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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

148) Currency and coinage of Myanmar (formerly Burma): Kyat and Pya:



148) Currency and Coinage of Myanmar (formerly Burma): Kyat and Pya:

About Burma:

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly Burma) has its capital at Naypyidaw and its largest city is Yangon. The name Burma was changed to Myanmar in 1989. The currency of Myanmar is the Myanmar Kyat.

For the most part that Myanmar has been independent, it has been ruled by a military junta and has witnessed wide-spread ethnic strife, with several groups involved in a long-running unresolved civil war.

Burma boasts of a rich natural resource of jade, gems, natural oil, Burma teak and other mineral resources.

Anglo-Burmese Wars and British colonisation of Burma:
Between 1824 and 1825, during the rule of the British East India Company (BEIC) in India, the BEIC fought a series of Wars to occupy Burma as well.

In the First Anglo-Burmese War (fought from 1824-1826), Burma lost Arakan, Manipur, and Tenasserim to the British.

During the Second Anglo-Burmese (1852), the British seized Lower Burma.

The consolidation of French Indo-China led to the British engaging Burma in the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885).

Following the three Anglo-Burmese Wars, on 01.01.1886, Burma was colonized by the British who brought in several social, economic, cultural and administrative changes in the country. Several Indians were sent to Burma as soldiers, civil servants, construction workers, businessmen etc. by the British.

Burmese resentment for the changes brought about by the British led to wide-spread resentment against British disrespect for Burmese culture and traditions, (particularly British officials’ refusal to remove shoes when they entered pagodas). As a result, the Buddhist monks were in the vanguard of Burmese Independence movement in the 1930s.

On 01.04.1937, the British administrators were forced to declare Burma as a separately administered colony of Great Britain under Ba Maw as Prime Minister and Premier who was an outspoken supporter of Burmese self-rule and he resigned from his posts in protest against British occupation of Burma and he was arrested for sedition.

In 1940, Aung San formed the Burma Independence Army in Japan.

In March 1942, Japanese troops captured Burma and the British administration broke down. The Japanese set up a Burmese Executive Administration under Ba Maw in August 1942.

Following the end of World War II in 1945, Burma came under British occupation again.

Burma – after gaining Independence in 1948:

On 04.01.1948, Burma was granted Independence from British Rule and the Independent State was called “Union of Burma” with Sao Shwe Thaik as its first President and U. Nu as its first Prime Minister.

A bicameral Parliament was constituted and general elections were held in 1951-52, 1956 and 1960.

On 02.03.1962, the military junta led by General Ne Win took over the administration and control of Burma and adopted a new constitution of the “Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma” in 1974.

In May 1990, free elections were held for the first time and Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League For democracy won a thumping majority of over 80% seats, but the military government refused to cede power and ruled Burma as the State Peace and development council (SPDC) which was abolished in 2011.

In a referendum conducted on 10.05.2008, a new constitution was adopted and the name of the country was changed to “Republic of the Union of Myanmar”.

General elections were held in 2010 and the military supported “Union Solidarity and Development Party” was declared the winners.

In March 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved following the 2010 general election and a civilian government has been installed.

Despite criticism, some steps including taking the country towards liberal democracy have been taken, including relaxing press censorship and releasing and granting amnesty to several prominent civil/human rights activists in 2010, including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been in and out of house arrest several times before her release in 2010. The loosening of control by the military junta has led to more democratic processes setting in, which has, in turn, led to the loosening of economic and trade sanctions by the European Union and the USA.

Nevertheless, the military still wields considerable influence through the Myanmar constitution which was ratified in 2008 through the general referendum.

Historical development of Burmese currency:

During the 7th century the Kingdom of Arakan struck coins based on Indian designs with the conch being a common motif.

In the Middle Ages, coins of Bengal an Indian State were in use in Burma.

From around the 16th century, and till about 1800, the Arakanese coins were the preferred coinage in circulation. These coins bore the inscription “Lord of the White Elephants”, a title used by the Arakan Kings.

In some parts of Burma, tin coins circulated.

Under the later Kings Mindon (1853-1878) and Thibaw (1880-1885) coins were struck in various denominations in silver and gold.
When Burma was under British Rule, the British Indian Rupee replaced the Burmese Kyat at par.

Between 1852 and 1952, (after the Second Anglo-Burmese War), for a long period of a hundred years, the British Rupee was the circulation currency in Burma, in the territories under British domination and after the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885, in the whole of Burma, (except during the years 1943 to 1945, when Burma was under Japanese occupation and a Burmese Executive Administration was set up under Ba Maw by the Japanese in August 1942).

