Mogok is a city in the Pyin Oo Lwin District of the Mandalay Region and located 22.92 latitude and 96.51 longitudes and situated at elevation 1162 meters above sea level. Mogok is also renowned as a Ruby Land of Myanmar and is a home to Myanmar, Shan, Palaung, Lisu, Chin, Kokant, Gurkhas Pa-O and other ethnic races.
- By Maung Tha (Archaeology)
According to the records, Gemstone trading has been documented by Western travellers in Mogok since the 16th century A.D. But it is believed that gemstone production and trade began earlier, around 6th century AD.
In 1597, King Nuha-Thura Maha Dhama-Yaza annexed the Mogok and Kyatpyin regions as a way gaining direct access to rubies and other gemstones. Up to the 19th century the mines were under the control of Myanmar Kings.
Nga Mauk, an enormous ruby with great color
According to the historical records, an enormous ruby with great color and clarity was discovered in Mogok by a villager named Nga Mauk, who the ruby was eventually named for. The ruby had a total weight of around 80 carats and was presented to the King.
Unfortunately, the Nga Mauk ruby disappeared without a trace after the annexation of Myanmar by the British in 1885.
At that time, Upper Myanmar was took control of the Mogok Stone Tract region and the mines were leased to a British firm (Burma Ruby Mines Ltd.) from 1889 to 1931.
Geology of Gemstone Deposits in Mogok
Mogok stone consists primarily of high-grade metamorphic schists and gneisses; granite intrusive, including gem-bearing pegmatites; peridot-bearing ultramafic rocks; sapphire-bearing syenite and skarn; and ruby- and spinel-bearing metamorphic marble.
At present, it is roughly estimated that there are 1000-1200 gemstone mining operations in the Mogok Stone Tract. These range from individual artisanal miners, to cooperatives, independent miners, semi-mechanized operations to large-scale mining companies working with modern excavators, drill-blasting and exploration techniques.
Traditional mining techniques include twin-lon, lebin, hmyadwin and lud-win. Lud-win, for example, involves recovering gem-bearing byon from karstic limestone caves and fissures which can be sources of rich concentrations of gemstones. Today, on primary host rock and opencast mining of secondary deposits are the most commonly encountered methods.
History of Ruby Land
Authour U Thein Lwin outlines the history of the founding of Mogok in his In his book titled ‘Padamyar Myay (Ruby Land)’ in details.
The story goes that three lost hunters discovered rubies at the base of a collapsed mountain in 1217. The hunters returned to their hometown of Momeik with the red-meat coloured gems and offered them to the saopha who then ordered his guards to set up a village on the site of modern-day Mogok.
Mogok is believed to have been built almost 800 years that different ethnic groups have lived in the area peacefully. Besides ethnic culture, there are also their customs, food, flowers and plants which will become the tourist destination of the region.
According to the Myanmar Encyclopedia, it is believed that Mogok rubies have been used in royal jewelry for over 1000 years. But much like the whereabouts of said royal jewels, concrete evidence to corroborate a change in the timeline of the first discovery of gems at Mogok is scarce.
Livelihood of Locals
The livelihood of local residents mainly depends on the mining, trading, cutting and polishing of gemstones-works. Other remarkable feature of the city is the Htar Pwe Gem Market in which sellers from Mogok and nearby towns gather to sell rough gemstones.
The Land of Ruby
Mogok is renowned in the world as ‘the Land of Ruby’ and located 200 km north of Mandalay in Myanmar. Moreover Mogok has a fairly temperate climate year-round is situated in a valley and surrounded by a large number of mountains which are situated in a valley surrounded by a large number of mountains.
Mogok has been famous since ancient times for its gemstones, especially ruby and sapphire, but semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli, garnet, moonstone, peridot and chrysoberyl are also found. The gems are found in alluvial marble gravels by means of panning, tunneling and digging pits by hand. The gravels derive from the metamorphosed limestones (marbles) of the Mogok metamorphic belt.
Mogok, the original source of ruby
According to the report, 90% of rubies come from Mogok and only in terms of quality Mogok rubies are best compared to other places. The red stones from there are prized for their purity and hue. The mountainous Mogok area is noted as the original source of ruby including the world’s finest “pigeon’s blood” rubies and the world’s most beautiful sapphires in “royal” blue.
Mogok is well-known as the ‘ruby land’ due to higher quality rubies and other gems such as sapphires, garnet and moonstones. It is believed that the gems trading in Mogok has been dated at 800 years old.
Grand Festival of Founding Mogok
The grand festival to mark the 800th anniversary of founding ‘the land of Mogok city’ is under preparations.
The festival will be held with the aims of promoting the market of Gems and Jewellery as well as tourism industries of the city, maintaining traditions and culture of the region, and informing the history of Mogok city and creating more job employment opportunities for the local people.
The Mogok 800th anniversary is planned to be held for 3 days from March 29th to 31st at Mhone Kwin, Mogok City. This festival is not merely just for fun but to promote tourism and trading.
Many preparatory and organizing committees for the founding of Mogok City 800th anniversary are being formed across the country including Yangon, Mandalay and Mogok respectively.
Moreover the Tourism Federation, Myanmar Gems and Jewelry Entrepreneurs Association, charity groups and artists will join the meetings which can be able to celebrate the festival on a grand scale.
With the agreement of the members, the committee decided to use 60% of the fund for the festival and the remaining 40% for the community centre to help Mogok residents.
Mogok is the heart of one of the world’s foremost ruby and gem mining areas and there are hundreds of working mines scattered around the regions.
Translated by Win Ko Ko Aung