Yunnan - Kaw Lah (Myanmar)... (BC 741- AD 1828)

This journey was probably the follow up of the fifth journey. When the Karen made their first migration into Kaw Lar in 1128 BC, there were many Karens remained in Yunnan which increased in numbers as years went by. The Karens knew that the nomadic life they had been accustomed to for many long years was no guarantee for their survival. Therefore they started building city states to defend themselves for any kind of invasions and attacks. They lived like this in Yunnan for 644 years. At that time the Chinese were not able to expand their territories beyond city states. They fought against each other to control the other city states. They also waged war against many ethnic groups of the land. Some were local ethnic groups with their own respective city states and some were small wandering minorities clinging around the city states for their survival. In all these battles many small minorities and perhaps some ethnic groups were absorbed, assimilated and annihilated either by the Chinese or other dominant races. In these dire and terrible conditions, to survive as a race or a nation was a great challenge. The demands were tremendous and terrible but it was very essential for any races to strive and struggle if they wanted to avoid extinction. In ancient time, conquering nations imposed their wills on the defeating nations or races by brutally subduing them until they relinquished their identities. They demanded total submission and in so doing, many races of the world had been systematically wiped out from the face of the earth. Tragically, a very few modern nations still cherished this uncivilized atrocities of the past and solaced themselves in seeing the sufferings of their dispossessed subjects until now.

For many long years and in different regions, the Karens experienced this horrible fate again and again. Yet wonderfully and amazingly the Karens managed to survive as a race with every aspects of national identity. This precious and most essential legacy was passed down to our generation so that the Karen race may thrive and develop as a nation and be part of lasting proper human races of the world. It remains the sacred duty of every Karen to remember, research and reveal their long history as a symbol of remarkable human feat for existence.

Ever since the beginning of human civilization, tribal conflicts, racial strives and national uprisings overwhelmed the pages of human history and no single race or nation emerged to claim lasting dominion over the others. “Many battles won at various places and in different times do not mean a victory gained everywhere”. The Karens in Yunnan started building cities and towns and organized themselves into city-states and chose their own respective leaders.

After the overthrow of the Shang in 1122 B.C., the Chou established the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history, ending in 256 B.C. The Chou rulers justified their conquest of the Shang dynasty as the mandate of heaven. They told the Chinese that the last Shang king had forfeited his right to rule by his personal immorality and tyrannical government. The Karens also believed in divine appointment of leadership and seriously considered the root cause of any change in rulers was due to personal moral defects. The long period of Chou dynasty was divided into the Western Chou, 1122-771 B.C., and the Eastern Chou, 770-256 B.C. When Wu Wang (King Wu) and Chou King (Duke of Chou) began the Chou dynasty, there were 124 vassal states. Later, some of the weak vassal states were reduced and integrated into the strong ones.

Near the end of the dynasty only 72 vassal states left. At that time, the populations were conscripted into the army to fight for the kingdom. Feudalism was widespread and the people were engaged in endless battles between rival states. They didn’t have time to tend their cultivation and large lands lay wasted. Successive rulers tried to make their power strong and in so doing the populations were not allowed to produce crops for their living. State affair was more important than growing rice and famine threatened the kingdom. The Huns and some nomadic tribes could not stand the situation and fled to the North where as the Tibetans to the South. These events happened to be in the reign of King Ping Wang who ascended the throne in 770 B.C. He ruled for fifty years and died in 720 B.C. In the 22 years of his reign, 22 vassal states revolted and declared self-rule. With the royal line broken, the power of Chou court gradually diminished and the fragmentation of the kingdom accelerated. From Ping Wang onwards the Chou kings ruled in name only with true power lying in the hands of powerful nobles. Imperial stability was assured through the Chou court and local land lords as well as the installment of Chou lords into command over distant regions. The kingdom was in grave danger and poverty was common. Only the ruling classes were able to live a life they wished and the poor were left with no hope. Therefore, 33 families of the Karen race left Yunnan in 741 B.C and after 3 years of journey towards the South, they entered Kaw Lar in the year 739 B.C. which marked the beginning of the Karen calendar year.

The bulk of the Karen people who finally reached Kaw Lar had not much choice to choose. Their ancestors had covered a large land area since they left the Old Babylon nearly two thousand years ago. What awaited them now was deep blue sea stretching towards the horizon. Securing the land and claiming it as their own was perhaps the best reward they deserved... They all hoped that the long journeys were ended!!!