Cover of 2006 three volume reprint
|Original title||မဟာ ရာဇဝင်တော်ကြီး|
|Pages||21 volumes (Full version) |
10 volumes (Medium version)
1 volume (Abridged version)
|Followed by||Yazawin Thit|
The Maha Yazawin, fully the Maha Yazawindawgyi (Burmese : မဟာ ရာဇဝင်တော်ကြီး, pronounced [məhà jàzəwɪ̀ɴdɔ̀dʑí] ) and formerly romanized as the Maha-Radza Weng, is the first national chronicle of Burma/Myanmar. Completed in 1724 by U Kala, a historian at the Toungoo court, it was the first chronicle to synthesize all the ancient, regional, foreign and biographic histories related to Burmese history. Prior to the chronicle, the only known Burmese histories were biographies and comparatively brief local chronicles. The chronicle has formed the basis for all subsequent histories of the country, including the earliest English language histories of Burma written in the late 19th century.
The chronicle starts with the beginning of the current world cycle according to Buddhist tradition and the Buddhist version of ancient Indian history, and proceeds "with ever increasing detail to narrate the political story of the Irrawaddy basin from quasi-legendary dynasties to events witnessed by the author himself in 1711."Since it was written in the late Toungoo period, the chronicle provides its most specific information on dates and descriptions of various events Toungoo kings partook. The chronicle's portrayal of the 16th century Toungoo Burma, which was also witnessed by many Europeans, has been found by scholars to be largely factual.
However, its narrative of the earlier periods is less detailed, showing that the author did not have the full versions of earlier chronicles. Moreover, he did not check any inscriptions, which would have yielded more specific dates and double-checked the events.Nonetheless, the pre-1712 portions of later national Burmese chronicles — including Yazawin Thit , Maha Yazawin Kyaw , and Hmannan Yazawin — are essentially verbatim reproductions of this chronicle, though the later chronicles did correct many of Maha Yazawin's Pagan Dynasty and pre-Pagan dates based on epigraphic evidence.
Before this chronicle, hitherto Burmese histories were biographic chronicles and comparatively brief local chronicles.The compilation of the chronicle began c. 1712–1720, early in the reign of King Taninganway. The task was undertaken by U Kala, a wealthy descendant of court and regional administrative officers from both sides of his family. (His father was a "rich man" who descended from regional administrative officers (myosas) of the crown, and his mother was of mixed Shan and Burman noble descent.) He had the education, connections and wealth to devote his time to chronicle writing. With his pedigree, he apparently had access to court documents that went back to the reign of Bayinnaung (r. 1550–1581). Perhaps because of his wealth, Kala was able to devote his time being a "full-time chronicler".
Kala prefaced his chronicle with an apology for its writing, noting that Buddhist scriptures considered the writing of history to be inimical to religious development. He justified his work by explaining that the study of past events would help to demonstrate the impermanence of all things, including political authority, and that meditation on this theme would actually promote religious insight.
When Kala completed the chronicle in 1724,he had compiled the chronicle in three versions by length: Maha Yazawin Gyi [The Great Chronicle in Twenty-One Volumes], Yazawin Lat [The Shorter Chronicle in Ten Volumes], Yazawin Gyok [The Brief Chronicle in One Volume]. The chronicle is said to have referenced court documents from the 16th century, and in all, over 70 regional and foreign texts. The notable list includes the "Thaton Chronicle," the "Mon Chronicle," the "Ayutthaya Chronicle," and the "Chiang Mai Chronicle" as well as the Mahavamsa for the early religious history. Though he used a variety of local chronicles, Kala did not include the history of Tagaung Kingdom, which would be claimed as the beginning of the Burmese monarchy a century later by Hmannan Yazawin .
The work is divided into three parts, the first two detailing the origin of the universe and Buddhist kings of ancient India. The third part relates the founding of Threhkittara and Pagan and proceeds to provide accounts of the Pinya, Sagaing, Ava and Toungoo dynasties, and takes the history down to his own time to 1711. A "salient characteristic" of the chronicle is "its composite character: the chronicle is a pastiche of legends, local histories, biographies, and detailed court records."
Since it was written in the late Toungoo period, Maha Yazawin provides its most specific information on dates and descriptions of various events Toungoo kings partook. It traces the life of each king chronologically, wherever possible, from his birth to the grave or his dethronement.However, its narrative of the earlier periods is far more sketchy, offering only the year, not the specific date, in most cases. It shows that Kala did not have the full versions of earlier chronicles, and that he did not check any inscriptions, which would have yielded more specific dates and double-checked the events. Indeed, the later chronicles corrected many of Maha Yazawin's Pagan Dynasty and pre-Pagan dates based on epigraphic evidence.
