William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) online

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frontier; but the demand is very much greater than the native supply.
There are silver mines near the Chinese frontier, but they have not
been worked recently. The mountainous districts of the Shan territory
contain almost all the other metals; but they are scantily exported,
and the copper and tin seen in the capital are imported from
China Iron is found in several places, and is wrought especially at
Poppa near a mountain of that name to the eastward of the old
capital' Pagan, and also at Myedii, north-west of Mandalay ; but,
owing to ignorance and the want of proper methods, about 30 or 40
per cent, of the metal is lost in the process. Large deposits of rich
magnetic oxide, as yet untouched, exist in the ridges east of Mandalay
near the banks of the navigable river Myit-nge, and the same district
contains lime in great abundance and of remarkable whiteness ; while
statuary marble, equal to the best Italian kinds, is found about 15
miles north of Mandalay, to the east of the Irawadi. Mines of amber
are wrought, among other places, at Hdkhong or Payendwen, near the
sources of the Kyeng-dweng. Nitre, natron, and salt are found n
various quarters. Sulphur also occurs in some places, as in the dis-
trict of Sale-Myo, and in the neighbourhood of the petroleum wells ,
bu the quantity is comparatively small. Coal ^^"T^
patches, but not in any quantity worth working Petroleum is found
near the village of Ye-nangyaung, on the banks of the rawadi. Here
are upwards of one hundred pits or wells, with a general depth oi from
210 to 240 feet, though some of them reach to the depth of 3°° feet
The liquio appears to boil up from the bottom like an abunant spring,
and is extracted in buckets, and sent to all quarters of Je county
The annual yield is calculated at i.,6 9 o tons. A good deal is now

eX Cpr"iou?stes produced in the Burmese -ritories are ch,,lv
the sapphire and the ruby. They are found about 60 or 70 miles in
Inorth east direction from Mandalay, over an area of about too
scuar mde All stones are sent to the Crown treasury. No stranger
sever pmitted to approach the spots where these precious stones
are found The yu or jade mines are situated in the Mogoung dis-
trict lout 23 miles south-west of Maing-klnim. Momien, in uiun.
£?££?*. chief seat of the manufacture of jade, and still pro-
duces a considerable quantity of small articles.


Feraz Nature?. — Burma, abounding as it does in deep, impenetrable
jungles, affords extensive shelter to wild animals. Elephants and wild
hogs are very numerous, and the single and double-horned rhinoceros
are not uncommon. There are nearly 30 kinds of carnivora, including
the tiger, leopard, bear, and wild cat. Quadrumana are found in 6 or
7 distinct species ; and among ruminants, the barking deer, hog deer,
Rusa (sdmbhar), goat - antelope, bison, buffalo, and wild ox. Rabbits
are unknown, but hares are common. There are 2 species of porpoises,
which are found very far inland. The rivers, lakes, and estuaries
swarm with fish, including whiting, mullet, carp, barbel, bream, shad,
and cat-fish. Aquatic birds abound in endless varieties. Among
other birds, pea-fowl, jungle-fowl, pheasant, partridge, quail, and plover
are found throughout the country. Geese, duck, and fowl are exten-
sively domesticated, and cock-fighting is a favourite amusement with
the people.

Domestic Animals. — The domestic animals are the elephant, buffalo,
ox, horse, mule, ass, goat, sheep, and pig. The three first are used for
draught, the elephant being especially useful in dragging timber. The
horse is a small variety, rarely exceeding 13 hands in height. Like the
mule and ass, it is used only as a beast of burden.

