from abroad, for which he became famous.

When the military took over power after the coup of March 1962, Sein Bo Tint was able to cope with the new situation of Burma’s isolationist policies that also affected culture. Culture was regulated and the old traditions originating in royal times were revived at the expense of foreign influences. Sein Bo Tint adapted to these conditions and contributed to the new ideal of unity under Burmese domination by creating a song in which rhythmic elements of the main ethnic groups of Burma varied the tune invented by the musician. Here the official ideal of ethnic harmony and integration under a dominating force was musically represented. However, this political ideal never matched the political realities.

On the other hand, Sein Bo Tint introduced a number of innovations to traditional Burmese music and the instruments on which it is performed. He introduced a new order and an enlargement of the hsaing-waing ensemble – sometimes up to seven hne-players were included – in addition to a new design of the whole ensemble, positioned within a great carved frame on a variety of levels. The name of the orchestra alluded to a king of old times who used to play the harp so beautifully that even elephants peacefully came to him to listen to the music. Carved elephant figures served as a visual illustration of this historical reminiscence. On the other hand, the artist from time to time gave solo performances.

Instruments of a Hsaing Waing Ensemble (Khon Tin Soe)

Another innovation was the invention of chromatic instruments that could help to bridge the gap between Burmese and western tonalities. The kyi waing was extended to 29 gongs. One of his pupils was trained to tune the gongs with the assistance of 12 European fifes. Later electronic tuners were used. This innovation contributed to a broadening of the repertoire of the music groups and their ability to play with western musicians while not giving up their traditional acoustic colour. He finally invented a simple bass instrument, not known before in Burma, just one string placed using a washtub as resonator, that is known as a “washtub bass” in American folk music.

Sein Bo Tint thus balanced traditional music with introducing new and even “western” elements that were otherwise shunned by the socialist government’s cultural policies, which emphasised the preservation of traditional arts by way of simply “freezing them”. The fact that Ne Win liked his music, and might have used its public fame to make the socialist system gain some popularity, was helpful to preserve this balance.


Sein Po Tint was a musical practitioner, not a theorist who talked or wrote about what the music he performed was about. He communicated through his music and through his students who carried on what they had learned from him. He himself had carried on by balancing what he had been taught and inventing something new throughout the succession of his teachers. He might be called a “traditional reformer” who excelled because of his special talents.

With regard to the cultural-political context of his life and work, one may say that he helped to bridge the 26 years of Burmese socialist isolation between the Nu-era and the opening of the country after 1988 when – somewhat ironically – western countries did not fully use the opportunities offered by the military junta for opening the country to foreign influences. In a way, it was Sein Bo Tint’s students who benefited from his innovations, both inside the country and in the exchange with foreign musicians.

Inside Myanmar, the economic and cultural opening up of the country was used by some of his students to become successful “band leaders” of hsaing-waing ensembles, producing CDs that sold well and received prestigious awards. These students concentrated on using one of his innovations and developed it further.

Other students used the adaption of the western musical traditions and techniques. This way the door was opened to playing together with jazz musicians at festivals in Europe as well as in Myanmar. As adults, his students had developed an affinity with western musical culture without abandoning the traditional concepts of Burmese music. Such blending of different musical traditions was well-received by various audiences and very much enjoyed by the musicians on both sides. This developed into a series of meetings of the two sides under the heading “Myanmar meets Europe”.1

It was Sein Bo Tint’s – as well as some other musicians’ – popularity during the Ne Win era that paved the way for such new encounters between different musical cultures. He did not fight the conservatism of the Burmese cultural bureaucracy in the socialist period, but used free space to introduce new ways that he found worthwhile after his experiences under U Nu. He and his students further benefited from the traditional personal way of passing on knowledge in Burmese society. He was an individualist like his students and therefore not interested in founding any kind of “movement” that could be regarded as a threat to the state. However, it remains to be seen how the music of his students will cope with the trends in Myanmar to copy western pop culture, which had been strictly prohibited during the socialist period.


No literature on Sein Bo Tint is available in a western language. The biography is based on the research of the author in Myanmar.

