William Wilson Hunter.

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by contemporary travellers. Its swift and utter destruction is without
a parallel in Eastern history. The emperor's son, Nanda-bunn,
succeeded to the throne; and four unsuccessful attempts to reduce
Siam crippled the whole resources of the country. Plague, famine, and
dissension ensued; the emperor alienated all his feudatories by his
wanton cruelty and oppression, and finally his uncle the king of
Toung-gu, united with the King of Arakan and captured the tyrant in

his capital, in 1599. . . f .,

A subsequent invasion from Siam completed the rum of the
country; a country which none of the invaders showed any amnety
to retain in its depopulated and devastated condmon. Finally, the


splendid dominion of Tabin Shwe-tf was actually governed for thirteen
years by Nicote, the low-born Portuguese adventurer. In 1613, the
King of Ava found himself strong enough to subdue the foreigners
and to annex the whole land to his own dominions. Thus, after an
interval of more than 400 years, the seat of power was once more
fixed in the upper country, and the ancient territory of Ramanna was
again administered by Burmese governors. In 1735, the Talaings rose
against their conquerors, and not only expelled them from Pegu but
for twenty years maintained their supremacy throughout the country
They were crushed by the irresistible arm of Alaungpaya, who left his
new city of Rangoon to testify by its name to the completion of strife
But the Takings could never be reconciled to Burmese supremacy
and a fresh revolt broke out in 1783, which was repressed with great
barbarity by Bodaw Paya. The advent of British troops in the war
of 1824 gave them a definite hope of delivery, and they were bitterly
disappointed at our abandoning the country. At length the famous
proclamation of Lord Dalhousie, on the 20th December 1852 relieved
them for ever from their ancient oppressors; and ten years 'later the
Province was organized and a Chief Commissioner appointed The
names of this officer and his successors are as follows .—Sir Arthur P
Phayre (appointed in 1862), Lieut.-General A. Fytche (1867), the Hon'
Ashley Eden (l 8 7 i) A. Rivers Thompson (1875), C. U. Aitchison

£ ^K ^ " * ^ Cr ° SSthWaite ^^ l8 ^ "*
Papulation— British Burma may be considered as perhaps the

note t P he greSS1 l * 7 **** de P end " ■ and it is interesting to
note the growth and progress of the population since the Brftish
occupation of the country. Between 1826 and 1855, Arakan increased
in population from IO o,ooo to 366,310, or an average of 50 per cent

whiTh the" "l JT/T m l858 ' ° r S1X ^ ^ ^^ annexa ion
which then included the present Irawadi Division, the population

oTTssT ha°d 7 9 °' 97 H 4 PerS ° nS ; tHlS nUmb£r * the ** « Si
of 1881 had increased to 2,323,512; the increase in the 23 years

amounting to 161 per cent. In Tenasserim, three years after its annexa

tion, the population was estimated at about 7 o,ooo ; by 8 c"t had

nsen to 213,602, or 200 per cent, in 26 years. Ltween x8 5S and 8S x

a quarter to nearly four millions. From 1862 to 1872 the rate of growth

^ s^a^ and from i862 to i8si ' 3«;

irom tnese rates, British Burma may reasonably be expected to cortiin
mi8 9 i upwards of 5 million (5,090,600) inhabitants P

isJr T T US ° f BridSh Burma Was taken on the i 7 th February
188!, when the population was returned at ,7,6,,, «n 1 ™
density of the population ,s only 4 ,S Sg*™ 3S Th^


details of the population in the four Divisions of the Province have
already been given in the table at the commencement of this am. le.
The males outnumber the females in British Burma by 245> 2 39i lhc
figures obtained by the Census of 1881 being as follows -.—Males,
1,991,005 ; females, i,745>7 66 > or 8 77 females to every 100 mal<
Among the Hindus there are only 19 females to 100 males; the
Muhammadans intermarry with the natives of the country, who often
nominally adopt the religion of their husbands; with them the proportion
of women is about half, or 52-5 to every 100 men. The Christians, who
include many native Karens, have 81-4 females to every 100 males ; the
Buddhists, 92-8; and the Nat-worshippers, 95-5. These proportions
are for the whole Province. Classified according to age, there were in
1881, under 14 years old— males, 776,890; females, 734,5 21 : above
14 years— males, 1,214,115; females, 1,011,245— total population in

