William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) online

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carefu K * "~ "??** P r0 P°"-ns. The Shans are
pedlars T he TaTl^ " g ' ^ m a ' S ° ^ traders and

resemble the Shans m"' 7 * ^^ ° f dreSS > somewhat



BURMA, BRITISH.

Taungthus are connected by race with the Karens, their habits and
Shaving been modified by long contact with the Shan,. After
Sal in British Burma, the younger members of the fiwul.es soon
»doDt the Burmese dress and habits.

The only other races which call for any special notice, are k-
Da gnete and the Salones. The former dwell among the hdh >ne*the
Chittagong frontier; in feature they are somewhat bke he Gu rkh. .=, ..I
Ne They dress^ in white, and wear their hair at the back of he

he d their bodies are not tattooed, nor do they intermarry with oAer
races The Salones live in the various islands of the Mergu. Archi-
pelago • they are a tribe of sea-gypsies, living in the dry weather in the r
boats and during the Monsoon seeking a temporary shelter in huts
Son the lee-stde of the islands. They are said to be divided m ,
setra" clans which have each a recognised right to fishing ground,
*cS limits. They pay no taxes. In personal appearance, they
arp between the Malays and the Burmese.

In eve" ro ooo of the population of the Province 8550 persons were
boLn British Burma, while r 45 o W ere born out of U« country- O
these uw aliens, 846 are natives of Upper Burma, 494 are irom
IndTa 27? from Bengal, x 9 9 from Madras, rx from the North-West^
Pace's 5 and Oudh'and^from other parts of India; 30 are China-

-ttSJSZT* ^-Under the Burman rule before^

The Karens, free from the oppression o the B rma ns s n «« >
annexation, are now more generally adopting

anguage, nd religion. But the greatest change among he Karens ha
beln wrought by the preaching of '^— ^ ,
they have been turned from ^worship to Chr,uan,t> 1
now no fewer than 45 * Christian Karen V™^>"°**™Z school,
their own church, their own Karen pastor, and their JP™
and many subscribe considerable " ^^d ^hi «*«
furtherance of missionary work among the Karens uwo
beyond the British border. Christianity "-^^^SU
Karens, and their Christian communities are dist.n a^ > oa
better educated, and more law-abiding than the Burman vulage

''The monastic schools of Burma form, as b-b- J-J £ jj£ »
important feature in the social policy of ^™^f* monastor ,
came to Burma, every town or v.l ag< , had > A ,,r« ^

where the boys of the place were taught to .read . nQj

instructed in religion by the phugyls or monks These mo
officiate at pagodas, or discharge the duties of parish pne



186 BURMA, BRITISH.



Junction. a« to set an example by their pious lives, and to instruct the
young In former times, boys often left the monastic schools without
■vally learning to read and write; and even those who did learn, found
it very difficult to keep up knowledge where there were no printed
hooks, and very little literature of any kind. Still the presence of a
body of monks, who observed their vows, who cultivated learning and
wo were held m high honour, had its effect on the Burmese. ^The
Buddhist monks are everywhere greatly respected, and the abbots and
archbishops are held in great veneration, but the religious orders do not
-erase or pretend to, much political influence. The Burmese pav
respect (Rafter the ancient manner of their country. AccordL o
th.. custom, the inferior person kneels before the superior with bowed

SSSf of worship ' and no Burman wm address a b-SS

Rm tin ° , a u monaster >' ^ve in this attitude of sheko or worship
who h,r Se °V he y ° Un§er generatl ° n > Wh0 h ™ learnt Enghsh or
eXnant The !!" ' 6 " AmeriCa ' ^ ° b ™ Ce ° f this — « "
EJJ e u Z eaS rf praCt ' Ce ° f Si " ing ° n chairs marks anoth -
the sessions elm T « ^J™ " Sed b >' Burman assess ™ -

cours h n ' by Burman J ud S e s and magistrates in their own

nTmbLr^f • S f° 0,mastos » government schools, by native

especiSepfeLni^^ear ^ """'"*« bUSi ^

thel'disZ'rd^ofthr' by / eaS °; ° f thdr eXdtabilit ^ ° f Charac '-, and

crimes of vfence LZZ * hUma " ^ "« fa ™^ P™ e »

the comnmnity ; and it s saM th" I" T '° ^ ^ '^^ by
would enaare inT-Al. d that y0Un S Burma "s of respectable family

manhood° l n a n ™ bb m L 0ra Cat H Ie - liftinS eSpdlti0 " t0 P™ **

nutted without Tn ^uZt^i'Z^ ■ *■ ^^ °°*
A and B were nei^hhnnr 7u following instances will show.

