Yey Khin Taw Pwe Thabin of the month Tawthalin

article 72Yey Khin Taw Pwe Thabin is Royal Regatta Display Festival annually held in the month of Tawthalin [September] by Myanmar Kings. It is one of Myanmar 12 traditional monthly festivals around Myanmar Lunar Calendar.
Here the two water related activities of Myanmar people deserve explanation so as to differentiate them. Myanmar word Khin (ခင်) means “to display”. But Myanmar word Kin (ကင်း) means “to patrol”. We Myanmar people have Myanmarised some English words. English word “patrol” was Myanmarised as patayaung (ပင်တရောင်). So we now use Myanmar own word kin (ကင်း) as ကင်းစောင့်၊ ကင်းလှည့်၊ ရေကင်း or use Myanmarised Patayaung as ပတ်တရောင်လှည့်၊ ပတ်တရောင်စောင့်. But regarding water patrol we still use our own Myanmar word Yey Kin ရေကင်း.
Yey Kin is water patrol. All Myanmar Capital Cities [Nay Pyi Taw] were walled and encircled by moats with bridges on all four sides. For Security and defense reasons, patrol boats were kept day and night in the moat so that no enemy could swim across the moat to try to enter the walled capital city. These patrol boats had musical bands to keep patrols always alert. The band played Yey Kin music and songs.
Yey Khin Taw Pwe Thabin, only in the month of Tawthalin every year which Myanmar kings held to display his naval strength, followed by boat and all water crafts races.
Myanmar being an amphibious country with substantial terrestrial and aquatic bodies and a long sea coast line is bound to develop both land and water defenses since the earliest time of kingdom. Though Myanmar chronicles and literature randomly mention four features of Myanmar Army such as
(1) The Elephantry
(2) The Cavalry
(3) The Chariotry and
(4) The Infantry
in accordance with the Buddha’s Jataka Stories, none inscriptions and other epigraphs as well as Myanmar visual and performing arts have kept records of Myanmar water and land military strengths as Yey Ah and Kyi Ah (ရေအား၊ ကျဉ်းအား) Yey Kyaung (ရေကြောင်း) and Kyi Kyaung (ကျဉ်းကြောင်း). Even for a grand parade or royal progress display of both water and land forces always kept company with the king.
The month Tawtalin is calm and pleasant given a regular climatic condition. The monsoon is receding but all aquatic bodies are still brimful. Hence an old Myanmar saying says “တော်သလင်း၊ မြစ်တွင်းသင်းဖြူးခင်း” [In Tawthalin, water surface in the river looks like a mat spread out —no waves, only ripples. So it is a favorable month to hold the festival of Royal Regatta and boat races. In the ambient surroundings charged with the fragrance of Yin mar flowers [Chukrasia Tabularis] which is the designated flower of this month, annual royal r regatta festival and traditional boat races were held without fail by Myanmar Kings and people.
In one of Myanmar chronicles tiled “Konbaung Set Maha Yazawun taw Kyi” the last Myanmar king, King Thibaw’s [1878-1885 A.D] royal regatta festival was recorded as follows:-
“On the 11th Waxing moon of Tawthalin, nobles and high officials came out to the shore of the River Ayeyawaddy on the western direction of the Golden Palace, to make arrangements for the celebration of the annual Regatta and boat race festival”.
Min Gyi Min Htin Maha Sithu, Deputy Minister and lord of Wet Ma Sut Town- three of them took the change of preparations for boat races. The first boat had no match to compote with. So it was kept aside. Next two pairs turned up- Let Ywe Gyi and Let Thit Hlaw Ka Taw Gyi in one pair and Pyi Long Ant and Ywe Gyi in another pair. They ran the race. Later the following boats came up in sequence in the racing line- 12 Hlaw Ka Taw Gyi boats, 22 Hlaw Ka Taw boats such as Paleik Shwe Khe, Asey Khan Taung Lone, Pwe Taing Kyaw, Htwet Taing Ya; 28 rowing boats such as Shwe Tone, Min San, Taung Lone Hmaing, Shwe Laung Gyi, Yin Pone, Mingala Yan Hnin, Kho Taung Shwe Khe; 29 Laung Taw boats such as Thone Lu Tauk Pa, Thone Lu Pu Zaw, etc:..45 war boats belonging to Royal Gunnery, various Hlaw Ka Taw boats belonging to the nobles, ministers and high officials”.
“On the 13th waxing moon, ships such as Setkya Yin Pyan, the sea voyager, Yatana Yin Thar, Yatana Yin Pyan, Setkya Yan Hlwint, 3 riverine ships competed. Finally the two rowing boats Kho Taung Shwe Khe and Mingala Yan Hnin had second round of race because objections were raised when Mingala Yan Hnin was defeated in the first round held previous day. With the royal permit, these two boats competed second round in which Mingala Yan Hnin plucked the flower of victory. So ended the Royal Regatta and boat races”.
Regarding the royal regatta Myanmar chronicles, literature, visual and performing arts have fully recorded. Among them, one literary piece titled “Tayoke Than Youk Maw Kun” composed by one Poet Laureate named Nawade the second of late Konbaung Period of Myanmar history graphically gave the account of the grand royal regatta held by King Bagyidaw in honour of the Chinese Embassy on an official arrival to his Capital.
Mawkun is a kind of poetic composition which records an event or events of historic importance Nawade the second was reputed for his literary talent. He composed 14 Maw Kuns and 6 Ratus.
Myanmar and China exchanged diplomatic missions, with complimentary gifts and religious relics  since the time of Pyu Kings of Myanmar and Chinese emperors of T’ang Dynasty. Both countries kept this customary practice as their time honored tradition. During the reign of King Bagyidaw [1819-1837 A.D] one Chinese embassy from Beijing arrived bringing credentials and royal gifts to be presented to King Bagyidaw who accorded a grand red carpet reception to the Chinese State Guests. A magnificent Regatta was held in their honour. Grand titles were conferred upon them in addition to priceless presents by Myanmar Kings. On return, Myanmar Embassy was sent with them to the Court of Beijing with royal letters and gifts. Equal treatment was accorded to Myanmar Embassy. A grand Gala of Fireworks was held for 5 nights and sumptuous banquets were held in honour of Myanmar embassy. When Myanmar embassy arrived back to Nay pyi taw of King Bagyidaw, all members of the mission were awarded with titles, promotions and gifts.
All these events were recorded in 62 stanzas of Tayoke Than Yauk Mawkun which A was submitted to King Bagyitaw in February 1823 A.D. The royal regatta was described in poetic language in the stanzas 16 to 28. From them we can glean and learn that the following are different water crafts of different ranks and categories that participate, in the Royal Regatta and boat races:-
Ceremonial Barges and Boat in order of Yey Khin Taw Protocol.

