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Yama Zatdaw, unofficially Myanmar'smarker national epic, is the Burmese version of the Ramayana. There are nine known pieces of the Yama Zatdaw in Myanmar. The Burmese name for the story itself is Yamayana, while zatdaw refers to the acted play or being part of jataka tales of Theravada Buddhism.

The Yama Zatdaw was introduced by oral tradition during King Anawratha's reign although it was not known clearly whether the story was Valmiki’s Sanskrit epic Ramayana or not. In the Nat-hlaung-gyaung, the Visnu temple, within the walls of old city Baganmarker, there are some stone sculptures, one of them is Ramachandra. Based on Burmese literature, at least, Hanuman has been known in Burma definitely before 1527 AD.

Burmese ramayana was influenced greatly by Ayutthaya Kingdom, during which various Konbaung Dynasty kings invaded the kingdom. The invasions often brought back spoils of war, including elements of Ramakien (Thai version of Ramayana) into the epic. Rama sā-khyan, one of the well known literature in Burma, is believed to be composed in 1775 AD by U Aung Phyo which begins with Bala kanda and ends begins with Bala kanda and ends at Yudha kanda as in Valmiki’s Ramayana. There are also important Burmese literature and classical music related to ramayana which were developed in that era such as Yama-yakan (Rama's song), Thida-yakan (Sita's song) in 1784 AD; Yama-pyazat (Ramayana ballet) in 1789 AD; and Ka-lay Yama watthu (Young Rama's life) in 1800 AD.

Ethnic Mon adaptation of ramayana is known as "Loik Samoing Ram" which was written in 1834 AD by a Buddhist monk named Uttama. It is evident that "Loik Samoing Ram" is mainly derived from Burmese version as the author of the Mon version stated in his preface that due to the popularity of Burmese version in the capital. However, Mon version also exhibits the connections with Thai, Javanese and Malayan versions and has own unique episodes which can not be found in Thai, Burmese or Malayan versions.

Characters

The characters of Yama Zatdaw share the same features and characteristics as those in the original story. However, in acting, the costumes are a mixture of Bamar and Thaimarker elements. The names of the characters, in general, are Burmese transliterations of the Sanskrit names.

Rama is known as Yama.Sita is known as Thida.Ravana is known as Yawana or Datha-giri.Lakshmana is known as Lakhana.Hanuman is known as Hanuman.Vali is known as Bali.Maricha is known as Marizza.Vibhishana is known as Bibi-thana.Parashurama is known as Pashu-Yama.

References

  1. the old ancient wonder of the world was one center of a romantic powerful empire"
  2. "Salient features of Mon Rama story" by Toru Ohno


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