Burmese Literature

The roots of Burmese literature led to indigenous folk poetry and to the basic Buddhist literature adapted through the Mons. Didactic Buddhist Jataka stories were already being written in Burmese prose in the 15th century. At the same time religious as well as historical poetry evolved, together with epistle addressed to the king. In the beginning the writers were educated monks, later also members of the court. After the Burmese had, for the first time, razed the Thai capital of Ayutthaya in the 16th century, themes from Thai literature were adapted to the Burmese tradition. The end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century was in many ways the golden age of Burmese culture. New influences were again received from the cultural tradition after the sack of Ayutthaya in 1767. Among these influences was the adoption of the Ramakien, the Thai version of the Indian epic Ramayana. It was written in Burmese in a parody form, called Rama Yagan, in which the epic was set in a Burmese village context. Later it was adapted for the stage as well. The first Burmese history chronicle was written in the 18th century, and the famous Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma was compiled in 1829. During the same period the national dramatists U Kyin U and U Pon Nya created their dramas, based on Jataka stories, that are still performed today in a form of sung dance-drama.