Pyatho [January] the month of terrestrial display and activities

Burmese equestrian sportsBy Maha Saddhamma Jotika Dhaja, Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt

Myanmar month Pyatho [January], the 10th month of Myanmar Lunar Calendar of 12 months, is the peak of Myanmar cold season winter [Heyman]. The north-east wind passing snowcapped regions is bringing extremely cold, causing water freeze in high lands and on lofty mountains.
It is quite an appropriate time to hold such a strenuous display and games of equestrian Tourney (မြင်းခင်းတော်နှင့် အဲဖောင်းလှံရေးပြိုင်ပွဲ).Myanmar traditional Land forces composed of four regiments —Elephantry, Cavalry, Chariotry, and Infantry. Yearly tournament of these regiments was held on the grounds in front of the Golden Palace, within the walled and moated Palace city.
The three main objectives of this great event were (1). to display (2). to award and (3). torecruite. Myanmar Land forces were displayed not only in the month of Pyatho,but also on the occasion of the State visit of Head of State / Government or foreign envoy.
It was on that occasion that men of outstanding achievement in military service and skill were awarded by Their Majesties with cash, promotion, title, land and fief. Non-service men from the public also participated in the tourneys and the outstandings were recruited into the regiments.
This displays and tourneys were fully recorded, in chronicles, history, poems and pictures on white parabites [folding papers]. The 37 Luta Songs composed by minister Maha Dhamma Thingyan of King Bagyidaw [1819-1887, Sagaing Min] was well known. In his 37 Lutas Verses and 37 songs, MahaDhammaThingyan described vividly 37 different modes of horsemanship, 37 different ways of playing with lances. They were also recorded in pictures on white parabites(ပုရပိုက်ဖြူ) white folding papers. For easy memorization he also rhymed them in Than Bauk [သံပေါက်] couplets.
Among the weapons of Myanmar land forces in the past, swords, spears, lances, bows, arrows, muskets, lance throwing required extraordinary strength and skill. Long hanale spear “Lunces” are called in Myanmar “Eh-Maung” (အဲမောင်းလှံ). At the tourneys, equestrian competitors at different speeds of their stallions had to throw, each his allotment of 20 lances, one by one at the target marked on the Boards. Circles were marked on the boards. It the lance hit either the centre or within the circles, he won the game. So this tourney is also called in Myanmar Set KwinPyitPwe [စက်ကွင်းပစ်ပွဲ].
Next extraordinary tourney was long special sword called ယိမ်းနွဲ့ဓါး [yein nwe dah]. It was made of special metal by special swords smith very thin and pliant. It was worn like a belt around the user’s waist.
At high speed of his stallion, the equestrian pulled out his yeinnwe dah and cut a long line of banana trees or long necked water pots, which all remained still and stable. Only when they were pushed, they fell down, longnecks of water pots came down. But water in the pots was untouched.
There were also chariot fightings, combats on elephant or horseback, archery, gulee (Polo) *lvD, the equestrian game, wrestling, running, jumping acrobatics all kinds of manly activities and physical shows. This display tourney could take nearly a month. On the final day. Their Majesties in State appeared in public in the special gold pavallion to honour the outstanding winners. The King himself was in military uniform of his rank. In addition to the award of cash, promotion, title, Land and fief, Thazin or KwaNyo flower was given as a token of the flower of the month. These flowers were brought to Their Majesties on gold stand trays by beautiful selected young court ladies.
That glorious and splendid scene was vividly recorded in writing and paintings by foreign visitors and envoys. Based upon these records one song composer of national fame, a native of Mandalay Myo Ma Nyein(မြို့မငြိမ်း)composed a hit song Myin Khin Taw [မြင်းခင်းတော်] Display of Myanmar Land Fares and Equestrian Tourney. The following is that song in Burmese and a loose English translation by the writer.