1881,3,736,771- . . oo

The number of villages, towns, etc. in the Province in 1881 was
15,857; the number of inhabited houses was 677,362. The ordinary
Bu'rman house is built mainly of bamboo. The posts are of wood from
the neighbouring forests, the walls and floor being of bamboos split and
plaited or laid together. The roof is generally of thatch, made either of
grass or of the leaves of a palm locally known as dhani. The floors are
always raised above the ground from six to eight feet, and the sleeping
apartment is above. Below, in the front, there is often a platform where
visitors are received, and above which the cradle may be seen swinging ;
while under the floor are placed the agricultural implements, cattle,
carts, and looms. Among the Burmese and Talaings, the front of the
house is generally parallel with the roof ridge. The Chins, however,
enter their dwellings at what is generally the end of the house, having, it
is said, received the privilege of building their houses in this form, as a
mark of royal gratitude, from a former king of Burma in return for favours
shown him by the Chin ladies.

The Karens of the hills also enter their houses by the gable end.
Their bamboo structures, tehs as they are called, have a long common
passage running from one end to the other, on either side of which are
ranged the rooms, in which perhaps as many as twenty different families
live The Karen houses are shifted annually. Under the house live the
pigs and fowls, and during the year of residence much filth accumulates.
Except among the Talaings, a house may face in any direction. 1 her
houses are all turned to the north, presenting a curious and somewhat
unsocial appearance. In the better houses the walls and floors are
substantially made of plank, the roof being either thatched or cor,
structed of tiles or wooden shingles. One house in four Aroughout
the Province, and monasteries generally, are built of wood. 1
of the better class are most numerous in the Prome, Henzada, and



Toung-gu Districts, though in the other Districts their numbers are also
fairly large.

According to the Census there are 4279 monasteries in the Province,

or one to every 168 houses, or to every 37 villages. The average

number of persons per occupied house is 5*5. There are 45*4 houses

in each village or town, and each village or town has an average of 236

inhabitants. The number of boats, steamers, and sailing vessels returned

by the Census was, for the whole Province, 15,040, and their population

numbered 75,315, including 11,202 females. There are 50,831 males

and 2746 females, or altogether 53,577 persons, whose occupations fall

within the professional class; the domestic class contains 20,203 males

and 5674 females; total, 25,877. The commercial class contains 156,377

persons, of whom 39,095 are females. The agricultural class includes

1,186,151 persons, of whom 502,405 are females. There are 169,052

males and 175,230 females, total 344,282 persons, engaged in industrial

pursuits. The indefinite and non-productive class comprises 949,891

males and 1,020,616 females, or altogether 1,970,507 persons, most of

whom are children. The population is thus distributed over the above

six classes :— Professional, 1-4 per cent, of the whole; domestic, 7 per

cent. ; commercial, 4-2 per cent. ; agricultural, 31-8 per cent. ; industrial,

9-2 per cent. ; indefinite and non-productive, 527 per cent. The number

of persons supported by agricultural occupations is 68-56 per cent.

