Kry to prommtiatiou 88
BUfmtSt texts
Suggrstionsfor jilflh" Trading
Abb,tviations u ~ d ill the ttxt 108
VariollS t OllfUS
This docs nOt purport to be an exhaustive colkction of Burmese
prollerb1. It is intended to provide 3. selection of them, which can
ill ustr:l.te Burmese proverbial wisdom. They have therefore been
arnnged loosely under ftve headings, coveri.ng mw's character­
istics, behaviour, rdations with others and the world he lives in.
Each of these five sections is introduced by an explanatory Ilote,
and the general Int roduction will, I hope, help the reader appreci­
ate the meaning and implications of the proverbs.
The preparation of such a work in English presents many
compl ex problems, the most formidabl e being the translation of
13urmcse rhymed sayings into idiomatic English prose. capturing
the ~ p i r i t of d' e original without sacrificing the sense: d,C two
languages are e:ntircly diffcrent i.n structure and culttlral back­
Mr H. F. Searle, co-ed.itor of the new Durmtst-Englislt
Dictiollary. encouraged me in the compibtion of this book, read
the manuscript and gave me wise counsel. But for his unstint cd
help the work might not have been completed. 1 :un greatl y
i.ndebted to John Murra.y for invaluablc suggesti ons and criti­
cisms and also deeply grateful to Mrs M. St.-arle, who spent many
long .sessions with me translating French veo ions of DurmeS(:
proverbs, as I have mentioned in the Introduction. U Tin Maung
of the B.B.C. read the manuscript and put forward several
suggesti ons. I have accepted gratefully many cogent comments
by Mr J. Okcll, who tC2d the proofs.
l dedicate this book to my two mentors and fricllCis, Mr
C. W. Dunn and Mr H. F. Searl e, who have inspired me in ill
my schol:istic pursuits.
>( it:ographicaJ and historio! factors-political, physic:!I, economic
and human-all have:\ bearing on the birth of J3urmesc proverbs.
Dunna has common frontiers with India on the west 2nd
wi th China (through Ymman) on the north and north-<3.st-two
great nations which have cont ribut'cd no small measure ofculture
:I.lld civilintion to the world. To t he c:tSt li es Th2ibnd a.nd to the
south Malaya and the Indian Ocean, which has been the highway
for merchants from the West since before the 5th century A.D.
The chief physical features of Durma arc the thickly wooded
mountains ill the northern region and hi gh wooded plateaux :md
hills in the cast :md sollth-e:l5t; the plains in the centre imcrs«:tcd
by hiU ridges; the Arakan Yom.u, tile Pegu Yom:u ;md the
Shan plate:mx; and the valleys of the three main rivers-the
Irrawaddy (with its tributary the Chindwin), the Sit t<U1g and the
Salwcm- which have served as means of conunun.ication from
north to south since the dawn of history. And in the south arc the
fi3t areas of [he Irraw:lddy delta.
The clim3[e of Bunna is mostly tropical. From May unti l
October there is a regubr :md heavy run&lI ; for the rest of the
year there is hardly any r.lIi n. The central part of llurma is known
as the Dry Zone, for here tile ninfall is very light. III the hottcst
months the temperature in the southern 'and central pam of the
country n1ay be over 100 Fahrenheit, while in December,
J all uary and February the temperature m.ay fall to 60
in the
south md become progressively less in the Jlorth.
These physical and cl imatic conditions Me mainly responsible
for the distribution of both 3griCUltura1 :md natuf21 products and
:lisa of the peoples throughout Burma. Dunna h3S for as long 2S
we know been primarily m agricultural country. Rjce cultiv:ltcd
in wet areas as well :IS in the Dry Zone by means of irrigation
tops the list of agri cultural products. ScSoJIllUm,l groundnurs,
cotton. maize. bons. tobacco and sugar-ane arc the other chief
products. all ofwhich cxccpt stlgar-anc are grown on a rcl:lIi vdy
large 5C:I.lc in drier areas. Rubber W:I.S introduced compar:Hivcl y
late. 1n addition, Burma has been endowed with ll"curaJ Ie­
SOurCC1, such as mineral oil. wolfnm. tin. silver, rubi es. jade;
and teak forests which lIe mostly found in the Pegu Yomas and
the south-castcrn p:ms of Burma. Most of these cxporu.blc
commodities pass through Rangoon, the principal pOrt :1lld
capical of the country.
The indigenous races of Burm3., which arc of Mongoloid
stock, faJl imo thrtt main groups: the Tibeto-Bunru,n. the M OIl­
Khmer 2nd the T h2i-Chincsc. The fim group is represented by
the llurmcsc proper (concentrated cspcciaUy in the Irrawaddy
v;illcy). Araanesc (along the western coastal strip). Tavoyans
and Mergucsc (in the valleys of Tenasserim). the Nagas, Chills
and Kachins and many other tribes in the mountainous regions
of the north. The representatives of the second group arc the
Man (i n the Irrawaddy ddta and the Thalon :md Amherst
districts). the Wa (between the Shan States and YUlU1all), and
Palaung (in Northern Shan States); whilst the third group
includes the Shans, Karcus (in Tenasserim, K::I.f ClUU and the
lrrawaddy ddta) and Taungthu (chieA.y in the Shan States).
There ;!.re several thousand domicil ed Indians and Chinese
sottcred all over Burma.
H)lirieal StIt;IIg
Politicilly the history ofBmma down to the last decade of thc
19th century can he summed up as the sout hward advance of
Burmans, and the unification of the country at the beginni ng: of
e:l.ch dynast y by powerful Burman kings. whose control was
bter ended by misnlie or invasiom from neighbouring countries.
The numg of Durma was periodically interrupted by the
1 Scs.une, annual [fopical and plant with
seeds wed:u; food and yielding m OUllSt.-d for cooking or in silid. Q.E.D.
struggles for suprc:nucy between the Durmans :and the Teprc­
SCIlUtiVes of the other two groups-the Mon and the Slun.
Twice the kingdom ofBunna came to an end through external
invasion 3mi ct2SCd for <l bout 60 years to exist as an independent
country: the first conquest was by the Tar-un in tile 13th century
anc! the second by the British in the 19th century.
W aves of migration from Central Asia had been going on for
thousands of years before the Burnuns dcsccndc..-d to the plains
probabl y in the mid-9th century.' Here they came into COlltaCf
with the Pym, now almost extinct, :md the Mons who had
already attained a hi gh level of civilization. In the 11th century
King Atuwrahta (1044-77) welded into one kingdom a group
of formerly independent states, and ruled them from his COIpitai
city of Pagan. GudualJy he ('xtendcd his sovereignty down to
Tcrusscrim in the south and Th:l.ton, the capiul city of the Mon
kingdom in tbe dclu :area; to Ar:lbn in the west; and over the
hills east of the Sittang. The city of Pagan, today one of the
fantous ruined cities of south-east Asia, succumbed to the on­
slaught of the Mongols in 1287. llurm3 rhen split lip into small
principalities. During the next three gcnerat iom, Upper liurJ1\<I
formed part of the Shan hegemony with separate capitals at
Sagaing, }'ill}'3 and MyillS3i ng (all a few miles from Mancbhy),
while the Mons at Pegu (north of Rangoon) held SUZCr2illty
over Lawl'r BurIna.
In 136S. the Ava dynasty was founded wi th its capital at Ava
(south-west of Mandalay). The of trus dynasty devoted
much energy to upholding Buddhism and to encouraging Burmese
literat ure; at the same time they tried to prevent the domination
ofthe Sham, and attemplcd to conquer the Mon kingdom, Later.
two kings of the Toungco dynasty. Tabinshwehci (I and
Uayill uaung (ISSe-SI), ;l.t Toungoo and afterwards at Pegu,
I C. H. Luce SUtes mat the Burnuns dc:scrodtd m 1tI/USt into the
pUins of K)':l.ukse sometime after A.D. 8}5. J.B.RS., vol. XUI. pt. i,
p. 80. (['Or a list ofabbrtviltiOllS a.lld the full ritles of worlu refem:d to,
sec pp. 108-10.)
re-cstablisncd unity which lasted till A.D. 1750. The Mon s then
tried to wrcst power again and spread their control over the Dry
Zone, but they lost thei r gains as well as their independence for
good when Alaungpaya (r 7Sz.....60), Chief ofShwcbo (north of
MamWay). reunited the whole of Burnu. The opening of the
19th century saw the kingdom of Burma reach its widest
extent; it incl uded the whole of modem Burma together with
Manipur and part of ASSam. f or astfologietl reasous or political
expediency, the kings of the Alaungpaya dYIl.:UlY established
thcir capitals at Am:ar:apuf2 :md finally at Mandalay.
Three successive wars with the British in 1824, 1852 ::lIld 188S
Jed to the British annexation of Arabn and Tel1 asserim, the
delta regi on known as the Pcgu Division. and fi n:llly of the rcst of
the kingdom.
After the Second W orld War of 1939-45. during which the
country W:.lS occupied by tbeJ:ap2nC'SC from 1942 to 1945. Burma
regained her indcpendo lcc on 4 j 3.Iluary 1948. She did not revert
to the old monarchical type of govemment, but chose instead to
become the Republic of the Union of Burm:a, which is at present
IlUde up oLDurnu proper, the Shall State, the Kachin State, the
Karenni (or Ka)'2h) State. the Karen State and the Special
Divi sion of the Chins.
Cultllral Setting
Culturally Durm:a owes a considerable debt to its neighbours.
especiall y to India and Ceylon. Doth forllls of Buddhism, the
MnniiyJua (Greater Vehicl e) ;rnd The-ravada (Teaching of rhe
Elders), whicllc:ame front India were in existence in Burm.:t from
the sth ccnrury A. D. 1ncrnvifda Buddhism. 3Ccording to the
Burmese chroniclers, gained predominancc over the Mahayand
.:tfter the conquest of Th.:tton by Anawr:ahta in JOH.
And the
TI,t fdviiJa, together with its scriptures in Pali introduced
1 So ur thi s claim Iw not been supported by :my arcll:I.C:ological or
epigraphical evidcnCl:.
ofliciilly through the Mons from Ceylon. uplifted the Burnum
to a pime above their kjndred raccs. One concrete example will
suffice. Durmans borrowed the Mon alphabet and reduced their
l:mguage to writing some ti me in the early J2th century.
Evangelical to study and propagate Buddhism in their own
language was the chief reason for this achievement. Of the
members of the Tibeto-Burnun sub-family. only the Tibeuns
and the Bunnam can l.a. y clai m to a scri pt of thcjr OWIl.
Burmese Ius a vast amount of literature: in epigraphs, on
palm-leaves and folded paper. and in printed books. The
epigraphica.l literature of over one thousand inscriptions,
dedicatory in nature, dignified in style, wi th many allusions to
incidents from Buddhist scriptures and stories. began in tbe early
12th century. The palm-leaf and folded paper liter-mIre of an
imaginative type came into being under the auspices ofBuddhist
Ulonudu, and Rourished from the J sth century until printing
became prevalent in the 19th century. Its contributors were
Buddhist monks or ex-monks (and also some court pocresscs),
and its notable features were Buddhist piety and courtly
man of language. There was a prepondcr.ancc of verse over
prose. The verse litcrature consists of translations or adaptations
of the Ji/taka (Buddha' s Dirth Stories), hi storical ballads, pane-­
gyric odes in prust of kings, and love and nature poems. a! well
as epistlcs. letters and drama.'! in 'mixcd st yle' of verse and prose.
Prose literature Wa.'! relatively Sfll :tU in amount. It comprises
transl:ations or adaptations of 13nddhi st scriptures and stori es.
chiefly the ] atnkn. DiJcIII",opiiJa A!!lIokatiJii, Milinaa Ponho, Loka
Hili , I chronicles :Uld legal precedents, the last being based mainl y
on Sanskrit law books. The printed li ter:l.ture which appeared in
1 All this BuddhiSt liter:l;nlfc is wrincn in Pa!i and all of it h:lS been
transla.ted into Bunncsc. The la/aka a.fe the H 7 Dirth Stories of Gouma
BuddlJ;l. DhammaptTda Arthllkathci :I[e Stories simi l:u: to tho§!: in the
Ja/aka. Milinda PaiiiUl .are the questions of King Milinda w d T.AhI Nfti
or Wortlly Wisdom is ;tn cthiCOlI treatisc. milch studied by DUrlne1C
the: 19th ccnrury covers such works as pylf-za! (dt3l1latizcd ver­
sions of Duddhist or non- Buddhist stories).l novels. et$;I.}'l and
short Storics_
Durmms arc almost exclusively Buddhists.. and Buddhism is
inextriClbly oowld lip with a Durnun's life. The lessons he
learns from tbe monks, from his parents, from Burmese books
and even &om sugc plays influence a 13urman's thoughts, speech
2nd aCtions. To most Burman!, Buddhism mC2llS kanna, 1 re­
incarnation :l.I1d ni,,'ono. Karma can be summed up as a doctrine
of 'as you sow, so shall you rcap', and good or evi l consequences
accompany a person (rom one existence to another. R cillUf­
ml t ion wi ll go a ll as long as men have desires. greed. lust. selfish­
ness and att:. chmcnt. The object in life, w hich is full of misery. is
t o 3ttailll1irvmJo, where consciousness of self ceases. This em be
:lchicvcd by good living: on the positive side. by uking refuge
in Buddha. DI,amml1 (the law) and Sallgha (the Order). by
2cquiring mcrit through charitable gifts. by pious conduct and
meditation; on the negative side, by abstaining froIn committing
sim. undcrulcing not to kill. not to ste.a1. not to commit :l.Ily
sexu21 crime, not to tclllics:md not to drink intoxicating liquor.
Burmans arc aware that Buddha is not 2 God; He is a [cOlcher.
His tachings arc ol philosophy of life, which his disciples. the
monks, pr2ctise :md impart to thcir followers. 111e monks :ue
celibate :md own no property. They live in monasteries, we2r
saffron-colourcd rohcs, go round tbe village or quarter to beg
food once a d3y, and b:lve their meals before nooll. Most
Burmese Buddhists treat their p:uents with the reverence
2ccordcd to Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
Many ilurm21lS combine Buddhism with Propitia­
tion oflUll (celestial beings Olnd tcrrcsui.a1spirits) is still carried on.
1 For the origin and development of pyll-Zilt sec Htin Aung's
Dra"'tl and Hla Pe's Kcmmara Pya Zaf.
t Sec also 'krmll' under tile sccrion he:ackd '11te World'.
, This TrUd together with Parents and Teaehen :tre uUl:ally refcm::d to
as 'The Five Wonhy Objects'.
These people t:ike renlgc in Buddhism for the sake of the world
herQ(ter, while they propiwte, and sometimes try to placate, the
Iwt for the sake of the present worl d. They .a1so believe in the
survival of the spirits of the dead. The numerous rdigious
Wi6ccs and snuU nat-shrines al l over Burma be:l.f testimony to
this du.a1 faith.
A .Bur man is .a1so a firm believer in magic and :!ostrology. He
often resom to ffi:!og1cal practices such :loS being tauooed and
swallowing pills to achit.'Ve the power of invuLtcubility and
other supcrnarural accomplishments. Astrology h:u been known
and made usc of probably by the Manipuri Brahmans at least
the 13th century.l It has played a very important part in the
lifc of thc people 2S a means of fofetd ling the future or of tryiug
10 avert impending danger or calamity.
The syncretic beliefs of Dunnans in Buddhism, an.imism,
magic and astrology have unnttcsted themselves in many w:ay5.
Onc is the Burmans' attitude towards the white e1ephOlnt. To
them a white e1eph:l.tlt is a compoWld of divine and beings.
The Buddha himself was rei.ru:::mu.ted as a white dcph:mt in
\ll:lIIY existences; a white elephant is :l1so one of the seven
requisi tes of a universal monarch; an.d the presence of this sacred
allim:al brings prosperity :md raiu to a country suffering from
drought. Besiclcs it possesses transcc:ndental power. It was
lI:acura! for the Blumcse kings to take pride in the number of
these sacred a.uiJu21s they possessed and they were eager to
assume the title of Lord of one (or more) White Eleplunts.
History lus m:my accounts of Burmese monarchs waging wars
against other St2tes for their possession.' The English saying
'That's a White Elephant' could not h2ve in Burma.
It is derived from Siam wbere the original Whi te Elephant was
:l lso regarded as sacred, :md was nuintained accordingly. It was
I Astrology is mentioned in inscriptioru of the 13th-14th eeflturtes.
See for iruuncc S.J.P., p. 155.
a E.g. Hm. YQz .• i i , p. 364- (W:ar between Durma and Siam in the
16th century.)
)I. P.-II
the custom of the King of Siam, whot he wanted to dispose of
the services of 2. courtier who had become obnoxious to him, to
make the counier a rop.1 present of a white elephant. The
recipient was usually ruined by the cOSt of the animal's main­
EcOllomic Background
Burmcsc pt"Oplc arc esscncia11y 2.gricu1rurists. Rice-growing
by wet or dry cultivation is the chief occupation. Ploughing,
harrowing. t ra.Il5pl:tnting ;\nd harvesting in orthodox ways was
311d sti ll is the order of the day. The natur.ll workmatcs and
fri ends of the cultivators :u c tropical beasts of burden such :u
water-buffaloes and attIc to whom they h:wc a sentimcnul.
attachment; and yet they look upon them as dumb ani mals
devoid of sensitiveness. Among other domcstiettcd alli m:!.ls,
c1cph:mu and horses arc regarded as the paraphc01alia of officials,
even nowadays, and the elephant is accredited with intelli gence
of a high d(:gree; goats arc often 01 symbol of , h:unclessncss; and
dogs 2.re hdd to be destitute of any good qua.l ities or redeeming
fea tures.
Ther(,' have always been Durmans who earn thei r living or
supplement their inadequate earnings by hunting or fuhing.
though Dmldhism disapproves of these activitit...,. Dows ::md
arrows aud spears ;u e the chi ef weapons of a hmuer who is often
accornp:l11ied by dogs. or the wild beasts the tiger stands for
savagery ilnd ferocity, whilst the deer stmds for meekness and
mildness; the monkey is noted for naughtin<."Ss ; :md the monitor
linrd, because of its forked tongue, l is au embodiment of
untruthfulness; its appearance is also regarded as an ilI-omcn,
a sign of poverty. ' Fishing with varions kinds of Ileu:md traps
goes on in sma.1] streams as well ;as in the large rivers of Burma.
Both the hUll ters and the fishermen, in view of their sinful
I C( On ProvnM fi/1U1 Uiol1lfillic Exprts,sicIIIS, p. :15.
S Ibid., p. 31.
vOOtlOns, occupy the lowest rung in the social b,dder of Dud­
dhist Burma.
There arc in Durma many kinds of manua] worker and 21so
and craftsmen. To list a few: boatman, raftsman. eart­
,\rivcr, toddy elimber (who taps the juice at the top of tall
pl lm trees) and f.1rm labourer ; author, poet, musician, black­
illuth. goldsmith, mason, sculptor, wood arver, weaver and
Burmese women,} especially in rural are;,.s, share the burden
wi th their nwn-folk in many w21ks oflife. They arc independent.
tree :I.lld enjoy equal rights with the men. In llurriage a Bunm-se
Wife docs not take her husband's name. She can alw:tys le:lve her
husband whenever she wishes. hut divorce. a soci:J. stigma, is very
I'l re in Dunn.a. If such::an wtplcas:mt course has to be resorted to,
I he property :I wife brought with her when she married is hers,
:md any property acquired during the marriage is divided
hctwcen her and her husband. Much of the ru.y-to-d:ay business
1\ in tbe hands of the women and they give a good account of
Ihr: lnsclves.
SClCial Envircmltlrllt
Many western writen have portrayed the Burmese people as
nsy- going and plC3Sure loving. They forget however the serious
'1lle: oftlic life of these people who work arduously on and
0 11 rivers lmdcr exact ing conditions. Duriug these periods of hard
wNk. they have scarcely any time to give attention to anything
tnher than the task in hand. When therefore they h.ave an
'lPI)Qrtunity to release their pent-up feelings they enj oy thcm­
with spccill fervour . forms of amuscmCllt up to the 20t h
"entury were comparativel y simple. Those that :l.ppcaled most
I II 13urmans were pwe (stage puys), dancing :lnd. music, playing
musical instrumentS and singing all one hand, and on the other,
gambling (usually at pwr). racing a.nd boxing which they
Kc:ncr.Jly indulged in O1 t t he many fesnv21s and fairs \I$\l21ly held
L Sec :also 'Women' under the section he:r.ded 'Human Char:r.ctcristio '.
at the time of the full moon; the period for such pleasures was
confined [0 the dry season.
Dllrmtst Proverbs
Burmese proverbs (r.Jg<lbouy means literal ly 'si mibr saying')!
arc CUOltially similes o r pauble'S. They 2fC usuall y int roduced
in written or spoken bngulIgc by the words ' like as' :l11d 'as it
were', Si milar in meaning to the Arabic word matJJal or t he Malay
the Burmcsc word also cmbr.'lccs meidcu inherent
in the Chincse words for proverb, yen, elegant or accomplished
words, and su-yii, common sayings, and in the Sanskrit word
slIb/'ilsita, wdl-spokcll words.
