Royal Historical Commission of Burma

Last updated
Royal Historical Commission
Formation 11 May 1829
Type Historical research
Headquarters Inwa Palace (1829–1832)
Mandalay Palace (1867–1869)
Monywe Zetawun Sayadaw (1829–1832)
King Bagyidaw (1829–1832)
King Mindon (1867–1869)

The Royal Historical Commission (Burmese : တော်ဝင် မြန်မာနိုင်ငံ သမိုင်း ကော်မရှင်, [tɔ̀wìɴ mjəmà nàɪɴŋàɴ θəmáɪɴ kɔ̀məʃìɴ] ) of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) produced the standard court chronicles of Konbaung era, Hmannan Yazawin (1832) and Dutiya Yazawin (1869). [1]

Burmese language language spoken in Myanmar

The Burmese language is the Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Myanmar where it is an official language and the language of the Bamar people, the country's principal ethnic group. Although the Constitution of Myanmar officially recognizes the English name of the language as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese, after Burma, the older name for Myanmar. In 2007, it was spoken as a first language by 33 million, primarily the Bamar (Burman) people and related ethnic groups, and as a second language by 10 million, particularly ethnic minorities in Myanmar and neighboring countries.

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.

<i>Hmannan Yazawin</i> book by Royal Historical Commission of Burma

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.


Commission (1829–1832)

In May 1829, three years after the disastrous First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826), King Bagyidaw created the first Royal Historical Commission to write an official chronicle of Konbaung Dynasty. The standard official chronicle at the time was Maha Yazawin (The Great Chronicle), the standard chronicle of Toungoo Dynasty that covers from time immemorial to October 1711. It was the second attempt by Konbaung kings to update Maha Yazawin. The first attempt, Yazawin Thit (The New Chronicle), commissioned by Bagyidaw's predecessor and grandfather Bodawpaya, had not been accepted because the new chronicle contained severe criticisms of earlier chronicles. Although it was Bodawpaya himself who had ordered the author of Yazawin Thit, Twinthin Taikwun, to verify the accuracy of Maha Yazawin by consulting a variety of sources including hundreds of inscriptions, the king did not accept the new chronicle when it was presented to him. [2]

First Anglo-Burmese War First 19th century war fought between the British and Burmese empires

The First Anglo-Burmese War, also known as the First Burma War, was the first of three wars fought between the British and Burmese empires in the 19th century. The war, which began primarily over the control of Northeastern India, ended in a decisive British victory, giving the British total control of Assam, Manipur, Cachar and Jaintia as well as Arakan Province and Tenasserim. The Burmese were also forced to pay an indemnity of one million pounds sterling, and sign a commercial treaty.

Bagyidaw was the seventh king of the Konbaung dynasty of Burma from 1819 until his abdication in 1837. Prince of Sagaing, as he was commonly known in his day, was selected as crown prince by his grandfather King Bodawpaya in 1808, and became king in 1819 after Bodawpaya's death. Bagyidaw moved the capital from Amarapura back to Ava in 1823.

<i>Maha Yazawin</i> book by U Kala

The Maha Yazawin, fully the Maha Yazawindawgyi 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 members of the commission consisted of learned monks, court historians and court Brahmins: [3] The commission first convened for the first time on 11 May 1829 (1st waxing of Nayon 1191 ME). Three years and four months later, the commission had brought up the history to 1821, producing Hmannan Yazawin. [4]

Name Description Responsibility
Monywe Zetawun Sayadaw Chief Abbot of Monywe Zetawun Monastery Head of the Commission
Consulting editor; responsible for verifying Maha Yazawin and Yazawin Thit [5]
Thawkabin Sayadaw Chief Abbot of Thawkabin Monastery Consulting editor; responsible for verifying Maha Yazawin and Yazawin Thit [5]
Maha Dhamma Thingyan Minister councilor to the king Responsible for verifying Maha Yazawin and Yazawin Thit [5]
U Yauk Minister of the Royal Cavalry Responsible for checking minor chronicles and poems [5]
U Chein Royal Messenger Responsible for checking minor chronicles and poems [5]
U Maung Liaison to Privy Council
Thiri Maha Nanda Thingyan Deputy Minister, Governor of Hsaw
U Wa Deputy Minister, Governor of Singu
Zayadewa Court Brahmin Responsible for checking Indian sources for ceremonial customs of the court [5]
Kamondra Court Brahmin Responsible for checking Indian sources for ceremonial customs of the court [5]
U Hpyaw Court scribe Chief Scribe
Lu Gyi Court scribe Scribe
Aung Tha Court scribe Scribe

Commission (1867–1869)

The second commission was formed in 1867. It was about 15 years after an even more disastrous Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852), and about a year after a serious rebellion that killed Crown Prince Kanaung Mintha. A shaken King Mindon commissioned another committee of scholars to update Hmannan. The commission consisted of five members—senior court officials, a librarian, and a scribe. [6] Whereas the first commission had stopped short of the First Anglo-Burmese War, the second commission had no choice but to tackle the two disastrous wars that had their dismembered kingdom on the brink. The commission updated the chronicle up to 1854, right after the second war. The Second Chronicle's account of the two wars, according to historian Htin Aung, was "written with the objectivity of a true historian, and the great national defeats were described faithfully in detail." [7] The second chronicle in ten volumes was completed in 1869. [1]

The Second Anglo-Burmese War or the Second Burma War was the second of the three wars fought between the Burmese and British forces during the 19th century, with the outcome of the gradual extinction of Burmese sovereignty and independence.

Kanaung Mintha Burmese politician

Kanaung Mintha was a son of King Tharrawaddy and younger brother of King Mindon of Burma. Towards the end of the Second Anglo-Burmese War, Kanaung and Mindon overthrew their half brother Pagan (1848–1853); Mindon ascended the throne and Kanaung became the Heir Apparent on 11 July 1853. He was the fiery "War Prince" and the peoples' idol. Kanaung attempted to modernize the country by sending scholars to Western countries and by founding an arms industry. However, his efforts were cut short when he was killed by his two nephews. Notwithstanding his short life, he is revered by Burmese nationals for his innovations in modernizing Burma.

Mindon Min King of Burma

Mindon Min was the penultimate king of Burma (Myanmar) from 1853 to 1878. He was one of the most popular and revered kings of Burma. Under his half brother King Pagan, the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 ended with the annexation of Lower Burma by the British Empire. Mindon and his younger brother Kanaung overthrew their half brother King Pagan. He spent most of his reign trying to defend the upper part of his country from British encroachments, and to modernize his kingdom.

See also

Burma Research Society organization

The Burma Research Society was an academic society devoted to historical research of Burma (Myanmar). Its aims were "the investigation and encouragement of Art, Science and Literature in relation to Burma and the neighbouring countries ".

The Myanmar Historical Commission is an academic research organization focused on Burma studies. The commission was founded in 1955 by the Burmese government to produce an official version of national history. It regularly publishes the Bulletin of the Myanmar Historical Commission, and holds conferences in the country. As of 2009, the Commission had published six volumes of modern Burmese history from 1947 onward.


  1. 1 2 Allot et al 1989: 13–14
  2. Thaw Kaung 2010: 50–51
  3. Hmannan 2003: xxxvi–xxxvii
  4. Hmannan 2003: v–vi
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Thaw Kaung 2010: 53–55
  6. Khin Maung Nyunt 2009: 1
  7. Htin Aung 1967: 254

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<i>Dutiya Yazawin</i> book by Royal Historical Commission of Burma

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<i>Zatadawbon Yazawin</i>

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