Notes Of General Aung San, The Asian Elephant: 10 Kyat (Myanmar, 1958)-Article

Updated: Jan 3

This large ornate Burmese banknote represents the 3rd denomination of the Third Kyat (Series 1958). The Third Kyat is notable for reintroducing decimalization to Burmese currency. This was done in response to 1952 declaration, by the Union of Burma Bank's Currency Board. In which, 1 Kyat was to be decimalized into 100 Pyas.


Despite the Currency Board's decision, Third Kyat banknotes were not issued until 1958. These notes closely resembled the last Burmese Rupees, issued in 1953. Although with the addition of General Aung San's portrait. Usually in place of either an image of a peacock or Chinthe (guardian lion).


The Third Kyat replace the Burmese Rupee at equal (1:1) parity. Allowing citizens to simply exchange their Burmese Rupees for newer Third Kyat banknotes.

Reverse

The reverse features a detailed illustration depicting traditional elephant logging. A once common practice in Southeast Asia. The Asian Elephant's trunk is particular muscular, capable of of skillfully manipulating loads up to 300 kg (660 lb). The elephant's handler known as a mahout, often has deep bonds with their elephant.


Unlike the observe, the reverse features English language text. Simply stating the note's issuing body the "UNION BANK OF BURMA" and face value (TEN KYATS). Additionally behind the elephant is an unframed watermark area. This watermark area simply being an unprinted portion of the illustration.


Although just as the observe, the reverse features an somewhat similar ornate frame. Which number ten's in alternating Burmese (၁၀) and standard numerals (10). At the lower center is an embellishment, representing a lotus flower. Notably in Buddhist culture, the lotus represents purity of body, speech, and mind.


Observe

The observe features a highly detailed ornate frame and Burmese script. The frame is a mix of Burmese style stonework, with some guilloché decorations. The header reads "ပြည်ထောင်စုမြန်မာနိုင်ငံဘဏ်" translated as the "Union Bank of Burma. Along the frame's corners are number ten's in alternating Burmese (၁၀) and standard numerals (10).


At the note's center is an decorative underprint, with the note's 10 (၁၀) Kyat value list. To the upper-right and lower-left of this number 10 (၁၀), are the note's dual serial numbers. The serial numbers are composed of a mix of Burmese script and numerals. They read "၂ လ ၈၄၄၃၀၄", which roughly translates to 2 I 844304. With "2I" apparently representing the batch number.


To the right, is a portrait of General Aung San (1915-1947), founder of independent Burma. General Aung San created the Tatmadaw (Armed Forces). And negotiated the conditions of Burmese independence, from the British Empire. Although unfortunately the General was assassinated before Burmese Independence, in 1948.


Opposite of General Aung San is the note's framed watermark area. This watermark features a portrait of General Aung San, a feature seen throughout the 1958 series.


The Asian Elephant

The endangered Asian Elephant is the largest animal native to South and Southeast Asian. Although once widespread from the East Asian coast to portions of West Asian. Current populations are mostly distributed in isolated pockets. These pockets include populations of the Indian, Sri Lankan, and Sumatran subspecies. \

Asian Elephants are smaller than their cousins the African Elephant. Asian elephants are descended from ancient African populations and thus have a number of subtle differences. Asian elephants have smaller ears, less loose skin, and an arched back. Their trunks have only one tip, instead of two.

Asian elephant heads have 2 domes and are the highest part of their body. As opposed to African elephants that have 1 dome, that is slightly lower than their shoulders. The number of toes differ between the 2 species. Both have 5 front toes, although Asian elephants have 4 back toes. While African elephants have only 3 back toes.


Asian elephant males slightly larger, than females of the same species. Although less so than their African cousins. A male elephants are 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall and weigh 4,000 kg (8,800 pounds). While male elephants are 2.75 m (9.0 ft) tall and weigh 4,000 kg (8,800 pounds).

Asian Elephants being trained for traditional logging, in Southeast Asia.
Asian Elephants being trained for traditional logging, in Southeast Asia.

Unlike African Elephants, the Asian Elephant have longer history of domestication. With the earliest depictions dating to 3,000 BCE, by the Indus Valley Civilization (3300 BCE to 1300 BCE). This tradition continues into modern times in South and Southeast Asia. Particularly rural areas where elephants are used in traditional logging.


From a young age elephants are trained by a howdah or keeper. Who creates a close bond with their mount. Generally most tamed elephants are used for carrying people or cargo. Although logging remains in demand as a specialized type of labor.


The advantage of using elephants is their mobility and ease of maintenance. As elephants can feed from the natural environment. Unlike modern machinery, elephants can walk between trees and cross waterways. They also reduced environmental damage in comparison to tracked skids, which drag logs causing more damage.

Although it should be noted this form of traditional logging has been declining. Leading to elephant keepers to seek other forms of employment. Such as working as tour guides, providing tourist rides along nature trails. Some have sought employment as forest rangers, using their skills to stop poachers and illegal logging operations.


One particular area of interest are temple elephants. Which are used in religious Buddhist and Hindu religious processions and festivals. These elephants are occasionally ornately dressed and painted for parades. Although are more often used to receive donations at major temples.

A mahout washing his elephant, at Kanchipuram Temple.
A mahout washing his elephant, at Kanchipuram Temple.

Additional Notes

  • This note dimensions are 145 x 80 mm or 5.71 x 3.15 in, larger than a US dollar.

  • The Burmese 10 Kyat note is shorter with a higher profile, than the US Dollar.

  • It's advisable to use large-sized note sleeves, when preserving this banknote.

  • Decimalization was first introduced by the WWII Japanese Occupation Rupee.

  • Burmese and Indian banknotes often feature pins holes, due to metal fasteners.

  • Some Central Banks use fasteners to staple bricks of banknotes for transportation.

  • West Asian Elephants are believed to have been an extinct subspecies.

  • The term Syrian Elephant is used for ancient West Asian Elephants.

  • Female Asian Elephants unlike African Elephants often lack tusk.

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