From 1897 to 1922, the British Government in India issued Banknotes in Rangoon in the denominations of Rs.5, 10 and 100 Rupees, similar to those issued in India, but containing Burmese languages.

In 1917, 2 ½ Rupee Banknotes were overprinted for circulation in Burma.

In 1927, 50 rupees Banknotes were overprinted and circulated.

Between 1927 and 1937 100 Rupee Banknotes were overprinted and circulated.

In 1937, when Burma became a separate colony, a series of paper currency in the denominations of 5, 10 and 100 Rupee Banknotes printed by the Reserve Bank of India, but overprinted with the legend “ Legal Tender in Burma only” was circulated in Burma but no separate coinage was minted.

In 1938, the first legal issue of Burmese Banknotes in the denominations of 5, 10, 100, 1000 and 10000 rupees, printed by the Reserve Bank of India, was circulated.

During World War II, the Japanese attacked and occupied Burma in 1942, they introduced a new currency consisting of the Rupee divided into 100 cents was circulated in paper form in the denominations of 1, 5 and 10 cents and ¼, ½, 1, 5, 10 and 100 Rupees.

Later, in 1943, the British Rupee was replaced with the Burmese Kyat by the Japanese.

In 1945, at the conclusion of World War II, when the British forces reoccupied Burma, the Japanese Burma currency was declared redundant and the British Indian rupee was reintroduced. Overprinted Indian Rupee Banknotes were circulated in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 Rupees.

In 1947, the Burma Currency Board took over the issuance of paper money and issued Banknotes in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 rupees.

In 1948, when Burma gained Independence, the Government introduced a Rupee currency in the denominations of 1, 5 10 and 100 rupees, with the Rupee subdivided into 16 pe (each pe being equivalent to the Indian anna), with each pe consisting of 4 pyas (each pyas being equal to the Indian pice).

In 1949, coins were circulated in the denominations of 2 pya, 1, 2, 4 and 8 pe. These were similar in size and composition as the Indian ½, 1 and 2 annas and ¼ and ½ rupee.

In 1952, the Union Bank of Burma formed a Currency Board which took over control of the issuing of currency. In the same year decimalisation of the Kyat took place, when 1 Kyat was sub-divided into 100 pyas. This led to the Rupee being replaced by the Kyat at par.

In 1953, the Union Bank of Burma issued a last series of Rupee Banknotes issued in the same denominations as the 1947 and 1948 Series.
Mran ma nuing ngam taw ba hui bhan” or the Central Bank of Myanmar:
           The above is the seal of the Central Bank of Myanmar.

“Mran ma nuing ngam taw ba hui bhan” or the “Central Bank of Myanmar” has its Headquarters at Naypyidaw or Yankin Township, Yangon and was set up on 02.07.1990 under the Central Bank of Myanmar Law. Among other Supervisory and Financial control functions the Central Bank of Myanmar is responsible for the control and circulation of the currency & coinage of the Nation.

Banknotes issued by Myanmar:

The First Kyat (1852-1889):

No paper money was issued during this period.

The Second Kyat (1944-1945):

When the Japanese occupied Burma in 1942, they initially introduced a currency based on the Rupee.

Later, in 1943, this currency was replaced by the Kyat which was sub-divided into 100 cents.

In 1944, during the Japanese occupation of Burma in World War II, the Burma State Bank issued Banknotes in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 Kyat.

In 1945, 100 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

The earlier Burmese Banknotes were printed by Thomas de La Rue & Co. the Security Paper and currency printing major.

The Third Kyat (1952- onwards):

On 12.02.1958, the Union Bank of Burma introduced the first Kyat Banknotes after decimalisation of the currency in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 100 Kyats.

On 21.08.1958, 20 and 50 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

On 15.05.1964, the 50 and 100 Kyat Banknotes were demonetised aimed at countering black-marketing.

In 1965, the People’s Bank of Burma took over the task of controlling currency circulation in Burma and issued Banknotes in the denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 20 Kyat.

From 1952 to 1966, Myanmar Banknotes were printed at East Berlin, Germany.

In 1972, the Union of Burma Bank took over the function of note issuance from the People’s Bank of Burma and between 1972 and 1979 issued Banknotes in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 Kyats.

Interestingly, at this time Giesecke & Devrient, the German Currency paper and printing major, has provided technical know-how for the task of Currency Note printing at the Security Printing Works Factory in Wazi, Upper Burma, which has been printing Myanmar currency notes ever since.