SiII}aOott7) arc at leaSt as old as, and al most ccrtti nly older than,
the wri tten i2Jlguagc. Ever since Blirmese was firs t pm into
writing pcrwps during the pan of [he 12th century A.D.,.
they have enriched :md embellished the li terary as wel1 2S the
cvcry-day styles, Burmese whcther in prose or verse
or in ' mL,,(cd style' , abounds in proverbs: thc), formed the m ..in
ingrcdient ofa number ofli tcrary epist1cs submi tted [ 0 the kings
of Burma by Duddhist monks. A Then, coo, there :lre many
collections of proverbs,' the most recent being Two
71""ISatld PrOlle,bs,' published ]910, and The Thrce T/u)l/smld
Proverbs,S published 1956. Many Rurmans still usc these sayings
frcqucnt1y, whether in formal speech or in cbily conversation.'
1 The term hu bec:n taken also to mean 'word picture' or 'modd
I Sec R4Ci41 Prowr/n, Introduction, pp. xv, xvii.
lOp. cit., pp. XV, xvi, xvii.
I Sec S.I.P., p. 7.
'E.g. KlIndaw M. Com. and YUlIIU. K.
'E.g. Sa gab. B. , Wisit. Lirik. Sngab., Wisj!. PDf. SGgab. and Wisit.
Safab. ' See Sagab.
An enlarged edition of SaRab.
• Sec for instauce the specx:hc:s of U Nu, the Durmese Prime
Minister from 19-47 to 1962 (excrpt for a break in 19056 :lnd ag:lin in
Dut m:lny sayings which have been :lcccpted as proverbs do
not deserve the name. Some arc riddles (S39i1Iha),' others arc
spooneri sms aJld a grC4t many are mete similes
To sift the proverbs from thcse other figures of speech
h:lS provcd a more formi dable 13.sk than had ocen expected. Like
lnlC proverbs, many of the pretenders are decked wi th rhymes
and are eouchcd in terse language. and many comain all usions to
ineid(.·nts from the Jiifaka or from well-known Pali or Sanskrit
works and nat ive chronicles o r arc w en from incidcnts of
life. The simple tests employed to solve this problem,
ullsatisf.1.ctory though they are, have been (i) t hat the styl e of
:I. proverb must be epigramlll:ltie; and (ii) chat the i.nt cnrion
undcrlying the proverb is ( 0 give advi ce or w.arning or to h:llld on
:l pi!'CC of wi5dom.
In trying to asccruin whar a proverb is, we must look through
the proverbs of many cOlmuies of south-a st Asia t hat arc
:Hljaccnt to Burma, and also those of C hin:l and Japan.' As
expected we shall notice that ccruin proverbs arc common to
two or more of these countries. In several inStances some ofthese
proverbs arc almost identical both in ideas and itnplic.ati om; if
there arc differences. they are in the ehan etcrs llsed in t he
provcrbs. These. simiiaritiC1 call be ascribed to three 0I2in
reasons: (i) the proverbs have been derivl·d from a common
source; (ij) one of the countries has borrowed directl y or in­
directl y from :mother; and (iii) the commies conccmcd have
attitudes towards certain concepts.
Burm.a, .as stated earlier, is .. Buddhist land, where
works such as the Hitopadtsa
and t he epics :arc not IUtknOwn.
r he J3urmcse proverb 'Playing a hup before a bulfalo' h:l s its
COuntcq>:lfU in Thai, Chinese:and Mall, except thac tbe Til.ai has
I Sec 'Burmese Riddles' by Maung WUII , ].B.R.S., \'oJ. XL. pt. i,
pp. 1- 13·
I Some of these are given in Racial Ptow,bs, others in Malay Prow,bs
:lnd On Provnbs and Idiomalic Expressions.
a'Good Advicc'-a well-known collection of cthiQI tales and f3bJcs.
'fiddle' for h2rp. the Chinese ' lute' (and 'ox' for the buffalo) and
the Mon has 'zither' (and 'ox' for the bu..fhlO).l This is a Buddhist
\V2Y of saying 'C2,Sting ports before swine', The Thai, Mal:ay
2nd J2pancsc proverb 'The teeth sometimes bite the tongue' is
applied to urulvoi<hblc tiffs between friends or between husband
and wife, whereas the Burmc:sc 'Husband and wife (are like) the
tongue and the teeth' obviously refer! only to those bctwC'Cll
husband and wife. Greed is anathcnu to tbe Buddhists. The
J3urmC$C'Jf your desire is great you obuin little' has its vari:ults
in Chinese ' He that grasps loses' and in Thai 'With over greedi­
ness olle's (oerLUlc v:utisbes' , lngratiUldc is another sin. The
Burmese proverb 'Tlking shcJtcr in t he shade of a tree and
breaking off'the branches' i.5 echoed in the Lao 'Don't soil the
tree's shade that has heCll hospiublc to thce'. O u karma toO the
Dllddhist cotilltrics of Durma, China and Thailand have similar
conceptions as witnessed in these following proverbs: 'A man
docs not lose his life jf the time at which he is fated to die has not
:ltrived' (Durma) , 'If the end ofrus li£c-sp:m h:1.3 not yet come he
shall not die' and the Durmese saying 'One day to die,
:md one day to be born' I has its doubl e in the Chincsc 'There is
::a day to be born and a time to die' .
Sanslc.rit literature too has gi ven many proverbs to the countries
of south-cast luia. Sir Richard Winstcdt bas given a list of
proverbs' [olUId in Ma.lay, Japanese and Afghan, which arc
derived from the Sanskrit saying: 'He who docs not go out and
explore ill the earth is a well-frog' . To list we Olay add [he
Burmese version 'A frog in (t he puddle of) ::a buff2lo's hoof­
mark' and the Thai ' A frog in a lotus pond'. And the Maby
proverb 'You can' t str.lig hten a dog's biI' has a very dose
affinity to the Durmese 'Threading a dog's crooked u ti through
a joillt of bamboo'. Proverbs of many countries warn people in
a similar strain to guard ::I.gainst 'a slip of the tongue'. The
1 0" Prcwt,bs IIJIJ ]Jiomali, Expussiotls, p. 134.
, Not included in this colkction.
'Milloy Prollt,bs, pp. 2-3.
Burmese ' If the body goes through a hole, it cm be puUed out;
if the mouth (tongue) slips. it a nnot retraCt iudf', the Thai' A
slip of the tongue may ausc the loss of one's fortune' and the
Malay' A slip of the tongue may cause the loss of one's fortune,
::I. dip of the foot may cause one to fall (from ::I. tree), are but a few
of them.
It is difficult to say wit h cert:linty, whether Similarity between
rhe proverbs of twO countries is allc to borrowing or to coinci­
dencc. The proverbs 'Teaching a monk to re:ld, showing :l
crocodile how to swim' in Burmese, and 'Tcach a crocodile to
swim' in Thai and Milay, meaning 'teaching a gr.:m.dmothcr how
to suck eggs' , is a case in point. Bul in a fcw inst:lJlces, such as I he
l':lbw,g saying
'People who come fcom hell arc not afraid ofhot
:uht's" we can say that it is a borrowing from the Bnrmese. A.lld
in the foll owing examples, wbere the Bllnnesc isjU'lctapo$Cd with
thcChinesc-'lna basket it is the binding, ina nun ids hisdot hcs'
:Iud ' A m:ln is cstimated by his clothes, and a horse by his $.1ddlc';
'Da}, will not break for a hen's cackle; it will break only for a
lock's crow' and 'A bell docs nO[ usually :l1U10unce the break of
and ;(It is as difllcuh to look aft er) one cbughtcr (as ;U"ter)
a thousand cattlc' and 'When a daughter h.-u grown up she is
li ke smuggled salt'-the similarity can safely be attributed to
u )incidence.
There arc also a few Burmese proverbs which arc compara­
li vely rCCCJlt, and they bc.ar so much resemblance to the English
d u t we arc tempted to coruider thl·m as imports. To cite a few:
'Sil ence is wort h a t housand pieces (of silver),; '1)on' t look a gift
.,,, in the mouth' and 'Because the cat's away the mice arc at
This littl e book is intended to be :l oolJOClion of Dunncsc
pmvcrbs whi ch reflect different aspects of Dnrme$e life. A great
... ,uly of them were gleaned from prose works of t he first half
I p. 348.
• ·11,is is also found in the Thai, t.g. 0,. Siamtst PrOIlUbl anJ Idiomatic
I ,\-p,rssiotlS, p. 22.
of t he 20th ccnnlry, l Duri ng the literary rcvivaJ which fonowed
the inuoduction of t he printing press to Burma in the 19th
centur y. many proverbs were given new currency. T he various
printed collcctions of proverbs have been consulted and also a
manuscript collcction made by Father f;oIurc. a Roman Dtholic
missionary,: wit h translations and cxpl:Ulations in French. From
t his latter source u many suitable examples as possible have been
taken in order to give a represC1ltative sclcction.
As lw: been explained, all Durmese proverbs arc terse and luvc
a rhythm of their own. and most of them arc composed with
rhymes or jing1c5. JUSt as many English proverbs arc noted for
allircr:ltioll, so arc the Dunnest (or thei r rhymcs.
To try to
a.prucc the terseness :md rhythm in translating them into
English is a ncar impossibility, but to reproduce the rhymes is
impossible without sacrificing the sense. Consider the following
examples-(the rhymi ng words or sylbbles arc in ital ics):
ky£' hma a'yo, luhn\U a'myo (With fowls, the pWigrec, wit h
men, brceding); ko' ' wuDna kobo Oi' (Only the sufferer knows
how his bellyaches); !)oji!JYv. Iv to', Uust when he wants to
cry yon touch him); and rokhu'lo'ko Ja, t,..,lingwago twe' (He
searched for a woman whose marriage had broken down :md he
found a woman who had left hcr hmband).' These losses caused
by 2 f.1i1ure to dojustice in translation to the original version arc
indecd grcat; [or the effectiveness of 2liurmese proverb dcpcnth
upon the sound as much OIS on the tersencss of the wording. As
close a translation as the English idiom pcclll iu has been givcn,
and when rhe meaning or implic:l.t ion of 2 proverb is likely to be
ambiguous or obscure, an explanatory note Jus been added.
Where possible the corresponding English proverb is shown
by inverted commas.
1 Sec: the Varil1llJ S"",",, pp. 1000010.
t Sec ' DllrmC5C Prove;rbs, 2 supplell\Cl'lt to existing proverbs' , by Kin
M:wnS Lat, B.S.O.A.S., vol. X, pc. i, pp. 31- 51.
a Many He in ronn.
*The Burmese dlyme schemes in the I)roverbs not unlike those
found in the Chinese Proverbs: see RlJrial P,,,vrrbs, p. xlii.
Proverbs express the views of men 2bout their fdlow men 2nd
abom humall life in its various aspects. They have been classified,
Iherefore. under fi ve headings: (1 ) Human Characteristics, (2)
Human Deha....'iour, (3) Hunun Relationships, (4) Ihe World
:md (5) Man. These divisions 2re arbitrary, and 2re based 011 con·
vell iencc; a proverb may have more than Olle impl ication,
pending on the circumstances in which it is used. However, each
of these five sections, which consist of proverbs embodying
si milar idea.s, is in t um divided into sulHcctions. Care hOlS been
I:\ken to group together in c2eh sub-seetion proverbs titat have
affinities with one another. Where possible they have been
arranged so as to indiClte the development of their b:lSic idea.
H,/man Characteristics
T his section of Burmese Proverbs tbrows Iigllt on divers humm
ch.aracteristics: breed, behaviour. speech and physial features :1.5
indices to the potentialities and stupidities of human nature, and
deals especially with women, who have charutcri stics of their
llmma.ns beljeve cbat people arc like their progenitors, because
'like begets like'. This view of heredity and breed plays 2 very
important part in sh3ping the life of a llurman. It is most
in matrimonial affairs, :tnd especially in marriages
arranged by the parents of the parties: wealth, status and other
considcratioll5 all have to give way to fam..iiy breeding. The first
qucstion asked by the parents about a prospective son- or
dmghtcr-in-law is invarilbly: 'Docs he or she come of a good
stock?' or 'rs t here allY mad person or drunkard or gambler or
leper in the family?' The a:llcestors of the person conccrned may
be tI':l.ccd back for seven generations, because 'a gourd plmt wi ll
not beu :my frui t other than a gourd'. This practicc is also
common among t he Chinese.
Ie is easier to go wrong in sizing IIp:l. person t han in 3SS2ying :I.
piece of gold or silvef, so S2YS:ut old :l.d:l.ge. llurnwu have how­
ever mmy touchstones by which to test!l man's c1uracter. One
ofthese is his reacti on til :l.dversjty, which brings out t he worst or
best in a nl:l.ll; another is his manner ofspeech, since they seldom
trust a suave person; the third is the shape of hi s forehead:a.nd of
his knees; and final ly his outward appearancc is an index to his
chaueter. Once a man has passed the test he is worth his wei ght
in gold and will not sink into oblivion, since 'a gellui ne ruby will
not be seorched iftossed into the fire nor will it sink ifthrown 011­
to the mud'.
Hunun types annot always be divided so neatly intO the
worthy and the worthless. There is :I. type whose btent poten­
tialities manifest thcnuclvcs only when the right time comes. To
Iluny Durmaru everyone has a fine prospect before him, unless
he has proved himself 3D ignoramus. There is a consensus of
opinion :l.bout ignorance. and the futil e and superfluous actions
which result from it. Lack of material wealth is preferred to lad:
of imclligel1ce. A fool is mentally blind, ment.,uy deaf and
illscluitivc to all the beautiful th.ings: 'Tell him to bring buttcr­
mil k and he will ask: Shall [bring thejar :as well?' He cannOt read
the letter A even if it is written as large as :I. b:nket; :l.bove :1.11 he is,
co quote the proverb, 'a buffalo before which it would be futile
to playa h:trp'.l Many proverbs portray him as :I. dunder head, a
braggart :I.JlU an idiot ill combined.
Burmese women have a sepaute place in this section. 'They
wear a skirt only three cubits long whereas a nun's nether gar­
Ill ent is twenty cubits long:- In other words a man is a future
Uuddh:l. whilst a woman is not. She is d laaeterized as being valli
:md wanting to preserve her looks or cnhance them when she
IS elderly. Deatley is however onl y skin deep, since a good­
woman devoid of virtues is like a bulI'a (lower, which is
.til beauty wi thout fr.1grancc. Able women Imy Ic:.ve thei f mark
nil II/ story. but only at the expense of their domestic duties; and
.\ woman is likely to min a whole kingdom by her lack ofa sense
(If I)roportion. She is also painted as an embodiment of wiles, of
which 'there are as many as the grains of s:md on nine mats'
Nevertheless, the women of Burma luve been praised for their
'Iuick wit, their business sense, their skill in houschold manage-
I The Burmese harp today has rh.irt«n silk strings which ue attached
h) a boat-sllaped wooden sound-bo" with a long. eurvet! neck. This
proverb hu its in Chinese, :md Mon. Sec the lnn-o-­
.lu,,-ion, pp. II-U.
ITlli! lercn to t he pll-Iuo (nether garment) worn by Burmese men in
nlJen days. Nowadays men wen the IOIlKyi, which is only s1igbtly WidCl
.han woman's skirt. The /OtIgyi. a cylindrical skirt reaching to the ankle.
II wonl round the !Ups and tucked in at the waist .
mOlt. Thus far credit is givcn to them, for men cUlm that
w omen's achievements :lCC limited. Women arc not therefore
complementary but supplcmelltlry to men. This view is rdtccted
in the distorti ng mirror of Burmcsc literature.
Witb j owls, lIN ptdigrtt; with /lien, hrudiltg.
'What call you expect from a Illan li ke that?' Class counts.
Naturally the same beans f rolll the same bin. [2
'A chip of the old block.'
Stt up a plal/tain, it will bear fruits oj its kind.
Only rivers alld streams can disappear wirhollt a trace; a people
(annol. [4
Likt fat"" and granJfatlxr alikt. 15
'Like father, like son:
Only wbm bt mutr adversity IviII YOII know ')h character. [6
D:l.Ilgcr brings out the best in n131l,
If you waitt to know his origin lock (t[ his COlldlict.
'Manners makcth man.'
A IIIralrmoutbtd person bas au IIgly disposition. fS
Suing tbe baric you know the trtt; stting his expression YOI f
know his character. (9
When you Stt tbe wattr...li1y sum antI root you sbould bt able
~ ~ . ~ . 110
Again this implics that outward appcannce is an index to ::a
1ll211'S char.acter.
Tlx mant is the proof of a real lion.
1/1 a dog it's the bridge of the nose, ill a cat theforebead ana in a
lIIatl the knte. [12­
Things [0 look for when judging value.
Tbe {mnk is fix proof of an elephant; tbe tlOse oj till
The noses of Indians are more prominCJ1t than those of
Tbe soldrring is proof of tbe goldsmith.
'The proof of the pudding is in the c::ating.'
Wax will ,haw tlx quality ofgold. [15
.lkcsw:u: is used (or testing precious meWs in Burma.
A rtal cbilli, seven fathoms IInder watef, will still tastt
bot. 116
The w ents of 211 outst::anding person can be tcstcd anywhcre.
Real ivory willltot be ratelt by insects. [17
A rtal ruby cannol sink ill tJx mua. lIB
A man of rcal merit annot sink into obscurity.
tlJl butter is good YOll (an serve it in a pot lid.
/ 1 flea's bead of good medicine is enollgh. [20
Wilh a iHlsktt
tbt binding; with a man, bis c10t/JtI. [21
'The 2pp:trcl ofr proclaims [he mm: Homkt . Act J, Scene iii.
A lazy mall fitS flat on his back, a lazy woman slrttchis out
her I(t" [22
Shoots grow 01/ a pestle. [2)
Applied to a person who h;u achi eved a success that was never
expected of him.
The cbickm dertined for the pot bas grown fine SpUfS. 124
An app3rcmly iusignilicant person suddenly displaying
Stram (oming alit oj tbe (oiJ cooked riet!
An t mbe, about to blaze glows brightly.
&tid of a man who gives an indication orms power.
Ukt OIlt'S to" Ibt mort you look at if tbt farther o/vay it
if ! [27
A remote prospect.
Playi"g a IJorp brjort a buffalo. [28
'To cn pearls before swine.'
Wattr can never be jOfud into a solid bamboo.
He bar not learnt anytbing thougb all tbt palnt..leaves have
bun uftd lip. ho
Oblong strips cut from :after being smoothed
:Iond polished, were in general use :as wri ting material until
t 50 years ago. They :arc still uS(:d for speci:al purposes such
as the preparation ofhoroscopcs.
Tbe silk is allured up, but Maung Pon never learnt'd to rlay
IIJ( b.'p. [31
ilurmcsc harp-strings :lore: made: of silk and e:asily broken.
You have married off all your daughters yet you haven' r got a
SOI/ .. ill ..101ll. [p
YOII can't get wlJole rice by pounding bran. [33
' You an't J"lUke :I. silk purse: out of a sow' s c:tr.'
Tbollgh you burn acartfi,! of corton.. woo! YOIl won't get a ham{..
fi" of ",Ix,. [34
You an't e:xpcct much from :a person who boo natural
I"'il a pyi of [!Jakl1Ut .flow"" IIx,t'1I bt 1m lb.. a b./lif.1
A vuiant of the last one. 'Th4lcJIIII (Di gl'l oni:l.) fl owen h:avc
medicin3l properties. Like spin:ach they boil down t o
nothing. One: prj = -h of:a bushel
if you try to sharptn a rotten bamboo it won't take a point. [36
cr. ' Rotten wood CUlllo t be c rved, :and mud w:alls CUUlot
be plastered.' ChineS(: proverb.
O(Uillg a well on bigh ground. [37
Mjsdircctcd effort.
IValtrfalling into sand. [38
V3in elfon.
Wbtn tht lorrt nl comts bt trits to Jam U up with sand. [39
Flippin/. SUamllttl suds into an tltpbant's mouth.
' A drop in the 0CC3ll.'
TIN mODn shining in tbt bollow of tbt bambM.
Buried (alent. Applied to someone who shows otfhis sLIl1l1d
ability where they canuot be appreciated.
Giving Q good Ireom to a dumb puson. [42
C( 'Like :I. dumb person dreaming in his sleep.' Tllai proverb.
He cmnot repeat the dream.
Wbtn Ibt Jistclst' is 1101 known lbtrf is no rtmtdy. [43
Iff a forts! where tlxre is no hrart"'UJooJ fbi (Qstof"oil plant
,ul". [44
•Among the blind :I. onc-cycd man is king.'
It may 10k! an embryo Buddha to «nsWtf a blilfalo",btrJ's
' A fool may uk: more questjons in:tJ1 hour th... n a wise m:an
can answer in seven ynf'S.· A f:avourirc retort given by
those who u e at .:l loss when confronted with 2 question
they annot answer.
A stupid act tntails doing lUork tllJict Oller, [46
Ask wbtn you don't 'wow, wasb when YOU'rt dirty. {47
Thost who art unawart walk olltr it; tbou who art Qwart
it Qlld tat it. [48
Eyes and A reward awaits the observ2nt.
If you don't obserllt YOll won't Stt a ifyou do obstrvt YOII
s(( a '1'''' of aust. [49
A jar halffull of wat" sp/aslxs abollt. [so
c( ' Still water runs deep.'
Nt wbo talks isn't strong; be who's strong doesn't talk. [51
'Those who know don' t spc;ak; t hose who speak don' t know.'
Tbt blilld man is not afraid ofghosts. [52
An ignormt person is reckless of consequences.
Nt ridl's without knowing w/Jl'tbcr it's astallioll or a [53
He gl'ls alollg 011 bis journey bllt ht does not know tbe villages

C( "The fool wanders, the wise man tf:l.vds.'
I, gnorall ct is mort troublesomt IfJan pOlltrly. [55
'Detter to be a beggar than a fool.'