The following are the 20 principal towns :— Rangoon, population (1881)
134,176; Maulmain, 53,107; Prome, 28,813 ; Bassein, 28,147 ; Akyab,
33,989; Henzada, 16,724; Tavoy, 13,372; Toung-gu, 17,199; Shwe-
daung, 12,373; Mergui, 8633; Thayet-myo, 16,097; Kyangin, 7565;
Allanmyo, 5825 ; Shwe-gyin, 7519 ; Yandiin, 12,673 ; Myanaung, 5416 ;
Pantanaw, 6174; Paungde, 6727 ; Pegu, 5891 ; Laymyathna, 5355. At
the time of British annexation there were not three towns in the
Province with a population of 10,000, and scarcely five towns with
more than 5000. Since then Maulmain has grown from a fishing village
into a town with over 50,000 inhabitants ; Akyab, then a petty hamlet,
now contains nearly 34,000 souls; and the returns for 1881 show 11
towns with a population of more than 10,000, and 9 with a population
of more than 5000. The definition of a ' town ' is a purely arbitrary one,
the term being applied to all places having 5000 inhabitants and upwards.
Six out of the 20 Districts include no town. Prome and Henzada Districts
have 3 towns each. Of the villages, 8 have over 3000 inhabitants, 19 over
2000, 142 over 1000, 819 over 500, and 4886 over 200 inhabitants each.
Religion and Ethnography.-Kmmz may claim at present to be the
head-quarters of Southern Buddhism. The religion exists throughout
the country m its purest and most amiable form. It is singularly free
from sect, the only two parties of any importance differing chiefly on
some minor points of ceremonial. There are no trammels whatever of


class or caste or creed. The monastic order is open to the highest and
lowest alike; its essential demands being a life of purity, tempi I
and truth. There are 6498 Pun- vis or Buddhist priests m the Provim
pving one priest to 500 of the Buddhist inhabitants. The followers
of Gautama number more than four-fifths, or 87 per cent, of the whole
population; Muhammadans, 4*5; Nat-worshippers, 4-0; while Hindus
and Christians constitute each about 2*0 per cent, of the total. Formerly
the caste inequalities of Northern India prevailed to some extent
among the Burmese. They have long since disappeared, and now the
only titles or differences existing are those that belong to the founder or
supporter of some religious building, or to the holders of some Govern-
ment appointment. Elsewhere there is perfect equality, mere wealth
not having sufficed hitherto to raise any barrier of distinction. The
religions of Hindus, Muhammadans, Buddhists, Nat- worshippers,
Christians, Brahmos, Jains, Jews, and Parsis, all have their representa-
tives in British Burma, the numbers belonging to each being as
follows -.—Buddhists, 3>25i,5 8 4; Nat-worshippers, i43,5 Sl ; Hindus,
88,177; Muhammadans, 168,881; Christians, 84,219; Brahmos, 37;
Jains, 5 ; Jews, 204 ; and Parsis, 83.

The term Nat-worshippers is thus explained in the Census Report :-
'"Nats" are spirits supposed to inhabit natural objects, terrestrial
and celestial, and to interfere freely in the affairs of man. Some are
evil, and their ill-will has to be propitiated by offerings of plantains,
cocoa-nuts, fowls, or other such gifts. Some are kind, and their active-
favour or protection must be gained. The Burmese frequently make
offerings to " Nats," and regard the spirit-world with an awe not called
for by the creed of Buddha. The belief in "Nats" has remained
underlying their thoughts and religion ever since they were converted
to Buddhism, a relic of the ancient cult, which is still preserved intact
among the wilder Karens, Chins, and other hill races. At present,
numbers of Karens and Chins, who have come in contact with the
Burmese, though knowing little and practising less the religron of
Gautama, calf themselves Buddhists, because to do so is a sign oj
civilization and respectability.' The decrease in the number returned
of Nat-worshippers within the decade is due to this tendency to call
themselves Buddhists, and not to a real falling off in the races forming
this religious class.

The Christian population, which derives its new converts chiefly
from among the Karens, was returned as follows :-Europcans. 7866 ;
Eurasians, 499 S ; natives, 71,355= total, 84,219- Of the Christian,
0980 belong to the Church of England, 16,281 to the Roman Cathol .
Church, 655 are Presbyterians, 55,374 Baptists, 166 Wesleyans,
Lutherans, 131 Armenians, 95 Greeks, and r- Methodists, the remaind* r
being unspecified. Looking at the distribution of the various sects, the


Church of England has most followers in Rangoon (3339), where the
English and Eurasian society is large. The Roman Catholics are
strongest in Toung-gu (5005). Baptist Christians are most numerous
in Bassein District (18,704), and also abound in Thongwa (5594),
Hanthawadi (6268), and Toung-gu (11,519). The work done by the
various Missions during the decade has been on a large scale.