Population. — The Burmese proper may be generally described as of
a short, stout, active, well-proportioned form ; of a brown but never
intensely dark complexion, with black, coarse, lank, and abundant hair
on the head, and very rarely any on the face. The name they give
their own race is Mran-ma (as written), corrupted vulgarly into Ba-ma,
and from this the various forms of ' Burma ' appear to have been
taken. Besides the Burmese proper, there are numerous tribes of
Talaungs, Taungthas, Karens, and others who occupy the mountainous
country towards the east, many of them in a state of semi-independ-
ence ; and all round the northern and north-western frontier and
along the ranges that traverse the upper regions, vast hordes of
Kakhyens, Chins, and Singphos maintain a rough, cateran life, and
come down to levy black-mail on the more peaceful inhabitants. The
Shans, a race of which the Siamese are a part, constitute a great
number of small principalities along the whole eastern border, subject
some to Burma, some to China, some to Siam, and in a few cases
owning a double allegiance, according to their position. The Shans
everywhere profess Buddhism, and have some kind of literature and
the traces of culture. The Kakhyens are square-faced, strong-jawed,'
and oblique-eyed. They are still in a low state of civilisation, are
destitute of letters, and have not yet been converted to Buddhism.
Their chiefs are supported by offerings in kind,— receiving a leg of
every animal that is killed. One industry— the manufacture of toddy
and arrack— is extensively carried on by them, and the whole popula-


„e ,Ur, nmdnre Various other tribes,

r z rsj srss itsSi^- « -*. ■ -

,„«,. „ ....(much ;**«;^» „„„„„ „,„,„„. Mr.

square mile, *nicn,unaer rn i one l Yule calculated, in 1855,

T ^rte 10 La be^ fn he Bri^h Metier and 34" K. to, k
JlCdid^e^ed .,00,000 ; while within the ^e^

~^f£ :tet:oT b the ar sx»

l^rJea^h^th-sUuid show 3,500,000 for the tot. popuU-

Administration.— ine .Burmese _ accord ne to

the icing sentencing to torture, trnpnsonn „ ,o death,^
his soveretgn pleasure. The ad ™™'° rfctl defined by

ministers whose -^^^S^d ^ ceremonies are
constitutional precedent ; the nstituuo minutest details. The

exceedingly elaborate and complex, even » *™ ^Xered at
lowing description has been conde «d* -^ ^
Simla, by Mr. K. H. PUcner, 01 in 6 . )ear

who accompanied the Burmese Embass y m iW* It
,dea of the administration of the country as earned on ^ ^
day. The Burmese ministers are o ft, o da ssesi ^ ^

P«^^^.^^?^£t2i of those whose
less merged in each other, ine one originally, no

authority and responsibility are confined to the pa a « , » .^ q{
doubt, they were officers of the household Fhe other & ^

administrative officers, properly s ca led, *o _ _ ^ ^

Council of State, called m Burmese tfo ' f ^Vcouncil thus dis-
all administrative power is vested. The HMto ^ ^

;-»: = S£* -S; ":.=:;: ■,

presides. , comp0 se the Conn. .1.

There are in all 14 grades of office rs« 1 ^

Eleven of these grades comprise .four offices ^ \ ^

follows -.-First, the Wun S yU or W ■ Th term J^T
many kinds of officials in Bunna arc daug . rf

a .burden,' and , metaphoricaUy ^a J burden tfJ-J ^ ^ ^^
it. Wungyi is hence a ' great official.


into English, < Secretary of State ' would probably express it best. Each
of these chief ministers has his own department or departments, but
the distribution of work is a personal matter, and is never unalterably
fixed. Their titles are not attached to their office or hereditary but
are given from time to time by the king. There is no such 'wide
differentiation of functions, no such division of labour among the
Burmese, whether officials or common people, as there is among Euro-
pean nations. The Wiingyi has not only to consider politics revenue
and finance, but to decide important civil and criminal suits, to direct
military operations, and on occasion to take the field in person as
generalissimo. Next to the Wungyfs in rank, come two officers, who
though they have a customary right to seats in the Hliit, yet do not
often take part, and have, in fact, little concern, in its business.
These are the Myinzugyi Wun, and the Athiwtn. The former is the
officer commanding the principal cavalry regiments, the latter is in

