Myanmar - Tagaung Kingdom - 850 BC - 600 BC
Legendary Kings / Queens
First Dynasty of
Legendary Kings of
Second Dynasty of
|n.a.||Thado- Zambu-dipa Daza-raza||founder|
The Tagaung period, which appeared over 2000 years ago, was usually considered as the start of organized Myanmar history. This was followed by Hanlin period (1st-10th Century). The history of Burma from the beginning at Tagaung of Abhiraja to the end of Thibaw's reign has been a history of kings and kingdoms. Kings were not elected by the people but derived their power from their own might and succession, so that, apart from such great kings as Anawrahta, Bayinnaung, Alaungpaya and Mindonmin, most kings had very little to do with the mass of the people.
Old Tagaung may have conformed to the tradition of first millennium Pyu cities which were divided into 9 quadrants. There are 3 walls: Wall 1 (19 hectares) around a low hillock on the north, Wall 2 (62 hectares) known as Anya Bagan, and Wall 3 (204 hectares) encompassing the other two. The western wall is missing in all three of them, and believed to have been washed away by the river as it changed its course over time. Archaeological excavations carried out at Tagaung had yielded bronze age drums, and also votive tablets connected to Anawrahta.
By one account colonists from Eastern Bengal carried Aryan civilisation into the land and founded the state of Tagaung, on the upper banks of the Irawadi River. The royal family of Tagaung, according to Burmese tradition, was descended from the famous king of Western India, Asoka, of the Maurya dynasty, of the third century before Christ.
The early traditions of all the great nations of Indo-China represent them as at the beginning mere broken tribes and clans in a state of savage independence, much resembling that of the hill tribes of Arakan at this day. Most of them, as the Talaings, the Siamese, and the Cambodians, ascribe the origin of their civilization and first royal race to the advent of colonists from the coast of India. Indian history informs us that, after the death of Gaudama, desolating wars and revolutions prevailed among the numerous petty Princes of Middle India.
There does not then seem to be any impossibility, or even improbability, in the idea that one of these fugitive Princes, wandering eastwards in search of a new country wherein to establish himself and his followers, may have found his way through the passes of the Manipur hills into the valley of the Irrawaddy, and either subjected the semi-savage native tribes to his sway, or have been received by them as a civilizer and chief. This legend of the second emigration of the early Burman royal dynasty from India is at least credible, even though the first may be discredited, and those who entirely reject it have in no way accounted otherwise for the commencement of civilization and order among the tribes which afterwards formed the Burman people.
The ruins of Tagoung still exist and there is no reason for doubting that it was the earliest seat of the Burman monarchy. After the death of Abeeraza bis two sons, Kanrazagyee and Kanrazangeh, disputed the crown, but agreed as a means to settle the question that each should build a religious edifice, and that he who first completed the work should succeed to their father's throne. The younger brother, Kanrazangeh, had recourse to stratagem, and in one night with bamboos and plastered cloth erected a pagoda, on seeing which, without examination, Kanrazagyee departed at once with his adherents westward and settled at Kalaydoung on the west bank of the Chindwin river. Here they were joined by the kindred tribes of the Pyoo and Thet, who seem to have been at that time in possession of the middle Irrawaddy valley.
Having placed his son, Moodooseikta, over those who remained here, Kanrazagyee with the rest of his followers pushed on again westwards and founded a city on the Kyoukpindoung mountain in the north of Arakan, the ruins of which city are still to be seen. Thus, according to both Burmese and Arakanese history, was founded the nation and kingdom of Arakan. Following this tradition the Burmans have always acknowledged the Arakanese as the elder branch of the race and style them " Bya'magyee." Kanrazangeh and his descendants reigned for thirty-one generations in Tagoung.
Tradition reports that the city was conquered in approximately 600 BC, and Pagan and Prome were founded by refugees fleeing southward. The destruction of this kingdom followed upon the irruption from the north of hordes of the Shan people. During the reign of the last King, Beinnaka, the whole country was overrun by invaders from the country of Gandalarit, the Buddhist classic name of the province of Yunan. Binnaka was the last king of the mythical "first" dynasty of Burma, the Tagaung Dynasty, overthrown by outsiders called Tayuk and Tayet centuries prior to the founding of Pagan. The King of Tagoung retired to Malaychoung on the Irrawaddy above Amarapoora, and on his death the people separated.
This destruction was said to have divided the dynasty into three parts: one leaving to establish the Nineteen Kharuin of Kyaukse, another (the "Pyu") going southward down the Irrawaddy and uniting with those of the former emigration under Kanrazagyee in the country of the Pyoo and Thet tribes, and the last (the Kan Van and Thet) reaching and founding Thunapayanta, where Pagan later emerged. Both the Hmannan (the Glass Palace) and the Mahayazawingyi (the Great Chronicles) mentioned this king.
As the Tagoung royal race ended with Beinnaka, the chronicles have recourse to a fresh emigration from Middle India to supply a new dynasty. After the destruction of Tagaung, a second kingdom was established at Old Pagan in the immediate vicinity. A king named Daza-raza entered Burma and settled in Mauriya, which some place in the Chindwin valley, others east of the Irawadi. From there he went to Male, married Queen Naga-hsein, and built a new capital at Old Pagan close to Tagaung, which also he shortly afterwards occupied. Here sixteen of his descendants are said to have reigned. After sixteen kings had ruled in this kingdom, a conflict in the reigning family and an invasion of the Shans brought about the dissolution of this realm also. The last of the kings was Thado Maha Raza, who had no son. Accordingly Prince Khepaduta, brother of the queen, was declared Ein-she-min (Lord of the Eastern House) or heir-apparent. Before he succeeded to the throne, however, an invasion took place, probably of Shans from the east, and the royal family fled to the forest.
There the queen brought forth twin sons, who were born blind, and concealed them lest they should be put to death. When they grew to manhood, being unfit to rule, they were put on board a raft and sent adrift on the Irawadi. During the journey down their sight was miraculously restored by an ogress (Biluma). The memory of this miracle is said to be preserved in the names of two villages, Mopon and Myede, close to the town of Allanmyo, the old frontier station of British Burma. These were the first words uttered by the young princes on receiving their sight: Myede, "the earth is inside," and Mopon, "the sky covers it like a lid."
Descendants of the last king of the country found their way to Prome, on the lower banks of the Irawadi River, and founded there also a kingdom.
Long and Kirchhofer note that "The Burmese histories claimed that the kingdom of Tagaung in northern Burma was the first dynasty of the Burmans and that its origins can be traced to Buddhist India in the early centuries B.C. As Buddhists, the Burmans quite obviously were attempting to link their origins with the tribe to which the Buddha belonged, the Sakyans of Kapilavastu, ie India. Archaeology has shown that indeed Tagaung was a historical site, but dated it much later. It has also shown that the direction of cultural development in Burma moved south to north rather than the reverse, as the Tagaung myth implied. On the one hand, then, Tagaung is a confirmed historical site but dated too early; yet on the other, it was incorporated in the old histories centuries before archaeology was even considered an academic discipline. With proper cultural connections, the myth can be made to yield historical truth."
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