The Census Report gives the following account of the marriage
customs of the people :— ' Among the Burmese, who are all Buddhists,
girls are considered the property of the parents, but constraint on their
choice of a husband is rarely employed. Child-marriages are practically
unknown. Young men make love pretty much where their fancy leads
them, first obtaining the consent of the parents, which is generally
accorded, unless the young man is of doubtful character. The period
of probation during which courtship was carried on, and the suitor
carefully watched, was formerly long. It is now much briefer, and early
marriage is easier for bachelors than of old. The Burmese mother is a
great matchmaker, but she effects her end by peacefully influencing the
feelings of the young couple whose union she desires to promote and
not by compulsion. Constraint is sometimes tried, but generally in
vain. The young lady in that case either elopes with her favoured
swain, or, as occasionally happens, hangs herself. The rule, however is
that the consent of the parent is requisite at a first marriage, and the
practice is that the girl's consent is also essential. The main element in
the marriage ceremony is the publication of the union

' By Buddhist law, polygamy is permitted, but is rare. Occasionally,
officials or wealthy traders have more than one wife, but polygamy is
not looked upon as altogether respectable. Sometimes the elder wife
strongly objects to being practically set aside, sometimes she acquiesces
quietly in the arrangement, living in another house. Divorce is easily
obtains* If the pair are agreed, elders are summoned, and the
divorce takes place at once. If either the hnsband or the wife refuses
to be divorced, the question is not whether the divorce can be effected
bu how the common and peculiar property is to be divided If no
cause for requiring a separation is shown, the unwilling party takes all
he common property. In some cases the applicant for divorce ge.
the whole. Disputed claims for divorce are often brought be ore th

and inT"; bUt " al ' f gradeS ° f jUdg6S Can ^ "ec re « of separation
not, fl ann ° trefUSethem ' th£ on 'y doubtful point being the dt
W 1 ho 6 Pr ° Pe ; ty ' the diffiCUUy ° f div ° rCe is not materially enhanced
While, however, divorce ,s easily and rapidly obtained, the proportion

- he le 6 vo P me S n° n c S * """ ^ " ^ Ma ^ d '^Cl

~ti::xj7erZTo at t of the trading and sh « aJ

— , and ^i^XSi:


Lay be said to be comparatively rare. Among the Karens, ( Inns, and

other hill tribes, marriage customs differ from those of the Burn
■here the original habits have been preserved ; but where these people
have come in contact with the ruling race, their customs have been
much modified, and little difference is observable. The children of
Karens except in the Karennee Clan, are generally betrothed by their
parents! and subsequent non-fulfilment of the contract is expiated by a

ta p„uamy is not allowed by the Karen law, but among those
who have embraced Buddhism, and mingled with the Burmese, it is
occasionally practised. Adultery is the only ground on which divorce is
permitted among the Karens. It is regarded as a great offence, but
is not altogether rare. Chastity before marriage is not much regarded
among any of the hill races. Among the Chins, marriage is a simple
contract with the consent of the girl's brother or parents. Large
p-esents are at the same time made by the suitor, and girls are often
danced early in life. Polygamy is common; but the consent o the
first wife's brother is required before the second wife «n be taken
Fo certain misbehaviour on the part of the husband the wife's brother
who, instead of the parents, acts as guardian, may take her away. On
the death of the husband, his brother takes the widow as his wife
D vor is possible, but, if there is no proved offence, the husband
fined and loses all claim to dowry. These customs, where they differ
from those of the Burmese, are rapidly disappearing, and are preserved
in their integrity only in the recesses of the hills.