famif e C1V ^^ 1S t0 Say ' PCrSOnS ° ther than th0Se of th ^ ro >' al

After these come the Wundouks, who may be called 'Under

Secretaries of State/ or assistants of the Wungyfs. Normally they are

ZeZT r there / re ° ften m ° re ' f ° r thG rank is occasionally

conferred on Governors of important provinces as a reward for good

bXnamr/ 016 ' ^^ "* * <*" h ^ «" « k ™

oy the name of some town or District

Listeners" ^ * Wlind ° uks c °™ *e Nakhandavs, or < Roya.
the k" n : to Z h r r {U T°: " S that ° f Carrymg indications from
book g ■* i C1 ' and VUe V ' rsa - The y write *ese in large note-

books with g,lt covers, which are the insignia of their office Thev
too are four in number. y

Jo he JT yd 7 g/tS '°\ ' R °y alC1 "ks/are the Assistant Secretaries

thou/h^ u T k; ° f theSe ° fficials there ™ about a score

though the number by custom should be four only but as thev

to that of the registrar of a court ^h/t, 7 V™™^ ™^™

-2^£K5 Puo,- f Sr^it cers t1 for r ™ di -

bU ^rT T ' r t0 bU " d ™ ^X^ th£ PUb " C
Next ,n rank are the A^a^yay, and after them the Avayyouk.


n fnrmerare drafters; they prepare for issue all letter, and

I iu f om he Council. The Utter receive and read Utters recerj
sent out from tne t ; t le-and submit them to the mm.-;

:ct;rc,:« ."*:"- «, .*. * » <-... -

SPP The » or • Ushers/ point out to each officer his place at cere-
monial meetings of Council and levees _ ^ ^^^
The Thissadauyay, or Oath * e ™*> " !> The ceremo nv
th e oath of fealty to ah W ho en er * km^mc,^ ^ ^
used is worth describing. The oath nrs candidate re-
read over in a temple before an image *<*?£.£. are put into
peating the words ^ **%£*£ J£itU - which

r e i?r«££S£= ■ « *■ b - the •*

th ^tr™'ir XlUose the HMt-daw or -Grea,

Council' of the kingdom. r « n0 nsibility are confined to

Of the other class whose authority and ^ ; form th e first
the palace, or officers of the Household, the ^ M. Bweh . dyke .
grade. Their office or place of ass en bl y . st>jed ^ ^

The title of Atwinwun means Intenoi _Mi mste ^

transact business generally relating to the >ntu or 1 ^

especially to take up business from ^0™™ ^ Councll ls „„t
relative rank of the Atwinwuns with , memb r o „,«,

absolutely defined; as a rule, they are certain.)

at the present day. Thandawzins, who are sup-

Next in rank to the A^-nwuns re the 77, £ ^ ^ ^ ^

posed to be always in attendance * » udIt bear fortll m „.ue from

orders, and to transmit them to , the Hlu 1 7^^ q .. ^

the palace royal letters, and 1«*™" ^ of tho lighting o)

come the chief clerks and officers * .ho ha- W .^

the palace, and who keep a record of all 1


Beside the Hint and Bweh-dyke, the public and privy councils there

s the Shwa-dyke or 'Treasury/ which is not only the treasury, but a so

the deposttory of the archives of the State. The king's ardfices are

hereditary servants, and the heads of their fancies are accounted

officers of the Shwa-dyke. accounted

The country at large is ruled by Provincial Governors, and is divided
mo Provinces or Myos), townships, Districts, and villages. The c, f

htary, jud.aal, and fiscal administration of the Province is vesteTm
he Governor or Myosin, who exercises the power of life and death
hough .man evil cases an appeal lies from his sentence t the 2
council of the capital. In all townships and villages there are offi,
-th a subordinate jurisdiction. The "ate king int oduced the ~

l?ero S ut hlS ° ffiClalS m ° mhly SahrieS ' b « « h - beentryX.?
One of the principal items of revenue in Independent B„r m , ■
the capitation, or more proper.y, the income tax. The m of thTs ,ax