The biography was edited by Hans-Bernd Zöllner

1For some youtube videos about the project see;;

Htein Win (born 1946) – Photoshooting the Truth

Johanna Kuchel

The Burmese version of this biography


In the past decades, Myanmar has seen many rebellions against the government. The U Thant Crisis of 1974 showed people’s disagreement with the handling of the former UN General Secretary’s  funeral by Ne Win’s socialist administration. The protestors of the 8888 Uprising demanded democracy and freedom.

Htein Win is a photographer and was one of the few who had the opportunity and the courage to take photos of these events. Thanks to him there now is evidence of the events, which helps to understand what was happening and why it was and is important.

The mission Htein Win follows with his photography is to capture the truth of the present. With his photos, he wants to show reality and truth and to convey that to people.


In 1946 Htein Win was born in Bassein (today Pathein) in the Irrawaddy Region. At the age of 11 he was sent for four years to St. Joseph’s College, a boarding school in North Point, Darjeeling (India), in order to learn English. After finishing his basic education, he wanted to study English at the Rangoon Arts and Sciences University. However, as this degree was not offered at that time he started studies at the Institute of Medicine 1  in Rangoon. While not being very passionate about medicine, he became seriously interested in photography there. Borrowing cameras from the medical labs, where photos were taken for teaching purposes, he started to take photos of people and their lives, university events, etc.

In 1974, he photographed the student demonstrations triggered by the death of U Thant. It was aimed at the Burmese military government’s refusal to give U Thant, the third Secretary-General of the United Nations, a state funeral. Because of political censorship, Htein Win could only publish his photos 40 years later in a book.

Cover of the book about the U Thant Crisis (Source: Htein Win)

After the U Thant Crisis Htein Win founded the “Htein Win Sarpay Publishing House”, publishing first comics and later also literary works. Through his work as a publisher he got in touch with numerous writers and artists – many of whom can now be found in his portrait series.

During the 8888 Uprising of 1988, Htein Win took photos of the demonstrations and most significant events, of key players and the everyday activities of those involved, immersing himself in the life of students and factory workers (who comprised a large proportion of the participants). Despite trying to save his photos by keeping them at friends’ houses and sending them abroad, about half were lost or destroyed because of unexpected checks by the security forces. Htein Win was detained for four weeks in 1988 and again for 11 days in 1989.

Employees of the state newspaper New Light of Myanmar holding the state flag upside down

Since then Htein Win has completed many assignments and photo essays, often for international organisations and agencies (including UNICEF, WHO, World Vision). These works often cover topics of social relevance in Myanmar and elsewhere. His photo exhibitions: “The Grand Families”, “HIV in Myanmar” and “Reproductive Health in Myanmar” deal with the issue of AIDS in Myanmar. His exhibition “Victims of War: Children away from home and parents” shows the life of internally displaced children in camps in the Kachin State near the Chinese border.

In 2007 Htein Win documented the Saffron Revolution and his photos were published on the internet and in newspapers anonymously, to protect him in the tense political situation.

A march of the monks on Sule Pagoda Rd. during the „Saffron Revoluition“ (Htein Win)

In the aftermath of cyclone Nargis in 2008, he documented the work of the International Federation of Red Cross Societies and the Myanmar Red Cross.

In 2011 Htein Win participated in the high-profile exhibition “ASEAN and Korean contemporary Arts in Seoul in 2011”.

Currently Htein Win is living in Yangon and working on a book about the 8888 Uprising.

Aims, Achievements and Personality

Htein Win first encountered photography through his father, who showed him how to use a camera and gave Htein Win a small camera to take with him to boarding school in India. He describes photography as being his “first love”. His fascination for photography comes from its ability to capture a moment for the future. For him the camera serves as a tool for freezing a moment in time. He sees it as a way to present things as they are – to capture the truth objectively .

Htein Win wants to use this tool to show the truth and reality. As he realized during the 8888 Uprising: “I have to have records. This will become history.” As a photographer, he wants to capture the things that were and are happening in order to keep them for the future. Later they could become useful to touc  and to teach people. Presently people who were not present at historic events such as the 8888 Uprising or the U Thant Crisis can look at his photos and feel connected to history, better understanding what was happening at that time. The importance of those demonstrations and the way they still affect Myanmar can be perhaps best conveyed through photos. Pictures show and influence the viewer directly and events can be more easily grasped than through words. According to Htein Win, photos also serve as evidence — evidence that proves events occurred and shows how they unfolded. He says that photos are “stronger” than words. All this made Htein Win go on to the streets and photograph the demonstrations. He says that he was led by an “instinct” to do so.