3o "education, *■, per cent, of the whole !-£»»<££
Province are either under instruction, or are able to read and wr £
The education of the females is far behind that o the ma ~ °
latter, 4 6'o per cent, are educated or ^^^T^SL
former, only 3 "6 per cent, can be so described. Scat ered ^ aU ov
the country, but more numerous in some parts than in °«*«.j«
m naS in which the Pungyis or Buddhist -^^gj-^
probationers and novices, separated from the ordinary -bus mess o
The Census Report returns 4*79 ^«— S^BS
inllnapc: nnd to every 1 68 houses. Utten tnere aic i
mofe^llt 1 : andLept in wild tractor j£j -J*-*
monastery is called in Burmese is seldom distant from g ^
One of the chief occupations of the monks is the teac hing )

the neighbouring villages, and every Buddhist chjd pa*e « I
of his life in a Kyaung, lea ™ n g^.^l poverty of a boy's ptents,
certain extent, the precepts of Bud Jh,st Uw^ ^ r0 ° m assuming the
or other causes, may occasionally prevent n ' n although

sacred yellow robe, with the somewhat costly ^™^£r£, f 0I
not a regular novice, he may become a Kyamglha or monaster) )


a time, and so get a smattering of learning. In the larger villages, in
addition to the monasteries, schools are often found kept by respect-
able elders, who desire to gain merit by engaging themselves in the
education of youth, both boys and girls; the latter are excluded from
the monasteries. As compared with other Provinces of India British
Burma has a highly-educated population, excepting in the Northern
Arnlcan and Sabvin Hill tracts, where the hill tribes form the inhabitants
among whom book-learning is almost unknown.

Ethnically, the population of British Burma varies to a considerable
extent The numbers returned by the Census of 1881 of the chief
races inhabiting the country were - Burmese, 2,612,274; Takings
^4,553; Karens, 5x8,294; Chins or Khyins, 55,015; Taungthas,'
o,,554; Kwaymies and Mros, 24,794; Shans, 59,7,3; Chinese,
2 962 • natives of India, 2 4 ., 4 49. It is at present generally admitted
that the only race living in the Province, of whose advent in it
nothing is known either by tradition or history, is the Talaing, as this
people is called by the Burmese, or the Mon as they term themselves
and they are undoubtedly the oldest residents.-the'aborigineHf he
country. Several centuries before the Christian era, men of the

iz 1 an B r y c t from india> n ° doubt f ° r ****** ° f ^ to

lm™7 stT r. an ' ya ' 3S th£ tr3CtS ab0Ut the m ouths °f the

irawadi, Sittaung, and Sabvin were then called. They found a wild

Xm" n ?££ BC r* Wkh Wh ° m th ^-"te™arri y ed,°an d aVoilg

eceived the S of T T ' ^ ""!' " d ° Ubt ' the Mon ' but they
eceived the title of Talaings from the name of the ancient countrv of

to ?Mon; Vh r Ce r C ° l0niStS had Sailed > and tWs name wL extended

ixs^jr t,mes became kn °™ throu§h the med - «

^:zi T i;tn:ziti r the sea> was > at the time ° f

the coast Tn lll-T % SOme ce "tunes afterwards, on

reached Thahtonan^l "' ^ ChHSt ' Buddhist mis —ies

was n °c a , d Ti e'ha 71 ^ the TalaingS ' aS the Wh0le Mon rac

the «£%i£2£$£ th r r queiois ' the Burmese > ex p ,ains

Tenasserim durmg thTearl S^^f^** "?"*■ ^

discouraged after the conquest of Pegu bv A. TheU . lan S ua ge was
furiously proscribed afW tH fi \ •!> S Y Alom P ra m '757, and
assisted the Br ish ar™ A t BU ™ eSe War ' in which the Talaings
to Burmese *' ^ * *" eVCT since b ^ rapidly giving way

I" Physical characteristics the Talaings differ little from the Burmese.