1. Pyi Gyi Mun
2. Karaweit
3. Nawara
4. Thonen Lu Pu Zaw
5. Lin Zin
6. Pa Thone
7. Pyi Kone
8. Thara Bu
9. Loka Beik Hman
10. Dwa Laung
11. Thuwa
12. Than Thu Mara

13. Manoke Thiha
14. Naga Deva
15. Thatkadan
16. Lwan Kyin
17. Tharaka
18. E Kin
19. Thara Beik Hman
20. Kama Kaw
21. Thin Kanet
22. Hlaw Ka Taw Gyi
23. Ginga Zeya Hlaw Ka Taw
24. Kaw Ka Nuda

25. Thu Yaung
26. Kein nari
27. Kein nara
28. Pyinsa Yupa
29. Thatta Yupa
30. Nawa Yupa
31. Datha Yupa
32. Dwa Datha Yupa
33. Thone Lu Tauk Pa
34. Tala Hein
35. Shwe Tone
36. Shwe Nan Sin

War Boats
1. Ya Naing Hlaw Ka Taw
2. Phone Taw Naing
3. Pyi Lone Ya
4. Thuya Nga Gyin
5. Set Naya Shwe
6. Min Taya Set Kyi
7. Pegu Naing-gan
8. Sit Hlyin Aung
9. Thu Ye Tu Lut
10. Ye Hlyant Kyaw

11. Ye Mun Taung
12. Pyi Lone Naing
13. In Byaw
14. In Ma
15. Taungoo In Ma
16. Zimme In Ma
17. Pyay In Ma
18. Bye Ta Yaw
20. Thu Ye Kyaw

21. Sit Hlyin In Ma
22. Kyae Khaung
23. Kaung Myit Sit
24. Ye Sit
25. Marabin Hlaw Ka Taw
26. Pyi Lone Yu
27. Thu Ye Pala Hwet
28. Zala Ka Pin
29. Am. Lone
30. Phone Taw Naing-gan

Racing Boats
1. Let Thin
2. Let Ywe
3. Pyi Lone Ant
4. Ywe Kyi
5. Pyi Lone Kyaw
6. Pwe Taing Kyaw
7. Pwe Lone Tin
8. Twe Taing Aung

9. Pwe Taing Aung
10.Myit Taing Naing
11.Twe Taing Win
12. In Pyaw
13. In Pyaw
14. Tha Lwin Pyu
15. Kyaw
16. Htwet Taing Ya

17. Pyaing Taing Ya
18. Lu Lin Kyaw
19. Kat Thu
20. Ku Root
21. Than pan
22. Lone Pyi
23. Shwe Laung
24. Pyi Lone Ya

Pyi Kyi Mon Royal Barge which led the ceremonial barges and boats in the order of Yey Khin Taw [Royal Regatta] Protocol was the largest double barge on which the Lion Throne hall of the King was constructed under the roof topped with 7 tier pyatthat [canopy], the symbol of sovereignty. There on that throne Their Majesties were seated in full state regalia when the regatta was in ceremonial procession. The Pyi Kyi Mon Barge was not only rowed by uniformly dressed rowers on either side but also pulled gracefully by two boats on its either side. The speed and the movements of the rowers must be in harmony with the music and song of Royal Boat Music and Songs ရေခင်း၊ တော်သံနှင့်သီးချင်း. The modes of the movement of rowing numbered 37 in the order of 7 tone musical scale. Special songs Eh, An, Luta အဲ၊ အန်၊ လူးတား were composed by royal composers for this occasion and ceremony. They were awarded handsomely at the conclusion of the Regatta.
On pages 74-76 of Shwebon Nidan by Zeya Thein Khaya, 37 different styles of oarsman ship were described as follows: –
1. Obeisance to Lord Buddha
2. March of Golden Laung Boat
3. Start of Golden Laung Boat
4. Line of Golden Barge
5. Pick up oars
6. Raise oars
7. Line up oars
8. Await oars
9. Standup oars
10. Cross oars
11. Hide oars
12. Wave oars
13. Display oars
14. Oars move like roofing a house
15. Oars move like a diving sea gull
16. Oars move like a hovering sea gull
17. Oars move like a duck with wings spread out
18. Oars move like a swimming duck
19. Oars move by quick hands
20. Oars move as if calling

