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V13 2010 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 13, Number 8, February 21, 2010, Article 25

OLD SILVER RUPEE COINS STILL USED IN MYANMAR ENCLAVES

Dick Hanscom forwarded this article from National Public Radio, noting that there is "a brief mention of coins, silver rupees still being current." Arthur Shippee also spotted it, adding, "They still use century + old British Raj coinage".

I've heard segments in this reporter's series, but missed the coin reference. He's reporting on his travels down the Mekong river. -Editor

In an Akha village halfway between the Mekong and the market town of Kengtung, the dogs are suspicious, but the people are friendly. The dozen or so houses are the same simple wooden structures the Akha have built for generations.

"Twenty or 30 years ago, many Akha were still animists, and in our community, if a mother gave birth to twins, it was considered bad luck," he says.

It signaled such bad luck that newborn twins would often be killed, he and others in the village say, by putting ashes in their mouths. If the families refused, they would be forced out of the village.

My guide, who goes by the name Freddy, explains that when the British arrived in the Kengtung area, they used rupee coins to buy opium from the local hill tribes.

"Nowadays, these people, they still believe this coin. They believe it because it's silver and they can keep them easy. If you buy animals from them, like cow or buffalo or the land, we have to buy with this coin. They don't want the Myanmar currency," Freddy says.

To read the complete article, see: Mekong Flows Along Troubled Myanmar's East (www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123570472)

Wayne Homren, Editor

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