Specialists for Ritual, Magic, and Devotion: The Court Brahmins (Punna) of the Konbaung Kings (1752-1885)


Though they formed an essential part of Burmese court life, the Brahmins have hitherto attracted no scholarly interest outside Burma. Based on a study of royal orders and administrative compendia as well as recent Burmese research, this article1 gives for the first time an overview of the origins, the ritual and ceremonial functions and the organization of the punna. The main section is preceded by an overview of sources and research questions. Special emphasis is given in the last part to the noteworthy role played by punna in King Bodawphaya's reform policies.