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THE RUBY MINES OF BURMAH

An interesting lectura on the ?üby mines of Burmah was delivered by Mr Q. r-heiton Streoter on February id, under the auspices of the Soolety for the JSnoouragment of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, London Mr Streeter at the outeet stated that the roby mine traot of Bunnah was situated on the hill sides and In the plain lands of a valley running east and west at an elevation of 4500 feet m a range of mountainous spura that ran nearly at right angles to the Burmese Torn*. Ihw valley was come 80 miles due north of MandaUy, the oapital of Upper Bunnah but it could only be reached after a circuitous journey or milts. There was no doubt that these mines, had been worked for hundreds of years. The Burmese probably did not acquire tho mines till about the 16tb deniury, but when onoe they passed lnlo their poeeeusion they appeared to have kept a firm hold upon th«m. The early European travellers who visited Burmah at the end of the 15th and m the 16th centnry made frequent mention of the mineß. ivone of these travellers were allowed to visit the mining diatriots, and the first European who Baw them was probably t, iQOftiiav Eogllih eallcr, who was lv the employ of K*ng Pa»gyid», m 1830, and -who was lent to blast a certain rook at one of the royal mines at Tampambln. The district was again visited m 1881 by a party of Frenchmen undtran engineer m the king's employ. These appeared to have been the only Europeans who personally knew the mines before the arrival of his own patty on the 26th December 1886, after a tedious and dangerous march of two months through unknown malarious jungle, and oret difficult mountain p»snes. After briefly glanolog at the geological feature! of the valley, Me Streeter gave an lntereatlcg description of mining at present practised, Toe first was known by the name of ladwlns or cave workings; the seoond myewdwir, or bill aide workings; the third tvlnlone, or pit mining: the fourth, river workings ; and the fifth, quarry mining. Buob ware the different modes of procuring thole Oriental rubles that had at present appeared m Europe, and •howed the prlmitiveness of the system used »s compared to our higher knowledge. The variety of races collected within the area provided matter of great interest to the ethnologist. The dlstrlct bordered the early centres both of • the Bormese »nd Shan kingdom^ and the conntty was still rloh In legends, m*ny of them mythioal, relatIng to these early days. It was also near the principal highway vied m the invasion of Barmab by Ohlna, and scattered or defeated bands of both armies had drifted into the valley and finally settled there; •gain, m more modern times, gangs of prisoners from conquered states h»d been let to work at the mines, and by their testability had become free, and formed communities of their owni They were Buddhists, but theli religion had lost muob of Its purer doctrines by the Introduction of Bhan beliefs and spirit worship. The Government bad oauied a careful and searching Inquiry to be made, the remit of which proved that the mints were always, as they were now, Grown property. Tito inhabitants, however, from their close eonneotlon with the mines, had » morrl right to eveiy consideration, which the Government had reoognlied, and they were to be malnted In their old workings by a system of lioenie, for which they would pay > royalty or duty on the produott they raised, The labor that would be employed, with machinery, to work the various extensive tracts of the distnot which, through physical difficulties, the natives had never been able to touch, would be recruited from the Chinese Shan States of Santa and Botha. They were an aotive, sturdy-limbed, peaceable tribe, amalgamating well both with the Burmese and Bhans, by whom they had been for centuries engaged as cultivators, miners, timber cutters, and, , m fact, doers of all htrd work which was distasteful to their employers. Though thiß district was always known as the ruby minep, it must not be imagined that rubies were the only precious stamen found m it, for the same mines produced red, pink, and blue spinels, sapphires of very fine quality and of newly ©very shade of oolor, from the yellow or Oriental topaz to the green or Oriental emerald, zircons, moonstones, and tourmalines.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18890412.2.23

Bibliographic details

THE RUBY MINES OF BURMAH, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 12 April 1889

Word Count
741

THE RUBY MINES OF BURMAH Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 12 April 1889

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