h^h^ itVfi^ZT <" -r T*» ^ - o-ach

the T hr;~^^

empto^em Z " fT* ° rder ' iMerdicted from all secular

S3 b"y d a S Tda e i coLIne^ r^™ ™* «
sacrilege in any other p'^ S n wT' There" f^ ^ reCk ° ned
and priestesses, who make a vow oTchaltt b / T " ° " ° f "^
quit their order. Prostitutes are 1JT!' ' ° may 3t ^ tlme

in Burma are not shut 1 cons,dere d as outcasts. The women

excluded from the sigh oTmeV" T ^ PartS ° f the EaSt > and
appear openly *j£££^£ 2T£ ^ " "^ *
the courts of law where if ill n» . eir 0Wn name t0

obtained. ' llkreatment * Proved, divorce is readily

J™l7™l^ZT h th , e publlc ™ ^ - -

vexatious to the peopt at hi ^ $ ** eXt ° rtIOn > and a re

to the State The 'I7 amet,me that the v are httle productive

is said to be a^ssed b • IT V* "" h ° USe ° r famil > ta *. ^h
Mentaragyi in 7 8 T > a Dora ^ay Book,> compiled by order of

and to a r^arkable'extent in Iff IT ^ * d ' ffe ™ 1 ^ a rs,
tax on agriculture which s »1 "^ Ne * fa 0rder Is the

part of th § e cult vald ,11 ' th V^ "^^ imp ° Sed A lar § e
the court, or to pubfic funct.o ^ " aSSig " ed to favouri 'es of

is appropriated fo th e t pe n™s ar o e f S prh, 1,eU ^^ °' Sa]a " es ' OT
hoats, elephants etc andTh ? est ablishments, such as war-

■"habitant's zcclrZg LV^T^V "^ 5 * ^ t0 tax «*

favourites who recede LeJntT °n *" aSSIgnee - The cou »

these grants, generally appoint agents to manage


their estates; they pay a certain tax or quit-rent to the crown, and
their agents extort from the cultivators as much more as they can by
every mode of oppression, often by torture. Ik-sides this stated I
extraordinary contributions are levied directly from the lords and
nobles to whom the lands are assigned, who in their turn levy it
from the cultivators, and generally make it a pretence for plunder and

Arts and Manufactures. — The architecture of religious edifices
erected in the Middle Ages is of striking and effective character, although
the material is only of brick. The general style bears evidence of an
Indian origin ; but numerous local modifications have been introduced.
Perhaps the feature of most interest is the use of the pointed arch, as
well as the flat and the circular, and that at a time long anterior to
employment in India. Modern buildings are chiefly of wood; pala«
and monasteries, carved with extraordinary richness of detail, and often
gilt all over, present an aspect of barbaric splendour. The daghobas
(daghoba = dhdtugarbha, 'relic chamber'), which form at once the objects
and the localities of Buddhist worship, are almost the only brick struc-
tures now erected, and these are often gilt all over. In carving, the
Burmese artisans display unusual skill and inventiveness, and give full
scope to the working of a luxuriant and whimsical fancy. The applica-
tion of gilding is carried to an extravagant extent ; as much as ,£40,000
is said to have been expended on this account for a single temple. 1 he
finest architectural monuments are to be found in the deserted city of
Pagan, but many of the most magnificent are greatly shattered by

earthquakes. .

The number of religious buildings, small and great, through-
out the country is very great: at every turn the traveller finds
pagodas or kyaungs (monasteries), or lesser shrines, or zayats (resting-
places for travellers), founded by the Buddhists in order to acquire
religious merit. The ordinary buildings are of a very slight con-
struction ; all but the more pretentious are built of bamboo, and
roofed with grass. They are invariably on piles well raised from
the ground. The whole process of the cotton manufacture is per-
formed by women, who use a rude but efficient species of loom and
produce an excellent cloth, though they are much inferior in dexterit)
to the Indian artisans. Silk cloth is manufactured at different places
from Chinese silk. The favourite patterns are zigzag longitudinal
stripes of different colours, and the brilliance of the contrasts s
frequently gorgeous in its results. The dyeing of the yellow K>bes O
the priests is effected by means of the leaves of the jack-tree ^ The
common, coarse, and unglazed earthenware is of "^^ta
and a not inartistic glazed pottery is also made. The art of making
porcelain, however, is entirely unknown. Iron-ore, as ahead)


tioned,is smelted; but the Burmese cannot manufacture steel, which

is brought from Bengal. ' "