Ht is told it's a (fallt' alld Ix asks: 'What kind of bird it
it!' [56
Told that somtone had bun killtd by a tiJ.er, bt asktd: 'Had
/" bun ill long" [57
Teaching afisblrman how to knot his fit! or a hunur bow to
spear gamt.
'Te:r.clull g your gundmother to suck eggs.'
TeaclJing a motlk to read; all alliJ.ator kin,! the waltr
hl/sintSI. [59
Going to China to sell needles. [60
'Carrying coals to Newcastle.'
II. P.-(:
Illinois Stat e University Li brary
Buttrtiling an old boult, aaorning an old woman witb
'Mutton dressed 2S luab.'
Btauty ;', fix jact, hIlt in the body grocf, and you cannot
tXbalut it.
'Beauty is skin-<lccp:
Sbt bas good looks hut no character.
•A (.:lir woman without virtue is like pallid wine.'
Famous in history but bouubold affairs art tllgIte/fa. [64
If a woman wruk! a country it iJ wdl and truly wrakrd. [65
Day will not break for a htn's cackle; it will brtak only for a
cock's crow. [66
Cf .•A hen docs not usually announce the brc:lk of day:
Chinese proverb.
A big wallt! iI's undtr tbt boat; a big mowltdin! its IIIlatr tbt
Jut. [<57
Womrll will always be subdued by men.
HHlll an Behaviour
In this second section we nuny :11\(1 varied sides of hunun
hchl Viour through the lens presented by these proverbs. The
rics of pictures which greets our eyes tends to be wlau ractive.
"llS is deliberate; the proverbs serve as a warning and stimulate
I d lection 011 hmllan
M:r.n is egoistic, sclf-opinionatcd, self-will ed. i-ie adveftiscs him­
I' lr1ikc t he seven shameless creatures which c;J1out their names.
,.. '!elf-satisfied mall, like a rogue, SttS in another a fault 35 sm:a.ll
.n J Scs;lmum seed, but in himsdf he docs not see a fault as big as
II «lConm.' A self-willed person through obstinacy brings his own
11 ntruction upon himself. The moral is quite c1e:u: be selfless.
SOUl e men arc comparable to a puffed-up frog, and t hey arc
HfU'll of tbe kind which bash ill t be feRected glory of others.
I hese peoplc arc like 'a yokd employed :lS a footman, grinning
H I f the royal insignia be has to carry were his own'. nurmans
Iq{ud with :unusement alld, whenever opportunity
thc)' take great ple3S\lre in pricking the bubble. A pompous
is often li kened to the dumdcon (in the Ma/louuJ/ra
"I(IJJ:a)' with a peJlnyworth of silver round its ned:. which filled
II with vainglory. And those who swagger about in t he light of
'Iher people's achievements arc also described as vultures who
1, .. ,11. IIkc golden birds because they arc perching on :I golden
hill !
"lIother is the extrovert. An individual of tbis
, t )fthe seven crc:r.turc:s, the fint is a reptile and dIe rest arc birds. They
.ft· the large crowing lizard or gecko, the pied eresu.-d cuckoo. the
11111 l1Iae spotted OW!cI. the Ikngll brown fish-owl, the Burmese
ltd ilpwing, the common i Of:l and the Malay kod.
• tokll Nfti Pi/r Nissayll, pp. 64- j.
'lhejJlllkll', vi, pp. 17;-3.
species is prcpucd to go to any length so long as he can nuke
a grc:u impression on adlcr people. He is tbe crow in the fable
who wears pc2cock fcathers. When such a persOIl docs a work of
merit, such as alms-giving, it is Iikdy that he will proclaim from
the roof-top that he is t he alms-givcr! In scdting limdight to
S2tisfy his vanity he goes on from pretension to pretension. He
will live ill a plank house-a dwdlmg that was a sign of oplllcnce
in olden days-while fceding on the dlcapest kind of food,
namdy roselle leaves.
Vanity goes hand in hand with boastful­
ness and blusteri.ng. ' -low often do we meet a vain peuon whose
hi g c:uk is lacking in weight? His boasting and vaullting arc
cynically compucd to the booming of a New Yc;u 's Day
Such people arc: apt to entertain great expectations and nourish
high aspirations without regard to thei r own worth or abil ity, or
to decorum :md propriety. The proverbs in the sub-section on
'Gre:u Expectltions' show these people up as wretched beings
trying to reach out for something which is nOt meant for them:
t hey like a person whose: ht::l.d is among the douds, crying
out for t he moon. Their achievements fall far short of their
expectations and their further efforts t1Su:'I Jly end in diuster lile
that of 'the sparrow wh.ich imitated tbe strut of a peacock'.
The next sub-section on 'Dopair' is a grim warning to those:
whose: aspi.rations have been frustr.ltcd. In such a plight <a nd
driven by despair a man may have recourse to CJ,.1:rellle measures
like the Camda
whidl, having exhausted al l its ideas, took to
hailing salt (t he occupat ion of the forlorn). Dcsper.ttion ouy
drive a man from had to worse and when he finally that
his sicnation cannot deteriorate any further , he will in his desperate
I Rosel le, the lndian sond. There are manv varieties, but it is the: red
sorrel that Burmese: people: nuke = of in everyday dishes. Doth
and buds h.we a sour taste:.
I CaruJtI, a mythical bird, half mall, half bird. He is the h ng of birds
and die greateSt enemy of the: Ntlgtl (scrpcnn). He h usuall y rep=ntc:d
as having the head, wings, blons and beak ofan Qgle, alld the: body and
limbs of a man.
mood declare: 'I have become a dog and I am not afraid ofexcre­
Dunnans' views on dishonesty and crookedness, with thcir
concomitant betrayal of trust, as seen in the proverbs are most
cnliglltcning. Honesty is of course the best policy, but dishonesty
Jhould be forgiven if the end justifies it . They bel ieve due
fundamental ly 3. man is neither honest nor dishonest; it is the
' Iut'stion of expediency Veuns moruity that nukes him what he
IS. After all it is easy to be mot:l.! 0 11 £2,000 a but it is not
rlsy to be moral on £200. Dishonesty is therefore m aberration,
whereas crookedness, according to the proverbs, ;5 a permanent
feature which can never be al tered. Believers in these provcrbs
/If course forget the one saying: 'An error may go on for ever,
hil t it can he set right in a moment', which is somewhat cquiva­
I(·m to ' It's never toobte: to mend'. These views havc made many
it. Burman cautiollS. He: is not (eady to place confidence in his
6ervants or friends, or in his wife or even in his children. He
would quote Mahosa.dha,l the embryo Buddha, who uid that
flne' s secret should not be confided to myone:. 1he secret would
be om and one would be betrayed. One: of the Durmans'
favourite stories of bctnyal is about a wife offe ring a sword by
Ihe handle to the robber (with whom she has faJlell in love:)
whil e he was fighting with. her husband.
Such sw«ping views
have led DurllUllS to suspect even 'thei r knees'.
Dishoncsty, crookedness and betrayal of trust are no doubt
bJd traits of human nature; hut ingratit\ICtc is the worst of all. It
11 ten thouS31ld times more lUlbcanb)e than the winccr wind.
Ilurm:llls who insist that he who has had even a glass of water
from a person mtlst show his gratitude, arc shocked to sec an
ungrateful film turning 3.gainst his beneElctor. 11e would
it"rtainl y liken such a man to a dog, an animal of despicable
ll.llure. The proverbs in the subsection 'Once bitten, twice shy'
h lVC been created by men who have had bitter experienccs in
Iheir lives!
1 See the Jat"k", vi, p. 192. t Ibid., iii, pp. 14:;-8.
'I1uce other kinds of hum.:m weakness are also dQ lt with i n
these proverbs: rcwiation, timidity, and contempt for familiae
objects. R.c:Willtion &.l Is into twO categories. One is revenge in
kiud: 'A tooth [or 2 tooth', The other is spite: ' Unable to 'be2t the
foreigners, he phebct on the Arakanesc'.l To the
Duddhists paying b.:l.ck in onc's own coin is not the answer, for,
if enmity is met with d imity. it will merely prolong the strife. I
They wiUsay: ' IfI worsted him, some other person was bound to
worst me'. Forbearance md even humility arc advocated to over­
come this animal-like reaction which stems from anger and
spi te.
The Burmese language has onl y one word for both timidi ty
and cowardice. The meaning is inferred from the context or
sitm.ti on, or from both. Dun nam maintain that to fcar is human.
Fear or timidity never kills a man. but slwne often docs. Some­
times timidity has its own advmtagcs: it keeps the timid out of
trouble. On the other h::md cowudicc is derided. A coward is held
up to ridicule, especially when he tries to keep up appearances by
tackling a cbngerous fcat. There arc many such proverbs.
Courage is a different matter. A brave man ' though frightened
sd dom runs' . A faint-hcutcd man miSSC"S his d u nccs, whil e a
brave one attains grcaroess. A rcally nliant m.an can rout ten
thousaud 3
Familiarity, it is said, breeds eorncmpt, but wi th the Durmans,
it docs more than tltis. Between a smdcnt and his teacher, tOO
1 There u e: 11 0 historial r«:Ords of Bum lCSC :lf1nc:d forces wraking
their vengemcc 0 11 the /UU 2J1CSC people beawc they been dcfcall!d.
by foreign (orca. Prob.1bly thi sis :l reference 10 onc ordie instances when
iIl-tre:;ltrncnt was meted out to the: .... r:lk:m=: by the Burmcsc when they
were in war with the British bctwttn 1814-6.
1 cr. For not by hatreds ever qucnched here in this world.
By love rather lre they quenched. This is art Jaw.'
Crmrmc",ary, pI. I , p. 174.
, This is l reference to the incident in which MahoSoldha, the embryo
Buddh:l. ,ingle-handed scored a victory over d ghtecn illming armies.
Sec lheJilltV:4, vi, p. :w6 and following.
long a contact is likely to brcc::d disrespcct on the part of dle
student- he may address his teacber as ' my de:a brother';
between a wife and her husband. constant comp:mionship is apt
to produce apathy; and between friends familiarity often lew
to one taking advanuge of the other. h therefore creates in the
pcople concerned a frame of mind that is made up ofindiffercncc,
llIItipathy and contempt. Hence the proverb: ' W hen together
(two people) squabble. when apart they yearn for each other',
Absence docs make the heart fonder.
It may )lot be inappropriate to end this section with some note
nil old age. Dnrrn2lu generall y look upon :m old nun as physic­
\Ill y w{"ak and mentally set in ideas, although there arc some
. prightl y old people who arc more dIan a mateh for m.1ny a
younger 1113n in active life. Intellectually, an. old m.:LI\ is regarded
.11 a symbol of wisdom, experi ence and sound j udgement.
llIogiel l dlough it may sound, there arc mm y proverbs which
uy: 'He (an old man) ate rice first' a.nd ' He was born fi rst' .
lI uplying that he is lUore learned and mature. Most Bunnan
Ituddhists arc well ::acquainted with the exhoru tion: ' Show
1"Spccl to a man who is older in age. hi gher ill sa tus, and greater
/If dorm'l Sri his own ilI/j allour, b'l t tbt ilI1avour of otlJrrs
maku him want to laugh. [68
III allotba's, rts, but in his own (yr b( U ti no Jirt. [69
I If praisrs the pickling oj his oum fish. [70
. 1\) blow one's OWll u umpct:
Ibt sturn vulgar crtatures who 011l10UIIU tlxir own fl omts. [71
See p. 2S, footnote I.
Crows 'tf,ard no {UI but Ilxir Oilln. [7
Sa.id of people who Mve concern only for the interests of their
kith 2nd kin.
Equatt your Jtt/ings with atlxr proplt's alld you WOII't be
i/l"'",allnrred. [73
'00 unto others as you would they should do unt O you:
Stabbtd by OIlt'S own device. [74
'Hoist with his own petard.'
The tiger who (ourts death nJovtS to allother jungle. [75
One is responsible for one's own downfall
He ,'IUOIIl'rS his own thigh and bongs it with his dbow. {76
'To wash dirty linen in public.'
Olliylbt sJifjrrrr knOIllS bow his btlly aclXI. [77
'No one knows like me wt3rcr where the shoe pinches.'
& ({mrt Mr Suprr/llall is tbert, Mr Elltfyman pUIS oul
He brtatbts througb somt'ont rlst's n(m.
'Dress oncsdf with borrowed plumes.'
He frans on llx wbitr r1rphant and JIIck.; mgar;{one. [80
Getting adv:mtagc out of onc's connection with thc gTeal.
Brgg,ing jor ria hy s/;owing tIN drphant. [81
Likr a ,bamt/rlm with a pc wortl, of silver round its Huk. [82
Sec cxplan:l.tion on p. 25. A p ~ = 1/ 1,600 vis!.
Chteb shining buauS{ ofgold tarrings. 183
A parrot is golden on agolden trte, sillltr on a sillier trte. 184
Hc ukcs his colour from his surroundings.
To (ommand r(Sped from his neighbours be goes to the
GOlltrnmenl Olfict. [85
In Burma govcmmcnt officials fOfm a.n upper class.
Ht climbs up the pole of tbt marquee to sJ)OW bis
Mr Go"Onr"Btttu posturing with a ')arp without bring abit
to play it. [87
An impostor.
JIt lillts in a plank bouS{ bllt tats rortUe. [88
See cxpla.n.ation on p. 2.6.
TINgolden mOn4sttry is shining but lbt stoff/acb is tHlpty. [89
cr. 'Splendid without but empty within.' ntai provcrb.
Applied to people who live ostentatiousl y.
A New Year's Day (annan which has no sbd l. [90
Blank :l.mmuninon is fired to :annOUllce the beginning of the
Burmese new yca.r-often .applied 10 .a hollow thre:l. l or
I IJ(' beif knrc ..boll/' , obi it bas no r('gard f or fix (U"y"pots! [91
Said of one who mucs .an impudcm proposal or ainu :l.bovc
his station.
A cotiOIl dflU wants to bt put olotltfiM a silk alit. [92
Said of;l. person crying to cbim clue someone above him in
is his cqu21.
Wtar;/lg a blur (olton ikin sIN [Tiu to reach Tawil­
deintha. [93
Tawadcintha is the second of the six celestial 2hodcs.
Ht /jilts in fbi husbts but his spirit is in tbt bt/tvtlls. [94
Standing in the gutter :I.Jld looking at the stars.
Ht stretcb(s from a log towards tbeflower he ( atlll ot Ttach. [95
Often applied to a man who aspires to the h3Jld of a 12dy
above his sUtion.
Sparrows who tlnlllatt prtlco{ks art likrly ttl brtak a tbigb. [96
A wmung to ordinary people not to be tOO ambitious.
With a pi: of si/v" ht bids for a slrinl of p",/s. [97
Hi aimrJ at a prinuss and married a bazaar moman. [9
He falb far short of his cxpcctitioJls.
Said to hr marrying a {oplain, slJt man;rJ a soHoT, [99
If YO II lolu big pactS you [ ttllle spaces. [100
Don't :lim t OO high lest you cannOt achieve it.
A slVollrn jt/ra {an bring Tuin. [101
Whrn tbt Gn ruch't bad txhal/sud bis jdtas bt boiltd salt. [102
He did This as al:lSt rcroft, since extracting salt by evaporati ng
brine is the most laborious and unskilled way of earning
a living. On Canida, see p. 26, footnote 2.
if you haVt no idras,join tlx Forces; if you hallt no ,ju, boil
bms. [103
No s1cill or u1cnt is involved.
1:01 a stetion of gar!;e; you smt'll of garljc. Eat two swions;
1"11 nnrll tlx samt, [
•As well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.'
I I broktn fortbt:ad cannot bt worst. [lOS
Things call nOt be worse.
S"nlt'ont with ringwormfears no j rrcklts, [106
, [ 111011 Ilirned pig no mort Jears filth. [107
T he plight of a desperate person.
I FlJat is darkrr than midniglJt? [108
I f ull gut IllPPOTts 1II0ral prtcfpts. [ 109
'An empty sack c:umOt stand upright.'
I:mply pockfts, tmpty promists.
I/'r Jisbontst starllr, tbe /xmrsl ral Ibfi r fill. [II I
' i loncsty is the best policy.'
INs blll/(/ck IJas rscaprJ bcjore,
[ 11 2
It will do it again.
I,'s likr thrtading a dog's croo/ud tail Ihrough a )oml oj
Immooo. [11 3
'Once a crook always a crook.'
Magsols com' oul of lbe fiub.
'Save me fr om my friends.'
My witnuI ttrt!fiu 0/1 bis behalf.
Offering a sword...hilt fa a thief.
'A tra.itor in the camp.' See explanation on p. 27.
D Olf't 'rust your Itller: /,trond yoursrlf
Trust no one.
Trusf a siatlt you lou an eyr:; trust your ,hilJrtH yOI/ loIt
holh. [118
A bttrared trust is a mortal tbrust. [Il9
It is olle's trusted friend who docs ie.
Tix blow on your back revrals tbe bandit.
Ktrping a viptf in yOl/r llJoisl.-pockrf.
Taking shtlur in tlx shadr, brroking off tlx brancbts.
It slups on ItatINr and gnaws fix rdges.
'To bite the hand that feeds it.'
avuturning tbt piotr afttr fudingfrom it. [124
Tbt monkey that 1brought lip tries to scare /I/f, [125
He 10Ys balf a lim /' for the food he has rott:ll during a
lijrtimr. [126
Applied to a person who shows his gratit ude in a very mean
If you stand Q thin bullock on its Jeet it will butt YOlf, 1
It.. show ofingf2titudc to one's rescuer.
Turn away and Ix throws a stone, [128
RUCflf not a two/legged being, /lor try to rttr;evf a kinls
drifting boot. [
You nuy get into t[Quble for your pains. By 'two-legged
being' is meant '''' man'.
All "ngratiful ptrson loses his way. [1 3
TIJr sparrow was hit by a slOHe btjore, {I3
'The burnt child dreads the firc.'
lI{e you have died you know bow 10 lay out (the corpse), [J 32
'Experience: is tbe mother of wisdom.'
a.. break lbe pot, I break Ibt bowl.
'Tic for tat.'
YOII bitt my cbrek, 1 bite YOllr ear. [134
A mOlfst bas eaUn Illy iron bllt a hawk Ixu {orril!d away YOllr
son. [1 3l
A vi llager dcpositca five hundred ploughshares with a friend
in t he town. When he Qme to claim t hem he was told that
they had bee\1 eaten by mice. Sometime bter the villager
took his friend's son to bathc, bid him in a house, 2nd
reportcd to thc to'Wllsman that the boy had been carried
off by a hawk. Sec the jaroko, ii, pp. 127-9.
Unable to bial Ibt Indians he pilchis on Ibt Arakanue. [136
See cxplmation on p. 28,
Srt/in,gfirt to liN granary bUllu$( one Wlnot biat Ibt miu. [137
'Burn one's house to get rid of the mice:
Throwing sa"d at Ibt meal be cannot tal. [1 38
'He that cannot make spon should mar none:
He will be ruined wbo trier to ruin Of/X fS. [139
Enmity slwulJ not bt (epaid witb enmity. [14
See explanation on p. 28.
ut tlltnity stop short, but 10ve linger on. [141
He who Jt'tks rifuge undtr II I fU may be cmrbrd; raftr to taNe
rrfugt ImdeT II man. [142­
Men are kinder th.::an the 1l3tur:u forces.
Nervolls, II tiger loughs, II tIIan shouts aloud.
Timidity rtlievti one of Ttsponsibility.
[ 144
One diu oj shame bllt not offear.
Cltnching bisfist IInder cover oj his nether garment.
Sec explanatory notc on nether g3rment, p. 17.
Tbr hero appears only when thr liga is drad. [147
Only whtn tlx thitf has run away do the tattoo spots shoUl
ti)e;r power. [14
Some Burmans believe that tattOO marks have magical
power over enemy attack.
lit would like to rib a difficult buffalo but hasn't enough
(oura,ge. [r49
TIN black eiepJxJllt dare not look at the rOYdl white (ftphdnt's
fau. [I SO
People oflow origin have not the courage to mix with those
in high position.
Faint heart mines tlx clJanu, bravery wins a throne. [15 1
";:Wlt heart never won fair lady.'
OUt' can hut faIl to earth or rise to the ,golden umbrella. II 52
'Nothing venture nothing win.' Earth signifies deat h, and the
golden umbrella, kingship.
I / ~ bra., da"' dir, or if Ibty d" av,id btU. [153
' Cowards die often.' <It is fear, not death, that slays.'
IItbou,gb (owardly bt slow to t1111. [154
I Samari will not allow tIN loiS oj a hair.
Smnari, Pa!i (Ilmarll, the Yak or Tibetan ox, is portr:lyed in
Burmese liter:lture as ~ animal whieh would nlthcr lay
down iulife than lose one hai r from its tail.
I )lIt (apable man, and aforce oj 1m thousand was (tllsbtd. {I 56
Sec explanatory notc on p. 28.
Y.II! dupise the master after a fon,g time at school. [1 57
' F:llnili:&rity breeds contempt.'
Broadcast a psalm, it becomes Q popular song. [ 158
Tht man from btll is not ajraiJ of bot tubu. [ 159
A villagt ox aMI not fitd on vil/agt grass. [160
'The grass is grccn on t he other side of the fence.'
Fisbtrmtn ignore fix cro(odi/r. [16 1
Stt it OiUH, it looks smaller; sn/I'll it o/ttn, it losrs its
u tnl. [162
Mtn ignort a barking dog. [ 163
C( ' Barking dogs sddom bite:
If yorl kllow tIN fo u , don't buy j sh"paste,
Don' t do business with your friends.
Aliu ((OSt to f tor fix cat when six is too olJ.