Their features are perhaps more regular, the nose is not so ilat, and the
face is longer. The complexion of the men ,s often o a darker and
ess yellow hue than that of the Burman. Sometimes the, have been
described as fairer than the Burmese. The Dravxdians have left no
tnceof their colonizatton in the language of the natives, beyond the
name Taking ; and the Hindu sculptures found at Tha-hton I'agat, and
e " here, are the only permanent record of the existence of an anaen
H.ndu colony in the neighbourhood, unless we arc to asenbe the
fferences o/feature characteristic of the Talamg to an ad™ of
Dravidianblood. There are in British Burma 154,553 P»« lalan,.,,
and 177,939 persons of mingled Burmese and Talamg parentage or
Taking I wto speak only Burmese. Of the pure Talamgs more than
halite in Amherst District. Under the head of the Mramma
Sily and included in a group which may be called Burmese, come
ihe Ar'akanese, Burman, Tavoy, Chaungtha, Yaw, and Yabem languages

an T re C A;akanese, also, differ but little in feature from th< ^Bnrmese;
and though their spoken language is so from that of the
htter as to be almost unintelligible, when written it is the same in
1 most all respects. The Chaungthas, or 'children of the stream are
but a part of 'the Arakanese nation. The Yaws also are a peopk no
differing much from the Burmese either >n race or language I hey live
'la western tributary of the Irawadi about the ktitnde o Pa^an and
have been described as the pedlars of Upper Burma The Yabeu S
almost indistinguishable from the Burmese in feature, and the only


,ands of Central Asia round the Eastern Htmakyas A kmgdo

formed at Tagaung ; and thence, ,t is ^ » ^ [J^^
westwards into Arakan, while the rema mder a g ^

founded fresh kingdoms in Prome and loun ^)^\, m elsewhere
language is still supposed to be spoken m greater pun,) Hun

in Burma

Burma ' -, c a i „„ who live near the Kuladan river and its

The hill ".bes of ^akan ^- - Kun , M ,,„ anil shandu.


and numerous ; they are probably the same race as the Kukis who
according to Colonel Dalton, stretch from the valley of the Kuladan
to the border of Manipur and Cachar, a distance of 300 miles The
Kwaymi's and Mros differ but little in appearance and habits. It is
probable that these tribes are more or less connected with the Nagas
The Chins or Khyins are widely extended in British Burmah, being
found on both sides of the Arakan Yoma, and also in the Thayetmyo
and Prome Districts, to the east of the Irawadi river. In Upper Burma
there are large numbers. The most remarkable fact about them is that
they tattoo the faces of their young girls so as not to leave even an
eyelid free from the hideous operation. They are rapidly adopting
Burmese habits and clothing on the Pegu side of the Arakan Yoma
range, and their language is also giving way to Burmese

BrS B 3renS a m, neX ,V° the BUrmeSe ' the m0St numerou * *« in
Bntish Burma. The oldest seat of these people is thought to have
been on th north-west of China, where they may have come in contac

them r ir ' and haVe aCqUired the traditions which h ^e made

TnTnce the K S ^ ?T^ * the ha " ds of -

Isia I!, T: ^^f V* th£ gr ° Wth ° f P°P ulation in Centra.
A ,a, moved south towards Yunan ; and finding the country they had
mtended for themselves already occupied by another race [he Shans

dlTtae ^ 6 SOUt ^P— ding along the ml on ei her
side of the S.ttaung and Salwin rivers, and settling into their
Present positions about the sixth century of 'the Christian^ The"
a e three main groups of Karens, the Sgaw or Burman-Karen, the Pwo

KSK?JS the Bhgeh or Bweh - The Karens of the ^

Shll \ " e mte " 0r ° f Tenas serim, including the District of

Shwe-gym belong to the Pwo and Sgaw. In Toungju District he
Sgaws are found in the west, and the Bwehs on the easf Thettter are

Shan immigration J * RaiI ™7 "all, ,t ls anticipated, cause

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 56)