On 03.11.1985, 25, 50 and 100 Kyat Banknotes were demonetised, again for fighting inflation/black-marketing.

On 10.11.1985, 75 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

On 01.08.1986, 35 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

On 05.09.1987, 35 and 75 Kyat Banknotes were demonetised which led to about 75% of the Country’s currency being rendered as not legal tender.

On 22.09.1987, 45 and 90 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

On 20.06.1989, when the country’s name was changed to Myanmar, new Banknotes were proposed to be issued although the existing circulating currency also remained legal tender. Accordingly, on 01.03.1990 1 Kyat Banknotes and on 27.03.1994, 50 pya, 20, 50, 100 and 500 Kyat Banknotes were circulated.

On 01.10.2009, 5000 Kyat Banknotes were issued.

An interesting feature of the Banknotes issued under the Third Kyat is the currency does not mention the date on which the Banknote came into circulation nor bears any signature of the issuing authority. What this translates into is that neither the Government of Myanmar or the Central Bank of Burma bear any responsibility in case the currency is summarily demonetised for reimbursing/compensating the bearer of the Banknotes suitably.

The presently Circulating Banknote Series:

The Front of the 50 pyas Banknote shows a Saung gauk.

(Saung gauk: A Saung gauk is an arched Burmese harp used in traditional Burmese music. The Saung is regarded as the national musical instrument of Myanmar and is unique in the sense, that this ancient harp is now the only surviving harp in Asia. Believed to have its origins in India, the most significant innovator of the harp was Myawaddy Mingyi U Sa (1766-1853) who adapted repertoires of Siamese music into Burmese, rewrote the Siamese Ramayana, also called the Ramakien into the Burmese Enaung-zat and composed harp music for it. He developed a new genre of harp music called “Yodaya” (Burmese translation of the word “Ayodhya” – the capital of Lord Rama). He also increased the number of harp strings from 7 to 13. Now a harp can have 13 to 16 strings and is accompanied by a vocalist).



           The above is an image of a traditional "Saung gauk" or Harp
The Back of the 50 pyas Banknote shows a Guilloche pattern.

The colour of this Banknote is purple and orange on the Front and multicolour on the Back. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 110 x 55 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is “BCM”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1994.

The Front of the 1 Kyat Banknote shows Bogyoke Aung San.

(Bogyoke Aung San(13.02.1915-19.07.1947): Bogyoke means “General”. He was the father of Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Perize winner) and the prominent pro-democracy and Civil/Human Rights leader in Burma. He was a Burmese Revolutionary, Nationalist, and Founder of the modern Burmese Army or Tatmadaw. He also founded the Communist Party of Burma and is regarded as the Father or Founder of the Union of Burma. He was responsible for getting freedom from British colonial rule in Burma, but was unfortunately assassinated six months before Independence. For his selfless contributions to the cause of Burmese Freedom, he is still remembered fondly today. A martyr’s mausoleum was built near the Shwedagon Pagoda and the day of his assassination i.e. 19th July is designated as Martyr’s day and is a public holiday as a mark of respect to his memory.
                     A statue of Bogyoke Aung San

The Back of the 1 Kyat Banknote shows a Guilloche pattern.

The colour of this Banknote is orange. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 110 x 55 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is “Bogyoke Aung San”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.03.1990.

Interestingly, when Bogyoke Aung San’s portrait was held up everywhere and used as a rallying point during the 1988 uprising, a jittery Military Junta redesigned the National currency removing his portrait and replacing it with scenes from Burmese culture.

The Front of another 1 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Chinthe: The Chinthe, a leogryph (lion-like creature) is often seen at entrances of pagodas and temples in Burma, depicted in pairs meant as guardians to protect the holy places and is also used as a State symbol. The Chinthe is typically shown as an animal and sometimes with a human face. After 1988, it appears on all denominations of Burmese Banknotes and coins.

Legend has it that a Burmese princess had a son through a marriage to a lion, whom she later abandoned. Enraged, the lion went on a rampage terrorising the lands. He was eventually killed by his own son, who upon learning that the lion was his own father, constructed a statue of the lion as a guardian of a temple to atone for his sin.

The Chinthe is revered and loved by the Burmese people and is used symbolically on Royal thrones of Burma.

                             The above is an image of a right facing Chinthe

The Back of this 1 Kyat Banknote shows Boat-rowing at Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon.