An old dog cannot bt IQu,gbt to sit up. [166
'You can't teach ;an old dog ncw tricks.'
TIN s(rongtst yeung bull{)c/c ;s only as strong QS an old buI/ock
wilh a brokm /'g. [16J
Old buI/oeks ate partial /0 «natrgrass. [168
Sajd of old men who arc: fond of YOlUl g womrn.
Let ,br doclor '" old and Ibr LIwyrr '" young. [1 6g
'An old physiCian and :I ymmg lawyer.'
Human Relationships
T he proverbs in t his section give an insi ght into situations that
Jl);a,y :nisc between friends. relat ions, lovers, husbands ;;ul d wives.
and tC3.chcrs and their pupils.
The two terms mon COllUll0 nly used to describe friendshi p in
Hurm('sc a TC 'comrade and al1y' :md ' companion since youth',
The t ic between friends is very st rong indeed: friends travel in
IhI.' Amc boat . they share the same happiness and sorrows, and
d u." y go through thick and thin together. Friendship calls for
,unCi cc and fai thfuln ess. Those who do nOt conform to these
l('ql1 ircmcnrs :lfC &if-weat her friends. The proverbs arc very
hJu h about such f..:l sc fri ends. Genuine friendship, say the
I'reverbs, ;Usa demands ffill tual respect, sllch as exists bet ween t he
" nw and the crow-phc;lS3.nc, l as well 2 $ undcrsWlding md
(. ,Irr:l.tion; for 3. man has many moods.
Advice in DUI1llcsc dicbctic poems on t he choice offri ends :wd
hnw to (leal with them is nOt SQCcc.lJurll1C$C parents are a1W:lys
rr minding their children of t he type of person to befriend, since
companion can being disrepute to his ci rcl e or even
t tl IllS comnllUl ity. The oonbgiousness of bad habits is al so
, tlt'ssed in proverbs of which the oldest is: ' PI2l'lt a Khwc-dllUk
(Hmer fruit) tree ncar :l sweet mango, and the mango will cee­
tAutl y lose its flavour'. Once a fri end is found to be false or lUl­
.I,·)iublc, 3. Durman is often told not to break off the friendship
'one breaks off a growing braneh oe a bamboo' bm to do it

I Crow-pheasant is as its n.. mc denote' a bi rd which combines the
• of a crow and of a phc:lS<Int. Its flight is slow.
11 i' seldom far from water. It has a distinctive dull booming C<lll from
.., luth it derives its Burmese name bolt:. Uumlese peopk Sl y thu it lifts
.u voice only when the tide is wMling. Sec Birds of Bu rma, pp. 274-5·
II.P.- D 39
As wit h friends, so t here arc good relations and bad rclati.ons.
f'OT the self-seeking relative, chere is a saying: ' He trics to estab­
lish relati onship with a person only when the person has gold',l
The good oncs arc however always ready to come in t ime of
emergency to the :ai d of thei r own kith md kin. Burmese
Buddhists arc aw:ltc of one of the thirty-eight princi ples of
Buddhism: 'Render n sistance to your relativcs', And there is no
doubt that a tOO literal application of this excellent principle.
without due rcglud to equity and justice, ofccn le:;r,ds in Burma to
nepotism. All through recorded history many woltby and
influential Burmans have put this tenet into practicc; and it is not
rare, even today, to find a well-to-do Burman supporting :l
houseful of ncar and diua.nt rdati ves: 'He is a t ree which affords
shelter to many travellers',
The proverbs on rebtions between the sexe! tend to be full of
cynicism. In the East, whcre social contacts between men and
women have not been as fr cc md easy :!.St hey arc in the W est, the
spectacle of frequent meetings between a young man and a gi rl is
likel y to Cluse a Rutter in the cirdes within which they move,
and givC5 rise to comments such as 'They're no saints', or
remarks that slich are bound to end in all :Ui":tir or a
since 'the tip of the tongue CllUlot contain itself when
sour fruit and arc placed together' .' M:my coupl es therefore
follow the proverb 'Let tbe people know, but do not let them set'
and have SlXl'ct rendezvous, espcci:t.ll y at night.
Married life is accepted by Bunnans ;l, bw of tl:I.ture, with
wbjch they mmt comply. O ld hachelon and spi.nsters arc eyed
with mixed feelings of pity and suspicion. Parents fc:Lr that a
daughter of theirs who defies this law of mture, not 'fruiting
when it is time to fruit and blossoming w hen it is t ime to
blossom', may have to £1ce the consequences: she may be left Oil
1The Burmese expression for relative is HSW(-IIJYo (relative-kind).
Here there is a pWl on the worw Il1we--myo s!Jwe-myo (gold-kind).
J The sight of sour fruit and salt is sure to make a Burlllan's mouth
Ihr shelf or be led astoy, or land in an Wilon.
M.II ri :lges arc of two kinds. Some collle about through young
l"'uple F.a.iling in love. often without the knowledge of t heir
I,,,rents; in such cases tbe two lovers would eit her be married
Wi t h t he p2ftllts' blessing Of , if the pareJi ts refused to give their
I " Il SCIl t, e1ope:Uld set l ip a home as husband and wife. The other
111lJ is 2ffanged by the older geller-uion. Many BUIInallS believe
Ih.' 1a nurriage is brought about bcc:ausc of thl! 'brow-writing.' 1
' lwy maintain du[ a person who has the w riting on hi s or be,r
bww wi ll marry [be destined person, :l1ld t hat those who do not
luve the wri ti ng wi ll remain wlillarricd.
I laving gone so far as t o state rh:lt lIl:lrriages arc by
' hrow-writin g' , the proverbs proceed to explain some of the
Ir.I\On5 for seemingly ill-matched or wl\lsual unions and for the
of marri ages. A pcrson:lblc man chooses a plain J ane
1m wi fe because he sees in hef annetive cUlts. Beaut y
11 111 t he eye of t he bcholda: if ' a Shan trader likes a bullock, it is
., :uli maI'. ! With a couple whose disp:Lrity in age
h t; rc:tt, the rcasolls :.lre two-fold: the elder seeks a eompmion to
I; "lOll , tbe younger olle to depcnd Ilpo n .
The unusual union
Itlrlltiolled above n:fcrs to marriages where the chief considcra­
" "IIS are prescf v;J.tion of lineage, especially amongst roy21ty,4
"ml llf wealth.
I ·n.e UunllOC believe du[ there ml rks on the forche2.d of every
II and wonun which scttk [heir JlUuimoniai The idea is
I 'lIIllu In origin. Most Burm:l.Il nuddhists howcv.::r ascri be a muon to the
I' 'Il . leeds (kQflH<I ) of the parties conccmca: Iw.:nee such expressions for
IIImiage as 'meet ing of past deeds', 'j oi ning of p:l.llt deeds', etc.
• people arc notea as being thc best connoisseurs of a ld<: .
Another proverb mat may exphin ;1.0 older man marrying a much
."lIlIlIer gi rl is: 'While the (would-be) wife iJ still in the cradle, her
""IUre) husballd is ;drcady an ordained monk.'. A nun cannot be
"III.IIII Cd lImil he n:ar:hcs the age oftwemy-onc.
1·1hI! ori gin of [he proverbs on marriage bct wc<:11 members of the
.lI1r fami ly can be t!:l.Cl:d to the aneenors of Buddha. Of the nine
I1lrmbcn of the fa,mily-fivc sisters and four brOthen-lhe fom brothcu
Most marri ages, be tll ey arranged or otherwise. last until
deat h. T hese have the cssemi:al ingredients: compatibili ty and
affection. W here they arc dissolved t he ausc an be attri buted to
illfldcli ty. and this lUlfait hful ncss. say the proverbs. is due to a
human tcodt-ney to get weary of S2mcncss and to be attracted by
Jl ovc.l ty: 'She W QlfS t he flower when it has 2 sweet scent, but
discards it when it has 10st its scent'; ' He discards the roost fi sh for
t he fresh fish' . If Ilutrimonia! discord walks in by the front door,
h2PPUICS5 walks out at the back.
Anot her caU$C of:Lll unhappy marriage is t he ullion of two
spind css persons. w ho will never make 3. success of it. Such a
marriage is usuall y ab2ndoncd in ck:spair.
As 1I ll1n:u rioo men and women in Burmese society 3bove 3.
certain age arc Oll t of pJ.:l CC, widows and wi dowers. di vorced
wives and imslxUlds arc all advised to rem:arry.
The proverbs about t he rclations octwCdl husband ami wife
reveal (i) t he complementary Il.'ltures of the t wO, (ii) the hus­
band's position and his :atdtude towards his wife. and (iii) the
wife' s position and her atti t ude towards her husband. In spite of
unavoidable t iffs between them. they reali ze t hat one is dept.' ll dcnt
on the ot her. A Burmese husband is in t heory the mastl:r of the
house, and if he so w ished he coul d take as m.my wives :as the
minister Vidhufll , the embr yo Buddha. I Though polygamy is not
illegal. it is unf.wour:ably regarded by society in Burma, and not
nUJl y husbands afe preparoo to be sti gmatized ::1.5 ' the man with
a lesser wife' . On t he whole a husband is kind to hi s wife: he
docs not foll ow the proverbial injullction not to sp:arc a bullock
Of a wife. Instead he usually t reats her as his sister and addresses
her as such. He knows that be IIlllSt not neglect or stay away frolll
her for Jong-:at least not longer than olle mont h: 'Stay :a way one
month from your wife (she may tr.msfer her love to ::lIlOlher);
St:1y away from a harp t hree mont hs (you will forget how to
married four of t he sislers to prCJcrve the lincage. This pr:lcrice, though
rollowed by some kings, is now tlboo ill B n r m A.
1 Vi dlJuu lud one thous':l.IId wives. s ... "C the j dtllwa, vi, p. J 4S.
play it)' . He also knows t he persuasive power of her tongue. and
he is resolved not to concede too nweh.
TIle w ife' s position, according to the proverbs, is not very
mvia.blc. In a country w here marriage, bui lding :a pagoda and
getti ng oneself tattooed arc reckoned to be three t hings which.
oncc done, Carolot be undone, a wife SCClru to have t he worst of
bot h worlds. Divorce and ckscrtion always bring discredi t to her.
Nevt rt hcless, many wives prefer f::lther t ha.n suffer t he
agonies ofliving wit h :a 'dog-like' husband, I A divorced woman
11\:1)' with propriety ma.rr y a M·cond time, but not a t hird lime.
tll3.t would entail social ostracism- 'a woman having Illany
f,ICCS' , meaning having too m:my husbands or lovers.
A Burruese wife llsual ly loves, honours and obeys her hm­
hl nd: 'She is his mother sometimes, his yOtlll gc,r sister at other
limes and his serv:mt the rest of the: time' . In [he pool of life, she
rc-garcls herself as a water lily and her husband as the watt r : she
wdllook well only when the water sustains her. There :ue of
a few proverbs which can be applied to wives who want
1,\ .Isscrt t heir ill ckpcndcncc. But the maj ority of Burmese: wives
lilok to theit husbands to provide them wit h the blessings of thi s
r :(iSCtJlcc. For t hey reali ze th. t in the long run it is their husbands,
0111(1 n ot t heir rd atives, who arc prepared to share with them
what they have. A good wife is the-refore willing to follow her
hu)band fhrough life as 'the hair knot follows the top-knot ' or
'the t hrad follows the ntt<Ue'.
T ile p:tTcnt-child relati onship in Durm:a is summed up in a
,"pug t hat for parents 'The sight of thei r chil d is like :1 drop of
Ilkl l, e:<h.ilanting water on t hem ' ,' and t heir care stems fiom
,mother maxim th.t the parents:ue the children' s fLTst teachers.
r il e parents would always l ike to hear that thei rs :arc ' truc
, llIldrcn of good parents' and t hey also \\,'ish t hcm to attai n t he
IlIghest rung in life. Even wit h recalcitrant children they show
I Mnri;lge in Burma is SO(i;al contract, and :I husb:md or wife can
,hl\(llve Ihe partncrship by leaving his or her partner.
' -nlis refers to the first coming of the rains :l fttr a period of drought.
grc:u tolerance. The bond between pucnts and cbildrro is much
stronger in Burma than in the West. llunncsc parent! like to
keep thei r children in their home :IS long 2S they 0;11, and to
shuc their possessions with them. They seldom disclaim tbe bad
OIlCS. A few proverbs there :lrc th:\!: misrepresent the facts, such
:l S ' .:1 mother will lay down her son's body and stlnd all it when
the world is on firc' , but the fact is t hat she would rather let her
son on her body should such a situation arise.
C hildren's love ::U1d respect for t heir parents is a r ule rather
than an L"Xccption in Burin:!.. Grown-up SOil S and d:lUghtcrs
repay, in thcir parents' old age, t he care which was given to rhcm
when they were young. They 'succour t heir parents, who arc one
of the Five Worthy Objects'.l Here it is significant lhat the good
:l.Ild the bad are confined to sons. The good one is Iikencd to a
precious gcm and the b:ld Ol lC to 'a foal which wants to
his hoof marks against his sirc' s'. As for thc ckughtcr, she is
portrayed neithcr good nor bad, except th:!t shc is a sourcc of
worry to her parcnts, SUlce they arc afuid that she might marry
the wrong nun. In roliry. however, a ru.ughtcr in Burm.a makes
greater sacrifices than t Cll sons to comfort and solace her parents
in thei r old age.
The tic between parents and children is paralleled by that
Ix:twcell teachers and pupils. A teacher is revered and obeyed; he
is also one of the Five \Vonhy Obj ects,l and as stich his fame
muall y spre"d,s without :Illy advertisclllelU. He is relied on by
his pupils for knowk-dge and the tochnique of its application, :u
well as for moral guidance. It is Illtllr:ll therefore to expect that
he will get credit for his pupil' s a.nd bl:UllC for his
pupil's failure; bllt such is the way of the world, that in many
cascs praise goes to the pl' pil, aJl{l criticism to the tcacher.
This faith in thd r teacher born of r espect and uncritical
acceptance of his pronouncements has made pupils in Burm2
meek and humble. They feci th:!e to disown or denounce thci r
tcacher would be unpardonable, a.nd they are obsessed by such
I Sec tllC Introduction, p. 6, footll otc 3.
that of3. nun whose palate W2S picrced by a spear! or of
the In:m who WJ;S stoned,l whcll they wished to di sown or vic
wit Ii thei r teacher. Such tradi tions st ill persist in Burma.
Ridillg ill tl)t Sa int boat, going on tbe somt [I70
"'''grtlm ill /;oppilltss olld trot/bIt alike. [171
'For better or worse:
IVlltn it is scaret, sbart it; wIJrn it is pltntifill, lokI' your
jill. ['7
'Share and share alike.'
Go"J limrs br shartS; bad timrs bt shltlls. [173
Fair-weather friend.
NMa- yan fish, bt treats as joint fare; nga-khu fisb be IVO/l '[
is a eO<lrsc fish, md IIga-klm an 2ppctising fish.
...pbtasant respects crow, and crow rtsptclJ (fInv'"
I' biosonf. 1175
S<. -c cxpl2natory not e on 'crow-phC:lSant', p. 39.
I A young man who had a heron throwillg lip fish and C2teh_
1111' them in iu beak, practised tlu. art with a spear. He gained mastery of
tcchni'llie and gave ;m elChibition before: the kill g. When he YOU
ltd who te.-2(;her had been, he replied rh3t III: learnt it unaided. At
.1."lIex( performance tlie.- spear pierced his pailltc.
• While the embryo n uddha was a coun mll$ici:m he b ught 1I pupil
"I Ius all he kneW. L:ncr, the pupil, to omt hi, teachcr from hi,
JI," \' challenged him to a conteSt in the presence of the king. The contest
\1M held, the pupil was defeated and stoned to death by the enraged
' Juwd. Sec: the jillllkll, ii, p. 176.
Sugar"cone is Sluul alway!; man only JOllletimts.
A mall has many moods.
The onion by itsrlf was all right; with (hiIliu it Jot a
T hese condiments arc polUulcd in a mortar to m:tkc a curry
Tlx wbole boat is putrid becoflst of a single carp. [1 78
Carp is a fish which goes stale quickly and COJlt::uninatcs the
rest of a cacho The whole community's reputation suffers
because of one Illcomber's misdeed.
MallY crows bad to ptr;s/) bW1J(U of ant crow. (179
One d:l.y a crow dropped filth on the king's chapbin who
thereupon harboured hatred against all crows. Sometime:
btcr the king's clcph:utt-st21ls caught fire and :lS a result
many elephants w('rc badly burnt. When tbe chapb.ill was
consulted, he s.aid the cure for burns was crow's (.;).t. Many
crows were :l.ccordingly slaughtered for their fat. See the
Jiitaka, i , pp. 300-1.
Ntar a fisherman alit is a fisbtrman; ntar a hrm!tr a
!Jlmltr. [ [SO
'A man is knowJl by the company he keeps.'
Ox to ox, ,ravia to 1I0V;ct. [IS[
Krrp and maUer tOlplNr; tbt maddtr will smtll of
imfigo. [1S2
]hd habits arc contagious.
Virlr/t alld morality kup similar compa/ly. [ 183
',Dird$ of.3 fcather /Jock together:
Minds togrtlNr, b(ldits apart. [184
Have dealings with a person but keep yourself away from
If 101lg, ptrsist; if slxlrt, wt off· [1S5
Associate with an c..-vell-tempered penon, have nothing to do
with a short-tempered one..
If tfx cattlt art scatUrtd tbt t;gr:r uizu tlxm. [ IS6
'Unity is strength:
Nt (QlIs IJtr outll ollly wbetl ber CllCu,nbtr fruits. [1S7
A rtal friettd is a relatillt, a dis" you likt is afrast. [ IS8
'A good friend is my nearest rdativc.'
III timt of Ust, family is but. [
'Blood is thicker than water.'
Wbtn tIN sisltr prospers tbt brollNr rides high; wbm 1M
brotJxr prosptrs tlx sister is in tbe kilcbm. [[90
A good tru can lodgt Itn tbollsand birds. [191
P(lt pof, tbt pots will tOllcb; ropu togtl/)tr, tbt ropts
will tallgle. {192
Constant contaCt between a boy and a girllC:l.ds to love.

PIau sour f ruit and salt wgttbtr, the tip of fiJi .10ngU( cannot
(ontaj" iUtlf [193
Two people of opposite sex C2lUlOt hdp ;lttrxting Olle
Fruit ill Quff/mll, bloHM! in spring.
'He t hat Ilurri cs bte, marries ill:
Tbt brow .. writil'J gets aroflnd tbi villagrs.
'Marriage is destiny: Sec the explanatory note, p. 4J.
A bullock h handsome if a Shan likes it; a brd is a palace if
you fancy it. {196
'lle:mty is ill the eye of the beholder.' The Shan people are
gro t a ttle-F.mciers.
Take afancy to a toJJy"paltn leaf, to you it's afairy. [197
Marry the person one fancies.
Young Moul L to bt carried; old enough to deptnd "pOII. [198
See the explanation, p. 41.
If it is to bt spent, let it go into one's own pocket. [199
A justifi cation for ma.rrying a rich relative.
Take cover among rtIations, you are ItCllre; marry a relalivt,
YOIl (Ire blesud. [200
Advising :l union between rd:ltives for socurity and pre­
sc::rv:ltiOIl ofline:lge. See the expianatiOJ1, p. 41.
Like minds, Imppy f or lift; IlIIlike mil/ds, always out of
mind. [201
-IJ rgrt not Jar a (m tllry YOlltb's bdolJrJ; j orget
bundrtd ctnturiu youtb's (ompollion.
IJ ot jor a
First love.
At t/Il right of fresh firh away go" tbt "art.
S2id of unfaithfill wife or husband.
Hot ill thefront rooms, not (00 / in till back. [204­
Str:lill in matrimony affects chil dren as wel l as domcslic St:lf(
Guuts only come to a bappy 1)(1115(,
Happy :J.tmosphcrc in t he house.
Ho(king a bamboo with a blunt knife, [206
Said of t wo weaklings marr ying one :mothcr.
A Jxlrt.-lippeJ couple blowing up thrjire. (207
A tru falls, plant anotber. [208
A favourite saying wit h widowers and widows who wa.nt to
(Likt) tOtl.g'Ut' and leeth. [209
Tills arc inevitable bctwC(' n husband and wife.
Crass depmds on f/)( isla/Jd, t/)( islalld 011 the grass. [210
Interdependen t.
Take a wife, fbi cat mllst dit. [2II
The husband kills the cat to show his wife Ius mettle.
Do not spart' a bfllJock or a wife.
•A spanicl. :'I woman, a walnut teee, tbe more they arc beaten
the better they be.'
TIJ( wax hcrams IV/X" it's away from thefife, [213
Advice not to leave one's wife for Jong.
Hard to know what to rat; hard to know flIbrrt to ktrp a
wif" [214
The dilemma of a j ealous husiwld.
If you [alit your wife, praise ber only wbrn she is draa. [215
After rayillg it mallY tilllts s/)( prevails. [2]6
She Sets her way by nagging.
Side witL a lIIomOIl, side witb foolishness. [
If th, thor. fall, th< lraf i, pim,d; if th< lraff all, (b, lraf if
pirmd. 1218
'Heads I Will , tails YOLL lose.' The wom of both worlds. The
plight of a wife.
Lou (If , oods is one Jay spoiled; loss of a bliSbolll{ is a ruined
lif" [219
D on't ba"t a dog}lf a /JlfsbatlfJ. [220
Time times tiN 1II 0llk bas cwnted monastrry. tbree tima fbi
woman ber husband. l221
They are ostraci u:d by the pllblie.
