Ancient Burmese golden letter deciphered in Germany

An 18th century Burmese letter, made of almost pure gold and decorated with rubies, has been deciphered by researchers in Germany.

Updated: Dec 31, 2010, 08:42 AM IST

Hanover: An 18th century Burmese letter, made of almost pure gold and decorated with rubies, has been deciphered by researchers in Germany, a Hanover library head announced recently.

The "golden letter", written by Burmese King Alaungphaya in the year 1756 to England`s King George II, lay in the vaults of Hanover`s Leibniz library for 250 years, as nobody could read its contents.

The letter, which took three years to decipher, relates to an offer of trading cooperation between Burma (current day Myanmar) and England, the research team found.

"As far as we know, the golden letter is a one-off," library chief Georg Ruppelt said.

The letter, engraved on a gold sheet measuring 55 by 12 centimetres and inlaid with 24 rubies, was intended to demonstrate King Alaungphaya`s respect for the English king - who promptly sent the document to the royal library in his home city of Hanover, in northern Germany.
Danish King Christian VII damaged the letter, contained in an elephant tusk, during a visit in 1768.

"This made the document even harder to decipher," Ruppelt said.

Luxembourg historian and Burma-expert Jacques Leider, who led the research, has not yet finished examining the letter, which is to be the object of an international congress next year.
The golden letter is to be formally presented Jan 18 at the Leibniz library, which also houses the letters and belongings of 18th-Century mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

IANS