U Kala

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U Kala
Native name
Singu village, Toungoo Dynasty
Died1738 (1739) (aged 60) [1]
Residence Ava (Inwa)
Nationality Burmese
Known forCompiling the Maha Yazawin
Parent(s)Deva Setha (father)
Mani Ogha (mother)

U Kala (Burmese : ဦးကုလား) is a Burmese historian and chronicler best known for compiling the Maha Yazawin (lit. 'Great Royal Chronicle'), the first extensive national chronicle of Burma. [2] U Kala single-handedly revolutionized secular Burmese historiography and ushered in a new generation of private chroniclers, including Buddhist monks and laymen. [3]

Burmese language language spoken in Myanmar

The Burmese language is a 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.

A chronicle is a historical account of facts and events arranged in chronological order, as in a time line. Typically, equal weight is given for historically important events and local events, the purpose being the recording of events that occurred, seen from the perspective of the chronicler. This is in contrast to a narrative or history, which sets selected events in a meaningful interpretive context and excludes those the author does not see as important.

<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.

U Kala was a wealthy descendant of court and regional administrative officers from both sides of his family. His father, Dewa Setha, was a banker from Singaing, a village south of Inwa, and descended from regional administrative officers (myosas) of the crown. [4] His mother, Mani Awga, of mixed Shan and Burman noble descent, came from a prominent family of courtier-administrators who served the Taungoo Dynasty since the mid-1500s. [4] [5]

Inwa Place in Mandalay Region, Burma

Inwa or Ava, located in Mandalay Region, Burma (Myanmar), is an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Throughout history, it was sacked and rebuilt numerous times. The capital city was finally abandoned after it was completely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in March 1839. Though only a few traces of its former grandeur remain today, the former capital is a popular day-trip tourist destination from Mandalay.

Shan people ethnic group

The Shan are a Tai ethnic group of Southeast Asia. The Shan live primarily in the Shan State of Burma (Myanmar), but also inhabit parts of Mandalay Region, Kachin State, and Kayin State, and in adjacent regions of China, Laos, Assam and Thailand. Though no reliable census has been taken in Burma since 1935, the Shan are estimated to number 4–6 million, with CIA Factbook giving an estimate of five million spread throughout Myanmar.

In compiling the Maha Yazawin, U Kala likely had access to Toungoo court documents, including royal correspondence, parabaik, notebooks of daily court schedules prepared by astrologers and scribes, official records of military affairs, and royal genealogies. [5] He supplemented his sources with private local chronicles, inscriptions, biographies, and religious histories held in monastic or royal collections at the royal capital. [5]

Parabaik is a type of paper, made of thick sheets of paper that are blackened, glued and folded together. Along with paper made from bamboo and palm leaves, parabaiks were the main medium for writing and drawing in early modern Burma/Myanmar.

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  1. Seekins, Donald M. (2006). Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Scarecrow Press. p. 270. ISBN   9780810854765.
  2. Hla Pe (1985). Burma: Literature, Historiography, Scholarship, Language, Life, and Buddhism. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 38–40. ISBN   9789971988005.
  3. Lieberman, Victor (2003). Strange Parallels: Volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. p. 198. ISBN   9780521800860.
  4. 1 2 Myint-U, Thant (2001). The Making of Modern Burma. Cambridge University Press. p. 80. ISBN   9780521799140.
  5. 1 2 3 Lieberman, Victor (1986-01-01). "How Reliable Is U Kala's Burmese Chronicle? Some New Comparisons". Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. 17 (2): 236–255. doi:10.1017/s002246340000103x. JSTOR   20070918.