Only at bigh is tbe waftr.-lily at ill best. [222
The wife', posi tion depends \l pon her husband·s.
A handful frolll a good friend, a basktt frol1l a rich relativt­
but from a good busband a bappy lift. l223
Parcnts are tIJe first /tachers (of tbe childrtll). [224
Bad chilJrl'n? Blame the partnts.
TIN/d like to see him riding an elephant, SIImmneltcl by horus;
1I0t trampltd by elephants and kicktd by horsts. l226
lJiuard Dilly bad baskets and Pllllnt(S, nol bad sons and
elallgburs. [227
fIIi tb tht Ulorld 4re a mother will lay ber SOli dOUln and stanel
011 his boely. l228
I Vben ill agollY a 1II0tber will tven dtlly beillg related to ber
SOIl. [229
A heifer is 1I0t attached to her calf l23
A mothcr is lIot attached to her fIrSt child.
IIIIMI faali,h.", ava (h<.first ,hild' [23 I
Tbt IIIOJllb reJlleJUbtrs and calls him 'SOli'; tiN money paid
brands him {2J2
If YO II lisltn to your parmt's words, you (all boil slabs of iroll
alld stO/ltJ and tINy will btcome soft . [233
Fttdillg is ruiprocQud by ftt ding, tftlding by Ifnding. [234
C hildren should repay their debt to their parents in the latter's
old age.
Ollt mortby son, olle vaillable gelll.
[23 l
.lloth are difficult to get.
/It ill a thousalld motbers bears suel, SOilS.
A foalll u'l1slITillJ his booj"' /llarks hii sire's. [237
Slid of 3. son w ho defies his father.
If possible be IlJimlJ Jig for treasure on
hi! j atbt,! j or"
[23 8
Unfilial conduce.
The care of Oll t' dougbtrT equals tbal of {/ thol/sand (attfe. [239
A lIIotINT/US son is afish in low Wal er. [24
A real //laster Herds no flog;staj]. [24 I
' Good wine nceds no bush.'
EV(II rooslillgfis/;;postt:: rolif for a teat::her's guidaIJce. [242
A bad pupil? Blollle 11)( ttadxr. [243
Praise gotf to tbr pllpil, dttrac/ioll to 1m maftfT. [244
T reat a pllpil kindly, bt will break your Ixart. [245
Becallse be vied with bi;
ttarbtr be bad bricks tbrown at
Sec footnote 2, p. 45.
The pupil'f skill if Irrr than hif marte,'s.
[247 •
A vari3tion of t he above.
Try to furpoff YOllr tracher, YOII become mad;
try to surpau
YO/lr pony, you become,giddy.
The World
The world has:m omnipresent force cal led karma,) which pre­
\ Upposcs ;a belief in rcinc.anutioll. KanrUl, li terally meani ng
is indcfmablc, but can be described as the sum tou l of the
J(;tions that make up one's life or the accumulation of merits and
llclI1cri u in past existences a5 wcll as i n the present existence. All
Il mmcse Buddhists believe in it and it pervades :tll the aspects of
a lIurnlCSCBuddhist' s life. The popular concepts of this word arc
vJ.r ied :md a 13urman acts or behaves in the light of hi s own
lIuc1ersunding of it_
Ccner:ill y speaking there are two nuin schools: the first accepts
Ildrma the arbiter of lifc. It is cquated to fate md the attit ude
it is olle of resign:ation_ The protagonists of this school
kcl that mey are mere children in the lu nd of karm a. which
,\ctermincs thei r life or death. meir wealth or poverty, thcir
hl-:l lth or sickness and thei r happiness o r sorrow ; and that its
I( wards :and punishments CUlliot be foretold. Kctfma therefore is
.1 supreme :and unpre<licublc :authority, since ' one an sec a n Ull
Lirr ying on his shouldcr a spear but not karma' (good or bad
luck). nus ecruinly soumis like Micawbc ..-rism, but it is mani­
jC$ted in many a Dunrun' s not infrequent remark, ' It's karma',
what something Ius gone amiss, or in his behaviour when
f "emingly he is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.
The second school mainw l15 that k4l f m41 is what we nuke of
It. If it mC2Jl.S ' deeds', then deeds can be modified by the doer.
rhd r vi ews :1.$ expOlmded in several proverbs are: Rely not
",Iel yon your karma; do not risk yoursdfby lu ving a blind failh
111 karma; accept it but plaee not yourself at its mercy; exercise
your intelligence as well as your :assiduity in battling :l. gainst thc
vicissitudes of life.
I Sec the Introducti on. p. 6.
The vicissirudcs of life- prosperity and poverty. sucass and
failure. &mc :and obscurity, as «hoed in the proverbs arc the
inevitable laws of life. None of these has :l permanent control
Over men. Since karma has a hand. a m:m may be rich one day
:md poor the ncxt. Neither will the gtell be perching for ever 011
the tap na rwill the lowly one be always struggling at the bottom:
every dog has his day. r':liJurc is as much a phase as success. Many
Bmmaus console themsclves in their hour of di re distress with
the fate of Mahosadh:a , the embryo Buddha, who temporarily
lost his status of a Minister and had to carn his living:l.3 a potter.
This philosophy of lUut:l.bility has made most Burmanswhat they
arc: contented, carefree and proud.
The presence of karma is fdt by Burmam in every sphere of
their li ves. The world is full of unexpected and inexplicable
phenomcrut and incidents. One is coincidence which can be at
once pleOisallt or lmpleas:l.llt. Many of the proverbs about it have
one important moral : D on't trust circumstantial evidence, the
arrival of a person may coincide with the disappearancc of OIl
bullock, but it a n, all the same, be :it mere forntitolls accident.
Further, :it person nuy score a great success in an undertaking, but
it an equally be a fluke.
Other such phenomena and incidents arc those w hich OIfford
delight or canse disill usionment and disappoinnnent. The pro­
verbs poignantly iJl nnr:atc that the world is 3. bed of rosC$ as
well as of thorns. Who is more dc.Lighted than the thief who is
.. ppointcd to the trust eeship of 01 ttcasury-rhough in a few
he himsclfbeome a reformed character and rose to a high
To this there arc instances in which a man who
has been holding someone in high esteem finds Ollt that that
person has feet of clay; or in which a person revering something
that he thought was a p1g0da. discovers that it is only all ant hm
when he sees :it monitor lizards running out of it.
I See the jiIlaluJ, ui, p. 186.
2 See Hm. i, p. «0.
S Sec e:xplvution of'monitor lizard' in the: Introduction, p. 8.
The rest of such imponderabl es l re inCOll gruitirs, pl r:ldoxC'5,
tlntoward incidents, dilemmas 3.ud qUlndariC'5. The prowrbs
:l bout these luve 13unncsc wit :md humour l.nd many of them arc
t:\ther caustic. lncongmiti cs arc chicAy fmmd in absurd re-lati ons,
lI usguidcd or mistaken actiollS and ill-assorted clements. A man
has to pl y more for the accessories thall for the m:1.ill item; he
'lucks up his nether gUlllellt' (01 prcpar:ltion that is meant for a
sm:nuous usk) 'to catch a win.k1c'; and ' usd css thi11 gs arc often
perceived among valuable objects' . To the Burmans, as to
British, it is paradoxical to put the cart before the horse or to
l'Ol11lt olle's chickens before they an: hatched; but one thing that
pecllliar to the Dunnam is that 'a SOil can lll.-"Vc r be older than
Iris futher', that is :l father is assumed to be more knowledgeable
thall his son, because 'he ate the ricc his son did' (th:lt is, he
n older and wiser).
The world is topsy-turvy; that is what dle proverbs say, Un­
Co)ward incidents and the least expl'CtC(l things h,'1ppen to people.
A \X'cson desiring merit pours water on a sacred ballY1l1 trec
' LS put instead to the job of carrying the dnulls' (a form of
I\ullishmcnt in olden d3YS). On the other h3.nd somc Oll e breaks
,lie branch ofa sacred oony:m trct: and he gets:'l pot of gold. This
, Yllical saying has given birth to lIlany wh.ich though popllb.rly
11 '1Cd arc not taken seriously. A few of these :'Ire: 'Drillking
Il cpror wi ll lead to Nimiilla' (Immort:tlity) and 'E:lting: opium will
wi n the love of one's wife' .
The world is not only imperfect, but al so taluali zi ng as well as
Thete arc many OCC3sions on which people have
Ixen placed on the horns of a dil elllnu or ill a qU:Ul d:r.ry, alld in
many insul\ccs they si mply 6.11 bctweeJl t wO stools. A man who
hy chance ' gets hold of a ti ger' s rail ' has an choice of
two unbvomabl c councs--cithcr to let it go or hold 0 11. An­
f\lher m31l, like the one who il l S a piCC(: of juicy meat til:lt is
L Danyan trees ,l fC locka! UpOII as m eed by Dnrl nC!oC Duddhists
becawe the last Duddh:a atuillro enlightcnuu:llt under a b3nym tree
(Ficus rtfigiosa).
56 57
covered with grit, willluvc to study anxiollsly to avoid a dis­
agrcoblc outcOme. Equally unhappy is me Illall who tri es [ 0
catch twO 6sh and loses both.
Aggravation is of twO kinds: one makes the people wone off
and the other adds insu1t to inj ury. People who arc disutisficd
with their life. often yearn for a change, expecting :m improve­
ment. When it comes, more often than not it brings contrary
results which they h2VC not bargained for. The proverb 'The old
monk clouted the monastery boys only Ollce, but the new monk
clouts them twice' iJJumatcs not on1y tltis point but also it gives
insight into the mind of a llurm:m: he is suspicious of the new
order. The saying h:lS been used every time a new ruler or
government has turned out to be worse than the old oll e. In
some cases a perSOIl in pcrillooks for help from the quarter where
he expected to get it, but the would-be rescuer proves to he more
dangerolls than the peril. There are Illany provcrbs to show that
misfontUlc never comcs singly and that fortune smiles On the
favoured and frowns upon the unlucky. Many Dmmcse llud­
dhists accept these mischances with equani mity as their lot, while
others bl:une the world for Sllch inequities.
The proverbs have so far projected 2Jl image of the world ill
an unfavourable light: it has more faults than virtues. Nevert he­
less those headed 'The Diter Bit' prove that the world seldom leiS
the unscrupulous and immoral go scot free. A biter is U5wll y
bitten in the end. A Sl1lMt individw.l is bound to meet his match
ultimately. Karma, whether taken in the sense of a dynamic or a
static force, scenu to have a hand in aU the alfairs of the worl d.
Karma is tlx mother alld karma is [hi Jalblr, {Z49
Karma is supreme.
A lIIan dots not lose his life if the time at tvhicb he is faud to
die bas fl Ot arrived. [Z50
' lIe that is born to be hanged shallncver be drowned:
He will be poor, lJO/oever intelligent IN may be, if ht has tlO
karma. [ZSI
If the gale of karma blows a 1IIOlllltaill of rock will be blown
away, [252
Whereller ,be Jamsel of i1110rtulle gou there the rain
follows. [253
One CUUlot CSCOlpc one's karma.
When circutn!tanccs arefallourable water willjlow IIp... bill. [254
Tlx fi1lf1re price Ivill befixeJ in IIxJlftflrt; It'll it at tIN current
prjet. [255
Let the future look after itself.
Tbt mouth cbiselltd by a divine being and not by a buman
heing. [25 6
If a mort:lr made by human hands gets rice from time to
time, a hunun mouth made by divine power is worthy of
a regular supply of fooo.
A lucky tiger! While it's running itjnJs a Jeer. [257
At ,he pr0ptr lime the tbin ox will Icick. [258
'Wait and sec.'
5awkr Mcame king without aspiring to it.
Sawkc. a distaut relati ve, was compclJcd by circunutal1CCS [0
accept the throne when the king died. Sec Hm. Yaz. , i.
A worthless mall blames his karma. [. 60
•A b:ul. workman blames his tools.'
Do no/ tftaJ on a Ixap of thorns btCQIlIt you have faith in
your kamn . [261
WJJt fe thert art bold tigers about you art not justified in
blaming yor" fait . [.62
Don' t take urUl cccSsary risks by rel yi ng too much 011 your
Karma watcher over your property; yOl/r intelligtnce walChes
OVir YOII' lif" [263
Somt/imts poor
sOltlttimtS rich.
Strong currents one moment, slack water the /ltxt.
Hard time an d e3.sy time.
T/x top of a pinnacle now, firt ...wood soon.
First lbt hart was ahead and then the hound.
One day tbt stump ;s bightr, next Jay it's tlx grars. [. 68
'Every dog has his day.'
J will wait ;ns;d! the bush amI sbarptn my horns.
[' 69
I'll strike when my tum comes.
Waiting in the sun for tbe swelt to (ome.
'There is no summer without w i n t t ~ r :
jllJt as you arrilled my bullock aisopptarrd .
Jllst as tlx palm/nut f ell the crow Itrpptd Oil it.
Jllst wlxn Ix wants to cry you tau,/' him.
Gi vc him a pretext for doing what he wants to do.
A blina fowl came lipan tbe rier..pot.
It'S :.l Auke.
Jllst when tbe egg...plant is tbin tl,t kllift is blunt.
Said of a diffte ult situation which ari ses just whcn one is
powerless to ck.al wi th it. When :1Il egg- plant shri vels its
skin beconles very tough and cannOt easil y be cm.
A tbirsty man falls into a wtll. [276
Sending to Toungoo aperson who is f ond of betd...nut. [2n
' Fate gi ves a helping hand.' TOlUlgOO. a [OWl! in Burm3..
abounds in betel-nut palms.
Dropping tlx Cula tortoise in tlx water. [278
A council of ministers discu5-SCd the sevcrest form of plUlish­
mcnt which could be imposed lIpon the Cuia con oise and
at the suggestion of a stupid minister it was dropped into
the river Yamuna. See che l ii/aka. vi. p. 83.
Lttting an alligator loose in lbe waler. [279
To 1X)(d an old JOJ on a lroJb.
As YOII art jaud to (at (henry), bus swarm in your biard. [281
Appoillting a thief 10 a lrUJlttsbip; tmploying a witch to roast
meat. [282
'He 5CU the (ox to keep the geese:
Going with Q pocka!,1' and pami to a ploct' whfrc tbat art
tbitVfJ. [283
He uarcbts for a WOH/OII wba bas bun aivorud at/d hi finh a
woman who has divorced IJer husband. {284
J worn pinchbeck mistaking it for gold! [285
A man fmds Out that a person he had been holding in high
esteem h:l.s (ect of day.
Thinking that it was a relic of tbe BI/ddha we pllt it on a stand
and worsbipped it. Only when it UfOS actually on the stand
did we realize that it lVas a kaJcin seed. [286
seed' is:l. Mollica bean.
SUPpoJinl that it war Q pagoda I adored it; only when a
monilor lizard ran Oflt did 1 Tfa/;Z( that it IVas an tint..
hill! 1287

f lOUt him (my doughltT) in thinking that bt was a
chcttyar; only at dOWl1 did I realize that Ix was a lor
brothe,. [288
Both the ,"rllyar and thc lay-brother have shaven hcads :lJI<L
wear white clothes; but wllyars arc bankers &om South
India and lay-brothers arc mendicants.
Jllst as 1 Wtl$ praising Illy claugbttr's discretion, out she comt
ridt/ Q"'coeJe...horSt on the wooden spoon. [289
She let her parent down.
He was all right while bt was sitting; only wbtn Ix I.ot up did
I realjze bt WIZS lame. (290
I-Ie showed himsdf up by doing something t1l,;, t he ollght not
Why! Ix claims to bt tbe consecrator of the fivt"'Storira
lIIonos[ery,' in jact /)('j merdy a tOll t for the monk from
there! [29T
Tbe price of th, book (good) is great" tboll tb, price of th,
el,phant. [292
The accessories cost morc Ihan the l1lain itelll.
A pc of ,"erit, a viss af hell (sill). [293
On lit and. viss, sec No. 8z.
As tbe chick/n was ill Ix (on.wited 411 astrologer and II/DI told
ta sacrifice a bllffalo. [294
Using all iro/l bar to crack a boilrJ ro.. [295
'To break a butterfl y on the wheel.'
Attacbing a moust's rars to a hog. [296
A monk bas no concern witb a comb. [297
Bccause hc has a sh.wcn head.
The loin..clotb is tucked up where there aft no buttocks. [298
D:u-king up the wrong trec.
He cbeps at ont piau and it is cut at anotber. {299
TIN bank at NyaunJ U colJapsrd and tbt (OW at Sompa;nago
Jol a broke" back! [lOO
Said of people who a fC affected by events f.'lf removed from
San Pa (a ilion) claims to have been shoved aboul by the crowd
allbough he bas "01 bt," 10 Ibt public , bo,v. [lOI
A lame ttlan trying to climb toddy palms is Oftt df pIau. []02
An incompetent penon taking 011 a fOfmidahl c task.
Putting goods 011 the royal barge. [] 03
The foyal barge was all enormous bO:'lt of $[:'Itc. in which the
king IlslI."llly lIIade his j OlinIcys 011 [he river.
Gilding and bedecking with gellls the ovftl...bri(ki. r304
When diamonds are being sold, the wbaccd;stalk merchant is in
Ibt way.
Worthless people meddling ill serious business.
[l 05
The lame
do,g gets in the way of a ,good sImI as it runs
Rat droppings mixed with riu..ojJerings.
Useless stuff among val uable objects.
His mOflth says: 'Buddha, Buddha', bllt his band acts contrarj..
wi". [l08
A fake.
Travellilfg by raft and yet tbirsty.
Goint to plougb and forgetting tbt {oule.
TiN desire to 1011gb is stronger than tbe dtsire to wetp. [311
A misfortune that arou$I..'$ b.ughtcr uthcr than sympathy.
Tht SOli is ont month older tbon his fotbt"
A SOil is trying to be ckvcrcr than his f. 1thcr.
Tbt Ixmow sticks out in front of the brillock.
Often So"lid to impertincnt young pcople.
The monkey chasing the owner of a hillsidefarm. [l) 4
fox chases hounds.
TlJe tbiif cries: 'Man! Mall!'
He Jot, 10 btd /asl, yel fall, asleep firsl. [l16
Tht frog that h roarted last is cooked first.
Sbe was born last, yel sbe wants to bt called Miss First. [3 I 8
Said of people who act out of their turn.
Bt/ore be buomts proficimt ill tht goldsmith's art bt learns
bow 100Itai JoiJ. ll19
' J Ie tries to walk before he can cnwl.·
He has strticheJ his legs brfore h e ~ I sat down.
Searching for a lillie before bt gets tIN bare.
' Putting the cart before the horse.'
Wanting to return to tbe seCfl!ar life before YOII
"ave bUll
initiated (into the Order).
YOllt mOlltb is already sticky btfore you bave tbe cbo1lu to
t01ft tbt I OUp. r323
'Counting one's chich-ns before they arc hatched.'
Yearning/or his Qllnt rather tball bis mother. [J24
He who bar 110 pa-llSo says: 'Sit so (IXlt you do not show YO"'
I'g'.' lJ25
'The pot call ing the kettle black.' See note 011 plJ-n$O, p. 17 .
The homman wi,. asks for help from the p<dtslrian. [)26
You humbly apologize to him ollIy after you bavt slapped his
head. lJ27
'Apology after insult,'
Looking flY a pupil be finds a teacher. [)28
Lookingfat agood blank,i be fomld a ph,lan lree. [J29
A very coarse cloth is obtained from the bArk of pha/an
He waf at Meza without having been exiled. [330
Meza \v;"lS 2 penal settlement in n ordl Burma.
Defirillg benefit, I pollred banyan"water, but caught fix joh cf
(orrying tbe drumf. [331
Applied to the penal ty brought 011 oneself from hc.1ping
His tlJigb waf broken because bt planted a bodhi tree. [332
The. Bodhi is a sacred banyan trcc. Sec the explanatory note
011 the S:'icrt.'(1 banyan tree, p. 55.
He a pot of gold because Ix broke (the brallch of) a
($0"'<1) banyan 1m. [JJJ
Brrol/st he wanted to btcome ajrbomt be bad tiN figure of a (al
tattootd on him; but tbi ink ntertly added to bis weiJbt. (334
Said of something which is more of a liability an usct.
Wanting to have delectable food Jjoil/ed on orcbestra, but bad
to pay five ,upres bUQlIst I troJ on an o!xJe. [335
ExpdSitlJ in the Sflll a perfon 1lJ/)() likes to be eMI. [336
Bect/uSt tlx wild ox tossed him be arrived on tilt hllsh. [337
Blessi ng in disguise.
Like Ollt who by clMnee Wf taken ho/J of a tiger's tail: afraid
eitlm to hold 011 or to let go. [338
' Between the devil and the deep SC2.' Cf. 'He who ridcs 2
tiger can't dismount.' Chinese proverb.
Padaingjmit, if squf(zed ill the hami, pricks you; if
maw you mad. [JJ9
'To be on the horns of a dilemma.'
If you pUfh fonvard you mete tlx yok'f; if YOll draw backwarar
you hil fht crofs...heam of llx (arl. [340
Af to eatil1g it, welI, it if (overed with grit; bllt Of to tbrowinJ
it away, well, it it rich and IUfdouf. l34l
1 bave 110 money to pay (the debt) and 110 land to abscond to. [342
Whtl1 I work for l1Iy living tlx raiM are scanty; wben 1 fteal
(at "'y living the dog' bark. [J4J
Ht fails to find his rich uncle and in tbe meantime Ix mints tlx
frstival of putting tlx umbrella on a pagoda as well. [344
'To faU between twO stools.'