In order to achieve this aim of capturing and storing historical moments for the future, Htein Win was also willing to take risks. He states: “I knew  that I would get in trouble but I took the trouble.” And trouble came. After taking photos at the 8888 Uprising Htein Win was detained and interrogated by Military Intelligence. After some „wire shots“ as he called the electric shocks applied to him, as a means of torture and pressure, Htein Win confessed to having the photos and had to hand them over. A friend of his who stored negatives burned them out of fear of being controlled by Military Intelligence. Luckily, some photos had been sent to an international archive in Amsterdam with the help of a friend working in an embassy in Rangoon. Thereby approximately half of Htein Win’s photos could be saved.

Htein Win chooses his subjects carefully. They must have some value. For him, valuable and worthy is what cannot be seen and experienced again – the unrepeatable moment.  A photo can be like a window to the past: one can look at the photo and see, experience, and understand.

The photos of the 8888 Uprising, the U Thant Crisis or the Saffron Revolution have this kind of importance. Sometimes photos also enable the viewer to see, experience and understand present events that are commonly out of one’s reach. Photo reportages about HIV in Myanmar, the devastating effects of cyclone Nargis and the refugee camps in Myanmar could be examples of this. A third subject that Htein Win finds worthy of being photographed are humans. With portraits and documentaries about the lives of people, Htein Win puts a focus on humans who are – by their being and their actions – creating the world that he wants to capture with his photos.

But the mere act of taking photos does not fulfil Htein Win’s goal to affect and convey messages to people. He wants to show them „truth“ and „reality“ through his images and thereby broaden the viewer’s perspective. His aim is to make important events accessible through photos, reaching people with them. Thus Htein Win has organised several exhibitions of his photos. In 2014 he published a photo book about the U Thant Crisis, including essays from people who had participated.

When being asked about politics, Htein Win replies that he is personally not interested in politics. Yet most of his photos are related to politics. Still, he sees himself as a photographer, and his main interest lies in the photos and in capturing moments.


Htein Win’s photos serve as evidence for some of Myanmar’s most important historical turning points and steps towards democracy in recent history. In his photos, the longing for freedom and democracy, and also the will with which the protesters fought for these values, can be seen and better understood. According to Htein Win, photos can touch and affect people more than words; being touched and moved is surely necessary to create a bond to history.

Thus his photos can help people (especially younger generations) understand the relevance these events had and have for Myanmar, its people and its development to the present day. It surely is  important for society in Myanmar to deal with the past decades; they are connected to and affecting Myanmar’s political situation and conflicts today. It seems that dealing with current challenges and making progress can perhaps only be achieved if the past and the larger picture of Myanmar are taken into consideration.

Despite not considering himself as a political person, the topics his photos deal with are highly political. His photos concern Myanmar’s people, challenges, progress and, of course, history and politics. However, his aim is not to convey political attitudes but to convey truth and to inform. Whether or not there is a truth, especially concerning historiography, and in how far it is possible to convey an objective truth through photos can be questioned, of course. By deciding to take photos of certain political events, he judges them to be important and relevant. One could say that by presenting photos that depict certain political attitudes, he directs the viewers’ opinion and thus actually is being political.

Either way, Htein Win’s photos are a record of important events in Myanmar’s recent history and provide a perspective on them which helps come closer to the truth. By making his photos accessible to the public, Htein Win has a crucial role in conveying knowledge of historical and current challenges and thereby reinforcing a knowledgeable and responsible society in Myanmar.


This biography is based on an interview with Htein Win in January 2019 and on material that he provided.

For further information influding some of his pictures on Htein Win including some photos see and

Aung Soe Min (born 1970)

Lilly Seiler

Burmese version of this article


On May 1, 2018, a new shop, Matika, opened in the middle block of Yangon’s 37th Street, replacing a restaurant that had been offering traditional Myanmar food. The new shop offered a “window in the past” as the Myanmar Times titled an article about the new establishment from which the above picture is taken.1 The title, however, covers only a part of what was displayed in the small shop in an old building from the country’s colonial period. Besides old books on Burma, magazines, film posters, and badges from the socialist period, the visitor can see and buy modern paintings hung on the walls, also clothes, and silver or bronze jewelry – all made in Myanmar and designed by the owner Aung Soe Min, as the article states. A visitor to the new shop some time later could see a craftsman working on a bracelet in a room behind the shop. 


