Dr Sai Aung Tun, Burma’s Iconic Shan Historian, Dies at 88

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Famous Shan historian Dr Sai Aung Tun died last Friday (September 25) in Yangon. He was 88-years-old.

Dr Sai Aung Tun 1
Dr Sai Aung Tun

“Most leaders of the Shan community are his students, including myself,” said Khunsai, the founder of SHAN. “He taught us to respect and love our literature and culture. And the government appointed him as a historian.”

During his lifetime, Sai Aung Tun wrote numerous books on Shan and Burmese history, as well as many research papers. His most famous book is ‘History of the Shan State: From Its Origins to 1962’.

Sai Aung Tun was awarded Muse Shan Literature and Culture Association and Yangon Shan Literature. He was honored with the Literature and History Award by the Culture Association for his dedication to the Shan people. In 2016, the World Peace Movement Trust (India) awarded Sai Aung Tun the Ambassador of Peace Award.

He was born on July 3, 1932, the eldest son of Pu Loi Sam Moe and Nai Loi Tun, in Hsipaw Township, located in northern Shan State. Sai Aung Tun passed his matriculation examination in Hsipaw in 1952. 

He studied at Yangon University, where he received a Bachelor of Art in History with honors distinction. For some time, Sai Aung Tun stayed as a lecturer. Later, he studied at the University of Denver, in the US, on a scholarship. He received an MA in International Relations.

In 1962 Sai Aung Tun married Nang Nom, and they had two children.

Yangon University honored him with the ‘Doctor of Literature’ in 2015.

Sai Aung Tun was the principal at Myitkyina College and at Yangon University of Foreign Languages.

In 1985, he was appointed a member of the National Council under the Ne Win government, and he served as vice-chair of the Burma Historical Commission between 1996 and 2008.

Sai Aung Tun worked tirelessly for peace and justice in the world, and the preservation and development of Shan literature and culture. He lectured both in Burma and internationally on Shan/Burmese history and Shan literature.

Sai Seng Mung, son of Sai Aung Tun, told SHAN he suffered from gastrointestinal bleeding. “He had stomach pain and we sent him to hospital. A few hours later, he died around 5:30 a.m.”

Sai Aung Tun’s death is a tremendous loss for the Shan community and for all the people of Burma. Although now gone, his work and literature will surely live on in the hearts and minds of those who survive him, and for the future generations.

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