He JotS /I ot catcb tbt monitor lizard and Ix bas lost his
TIN oar b,olu while Jbe boat was toing well.
His $U{(($rj,,1 notu wert spoilt by the noise of ' Ding'"
dOHi· [l47
When :a lunatic, who was pointing out where treasures were
buried, realized that people were taking down notes, he
distracted thei r attenti on by shouting 'Ding-dong'.
The old monk clouud OHU, hut the Hew monk clouts twiu. [348
Maung Pa Lt, tIlt newcomer, is worse than tilt Minister of
Sbj,/ds. [349
'8ett er the devil you know than the devil you don't know.'
Only witb a flew mler do YOIt realize thevalue of the old. [350
Woe to tIlt river wbtn a monitor lizard beCOlHes an aUiJa...
tor. ilSI
In DUrIncsc folklore (he monitor li zard, which has :l tongue
3.lld so 3. scm e of taste and can enjoy irs food, is able to turn
iudf ill to 3.11 alli g:ator; wher!:as :l crocodile has no tongue
and eau only to fi ll its belly. Usnally :l pplicd to men oflow
bi rth OCCUpyitlg high posi tions. Once they have :l rute of
power they will stop at nothing and those under diem
often slIffer.
Being afraid of the tigtr be laktr refuge with the Lord Spirit,
but tbe Lord Spirit is wom than the tiger. l 3S2
'Like the fiotludcr, outof the frying-pan into the fi re: Slrin"7lyi.
lit. ' Lord Spirit'. is one of the terrestrial supernatural beings
whom many Durm:ms propiti:\tc.
Safe UpOIl sore.
' Misfortunes never come al one.'
With the world aftrr the oil,lamp blazes lip too! [3 54
Eczema COUlrs 011 fhr leprous place. [m
While bring trollbled by snakes, he is harassed by centiptdes. [356
Adding a pumpkin whell it's already u1eigbtd d01l1ll by a
gourd. 1357
'Double, dOl1ble toil and troubl,,;'. 8mh gourd and pumpkin
plantsfrllit on a frame. Wht·n the [ rnlUe is alrt·ady wei ghed
down by gourds it Ius to bear the weight of pumpkins 2S
The ash..chariot Ims arrived for fix monitor lizard prillct . 1358
Poverty upon poverty. For ilurmans the colours of both
monitor lizard a.nd a!ihcs denote poverty. The jiif(Jka
stori es relare that in ancient lndb, whcn a kingdom W:lS
left without :I king, ministers would send out into the
streets a dri ....erless ri mal chariot. It wo\llcl wander tllro\lgh
the streets and stop eVl·ntuall y ill front of the future king.
The tcrm 'ash-<:hariot' used here is :I. pl:ly on this custom.
68 69 TH E WO llLJ)
Probationers king jew be {ried 10 recrllit novices; but the" tilt
lay"brotbt, reverted to bring a Jaymon.
' It never rains but it pours.'
l 359
TIN brttzt rises wbtrt something is on fire.
'To bring oil to the flft::
Servi,'l. 4 (oM ilion tuitb watu, seltillgjire to a bot man. [36r
' To add insult to injury.'
The tbirf pClll1lds yot! wlX' 1l rOil bauf' Jallfll. 1362
Driving a sprar into IOlv grotmd.
The down-trodden usually gets trodden 011.
Pushing a drownin!, malt still jurtlxT down witb (/ bamboo. [364
' Pour not water on :1 drowunlmousc.'
Walu! itflows tc low grollnd.
Don't kick a man when he is down.
PilUS oj (urrr..-meat .eo to the man of big!) position. [3 66
The poor get only rhe gr:l.vy.
Em;ching fix ricb man. [36'7
A variant of t he prccccdillg one.
I awneJ tbat 1 was fr;gbuntd, yet bt toltcbtd me with tJ
ToM to blly sugar"'cant and SlIck it, be bollJ1Jt and at( SllJut
potototl. [369
Sugar-cane d c3ns one' s tocth , but a sweet POt::l. to di rties t hem:
hence he brings trouble upon himsd(
Wbtn on( smart imlividual muts QlWtixr bt bar bis nuk
s(v(r(4. [370
'When Greek meets Greek, thcn comes the tug of war.'
A cnfty crane living neat a pond where the W.ltct dried up
in summer offered to carry the fish to another pond where
water was plentiful. The fish agreed and one by one they
were ukcn and eat en by the crane, till only a crab waslcft.
The wil y crab agreed to go, but he clung round the crane's
nock while being carrkd along and severed the crane's
head with his pincers when he discovered the £:nne' s
intention. Sec the j iilakn, i , p. 9$.
To tonsurt a balJ head.
A RllsrrU's viper biUtll by a snokt. [37
Tbt sneak wruts it from tbe tbir}'s band. [J7J
The proverbs in this section, which is a sequel to the previous
one 011 ' The World' , arc concerned with m el1. Some of these
reveal various aspects of man' s life and others show m ell the way
to adjust themselves to thcir surroundings ill the focm of grim
w:mungs and pieces of cogt·1It advice.
Men toil throughout t heir life Ul a vain cndc2vou[ 'to fill nine
indl cs ofbclly' and ' to cover eighteen inches of back'. The avcr­
:'Igc and !he mc(liocrc cal! just make both ends meet, while the
wretched and spendthrift go on ' fetching water in an open wichr
I»skct', and the :tblc and intdligCIlt accumulate wealth. Never­
thelcss, the proverbs will have it, all these men arc not rcally
h:lppy: 'those who have money arc worried about it, and those
who do not have it, long for i t' ,
Wealth and poverty, which arc frequently identified with
success and failure, arc oftal thc outcome of mrn's actions.
'Living in a suitable place, having acquired good karma, observ­
ing: Illoral conduct :Uld possessing virtuous friends', says a
Ducldh.ist axiom, arc the requirements for success. The proverbs
howevcr assert th:!.t thrift, seizing an opportunity, swift aaion
and perseverance ue the ingredients. Thrift i.s not merdy saving:
mOlley, it is wise spending, and not 'penny wisc. powld foolish'.
Oppornlllity comes only once and unless 'a man stores up the
w.atcr (especially in Upper Bumu) while it rum;' he is likel y to
find himsclfin a predicament in time ofnccd. Many people not
only m iss an opporrunity; they arc sometimes caught unprc-­
pued like the mm who 'sharpens his arrows only when the
b2ule begins'. Dil:uorinC5S, like procrastination, is the thief of
time. Instead of t.aking opponurllty by t he fordock:, maDY men
d.1wcUe md let the dl:utce pass by. Burmaru have a pungent
s.ayillg :l.bollt such people: they arc 'like a bull which (imtead of
eking on the other bull) Illerdy answers nature' s call and
shupcns its horns'. To cJlSure success in any lIlIdertaking con­
stant ::r.ppl ication is cs.scntial and to do things by halves is incon­
ceiY.lblc to a resolute man whose morto is 'One IUust be as slow
and steady as a Pabung. I ifolle wishes to eat the best pickled tea­
leavcs' . Perseverance is :I. compound of indust ry and patience.
MallY weU-disciplincd .Burm:uu realize th.::at onc's industry is nm
rewarded imnlediately, especially ifit involves hard labour. Their
precept and practice in such matters is 'Clear watcr cannot bc
obtained from a wdl tim Ius just been dug'.
Some Burm.ans likc to enterrain great expectations and to sct
about trying to reach their object without any plan, and others
sit and wait for it to come. The proverbs about SUdl men 2fe all
condemnatory. ' He reads writings on trcasllte-trove hoping to
find it', or he sits and watches as 'a paddy-bird watchcs a w::r.ter­
People (roln thc W est have descri bcd t he Burmans a.\ being too
polite and consc<J llenrl y not spc:lkiug their minds. There is some
substance of truth in tili!; but there is some reasoll for such be­
baviour, n:llndy tactfulness. If a Burman 'wants flesh he asks for
bone' ,' :l.nd he gencrall y setS his sail as the wind blows and acu
according to the circuU\st::r.nccs. This is of coursc a piece of
hypocrisy to westerners who arc not acquainted with llUfIllCSC
orthodox teachings and homilies which lay Stress on not offend­
ing omu peoplc lUlIlCCC5S3rily. 'TerminologiClI inc)Octitudcs' 2re
permissible if thc mcaru jllstifi<.."S the cnd, and Ourmans will
seldom look upon a person, w ho uses bhUlt tactics, as a InaJl of
good breeding.
The proverbs :ulvocate tklt " llmm:Ul' s :lction shall match his
t.'let. Appropriatelless is the kcynote of his daily actions. Whcre
:l bradawl is ClUed for to execute a fine piece of work, a chisel is
1 l'al:nmI;5-, 3. t ri be ill Dumu., .:an: expert tCl growers.
t Anot her version is: 'He .:asks for liver bcawc: he w:ma fl esh'. It is.:a
reference to the story in whidl a m.an wanted [0 get a piece of from
a huntn, w d he got it by asking the hWlter to give him a bone.

72 MA N
om of place. He is also reminded by the proverbs that as many a
valuable word is w:mcd on d lC wrong car, many a good deed is
wasted on :ut unappreciative nu.n, since 'me nurrow of a Iioll is
too fmc for an euthcllwarc dish; it will stay only ill a cup of the
fincst gold',l And a BUnltan em adapt himself to his environ­
ment and acts 25 Rome docs when he is in Rome: ' When he
slips he joins the circle of sitting people' . Th05C who arc not
CCTtain of the accepted standard of behaviour a f C advised by the
provcrb5 to conform to the popular wish. '00 as others do when
the heavens collapse': this is a piece of2dvicc as wclJ :15 a consola­
tion given to those who expect exceptional troubles.
Prudence, 3CCordiug to the proverbs, should be a ile of the
gtliJ ing principles in one's speech and actiom. It is t he anti thesis
of ilHliscrctioll and excess. Discretion and cauti on are implicit in
these proverbs. One mouthful of unsuitable food, one i mprudent
step and one i.lldiscreet word can en danger one's life. One cannot
be too cautious in what one dOL'1. 'The teeth t hat :I rc to chew for
a long t imc must avoid bOllt'1' stllns i t I l l' very well IJldiscreet
words too arc to be l.'$Chewed; but ifa nun has to usc thelll 'whcn
he speaks :u night, let him look below.' when in the day let him
look behind'. to asceccaUl if there is anyollc about. The proverbs
:lTe quite explicit that to carry tales is u.nforgi V2ble. to keep
silence is golden, and to answer 'No' to all kiJ1C1s of enqui ries
lods to::t happy life. This is the Burmese counterpart of 'Sec no
evil, hear 110 evil, speak 110 evil' .
An enemy of prudalce is excess, which is one of the dc::tdl y
sins. Follow dte middle way, says the Duddha. ' Adjust the strings
of the harp so that they arc neither loose lIor taut', and only then
will melody be achieved. Immoderation i.n love, excess ill know­
ledge, in industry and ill gcnerosity-211 these h:l.ve disastrous
effects; and the conseqUt'1lCCS of Lntcmpcr:uu:e in dressing, spcak-
I 'l1lis s,1yill g i ~ derived from 'Give car and hearken, as if you were
fill i11g a tube or gold with lion's m,:jrrow·. The ;a/aka, i, p. 4.
S ill olden d,:jYs almost:l.il Dunnese h OU5CS were buil t 0 11 stilts, the fl oor
being at least foUl to b ve fect from the ground.
ing, spcnding and sleeping, a fcw of nun' s daily activi ties, 2re
indeed many times worsc. There is a slurp reminder to the
Burmms that too much of a good t hing can also be a b2d t hing.
Too rnillly doctors and tOO lUilny wry ingcdicnu in the cooking
pot often produce the least expected results. As fo r aV':l rice.
which is a form of desi ring too much, the Dunne5C proverbs are
in line with the dlinese and Siamese in censurUlg it . Greed to­
gether with mgcr and ignoI2Jlcc is the root cause of all the evil s
of this world-so says Buddhism.
If there are undi.sciplill cd Burnuns, it wi ll not be for lad of
proverbs on discipline and responsibility. Freedom without tll.esc
f WO spc:lIs chaos. A Roor which has no binding
defeats its own
pllIpose. To enforce discipline, authority and order is nocessary
so long as the worl d of m Cll is imperfect. Otherwise mice wi ll be
at play if the cat is away alld the j ungle c::ltwill rub his paws with
glee jf the jlUlgle is Oll fu:c. Those i ll authority tOO nt'Cd to set a
good exalllple, for ' if the abbot climbs lip the b:l.iLlstradc' , . ~ a y $
onc t renchant proverb, 'the novice wiH go olle bener by climJ>.
iug OntO the shelf 2bovc the oven'.
A wag once said: 'TriRcs makc perfoction but perfection is no
trifl e' . Perhaps he had in mind the Burmese stock expression
'Never mind', when be was indu1ging Ul this witticism! Bur­
mans, duough force of habit or ClSu21ness, usc t he expression
even when dIe matter is far from trivial. Many Burmese proverbs
ulSist that trivial t hings can give rise to serious consequCllces. Even
one drop of honey W:lS once responsible fo r the destnlction of:I.
whole kingdom.' Conversely, some proverbs maintain that
there arc uivial things which Com be S3.fcly ignored. Thesc ace of
course pcrsoJ11, actions or things of no consequence SUdl :u 2
dog's flo, 'a pinch of sparrow' s cxcrement' and 'a bull ock
c1app'.-r' .
The proverbs slate meddlesome individllab, ;md dlCY censure
I 11le Durll\CSC fl oors in olden ID.)'S were nude of spli t b;.mboo tied
together :l.t the side ofthe house.
: SI..-c the story. ).BR.S., Vol. v, pt. i, p. Z3.
74 MAN
the people who practise ncutrality. To the busybodies the
exhortation is 'Don' t concern youndvcs with things "u the
Elephant Minister's lady docs", ' which arc no buslncn of yours:
neither should you worry tUlJlcccssuiIy :lbom other people'. Tn
those :I.t the other extreme, the neutralists. the warning is clue
they will not incur rcscntl1lcm but misfortune and catastrophe.
A sm:l11 Stltc between two powerfili w.uring states may be
u ushed for no &uh of its own likc 'the myaa grass· bctwcCl two
fi ghting buffiJocs' . til some cases a person suffers the same plight
as 'the matting of the granary wall doc,' when the chicken pecks
it in trying to get at the padll y. This is the way of the world.
Nine illcbeJ of belly iJ all ocean. [374
Ncither the stomach nor the ocean can be filled.
Fail to work one day ana be IJu/lgry f or a month. [37.5
Tbt water tbat tbe Indian frtcbeJ is not sufficitnt for biJ own
Ust. [376
Living bcYOlld one' s income.
Ten ricb houJtbolderJ will not hi ablt 10 makt tI10uJh cont,;"
butionJ to Jupport ont poor boustbold. {J77
It is tbt kitchen that maktJ away with ont'J proptrty.
AJ the wattr flows so iJ the Jam raised.
As the husballd carns money the wife saves it.
1 An Eleph:ll1t Millincr's wifc nw ;l lIIust clcplunt and was worried
lest its pcnis might hit:l trec-smmp. RED., i, p. 30.
I ]11lS iS:I common grass, probably Cy"oJOI1 dOC/y/OII Pen.
Picking up frog' wilh Q peiforalt' bag.
An industrious husband :md 01. spendthrift wife.
A s tbe dot giVtS birth to afawn tbe t;ga tats it.
It is di fficult [0 make both ends meet.
Half a bUJlxl is Jpoilt f or ont anna'J wortb.
'To lose the ship for :l lulf(K'nnyworth of tar.'
[3 8•
With an tyr for a spoonful tlx whole pot iJ minttl.
' PCtulY wise, pOlmd foolish.'
Tht proJpect of getting a white rlepbam iI canctlled by tbt
rtuipt of a singlt (whitt) cotion thread. [384
A Burnun usually refuses 10 accept :l small gi ft or offer if he
Ius an expectation of:l. bigger onc.
(Adj.,,) burden 10 'Irenglb, like arrow 10 bow. [385
'Cut the coat :lccording to the doth.'
When you incur a debt tht kinJ will Jettie it. [386
Eat, drink and be merry. The attitude of a spe.ndthrift.
Ht who baJ, worries; he who hos not, iOlltJ· [3 87
'To h:ave money is a fcar,llOt to havc it a grief.'
Tlx hitler tIx titer tbt bitttr tlx put..markI. [3 88
The more money a p CrsOLl gets the more expcllS('s he incurs.
TiJolltb the centipede has ont of its legs brokm, this does not
affect its movement. [389
A sm:ill fm:tllCl.alloss has no cffect 011 ;I rich man.
76 MAN
Wbtn an </epbant , brinks it', ,till a bliffalo. [390
A wea1thy man in reduced circunuunccs will still be as well
off as a well-to-do person.
Looking jDf a sq/{i"e1 until onegl ts a bird.
'Somewhat is better man nodling:
Until timbrr is available, 1Ill' bamfw., ar agirder.
Store flP tbe wattr while it rains.
' Strike while the iron is hot.'
Draw the thread while the moon shine!.
'Make hay while dIe sun shines.'
He cart tbt net only when tbt fi,b had galle off
It is too late to grieve when the chance is gone.
Putting tIN fowl on its perch at daybreak; spreading alit tbt
paddy at rullret. l396
Shutting the stable door after the steed is stok'Tl.
While we wait for the rain tlx plants in tlx nurrtry...plot
'J' rocrastination is the thief of ti me.'
Sming sail only after the village has bun parred.
Arrows all gone before the battle begins.
Sbarpmillg your arrows only wbtn tIN battle btgi"r. [4
Ooing a thing at the eleventh hour.
Lookingfor a tru only wbtn tlx eltplxmt cbasts you. [4
A stupM man (onuivtr an jdea only after tbe event. [402
You busy yourself with mending tbe rowlock, and lo! you have
arrived at Ywatbitkyi (Big Nt/v Village). 1403
Applied to a person who takes an Ulul cccss:uily long time to
get ready.
Dropping dung and sbarpening hi; homs-t1,at's all the big
red bull doer.
He never fi ghts.
A boat... load of broad beans i; (ooked bejore His Majesty is
ready to (orne Ollt. [405
O[U.. '11 said ofa lady who cakes a long time getting ready to go
If you dive down, go on till you reach tbe sand; if yolt can
climb up, go on til1 you reach tbt top. 1406
' Never do things by halws.'
One day, six j u t; wbere will Pagan tnove to! [407
' Slow and steady wins the race: The idca. is dut even ifa boat­
man onl y progresses up the river six feet each day the city
ofPagm will still be,in thcS!lme pl:!.cc, i .. e. slowly and surdy
will get you there in the end.
78 MAN
Ltt not Iht band which bas bu n wtUtd Jet dry.
Once a work is started do it till it is finished..
Hi's only just Ju,g a lueJI and bt wants to drink dear waitt at
anct. [409
'Rome was not built ill a day.'
Only just marrjrJ and soc wonts to tive birth to a child. [410
H, " app" a fish-hook wherever tbt fish sent up bubbltr
(expecting to catch it).
A m:m who expects to make a success of something without
thinking it Ollt.
Exputin,g to have ript' fruit to tat alone clill/bI to IIx
A paddy bird watcbing a wattr outltt.
Mr Mieawbcr.
Ht cleared away tbt bush beCOl/st' be sow a wrt.
'An axe to grind: Applied to people who undertake some­
thing widl an ulterior motive.
Ont onl] gels tIN smtll of frying, "fit doun't get Qny fritd
fish. [41 l
C( 'Jam tomorrow, but never jalll today.'
1 didn't Imolu t!Xlt Illy motixr...in.../aw was goi"g ttl dit! If 1
bad 1 would bol'( bOllgbt a horSf to ridr. l4I O
A person who woul d have been less e:lUtiolis had he known
th:l.t a fortune was awaiting him.
To ask Jar a bone if one wants.flesh.
Watch tht dirtCIiotl of fix Ivind and stt sail.
• As the wind blows you must set your ~ i J . ·
Tht /Just will bait if the tongue's too true.
Painters :Uld poets have lcave to lie. Often used to justify
cxaggct'3tion in speech.
He starts chiulling the moment be appears. [420
Said of 3. tacel ess person who employs bl unt tactics.
Ovc1(ome violtllu only by gentle mCalls. [421
•A soft :lIlswcr tUnl cth away wr:llh.·
Only if Ollt' accepts mffcring fuill ofle elYoy belltfit. [42>
'No pains, 110 gJins:
BtJrt wilb a braiaw/, cbisa wilb a cbisel.
Where gCIl t1e m('2ns arc ailed [or violencc is o ut of place and
vicc vrr$t2.
If a lIu dlt can pitru it don't cbop witb an axt. [424­
'Don't uke a hammer to c["3ck ~ lI lI t.'
Tit a chicken with an tJ/'pbant ropt, it will slip off; tie an
tlrpJumt witb a cbicktn... tl'fixr, it will brtak. l4-25
Applying the wrong kind of d.iscipline to a person.
80 MAN
The prQ;/Nn sits on tilt sparrow's eggs ana vice versa. [426
Applied to .2. hCOLd-strong lad.cr with wca followers :and a
weU lelder with he:l.d-strong foUowcrs.
You can't catcb a minI/Oft! with a widt,mtrb ntt, nor catcb (J
Jbark with a pilet of muslin.
Adj usting mc2JU and cnds.
You can only held lion's marrow in a purt gold cup.
Sec p. 72, footnote I.
111 rTJt Garuda country be a GarudJ; in the Naga (oulltry
b, a Nag. [429
'Whil e in It omc do as R ome docs.' Sec notes o n Gam/a :Uld
Na.r:a, p. 26.