Aung Soe Min was born as one of three brothers in November 1970 during the socialist era in Kyaukpadaung, a small city close to Mount Popa, where he stayed in school until 1986. Already around that time Aung Soe Min was certain that he wanted to become an artist. At an early age he was interested in poetry, painting and especially writing. During the socialist era many families in Burma, including Aung Soe Min’s, were struggling. This was due to the country’s economic depression which peaked in 1987, that resulted partly from the planned economic system enforced by the socialist government. In addition to that, the youth of that time did not have many educational opportunities. This is why Aung Soe Min studied engineering in 1987 at the Government Technical Institute of Chauk, a centre of Burma’s oil industry close to Kyaukpadaung. To continue pursuing his goal of becoming an artist, Aung Soe Min started to befriend several artists, booksellers and intellectuals, and started to read and collect books himself . This was not an easy thing to do due to the socialist government’s restrictive censorship policies prohibiting a wide variety of books and forms of art.

While he was still studying, the student movement of 1988 arose and students, as well as monks, started to demonstrate, not only in Yangon but all over the country. Even in Kyaukpadaung several political groups were formed. Aung Soe Min and his brothers participated in producing „underground“ pamphlets and papers with information about the bad ways of the socialist government and how to oppose it. They took part in several strikes and demonstrations as well. On the “Four 8 Day”, 8.8.88, young Aung Soe Min spent one night in a cell at the local police station.

At first he wasn’t sure whether or not he would ever be allowed to go back to study after his involvement in the protests. When he was, he had to pause in studying several times, because the school was closed due to different strikes and governmental counter measures,like the closures of schools after the 8888 uprising. Finally he finished his studies in 1992. Afterwards Aung Soe Min moved to Yangon in 1993, where he had some small jobs as an engineer to earn some money. More importantly he started his career as an entrepreneur in the field of bookshops and publishing. Besides getting involved with several bookshops and libraries, he started writing and publishing himself.

In 1995 Aung Soe Min was called to go back to Kyaukpadaung to support his family, that was still struggling with money problems related to the current political situation. There Aung Soe Min helped found the first bookshop and the first library Kyaukpadaung had had in over 30 years. Both are still being run by Aung Soe Min’s  co-founders. According to his own account, this method of starting a cultural business has been employed some 30 times since then.

The method includes having an idea, the knowledge to implement it, establishing a social network and in some cases one to provide the money needed to get a small business going. This happened not only in Kyaukpadaung but also in Yangon and other regions of the country later. The businesses he founded and co-founded range from bookshops and libraries to hairdressers and even the production of LED lamps.

While staying in Kyaukpadaung Aung Soe Min also met his future wife Nance Cunningham, a Canadian who was working on public health projects in Burma at that time. Nance has migrated to Myanmar permanently but still must leave the country and renew her Visa every three months, since it is not possible for a foreigner to become a citizen of Myanmar. She is able to speak Burmese and other ethnic languages of the country, such as Shan, and also speaks Thai, French and even some German. Because of her openly voiced criticism of Myanmar’s military government, the authorities put her name on the “black list“. As a consequence, she could not enter Myanmar for some years and lived in Chiang Mai. There she managed an art gallery plus café. Apart from her work in Yangon with Aung Soe Min, Nance is involved with several international projects in the public health sector. In 2018, for example, she lived in Pakistan for nine months, working on a project supported by the Canadian government.

Shortly after Aung Soe Min went back to Yangon in 1999, he and Nance moved into an old downtown flat on the eighth floor – without an elevator –in Seikkantha Street. From the beginning, the place was partly living space and partly treasure trove for everyone interested in Burmese history and culture. The flat hosted a huge and varied archive, with stamps, coins, books, paintings and other pieces of art, postcards, newspapers, books, historical films, colonial files and even some archaeological pieces. From that point on the two of them started to invent cultural projects and to invest in them. Many of these pieces are still at the couple’s flat; many others have been moved to other places – some of them in 2018 to the Matika shop.

