Proverbs (Supplementary Notes)

Video Broadcast : #226
January 30, 2021

There are proverbs in most languages.

Features of a Proverb

  • Simple and concrete saying
  • Often passed down generations
  • Told and retold repeatedly
  • Conveys a truth
  • Based on common sense
  • May have origins in the Holy Books and History

Dueling Proverbs

“Dueling Proverbs” are two proverbs which seem to contradict each other.
Each may be correct based on the context.

Example of Dueling Proverbs:

Ta Ywa Ma Pyaung Thu Kaung Ma Phit
(One will not progress if one does not relocate).

Thay Chin Day Kyar Taw Pyaung
(A tiger who wants to face death relocates to a new forest).

Is relocation (moving to a new place or finding a new job) beneficial or harmful?


  • During our younger days, we read a series of books on Burmese Proverbs written by a Headmistress.
  • Saya Dr. Hla Pe, Professor at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (in the UK), published a book on Burmese Proverbs.
  • Myanmar Sar Ah Phwe also compiled a book on Myanmar Proverbs.

Dr. Hla Pe

  • For the general public, the following is a good overview of Burmese proverbs.
    Hla Pe (tr.): Burmese proverbs.
    (The Wisdom of the East; Unesco Collection of Representative Works, Burmese Series.) IX, 114 pp. London: John Murray, [1962]. 12s. 6d.
  • Saya Dr. Hla Pe taught Burmese language and culture at SOAS (School of Oriental and Asian Studies at the University of London) from 1948.
    He was Professor of Burmese at SOAS from 1966 until his retirement in 1980.
  • He returned to Burma after his retirement and settled down in Mawlamyaing with his wife Daw Than Mya.
    On his return he brought back to Burma his lifelong collection of books, said to be worth about US $50,000 for donation to Burmese university libraries.
  • Considered one of the most prominent Burmese scholars and one of the founders of Burma Studies, he has written numerous academic articles for Burma journals and published many books in English and Burmese during his academic career.

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