You art skillta at what you art familiar with.
'Every m:m to his [(":Ide.'
Drink tIN bitUr rain"watrf as olMrs do.
[43 I
Conform oneself to the popular wish. A royal chaplain told
the king that bincr rain cOlltllining impurities would faJl on
a certain cUy 2nd tlut whoever dr-,lnk it would become
insane. The rain fell as foretold and all the people in the
kingdom, except these two, drank it and oc'Came iruane.
Bue t he chapbin and t he king finding themselves in the
minority had to drink it in the end.
Do as otbtrs do when tlx betwens collapse.
Bllddl)a found it impossible w go against tIN strtngtb of tbe
O,drr. [433
The wish of the nujori ty usuall y prevail s.
If tilt fif( is grtater tIx fire wins; if tbt wattr it greater tbe
wattr wins. [434
~ V h e l l yo"r strmgth jj not SfljJicimt, 11IItuble YO'fTstlf.
[43 l
'Discretion is the bettt:( part of valom.'
if a sant doJ. figbts If iliad dog, it's tbe sant dols ear (bat is
bitten ojJ [436
'He that touchcth pitch sh;JI be defil ed therewith.'
One mouthful of UIISl/i(ablefood. ont infp",dtlll sUp may lead
ta prril. [437
' Look before you leap.'
Tbt Itttb that art going 10 cbew f or a font time sbonlJ try to
avoid bO"'f. [438
Husband your resources.
Tbollgb you would like to brat tlx Jog, yem have to consider
its mosters fact as well. [439
One mUSt consider vari ous factors to avoid:1I1 imprudent step.
E/ltIJ if you do not Jove him (be,). hold you, breath and kiss
bim (ber); even if you do not kiss him (ber). heave a
figb. [440
The anger of the pmdent never shows. [44
82 MAN
ul tbtm know about it but not Jet it.
An advice not to commit ;an indiscretion publicly.
Ont (on't,go 10 btd wbtn a "iiitor stays lalt.
Sm" Joy, i, Ibt 1'"Jlb of 0 JU"I', lif'. [444
Don't outstay your hospital ity.
Visit nol witbout invitation, (at not what JOts not luit you. [445
When you iptak at nigh/look btlow, wlx n you speak in tbe ailY
look btbi"J. [446
Sec explanation on p. 72.
Ltt the warch spoken ill flu Jungle diJopprar in the jungle. [447
' All that is said in the kitchen should not be heard ill the h.2I1,'
Silmct it wortl1 a tbollsand piues (of silver).
'Silence is goldell .'
If yo" carry tbe word' NO' wit" you, you will Miler be poor
(lien in old agt. l449
IfII" hoJy J'" IhrouJh 0 bol, il CO" bt puUtJ oul; if Ibt moulb
slips it cannol rrtract. [450
'Detter the foot slip than the tongue.'
Tllllt tIN harp strings to hi ntit/x, too loose nor too tOII/, r45J
r'OlIow the middl e way.
Moderation is medicine, excess is peri/.
Moderation ill all things.
Tbt mort vjount tbt 10ve, tbt more violent the anger, [453
cr. ' Love me little. love me long.'
Exctrrive knowled,ge leaas to rtnullciation, exctrrive industry to
aistraction, excerrivejavour to passion. [454
Excerr in clotMS leaJs to debt, in splflding wslavery, in rating
to harm, in slerp to stupidity. [455
'Every ext remity is a fa ult:
Commit yourself;/I speecb, you become a slave. [456
'ut not youc tongue cut your throat.'
The kind..hrartcd bccomes a slave. [457
Ylx good.-hearted has a heavy load. [45
I)coplc will take advantage of you.
Too many doctors anJ the son Jirs. [459
'T oo m:my cooks spoil the broth.'
Too mf/ch carp maku the curry insipiJ, [460
Too much of a good thing. The Rohita carp is one of the oot
Too much talk will incluat rrrors. [4
Words! Utter many and they will revfa1 your breed. [4
He who delibaates too much ruins his (aUSt. [643
' He who hesi tates is lost,'
Teasing eventually tllms to a quarrel. [4
A stumpy Jog wants to qflorrel, a stumpy man is short­
tempert d, a stumpy boat is difficult to stetr. [4
85 84 MAN
Gmlt desift ohtains IiItlt.
G""p .n lose .n.
A needle (omu in and an axt gOts Olft. [4
Large loss for small gain.
&"ur, bt tvould not tat it, tbt food got maggoty. [468
Said of cloSt.--fistcd people who arc too meall to put their
posscssiollS to good usc.
The Jreely Inon! His /Voras are swett. [469
A floor which bas no bil/ding ;s in disorder.
Sec p. 7]. footnote I .
A sktin of yam whicb bas no binding (to kitp tbt tbrtad in
piau). [47
&cause (1)( cat's away tlx mict art at play. [47
Wbtn tbtjunglt is onfire Ibtjun,glt cat slaps bis arms. (473
Lawless d ements take advanugc of lawlessness. Sbpping
onc's arms signifies glee or triumph.
If 11)( mOJlk climbs tip fix balustradt. won't a noviu climb
onto tbe sbtlf above tiN o v t n ~ l474
Most Bmm<Ul5 do their cooking on a wood fire. and abovc
the fi re-place is a shelf on which .af C placed things that
need drying by smoke and heat.
Rain"wa(er leaks through tbe rooJ"top. [475
People high in the hierarchy set a bad example.
Starting/rom tIN rubbish, it burnt tIN pyathat(a ttlonrion). {476
'Dangerous fire begins in the bed straw.'
The country is destroyed jar 0 drop oj henty.
Sec cxplan.atioll on p. 73.
Trffiing! trifling! the nosl' bluas in the ma.
Drowning in shallow walrr.
Said of a person whose f:a.i lmc or downfall is due to :l minor
Tht cat walks by but Ibt d,wd"p; don't fall.
An action of110 consequence Lus no effect on serious matters.
Dllst dOiS /lot rise kcause a do,g-:foa bops. [481
Tbt dog InoY bark but tbt ant-bill will not run away. [48.
'The dog blrks but the caravan goes on.'
A pincb oj sparrow's dun,g cannot serve as manure. [483
'One swallow docs not make a sunull cr.'
One sesamum sud will not make oil. [484
Scsamum oil is popularly used in Durma for cooking. Sec
explanatory note on seS:lInulll , p. 2.
Altbougb the bullock"clapper claps, it will not give sesamum
,,,ds. [485
There's nothillg
the Elephant Minister! laay need
Sec note, p. 74.
Althoug!J thepo/'s not !Jot (be 1M is.
Said of people who arc UlUlcccssarily worried :l.bouc others.
Tix tttbtring post sbook b'lt not Ibt pony.
Tbt bush is worrird on the bart's account.
Its 1I0t the sticky ,ju tbat is stickiltg, but IIx ro,tgh ,ju. [490
T he persoll ill :l. matter docs nOt mind but an out­
sieler docs.
M yc-za grass bet,llun fight;n!. b.iffaloes cannot fUftliue. [49
The plight of :I. weak neutral state between twO powerful
warring statd. Sec notc on myr-za grass, p. 74-.
The matting suffers brcaure the chicken eat paddy. f49
Sec: explanation Oll p. 74­
Wbtll tbi log was strllck hy the chame/MII
fIIas hit
Said of l. third who suff"n in l. or qll:l.rrc:l.
A bamboo growin,! k tween two tras.
If Ib, billlopp/er, Ibt gross is "prooltd. [495
Applied to the plight of dcpc1l(bnts when they lose thei r chief
Contrite/in!. malaria while coJ/ecting alms. [496
lllcurring blame whiJc carrying Oil OIlC'S daily task.
D. I'. - C
Key to Pronunciation
The symbols employed for the representation ofDurmese soundt Me the
same as those used in the new DitfimllHY. now bc-ing
issued in p<lru by the School of Oriental and Afrinu SlUdics. The
')'Stem is as follows;
Q in open syllables. po!m; elsewhere the Slmc sOWld shortened.
in open syllables. coger; elsewhere pin.
u in open syllables. tDO; elsewhere put.
e Fr.l/eYe.
I! in open sylb.blcs. Fr. el?vc; elsewhere well.
a law.
0 Fr. CQII.
.i tight.
ou boiL
au doum, soun(1.
ai fine.
b, d, g (as iogo), h,j. k.I , m, II, ny (ugl! in Fr. J{gllt), p. r, S. f. W. Y
(as in you) , z approxi llucdy as in .English; bllt :upiration of k. $, t, and p
m lJ$[ be ... voided.
C all intimate combination of / 2nd y. resembling the initial 0011­
sOl'lmw sound in 1J'lip or the en ofchrat: made widl tip of tongue
touching lower rccth.
U when init;:ll as ng in sing"; whell (moll, ;'I nasalization of the pu­
ceding vowel.
o Ihin.
i) then.
I JI!:tKe (no rounding ofL?,).
It folLowing:t COll$OlWlt indicates of tlut consorWlt, :IS in
kh, sh, th, 1)li, cit. Prro:ding a COllJWWlt, it indicatts that that
consonaJlt is a breathc!1 coruonant; thus 1), n, tn, I uc voiced
OOllSOIWIts whik h1), hn, 7lm, hl :tre breathed consonants-hi
being = the 11 in Llmllililino.
, is 2 gl0l1:;11KOp :as in the Cockney or the Gwgow prollWlciuion
ofwaler For convcruence this is further dcaJt with wlCJc.r
Notc.-As:simihtiou of final rusaIs before ccn:ain conSOlWlts is not
indic:.ucd in the phmlCtM: tr.ul5CfiptiOIl, e.g. 'patltJa 'uthnu', :md
'pa!]dai?J 'winning-post', whidl should be: pronounced 'pan na :md
'pan daiV.
The term 'wnc' is herc used to describe four o( the five categories of
round found in Dunncsc, the fifth, the ntUCr.l1 a (as in above) being
rL'gardcd :lS IiOIi-tonal.
The It z,d tolic.- A 5yllable in this tone is low-pitched relatively to
adj acent syllabJc,. No fall of pitch is pamiuible but it can rise towuds
the end. lightly stressed in cornp.u-ison with syllables in other tones
belonging to [hc same combination. Levd tOiles arc le(t unmarked in the
phonctic tnnscriptiozl, 3S S(,uy 'blanket '.
The IleallY (alli"g tone. - 'nlis is high-pi tched at the start md faUs
ttlx"ply, !'ronounccd. in a 'breathy' voice mduig in a 'fade-out', He:avily
stressed. M2rkcd by ' prcaxling the sylb.bk , 2S 'lOti' 'harp'.
The ataky tOlle.- PronOUllcro with an illlermittcnt voiCe, filling
(rom 2 relatively high initial pitch and ending in a weal:: closure of the
glottis. Mulr:cd by , following the syllable, as 'to wait'.
The abrupt tone.-R.a.mer higher in pitch dun the creaky tone.
TerminateS in ;l glomi stop produa:d by an abrupt closun: of the glottis.
AccolllJ»nicd by lIluch greatct effort and COllStriaioll of the larynx
thcC=Iky tOIiC. MMkcd by , following the syllabic :l$.,au· 'to be steep'.
Burmese Texts
I. CE?hmO lubmo o'myo
2. 6j POU"tlU:go' OJ 'pe thwt)hmo'h£
3· h!Jo'pyobiIJ soi' mi'loi' pharo
4. 'chaun'yo 'myou!)'yooo tcig'g:xlt lu'mya matein'go
S. 00' 'myo '00 til
6. e'ciD aco'ko f,we'hma' (lIe' acig'go Oi'ya'd!!
7· zali'go Oi'jilJyilJ omll oci!J'go ci'
8. a'pyn chayi!) ();.)'oo 0
9· a'pwc myig apiu OJ' ,,'Owe royiIJ oOwiu ai'
to. co'yo cozwtgo myi!) ycdoiO yem:) Oi'yo'me
11. chiObo' lW10lJ mahnl<l!J hmilJzolJ Oe'Oe
12. 'kbwcbmo hnoyOU!) couuhma Da'phu luhma 'du
13· shi!) hou)'CQug Ilno'mau1J Ot?Oc ka'lu hou)'caul]
hna'kLoulJ 6r.')&
14· badeiu to' maw? gahow) Oc?Oe
IS· Jwc a'call!) pha'ycm!) 6l)Oe
16. nayou)'Oi hmal) khll!)naiolJ yc !Jon' '00 so't;e
17. shiiJ7.wt hmon 'po mO'lIO'bu
18. OOda'myo hmog nUl) malli'
19- 'tbobo? 'kau!) sa'louooc' tIn:'
20. 'she 'koll!JyllJ 'Oa!J' goU!J
21. 'taUIj oku' III awn'
1-2. you" oo 'pri!) '(r,) 'khi!} 'mciumo' 'pyin chi 'shiu
23. jahwc' at..c' pau'
24. 'hiO 'soje' at..c"kolllJ pOll'
2j. tha'miu'jaugu' aIJwc' t hw£'
26. tou' clliOdr.' 'mi'gt: oJcilJlU:' 'yt:'ye
27. ci1e 'wcle 113ywe' lo
28. 'cwt:'bo 'SOUl] 'ti
29. 'wo na'bilJ9o ye 'OMolo' mawio
30. pe kouoywe' so maca'
3). ' PO()O kou!Jlo' mouu PO"U ' souU mow'
32. Eb'mi kouuywe' Game' mayo'
13. 'pbwEgo 'tba uuywe' shog'gonu maya'
34- wo'gul] te'bh:go phou' ywc' OOsbou' maya'
3j. Gakhu'pwi!J' go dabyi pyou' ywe' t3ehou' maya'
36. wa' shwogo chulJY"'e' mathe'
37. ' kon!} kl\Qu1)goulJhmo ye'dwin 'tu
38. '9£'dt: ye 00'
39. 'chouuye 10 '(k kO!I't1innt:' 'shi
40. shlu'paza' ' hnoU PE'
4[. W\}'lou!J'gou!J'dt la' 00
42. In a' ei'mt" kouU ' pe
43. ana maOi' 'ahe maJi'
44. ahni' mafi'dt' 'ta 'mi!J mn
4S. a'roe 'CW£'jOUlJ aphyc pho'yo' lou!)
46. malcilJmo hnnkho 'rna
41. maOi'yin 'mc masilJyilJ 'ahe
48. maOi'i)u ro'()wo OJ'[)u pha 'so
49. yayn' mamu gn mamyilJ gayu' mn myu myi!)
So. ffiapyc'()i' '0 bonlJbilJ kho'
jl. lu'byo maOalJ Inooo ma'py.>
52. m)'E'si ....golJ tnshe umcau'
SJ. 'myilJ 'silo' a'till tlmo"bmo!) maOi'
j4. khtl'yi twilJ lo' ywa.zig maOi'
55. mtlfi'dodt) maOi'do kbE'
56. 'jojn sho lx:hgf." If. 'me
57. '00 koPlo' no tole' le ' me
58. t3lJogo poi' 'tho eig mou"shogo '00 'tho aia
59, 'phou!J'ji so eho' mi"j oug'min ye'giU pya'
60. pye a' ' youn ' Owo
61. cit) 0 'co ko!) ' mei!)ma' 0 'PO!) PO!)
62. Wo' l.emye>hna yin dago'lou!) 'Oougywc' makoU-!)
6J ...'sbin Ii' a'ewu mal i'
64-. yozowilJ pyaulJ ci-lJdoulJhmu' li ?la?t£
65. ' mciumo' pbye? pye Prt'
66. ct' mo' tunlo' ' rno ma' li:o ct' pho' t ll!JhmO' ' 010 ' lin
67· ' MwO ' ci We au? t.aUI) 'ci pbs' wo ou?
68. ko mahlo' ko mamyilJ Ou mahln' un yijil)
69· ko' myt" c}li ko roomyilJ Ou' mye?'chi UO myilJ
70. ko' lJoobilJ ko chiD
71. ka'ka ko pho lDaOudo khulJ llO' pa
72. 'ci'gOlJ'myolo ko' lI ' hDlO' ko hm o?f;t:
73. ko' sci?lI c' ' !l noi!) mo' yuiU
74. ko' ota?nc' ko 'ti ll
75. Ocjinde' ' 00 'to ' PyouD
76. ka' pall!) ko }lion ' thou!)
77. ko' ' wunna kobo Oi '
78. gu' ltt fi'yv;c' Dati' anYU!J' poll ?
79· 9u' mya hno' khouUoe' a(k? JII
• 80. flbi!Jbyudo hmi' hi CO!) 8OU?
81. shin pyo' shOD 'toU!]
82. . !)W6 do' be Iduna 'lIll\n:yo'dE'
. 8] . Jwe l\a'doll!lyou!J jou!J' 'pet PyouD
84. JwcbilJ 'no Jwe ' ce uwebiU 'no IJ we ' ce
85. ci!J'ni' jiu yoc1eou!} 'YOll!}
86. 9hlllliu' bma lJ Oi'au!)
87. 00'9& 'SOU!] towi!J' wilJ'
88. ned::>' pyiUdotl!J ' soda' chinbotl!)
89. Jwc'joll!) pyOIl!) by(lU!} khclIIUgou!)
90. asho!} maJi'de' OojU!}
9 1. o'mt 'd tl' r ohne ' hi!} 'oLma' '0 mana
92. c.hipa' slloga' 'po pouuj ilJ
93. chibyo t lmmci!) De' wroeilJ 'blon
94. In ne choulJ' jo sci? ne bong'bya
95. mahmidt'»o.n ' tow) 1.:1n' lo' ' hlol]
96. ' do u!) tu' lo' 8080!)c ' hlo!) che ' hlon CE paUll pe'
97. IJ we da'bcnc' Jl'l' lc' gou!) shaig
98. 'nrad::>' 'zeot ywoo::>' mahanwe
99. cOO:)' WeOa'j i 'nymb' hIe'do' ba
100. a' hIo!) tEda' ole la ?
l Or. OOOIJ 'cido' pY£?' si yot.aiu
102. OCO!) kOlllJ geloulJ ' she che)
10 ]. ocol) maJi' 'ys lou? shon mali' ' pc pyou)
104. ' sa cc) Oll lJ bnatt? ' 80 CE?OuIJ
105. no'vhu ma' Umda'byi
106. 'pwc apye"r>a 'swchmo
107. phyj) 'pyidc'nau? masi lJ mocou?b"bu
108. nyb]' maue) b " bu
109. umo' toun' hmo' Oil a' anulJ'
I 10. maJi' gadi' mati
II I. kou?Qa phyo u!)' !)a 'sa nmkoulJ
112. cho!) khoulJ' bude' ' nwo
113. ' kbwc
11 4-- a'On' dEgo'
lI S. UO' Iu Ou' &?6e
It 6. 9a' kbo do' yo ' kon
117. kogo' ' e ll 'dndoun m::>yoll!Jya"bu
118. CUD YOU!) 'ko!J 'Oo1la' mi youlJ zou!J' IoulJ ' kolJ
fl9. luyoulJ Oe
JJ.O. ' c::> eha'hmo' dobya"lunau Oi'
12.1. rowe'bwo khobai? poi?
12l. oyoi? khogo akhc?
123. Oeyeba Oaye'na ' sa
124. 'so'bi khwt:) hmauil
125· no 'mwed£'royauil uo'go chau"
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130. 'ce'zu 'kOD 'Io!) momyilJ
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1]2. takha 6e'bu pyiubo' 'no Ie
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136. ka'la monoi!) ygkhaig 'me:
137· ewu? monoi!l lo' ci 'mi Jo'
138. ma'8Clyo'de' a'me
139· Ou'go 00 phyc) !Joyi!) pyt:?
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141. Y0!J7.Q'gO t.ol:o chi'ao'go (cze
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143· 'co rna'ye till Iu ma'ye: hi'
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145. oou)ywc' mal)(, Jt?ywe' Oc
146. !e)'9i pya'
147· '00 Oehmo' lu 'zll!)'goU!l po
148. Oe'kbo 'pycbmo' 'tho'gwi!) tho'
[49· ma'YE'be 'owe' bYE 'siji!)
[So. mp)hno shitl'me Olooi'WUlJ'
lSI. 'lwe 'y£ 'mi!) phyP
IS2. co' myc'ji fwe'thi
ISJ· maee Oclh !)a'yE mu'la
IS4· ma'yEga' dE 'pye'gue
ISS· zomuyi'myo o' mwe ta'cbou!) oou" makbo!)
Ij6. tayauf 'kou!) tJa'OoU!J boje nYE"uye" cc
157. 'OOU!) ne en sbayogo
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159. lJa'y£go' lu pyobu
160. ywo'owa mo'8Q
161. tago mi"joungo ma'ie
162. myi!)bon 'myodo' nl: 'nOlJ bolJ 'myoda' pye
16). haun'lundE' ' kbwe lu rna' ie
164- OJ' napi'lflawEya
165. OOllg 0 eWEf ma' ie
166. 'khwe o'ji fi" kho einlo' muwf
167· nabyo 9oU1l10' noo paul] Ii'
16S. noo m}'t?nu'
169. Oo'mel 07.0 Ie'oc pyoza
170. tahle'dE 'si takha'yi'dl: 'awn
171. 'e atu pu ollymo'
172. ' neyi!) QIJO' 'myoyin awn'
17J· 'koll!Jyi!J sol] 'shoyilJ hlolJ
174. !JoYal]' yo' otudu lJokhu yo' 'khwf:'jol] 'kllwe' jou
175. 'cigo bouf 'ci yo{)e
1']'6. 00!J00 asllJ ebodE lu asin mocha
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60IJ'ji ne a' koo!)'Clo t10yoll f'Oine' 'polllJhma' o'tha u!J
17S. !)a'khoulJma' dagoll!)joulJ' rolllc' loll!) POll'
119. 'ci'gog dagOllgjOIl!)' 'ci a'rnya l)yr."'siyo'dlO
ISO. talJo'no ' ni te!)O rnou"'sho'no 'oi mou"sbo
181. Oamaneno'
182. 'mimI:' ni ' be atu 'tho ni'be 'meza no!)
