My theme this year is Burma AKA Myanmar. I used to live in Laos, so I looked forward to returning to Southeast Asia. I spent a little over three weeks exploring this country, learning a bit about its culture: its history, religion, and language. I thought others might enjoy some of what I learned and see some of what I saw.
|A Monastery at Mingun|
- What is the name of this country?
Burma or Myanmar? It seems the answer is both. Our state department doesn’t recognize Myanmar. The people from that country to whom I spoke, preferred Myanmar, the old name before colonial times.
- Why are tourists allowed now but prohibited before?
My guess is money. I’m politically naive, but if the generals lose control of this country to The Lady, they want as much revenue flowing into their pockets as possible before she steps in.
- Will the Muslims gain control or will the Buddhists keep them out?
I saw some Muslims on the streets, especially in Yangon. But the sentiment among the people I talked to was strongly anti-Muslim. They worried that the Muslims already had too much influence in their government, especially with Aung San Suu Kyi, who needs all the political backing she can muster.
Answers to P
T 1. While the practice of using neck rings seems abusive and sexiest–since men do not wear them–this was a vestige of a matriarchal society. (Because women did not have full mobility, men often helped with the care of children and household chores.)
T 2. The rings were considered magic and could cure illness by touching them. (In the book, From the Land of the Green Ghosts, Khoo Thwe children were allow to touch the rings when they were sick. Also, touching them before a journey was thought to bless the traveler.)
NOW Do you have any questions about Burma? It’s a country that generates a lot of questions.
Mina Burrows says
That monastery looks gorgeous! WOW! How exciting!
Mary Aalgaard says
I am not political either, but I do notice that religion and politics are most often NOT separate.
Jolie du Pre says
Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
Again an insight of life in another country.
Excellently written with photo's to match.
There is so much political crappola going on even about the name. I love this theme so far. It is unique and interesting place to see
Kern Windwraith says
Fascinating. I had no idea the U.S. government recognizes Burma but not Myanmar. I just checked, and the same is true for Canada. Pretty offensive, really, but politics often are. 🙂
I'm interested in the answer to Nick's question, too, re: whether the monastery is carved into the cliff. Pretty impressive if so.
Nick Wilford says
Is that monastery carved into the cliff? I'm always impressed at achievements like this with the limited tools they had available.
C. Lee McKenzie says
To answer your question about the Minguin stupa in Burma, it was not carved out of rock, but made of rock. It was never completed because an astrologer told the king if he completed it he would die. Inside is an immense bell that dozens of people can cluster inside of. That's truly impressive.
Medeia Sharif says
Your theme has been fascinating and educational.
Yvonne Ventresca says
So interesting, Lee. Thanks for sharing!
Karen Mortensen says
Thanks for the information.
Courtney Turner says
I wonder what are the meanings of Burma vs. Myanmar? Are they from different languages or ethnic groups?
C. Lee McKenzie says
I do have some kind of superficial answer to that question. It seems that C. 800's there were people named Mranma–that's as close as I can come to the spelling. There are other ways. Not sure about Burma but I did find other spellings: Bama and Bamar. Not sure if that's phonetic or not and, who knows what happened when the British took over. Great question.
Courtney Turner says
Thanks for looking into this.
Stephen Tremp says
How do you spell Burma?
Tyrean Martinson says
I've learned so much from your posts, C. Lee. I don't know what questions to ask at the moment – a bit of brain fry after a full day and a few comments that I've made that have disappeared . . . aah.
Anyway -thanks for sharing so much awesome info!
Haneen I. Adam says
Wow! apparently I'm the only Muslim here so I'll just say I hear about how Muslims are treated in Burma and it saddens me a lot. It's actually one of the reasons while I'm reading these posts, I wanted a neutral point of view. religious tolerance is needed for us humans so we can live in piece.
Tara Tyler R says
i always wondered about those "long necks" and the rings – i'm amazed they were for tiger attacks! wow! you are answering a lot of questions and making Burma look like much more than a strange distant country. Thanks!
A Tarkabarka Hölgy says
It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years! I have friends who study the culture of the Burmese diaspora. I am learning more and more every day…
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Chrys Fey says
Quasars! That's my post! 😀 (Referring to your comment above.)
I've been enjoying learning about this country that I didn't know about before. I think it's interesting that it has two names.
C. Lee McKenzie says
What a great day for Q! I've been enjoying new words, meeting new authors with first names that start with our letter of the day, quasars. . . you name it. Q has been a great letter. Thanks for joining me here to help me through to Z.
Jay Noel says
It's interesting to watch movies produced by companies out of Burma. They usually do take a political slant, especially the historical ones.
And that monastary is breathtaking!
~Sia McKye~ says
I've seen that picture of the monastery before and always thought it would be cool to explore. Makes me wonder how they built it.
Regardless of the country, it seems that money talks. 🙂
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Sherry Ellis says
Money would most certainly be motivation for opening up the tourist industry.
Matthew MacNish says
That monastery looks awesome!
Susan Gourley/Kelley says
I would be worried about Muslim takeover if it were my country and tourism is a big economic tug.
J.L. Campbell says
Interesting questions indeed, Lee. I much prefer Burma over Myanmar, but I guess the people who own the country rule, right?
Missed the neck rings post. I need to go back and have a look. Fascinating stuff.
Annalisa Crawford says
You answered my question with your first one, about the name of the country. It's interesting that the US doesn't recognise Myanmar – I wonder if there is anywhere else where that happens? (Oh look, a question!)
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Bish Denham says
I hope Buddhism prevails because, at the moment, I can't think of one major war that they started or caused, unlike some other religions I could name.
So, does the name Myanmar mean/translate into something?
Angela Brown says
Plenty of questions, to be sure, just of the kind best left unanswered.
J.H. Moncrieff says
No questions; just really enjoying these posts!
Jennifer Hawes says
That's really interesting the people thought the rings to be magical. Sounds like a good read.
Natalie Aguirre says
So sad we don't recognize the name they like best.
Catherine Stine says
Buddhists are mellow so I hope they can prevail.
That first picture is amazing! I hope the Buddhists can keep control of their country. Never met an angry Buddhist before 🙂
Natasha Duncan-Drake says
It seems a shame that the country has to use a name most of it's people do not wish to use just because of external state departments.
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Beverly Stowe McClure says
I like the idea of magic in the rings. The doctor I used to go to is from Myanmar. She was a really sweet and kind doctor.
Anabel Marsh says
I had thought Myanmar was a newer name – shows how much I know! And I had to go back to look at those neck rings – appalling, I can't imagine how uncomfortable that must be. I hate the feeling on my neck when my collar is too high.
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Alex J. Cavanaugh says
Muslims do seem to be everywhere now. Interesting they are trying to keep them out.