were probably at that period an independent nation, just as Scotland was in relation to the British Isles, until the accession of James I. Thek or Sak, here referred to, were the original tribe occupying Arakan, and they had some affinity probably with the Sakyas of ancient northern India, one of whom, Asoka of Magadha, has been described as the Saul and Constantine of Bhuddism. The Burmese legendary records, however, throw no light whatever upon this particular subject.
In groping for the truth, as to the origin of the three branches of the Burmese race, before the advent of Buddhism into Burma, we shall perhaps get some help by giving a succinct history of the country based on the ancient Burmese chronicles, such as the Maha-radza-wctig and other national traditions. These show that in the far dim past before the time of Gautama Buddha, Ksha-triya princes crossed from Gangetic India and conquered the Mongoloid tribes inhabiting the Irrawaddy Valley. They built the city of Tagoung on the Upper Irrawaddy, and laid the foundation of the kingdom of Burma about B.C. 800, Abhi-Rajah being the first monarch of that dynasty, which lasted for about two hundred years. Abhi-Rajah had two sons, the elder of whom migrated to the Kubo valley and founded the kingdom of Arakan, while the younger one reigned at Tagoung, the ruins of which are still to be seen to this day. A second dynasty was founded by Daza Raza, who led another band of Kshatriyas also from Gangetic India, and built the old city of Paghan, of which dynasty there were sixteen kings. A son of the King of Tagoung is supposed to have built the city of Pie or Prone (Prome), though some authorities state it was built by the elder son of the founder of the Tagoung dynasty, while on his way to establish the kingdom of Arakan. A Burmese legend relates that the Engshemin,* Ar heir-apparent, the brother of the last of the kings of Tagoung, lost his way in the forest while pursuing a wild boar. As he wandered on in contemplative mode he came to the conclusion that the state of royalty was hardly worth the toil and care *t entailed, and that the peaceful life of a hermit, with its opportunities for meditation, was preferable. At last he came to a cave at the bottom of a hill on the river bank, in which he took up his abode. The twin sons the last king of Tagoung, being born blind, were precluded from the throne, and ordered to be put to death ; but the queen
* The Burmese title for heir-apparent.
managed secretly to protect them until they reached manhood, when they were put in a boat and set afloat on the Irrawaddy. On the way down the stream, they both recovered their sight in a miraculous manner, and finally arrived at the hill where their uncle, the Engshemin, lived as a hermit. Here they saw a maiden drawing water from the river, and they learnt from her that she was the daughter of the lost heir to the throne. The elder of the two brothers, Maha Thatnbawa, married his cousin, and founded the city of Prome, on the hill where the hermit lived, in the year 483 B.C. The kings of Burma claimed descent from Maha Thambawa, and through him from the earlier kings of Tagoung. It is quite probable that the change to this new royal city from Tagoung may have
been due to the occupation of the upper country by invading Tai or Shan tribes from the west. According to Burmese chronicles the kings of the Maha Thambawa dynasty reigned for five hundred years. The royal city of Tharekhettara was built
011 the plain five miles east of Prome, the remains of which still exist. The Burmese, driven northwards, finally settled at Paghan, which for many centuries became the capital of the Burmese kingdom.
In the meantime, according to Burmese tradition, a nation had risen in the Delta of the Irrawaddy, who had their capital at a city called Thina, which was probably Thaton, the native name for the ancient capital of Pegu, a port situated on a creek opening into
the Gulf of Martaban. At one of the mouths of the great river, near the present city of Rangoon, there had been from remotest antiquity a holy site or mound, which became later the chief shrine of the Buddhist faith in Burma. It is related in the Buddhist records of Ceylon, that when Gautama attained perfection, in the forest of Kiripalu, two brothers, called Tapusa and Paliket, arrived from Svarna Bhumi,* the name by which the country inhabited by the Mons or Talaings was known, with five hundred carts of merchandise. After making an offering of honey to Buddha, they begged of him some memento, and he gave them eight hairs from his head. With this precious gift they returned to their native town, the port of Ukkalaba, and enshrined the eight hairs in a pagoda, which has since become known
as the Shwe Dagon Pagoda. Two centuries later, about 241 B.C., the Buddhist missionaries Uttaro (Oo-tara) and Sono (Thau-na) were deputed by Dam-rna Asoka to go to the Talaings of Svarna Bhumi and induct them in the true faith. According to some writers, Colonel Phayre among them, this occurred about 300 B.C., whilst some place the occurrence two hundred years later. The inhabitants of the Delta territory acquired their name of Talaings owing to the presence among them of Indian colonists from Telinga, who imparted to the people a knowledge of various arts and industries. The foreign
A Referred to by Sir Arthur Phayre as Thoocwa-na-bhoomee in Burmese records.
GROUP OF CHINS.GROUP OF CHINS.