Update: 2018-02-03 09:19 PM -0500


Sky-islands of Myanmarpr
& sources of Geo-thermal Energy


A collection by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), Daw Khin Wutyi, Daw Thuzar Myint and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR 
 - http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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The flower on the Buddha Footprint : {za.lt}
The Valley of the Demi-gods : the land shunned by
   Arjuna - the hero of Mahabharatta - the Third Pundava
Mountains: high and low 
The Treasure guardians : beautiful 'magical' maidens
Hot springs : sources of geothermal energy


UKT notes

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What? A sky island: an island in the sky! Never heard of it. So was I until I stumbled on an article in Wikipedia as I was searching for Natma Taung {nt-ma.taung} aka Mt. Victoria {wi.to-ri.ya.taung} in Myanmarpr.

UKT note 130216: We have here something to play with words. Since the Bur-Myan {taung} 'mountain', is common to both {nt-ma.taung} and {wi.to-ri.ya.taung}, I am left to note that {wi.to-ri.ya.} has unintentionally become {nt-ma.} 'female nat' which in proper usage is {m-tau} -- the Mother-Goddess. Does Fate intend that we honour our one-time Empress, Queen Victoria, as {wi.to-ri.ya. m-tau}? Maybe we should build a shrine for her, and welcome tourists from Britain.

Sky islands are mountains that are isolated by surrounding lowlands of a dramatically different environment, a situation which, in combination with the altitudinal zonation of ecosystems, has significant implications for natural habitats. Endemism, vertical migration, and relict populations are some of the natural phenomena to be found on sky islands.

The complex dynamics of species richness on sky islands draws attention from the discipline of biogeography, and likewise the biodiversity is of concern to conservation biology. One of the key elements of a sky island is separation by sheer physical distance from the other mountain ranges, resulting in a habitat island, such as a forest surrounded by desert.

Some sky islands serve as refugia for boreal species stranded by warming climates since the last ice age. In other cases, localized populations of plants and animals tend towards speciation, the same process that happens on oceanic islands such as the Galpagos Islands.

Some sky-islands are Ultra Prominent Peaks aka Ultras to mountaineers, but not all Ultras are sky-islands.

Location of Natma Taung is 21.23N 93.90E. in the Chin State, and Loi Pangnao is 21.03N 100.03E. in the Shan State. I am not sure whether Loi Pangnao is a sky island or not but Natma Taung is.

Nat Ma Taung, lies in the Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma montain forests ecoregion. Surrounded at lower elevations by tropical and subtropical moist forests, Nat Ma Taung's higher elevations form a sky island, home to many temperate and alpine species typical of the Himalaya further north, as well as many endemic species.


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The flower on the Buddha Footprint

I became fascinated because of another chance encounter. For a few years past, I became friends through the good office of my neighbour Daw Tin Hla, ex. curator of the National Library and Museum in Mandalay, and Yangon, with Dr. W. Sailer who is a researcher on Buddha Footprint. If you look at the inset pix carefully you will that the third square from the right is occupied by a flower. Dr. Sailer has identified the flower as the white flower common met all over Myanmarpr known as Zalat - with which we use to play as children as little windmills. I pointed out to him that Zalat the commonly spelled spelling could mean at least two flowers: {za.lt} and {taung-za.lt}.

Botanical Names of Myanmar Plants of Importance, by Agricultural Department (Planning), Government of Union of Myanmar, 2000, pp 65, gives two entries:

# 22-0575 {za.lp} or {n~bau-za.lp},
  Kopsia fruticosa (Apocyanacea)

#22-0576 {za.lp-ni},
 Rhododendron arboreum , (Ericaceae).

The flower # 22-0575 {za.lp} is without smell but #22-0576 {za.lp-ni} is supposed to have a sweet smell with medicinal properties.

I argued that since the flower is depicted on the Buddha footprint it must have very noticeable characters and could not be ordinary {za.lp}. The second flower #22-0576 {za.lp-ni} - the Rhododendron is supposed to have magical properties and is described as a Deva-flower {nt-pn:}, but the problem is it is red.

I consulted a friend of mine, a one-time professed {mhau-hsa.ra}, commonly known as a "Black Magician", who has abandoned his black magic to become devoted to the Theravada Buddhist prcactise. According to him, the Rhododendron that grows on Mt-Victoria or Natma Taung is white and according to his one-time "science", it does have magical properties. He had made several trips up the slopes of the Natma Taung.

Note: a {mhau-hsa.ra} practicing Black Magic is commonly feared. To me they are adapts in the knowledge of forensic properties of the plants and rocks that are plentiful in the country. Because the people fear them they are a close-knit group, and it is impossible to penetrate their circle to learn their secrets which reminds me the Wicca religion of the West.

