The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bengali Burma

Razib Khan shows the deep roots between Bengal (with Bangladesh) and Burma. It seems that Thai-like peoples (sometimes called Dai) moved into Burma and Bengal at around the same time that Hindi-like peoples moved into the same places. The latter people were, at some later-mediaeval point, Muslim.

Khan points out that much of this area - from Bengal all the way to Cambodia - was jungle until modernish times, like 1500 AD or so. In Bengal, Burma, Thailand and Laos a tribe of about a thousand could make a serious dent into local demographics. In the ancient Romania, a migrant group of the same size might get a paragraph in a book of historical curios. More likely, might not.

The main point - since Khan comes from a Muslim tradition, although he is agnostic - is the Islamicisation of what's now Bangladesh and also of the Rohingya (although the latter is more a subtext). The Hindis (no longer Aryan) who moved into the jungle and cleared it out were led by Muslims.

I'm thinking that many of them kept going. These enterprising souls might not have braved the jungle; but there was also an ocean, fully navigable by fourteenth-century shipwrights. As Thai / Dai peoples went west and became the Munda, Hindi Muslims went east and became the Rohingya.

One large difference seems to be that the Munda didn't invite other Thai over to join them in making Bengal a "west Siam". The Bengali-Aryan Rohingya in Burma, by contrast, welcomed brother Bengali "Chittagon[g]ian" immigrants. Today the Indian state sees no threat in the Munda, and tolerates them. The Burmese state - which now identifies as Burmic and so Sino-Tibetian (and not Thai; that's another issue) - thinks wholly different of the Rohingya.

(I don't see evidence that the Rohingya are Islamists, though. Jim seems to be talking through his hat, as often happens.)

posted by Zimri on 20:00 | link | 0 comments

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