The somewhat chaotic archive was a first step to becoming prominent in Yangon’s emerging lively and diverse history, culture and art scene. Besides being a collector, Aung Soe Min is an artist (painting and music), film maker, writer and publisher.

Pansodan Galler, Tuesday night, July 2017 . In the center: Aung Soe Min (Photo: H.-B. Zöllner)

In August 2008, the couple opened the Pansodan Art Gallery “in order to provide a possibility to Myanmar artists to present their works both to the local and international scene” as Aung Soe Min worded it. This so called art space holds paintings of over 200 Myanmar artists, many of them are contemporary but due to the hand in hand development of archive and gallery one can also find many older and rare pieces of artists like Khin Maung Yin or Bagyi Aung Soe. The thought behind initiating the gallery was to provide a space for any kind of Myanmar painter to show his or her art and providing an opportunity to sell it.

alIn June 2013, another enterprise was opened in the middle block of Pansodan Street – Pansodan Scene. In another colonial building, public events take place and people are invited to enjoy the paintings on the walls and having a chat over a coffee or a soft drink. Later, around 2016 the restaurant Anya Atha was opened in 37th Street, offering traditional food from central Myanmar where Aung Soe Mins is from, was opened, different to some of his other places this restaurant was frequented by many Myanmar people enjoying the excellent traditional and yet cheap food. This restaurant was than in 2018 converted into the (book) shop Matika.

Social and cultural entrepreneurship

Being born in the socialist era, participating – albeit not in a leading role – in the country’s popular revolution of 1988 and seeing the country being drawn into yet another military dictatorship, Aung Soe Min developed his ideas to contribute to an animated political culture supporting a democratic government fin in a bottom-up manner. In his view, a stable society of the country has to rest upon the awareness of the country’s history in its manifold forms instead of the respective government’s propaganda. Aung Soe Min knows that this is a rather ambitious program that seems impossible to achieve in Myanmar – still this idea set the spark for building up a collection that by now might be the countries biggest private archive that is meant to serve the public interest.

According to Aung Soe Min, the idea behind his above described model of entrepreneurship is and was to carry out a certain kind of development work mainly for friends and family but also for people that just consulted him with their problems and ideas. As soon as a project idea had grown and become stable enough to stand on its own feet and other people were confident to carry on themselves, Aung Soe Min would retreat from the business. It seems that this concept worked out not because he was able to provide the money one would need, he mentions that he started some businesses with not much more than 500 kyats, but because Aung Soe Min was brave enough to try things out.

However, some basic enterprises like the two Pansodan places are still directly supervised by him and Nance. Art galleries have a long tradition in Burma but due to censorship restrictions the art shown there was purely traditional in the past and exhibitions showing “modern art” were almost impossible for a long time. All works exhibited had to be checked by a government official. That resulted in the prohibition of displaying any piece of work that according to the government’s ideology was regarded as nonconformist and displaying “western” culture. Pansodan Gallery opened in 2008 shortly after the censorship restrictions had been eased and was one of the first galleries in Myanmar to show works by a wide range of contemporary Myanmar artists.

Aung Soe Min says, that through both the gallery and the archive he tries to continue his own interpretation of the 8888 uprisings idea of freedom of art and freedom and expression and tries to support and contribute to building and engaging an intellectual and creative society. He himself is also still engaged in painting, sculpture making, poetry writing, screen writing, making and producing music and shooting feature length movies.

Besides his many selfless activities, Aung Soe Min and his wife obviously have a hand for entrepreneurship. They managed to build up a small empire and a much bigger network within and outside of Yangon. He doesn’t like to talk about money and about how all his ideas are being financed but one can assume that some money comes in from all the different ventures he has founded and in some cases abandoned later. Aung Soe Min can probably be seen as both an important collector and artist that with his ideas has and will contribute to an uprising scene of culture and intellectuals in Yangon and Myanmar and as a clever Myanmar businessman that knows how to use the unique opportunities that old Burma and current Myanmar offer.