183. Oudo'jilJ'ji!) Oo' diO !wc'!wc' twe'
184. ko kbwo
18S. feyilJ toyio phyOf
186. 'nwo 'kwE 'co
187. '8ihma' o'yi bji!J
188. khilJYo shwe'myo mcilJya
189. a'yo 'cigo' 'Owe 'niya
190· amo' 'kou!J'za ma uD 'myin talulu ma ug 'kau!J'za ama'
191. Oi ? wbilJ 'koulJ h!Jc' ta'Ooul) 'nanai!)d£
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193· chi n'ewe' 'sha otu 'tho J<I'byo paiubniu mancnailJ
194· 'OijeiU tau 'Oi pwi!J'jcin ta!] pwilJ'
195· nO'phu..zo ywo 11:
196· 'JOI] cail 'own 'eh::. ko thiu kadi!) Jwe'llo!J
197· ko bni?Ot: /ka' ' thou bala? naiyou:>
198. IJ€ yilJ chiya' hmo' 'ciyilJ Ilmiya'llmo'
199· phl!i ?'ehi'!) pLoP ei?'thr.hmo pLoP
200. shwe'ji!J choul] loulJ 'myo'jiu thol mya?
201. sci? ttl wae
mwe' sei? motu tae£) me'
202. lJega' chi? 3hnj ? Laya mmoe'3a uega' 'POll lJ ohnii ta'8aUIJ
mome'7,<1 'gaUl)
3. lJa'zei!J myilJ lJ <l9ilJ pyi?
4. ciDJe' puda' Ci l] nall' ma'chol]lIo
205. cil] Oohma' e' In
206. 'do 'toul] 'doul]llI/ wa'lolll]
207· na'khol]be''jil] 'mi hmou?
;2.08. dabiIJ 'ltmu dabil) thu
209· linDt' rna'ya Jane' 'OWO
2 to. 'kain 'CUD hmi 'cun 'kailJ hmi
21I. ma'yo neza' coul] Oehma'
212. 'nwoue' IDa'yo maGa'nom(
213· 'mi 'we chci? rna
4. 'SOZ<lyodwilJ Q' sa. khe? 'thozayodwiu rna' yo
215· rna'yogo chi? Oegabma' 'chi'mulJyo'mr.
216. 'PpOOl] 'myo ma'yn za' go oUI]
217. loi? po
218. 'shunt' phe)lo 'shu co' phr.) ptl1l 1 phi) co' phe) pou?
219. kOUlJ 'JoUlJyilJ mkJlOu' liIJg0111J 'JOUlJyin wOe?'louu hmau?
220. ' khwelo IilJ maci lJ nr.'
221. 'OOlllJ'jaUl] 'pyall1j 'lI::l JilJ 'GoU1jlin ' pyoun'ib'meilJmo'
222. ye IDyl l]'hmo' co ti l]'
223. shwe ' koul]yil] 'myocwtyil] da7.a'laulJ lilJ 'koulJhmo'
224. pou?basari'yo'mi'ne'bo'
225. 'Oni'Ja'mi ma'koun mi'ba' 'gauu
226. shilJ 'siywe' 'myilJ yanda myi ujiudr. shiIJ 'niIJ ywe' 'myilJ
kOIJ do
227. 'k1ll1J '7.0 pyi)ya'mr. 'f)a'm o-,'rni'zogo
228. gtlbo 'mi laulJ 'OogOU!] cho' 'ni!]
229. ko machi' ' 00 ro'gE
230. 'nwuma'dal] '00 makhiIJ
231. Ga'u 'yu
232. 'WUlJm:' malwE '00 marnE !JwellE' maw!: Cll l] mamc
233. llli'OO' Z;)'90 'uo thauD'IlYO OO!J'byo CHU" S<llI!J COD0
234. 'cwcdoUl]' 'cwcllh:' 'mwedolll.l' ' mwebJe'
235. 'Oo'gaUI] wynu! cou)'kuul] dazi '
236. rna' wtboulJ d;xJoul] 'pllWO
237. aua' khwuyu 'kli!)
238. ua' Ila'phu ' tuye'
239. (};)'mi dilgou1j 'owo wthoul]
240. 3mi' me"Oa ye 'ne ' IJO
241. shayel hmalJyilJ alal] IllJsai ?ru:'
242. lJ <:l pi' phou?koluua' shayo mapyo' 'ni maca'
243. dabe' ma'kaul] sh\1yo"9011.1]
244. ' chi'mug robe' kE'yt' siwY(l
245. dabe' hnyo yig no
246. sll;)y09o malJ khu'ywe' oUf'kht athu' khouya' dE
247· &bayade' dab£' JE)'SOU!J m3tht?
248. Sh3yagO lu!}a;) 'yudt ' myi!J9o Iu!}c>:) ' mudE
249· ko!)OOWyilJ <lmi ' kO!J()ohlyilJ epbo'
250. GogOI] moyau? Sf) mapyan?
251. kWJ m;)ji' tlyoO Ji" dai!) 'mwE
252. kOIJ camo Ie shouOhlyiU couftaun' ji IwilJ'yo'
253· kOlJ'zamo' '&woleyoyo 'rno loi' lo' ywo
254· a'coul) to tauUha yc 'si
2H· nOUlJ90 Jo nou!J9o'ze pau)yonE' 'youl]
256. tlO' 'thwilJdE' fJ'J' dwi!J lu 'thwilJdE' ga'dwi!J mahou?
257· koU ' koulJdc' 'co 'pye'yin OomiU twc'
258. oohei lJ tondo' nabeil] kOlJleiu'mc
259· maYWt' bE 8O'ke 'miD phyi7
260. l urtolJ kWJ cbo'
26r. kOD youOlo' 'shuboutJ ma'ninne'
262. 'CQ'ytyo camo ma'yoyo
263. OU?80 kOIJ SOU!)' 00&' nyoU saU!)'
264. 'shi!)'ye tokho 'cholJC>o tahlt'
265. yc'zi takha ye()o tabIt'
266. bmoIJ'giIJ toLlE' 'thilJ tabk'
267. youlJ 'cuji ' kbwe 'cuji
268. Oi)lJou' royilJ'dolllJ mYE) myiIJ' dou!J
269· nc'()e(Saoo' jo ' Owe&lbo' tamya'myo'
270· oyeP 10 ncbugo' saulJ'yo'
27J. Gmo ul) ' w you? !)O"Dwo' Je pyou7
272. 'thoU'ai cwegaP 'ci 'flin loP
273· It) to'
274· ce?'kan aho!J'o 'to
275· kha'yo!)'/)i pci!J9oi' 'do'tou!jgaP
276. yo lJo?Ou ye'dwill'dt co'
277· ' kuIJ' oi cai7 toU!)O" po'
278. sulo' JeP ye cho'
279. mi"j0tl!)90 ychmo hln'
280. 'ldlwe 0 chi
2.81. 'soya'gnu COll!) pya 'awl:
282. Oa' khogo ' hoi!) '80llJ)go '00 kin ' khailJ
283. Oa'kho Ii'yo wundou) wlllJ'bollE.' '6wn
28+ takhula'ko fa tGliugwogo twc'
285. kl101pyogO Jwe hmo'}o' pODmi'
286. da?ro bmo' lo' h lo'pa til] ' kogwdJO kala'pa co'hmo'
kalcilJ1.i"hmo!) OJ'
287. ph;)'ya hmo' lo' 'kOgWEbcJ pliu) t]lw,,'hmo' tau!)bo"hmo!)
288. chi"ti hmo' lo' 'pe'zaba 'mo'liuhma' 'phoOudo'hmCUJ ai'
289_ lJo'Oe'mi leinma1l.lo'(iilm' 'chi'muljncgoi' you'ma' 'myi!)
'8i 1,l.WI::'
2\)0. thoilJne a'kOll!J'l.'ia tha"{iwa hmo' 'co'hmoO OJ'
291. 'Uodo' 'cou!jdaga 'coulJd;)IJonr' a'sbouf) 00'00' 'lJoda'
khi!)'ji oIOl]'fuboga'lo
292. ehiU'bodt' 'chu!J'bo 'ci
29]. ku'6Q oo'bt; I]a'yc dabci'9a
294. ct' noywc' 'hu'yo ' me 'cwcgo 00' tilJ
2.95. ct?uoyou
296. CWE' naywt
w£' hmo 00'
297. khin'jint' 'bi <lkwo' ji
298. ga'doulJjoi' t,a'lwe ta'lw£
2.99. khou?yo t,a'cho Jo'yn f.a'cho
300. nyau!) ' u pyo n3mo' 'kho 'co
301. 'PWE maci"bEDE' Iu ' to kholJYo'
302. cJli'jo 'thoU t£7 ochE7 moco'
303. hla'go wUIJ tiU
304. sapho olt?ko Jwe Oou' si
305. sciU COU? 'yuuUyo kO!J' loIJ'
306. ' myiU'gaul) 'pyeya 'kLwo' jo koU'lolJ'
30']. 'shUUzQU'de 'ra
308. phoyo pha'ya ht)ka' ' ko'ya 'ka'ro
309. pllQUI] 'sire' ye IJa'
310. Ie tlmg 'Owo 'nwo mo'
311. go 'ade' yi '0 OOD
In. (loo'de? '80 t;la' 'ci
313. 'nwa Ie' thulJ 'ell
314. tauUya Ji090 royall) Ioi'
31S. Eh'khogo' lu In hi'
316. nou> oi' ayilJ Pro
317. nuu'hma' kiIJ ayi!) c£1t£' 'pho
118. l1ou'hmo' ' mwe mi' 'u
319. badei!) moto' khil) lwo'90 Oin
320. motbailJ!Jiu chi 'ahi!)
321. YOUl) moyo'gin Oo900Yo fa
)22. JiI] mapyu'giugo' lu tbwe' chin
323. 'hiIJjo m,,'myiya'gi1) hnou" Oi 'sihnilj'dt
324. orne co 'dwedo ' lug
325. p::l'sho louIJou!) thai!) ' pyo
316. chilyiIJ ktba 'myi!Jw'ma
327. thei)ko pou" pihma' kooo'
]28. dabf:' 10 shara two'
329. saUIJ'gouU90 fa phoioUbiIJ90 t wo'
330. mapo"ocru:' ' meza you;'
3l '- &'00 lola' nyouuye 'louIJ pa?'thoU two'
332. 'b:xli'biU 'pyolo' paUIJ '00
3J3. nyouIJ 'cholo' Jwe '0 yo'
3H. p::: {zc!olo' couUyou' ' tho ' ahe ' Ie
335. 'lIOjiu1o' 'sha ilJ'de loP 'hllf!' ji 'niUmi'lo'
'lJoja ? )"))'0'
336. 0'0 cai?t£' lugo nebuhma 'WOIJ
337. sai!] bIo' you?
338. 'co'mi 'ahwtmi'&!lo hlll?ya'hma'l£ khf.? 'shwt'thaya'·
339. be'dailJ'ailo ahou
yilJ'lt 'au 'soyiIJ' lt 'yu
340. Ie' 'to da'bo nou' shou? 'hb:doll'
HI. 'l\Qya'hmn'll!. 'OEne' Jo' Ja1 pyi?ya'hma'l£ oshine' ' ym'ywe
342. 'pe:7,oyo'le IJ we mali' 'pyczaya'l£ mye mali'
343. lou? 'so ' mokhou1] ' kho '8C1 'khwe baulJ
344. ba"jigo'l£ motwe' ' thi blJ'bwtgo'l£ m..,hmi
HS. phu' moya' doma' ' sholl IJ
346. hle 'pyo' doulJ tr.' ' co
347. o'ye 'koulJ 'de.iIJ'dauU phyt'
34-8. oyiIJ "phouIJ' ji b:K:bE' nou' 'phoulJ'jihnooht
349. nou? lade' mouIJ p3'l& 'dailJwuIJdE? ' ke
B O. ro'mi l) ' lehron' ta'mil) 1)'0090 Oi'
HI. phul mi"jou!J phyi l myi? mO'chcl'!Jaa
H2. '00 oou'lo' lilJ'ji 'ko li IJ'ji 'cad!) 'sbo
3B. onalxxl wi1] ouo shiIJ'
3S4. goba la u1J ahi'migwe
tho' tau'
3H. nuya 'we 'awl!.
3S6. rowe puye 'kilj lunauIJ'
357. 'bu 'leya pbOYOllU s1th]'
358. pbu? 'min'l>a pya yo'tho ,boi'
359. Jin 'uclo' 'alli'bubo III tbwe?
360. 'mi lauUYo Ie piU'
36I. 'eaugo yo ku Ptli)UgO 'mi taP
362. 'kyo & ' kbo 'thoun
363. mye nciIJ'yo hloIJ sai'
364. ye ni'an 'weLkulo' 'tho
36S. ye'go
366. mye'lma ' eiya 'hiIJba? po
367. &'tho '00 paU'
368. cou'padc Rho COUUDE' to'
]69. COlJ90 sou?pa sho 'pciU u'go WE 'sa
370. 9'po'jin twe'da' Lt'bi n pya)
371. ga'doUIJh:> thei' kwt:'
372. mwe'bwe 'po thi'
373. 93'kholt) &",-e' Ill'
374· &mou)dayo 'wUIJ tathwa
37S. wne' chu? tala' mn?
376. ka'la kha?Oi' y6 ka' io '6ouDywe' malau'
377. III toeiUdouggo In 'cho!Jikt sltEe.ilJdou!I 'pe1o'
378. ou'sogo phyo saph09u'
379. 'side' ye shEliE' 93'zilJ
380. eP pou' nt' ' pho kou'
38 t. Oomi U 'mwc'yilJ 'co 'sa'yiU
382. da'll1:doljiaulJ' to'khwcdon pyt?
383. te'you'mo'go myiu t,3'odoO pyr.'
384. shiUbY1Ub Wi !)IUC'J10 cbi dabium;' 'ceil) cc
385. wngne' '0 ' lent' ' Iunya
386. 'ewe tin Jiuooyiu sho' mr.
387. Ii' cCiulj'ja' mali' oo IllJ'do'
388. '00 'ci chiyn 'ci
389. 'kiochi'mya chi to'chun1] 'ooywe' a'Own mapye'
390. ali i!) con!) 'eWE
391. hue' moyo'gin l in' In
392. ai' moya'gilJ ' wo 'poUIJ ku?
393. ' rno ywo'doul) ye khQl]
394· la' Oo'doun 'boiU lJiU
395. 'IJO I UlJhmo' ku!) pyi?
]96. 'roo Gau] Cf) t in DC wi!) za'bo ' Ma!)
]97. 'mogo lilJ'ywe' 'pya yilJ'Oj
398. ywo I\l Uhmo' ywe? wi?
)99. sP moyou)khi!) ' hmya kOlin
400. si? you?IJma' ' lmlya elml]
401. shilJ loPhmo' Oi / pi n Jo
402. Lumai? noU1hmo' ocuU yo'
40]. kho?'kwin pyiuuoru:' ywui1i}'ci you
404. 'chi yo jo ' Oweneyo'<!om:' noni'ji ' piyo'
405. JinooyilJ hlkho thwe? 'pt'ji eel
406. lJou'mi' 'Or.doi!) uluoiU 'phyo Y(IU
407. IAlnc' rololJ pago!) be ywe'ma'It:
408. Bu"pide' b:' ko machou)pOZCI1E'
409. khu' ye'dwin 'tu klm' ycji Oou?chi U
410. klll1' liD ne klHl' '00 'mweji!J
411. 'uo I)WI:'yo lJO'lmlyo lai' cha'
4 12. a'phyu te' ahnn:' 'soyct"no'no
41]. ' byaiU SOU IJ '
414-. di youB myilJlo' di chOlllJ tLwiUdF.
415. hnyol'lo Imp !Jojo rna'sayn'
416. you?khama' 6e'JunolJ maOi' 'myiIJ we Ino'diyo" lo
4 17. a'Oo 10 0'10 'taU!)
418. Ie shi!J9o ci'ywe' }'"\\'S' taP
419. mu"bu m"3pa li'YJo ma'ch;,
4-20. wi n wil] 'jil] slmu'm:' 'tbwi!)
4%1. o'OO.IJ hum' anu'phyi!J'i)a OUI]1:oyo
422. 000 klJaljlunu' aea HO!)yO'
42}. 'su neyo ' su shuu' neyo shan?
424-. u' nt' 'thwil]ywc' 9Y090 pau' sbciUllt'
425. sllilJ clti'ih 'conc' ct' chi6:> mo'myc CE' c1ii'l):) 'cooe' &hilJ
chi6:l makhODnai.lJ
426. so u' 'doul) ' dolllj U' so 011]
427. kU!J ' le6i"J..--wiIJIU:' !In')';il]9o ou)ywe' mami'liail] kUIJ
lc"lebi?nc' 'U(1'ji llyi' lo' mayo'nail]
42.8. clii U6c'1. i OeiUgi JWC!Jwcfluna 'node
8. '.-11
429. galoug pyo !}EIloug na'go pye na'go
4]0. 'cugcigyo Icinma
431. a'mya 'mo'go ye Gau'
432. 'mo pyo a'myo 'IIi
433· 'a p}",'ya llJasholjllaig
434· 'mi 'ci 'mi noilJ yo 'ci ye Jim!)
435· 'a maw!) rna!)
436. 'khwe 'yu phI!' koi ' 'khwe'goU!l Dayw£? pya)
437· a'so mab():; a'Owo matai)a !;a' ltIag
438. coJe 'WaDlE' 'Owo e'yo ci' Ja u!)
439· ' khwcgo yoi'cllig!Ja' dE 'khweJil) mye' hno I;holl' yo"i)e
440. rnaclii'Oa'l£ auU'go piU'()E' Iu
44 1. lulcigma omyt' pyi!) umthwE'
442. Oi'aa Oi'ze mamyiuzcne'
443 · £'(i£ nyi o'ne' oei ' kbt'
444· t'('it: aik' khllun"ye'
445· makh"'be me'Owunc' Dmto'bE rna'soDc'
. oya' 'py.> a u' ei' Ile' 'pya uall' ci'
447· 'taza'ga 'tohma pyall '
448. tei'tei' no tLaulj taIJ
449· ' bu tIl'louIJ shoU1J onU!) ma'sl.ti!l'yt'bu
. ko eu!)yi!) hnoll'lo' yo'naigdE ro'go eUlJyi1J
451. malyo' me'tiD 'souo' jo 'hnyi!)
452. ta!)yilJ ' l:Ihc lu!)yilJ ' Le
45]· aobi' 'ciyig ornyt:' 'cidr:
454· pi!)Dya lu!)(io z090' wi'ri'yo' IUIj()a ou'dei'so' eada IU!)(i:;
455· awu' IU!Ji}n i' tlo' o'OOUIj lugOa daOo' e'so lUIJi)" h"yo'
456. 7.a'gO hi!) ell!)
457· sedano Ill!) eliD phyi'
458. hna'ioug ' kollIJ wUD 'ci
459. sbaya 'myo 'eo. 9c
460. Ue'OuiU 'mya 'hin hOll!)
461. za'go 'myo a'llmo po
462, m'go za'go "pyoboU 'IllYO za'go'ckgo' zati' pyo'
46]...'two Il[Jyin a'ye pye'
464. ci'w Oon yol]
465. 'khwcbu' yol] 10 lulm' sci' to hlOOo JX' kIlt'
466. 010 'ci oyu' ' IIi
467. 0' win pClu ' shciu thwt'
468. ma'soye' luu' tt'
469. 'lobo' 'cit)u za'ga cho
470. eku' maJi'de' 'con oo'yQ!)booa
471. e'tllCiU maJi'de' chigilJ
472. coul] mali'lo' CW&' 'myu
473. 'to ' mj lou!) 'oojoll!.l h:YpoUbau' kba
474- khi!J'ji le" yon te'ka' mauDyin co" khozi!) matt"la
475. khou!)go' 'mo yo
476. ollmoi' ko' MO.' pya'Oo' 'mi loug
4n. 'pya pye PYE'
478. opye' opye' m:' thWE'
479. ycdcin ni'
480. COU!) 'Owoywc' 'shi 'hnh1 moowe
481. 'khwe'hlc khoulJ lo' phang motho'
48z. 'khwe haulJlo' tuugbo' mo'pye
48]. 8090'le te.shei?sojaulJ' mye '''7.0 maphyi)lmoiu
484-. dazi'uc' !lbi m"phyi' llTI oig
485. ' nwo myibcdc' maya'
486. shi gwlI lJb.ooa oooll g' jo' mahou'
487. '090' mapu 1IQ'lolI!)go' pli
488. mahlou? khoulJdailJ9o' hloo'
489. YOIIIJ al;wc' cl lOlI!J<JO' coulJ'ja'
490· kou" hllyi!)9o' me'si shoUJoUga' 'si
491 . 'ewe hnE/knulJ kha?te"jo mye.zobi!J makhoIJllaig
. c£' za' bo 'sa tlmyoIJ dOl) OilJ'
Suggestions for Further Reading
491 · ' toungo 'mo'jo pyP pou?OiUbo hmolJ
494. OJ? Jl1I apil] 80" 0090' ' WCl
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