Bell-founding has been carried to considerable perfection. The

caS T"" " that at * e Men ^ Pa S oda > ^ar the presen
capital which measures 16 feet across the lip and weighs about 80
tons Coarse articles of cutlery, including swords, spearf knives al!o
muskets and matchlocks, scissors, and carpenters' tools, . re m nut
tured m the capital ; and gold and silver ornaments ae produced at"
every cons.derable place throughout the country. Embossed wo k in
dnnkmg cups and the like is executed with great rich so, effect

S h ,1 of CaPita '' \ nd £aSt f the M > aS befo - stated, if hill of pure white marble, and there are sculptured marble
■mages of Gautama or Buddha. The marble is of the finest Z h
and the workmen give it an exquisite polish by means cTa paste o,
Ta V eTa e t N SSil " W ° 0d ^ *" « ° f "» -"^cture of lacquered
f h s lbs ofba T e anCleM dty ° f Paga " • the — consist

op. as r4iir — — -

D is Sr^'I SinCe BUma WaS deprJVed ° f lts harb0 "s and maritime
Uistncts, its commerce has been extremely limited The trade

twist and niece «Jvfa 1 Pnncipal .mports are-European

brass e„ PleCe - g00ds ' ^rthenware and porcelain, fruits and nuts rice

i moorts . ; 878 " 79 - i87s - 8 °- >»»*■

,ports > • • • £.,775,491 £l , 75l ,-


2,000,880 1,807,809




^ 3;776;371 ^3,559^ 7 £3,326,27 3

is chiefly due to

of the late king. The

-2tf£ ,-« «r= s -s.- - -


arbitrary and oppressive treatment of traders by the present nil
which has resulted in reducing commercial intercourse beti
nendent and British Burma, necessitated representations on I
of the British Government, which will, it is hoped, have the effect
restoring the trade to its normal state. The inland trade with < hina,
which the Panthay rebellion had interrupted for years, has recently
sprung into renewed activity; cotton and jade are exchan(
copper, lead, iron, and fruit in yearly increasing quantities. The
ml of the northern part of Burma is chiefly earn,, on at larg
airs held in connection with religious festivals rhe trade o the
Country would expand indefinitely if the monopolies for certain
articles of export, as cotton, sugar, cutch, and pickled tea, granted n
Xi by the present ruler, were withdrawn, and if only a safe road
existed between Bhamo on the Irawadi and the confines of Western

C1 Durin. the year 1880, two English missionaries travelled from
Bhamo Loss the hills into Yunan, and through Western Chma o
fh Yellow over, on which they voyaged by boat and steamer o
Shanghai One of the travellers had been several years in Chma and

n ^Chinese well. They were unarmed, and had only two , attendan ,
They were molested once only, and that was at a place two days
journey out of Bhamo, half-way from the Irawadi river to the Chute,
fronuer Directly they reached China, they met with uniform friendh-
S hos U, They found the convention of Chefu thoroug v
known and observed, and the people wondering why ™ Br » \ ."
chants had come to settle at Talifu and other towns on the trade

oute The travellers reached Talifu in 2 , days, the capital of Yunan

reach Bhamo from Rangoon in 15 or 20 days ; and - '

that for the millions of Chinese in Yunan and Southern S^hu
Irawad, and Bhamo route would be a far nearer qtucUer , « UM
route for trade with Europe, if only the road from Bhamo to the
border were safe. One of the -ostimportan .^ * £5 all
addition to European cloth goods, is salt, for their su, 1 .