Intercultural exchange

By now, Pansodan Gallery has developed to become a meeting space for Myanmar artists and intellectuals as well as for foreigners, both tourists and expats. One reason for this development were the weekly Tuesday night parties hosted by Nance and Aung Soe Min. Here foreigners and Burmese met and had the opportunity to chat and drink. Very quickly, this jour fixe became very well known all over Yangon. In 2018 however this tradition was terminated, another sign of the mobility of the “project designer”

The two “Pansodan places” offer special ways of cultural exchange that Aung Soe Min and Nance Cunningham have established. People who are attending the events offered here via Facebook and other media can get explanations and information on Myanmar’s history, current issues and – of course – the artists. Many prominent western scientists doing research on Myanmar gave talks at Pansodan Scene. In addition to that Nance and Aung Soe Min published an English-Burmese dictionary that holds a separate chapter on how to pronounce every single Burmese word featured. In addition, weekly meetings to practice Burmese language are offered, initiated by Nance who participates herself when she is in town. These meetings however took place at the Pansuriya, another cultural establishment founded with Aung Soe Min’s assistance in Bo Galay Zay Street near the Secretariat building offering food, art and historical pictures hanging at the walls that is much frequented by foreigners. Another evidence of the flexibility of the enterprises under the guidance of the artist cum entrepreneur cum cultural cum social activist is the transformation of the Pansodan Scene into an Art Café offering food and drinks as well in early 2019. Chairs and tables have been moved from the restaurant in 37 Street that is now the art and book shop Matika.


To assess Aung Soe Min’s impact is not yet possible, simply because it is absolutely not finished yet. Like many Burmese, he is a man of many talents and a man who exhibits the highest Buddhist virtue of giving (dāna) in his own way – and without calling himself a devote Buddhist.


The biography is based on many talks with Aung Soe Min during the internship of the author in the Pansodan Gallery and Pansodan Scene in late 2016 and early 2017 and on information provided by people who know him.

For more sources see Wikipedia.

1 (accessed 25.2.2019).

Pe Maung Tin (1888 – 1973)

Gerhard Köberlin and Hans-Bernd Zöllner

Burmese version of this article

1 Introduction

Pe Maung Tin is one of those rare Burmese scholars, who reached recognition beyond his own country. His work and personality have often received appreciation, also in English literature. It was in the 1920ies and 1930ies when he made his great contributions to Burmese society. His aim was, together with some Burmese and British friends, to make Burmese traditions meet the challenges of contemporary international modernity.

2 Biographical sketch

Pe Maung Tin was born on 24. April 1888, at Insein. His father, U Pe was superintendent of Insein Veterinary Department and his mother was Daw Myaing, both Baptist Christians from central Burma. U Tun Nyein, who compiled the well-known first English – Myanmar Dictionary and tramslated the Bible from English into Burmese, was his uncle from his father’s side. His maternal grandfather was the Taunghkwin (highest patriarch) of the Buddhist sangha of Upper Burma. He was known as “Maung Tin” during the first years of his life and added his father’s name later.

Despite coming from a Christian family, he received his primary education from 1893 to 1896 at a private school where he was taught classical Buddhist texts. In 1896 he changed to a government high school in Rangoon where he won his first prize at the age of 14. More prizes followed after he entered college. At the age of 15 he led a boycott at his school to protest the custom of joining hands in a prayer gesture when addressing foreign teachers. The order was revoked afterwards. In 1906 he entered Rangoon College and studied Pali and finished his M.A. in 1911. Only one year later, he became professor after his teacher, a European, had been promoted to another post.

From the beginning of his academic career Pe Maung Tin associated himself with other scholars both from Burma and abroad. He was a founding member of the Burmese Research Society in 1910 and contributed many articles to its journal. His first article entitled “Missionary Burmese”, a critique of the linguistic skills of foreign missionaries, appeared in its first issue in 1911. He acted as the first editor of the journal and became treasurer of the society in 1912. As professor of Pali, he had contacts with Pali Text Society based in London and from 1916 on he started to translate canonical Pali texts into English as well as Burmese. 

In 1920, the year of the founding of Rangoon University, he went to London and studied in Oxford and London until 1924. His contacts with the Pali Text Society and its presidents, Thomas (until his death in 1922) and Caroline Rhys Davies, intensified. During the time he spent in England he compiled a ground breaking translation of a historical Burmese work, the Glass Palace Chronicle. The chronicle was compiled in the first half of the 19th century at the royal court in Amarapura. Pe Maung Tin’s translation was published in 1923. The work was a joint venture with Gordon C. Luce (1889-1978), professor of English literature in Rangoon since 1911 who had married Pe Maung Tin’s younger sister in 1915. It was a translation that showed Pe Maung Tin’s qualities as a historian as well. Luce and Pe Maung Tin became lifelong friends. Their cooperation helped the British professor to become a leading expert on Burmese ancient history. With regard to the translation of the Pali text, Pe Maung Tin laid the fundement and his brother-in-law polished the English style.