The colour of this Banknote is blue-purple. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 110 x 55 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is “BCM”. This Banknote was first issued on 31.10.1996.

Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon: meaning “the great Royal lake” is one of two major lakes in Yangon. The 150 acre lake is surrounded by the Kandawgyi Nature Park and the Yangon Zoological Gardens. Along the Eastern shoreline of the lake is the famous “Karaweik”, a concrete replica of a Burmese Royal Barge built in 1972, which functions as a restaurant.




 An image of the concrete replica of the Burmese Royal Barge built in 1972.
The Front of the 5 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 5 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinlone cane ball game.

The colour of this Banknote is brown and blue. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 130 x 60 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.05.1995.

Chinlone Cane Ball game:

The Front of another 5 Kyat Banknote also shows the Chinthe.

The Back of this 5 Kyat Banknote also shows the Chinlone cane ball game.

The colour of this Banknote is brown and blue. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 130 x 60 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is a “Chinthe bust over denominational value”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.03.1997.

Chinlone Ball Game: this game is over 1500 years old and is also called “Caneball”. Chinlone means “basket rounded” or “round basket” and is the traditional sport of Myanmar. Chinlone is a combination of sport and dance, a team sport with no opposing team. Essentially, chinlone is a non-competitive game, where the focus is not on winning or losing but on hoe beautifully a participant plays the game.

A team of six players pass the ball, woven from rattan, back and forth with their feet, knees & heads as they walk around in a circle. One player goes to the centre to solo, creating a dance of various moves strung together. The soloist is supported by the other players who try and pass the ball back with one kick. When the ball drops to the ground it is declared dead and the play starts all over again.

The Front of the 10 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 5 Kyat Banknote shows a Karaweik (a Royal Regalia boat).
The colour of this Banknote is purple. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 130 x 60 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.05.1995.

The Front of another 10 Kyat Banknote also shows the Chinthe.

The Back of this 10 Kyat Banknote also shows a Karaweik (a Royal Regalia boat).

The colour of this Banknote is purple. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 130 x 60 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is “Chinthe bust over the denominational value”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.03.1997.

The Front of the 20 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 20 Kyat Banknote shows the People’s Park and Elephant Fountain, Yangon.

The colour of this Banknote is green. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 145 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the  “Chinthe bust over the denominational value”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1994.

The People’s Park:  The People’s Park is located near the Shwedagon Pagoda. The Park is very popular for its concrete water fountain which is composed of two receding tiers of white elephants spewing water out of their raised trunks and is topped by a single lotus bud. The fountain is located as the centre-piece of a flower-lined marble esplanade. The People’s Park & Square also has swimming pools, water slides, joy rides etc.

The Front of the 50 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 50 Kyat Banknote shows a Lacquerware artisan.

The colour of this Banknote is orange-brown. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 145 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1994.

The Front of another 50 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of this 50 Kyat Banknote also shows a Lacquerware artisan.

The colour of this Banknote is orange-brown. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 145 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe bust over value”. This Banknote was first issued in 1997.

The Front of the 100 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 100 Kyat Banknote shows a temple renovation. The colour of this Banknote is blue, green and pink. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 145 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1994.

Simultaneously, another 100 Kyat Banknote was circulated with the same features on both sides, except that the watermark showed the “Chinthe bust over value”.
 The Front of the 200 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.
 The Back of the 200 Kyat Banknote shows an elephant teak-logger.

The colour of this Banknote is dark green. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 165 x 80 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1990.

Later, another 200 Kyat Banknote was issued with the same features on both sides, except that the watermark showed the “Chinthe bust over value” in 1998.

Then again, on 11.12.2004, another 200 Kyat Banknote was issued having the same features as the earlier Banknote, except with the size/dimensions being reduced to 150 x 70 mm.

The Front of the 500 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 500 Kyat Banknote shows a General Mahabandoola statue being painted. The colour of this Banknote is purple and brown. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 165 x 80 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued on 27.03.1994.

(General Maha Bandoola (06.11.1782 – 01.04.1925): He was one of Myanmar’s great generals who fought against the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War. In 1819, he served in the Burmese army occupying Manipur and in 1821 he led a Burmese Army in the conquest of Assam. King Bagyidaw appointed him Governor of Assam and a minister at the court of Inwa. In January 1924, when tensions increased along the Bengal-Rakhine border, he prepared to defend Rakhine. When the British declared war in March 1924, he defeated the British in the initial battles. Later his campaign to capture Bengal was abandoned as the British made a counter-move landing troops in Yangon (Rangoon) in May 1924. He made an unsuccessful attempt to encircle the British Headquarters near Yangon and he fell in the defence of Danubyu in April 1825. He is remembered today as one of the most brilliant and daring generals in the service of the Burmese Army).
                  A statue of General Maha Bandoola

Simultaneously, another 500 Kyat Banknote was circulated with the same features on both sides, except that the watermark showed the “Chinthe bust over value”.

