Mon (ethnic group)

From Academic Kids

The Mon are an ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They live in an area around the southern Thailand-Burmese border, historic lower Burma. There are believed to be around 800,000 people who claim Mon ancestry and retain their culture and language but the majority of the Mon, possibly 4 million, are absorbed into the Burman. The majority of Mon live around the city of Bagan or the site of their historic capital, the port of Mawlamyine.




The Mon were one of the earliest distinct groups to occupy Burma, moving into the area possibly as early as 1500 BCE. The Mon history has their first kingdom, Suwarnabhumi, founded around the port of Thaton in 300 BCE. They were converted to Theravada Buddhism in the 200s BCE. Ashoka is known to have sent an envoy of monks for this purpose, however tradition states that the Mon had previous contact with the religion through seafaring.

The Mon prospered in southern Burma until around 1000 when they came under pressure from new ethnic groups arriving from the north. Successive waves of Burman and Thai groups slowly eroded the Mon kingdoms until the final collapse. The last Mon kingdom was Hongsavatoi - they reconquered much of their lost territory until the energetic Burman leader U Aungzeya forced them back and captured the kingdom by 1757. The Mon religious leaders were forced to flee to Siam and the Mon were harshly repressed.

See also: Haripunchai


Burma, including the Mon territories, was conquered by the British by 1824 after the Second Anglo-Burmese War. The Mon aided the British in the overthrow of the Burman monarchy.


The Mon soon became anti-colonialists and following the grant of independence to Burma in 1948 they sought self-determination, U Nu refused them this and they rose in revolt to be crushed again.

They have remained a repressed and defiant group in the country since then. They have risen in revolt against the central Burmese government on a number of occasions, initially under the Mon People's Front and from 1962 through the New Mon State Party. A partially autonomous Mon state, Monland, was created in 1974 covering Tenasserim, Pegu and Irrawaddy. Resistance continued until 1995 when NMSP and SLORC agreed a cease-fire and in 1996 the Mon Unity League was founded. SLORC troops continued to operate in defiance of the agreement.

In 1947 Mon National Day was created to celebrate the ancient founding of the founding of Hongsawatoi, the last Mon Kingdom, which had its seat in Pegu. (It follows the full moon on the 11th month of the Mon lunar calendar, except in Phrapadaeng, Thailand, where it is celebrated at Songkran.)

Language and Script

The Mon language is part of the Monic Mon-Khmer branch of the Austroasiatic family, related to Vietnamese and Khmer. The writing system is Indic based. The Burmans took and adapted the Mon alphabet following their conquest.

See also

External Link

  • [1] (

ja:モン族 (Mon)


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