After his return to Burma, he continued his work as a professor and laid the foundations for the university’s “Oriental Department”, comprising Pali und Burmese studies. One main impact of his teaching was the emergence of a new literary movement in Burma called khit-san (“testing the age”) that started with articles, short stories and poems written by some of his students in a “modern” style.

On the other hand, Pe Maung Tin supported John S. Furnivall, the co-founder of the Burma Research Society, in his efforts to promote the intellectual advancement of the country by educational means. One instrument to achieve this aim was the bilingual monthly periodical The World of Books published from 1925 on, another one was the Burma Education Extension Education Association established in 1928 promoting reading circles and encouraging people to contribute to the monthly periodical.

In 1928, he married Daw Kyi Kyi, called Edith, in an Anglican church. The couple had two daughters.

In 1937, Pe Maung Tin was the first Burmese to be appointed principal of University College and during the Japanese occupation he had to serve as the chairman of the university’s advisory board. In 1946, he retired. After he continued to write articles on a variety of topics in the field of linguistics, literature and history. The bibliography of his works contains 227 entries.

In 1957-58 Pe Maung Tin visited the United States to lecture on Buddhism at the University of Chicago which awarded him an honorary doctorate.  In Kuala Lumpur in May 1959 he attended the inaugural assembly of the East Asia Christian Conference. The Burmese U Kyaw Than was elected general secretary at the meeting. Today, the organisation, renamed Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in 1973, represents more than 100 member from Asian countries.  Pe Maung Tin later went to China as a member of a cultural exchange delegation. In 1961 he contributed to the first Buddhist-Christian dialogue of South East Asia, which was held by the East Asia Christian Conference under U Kyaw Than at Holy Cross College, Yangon. He made a critical comment on the cultural approach of Western missionaries. This dialogue proved to be an important Asian input to the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in Asia in New Delhi 1961.

From 1960 to 1964, Pe Maung Tin served as chairman of the Burma Historical Commission. He led the Burma Translation Society in compiling the Burmese Encyclopedia. In 1968 the Burmese Research Society marked his 80th birthday with a special celebration. During his retirement he served as professor of the Holy Cross College, Yangon, one of the leading theological seminaries of Burma affiliated to the Anglican Church. As a practising Christian, he was as a founding member of the Burma Christian Council, and took charge of the Christian Literature Society. He was the chairman of the Study Commission on Buddhism of the Burma Council of Churches.

Pe Maung Tin died on 22 March 1973.                                  

 3 Aims and Achievements

U Pe Maung Tin was keenly aware of the “clash of cultures” – the political confrontation with European colonialism and culture, and the religious encounter with Christianity, mainly from US-American background. His response was the profound study of history and culture of his own country. At the same time, he reflected his personal position at the cultural crossroads, being a Christian in a Buddhist country. His answer was to support a natural patriotic spirit vis-a-vis the colonial presence, together with his great effort of deep reciprocal respect, understanding, trustfulness and reconciliation.

His response to the cultural challenges by colonialism was to emphasise the importance of Myanmar language (b’ma) for the cultural development of Myanmar as a nation, and also the importance  of the establishment of a literary and intellectual climate in Myanmar that would combine the traditions of the country with those coming from abroad. That is why he made strenuous efforts for the higher qualification of Myanmar language and literature in his life time. One of his achievements was that all schools whether government or missionary, were required to teach compulsory Myanmar language in their studies. At the same time, he sharply criticized his fellow Christians, for not studying Pali and Myanmar language and Buddhist culture. He was interested in the two cultures to meet, despite the colonial context of the time favouring anti-western sentiments.

He later extended his insights in the fundamental role of language as a medium of intercultural exchange. In March 1954, a three-day seminar on linguistics was held in Rangoon which aimed as using this academic discipline as a tool to bridge the cultural differences between Burma and the English speaking world as well as between the different linguistic and ethnic groups. A newspaper article that possibly was written by Pe Maung Tin but certainly was inspired by his intentions, summarised the intentions of the seminar thus.

