THE MON – SHAN – TAI
The humans lived in the region that is now Myanmar as early as 11,000 years ago, but the first identifiable civilisation is that of the Mon. The Mon probably began migrating into the area in about 3000 BC, and their first kingdom Suwarnabhumi (pronounced Suvanna Bhoum), was founded around the port of Thaton in about 300 BC. Oral tradition suggests that they had contact with Buddhism via seafaring as early as the 3rd century BC, though definitely by the 2nd century BC when they received an envoy of monks from Ashoka. Much of the Mon’s written records have been destroyed through wars. The Mons blended Indian and Mon cultures together in a hybrid of the two civilisations. By the mid-9th century, they had come to dominate all of southern Myanmar. From that time, Northern Burma was a group of city-states in a loose coalition. The people of the north are predominently Shan-Tai. The ‘King’ of each city-state would change allegiance as he saw fit, so throughout history, much of the Shan-Tai north has been part of the Tai countries of; Nan Chao (now Yunnan & ShanXi, China), SipSong Panna, Lanna (Chiangmai in Thailand – Siam), Ayuttaya (old capital of Siam) and even affiliated with Laos. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Burma played the part of an agressor nation. The nearly constant wars and alliances kept the people in the region from any true peace. Only when the Burman overlords were subdued by Britain did a semblance of order come about and the people of the north find serenity.