B did not tte th fsme fl of the "^ ""^ A TOS Pamti ^ his boat J
on paintin. his boa" ™d I T^" "' Md t0 ' d A t0 desist A we nt
house he P °ast d B who cm him d ^ " WaIkmg tM h ' s
In another case Itll J u T "''* a chop P er > and kiIle d him.
not like he eurry f had ' T **."** f ° r her husba " d > * did
down, killing her Tn K ' a " d '" hiS d ' s Pleasure cut his wife

much previous , fee Lb t er ™t ** * a PP ear ^ there had been
Pe^had given Sir^^rrdS" * *" * ""**«



BURMA, BRITISH.



cumstances,' wrote the Army Commission of 1879, ' there was no qui,
or more peaceful quarter of Her Majesty's Indian Empire than I
Province of British Burma. At the same tune, there is an elemenl
danger in the unsteady and excitable character of the people, an*
whom the prestige of the Court of Ava is very great, and on whom
disturbances or troubles on the Mandalay border might react in an
inconvenient and mischievous fashion.' The majority of the respectable
classes are content with British rule, and the people feel that they have
prospered since the annexation. High wages, bountiful returns to the
farmer, plentiful food, and freedom from oppression, combine to make
the life of an ordinary Burman happy and comfortable.

Women in Burma occupy a much freer and happier position than
they do in Indian social life. They go about freely ; manage the house-
hold buy the daily supplies in the bdzdr, and in every respect take an
active part in domestic affairs. Industry and thrift among women are
promoted by the custom according to which most girls, even in well-to-do
families, work looms, or keep stalls in a bdzdr till they get married
The girls usually spend the profits of their undertakings on dress or
personal adornment, and they are not required to contribute their earn
m to the common family purse. The Burmese wives make success*,!
women of business ; they conduct not merely retail trades, but a so large
wholesale concerns, on behalf of their husbands with a liberal but at
he same time a shrewd, sagacity. The husband sometimes hv« m
■dleness on the fruits of his wife's labour. The ratio of female to male
prisoners in Burma jails is less than half even the small proportion of

women in Indian prisons. „«.p«Mmes

The articles imported into Burma are luxuries rather 0""«£^
During the five years ending 1881, the average surphts «***«*£$
exported treasure has been £1,340,000 a year. The PWfJ
this silver and gold is converted into ornaments by bo h Burma and
Karens. It would seem, therefore, that every household of six p son,
in British Burma must have spent on the *^^*™J££
imported articles and jewellery. These figures indicate a high ^s md
of comfort among Burman families. The « mC ^°^f™
household is much larger than that of a family ,n Co mm nU n •
Wealth is widely distributed. The majority of the people are comfort
ably off, but there are few rich people. Burmans, as "^"^J
money.' They are open-handed and lavish ,n theu ; M££

liberally in charity, and to their monasteries or other u u* mst
They /pend freely on dress, on jewels, an on cntc < ■

puays, or theatrical displays, which are given at the itm
on other auspicious occas.ons in every Burman v, lag, . - a 00a
of money, and are much enjoyed by the (£«££l ^ q
Outside the seaport towns, there are few burmans



188 BURMA, BRITISH.

£$oo at a fortnight's notice ; even in Rangoon or Maulmain, there are
hardly a score of Burmans who could raise, or whom the banks would
trust with, ^5000. On the other hand, only a small proportion of the
people are in debt. Landholders get into debt sometimes when disease
carries off their plough-cattle; and gambling lands many Burmans into
difficulties. In a small tract, where special inquiries were made by a
settlement officer, it was found that barely 20 per cent, of the cultivators
are in debt at all. It is not yet known how far this freedom from debt
is characteristic of cultivators throughout the whole Province. Suits for
debt are few ,n comparison with the population. Money-lenders of
the ordinary Indian type are almost unknown in Burman villages In
Rangoon and other large towns, a certain number of money-lenders from
he Madras co^,-chettis as they are locally called,-have established
themselves. At one time it was feared that they would get possession
of the cultivators lands, but there is no ground for this anxiety. Out
of 6833 cultivators in the neighbourhood of Rangoon town, only r 8
mortgaged any part of their holdings in a year; and in only nine of
these cases did the lands pass into the hands of a native of India
ive e n rate mtereSt ^ hi§h ' and VarieS accordit, g t0 th e security
In all political, social, or special questions which may arise in Burma

rtfl fl T lba ? Aat th6re 2re n ° hereditar y chiefs ' nob1 ^
or great kndholders. Even under native rule, the members of the

