- By U Kyaw Win
The following conversation took place recently between me and a friend who I have known only a short time. The conversation revealed much about our anthropological origin as well as our current attitudes toward each other.
Q: My friend started with the question: What is your national race, Sir? You speak Myanmar with a little different accent, don’t you?
My answer: My father is a Mon national and my mother is a woman of Shan-Bamar parentage. So I am a genuine Pyidaungsu national.
An exact answer to your question is that there are three purported major races of humankind in the world by the name of Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid, according to research conducted by anthropologists.
Myanmar-born nationalities are included in the Mongoloid (yellow skin), one of the major races of humankind, according to the world’s anthropologists. In 1964, Myanmar archaeologists excavated human skeletons from Hill No. 14 in the ancient city of Beikthano, one of the old cities of the Pyu Kingdom. Upon examination of the skeletons by anthropologists from Yangon University and specialists from the Anatomy
Department of the Institute of Medicine (1) in Yangon, the human skeletons were found to be Mongoloid fossils. They belonged to a 25-year-old man who was fully nourished before he died.
The Pyu people were believed to be Myanmar ancestors who flourished and settled in Myanmar some 2,000 years ago. If the skeletons discovered in the Hill No. 14 in Beikthano city are those of our ancestors, it is obvious that we are of the Mongoloid race.
Q: Very interesting. Please continue.
A: Human races can be assessed by means of two branches of physical and scientific anthropology; the former can be assessed by personal appearance, the latter by growth of the human body. Firstly, the assessments on the appearance of a person include the colour of his hair, facial expression, the color of the eyes and the crease in the eyelid. These features lead to the determination of his ancestors. By assessing the appearance of Myanmar nationals, most of them have straight and dark hair. Their complexion is yellow; the eyes are usually brown or black. The front teeth are a little big, and the lips are neither thick nor thin.
Secondly, the study on the physical size of Myanmar nationals showed the majority of the people are found to have heads with a measurement of 75sp-80sp, which falls into the category of middle size. The faces of many Myanmar nationals are big and broad. Average height is 5’5” for men, 5’3” for women. The majority of blood types are group O.
Assessments and body indexes on our nationalities show that they belong to the Mongoloid race in accordance with strong evidence. In other words, our nationalities are of blood relationship with one another from the point of view of physical anthropology. They are neither different nationals nor different races.
Q: Wait a minute Sayar. You insist you have done research on each and every one of the entire people of Myanmar, don’t you?
A: He asked me in a state of hesitation. He might think that this interview is just wishful thinking. Forty million people are not all Myanmar nationals. Some foreigners have got Myanmar citizenship; some have applied for citizenship. We have done a research on indigenous nationals as much as we can. When I was a university student at B.A (Hons) and M.A classes, we experimented in the laboratory of the Anthropology Department on the assessments of personal appearances and body indexes. Indigenous students from universities were invited to the lab for our assessments. Nationalities attending Union Day celebrations were invited to help in our assessments.
When I joined the work, we all took equipment for field trips, during which physical anthropological assessments were conducted. From these experiences, I concluded that our nationalities are of blood relationship with one another. From the viewpoint of cultural anthropology, when you study the religions, costumes, dialects, traditions and musical instruments, differences are found, but there are many more commonalities.
Different cultures of Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Bamar, Rakhine and Shan nationals are somewhat like tributaries. When all tributaries become a big river of Pyidaungsu culture, strong currents from these tributaries will create a united Union. Cultures of our nationals will make our country flourish in the future.
What I want to point out is that our nationals are neither different people nor different races; they are blood relations. Even though they are differentiated by means of language, costumes and religion, they are biologically bound together to live through thick and thin. Speeches made by Bogyoke Aung San in the prewar days are invaluable. Blood is thicker than water. Our nationalities must keep in mind the Panglong Conference and the spirit which led our country to independence.
Translated by Arakan Sein