Reading: Books on the Mergui Archipelago and the Moken People

Reading: Books on the Mergui Archipelago and the Moken People

October 08, 2013 in Mergui, Moken, Reading, Mergui Guide


There are some great books on Myanmar and on the region we are sailing in. Below is a short list of reading recommendations for books on the Mergui Archipelago and its indigenous Moken people. You will also find most of the books on this list in our small board library. Please let us know if you have any other suggestions for our library.

For our complete list of reading recommendations, please have a look here.

A Journey Through the Mergui Archipelago”, by Jacques Ivanoff and Thierry Lejard, 2002

Jacques Ivanoff is the foremost anthropologist expert on the Moken sea nomads and the Mergui Archipelago. Right after the region was first opened to foreign visitors in the late 90s, Ivanoff set off on the first of his many expeditions and established a scientific project to promote the local heritage and culture. This book is the result of many years of fieldwork and research and allows the reader to learn about the archipelago’s history and its inhabitants’ culture and way of life.

Rings of Coral: Moken Folktales”, Jacques Ivanoff, 2002

This is the first compilation of the oral literature of the Moken, the sea nomads of the Mergui Archipelago. The 44 stories presented here were revealed to Jacques Ivanoff by the Moken themselves. In this book, he retells and analyses stories dealing with the Moken’s historical roots, the creation of Moken society and its flourishing. These folk tales, myths and spirit songs are essential to understanding Moken society and its survival until now, in its ecological and cultural niche.

The Sea Gypsies of Malaya; an Account of the Nomadic Mawken People of the Mergui Archipelago With a Description of Their Ways of Living, Customs, Habits, Boats, Occupations, Etc.”, by Walter Grainge White, 1922

This is a reprint of the anthropological monograph written by the author in the early part of the 20th century while making a census of the Moken. White did his research at a time when this people were first beginning to adapt to change, making a plea for them to “develop on their own lines.” His survey of the lives of the Moken was extensive and included their fishing and trading habits, their language, religion, their birth, marriage and death rituals and general way of life.

Siamese White”, by Maurice Collins, 1926

“Siamese White” is the earliest account of life in the Mergui Archipelago we have come across. Collins, an early 20th-century employee of the Indian Civil Service in Burma, portrays the life of Samuel White who had come to Siam in the employ of the East India Company in 1677. Here is how an Amazon reviewer summarises White’s story: “In the following 11 years he won and lost several fortunes, helped put down a bloody rebellion, turned down the job of Prime Minister of Ayudhaya, accepted the post of Sultan of Me rgui, led a fleet of privateers against the Kingdom of Galconda under the flag of the King of Siam, survived the massacre of 60 British civilians at Mergui, was accused of theft, murder and treason by the East India Company, escaped from prison, and in 1689 made his way back to England where he sued the East India Company for 40,000 pounds sterling before the House of Commons.“


by Memories Group