ro,a family and the officials constituted the only aristocratic class. In

i S nZT ° H C ' al V he eMerS " Ae lar § £r viUa S es or to ™> a » d
above ZtTVf Pr0fesi0nal men > a 'e the only persons socially
above the level of the prosperous cultivators

sealorttZ^r' ** V"' 6 ' comfortabl y h °^ d - Outside the large
seaport towns there are few masonry dwellings. Wood is plentiful and
most houses are built of timber or bamboos on piles. The r heiVht
above the ground varies with the average depth of the inundationsTS
upp s torev I " ' S thUS raiSed ' 2nd the sI -P in g-°™ - usually in th
of bamboos fl nH f , P ° t T r T* ° f the C ° Unt ^ h ° USes are built mainly
the J^t i ^ In the richer tracts of the d <*a> and along

btTwi^n'S are C ° n r rUCted ° f S ° lid P° StS a " d well-seasoned
pctures Inf r,' '^ ad0med With W00d car ""S s <* Quaint

Cm with th" °T ^^ fS ^ ' eaSt ° ne l0n S-a™ed lounging

work' Tne h m r *? ° f the h ° USe takeS his ease af *r 'he day'!

han B u ™ a e n J° a U l eS ° f * e Ka — ■ *»° are less ready to spend money

some of the Knr Tr ^ ^^ In the recesses of the fo ^> "'here
Wn ^ttlemen Z I d ^ lin S- P hce every two or three -ears, a

roof each rmuvh " * ***** ^ t0g6ther Under a c0 —
pas gewlich runs h r § T m ° re r °° mS °P enin S °« *e common
P ge which runs between the two rows of rooms. These settlements,



BURMA, BRITISH.

or tehs, are usually on posts eight or ten feet above the ground, to secure

their inmates from wild beasts and noxious vapours.

Agriculture. — Agriculture is the main employment of the people, and

it may be assumed that the production and distribution of rice occupies
three-fifths of the whole population. Cotton, sesamum, and tobacco are
also grown throughout the Province ; gardens and orchards arc found
near every village ; but rice covered about six-sevenths of the total
area — 3,638,845 acres — under cultivation in 1881-82. The enormous
foreign demand, and the large profits recently obtained, have greatly
increased the cultivation of this cereal. The Burmese are content with
a single crop a year, corresponding with the dman ropa of Bengal. It
is sown in June, transplanted in September, and reaped about December
or January. Their soil is lavish in its yield, requires little labour, and
no artificial stimulus beyond the ash of the past year's stubble, which is
burned down and worked into the land. Year after year, without a rest,
the heavy rains and this primitive manure suffice to ensure an abundant
harvest. The Irawadi valley and its delta furnish about three-fifths of
the whole rice produce of the Province. This tract is annually inun-
dated, and an inch more or less of water frequently determines whether
the receding flood will leave a rich harvest-laden plain or a waste of
ruined crops. Henzada and Bassein Districts have been partially
secured by an extensive series of embankments which fringe the right
bank of the Irawadi, and the left bank of the Nga-wun river, for nearly
200 miles. But the system of regulation is by no means complete, and
the problems which beset the delta of a mighty river have yet to be
grappled with.

Much attention has of late been given to the improvement of the
implements of husbandry in British Burma ; in particular to ploughs,
reaping instruments, carts, and sugar mills. The trials of improved
reaping machines and ploughs have so far, however, proved disappoint-
ing. There is much room for alteration in the carts used by the people,
which are very unwieldy, demanding a maximum of draught-power, and
possessing a small carrying capacity. The large cart traffic, especially
during the season from January to May, renders it important that an
improvement in the construction of these vehicles should take place.

Sugar-cane pressing is not carried on extensively in Burma. Hitherto
wheat can scarcely be said to have been cultivated, the demand in
British Burma being supplied from Upper Burma and India. The
Burmese standard measure of one basket (equal to about a bushel)
contains, on an average, 60 lbs. The highest price fetched by rice is
3 s per basket; 2s. per basket is considered a very remunerative price
by the cultivator. As the wheat imported from Upper Burma is said to
yield more flour than the Indian wheat, an endeavour is being made to
induce cultivators to grow wheat, which is worth at present (1883) about



*9° BURMA, BRITISH.

5S. per basket in the Rangoon . market. The advantages from the
successful cultivation of wheat in British Burma would be three-fold
First, large tracts of land, unsuitable for rice cultivation, would be
brought under the plough; second, the people would have a dry-
weather harvest to fall back upon in case of the partial failure of their
rice ; third, the agricultural development of the Province would not
depend on a single crop, and the land revenue would benefit in
the most legitimate way. To encourage wheat cultivation, suitable
ploughs and seed of the best descriptions of Indian wheat are being
supplied free, and very favourable terms have been allowed to all
cultivators who undertake the experiment.