21. Oars move like an angel stealing a flower
22. Oars move like an angel plucking a flower
23. Oars move like an angel catching a flower
24. Oars move like an angel’s floral basket
25. Oars move like a mace on the shoulder
26. Oars move like tattooing
27. Oars move in the design of Yazamat Kyi fence
28. Oars move in the design of Yazamat Nge fence
29. Oars move in the style of shading sun light
30. Oars move in the style of projecting sun light
31. Oars move in the style of a curtain
32. Oars move in the style of lifting a curtain
33. Oars move with 3 quick steps
34. Oars move in the design of a half-bloom jasmine flower
35. Oars move in the design of a Hsin Swe Wan Shet
36. Oars move in the design of a Kein nara with wings spread out
37. Oars move in the design of a golden bird fluttering its wings

Water borne handsome manly males of 16 to 25 years of age were recruited for training in 37. oarsmanship. The best among them were selected for Regatta. They were dressed uniformly. Gold helmets, white long sleeve shirts decorated with sparkling ornaments and scarlet nether garments, and oarsman shoes. They sang boat songs to boat music, made chorus, cheers and applause at the signal of master conductor.
After Regatta, they were recruited for posts in war flotilla [Navy]. The highest post in Myanmar navy was Hlawka Thone daung Hmu [Commander of 3000 Hlaw ka taw war ships.] Hlay Thin Atwin Wun [Interior Minister in charge of all water crafts] was the chief manager and administrator.
Regatta and boat races were also naval exercise and recruiting of Myanmar Kings. Rakhine, Mon, Myanmar Kings kept a strong flotilla of boats, barges, rafts and ships for transport, communication, trade commerce in peace time and for military purpose in times of war. For Rakhine rajas, command of the sea was a strategic necessity, if they were to hold their sway in the Bay of Bengal. Strong armadas of war galleons were stationed at their ports and sea coasts to ward off the invaders from the sea, and constructed solid stone fortresses to defend their capitals against besiegers. Rakhine Navy was founded by Kings Minbin [1531- 1553 A.D] and Min Yazagyi [1593-1612 A.D]. their successors maintained and further enlarged it. King Minkhamaung [1612-1622 A.D] with a fleet of 200 sea going “crafts as big as galleys” broke up the power of the Portuguese in his Kingdom. King Sandathudama [1652-1684 A.D] repulsed the invading Moguls. The period [1550- 1666 A.D] was the peak of Rakhine ascendancy in power sustained by well-armed warships.
The same was true of Mon Kings. Their capital city Hamsavati Pegu on the bank of the Pegu River was well protected by good fleets of war ships and boats in times of war and many water conveyances for trade and communicationAdi peace time. King Rajadarit [1385-1423 AD] Queen Shin Saw Pu [1453-1472 A.D] and King Dhammazedi [1472-1492 A.D] used war ships and boats for trade, commerce, pilgrimages and Socio-cultural activities because there were no wars -only a long period of peace.
Myanmar counterpart of King MM Khamaung was King Anaukphet Lun [1605-1628 A.D] who in 1613 marched from Inwa to Thanhlyin by land and water to break up the Portuguese strong hold under the command of a notorious Feringhee freebooter adventurer Phitip de Brito 120,000 men and 400 war vessels of considerable strength and size were employed. Thanhlyin was captured and destroyed and de Brito was, done to death by impaling.
Kings Alaungpaya [1752-1760 A.D,] Hsin by UShin [1763-1776 A.D], BodaWpaya [1782-1819 A.D] and Thayawaddy [1837-1846 A.D] kept their naval strength strong so that they used for war as well as for annual display [Royal Regatta]. Septeml;er of 1841 King Thayawaddy and his court came down to Yangon with 25,000 men via the Ayeyawaddy River with the declared reason of worshipping Shwe Dagon Pagoda. But his ulterior motive was to alarm the British by display of his military strength. He built a palace city not far from Shwedagon Pagoda, built fortreses and held regatta and boat races. A big bell was east and setup at the north east corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda Platform. We can still read over 100 lines of inscription recording graphically on the body of Thayawaddy Bell his state progress from Capital Inwa to Yangon, his defense and religious works and his return to Inwa.
The writer of this article humbly request the government and the people of our country to hold state Regatta festival and boat races in Tawthalin annually to inspire the up-coming generations to keep up their true patriotic spirit.

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