Racing On The Great Royal Lake: 1 Kyat (Myanmar, 1996)-Article

Updated: Nov 17, 2021


The Union of Myanmar also known as Burma, uses a currency named after an ancient Burmese measurement called kyattha. One kyattha was equal to 16.3 grams (0.57 oz) of silver. All Kyat notes are bilingual, Burmese on the observe and English on the reverse.


This Burmese banknotes represents the 2nd denomination of the 3rd Kyat (Series 1994). Interestingly this 1 Kyat note was preceded by a 1990 issued note, of the same value. Which was the only denomination issued that year. Four years past before any other notes were issued. In general tracking Burmese notes can be somewhat confusing, as notes are often issued out of sequence. With multi-year gaps between different denominations.

The observe prominently depicts a chinthe, a highly stylized lion-like guardian creature. Often seen in Myanmar as statues, guarding the entrances of Buddhist temples, pagodas, and monasteries. Chinthes are depicted the majority of Kyat notes, with some rare exceptions.


The text is in Burmese script and numerals. The upper text translates to “CENTRAL BANK OF MYANMAR”, below (center) is the note's value “One Kyatt”. The value is stated in 3 additional times, once in Western Arabic (Standard) numerals on the upper right. And twice in Burmese numerals (1), once in the lower right and on the upper left with floral engraving. This highly skilled engraving is used back the chinthe. There is a western-style flower pattern along the lower border, it ends at the chinthe's fore limbs.

The reverse features an illustration depicting a row-boat race at Kandawgyi Lake, the "Great Royal Lake" in Yangon. Yangon is also home to the Great Dagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Myanmar. In the background Karaweik, a floating place moored on the lake's shore.


The remainder of the reverse is fairly conventional, featuring English text. The text mirrors of the observe, with slight adjustments. The note's value is listed Burmese numerals on the upper left. There is a number “1” printed on the lower left and right. The engraving is based on standard western-style.


Tale of the Chinthe

The origin of the Chinthe is provided in the Mahavamsa (the "Great Chronicle"):

The princess Suppadevi of Vanga Kingdom (Bengal) had a son named Sinhabahu, through her marriage to a lion. But later abandoned the lion, who then became enraged and set out on a road of terror throughout the lands. The son then went out to slay this terrorizing lion. The son came back home to his mother stating he slew the lion, and then found out that he killed his own father. The son later constructed a statue of the lion as a guardian of a temple to atone for his sin.

The Great Royal Lake

Kandawgyi Lake, also known as the "Great Royal Lake", in Yangon. Is a large artificial lake created by channeling water from Inya Lake. The lake covers an area of 150 acre (61 ha) and average depth of 115 cm (45 in). The Kandawgyi Nature Park (110 acre/45 hectare) and the Yangon Zoological Gardens (69.25 acre/28 hectare) surround the lake. It's zoo is the oldest in Burma, over 2.2 million visitors attend the zoo annually.


Not far from the lake's eastern shore is Shwedagon Pagoda, the “Golden Dagon Pagoda”. The most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Burma. The pagoda is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddhas of the present kalpa (era). These relics include the staff of Kakusandha, the (cloth) water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight strands of hair from the head of Gautama. The pagoda is 112 m (367 ft) tall and is built on the 51-metre (167 ft) high Singuttara Hill. The pagoda is made of bricks covered with hammered and riveted gold plates. At the top is a crown tipped with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies.


Also along the lake's eastern shore is Karaweik, a replicate the Pyigyimon royal barge/floating palace.

Karaweik was designed by Burmese architect U Ngwe Hlaing and was built from June 1972-October 1974. The name Karaweik is derived from a mythical bird with a melodious cry. Two such birds are depicted as supporting the “palace” on their backs. The barge is two-stories with a Pyatthat-style roof, its interior hosts 2 reception halls and a conference room. Currently the interior is used as a restaurant, complete with traditional dancers and theater comedy. The comedy show, “U Shwe Yoe & Daw Moe” was created by a famous Burmese comedian named U Ba Galay in 1923.


During the time of this note's printing, the lake was used as the site of the Rangoon Rowing Club. The boat-races were ended in 2017, after their meeting place the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel was burned. The tradition of row-boat racing on the lake. Has it's origins with British officers, the hotel itself was an outgrowth of the original Rangoon Rowing Club building.


Ultraviolet and Security Feature Gallery

When observed under ultraviolet light the background, behind the chinthe glows florescent green. The serial number shines bright red, in addition to number of luminous fibers (florescent blue). Under regular white lightm the fibers appear invisible. The fibers are made from recycled cotton. Noted the luminous nature of said fibers, may be incidental. As other banknotes printed on recycled medium then to have this same effect. The watermark is "CBM" (Central Bank Myanmar) printed in a triangle.


Additional Notes

  • The notes dimensions are 110 × 55 mm, the same size as the 50 Pyas note. One Kyat is subdivided into 100 Pyas .

  • This currency is still considered active and should be treated as such. Legal precautions should be considered in regards to this this note.

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