Burmese literature

Burmese Literature

Burmese literature

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The literature of Burma (or Myanmar) spans over a millennium. Burmese literature was historically influenced by Indian and Thai cultures, as seen in many works, such as the Ramayana. The Burmese language, unlike other Southeast Asian languages (e.g. Thai, Khmer), adopted words primarily from Pāli rather than from Sanskrit. In addition, Burmese literature has the tendency to reflect local folklore and culture.

Burmese literature has historically been a very important aspect of Burmese life steeped in the Pali Canon of Buddhism. Traditionally, Burmese children were educated by monks in monasteries in towns and villages. During British colonial rule, instruction was formalised and unified, and often bilingual, in both English and Burmese known as Anglo-Vernacular. Furthermore, Burmese literature played a key role in disseminating nationalism among the Burmese during the colonial era, with writers such as Thakin Kodaw Hmaing, an outspoken critic of British colonialism in Burma.

Classical literature

The earliest forms of Burmese literature were on stone engravings called kyauksa () for memorials or for special occasions such as the building of a temple or a monastery. Later, palm leaves called peisa () were used as paper, which resulted in the rounded forms of the Burmese alphabet. During the Bagan Dynasty, King Anawrahta adopted Theravada Buddhism as the state religion, and brought many Pali texts from Ceylon. These texts were translated, but Pali remained the literary...
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