Journal of Burma Studies - Volume 3
"Rise of a Mainland Trading State: Rahkaing Under the Early Mrauk-U Kings, c. 1430â1603"
Michael W. Charney
This study of the rise of the maritime kingdom of Rahkaing (Arakan) in the 15th and 16th centuries attempts to demonstrate how the kings of Danya-wati gradually drew other power centers in the Rahkaing littoral (including Mekha-wati, Dwara-wati, and Chittagong) into its political orbit. Vital to this political centralization were the collateral processes of increasing maritime trade, demographic growth spurred by resettled war captives, the suppression of rival lowland tribes, supplies of firearms, and the development of a multi-directional system of religious patronage. By the end of the 16th century, Mrauk-U rulers, as both Buddhist kings and Islamic sultans, controlled the entire Rahkaing littoral as one kingdom and had begun their expansion into neighboring regions as distant as Dacca in Bengal and Pegu in Burma.
"Robert Talbot Kelly and 'Picturesque' Burma"
Oliver B. Pollak
Robert Talbot Kelly, through his art and his 1905 publication, Burma Painted and Described, provides a visual and textual account of colonial Burma that was subsequently marketed in England and America. Travelogues served as a form of voyeuristic education about the exotic for the stay-at-home adventurer. Postcolonial scholarship, to some degree assisted by Edward Said's Orientalism, now permits a reanalysis of both the art and the written texts of travel literature for what they say about cultural attitudes during the age of high imperialism, and in particular about Kelly's use of the word picturesque as a literary and artistic descriptor.
"Footnote to Burmese Economic History: The Rise and Decline of the Arakan Oil Fields"
After the annexation of Upper Burma in 1886, the modern Burmese oil industry expanded at Yenangyaung, the long-standing center of hand-dug wells worked by twinza. An earlier attempt to establish a commercial industry in Arakan in the late 1870s was thereby eclipsed. On the islands off the Arakan coastâRamree, Cheduba, and the Boronga IslandsâBritish explorers had drawn attention to oil pools and seepage. In 1878, the first modern oil well in Burma was drilled on Eastern Boronga Island. However, the eager oil speculators had not done their homework, and the Arakan oil industry declined because the oil-fields were poor producers and thus not economically viable for mass production. The Arakan experience nonetheless influenced the early commercial exploitation of the Yenangyaung fields.
"Kingship in Pagan Wundauk U Tinâs 'Myan-Ma-Mwn-Ok-Cjok-Pon-Sa-Dnn'"
This paper analyzes the attitudes toward kingship expressed in the Myan-ma-Mn Ok-cjok-pon Sa-dnnâ ["The Royal Administration of Burma"], written by Pagan U Tin (1861-1933) and first published shortly after the author's death. Following a brief biographical account of Pagan U Tin, the discussion considers four perspectives on Burmese kingship appearing in the work: 1) the king as judge; 2) the king as guarantor of regularity; 3) the king as descendant of the Sun (and of Mahasammata, originator of civil society); and 4) the king as Buddha-to-be. The Burmese monarch was predominantly a symbolic figure who affirmed the kingdom's past and guaranteed its future. Although U Tin reports on the questionable morality of Kings Mindon and Thibaw, he nevertheless addresses both as "Excellent King" and admonishes his readers against offending the dignity of the throne.