Journal of Burma Studies Volume 22.1


Buddha’s life in Konbaung period bronzes from Yazagyo

Win Maung (Tampawaddy), Bob Hudson, and Pamela Gutman

This article presents a collection of small bronzes retrieved from a cluster of ruined Buddhist structures at Yazagyo, in the Kabaw Valley, a remote area of Northwestern Burma. The items can be clearly dated to the early 1880s, near the end of the Konbaung dynasty, thus providing type specimens for chronological comparison. The bronzes recapitulate crucial chapters in Prince Siddhartha's and then the Buddha Gotama's life, and they are examined by the article's three authors. The article details the relics’ enshrinement, their dating, historical context, and the stories of the Buddha that they animate. The article includes 22 photographs.  

Siam-Myanmar relations through the perspective of the Royal Orders of Burma

Soe Thuzar Myint

Researchers of Myanmar history have found the Royal Orders of Myanmar kings to be a very important Myanmar literary genre. As wars with Siam raged on over centuries, Myanmar has a shared history with Siam from Innwa to Konbaung period. The Royal Orders contain invaluable historical facts which were not mentioned in the Siamese or Myanmar chronicles.  Therefore, students of both countries can benefit from the research work on the Royal Orders of Myanmar kings. Despite the existence of some works by Myanmar scholars on Royal Orders, it can be observed that these works seldom deal with Siam-Myanmar relations. Therefore, to contribute to this scholarship, this paper will focus on a detailed study of Royal Orders to provide contemporary accounts of Siam-Myanmar relations from mid-16th to 19th century. 

Japan’s Early Twentieth-Century Entry into Burma and British Perceptions (and Misperceptions) of the Friend that Became a Foe, 1903-1943: A Case Study in the Global Blindspot

Ryan Hartley

This article examines the beginning of the Japan-Burma relationship at the turn of the twentieth century. It questions why the British Empire welcomed Japan into Burma and allowed Japanese interests, economic and political, to build up their capacity to the point at which Japan would successfully confront Britain in Burma and Southeast Asia more broadly. In tackling this question, a two-part theoretical concept is utilized that couples an in-built weakness of the British Empire - referred to as the “global blindspot” - with a Japanese approach to foreign policy called here the yoraba taiju no kage [serve the powerful for your own good] strategy. Drawing on original qualitative and quantitative sources, the analysis is framed by how Japan was situated vis-à-vis Burma as first within, then later outside, of the British Empire. It proceeds in four stages - two within the empire and two outside of it - to demonstrate Japan’s step-by-step buildup of power in Burma was a process that Britain occasionally noticed, frequently ignored, and completely underestimated. It concludes that the British severely under-estimated Japan in Burma, and did not fully appreciate that Japan represented a different model of political-economy to the liberal free-trading state that Britain thought Japan was. Economic power, political power, and military power are all intertwined because power is power is power. The cost of this under-estimation cost Britain its position in Burma and ultimately its empire in Southeast Asia. 

The Myowun's Nap: An Incident in 1852 and the Fall of the Burmese Empire

Hugh C. MacDougall

This article examines a series of events from January 6, 1852, and how they could be tied to a British conspiracy to provoke war with Burma. When a delegation from Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of the East India Company in Calcutta arrived at the courtyard of the Myowun (Royal Governor of Rangoon), staff informed the delegation that the Myowun was asleep and not to be disturbed. After waiting for fifteen minutes, the delegation left, and the Following an overview of the background to this event, this article explores questions surrounding the supposed nap and its role in history, in particular: 1, whether the Myowun was really asleep; 2, if that was the case, why did his staff not awaken him, and finally 3, had the Myowun received the British delegation, would the future of Anglo-Burmese relations have been different?

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