This is our land… (hanging the Karen tunic on the fishing rod)

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”  Martin Luther King

The Karens were the first settlers of the land now known as Myanmar. After their long journeys, the Karens decided to settle down in the land which they thought was very fertile and peaceful. The claiming and marking of the land was told in Karen history as well as in htars (poems) and passed down to posteriors. This story bears significance as part of the Karen history because of its prophetic implication. The Karens were from the north and came down to present Myanmar because it was too thickly populated where they were. They moved down further south family after family, tribe after tribe until there was no land left to explore. Their ancestors learned valuable lessons from their experiences
in many lands they had lived and passed down these legacies to their posteriors. So many families formed themselves into tribes and built villages and towns in every convenient place in order to develop and defend themselves. The prophetic history goes on as followed.

 A certain couple by the name of Pu Hsar Tuh and Pee Peh Say who lived in a village called Moo Kla Toh (The present Rangoon Airport site,  Mingaladon)  went out fishing every day. They loved fishing at places where new lands formed at the mouth of rivers. Usually, they went out very far from their village to explore their surroundings. One day, as they were fishing they noticed that the land was very rich in soils and could support a large number of families. They talked about their past experiences and agreed that they should leave something worthwhile for their children. They found the land was unoccupied and there was no sign or mark to show that it had been claimed. The Karens always show respect to other people’s property if it has a mark or sign that show the owner. The couple knew that they were the first to have found this land.

So they looked around to find some obvious things to make a sign. As the land was newly formed there was no sizable thing good enough for a mark. They found a big teak log and said to each other that they would build their house with it. This log was also good for a sign so they stuck in one of their fishing rods into the log. Pu Hsar Tuh put off his Karen tunic and hung it on the fishing rod to make them looked like a flag. After marking and claiming the land as their own they went back to their village.
Sometimes later, British merchants came to this land and found the place very good for settlement. Even though they saw the land had been marked with something looked like a flag, they ignored it and buried nine copper coins under the log as a sign that they were the first to have found this land.

After the British left, some Burmese merchants came to this land and seeing that it was very good they wanted it. Looking around to leave a mark for themselves they saw a big log with a fishing rod stuck into and a Karen tunic waving proudly on it. As they didn’t have any respect for others they brought in nine baskets of ground nuts to burry them under the log. When they dug the earth they found out that some people came here before them and had already buried nine copper coins as a sign. Ignoring them they dug deeper to burry their ground nuts, covered them, put back the coins in their place and covered them with the earth again.

Next