This article is intended to show that the archives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) at the General State Archives (ARA), The Hague, The Netherlands, are a rich source of information on seventeenth century Burma. Because this unearthed data is mostly about commerce, this paper deals with the VOC’s trade with Burma. What has come to light is that the Dutch factories in Burma were an important and integral part of the VOC’s network of trade, seeing that the profits helped to fund the purchase of Indian textiles that were the backbone of much of the Dutch inter-Asian trade. The Dutch, moreover, sold Burmese export products profitably from Persia to Japan and Holland. In the end, the VOC’s establishment in Burma became the victim of a general change in Dutch fortunes when forces in both Europe and the Far East began working against the Dutch East India Company.
Venerating the Buddha's Remains in Burma: From Solitary Practice to the Cultural Hegemony of Communities
The veneration of Buddha relics and images is a neglected, yet central organizing principle of Theravada culture and religious practice. My essay is informed by a historised understanding of Eliade's hierophany, a manifestation of a universal Buddhist sacred reality that defines and identifies cultural orders at the centers of local, historical contexts. I further rely on Bells' work on ritual and Gramsci's writings on hegemony to describe Burmese veneration of the Buddha's remains in diverse social and religious contexts. These range from the solitary practice, meditation and personal service in the Ananda mode to the Royal mode that defines social hierarchy in public rituals and expresses socio-religious aspirations of individuals and communities through culturally salient metaphors.
A Glimpse into the Traditional Martial Arts in Burma
The traditional martial arts are an aspect of Burmese culture that has been virtually ignored by Burma scholars. Yet these martial arts have a rich heritage dating back to the early days of Burma. Historic events, religion, political necessities, and, more have shaped them recently into economic realities. The traditional martial art came close to extinction during the British colonial period, but was revived during the Japanese occupation. In past times, they were utilized for warfare and self-defense. Today the self-defense element remains, while the combat element has been transformed into sports and artistic cultural expression. The present economic conditions and the spread of foreign martial arts pose a current threat to the survival of the Burmese traditional martial arts and require the attention of Burma scholars to document this important component of the historic cultural identity of Burma.