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Arakan(Rakhine)

Based on Rakhine oral histories and inscriptions in certain temples, the history of the Rakhine region date back nearly five thousand years.[citation needed] The Rakhine people trace their societal history back to as far as 3325 B.C.E. and have given a lineal succession of 227 native monarchs and prices down to the last ruler in 1784. They also describe their territory of including, in varying points of time, the regions of Ava, the Irrawaddy Delta, the port town of Thanlyin (Syriam) and parts of eastern Bengal. However, the expanse of the successive Rakhine kingdoms does not exactly corroborate with certain known historical documentation.

Silver coin of king Nitichandra, Arakan. Brahmi legend “NITI” in front, Shrivatasa symbol on the reverse. 8th century CE.

According to Rakhine legend, the first recorded kingdom rose centred around the northern town of Dhanyawadi in the 34th century B.C.E. and lasted til 327 C.E. Rakhine documents and inscriptions states that the famed Mahamuni Buddha image was cast in Dhanyawady in around 554 B.C.E., when the Buddha visited the kingdom. After the fall of Dhanyawadi in the 4th century C.E., the centre of power shifted to a new dynasty based in the town of Waithali. The Waithali kingdom ruled the regions of Rakhine from the middle of the 4th century to 818 C.E. The period is seen as the classical period of Rakhine culture, architecture and Buddhism, as the Waithali period left behind more archeological remains compared to its predecessor. A new dynasty emerged in four towns along the Lemro river as Waithali waned in influence, and ushered in the Lemro period, where four principal towns served as successive capitals.

The final kingdom of Mrauk U was founded in 1430 by Min Saw Mon. It is seen by the Rakhine people as the golden age of their history, as Mrauk U served as a commercially important port and base of power in the Bay of Bengal region and involved in extensive maritime trade with Arabia and Europe. The country steadily declined from the seventeenth century onwards after the loss of Chittagong to the Mughal Empire in 1666. Internal instability, rebellion and dethroning of kings were very common. The Portuguese, during the era of their greatness in Asia, gained a temporary establishment in Arakan.

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