Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps

Myanmar's Neighbours Past and Present

Historic Events

Northeast East India is almost a mirror image of Myanmar

When most people in Myanmar think of "India" they naturally think of the country's centuries old connections across the Bay of Bengal, to South India (where Buddhism in Myanmar likely originated), Bengal, and places further afield. They rarely think of the 40 million people of "Northeast East India" (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Sikkhim) which is some ways is almost a mirror image of Myanmar, with its central Brahmaputra valley, its surrounding uplands, its history of...

Read More

The great world explorer from Myanmar-Yunnan Border

One of the greatest explorers in world history was a Panthay Muslim from the Burma-Yunnan border. In 1413, a great fleet of Chinese ships were arriving for the first time along the African coast (they would bring back with them, amongst other things, a giraffe for the Ming Emperor's menagerie). This was the fourth of seven monumental voyages (all in the early 15th century) commanded by the great admiral and imperial eunuch Zheng He. Each voyage involved a fleet of...

Read More

Myanmar's most mysterious neighbours: the peoples of the Andaman Islands

The Andaman Islands are closer to Yangon than Mandalay.  They are today part of India.  But their indigenous peoples are perhaps the most isolated anywhere in the world. There are today only several hundred native Andamanese people left.  They speak languages that are unrelated to any other.   Genetically, they are closer to Asians than anyone else.  Interestingly, the few whose DNA have been tested are of the Y Haplogroup D-M174, which is found also in Tibet, Yunnan and Japan....

Read More

Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon ("My husband went to Rangoon")

This is one of the most famous songs in India - "Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon" (My husband went to Rangoon).  It's from the 1949 hit movie "Patanga". Rangoon for many Indians was a place of prosperity, a place to reinvent your life and be free. An Indian family now in the United States referred Rangoon as it was their "first America".   In this song, the wife talks only of missing her husband. The husband tells her that he is...

Read More

Tipu's Tiger

The “Tiger” is a wooden mechanical device. When an organ in the back is turned the European soldier’s arms move and he makes a groaning noise. The device was made for the Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the powerful Mysore kingdom (in South India) from 1782 to 1799. The Tipu Sultan was a great enemy of the British East India Company, who fought three wars against him. When he was finally defeated and his capital overrun, the British found this...

Read More

Ladakhi ladies

Ladhaki (and Balti) languages are very similar to Tibetan.  They are the westernmost speakers of Tibeto-Burman languages and so are linguistic cousins of the Burmese. Tibeto-Burman is a family of languages spoken by over 50 million people.  The two biggest languages in the family are Tibetan and Burmese.  Jingpaw, Chin, Naga, and many languages in Nepal, Northeast India, and Southwest China are also part of this family.  The Tibeto-Burman languages closest to Burmese include Yi, Naxi, Lisu, Atsi, and Maru....

Read More

Origin of the Kokang

Kokang (now a ""Self-Administered Zone"") has a particularly interesting history. In the mid-1600s, the Ming dynasty in China was falling fast to the invading Manchus. The last Ming emperor (the Yongli Emperor, better remembered as the Prince of Gui) fled first to Yunnan and eventually across the border to Ava. The new Manchu ""Qing"" dynasty would rule until 1912. In the train of the last emperor were tens of thousands of Ming loyalists. One of these was a man named...

Read More

Queen of Hlihin

The photograph shows Myanmar's neighbours to the north: a queen of the Hlihin in what is today western Yunnan c.1945. The Hlihin were an independent people who speak a language related to Burmese; their homeland was absorbed into the Peoples Republic of China in the 1950s.

Read More

China's Warring States

Around the time that Alexander the Great was preparing to conquer the known world, in the 4th century BC, Hui Wen, the king of Qin, was also expanding his domains, laying the basis for an empire that would grow and expand to the present day. This was during China’s ‘Warring States’ period. The country had not yet been unified and Hui Wen’s kingdom was only one of several feudal states that were constantly fighting one another for supremacy. Qin was...

Read More

The first attempt at a China Myanmar Economic Corridor

In 122 BC, a special mission was dispatched by the emperor of China, a mission to find a rumoured southwest passage, one that was said to lead from his Middle Kingdom to the only recently discovered land of India and from India to the unfamiliar countries beyond. A few years before, the explorer Zhang Qian had arrived back at the imperial court after a long and arduous journey along an already known northern route, reaching the limits of the known...

Read More