“Chinese Historical Sources on Burma: A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Works" pp.1-116
Sun Laichen's unique and valuable 100-plus page bibliography includes:
An annotated list of 135 Chinese primary sources on Burma from the pre-Tang through the Qing periods, complete with author-title index.
An introductory discussion of the availability and recent uses of these sources.
A list of introductions and collections of Chinese historical sources on Southeast Asia.
A list of Burmese, Chinese, English, French, and Japanese historical works on Burma that utilize the Chinese primary sources. Chinese names and book titles are shown in Chinese characters and in roman transcription.
"Notes on Burmese Manuscripts: Text and Image" pp.229-253
While recent cataloguing work in Myanmar, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Thailand has served to greatly enhance our knowledge of Burmese, Sanskrit and Pali texts transmitted in Burmese manuscripts, we still lack adequate descriptive and critical studies of manuscript-related practices and mentalities in pre-modern Burma. The present note is concerned with the development of manuscript ornamentation. It examines the varieties of Burmese manuscript textual supports and their histories, the scope of genres that received decoration, and the technologies associated with ornamentation.
“Buddhist Dhammasattha Literature Transmitted in Arakan and Chittagong”
This article comprises a study of a manuscript of an Arakanese-language Buddhist legal text (dhammasattha) currently held under shelfmark Or Add 12254 at the British Library, where it is part of an important, though hitherto unstudied, collection of Arakanese manuscripts assembled in Chittagong by John Murray (1745–1822 C.E.). It discusses the history, contents, scribes, and textual and material features of the manuscripts in the Murray Collection, demonstrating that paleographic considerations and Bengali script and Persian paratexts found therein reflect the multilingual and multireligious context in which these manuscripts circulated, as well as a degree of influence from Chittagonian scribal culture. It then compares the text of Or Add 12254 with that of a later Arakanese dhammasattha manuscript that has likely provenance from Sittwe, and also with the contents of 18th and 19th century manuscripts of the central Burmese Dhammavilāsa dhammasat. It argues that despite a range of suggestive parallels between these Arakanese and central Burmese legal texts, the two manuscripts from Arakan should be regarded as witnesses to a distinctive Arakanese tradition of written law.
"The Self-conscious Censor: Censorship in Burma under the British 1900–1939" pp.64-101
It is often assumed that censorship was not used to any great degree by British authorities in Burma. Yet, by looking at the way the British colonial government reacted to a variety of media including traditional Burmese drama, western blockbuster movies, and Burmese political pamphlets agitating against colonial rule, it is possible to see that censorship was very much a part of the British administration. British authorities censored pamphlets, books, dramas, and movies not only to contain political thought contrary to colonialism, but also to control the image of British officials as seen in the eyes of the Burmese.
"Text, Lineage, and Tradition in Burma: The Struggle for Norms and Religious Legitimacy Under King Bodawphaya (1782–1819)" pp.82-129
Jacques P. Leider is a French historian following in the footsteps of U Pe Maung Tin, who pioneered the academic study of Burmese history through the editing, translating, and interpreting of primary textual sources. Leider examines a little-studied period of Burmese history, the reign of King Bodawphaya, whose radical attempts at religious reform laid the groundwork for the later.
“King Man: Co Mwan’s exile in Bengal – Legend, History and Context” with Kyaw Minn Htin
Manḥ Co Mvan is the name of an Arakanese king known as the founder, in 1430, of the city of Mrauk U (Mrok Uḥ). Mrauk U was the capital of Arakan until 1785, when the kingdom was conquered by the Burmese. It became the seat of a Burmese governor, but lost its status after 1825 following the occupation of Arakan by troops of the East India Company. Accounts about and stories related to this important king, his biography and his rule vary in the sources. Still, some stories have been more successful than others. Since the colonial period they have been considered as historical or at least partly historical facts. This article reviews one of these stories in particular, namely the king’s alleged stay in exile for an extended period of time. As far as our knowledge about the troubled political context of the early fifteenth century goes, the king might indeed have left his country for some time looking for support to regain his throne. Nonetheless, there are no sources to prove this point. We deconstruct the master narrative that has been built on the exile story by investigating the historical context and the literary devices used to embed the story in a traditional framework, which show that beyond the issue of historical facticity, there is a compelling interest to study the way the story has been both rationalized and mythologized to satisfy different audiences.
Revisiting the Nineteenth-Century Marketplace, and the Chinese Community in Moulmein
This article examines the Chinese community in Moulmein, a cosmopolitan center of a newly established British colony after the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–26), in the nineteenth century, and investigates interchanges and influences facilitated by the first port city in colonial Burma. As Chinese merchants and workers established commercial, social and religious networks during the formative years of British Burma, they interacted with their multi-ethnic neighbors within and beyond colonial market places. However, if the early experience of these Chinese migrants suggests a porous ethnic boundary, the impression of China and the Chinese dominating the European public sphere in Moulmein indicates a gap between the real-life Moulmein Chinese, which was encountered every day, and the imaginary China as a potential market to an eastern-looking British Empire, especially during the Opium War (1839–42). Taking the Moulmein Chinese as a case study, this paper investigates the limitation of J.S. Furnivall’s “marketplace” where people “mix but do not combine.” Instead of a reflection of the colonial markets operating rigidly along ethnic lines, this paper argues, Furnivall’s mid-twentieth-century observation is a direct result of colonial discourse and policies emphasizing ethnic segregation and stereotypes, when the discrepancies between real-life and imaginary China and the Chinese were further enhanced and eventually dominated the later years of British rule in Burma.