We in Burma are very much concerned at the present time with the findings of linguistics because they can be of immense help to us in certain entirely new tasks which we have undertaken. One of these is the teaching of English as a foreign language. […] We need […] to find the most efficient means of teaching English to our people so that they gain a working knowledge of the language in a relatively short space of time. […] Besides this, linguistics can help us in the study and classification of the indigenous languages of the country, a task which becomes increasingly important […]. Linguistics is an important key to  efficiency in all these tasks since it provides an understanding of one of the most complex, yet most basic activities of any group of people, their language, which means their method of communication with one another.1

Here, linguistic research is linked to the necessity of meaningful communication inside Myanmara multi-ethnic mulit-lingual country, and at the same time the necessity of using English as a second language taught in the schools besides Burmese.

4 Assessment

U Pe Maung Tin was an intellectual and a reformer who tried to use his great talents to reconcile Burmese traditions and western modernity. As an outstanding scholar in the late colonial period he exerted some influence on the literary scene of the country that tried to connect Burma to the world without losing its cultural identity.

Pe Maung Tin’s attempt to combine Burmese traditions with western modernity was only partly welcomed by the young revolutionaries who became the leaders towards independence. The cultural revolution on which their political activities was based, was not a dialogue between the Burmese and the western “world of books”, but a “Burmanisation” of the contemporary knowledge and literature. The young members from the Thakin movement – Nu,  Soe, Than Tun and Aung San – founded the Nagani  (Red Dragon) Book Club that published books in Burmese language only in the interest of supporting a political revolution by cultural means.2 After the war had started in Europe, this group exchanged the pen with the sword and finally achieved independence with the help of a national army.

Compared to the literal and political nationalism of the Thakins and their mass followers, the cultural reform that Pe Maung Tin wanted to support could be termed “cosmopolitan”. Looking for a sound cultural base for Myanmar citizens, Pe Maung Tin advocated making use of a blend of cultures to be comprised in the texts of national textbooks as well as in the sermons of Christian preachers.

This attitude is founded in his love of the literature and culture of Myanmar, accompanied by an estimation of European traditions of academic enquiry. This attitude did never represent the mainstream of Burma’s political culture. It was rather characterised by external and internal confrontation due to the memories of colonial rule and ongoing civil war that commenced shortly after independence.

After the military coup of 1962, Burma became a secular “hermit country” under general Ne Win’s  leadership. The “Burmese Way to Socialism” which was implemented, dramatically affected not only Burma’s cultural climate, but also all other segments of Burmese life. Pe Maung Tin was not directly affected by the „climate change“ during which a Burmese “union culture” was promoted corresponding to a strict political neutrality and economic self-reliance. Cultural exchanges with neighbouring countries and as well with the West, were no longer encouraged.

It were others that felt the consequences of the new order. Gordon Luce, Pe Maung Tin’s brother-in-law, was ordered to leave the country in 1964. His wife was asked by the top leader to stay, but she accompanied her husband. His huge library was impounded by the authorities and Daw Tee Tee, Pe Maung Tin’s sister, was even stripped of her wedding ring because no  jewellery was  allowed to leave the country.3 It is not known how Pe Maung Tin reacted to such harsh treatment of his friend and his sister. He did not witness the end of the Burma Research Society and its journal that was terminated by the government in 1977.

Today, Pe Maung Tin is still admired as an intellectual genius in Myanmar but as a rather singular one. Not many contemporaries follow his approach today in the present climate of a new Myanmar nationalism and massive Western criticism of consecutive Myanmar governments. Pe Maung Tin’s cosmopolitan” approach to reconcile Burmese and western cultures ist still not realised.

5 Sources

Anna Allott 2004 Professor Pe Maung Tin (1888-1973). The Life and Work of an Outstanding Burmese Scholar. In: The Journal of Burma Studies 9, 11-34.

D.G.E. Hall 1979 Obituary. George Hannington Luce (

Khin Htwe Yi 2016, Biography of Pe Maung Tin (

1Allott 2004: 29-30.

2For more details see the Myanmar Literature Project that published a number of working papers on the Nagani Book Club:

3Hall 1979: 585.