|Author||Twinthin Taikwun Maha Sithu|
|Original title||မဟာ ရာဇဝင် သစ်|
|Country||Kingdom of Burma|
|Preceded by||Maha Yazawin|
|Followed by||Hmannan Yazawin|
Maha Yazawin Thit (Burmese : မဟာ ရာဇဝင် သစ်, pronounced [məhà jàzəwɪ̀ɴ ðɪʔ] ; lit. the "New Great Chronicle"; also known as Myanmar Yazawin Thit or 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 It is the first historical document in Southeast Asia compiled in consultation with epigraphic evidence.
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.
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 chronicle updates the events up to 1785, and contains several corrections and critiques of earlier chronicles. However, the chronicle was not well received, and ultimately rejected by the king and the court who found the critiques of earlier chronicles excessively harsh. အပယ်ခံ ရာဇဝင်, the "Discarded Chronicle").It became known as A-pe-gan Yazawin (
Nonetheless, when Hmannan Yazawin , the first officially accepted chronicle of Konbaung Dynasty, appeared in 1832, it had incorporated many of Yazawin Thit's corrections, in particular regnal dates of Pagan period kings.Modern scholarship notes the chronicle's innovative use of epigraphy but does not find the chronicle's criticisms harsh. Rather, scholarship maintains that for its criticisms and corrections, the chronicle largely retains traditional narratives, and "was —as elsewhere in the world —written with didactic intentions".
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.
It remains one of the lesser known chronicles today.
The chronicle is sometimes reported as Myanma Yazawin Thit, lit. the "New Chronicle of Myanmar". However, Thaw Kaung, the former Chief Librarian of the Universities Central Library in Yangon, writes that the original name found in the two extant original manuscripts stored at the Central Library is Maha Yazawin Thit, and that the name "Myanmar" was inserted in the title in 1968 by the publisher of that edition. Thaw Kaung adds that the 1968 copy was picked up by international scholars who subsequently reported the chronicle under the name of Myanma Yazawin Thit.The name Myanma Yazawin Thit continues to be used in English language works.
Sithu Thaw Kaung is a Burmese university librarian, historian and leading authority in Asian library studies. He specializes in the preservation and archival of traditional documents, including palm leaf manuscripts.
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is the capital of the Yangon Region and commercial capital of Myanmar. Yangon served as the administrative capital of Myanmar until 2006, when the military government relocated the administrative functions to the purpose-built city of Naypyidaw [nèpjìdɔ̀] in central Myanmar. With over 7 million people, Yangon is Myanmar's largest city and its most important commercial centre.
The chronicle has its beginnings in a seemingly unrelated royal project. On 24 July 1783, King Bodawpaya issued a royal decree to: (1) collect stone inscriptions from all important monasteries and pagodas around the kingdom, (2) study them to demarcate religious glebe lands from taxable lands, and (3) recast the inscriptions if necessary. He put Twinthin Taikwun Maha Sithu, his former tutor and chief interior minister, and Thetpan Atwinwun Yaza Bala Kyawhtin, another senior minister, in charge of the effort. The two ministers moved hundreds of inscriptions to then capital Amarapura, and began to study them.
Bodawpaya was the sixth king of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma. Born Maung Shwe Waing and later Badon Min, he was the fourth son of Alaungpaya, founder of the dynasty and the Third Burmese Empire. He was proclaimed king after deposing his nephew Phaungkaza Maung Maung, son of his oldest brother Naungdawgyi, at Ava. Bodawpaya moved the royal capital back to Amarapura in 1782. He was titled Hsinbyumyashin, although he became known to posterity as Bodawpaya in relation to his successor, his grandson Bagyidaw, who in turn was given this name in relation to his nephew Mindon Min. He fathered 62 sons and 58 daughters by about 200 consorts.
Glebe is an area of land within an ecclesiastical parish used to support a parish priest. The land may be owned by the church, or its profits may be reserved to the church.
Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay city. Amarapura is bounded by the Irrawaddy river in the west, Chanmyathazi Township in the north, and the ancient capital site of Ava (Inwa) in the south. It was the capital of Myanmar twice during the Konbaung period before finally being supplanted by Mandalay 11 km north in 1859. It is historically referred to as Taungmyo in relation to Mandalay. Amarapura today is part of Mandalay, as a result of urban sprawl. The township is known today for its traditional silk and cotton weaving, and bronze casting. It is a popular tourist day-trip destination from Mandalay.
Though the purpose of the project was to verify claims to tax-free religious property, Twinthin, a "learned polymath", quickly noticed several discrepancies between the dates given in Maha Yazawin , the standard chronicle of the monarchy, and the dates given in the contemporary inscriptions he was examining. (Twinthin had already written a biographic chronicle of King Alaungpaya in 1770.) He reported his early findings to the king. The king, who was interested in reading history and had wanted to update Maha Yazawin, commissioned "a new chronicle of the realm which would be more in accord with the stone inscriptions". He appointed Twinthin to write the new chronicle.
Twinthin, who may have been writing a chronicle as early as 1782, predating the inscription collection project, began writing the chronicle in earnest after the collection was completed in 1793.He referenced several existing chronicles, inscriptions as well as eigyin and mawgun poems. He completed the new chronicle in 1798 in 15 volumes (fascicles of parabaik paper). He had updated the events to 1785.
Yazawin Thit is noted for its novel organization and for its criticisms of earlier chronicles. It is organized by dynasties and periods whereas all the other Burmese chronicles (except Zatadawbon Yazawin) are organized strictly along the linear order of kings. (However, Zata is mainly a list of regnal dates and horoscopes, not a full-fledged national chronicle like Yazawin Thit). Twinthin's choice of organizing along dynastic lines was a notable departure from then prevailing practice. All historians of Theravada Buddhist tradition, (Burmese, Sinhalese and Thai), had treated their kings as cakkavatti universal monarchs, rather than kings who were leaders of national groups.
Though organized differently, the chronicle's content closely followed the narratives of the earlier chronicles. The chronicle however does contain several corrections (most notably, regnal dates of earliest kings) and critiques of the earlier chronicles, especially Maha Yazawin. Twinthin highlighted several inconsistencies and mistakes of the earlier chroniclers, and made no apologies for correcting earlier writers' work.
Twinthin's critiques were taken by the court as a criticism of one's elders/ancestors, a behavior highly frowned upon in Burmese culture. Although the king himself had commissioned the chronicle, he did not accept the chronicle when his former tutor presented it to him. အပယ်ခံ ရာဇဝင်, the "Discarded Chronicle").The chronicle came to be viewed as the "antithesis" to Maha Yazawin's "thesis", and became known as A-pe-gan Yazawin (
Twinthin's views are not viewed as harsh by modern academics. Pe Maung Tin notes that Yazawin Thit "with all its criticisms, on the whole follows the Great Chronicle" (Maha Yazawin).The author, for all his academic zeal, still "shared the purpose of early writers to legitimize the dynasty", and "had similar priorities in terms of content" with early chroniclers.
The chronicle is the first known historical document in Southeast Asia to use epigraphic sources. According to (Woolf 2011), it shows that historians in Southeast Asia were using epigraphy for sourcing and verification around the same time as the practice was first used in Europe, even if Twinthin's methods may not have "evolved into a formal method". Woolf continues that "We should not overstate the 'scientific' character of these works since much Burmese historiography was — as elsewhere in the world — written with didactic intentions."
Using epigraphy, Twinthin updated the regnal dates of earliest Burmese kingdoms. Hmannan, the official chronicle of Konbaung court, would retain nearly all of Twinthin's corrections. The table below shows a comparison of the regnal dates of Pagan Dynasty. Hmannan's dates largely follow Yazawin Thit's.
|Name||Reign per Zatadawbon Yazawin||Reign per Maha Yazawin||Reign per Yazawin Thit||Reign per Hmannan Yazawin||Reign per scholarship|
| Kyawswa |
Vassal of Mongols (1297)
| Saw Hnit |
Vassal of Myingsaing/Pinya
| Uzana II |
Vassal of Pinya and Ava
For all its groundbreaking introductions, the chronicle remains one of the "lesser known" chronicles today.Moreover, only the first 13 of the total 15 volumes have been found and published. (The Universities Central Library of Myanmar has portions of two original manuscripts of the chronicle. Of the original 15 volumes, only the first 13 volumes, which cover up to 1754, have survived. The 14th volume is believed to be the same as Twinthin's 1770 work, Alaungpaya Ayedawbon , the biographic chronicle of King Alaungpaya, covering up to 1760. It means the last volume, which covers from 1760 to 1785, has not been recovered. The last volume did exist as it was referenced by later Konbaung writers.)
