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70 Journal of Burma Studies, Volume 9 NOTES ON DIPAVAMSA An Early Publication by U Pe Maung Tin Tilman Frasch* While residing in Yangon during the winter of 1990–91 for the purpose of studying Pagan epigraphs in preparation for my doctoral dissertation, I had few commitments in the evenings. Life at that time was still far from normal—curfew, for example, lasted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and everyone considered it an improvement when on November 1 the curfew was modified to start at 11 p.m. Street life usually subsided well before this time, a�er which only patrolling army trucks and jeeps were heard and occasionally seen. Even the famous all-night weaving ceremonies on the full moon day of Thadingyut were suspended. Periodically I called on friends, but most evenings were occupied by strolls along the streets where vendors arranged impromptu markets. With the exception of booksellers who had spread their printed goods on the pavement, there was li�le of interest to me. With the booksellers, however, I cultivated the spirit of prehistoric man byhuntingandgatheringwhatevermaterialsIcouldfind.Stone Age man’s provisions for survival will be called an “archive” by a modern historian, and inevitably, every historian sooner or later becomes a keeper of his own archive. My amassed print collection of various value and origin amounted in weight to about forty-five kilograms, but somehow I managed to li� it into an aircra� for the journey home. * Research Fellow, Asia Research Institute, Singapore. This text was originally presented at the colloquium in honor of U Pe Maung Tin, which took place in September 1998 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Though the author has updated the text where new information required revision, the original style of the lecture has been maintained, including the very personal approach to both the person and the subject. Journal of Burma Studies, Volume 9 71 Notes on Dipavamsa Among those texts that I acquired just because I thought that they were good to have with me, there was a small booklet of roughly forty pages with a self-made cover and a hand-wri�en title, Notes on Dipavamsa. Being interested in the Buddhist historiography of Ceylon, I bought it without much hesitation. The Dipavamsa, as may be known, is to a certain extent a national history of the Sinhalese people, especially their religion.1 The chronicle was later revised (and with regard to style and arrangement surpassed as well) by another monk who entitled his work the Mahavamsa (The Great Chronicle).2 Both chronicles were already popular in Burma during the Pagan period and had a significant impact on history writing in Burma altogether. The Mahavamsa (and its continuation, the Culavamsa), for example, provided the textual reference for the painters who embellished the walls of the Myinkaba Kubyaukkyi temple at Pagan with portraits of Buddhist kings like Ashoka or Vijaya Bahu of Sri Lanka.3 Simultaneously, the chronicles were among the Buddhist literature dedicated to monastic libraries,4 a tradition that was to continue until the twentieth century.5 The Dipavamsa served as a model for the first surviving Burmese chronicle, the Yazawin-kyaw (Well-known Chronicle) of Shin Mahasilavamsa, wri�en in the early sixteenth century.6 Even U Kala, whose famous Yazawin-gyi (Great Chronicle) of the early eighteenth century may be considered the first “modern” history of Burma, had obviously been inspired by the Pali chronicles of Sri Lanka and used them as a reference in the field of religious history.7 Apart from that, the Sinhalese chronicles were published in Burma as well, the Mahavamsa in a li�le-known edition of 1932 and both the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa in translation as a part of a series of Buddhist historical works prepared in the mid1950s .8 However, my sincere hope to find new information concerning the role of the Dipavamsa in Burmese historiography was disappointed as the text added nothing to the Dipavamsa itself, consisting instead of philological explanations of certain obscure Pali passages; notes on a few 72 Journal of Burma Studies, Volume 9 Tilman Frasch Buddhist terms; and a short, one-page...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2010-314X
Print ISSN
1094-799X
Pages
pp. 70-81
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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