Moreover, the chronicle also introduces for the first time that the Thaton Kingdom of Lower Burma was conquered by King Anawrahta of Pagan in 1057, and Anawrahta's religious reformation with the help of Shin Arahan, the primate of Pagan. (Maha Yazawin does not say that Shin Arahan was from Thaton. That he was born in Thaton was inserted in Yazawin Thit, written in 1798.) Later British colonial period scholars further asserted that Pagan received religious reforms and civilization from Thaton. Recently, the historian Michael Aung-Thwin has argued that the Thaton conquest story cannot be found in any prior extant texts or inscriptions.
However, the chronicle's portrayal of the 16th century Toungoo Burma, which was also witnessed by many Europeans, has been found by scholars to be largely factual.
The chronicle has formed the basis for all subsequent histories of the country, including the earliest English language histories of Burma written in the late 19th century.The historian Victor Lieberman writes that "rarely has a national historiographic tradition depended so heavily on a single author as the Burmese tradition has on U Kala."
The chronicle's existence was especially made important because many of the original sources on which he relied were destroyed by a fire at Ava (Inwa) some twenty years later. In addition to this loss, U Kala's prose style was seen as a model in the eyes of all subsequent historians.The general tone of the chronicle is described as "not bombastic", "relatively subdued", and "matter-of-fact". The pre-1712 portions of later national Burmese chronicles — including Yazawin Thit (1798), Maha Yazawin Kyaw (1831), and the famous Hmannan Yazawin (the Glass Palace Chronicle) — are more or less verbatim reproductions of Maha Yazawin, "with some interpolations of quasi-legendary material and with limited digressions on points of scholarly dispute".
As of 2006, the chronicle had been published only in Burmese, and not translated in full into English or any other language.
Anawrahta Minsaw was the founder of the Pagan Empire. Considered the father of the Burmese nation, Anawrahta turned a small principality in the dry zone of Upper Burma into the first Burmese Empire that formed the basis of modern-day Burma (Myanmar). Historically verifiable Burmese history begins with his accession to the Pagan throne in 1044.
Theinhko was king of the Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 934 to c. 956. According to the Burmese chronicles, Theinhko was a son of the previous king, Sale Ngahkwe. Theinhko was killed by a farmer, Nyaung-u Sawrahan, from whose farm he took a cucumber. The king had been on a hunting trip and separated from his retinue, exhausted and thirsty. The farmer was accepted as king by the queen to prevent unrest in the kingdom and became known as the "Cucumber King", "farmer king" or "Taungthugyi Min".
Narathihapate was the last king of the Pagan Empire who reigned from 1256 to 1287. The king is known in Burmese history as the "Taruk-Pyay Min" for his flight from Pagan (Bagan) to Lower Burma in 1285 during the first Mongol invasion (1277–87) of the kingdom. He eventually submitted to Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan dynasty in January 1287 in exchange for a Mongol withdrawal from northern Burma. But when the king was assassinated six months later by his son Thihathu, the Viceroy of Prome, the 250-year-old Pagan Empire broke apart into multiple petty states. The political fragmentation of the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery would last for another 250 years until the mid-16th century.
Saw Lu was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1077 to 1084. He inherited from his father Anawrahta the Pagan Empire, the first ever unified kingdom of Burma (Myanmar) but proved an inexperienced ruler. In 1082, he faced a rebellion in Lower Burma, and was captured c. April 1083. He was later killed in captivity about a year later.
Arimaddana Pura is a classical name of the city of Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar. It means the "City that Tramples on Enemies."
Kyansittha was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1084 to 1112/13, and is considered one of the greatest Burmese monarchs. He continued the social, economic and cultural reforms begun by his father, King Anawrahta. Pagan became an internationally recognized power during his 28-year reign. The Burmese language and culture continued to gain ground.
Sokkate was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1038 to 1044. The king lost his life in a single combat with Anawrahta, who succeeded him and went on to found the Pagan Empire.