The climate and the soil of Burma are well adapted for the cultivation
and manufacture of tobacco, which thrives alike in the alluvial plains of
the Kuladan and Irawadi deltas and in the hill regions of the Province
The leaf of the Kuladan and the Kyaukkyi regions enjoys a hi^h
reputation. The whole population, men, women, and children may be
said to be inveterate smokers. The women have a natural aptitude for
the rolling of cigars, which is one of the chief domestic industries
of the Province. The area under tobacco is 13,663 acres, or 0-38 per
cent, of the total cultivation. The tobacco grown in Burma is never
theless, insufficient for the wants of the people. Estimating a yield of
750 lbs. of tobacco per acre, the total out-turn of the Province is over
10,000,000 lbs. of cured tobacco leaf. In 1881-82, tobacco leaf to
Ae amount of 15,763,186 lbs. was imported from India, chiefly from
Madras Cigars to the extent of 80,516 lbs. were in the same year
exported from Burma. The net consumption per Burman in the form
of cigars is 7 lbs. The importance, therefore, of tobacco as an article
of domestic consumption in Burma is evident; and, irrespective of a

the leaf has been cured in the rudest fashion ; but it is believed tha

BurmTTh k , ? ^ ' bettGr SySt6m ° f CUri ^ the t0b — of

Burma will be able to take a place in foreign markets. With this view

Z^ndT e 'T J™' 6 f ° r the m ° re SCiendfic -Nation ofTe
plant, and for curing the leaf on the American method, by the establish

ment o a tobacco farm and factory under Government aLpces to
merge ultimately into a private enterprise auspices, to

Sugar is both a necessity and a luxury to Burmans, and as much in
dem and as tobacco. Most of the people are tea drinkers in the
Chinese fashion, and they take a piece of caked sugar w th each

thrnes more or less m all parts of the Province, but particularly in



BURMA, BRITISH. 19 1

jhwe-gyin and the coast Districts. The total production of crude bn m n
sugar in the Province in 1881-82 was about 2779 tons, of which .;
tons were exported. The total imports by sea and land for the same-
year amounted to nearly 11,617 tons, giving a total yearly consumption
of nearly 14,000 tons, or about 8| lbs. per head of the population. The
use of sugar by the Burmans in their tea, which the people of India do
not drinkas an article of diet, shows that there is a large local demand
waiting to be satisfied, and that this demand would increase with
extended cultivation. At present the cultivation of the cane is carried
on in the rudest and most primitive fashion ; the land in many cases is
not even ploughed, artificial irrigation is not thought of, and manure
rarely applied. The cane is planted out from August to October, and
ripens in twelve months.

jute of several kinds grows wild in Burma, but is rarely cultivated.
It *is found in great profusion on the sites of deserted or dilapidated
villages, and on the edges of swamps, and the fibre obtained from even
the wild plant is soft, glossy, and strong. The importance of jute to
Burma will be obvious when it is seen that the value of bagging
imported into the Province in 1881-82 was £$25,351. As the raw
material of these bags is a plant indigenous to the Province, encourage-
ment has been given to the people to cultivate it, and supplies of the
best seeds have been largely distributed.

Cotton is not a crop which the Burmans care to cultivate. Its
cultivation demands much labour, and the climate of the greater part ot
the Province appears to be unsuited for it. In 1881-82, the total area
under cotton was 10,689 acres. The average yield of cleaned cotton
per acre for the whole Province was, of field grown, 160 lbs. ; of hill
grown (taungya), 40 lbs.

In a Province like Burma, where the peasants are averse to undertak-
ing any cultivation except that which, with the least outlay of labour
and money, yields the highest return, and where the people are, as a
rule, fond of ease, what is likely to be really useful to them, and to
convince them that much more can be made out of their lands even on
their own methods, is a series of experimental farms conducted under
the eyes of the peasantry. With this view several have been started m
various parts of the Province, in which the principal cereals and other
important crops are being cultivated according to the Burmese methods
but with care and industry. It is hoped that the people w.ll, when
they perceive the harvests yielding a good return in money, gradualK
take to improved methods, and interest themselves in the raising of new
kinds of produce. The stimulus of an unfailing market lor raw produce
has borne very remarkable fruit. When the people saw steam re
mills springing up at the great ports, where they could dispose of
unhusked rice at good prices, they found it to then- advanl



1 92 BURMA, BRITISH.

extend the cultivation as fast as they could get land, and cattle to work
it. In 1867-68, the area under rice was only 1,682,110 acres- there
were then 7 rice mills in the whole Province. In 1881-82, the number
of mills had risen to 49, and the area under rice cultivation to 3,181,229
acres, or by 89 per cent, in 14 years. The total cultivated area assessed
to revenue in 1881-82 was 3,498,688 acres, and the total revenue
assessed was ^656,162.

