The Royal Regalia of Myanmar Monarchy

The Royal Regalia of Myanmar Monarchy


Myanmar was a monarchy till the entire country was annexed in was annexed in 1885. Myanmar kings ruled the country for about 2000 years, so there was a long tradition court customs, etiquette and most important of all the symbols of kingship – the Royal Lion Throne and the Royal Regalia. The conquering British commandeered the Royal Lion Throne, symbol of "sovereignty, nobility, splendor and glory" of the last Myanmar monarch, King Thibaw and took it away to Calcutta, India. And many items of the royal regalia were seized as the spoils of war. The Lion Throne was returned after independence at the request of the Myanmar Government but only part of the royal regalia was returned. So many of these priceless items have been irretrievably lost although some originals can be seen on display at the National Museum. Fortunately for the historical record there are written records and references in Myanmar literature of what constitutes the royal regalia, the most notable of which is the treatise "Shwe Bon Nidan" and a white folded parchment with illustrations of articles of the royal regalia. A minister of King Thibaw’s Court, Maha Thiha Thura, the Lord Taingdar was the author.

The royal regalia are the special gold ornaments displayed on royal state occasions. There are many articles that are part of the royal regalia and what is interesting is, that each has its assigned place either on the right-hand side or the left-hand side of the throne although the arrangement sometimes varied according to the period. The components of the right-hand side are said to number 18 and those for the left-hand side, 17. These beautiful gem-studded gold ornaments were put on display only three times a year. They were displayed when a state ceremony was held for paying obeisance to the king for the Myanmar New Year in April, at the beginning of the Buddhist Lent (June/July) and at the end of Lent (October).

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