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Ancient Arakan by Gutman, Pamela

The early history of Arakan has been generally considered to be that of a province of eastern India, and hence its study has been neglected by both Indian and Southeast Asian historians. This dissertation seeks to examine the dynamics of the history from the beginnings of urbanization until the rise of the Burmese empire which subsequently dominated Arakanese culture. The first chapter deals with the geographical and ethnolinguistic background to the development of the earliest cities. In the second, all the inscriptions of the period, in Sanskrit, Pali and Pyu are catalogued and edited. The inscriptions issued by the kings establish a chronology for the period and illustrate the nature of the cult surrounding the institution of kingship, while copper-plate and votive inscriptions elucidate the nature of state organisation and the popular religion. Chapter Three deals with the coinage which emerged following the development of a centralised economy, and discusses the impetus for this and the role of the king on whom the prosperity of the country depended. A comparison with similar coin types in Southeast Asia is made and the catalogue includes all the coins yet discovered. The sites of the most important monuments are discussed in Chapter Four, which catalogues all the architectural and sculptural remains. A comparative analysis of the Buddhist and Hindu images and of the minor arts reveals, to a greater extent that do the inscriptions, the nature of contact with India and the rest of Southeast Asia. The conclusion deals with the political and cultural history which thus emerges, examining in detail the rationale behind the development of the concept of divine kingship in Arakan.

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