Taungya or jum cultivation prevails chiefly on the Northern Arakan
Hills. This system consists in clearing a patch of forest land, setting
fire to the fallen jungle, and then sowing in the ashes a miscellaneous
crop of cotton, rice, and pumpkins or other vegetables, all of which
ripen in about five months. The assessment on jum cultivation is
generally made by means of a poll-tax on the husbandman, or on his
house, irrespective of the amount of his clearing. The area thus culti-
vated in 1881-82 was estimated at 47,322 acres, as compared with
109,288 acres in 1875 ; but the returns can hardly be relied on, owing
to the nomadic habit of the cultivators. As population increases, a
tendency from extensive to intensive husbandry discloses itself, and
jum cultivation is being pushed back more and more into the hill's and
sparsely-populated tracts, before the advance of plough and tillage.

Land Tenures. —The system of land tenure in Burma is simple.
Government is the sole proprietor of the soil, and deals directly with
the cultivator, from whom it receives a rent varying from is. to 10s.
an acre. The average assessment is about 3s. 3d. There are no
zaminddrs or large landed proprietors, and no Government or wards'
estates. A new-comer is allowed total exemption from all rent and
taxes for a certain period, to enable him to clear his grant. Govern-
ment then levies a rent 20 per cent, lower than in other Provinces of
India; and requires only 2 annas (3d.) an acre for land which may be
left fallow. Besides this, a generous allowance is made to the settler
for failure in crops or cattle, and he can at any time avail himself of
five or ten years' settlement on exceedingly liberal terms. About one-
fifth of the area tilled is held under such leases; the other four-fifths
of the holdings being annually re-measured and assessed by revenue
officials styled tkugyis, who are paid by a commission on their collections.
I he holdings average about 8 acres in extent.

The basis of the land revenue settlement has been :— 20 per cent
of the gross produce, after many deductions, payable to Government in
money at the rates of the price of grain in the circle within which the
knd is situated. Practically a lower percentage is taken. In the
Districts of Rangoon, Bassem, and Henzada, and in the whole of the
Tenassenm Division, each male engaged in taungya cultivation pays a
tax of two shillings per annum ; while in the Districts of Toung-gu and
Prome, and generally in the Arakan Division, each family is assessed at



BURMA, BRITISH. 193

this rate. Among the hill tribes of Northern Arakan, each house pays
four shillings per annum, which includes also capitation tax.

Survey, demarcation, and settlement are in the hands of a special
department. The area dealt with by this department since its opera-
tions commenced in the Province, up to 1881-82, amounted to 5382
square miles, equal to 3,444,480 acres surveyed at a cost of £119,178,
or 8£d. per acre. Of this total surveyed area, 3008 square miles, or
1,925,808 acres, have been brought under settlement at a total cost of
.£23,854, or 3d. per acre. Total cost of survey and settlement, n|d.
per acre. The total revenue brought under settlement up to the end of
1881-82 was .£162,173, showing a nett increase of nearly £15,000, or
15 per cent., in the land revenue. The tracts under settlement opera-
tions have been, for the present, the Districts of Hanthawadi, Bassein,
and Tharrawadi. The total number of tenant occupiers in the portions
settled is 4031, holding 51,456 acres, at an average rent of 8s. per acre.
Wages and Prices. — The local supply of labour is inadequate to the
demands upon it, and considerable additions are made annually to the
population during the harvest and rice shipping season by immigration
from Upper Burma and from India. Few of the immigrants, however,
bring their wives and children with them, and few settle permanently.
To Pegu and Tenasserim, immigrants come by sea from the Madras
coast, and from Calcutta in steamers. They are brought over by
native captains of labour, who pay the fare of the coolies, receive
them, and provide them with work. Into Arakan, immigrants come
by land, chiefly from Chittagong. The Census of 1881 showed that
in British Burma the number of persons of Indian birth was about
185,000, in addition to 316,000 persons born in the kingdom of Ava.
Shans from the Burmese and Chinese Shan States, and other labourers
from Upper Burma, come down by whole villages at a time during
the harvest season, and return at its close. Some who settle as
cultivators manage to get the women of their families brought after
them, notwithstanding the stringent rules against emigration in the
kingdom of Ava. This stream of yearly immigration into the Province
is steadily increasing, and is now more than double what it was five



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 23 of 56)