Than Tun criticized the long-prevailing view of dynastic history in Myanmar,
which had been predominantly based on the glorification of dynasties.
As he worked to develop a historical theory that was both strict and objective,
he was the driving force behind historical studies in Myanmar. Professor
Than Tun broke new ground in the field by casting a totally new light
onto the country's history. He is one of the most distinguished historians
Professor Than Tun was born in 1923 in the port city of Pathein in southeast Myanmar. After graduating from the University of Yangon, he obtained his Ph.D. from the University of London for his studies of the Bagan Dynasty, in which he examined epigraphs from that period. He returned home to teach and at the same time extensively traveled round the country to view historical manuscripts preserved in its provincial areas. Over the years he compiled critical studies of the historical documents he had collected.
While serving as a member of the Myanmar Historical Commission affiliated directly with the Ministry of Education, Professor Than Tun is very active as a leading figure in the field of history and as the most prominent scholar of pre-modern history. Among his many significant publications, the most celebrated both at home and abroad are "History of Buddhism in Burma" and "The Medieval Myanmar History", both of which richly employ the epigraphs of the Bagan Dynasty from the 11th to the 13th centuries. These books are the fruit of hard work into which the professor put his heart and soul. Another of his publications, "The Royal Orders of Burma" comprises ten volumes and took him eight years to complete. In this study, he compared the existing copies of royal orders from the dynasty period and subjected them to rigorous analysis. This voluminous work of 7,600 pages includes an abridged English translation, commentaries, and index, and is the most reliable collection of original historical documents. This is such an outstanding achievement that it has become known as the 'Than Tun Text'. All his academic work, including theses and books, is more than just a clarification of Myanmar history by a Myanmar native -- it places the country's history and culture into the wider context of world history, thus contributing greatly to the further development of the world-wide study of Myanmar history.
Professor Than Tun has represented his country in many international societies and conferences. He is known as a Japonophile. When he taught in Japan, he shared with many Japanese students a fascination with Myanmar studies. He also has taught at American graduate schools. In addition to being a scholar with a rich international backgrounds, he is a man of integrity with unshakeable beliefs. Indeed, he is the most profound man of learning Myanmar has ever produced. As the study of Myanmar attracts increasing interest throughout the world, Professor Than Tun's work has become indispensable, and his role will only continue to grow more important.
In addition to his significant contribution to the development of Myanmar historical studies and research into Myanmar that is growing throughout the world, Professor Than Tun also has demonstrated to the world the significance of Myanmar historical studies by a Myanmar native. This accomplishment makes him a truly worthy laureate of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.
*Due to the restoration of the original names and elimination of externally-assigned