Mu River

Mu River (Mu Myit)
View from Nyaungbin Wun Bridge on the Sagaing-Monywa road. (January 2008)
Nickname: Mu Chaung
Country Burma
Source Kabaw Valley
Mouth Ayeyarwady River
 - location Myinmu, Burma
 - coordinates 21°56′N 95°38′E / 21.933°N 95.633°E / 21.933; 95.633
Length 275 km (171 mi)
Basin 12,355 km2 (4,770 sq mi)

Mu River (Burmese: မူးမြစ်; MLCTS: mu: mrac; IPA: [mú mjɪʔ]) is a river in upper central Myanmar (Burma), and a tributary of the country's chief river the Ayeyarwady. It drains the Kabaw valley and part of the Dry Zone between the Ayeyarwady to the east and its largest tributary Chindwin River to the west, flows directly north to south for about 275 km (171 mi) and enters the Ayeyarwady west of Sagaing near Myinmu.[1]

Its catchment area above the Kabo weir is 12,355 sqkm (4,826 sqmiles). River flow and rainfall are both seasonal and erratic, at its lowest from January to April, rising sharply during May and June, and high from August to October.[2] Because the Mu lies within the Dry Zone in the rain shadow of Rakhine Yoma, it receives scanty summer monsoon rainfall with a total streamflow of 350 mm.[3] An old popular expression in Burmese goes thus: Ma myinbu, Mu myit htin - If you haven't seen a river before, you'd think the Mu is it. It may also be called Mu Chaung (creek) rather than Mu Myit (river) by some.

The wooded upper Mu valley is populated by the Kadu and Kanan minorities whereas the fertile lower valley constitutes part of the heartlands of the ethnic majority Bamar.[4]



In 1503 Mong Yang Shans attacked and took the northern garrison town of Myedu that guarded the irrigated Mu valley, an important granary to the Bamar kingdom of Ava. These attacks culminated in a full scale invasion in 1524 and the establishment of Shan rule (1527–1555).[5] The Kabaw Valley saw many an invasion by the kingdom of Manipur to the west, most notably during the reign of King Garibaniwaj (1709–1748) when his army crossed over the Chindwin and the Mu, took Myedu, and reached as far as Sagaing opposite the capital Ava. The tables were turned in 1758 after King Alaungpaya ascended the Burmese throne and invaded Manipur.[6]

Descendants from Portuguese captives, taken by King Anaukpetlun after defeating the adventurer Philip de Brito and settled in the area in the 17th C, still keep their Roman Catholic faith. And to this day their ancestry is discernible from their features.[7]

The railroad bridge over the Mu river was destroyed by the retreating Japanese forces during World War II.[8] During April and July 1943, USAF B-25s attacked the bridge between Ywataung and Monywa with little success, but accidentally hit upon a method of successful bombing on New Years Day 1944. The 490th squadron became so proficient that they won the accolade "Burma Bridge Busters".[9]

An eyewitness report states that, at the time of the Depayin Massacre in May 2003, most of the victims killed were burnt and the remains dumped in the Mu river.[10]

Flora and fauna

Large-leaved deciduous hardwood of the Dipterocarpus spp., mainly D. tuberculatus, dominates in the forests mixed with some ingyin (Pentacme suavis and Shorea oblongifolia), taukkyan (Terminalia tomentosa), thitsi (Melanorrhoea usitata), bamboo, and kaing tall grass (Saccharum spp.) around water holes.[11] [12]

Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, with the Mu next to its eastern boundary, was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1941 for the conservation of the brow-antlered deer Thamin (Cervus eldi thamin). There has been a decline in the population of large mammals since the end of WWII into the 80s, and these include tiger, bear, leopard, gaur, banteng, wild dog, barking deer and hog deer.[11]

White-Winged Duck (Cairina scutulata), an endangered species of forest duck, is native to the Mu river.[13]


The Mu valley is fertile and the government's efforts to develop the region can be seen in the Mu River Valley Project. Mu River Bridge was finished in April 2000, a rail-and-road bridge that links Monywa, Budalin, Dabayin, Ye-U and Kin-U. From Kin-U it links with the Mandalay - Myitkyina railway line, and from Monywa with the Sagaing-Monywa line.[14][15]

Kabo Weir was constructed on the Mu between 1901-1907 by the British colonial administration.[16] The largest dam and reservoir in the region at Thaphanseik for irrigation and hydroelectric power (30 MW) was also completed in May 2002 with Chinese aid.[14][17]


  1. ^ "Mu River". Encyclopaedia Britannica online. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  2. ^ Hla Baw. "Study on Reuse Water in Shwebo Irrigation Scheme in Myanmar". International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, 1st Asian Regional Conference, Seoul 2001. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  3. ^ Michael Bonell et al.. Hydrology and Water Management in the Humid Tropics. Cambridge University Press, 1993. pp. 59. ISBN 9780521452687.,M1. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  4. ^ "Myanmar States & Divisions - Sagaing". Retrieved 2008-10-11. [dead link]
  5. ^ Fernquest, Jon. "Min-gyi-nyo, the Shan Invasions of Ava (1524-27), and the Beginnings of Expansionary Warfare in Toungoo Burma: 1486-1539". SOAS, Autumn 2005. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  6. ^ Phanjoubam Tarapot (2003). Bleeding Manipur. Har-Anand Publications. pp. 112–3. ISBN 9788124109021.,M1. 
  7. ^ "Portuguese Descendants of Bhurma's Mu Valley - The Bayingyi". Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  8. ^ "Burma C 1945-04 photo". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  9. ^ The Army Air Forces in World War II, Volume Four: The Pacific, Guadalcanal to Saipan, August 1942 to July 1944. DIANE Publishing. pp. 491–2. ISBN 9781428915893.,M1. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  10. ^ Amreen Choudhury and Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan. "Justice Disappeared: Exploring the Links of Arms Trade, Impunity and Political Disappearances in Asia". Nonviolence International Southeast Asia, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  11. ^ a b Myint Aung et al.. "The environmental history of Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, a protected area in Myanmar (Burma)". Journal of Environmental Management, April 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  12. ^ "Kyatthin Wildlife Sanctuary". ARCBC (ASEAN Regional Centre for Biodiversity Conservation). Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  13. ^ "White-Winged Duck". Birdbase. Retrieved 2008-10-11. 
  14. ^ a b "The current of Union Spirit with sources from three rivers-2". The New Light of Myanmar, April 14, 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  15. ^ "Sr Gen Than Shwe urges officials to collectively strive for turning Sagaing Division into granary of Upper Myanmar Assistance assured to upgrade Monywa-Budalin-Dabayin-YeU-KhinU Road". The New Light of Myanmar, December 3, 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  16. ^ "Irrigation Works in Myanmar". Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, 2004. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  17. ^ "China in Burma". EarthRights International. Retrieved 2008-10-10. [dead link]

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