Then again, on 10.10.2004, another 500 Kyat Banknote was issued having the same features as the earlier Banknote, except with the size/dimensions being reduced to 150 x 70 mm.

The Front of the 1000 Kyat Banknote shows the Chinthe.

The Back of the 1000 Kyat Banknote shows the Ministry of Finance and Revenue building.

The colour of this Banknote is green and purple. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 165 x 80 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Chinthe”. This Banknote was first issued in November 1998.

Simultaneously, another 1000 Kyat Banknote was circulated with the same features on both sides, except that the watermark showed the “Chinthe bust over value”.

Then again, on 11.10.2004, another 1000 Kyat Banknote was issued having the same features as the earlier Banknote, except with the size/dimensions being reduced to 150 x 70 mm.



The Front of the 5000 Kyat Banknote shows a white elephant.

(The White Elephant: The white elephant is another symbol of the State. White elephants play an important role in Buddhist cosmology and the Jataka tales.

The white elephant’s almost divine status originates in the ancient Indian religious texts where some 10 centuries BCE Indra, the King of the Gods is mentioned as riding a mighty multi-tusked white elephant, In the Buddhacharitra, the Buddha’s mother dreams of a white elephant entering her womb on the eve of her son’s conception. In the Jataka tales, the Buddha appears as a supernatural white elephant in two of his past lives.

For centuries, white elephants have represented peace, wealth and prosperity and white elephants are considered to be the embodiment of a divinely sanctified rule and have been coveted by South-East Asian rulers in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma etc).


The Back of the 5000 Kyat Banknote shows the Parliamentary Complex in Naypyitaw.

The colour of this Banknote is orange and pink. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 150 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Elephant profile over value”. This Banknote was first issued on 01.10.2009.

The Front of the 10000 Kyat Banknote shows the State Seal of Myanmar.

The Back of the 10000 Kyat Banknote shows the Mandalay Royal Palace Moat.

The colour of this Banknote is blue, red, purple, green, brown and yellow. The size/dimensions of this Banknote is 150 x 70 mm. The Watermark on this Banknote is the “Lotus flower profile over value”. This Banknote was first issued on 15.06.2012.

Mandalay Palace & Moat: This was the last Royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy. The palace was constructed between 1857 and 1859 as part of King Mindon’s founding a new Royal capital city of Mandalay. It served as the Royal residence for both King Mindon and his successor King Thibaw. Much of the palace compound was destroyed during World War II when the palace complex was bombed by Allied Aircraft and only the Royal mint and the watch tower survived. A replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s. The moat surrounding the palace is about 64 metres wide and has an average depth of 4.5 metres.



           An image of the Mandalay Palace & Moat as it is seen today.
  King Thibaw was exiled by the British to Ratnagiri, (the home of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who proclaimed the famous slogan "Swaraj is my Birthright & I shall have it", who in turn, was imprisoned by the British in Mandalay - Burma- prison). The loneliness and pain of King Thebaw, the exiled King of Burma, has become all the more poignant for us after our visit  to the Thibaw Palace in Ratnagiri. 

Thibaw Palace
This is the house where King Thibaw spent the last days of his life, looking through a pair of binoculars out at the sea, keeping a lonely vigil from the terrace you can see at the top of the house. It was said that not a boat could enter the harbour without Thibaw seeing it first and he was also the first to know when the sea claimed a life. For details of our trip to Ratnagiri, please click on the following link: Our trip to Ratnagiri including seeing the Thibaw Palace & Bal Gangadhar Tilak's Residence

Coinage of Myanmar:

The First Kyat (1852-1889):

During the period of the three Anglo-Burmese Wars from 1824 to 1885, in the territories under Burmese control the Kyat in both silver and gold coins was in circulation until 1889. The Kyat was sub-divided into 20 pe, each of 4 pya, with the mu and mat worth 2 and 4 pe respectively. The thumb rule was 16 silver Kyat being equal to 1 gold Kyat. The silver Kyat was equivalent to the Indian Rupee which replaced the Kyat once the British occupied Burma.