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The Valley of the Demi-gods

Unless you are Hindu by religion, you probably do not know the Mahabharata epic, in which Lord Krishna, the human incarnate of Vishnu-deva (one of the Hindu Trinity)  set out the most important philosophy in the Hindu religion by expounding the Bhagavad Gita http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita 130105 .

I had the good fortune to be referred to it by U Nyein Maung who was like an elder brother to me: even though we are both Theravada Buddhists.

Faced with a fratricidal war, a despondent Arjuna, the third Pandava brother, turns to Lord Krishna who was acting as his charioteer -- as the spiritual guide as well -- for counsel on the battlefield. Krishna, through the course of the Gita, imparts to Arjuna wisdom, the path to devotion, and the doctrine of selfless action. The Gita upholds the essence and the theological tradition of the Upanishads. However, unlike the rigorous monism of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita also integrates dualism and theism.

Ulūpī or Uloopi: While Arjuna was in Manipur, Ulūpī or Uloopi a Naga princess became infatuated with him. She showed him her country -- the valley beyond much of it under water. Arjuna married her and had a son Iravan by her. This story is told in several versions, and I like to believe that her country was no other than present-day Myanmarpr - the fabulous land - where in the Mogok area, when I was a child, you could pick up naturally occurring ruby and sapphaire crystals. I still remember my mother having a jar full of them. No wonder, before King Anawratha's religious reforms in the 11th century, Nagas were worshipped in Northern Burma.

Even though the Naga is no longer worshipped in Myanmarpr, the Bur-Myan always have a special feeling for them because of all the non-humans, Nagas, were Gautama Buddha's most devoted followers. According to the Mahayana Buddhist, their most important sermon, the Diamond Sutra was preached by the Buddha himself and not to the humans. See also Cult of the Naga in Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism by Dr. Htin Aung, - ch07-cult-naga.htm (link chk 130216).

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The Mountains

Burma is characterzed by its central lowlands with the Sittaung Valley and Chindwin Valley and the small mountain ranges of Zeebyu Taungdan, Min-wun Taungdan, Hman-kin Taungdan and Gangaw Taungdan as well as the Bago Yoma. [1] The Central Valley Region is ringed by steep, rugged highlands, with the country's highest point at the 5,881 m (19,295 ft) Hkakabo Razi located in the northern end of the country. This mountain is part of a series of parallel ranges that run from the foothills of the Himalaya through the border areas with Assam, Nagaland and Mizoram. The Arakan Mountains in the west run from Manipur into western Burma southwards through Rakhine State almost to Cape Negrais in the shores of the Bay of Bengal. The Arakan Range includes the Naga Hills, the Chin Hills, and the Patkai range which includes the Lushai Hills. [2] Mountain ranges in the southern end of the Hengduan System form the border between Burma and China.

The Pegu Range is a relatively low mountain chain between the Irrawaddy River and the Sittaung River in central Burma. In Eastern Burma the highest point of the Shan Hills is 2,563 m high Loi Pangnao, one of the ultra prominent peaks of Southeast Asia. [3]  The Shan Hills form, together with the Karen Hills, Dawna Range and Tenasserim Hills, a natural border with Thailand as well as the Kayah-Karen/Tenasserim moist forests ecoregion [4]  which is included in the Global 200 list of ecoregions identified by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as priorities for conservation. [5] Southern Burma consists largely of the western slopes of the Bilauktaung, the highest part of the Tenasserim Range, which extends southwards forming the central range of the Malay Peninsula.

To understand why Myanmarpr has come to have the above geographical features with rich mineral deposits, I have to go into the geology and geography of the mother country. See
Permian geologic period -- permian.htm
Physical geography -- phy-geo-myan.htm

I wish those who are studying the history and the present-day politics of the country would also look into the geology and geography instead of being content with the unreliable historical sources written by foreign writers and newspaper journalists who after visiting the country for a few days and after talking with the so-called ordinary people, like taxi-drivers, tri-shaw peddlers, and hotel maids, writing authoritative reports.

I wish the bickering politicians of the past and the present had looked into the geology and geography, and the infectious diseases prevalent in the mountain areas, like the tertian malaria, and hill-dysentery that had kept the foreign invaders out and had inflicted heavy casualties. These were and are our guardian-devas, looking after the welfare of the country. Not only the military, but ordinary men and women who would be called upon to defend the mother-land should know something about the lay-out of the land and the military history of our forefathers who had to defend the land in spite of the follies of the kings and queens, and their ministers.