မြင်းခင်းတော်
၁။ ငွေနှင်းမှုံရည်၊ ဝေစီစီ
မြောက်လေဆော်သွေး
အေးတဲ့လရာသီ၊
သမယအခါဆီ
ပြာသို၊ ခွာညို၊ ညှာစို
စိမ်းလဲ့လန်း၊ ရွှေနန်းတော်တွင်း
လဲ့ဝင်း မူယာပလီ၊ သူဇာဒေဝီ
တော်ဝင်ပန်းသို့၊ လှမ်းမလို့
ပြင်ရှာပြီ၊
ဗျာဘာဆံကလေးချ၊ အရွယ်ညီ
ရွှေကြငန်း၊ ဘွေသဖန်း
အဆောင်ဆောင်တွေဆီ
သံပြိုင်
လာချေပြီ၊ ပျိုတို့မောင်လဲ၊ သူလဲ
ပါဝင်သည်
လာချေပြီ၊ မှုန်မှုန်မည်:မည်:၊ လူသူ
မသဲတကွဲ၊
နှင်းခဲပြာဝေရီ
မင်းညီမင်းသား၊ မူးမတ်သားများ
ယောကျင်္ားအာဇာနည်၊ နှလုံးရည်၊ လက်ရုံးရည်
မြင်းကလဲ၊ မြင်းချောမာန်ဖီ၊ ခါးပတ် တော်ရွှေချည်ငွေချည်
မောက်တို၊ မောက်ရှည်၊ ဗာလီ ကွေးနဲ့
အဲမောင်းလှံရေး ပြိုင်ကြသည်
မြန်မာတံခွန်ထူချေပြီ၊
ခွာသံချင်းယှက်၊ ဂေါက်ဂက်၊ ဂေါက်ဂက်
ဘယ်ညာသံမြိုင်မြိုင်ချီ၊
၂။ မရိုးစည်မောင်း၊ ချိန့်ချိန့်သောင်း၊
ကောင်ကင်တိုင်ဟီ၊ တံပိုးသံ၊ ခရာ သံညံစည်
ဝဲလက်ယာမင်းခန်းတော်စုံညီ၊
တော်ကြီးဘုရား၊ နှစ်ပါးထွက်ကာ စံပယ်တော်မူလေပြီ
မြင်းခင်းသဘင် ဆင်ယင်တော်မူ လေပြီ
စန္ဒြားတားယှက်၊ ဝဲလက်လှံပျံချီ၊
သိကြားတန်ဆောင်တိုင်၊ အဲမောင်း တံခွန်မြိုင်မြိုင် ဝေဝေစီ
သံပြိုင်—လာချေပြီ—ဘယ်ညာ မြိုင်မြိုင်ချီ
၃။ ပန်းခွာညို၊ ပန်းခွာညိုညာ စိုစိမ်းလဲ့လဲ့ နွဲ့မူယာပလီ
နန်းတွင်းသူဇာဒေဝီ၊ မခို့တရို့နဲ့၊ ကပို့ကရို့ဆင်ကာညီ
လူဘဲလား၊ နတ်တမျှအညီ၊ ထင်ယောင်၊ မြင်ယောင်သည်
မြင်းခင်းသဘင် ဆင်တော်မူလေပြီ၊
သံပြိုင်—လာချေပြီ— ဘယ်ညာ မြိုင်မြိုင်ချီ။

Loose translation by the writer
Stanza 1.
Silvery snow screen spreads
the northerly breeze brings cold season
it is the month of Pyatho
Green fresh KhwaNyo [clematis crabiana] flower of the Pyatho month
In the Golden Palace are
Dainty beautiful young court ladies
with the uniform coiffeurs of hair style
“Byabazin” beautiful like Thuzardevi
about to get hold of royal flowers.
So busy in all buildings of the Golden Palace.
Chorus: They’re coming. Our sweet heart
beaus are among them. They’re coming
in the dim light of the snow misty morning
princes, junior and Senior Ministers, Soldiers, all
male members of the court. They all are strong in brain and brawn.
Their steeds are brown and strong. Gold and silver belts around the waist
With short and long helmets, and balikway gold and silver
covers on their shoulders
They contest in lance-throwing competitions
They are setting Myanmar standard flag.
Listen! The galloping sounds of their horses gok-gat, goh-gat. Left right: left right uniformly.
Stanza 2
The sounds of Mayoe drums and gongs reach high in the sky.
Trumpets and horns blowing to-gather
The entire royal displays on both left and right sides are complete.
Their Majesties make public appearance
Now begins the Equestrian Tourney.
One technique of lance throwing called “Sundayar set”
with both left and right hands creates the scene of the lance flying in the air.
Thigyar Tazaung during Flags, standards, etc. are moving in the breeze in tune with the martial music of the royal band.
Chorus
Stanza 3
The flower Khwa Nyo, green and fresh
The young court ladies beautiful like Thuzadevi
Daintily, modestly and gracefully adorn Khwa Nyo flowers on their hair knots.
Are they humans or are they angles?
So, the Equestion Display and Tourney are held.
Chorus
This song was sung by Gita Kyi Aye and recorded on
disk.

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