The Myinsaing Kingdom was the kingdom that ruled central Burma (Myanmar) from 1297 to 1313. Co-founded by three brothers from Myinsaing, it was one of many small kingdoms that emerged following the collapse of Pagan Empire in 1287. Myinsaing successfully fended off the second Mongol invasion in 1300–01, and went on to unify central Burma from Tagaung in the north to Prome (Pyay) in the south. The brothers' co-rule ended between 1310 and 1313, with the death of the two elder brothers. In 1315, the central Burmese state split into two rival states of Pinya and Sagaing. Central Burma would not be reunified until the rise of Ava five decades later.
Thihathu was a co-founder of the Myinsaing Kingdom, and the founder of the Pinya Kingdom in today's central Burma (Myanmar). Thihathu was the youngest and most ambitious of the three brothers that successfully defended central Burma from Mongol invasions in 1287 and in 1300–01. He and his brothers toppled the regime at Pagan in 1297, and co-ruled central Burma. After his eldest brother Athinkhaya's death in 1310, Thihathu pushed aside the middle brother Yazathingyan, and took over as the sole ruler of central Burma. His decision to designate his adopted son Uzana I heir-apparent caused his eldest biological son, Saw Yun to set up a rival power center in Sagaing in 1315. Although Saw Yun nominally remained loyal to his father, after Thihathu's death in 1325, the two houses of Myinsaing officially became rival kingdoms in central Burma.
The Pinya Kingdom was the kingdom that ruled Central Myanmar (Burma) from 1313 to 1365. It was the successor state of Myinsaing, the polity that controlled much of Upper Burma between 1297 and 1313. Founded as the de jure successor state of the Pagan Empire by Thihathu, Pinya faced internal divisions from the start. The northern province of Sagaing led by Thihathu's eldest son Saw Yun successfully fought for autonomy in 1315−17, and formally seceded in 1325 after Thihathu's death.
The Sagaing Kingdom was a small kingdom ruled by a junior branch of the Myinsaing dynasty from 1315 to 1365. Originally the northern province of Sagaing of the Pinya Kingdom, it became de facto independent after Prince Saw Yun successfully fought for autonomy from his father King Thihathu in 1315–17. Sagaing formally seceded from Pinya in 1325 after Thihathu's death.
The royal chronicles of Myanmar are detailed and continuous chronicles of the monarchy of Myanmar (Burma). The chronicles were written on different media such as parabaik paper, palm leaf, and stone; they were composed in different literary styles such as prose, verse, and chronograms. Palm-leaf manuscripts written in prose are those that are commonly referred to as the chronicles. Other royal records include administrative treatises and precedents, legal treatises and precedents, and censuses.
Hmannan Maha Yazawindawgyi is the first official chronicle of Konbaung Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar). It was compiled by the Royal Historical Commission between 1829 and 1832. The compilation was based on several existing chronicles and local histories, and the inscriptions collected on the orders of King Bodawpaya, as well as several types of poetry describing epics of kings. Although the compilers disputed some of the earlier accounts, they by and large retained the accounts given Maha Yazawin, the standard chronicle of Toungoo Dynasty.
Zatadawbon Yazawin is the earliest extant chronicle of Burma. The chronicle mainly covers the regnal dates of kings as well as horoscopes of select kings from Pagan to Konbaung periods. In terms of regnal years, the chronicle is considered "the most accurate of all Burmese chronicles, particularly with regard to the best-known Pagan and Ava kings, many of whose dates have been corroborated by epigraphy."
Maha Yazawin Thit is a national chronicle of Burma (Myanmar). Completed in 1798, the chronicle was the first attempt by the Konbaung court to update and check the accuracy of Maha Yazawin, the standard chronicle of the previous Toungoo Dynasty. Its author Twinthin Taikwun Maha Sithu consulted several existing written sources, and over 600 stone inscriptions collected from around the kingdom between 1783 and 1793. It is the first historical document in Southeast Asia compiled in consultation with epigraphic evidence.
Early Pagan Kingdom was a city-state that existed in the first millennium CE before the emergence of Pagan Empire in the mid 11th century. The Burmese chronicles state that the "kingdom" was founded in the second century CE. The seat of power of the small kingdom was first located at Arimaddana, Thiri Pyissaya, and Tampawaddy until 849 CE when it was moved to Pagan (Bagan).
The Mani Yadanabon is an 18th-century court treatise on Burmese statecraft and court organization. The text is a compilation of exemplary "advice offered by various ministers to Burmese sovereigns from the late 14th to the early 18th century." It is "a repository of historical examples illustrating pragmatic political principles worthy of Machiavelli".