^^"oStnrcu^was introduced by the ,,c I

It corresponds to our Indian coinage. ^

^,_The Burmese dry measure is the *y or £* ^ ^
divided into 4 quarters and 16 Jyis. to °6 m

nreasures about 18 English ^^^^early with ,

7 cubits make a to, and 1000 tas a mile, eu 1


English miles. In weights, ioo kyats (or tickals) make a viss, which
equals 3*65 lbs. avoirdupois. Four mats make 1 kyat, and 2 mugyh
a ///<?/.

Calendar. — The currertt Burmese era commences from April a.d.
639. The year consists of twelve lunar months of twenty-nine and
thirty days, one being intercalated every third year. A month is
divided into two parts, the waxing and the wane; also into weeks,
which follow the usual order of days. The day and night are each
divided into four periods or beats of three hours each, commencing
from nine o'clock.

Language and Literature. — The Burmese proper use a monosyllabic
language, which shows distinct relation to Chinese on one side, and to
Tibetan on another. In contrast with Siamese, it is a very soft and
flexible tongue, and its monosyllabic character is somewhat modified in
pronunciation. It is a literary language, and has been under cultivation
for perhaps six or seven centuries. It is written with an alphabet of
Indian origin, and the letters are of a more or less circular form. A
square variety was formerly prevalent. It has developed a poetic
diction of such complete individuality, that it is unintelligible without
special study. The national chronicles, or chronicles of the kings
(Mahd-rdza Weng), trace the royal lineage up to the very earliest
ages. Though much of their history is no doubt of a questionable
kind, the mutual agreement of the chronologies of the mediaeval annals
of the various Indo-Chinese kingdoms is remarkable, and affords a
strong contrast to the absence of all written Hindu chronology in
India proper at the same period. Libraries are common through-
out the country, principally in the monasteries. Though a certain
kind of paper is manufactured from bamboo pulp, the usual material
of the books is the palm leaf, while for ordinary notebook purposes
a kind of black tablet, called a parabaik, and a steatite pencil are

History.— It is probable that Burma is the Chryse Regio of Ptolemy,
a name parallel in meaning to Sonaparanta, the classic Pali title
assigned to the country round the capital in Burmese documents.
The royal history traces the lineage of the kings to the ancient
Buddhist monarchs of India. This is hypothetical, but it is hard
to say how early communication with Gangetic India began. From
the nth to the 13th century the old Burmese empire was at the
height of its power, and to this period belong the splendid remains
of architecture at Pagan. The city and the dynasty were destroyed
by a Chinese (or rather Mongol) invasion (1284 a.d.), in the reign of
Kublai Khan. Afterwards the empire fell to a low ebb, and Central
Burma was often subject to Shan dynasties. In the early part of the
1 6th century, the Burmese princes of Toung-gu, in the north-east of


Pegu began to rise to power, and established a dynasty which at one
tune held possession of Pegu, Ava, and Arakan. They made their
capital at Pegu, and to this dynasty belong the gorgeous descriptions
of some of the travellers of the 16th century. Their wars exhausted the
country, and before the end of the century ensued a period of decay.

A new dynasty arose in Ava, which subdued Pegu, and main-
tained supremacy during the 17th, and during the first forty years
of the 1 8th century. The Peguans or Takings then revolted, and
having taken the capital Ava, and made the king prisoner, reduced
the whole country to submission. Alompra (the Alaung-paya of the
previous article), ruler of the village of Motso-bo, planned the deliver-
ance of his country. He attacked the Peguans with small detach-
ments ; but when his forces increased, he suddenly advanced, and
took possession of the capital in the autumn of 1753. In 1754, the
Peguans sent an armament of war-boats against Ava, but they were
totally defeated by Alompra ; while in the Districts of Prome, Donabyu,
etc., the Burmese revolted, and expelled all the Pegu garrisons from
their towns. In the same year, Prome was besieged by the King of
Pegu, who was again defeated by Alompra ; and the war was transferred
from the upper provinces to the mouths of the navigable rivers, and
the numerous creeks and canals which intersect the low country.
In 1755, the King of Pegu's brother was equally unsuccessful;

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 3) → online text (page 26 of 56)