Mogok Ruby MinesRuby Mogok Refills
You came to our offices two sabbaticals ago and brought a copy of an unreleased Mogok script, by Martin, and a slide case. From 1955 Martin travelled to Burma sevenfold until Ne Win banned the Westerners from Burma in 1962. I was astonished when I read his tale that his stories are still as similar as my own in Burma (33 journeys between 1993 and 2011).
Surely many things are completely different, not least Martin's capability to buy a 20-carat ruby of dovecote in Mogok, which can probably only be found in Geneva today. The Ruby and Jaadeite are prohibited from the USA, so all this is for sale elsewhere (see the latest results of the auctions here).
Recognizing that this is not a definitive release not completed by the writer, we have been granted the right to present this beautiful windows to Myanmar gems about 50 years ago. Now I thought I had enough expertise and know-how to fulfil my great wish and ambitions to come to Mogok.
Mogok, known to the Burmese as "The Ruby Mines", is known as " The Valley of the Rubies ". "It is located in the northern part of the Union of Burma, about five hundred leagues from Rangoon. Thahapainpin, or "pomegranate", was the original name of Mogok because the fruits in these mounds grow well. Well, since I had chosen to make the leap to go to Burma and buy the gemstones and mineral directly, I would avoided the intermediaries I had to deal with, some in the United States and others on the Egyptian auctions.
The best market for Burma jewels and saphire was London and Paris. A US army SUV, now in the possession of Ehrmann's leader U Khin Maung, who became "a good friend" as the two travelled to Burma for seven or eight annual missions. The first time I went to Burma in 1955 required a lot of work.
First, I had to put up the guys who were interested enough to pay for my journey. The two prosperous wholesalers I had in my sights, from whom I had bought many precious stones in recent years and who had enough trust in my capacity to become a precious stone purchaser for them.
I was on a plane to Rangoon two nights after she backed me up. I' d been reading all about Burma, but I haven't learned much. Those were my thoughts when we flew from Bombay to Rangoon for a stop in Calcutta. We flew over the Burmese woods after we left Calcutta.
Yangon was on the deltas and soon came into view. Yangon is an exotic and imposing town with broad, well-developed roads and many nice gardens within the town. Passing the suburbs of the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is situated in the neighborhood on a nice two mile long area.
So I came in and saw the first Myanmar jewel trader with whom I later had many deals. It showed me many unusual rocks, a big suprise for me, because I did not know that such kinds of semi-precious rocks were found in Burma. but he gave me a number of adresses in the town of Rangoon.
Telling him I was a wholesale merchant and interested in large amounts of gems and minerals, and that I didn't think I could do it as well in Rangoon as I could in the mines in Mogok, he proposed a young man from Mogok who could become my mate.
He is a true smoker of a Burmese traditionally cigars. It seemed very excited and intrigued by my intentions to come to Mogok, but it cautioned me that Mogok was in a insurgent area and that communication was sometimes totally interrupted. That is why he discouraged me from this journey as an officer of the American Embassy.
Then I was informed that this multimillion dollar Buddhist treasure was given by rich Buddhists from India, Burma and Ceylon as a gift to the reigning Dalai Lama for more than a hundred years and that it was always kept in this very room that was never closed and could be seen by anyone in the monastery.
I' m U Khin Maung. Mr. Aung Chi sent me here to speak to you about a possible visit to Burma. "He immediately recounted to me that he knew very little about gems, but that he was a native of Mogok and that his father and mother still live there and knew most mine workers and mine holders, and that he could be very of use.
U Khin Maung took me on a tour of Rangoon after having had my breakfasts. It had a car that he had bought from the US military before his departure and that was in good state. Telling me that this truck was usually in Mogok, but he had to take some stuff from there to Rangoon and that was the best way to do it, but he was taken back to Mogok by his younger brothers who had gone down with him.
It became a good companion, as we spent the next seven or eight years on my annual trips to Mogok with it. and showed me the good and evil of Rangoon. Approximately two and a half hour later U Khin Maung took me home and presented me to his family.
Twice at his own old age he met this charming lady who was in the husk trade and sold Longyi's sarong-like scandals carried by Burma's men and girls. Accommodation was in the back and office in the front. He/she talked about the many customs and superstition of the people of Burma, and he was always very pleasant to heal.
