The legends of Boats

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Nawara Boat is also called Nawa Rupa Boat. Nawa means nine and Rupa means beauty. It is boat with nine beauties namely the beak and mane of Karaweik Bird, the hump of Bull, the tail of Nga Gyin fish, two tusks of elephant, a trunk of Makara, tow horns of Deer, tow wings of Parakeet, one front leg and hind leg, the tail and the body of Toe Naya (unicorn) two ears, one front leg and one hind leg of Horse are combined to form Nawa Rupa. Figures of these are carved to decorate this boat. Another version of Nawara legend is that in fact it was called Nawa Raja Boat which means Nine Kings Boat.

At the time of the creation of the world there were nine Brahmas present. So Nawara Boat has the figures of five Brahmas on the bow and four Brahmas on the bow and four Brahmas on the stern. This boat was first used by Maha Thamada Raja, the first king of mankind. Thin Ka Net Boat was made of Thin Kan Net wood and originally it was called Thin Kan Net Boat.

Lin Zin Boat was derived from "La Za Boat". La Za is a Maghada word meaing "popcorn". The boat was made to look like popcorn. Because this kind of boat was used by Lin Zin Kings of Lawarhta country it came to be called Lin Zin Boat.

Pa Thone Boat was originally called Bya Thone Boat. During the reigns of Mutama Kings, water from the River Pun Sa laing was used for drinking and ceremonial washing as if it represented a mixture of waters of five great rivers. The king occasionally held boat festival on the Pun Salaing River. On the Zin Gyaike hill there was a Byin Nat Pagoda. This hill was believed to be the old abode of ogres who were afraid of Atha Mukhi the King of all ogres. When the Mutama king crossed the river Pun Sa Laing,he used the boat with the figure of Atha Mukhi, and he ceremonially drank the water of the Pun Sa Laing River. "Bya" means powerful King, "Thone" means to drink-Bya Thone Boat is the boat on which the powerful king drinks the sacred water of the Pun Sa Laing River, In course of time the name was corrupted to sound Pa Thone Boat.

Pyi Kone Boat is the boat where the king's subjects paid homage and submitted their supplications. At the time of the creation of the world, the humans living in the complete darkness supplicated for the grant of light. So the sun and the moon appeared. To commemorate this event the figure of moon god and his shrine and the figure of sun god and his shrine adorn the bow and stern of this boat respectively.

Tharaba Boat was originally called Thara Bu Boat. Thara Bu means crown the boat was decorated with the carvings of crown. Sometimes it was called Tharabat Boat.

Lawka Beik Man Boat is a boat with two pavilions, one at the bow and the other at the stern. 'Beik Man' means beautiful building. Dwa Laung Boat is a boat with twin bow and twin stern. 'Dwa' means two.

Thuwa Boat is a boat with the figure of a parakeet. Than Thu Ma Ya Boat is a boat with the figure of a crocodile. This boat depicts the legend of two lovers Prince Min Nanda and Princess. Shin Hmwe Lun. Whenever Prince Min Nanda secretly paid his nocturnal visit to his lover Princess Shin Hmwe Lun who lived in Thanlyin, he rode the supernatural crocodile named "Nga Moe Yeik" to cross the river.


"Ma Noke Thiha" Boat is adorned with the figure of a mythical creature with a human face and hands, double bodies of a lion and its legs. Legend says that when the Kingkom of Vesali was invaded by swamps of man-eating orges, two monk disciples of the Lord Buddha turned themselves into Ma Noke Thiha to frighten away the invaders.

Naga Deva Boat is adorned with the figure of the snake king.

The legend of Hlaw Ka Taw Gyi Boat is associated with King Alaungsithu of Bagan Dynasty. The king was a great traveler who used his royal barge for his water journey. The royal barge had the supernatural power of transforming into water anywhere the King pointed at. When the barge halted at one island in the ocean, a big nest built of elephant tusks was found on it. The nest belonged to a monster reptile which killed elephants to eat their brains and used their tusks for its nest. As the creature was away hunting elephants the King's men broke up its nest and took the tusks on board. When the creature returned and seeing no more of its nest, it swam across the ocean to chase the royal barge. Being exhausted and unable to catch up, it showed its head, tail and four legs spread out to impress and frighten the King. Then it turned back. In memory of this encounter, the King ordered his men to make a boat in the shape of the monster reptile. That boat came to be called 'Hlaw Ka Taw Gyi" (The big royal boat with oars spread out like the legs of the great reptile).

Thampan Boat is thje boat presented to King Padeikaya by the Kyi Indians. Another version is that the boat was purchased by the King. Thampan is a Maghada word meaning the boat made of planks pieced together by wedges, without using glue, resin or any kind of adhesive.
Thaka Dan Boat was also associated with King Alungsithu.When the King arrived at Malayu peninsula, Sakka, the Thunder god appeared before him to present to him a magic tree. The King had a boat carved out of the magic tree and named by Sakka. Later it corrupted to become Thaka Dan Boat.

Ku Root Boat is the boat used by the inhabitants of the Mon country Ramanyadesa. Ku Root (Kha Raw)in Mon means"Cup". This is the boat made in the shape of a cup.


Zala Kapin Boat also is the boat originally belonged to the Mons. "Zala"means box.Kapin means ship. It is a boat or ship in the shape of a box.


Ye Hlay boat was the boat given as a gift to the son Pyu Saw Hti by his father Suriya the sun King. After the son had used this boat, he became very brave. So it was named Ye Hlay or Brave Boat.

Lwan Kyin Boat has the story which goes back to the Bagan Period of Myanmar history. When Min Ye Nara Thein Kha fell in love with Wai Lu Waddy, the wife of his younger brother Prince Narapati Sithu, he sent his younger brother away on a military expedition to Nga Saung Gyan. During his absence a pair of male and female Lwan Kyin birds was brought to the King as a gift from Mo Hnyin Gaung. The King adored the birds as a good omen for him to win the heart of Wai Lu Waddy. The boat which carried the birds came to be known as Lwan Kyin Boat. Lwan Kyin birds are believed to be faithful and kind to their lover. So a boat was made with the figures of the heads of male and female Lwan Kyin birds at the bow and the figures of their tails in unison at the stern. Another legend says that during the water journeys of King Alaung Sithu he saw on the islet of Nant Tha Kyun, a loving couple of Lwan Kyin birds with their long necks entwined as a gesture of tendering love. The King admired them so much that he ordered his men to build a boat in the shape of the loving couple of Lwan Kyin birds. He named the boat "Mana Pa" Boat. But it is commonly called Lwan Kyin Boat.

Ka Tu Boat is derived from the Mon word 'Kha Tu' meaning "the moon". The boat made in the shape of a crescent moon was called "Kha Tu Boat". Later it was changed to Ka Tu Boat.

These are the legends of some of Myanmar traditional barges and boats described in Myanmar chronicles and literature.



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