Theinhko was king of 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".
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.
Sale Ngahkwe was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 904 to c. 934. According to the Burmese chronicles, Ngahkwe, a descendant of King Thingayaza of Pagan but brought up in obscurity at Sale in central Burma, came to work in the service of King Tannet as a stable groom. Ngahkwe then assassinated the king and seized the throne.
Tannet was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 876 to c. 904. A son of King Pyinbya, the founder of Pagan (Bagan), Tannet was the paternal grandfather of King Anawrahta, the founder of Pagan Empire. The king loved horses and was a master of horsemanship. He was assassinated by Sale Ngahkwe, his stable groom, who succeeded him as king.
Pyinbya was the king of Pagan Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) who founded the city of Pagan (Bagan) in 849 CE. Though the Burmese chronicles describe him as the 33rd king of the dynasty founded in early 2nd century CE, modern historians consider Pyinbya one of the first kings of Pagan, which would gradually take over present-day central Burma in the next two hundred years. He was the paternal great-grandfather of King Anawrahta, the founder of Pagan Empire.
Yazeinda Yazawara Mandani, or more commonly known as Maha Yazawin Kyaw, is a Konbaung period national chronicle of Burma (Myanmar). The chronicle is very similar to Hmannan Yazawin, the official chronicle of Konbaung Dynasty, except for its more sympathetic treatment of the last Toungoo kings.
The Royal Historical Commission of the Konbaung Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) produced the standard court chronicles of Konbaung era, Hmannan Yazawin (1832) and Dutiya Yazawin (1869).
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."
Alaungpaya Ayedawbon, also known as Alaung Mintayagyi Ayedawbon, is one of two biographic chronicles of King Alaungpaya of Konbaung Dynasty. Both versions trace the king's life from his purported ancestry from King Sithu II of Pagan Dynasty down to his death from an illness from his campaign against Siam in 1760. Both contains many details, though not all the same, of the king's 8-year reign.
Alaung Mintayagyi Ayedawbon (Burmese: အလောင်း မင်းတရားကြီး အရေးတော်ပုံ, also known as Alaungpaya Ayedawbon, is one of two biographic chronicles of King Alaungpaya of Konbaung Dynasty. Both versions trace the king's life from his purported ancestry from King Sithu II of Pagan Dynasty down to his death from an illness from his campaign against Siam in 1760. Both contains many details, though not all the same, of the king's 8-year reign.
Ameitta Thiri Maha Dhamma Dewi of Ava was the chief queen consort of King Thihathura I of Ava from 1468 to 1480. The queen was a granddaughter of King Mohnyin Thado. King Alaungpaya, the founder of Konbaung Dynasty, was a ninth generation descendant of the queen through her daughter Bodaw Shin Medaw.
Saw Pale was the mother of King Mohnyin Thado of Ava. She was a great granddaughter of King Kyawswa I of Pinya from her father's side. Her descendants became kings of Ava down to 1527. She was also a nine-times great grandmother of King Alaungpaya of Konbaung Dynasty.
Yanda Pyissi was a minister in the service of King Narathihapate of the Pagan Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar). He was also a general in the Royal Burmese Army under the command of his elder brother Ananda Pyissi. Together they unsuccessfully fought against the first two Mongol invasions (1277–85). Ava kings from Mohnyin Thado to Narapati II, and all Konbaung kings were descended from him.
Min Pale was governor of Paukmyaing in the Kingdom of Ava in the late 14th century. He was a grandson of King Uzana I of Pinya, and was one of the four top commanders of King Swa Saw Ke of Ava. He was the paternal grandfather of King Mohnyin Thado. All the kings of the Konbaung Dynasty claimed descent from him.