Over the next few get-togethers, U Khin Maung and I went to many Rangoon retailers to look at their stock. First of all I wanted to get familiar with the prizes and wanted to make sure what Mogok's, prizes would be before making any obligations. I' ve bought a rock I couldn't withstand.
This was actually the only buy I made on my first voyage to Rangoon. The following Friday I resolved to fly by plane from Rangoon to Momeik, the closest of Mogok. Transport inside Burma is bad. There' s a railway northbound from Rangoon.
Journey to Mandalay, a 450-mile journey, lasts about four full working day and is highly perilous. Every platoon that leaves Rangoon is preceeded by an armoured vehicle with a troop of troops, as these platoons have often been assaulted by raiding gangs that roam Burma's jungle. Other means of transport were sluggish, overcrowded and awkward riverboats on the Irrawaddy Riviera, the most important in Burma, and almost 1,000 nautical mileage.
This journey is a four-day rail journey to Mandalay, two day boating to Thabeikian and 60 mile jeeping to Mogok. Flights are the best means of transport in Burma. Union of Burma Airlines is the most effective and flies to all points in the Noth. They are Dakotas or DC-3, all of which are piloted by British qualified Myanmar aviators.
We had two departures a day to Mandalay and once a week to the capital cities of all states, making it the only effective way to get to Burma quickly. It' a women's fair in Mogok. I was wondering if I had seen the troops around the aircraft.
They picked us up from U Khin Maungs for the 28 mile ride to Mogok. The short journey is usually associated with an aspect of risk, as the streets are often dismantled by the rebels roaming the jungle. These are the state' s politically charged foes, either whites communist, reds communist or greens communist, and sometimes simple villains who had come from the big towns to the northeast to seek shelter in the jungle and make a livelihood with the uprising.
From Momeik to Mogok went without incident. There is a small town here and there, around which you can find beautiful paddy fields. We' d reached Mogok. The Mogok is located in a beautiful valleys surrounding imposing hills dotted with ancient shrines and ancient stone age.
From a geographical point of view, Mogok is regarded as part of the state of Burma, although it is actually situated in the west of Shan State. That goes back to a long period before the British invasion of Burma. Then it was a realm and all of Burma was governed by Myanmar monarchs. Due to the enormous prosperity of the Mogok area, these monarchs maintained their dominion by combating the Sabwas (who resembled the Maharaja of India) who tried to snatch them from them.
The Mogok area was preserved as an autonomous state even under UK domination. One UK commissar was nominated for this area alone until Burma became a country that united all six states. The state of Burma was actually the kingdom of Burma. Obviously, this has been changing under the Ne Win junta's junta government in Burma today.
Mogok Valley is about 20 nautical miles long and 2 nautical leagues across. At the centre of the town is a wonderful pond, which was formed by the excavation of gems during the Ruby time. Mogok gemstone territory extends to the town of Momeik, 20 and 60 leagues northward to the Irrawaddy River villages of Twingwe and Thabeikian.
The Mogok has a temperate atmosphere. Mogok region's only industrial activity is the extraction of precious stones. My agents and interpreters, U Khin Maung, made sure that we could remain at home with his home extended home where his dad, his mom, two boys and a little maid, a nurse, were living.
I heard him tell me the name of the nurse from Burma, but it was too hard for me to say it, and I called her Princess, which she seemed to like very much. It was a traditional mogok cottage, constructed on stilt beams on a cement plate and a brick walls is also made of the same.
You' ll need to go up a stairway to get into the lounge. On the other side of the lounge there is a kind of hallway with all kinds of storerooms, which are used as bedrooms, storerooms and so on. A crib was found in the bedroom area.
All Mogok houses have a double function, as they are also the sanctuary of the Families. In accordance with the buddhistic faith, no one can walk into a couch with footwear, so everyone should take off their footwear before walking into the lounge of every home in Burma. Martin Ehrmann's boyfriend is standing in the back with Mogok and Lake Mogok.
After the first journey it became a matter of course and I never again could hear that smile. Our first night in Mogok we withdrew early after a traditional Myanmar cuisine. We went out after the usual cuppa, followed by a nice glass of tee and made sure that we all had the collaboration with the laws in Mogok.