The Royal Mint in Mandalay was minting silver coins in the denominations of 1 pe, 1 mu (2 pe), 1 mat (4 pe), 5 mu (10 pe) and 1 Kyat and gold 1 pe and 1 mu coins. The obverses of these coins bore the Royal Peacock Seal and the reverses exhibited the denomination and mint date in the Burmese era which started from AD 638.

In 1860s and 1870s, lead coins were issued for 1/8 and ¼ pya, with copper, brass, tin and iron ¼ pe (1pya) and copper 2 pya.

In 1866, gold coins were issued in the denomination of 1 pe, 2 ½ mu and 1 kyat.

In 1878, 5 mu gold coins were issued.

The Second Kyat (1944-1945):

No coins were issued during the circulation of the Second Kyat and only Banknotes were issued.

The Third Kyat (1956-1966):

In 1956, coins were introduced in the denominations of 1 (Bronze) and 5, 10, 25 and 50 pyas and 1 Kyat (all in Copper-nickel). This Series bore the figure of the Chinthe on the obverse and on the reverse, there was the value of the coin and numerals surrounded by Myanmar flower designs.

In 1966, the 1 pya coins were last minted.

Again in 1987, the 5 and 25 pya coins were last minted.

In 1991, the 10 and 50 pya coins were last minted.

Also, in 1991 a new series of coins in the denominations was issued in the denominations of 10 and 50 pyas.

These coins bore a rice plant and the legend “Central Bank of Myanmar” in Burmese on the obverse and showed the value in Burmese numerals on the reverse.

In 1999, the latest Series known as the 1999 Series was minted and circulated comprising of the following denominations:

On the obverse of all these coins there is a Chinthe and “Central Bank of Myanmar” and denominational value is mentioned in Burmese.

The Chinthe, a leogryph is found mainly in front of pagodas and temples, is also used as a State symbol. After 1988, it appears on all denominations of Burmese Banknotes and coins.

On the reverse of all these coins is mentioned the Central Bank of Burma title and denominational value both in English and Arabic numerals.

 1 Kyat: Specifications: Metal Composition: Brass.

5 Kyat: Specifications: Metal Composition: Brass; Diameter: 20 mm; Weight: 2.73 gms; Edge: Plain.

10 Kyat: Specifications: Metal Composition: Brass; Diameter: 23.5 mm.

50 Kyat: Specifications: Metal Composition: Cupro-nickel; Diameter: 23.85 mm; Weight: 5.06 gms.

100 Kyat: Specifications: Metal Composition: Cupronickel; Diameter: 26.8 mm; Weight: 7.52 gms; Edge: Reeded.

The Coat of Arms or the State Seal of Myanmar:




The Coat of Arms has two Chinthe (mythical lions) facing in opposite directions with their backs to each other. At the centre is a map of Myanmar.

Other features:

 The Coat of Arms is surrounded by traditional Burmese flower designs and a star is at the top of the crest.

This State Emblem has been adopted after the 2008 Burmese constitutional referendum.

The new Coat of Arms removed the colours blue and dark gold/orange of the earlier Arms (1948-1974) and now uses the colours red and gold/yellow.

The cogwheel of the earlier Arms was also removed and replaced with laurel or olive branches and the legend on the bottom of the scroll was changed from the earlier “Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma” to only “Republic of the Union of Burma”.

Earlier Coat of Arms:



The above is an image of the Burmese State Emblem which was used from  1974 to 2008.

A previous State symbol of the Burmese monarchs was the green peacock, a symbol which was also used by the British colony and the State of Burma. The peacock was also depicted on Burmese rupees as a national symbol.
                    An image of the familiar symbol of the green peacock.

Some other popular symbols in Burma:

Over centuries, while no official codification or recognition is there the following symbols are representative of the Burmese people.

Flowers:

The “padauk is known as Burma’s National flower and is associated with the “Thingyan period or Burmese New Year which is around mid-April.

The “thazin” orchid is another national flower, while the “ingyin” is the third National flower of Burma.

Green Peafowl:

The green peafowl called the “Daung” or “U-Doung” or the dancing peacock, has been associated with Burmese monarchs. 

(The two Banknotes are from the collection of Jayant Biswas. Article researched & written and Banknotes scanned and posted by Rajeev Prasad)


Links:
1) Our trip to Ratnagiri, including the Thibaw Palace & the residence of Bal Gangadhar Tilak  

 2) Commemorative coins on Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak; The Father of the Indian National Movement Also called “The founder of militant Nationalism in India” 


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