Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Slave and Tyrants : Dutch Tribulations in Seventeenth-Century Mrauk-U

by Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Of the littoral regions of the Bay of Bengal, the coast of Arakan stretching some six hundred kilometres from eastern friges of Bengal to the Burma delta, has probably posed the greatest problems to the historian of the early modern period on account of its obscurity. To be sure, thanks to the work of British colonial historians and their Burmese counterparts, the basic outlines of the political and dynastic history of the area have been sketched for sixteenth and seventeeth centuries. After the decline of the great inland centre of Pagan in the late thirteenth century, a new political configuration gradually took shape in the Arakan region. In the early 1430s, we observe the foundation near the Kaladan river of the centre of Mrauk-U, reputedly by a certain Narameikhla, who according to some legendary accounts had retured from a period of exile in Gaur (Western Bengal), with the militry support of the Bengal Sultan Nasir Al-Din Mahamud (r.1433-39) and his "Muslim" troops.

The first three-quarters of a century of this new Mrauk-U dynasty's rule are admittedly obscure. Read More
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