Then U Khin Maung and I began our first trip to the mine owner and traders in Mogok. The first stop was the home of the most important retailer in Mogok. As I remember, I had already rated $25 as the right value for the rock.
As my spy told me that it was the $500 equivalence he asked, I almost blew up, but incidentally threw the rock back to the trader. We' ve had similar experience with five other traders we were visiting that date. Each of our phone conversations showed a rock at enormously inflated rates, which were inappropriate.
All Burmese people show great respectfulness and esteem for old people. for a $100 rock wouldn't be regarded as offensive. In Burma, time is irrelevant and long negotiations are an integral part of trade there.
It seems that their concept is that the purchaser knows the value of a brick and how much he will be paying for it. A fully electrified mine in Mogok. "I told my operative to tell him that he was asking far too much for the rock than it was deserving, and that I would increase my bid if he came down.
When I first got the impression that purchasing gemstones in Mogok could be a success. During my first journey to Mogok I was able to do some shopping with my new training. I began to become conscious of an important part of the business lives of mining workers, traders and the general population of Mogok.
Most of them have very similar lifestyles, whether wealthy or impoverished - very basic and require only a very small amount of cash for their days. The wealthiest family probably spends no more than $I,OOO per year on all costs of life. When I found out a good period to buy precious gems is when one of the more wealthy traders chooses to construct a coupe, which they do very often.
Later on, the way of life in Mogok underwent considerable changes. Most of the well-to-do merchants constructed splendid houses with all the beautiful sanitation, baths and sanitation found in the best houses ever. The first realtor was U Khin Maung in our lounge. Unconcerned, I looked at the heap of pearidots in front of me, the first important batch of this jewel that was shown to me in Mogok.
As I was busy investigating and sorting this batch, I realized that U Khin Maung was doing the same and making another bunch next to me. Eventually I gave U Khin Maung the signal that I wanted to buy the whole property. Gaung [Sein] is the name of the Peridotes in Burma[literally "green rock from Pyaung Gaung" -Ed.].
Meaning [green] rock. Unfortunately, it is in a rebellious area only ten kilometres from Mogok, but no one in Mogok has ever ventured to step into this area. He would not need the cash and would not be selling everything until he needed more cash, which he would not need until after Burma's New Year in three MONTH.
Said that the owners were very happy, that the cost would not fall, because all colliers and traders learned that the cost would keep increasing, which also led to a restraint in sales. Khin Maung was against it and also the other traders we contacted.
Only the realtor who didn't think it was risky for me to go to Pyaung Gaung was the one who came from Mogok and virtually ensured my security. Their only disadvantage was the linguistic barriers, as no one in the community could speak English. It was unwillingly arranged that I would take nothing of value with me the next day and depart with the realtor by coach.
When the negotiations were a success, the agent would go back to Mogok with me and the Cassidy. It' a town on the way to Mogok. The next day we left as planned, and after almost an hours drive we were about two mile away from Pyaung Gaung. When the realtor asked me to stop there and sit in the car until he came back, because he wanted to speak to the rebel leader and tell him the reasons for my trip.
and we' d just go back to Mogok. so we could go the two mile to the town and I could bargain with the landown. He' been with the realtor to authorize or deny my entry into the town.
Even by Myanmar standards, he was a small man, about 50 years old, bulbous, but very small. Then he got into the car without any further words and continued to the town, which we arrived in ten mins. They had a big house in the town. He was the peridot proprietor who welcomed us as we took off our boots before we went into the sitting-room.
I was received with courtesy and respect, all in Burmese, which I did not comprehend. I had a prize that seemed pretty sensible, but since I knew the Burmese, I knew I couldn't just take it. In Mogok, I could give the cash to anyone he could trust, and he could move as he wanted, either in a few days, two or even until the Burmese New Year.
So the realtor took the ticket and put it in the car and asked me if he could take me back to Mogok. The triumphal look made U Khin Maung know immediately that I was a success. It felt like I had made a very succesful journey in Mogok this year and U Khin Maung had made a good piece of gold and to his commission he was earning, I added a beautiful big bonuses that he liked very much.
Next morning we went back to Rangoon and I spent a few more nights to visit other traders. They are skilled Mogok jewellers who only work with 22 carats of golds.