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The treasure guardians : beautiful 'magic' maidens

If the mythical Nagas had been, (or are they still there?), the denizens of Myanmarpr, not many knew of it. What most of us know is: "The Republic of the Union of Myanmar (aka Burma or Myanmarpr) is the northwestern-most country on the mainland of southeast Asia. It is strategically located near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes."

At present, we don't hear many stories of buried treasures in the land. However, we hear stories about them, their guardians {OAc~sa-saung.} and their ogre attendants. One of the most famous stories near the area where I was born is the site of {rhw:hkyo:hpru mu-la.hk: eik} of MaUbin (location chk needed). Treasure-hunters tried to locate and raid it, for the most prized-treasure {pra.da:pra} 'mercury-ash' and {pra.da:rhin-lon:} 'living-mercury-globule'  which can give them untold power. However, they all failed and untold disaster came to them.

A real happening took place in my mother's family in a village near Moulmein at {hka.ln:}-village. The master-hunter (endowed with magical powers), U Maung Maung of unknown origin, did locate it and had it dug. My mother, in her twenties, witnessed the actual digging over several days, used to described it in detail. At about 15 to 20 feet they came to the earthern-pot containing 'treasure' -- but the contents turned into charcoal. The day before the pot was found, U Maung Maung declared that the morrow would be the day to find the pot. However, it is said that the people of the village heard mysterious voices and noises coming out of the place -- of people in many bullock carts carrying away heavy loads. In the early morning, just as the digging was being carried out, back in the Moulmein town the wife of my mother's elder brother U Ba Ba - who was financing the dig on his property, was seized with sudden madness which she suffered till she died many years later. At the site of the digging the Indian-labourers who had been hired to dig, to came to the pot and at the instruction of U Maung Maung, the rim had to be immediately cracked. They found only charcoal inside it, and soon water came pouring in from the sides of the pit, and the Indian-labourers were bitten by what looked like little shrimp that came out with water, and they had to climb out. U Maung Maung saw that his 'magic' had not prevailed over that of the treasure guardians and he 'damaged controlled' the situation by sprinkling with magic rice-pops. He immediately took leave of U Ba Ba and was heard no more.

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Hot springs : sources of geothermal energy

Now we come to the real treasure: geothermal energy. The following is on its potential in Myanmarpr - from #8. U Win Khaing, Geothermal Energy, Myanmar Engineering Soc., 2008,
  http://www.mes.org.mm/Seminars/Geothermal-Energy.pdf 130105.

Myanmar is one of the countries with numerous geothermal resources that could be represented as an additional source of energy to fulfill its future energy requirement.

Myanmar has five distinctive igneous alignments related to geographical features of the country, which stretches from North to South. The igneous activity appeared to be more intense during late Tertiary and Quartenary although the activity ranged from Cretaceous to as late as Recent.

Wide spread  occurrences of hot springs had been known to exist not only in the younger volcanic regions but also in non-volcanic and meta-morphosed areas where ground water heated at depths have ascended through faults, fractures and fissures.

Hot springs are found in Kachin State, Shan State, Kayah State, the Southern Part of Rakhine State in Kyaukphyu, Central Myanmar Area, Shwebo-Monywa Area and especially in Mon State and Taninthayi Division. A total of 93 hotsprings have so far been recorded and identified.

Because of the term "volcano" attached to "mud volcano" don't think the bubbling mud is hot. The mud is quite cold.

The mud particles are very fine, and I have seen local mechanics using electric-arc welding-rods made from ordinary galvanized wire coated with mud from mud-volcano during the hard import-restricted time of Socialist Burma in the 1960-70s.

These mud-volcanoes are known as 'mountain-ponds where the Nagas are blowing air' {na.ga:pwak-taung} .


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#1. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_island 130105
#2. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ultras_in_Southeast_Asia 130106
#3. Sky Islands by J.E. McCormack, Huateng Huaung, & L.L. Knowles, Univ. of Mich., Ann Arbor, USA,
   http://www.museum.lsu.edu/McCormack/picks/McCormack_2009_sky_islands_REVIEW.pdf 130106
#4. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Ma_Taung 130105 
#5. Dr. W.C. Sailer, The World of Buddha Footprint:
   http://www.dralbani.com/buddhafootprint/index.html 130105
#6. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita 130105
#7. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulupi 130105
#6. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Burma 130105
#7. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loi_Pangnao 130105
#8. U Win Khaing, Geothermal Energy, Myanmar Engineering Soc., 2008,
  http://www.mes.org.mm/Seminars/Geothermal-Energy.pdf 130105

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UKT notes


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End of TIL file