Alternate History

New Kyat (Burma Ascension)

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The New Kyat is the official currency of the Kingdom of the United Provinces of Myanmar. It uses the capitalized K as its representative monetary symbol which is placed before the amount. One kyat is divided into 100 pyas, following decimilisation in 1933.


The proper usage of coinage and currency was adopted in Myanmar only in the mid 19th century. Certain regions, particularly Arakan, the Ganges Delta and the Tonle-Sap plateau had historic usage of regulated currency. Certain regions used cowry and also ganza - bronze bars which were used up to the 19th century.

In Metropolitan Myanmar, Arakan was the only region which had regulated and modernistic coinage which bore the year, name of the king and value struck. The coins were struck in silver and in Burmese script. Bi and trilingual coins were also struck, mainly in gold.

First Kyat

The first Kyat to be issued was the Peacock Kyat, introduced by King Mindon in 1852. It is so-called due to the dancing peacock symbols which were stamped on the obverse of the 1 Kyat coin which was the most widely used coin. It consisted only of coins, with denominations of 1 Pya (1/64 Kyat) 1 Pe (1/16 Kyat), 1 Mu (1/8 Kyat), 1 Mat (1/4 Kyat), 1 Kyat and 5 Kyats. The 5 Kyat coin was minted in Gold, 1 Kyat and 1 Mat in silver and the 1 Pya, 1 Pe and 1 Mu in bronze. Other mythical creatures were stamped onto the obverse of other values. On the reverse, the terms "Ratanapon Naypyidaw" (Ratanapon Palace), with the Burmese year (CE - 638 years) and the value surrounded by stalks of paddy were stamped on.

Second Kyat

The second Kyat was introduced in 1910, with the first printed banknotes. While the currency was referred to in Burmese by Kyat, it was officially termed Rupee in official English documents. The second kyat series consisted of 1 pya, 4 pya, 8 pya, 16 pya, 1 Kyat coins with banknotes with denominations of 5, 10 and 20 kyats. The coins continued to have the peacock emblem, with the banknotes containing the portrait of the then ruling monarch, Mahamingalaraja, known as Wunzin Min (1907-1919).

His successors Mahamabayaraja (a.k.a Bhamo Min, 1919-1931) and Mahathumingalaraja (a.k.a Pyay Min, 1931-1933) had their portaits replace that of Wunzin Min during their respective reigns.

Third Kyat

The military coup of 1933 brought about decimalization. The Chinthe, a Burmanized lion, was stamped on the obverse, with the value and common era year on the reverse, surrounded by stalks of paddy. Coins with the values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50 pyas, 1 and 2 Kyats were struck in aluminium.

The banknotes were redesigned to include nationalist themes, with the agricultural sector focused on. Notes were printed in the values of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 Kyats. In 1943, 50, 100 and 200 Kyat notes were added into circulation.

Poor government financial planning and the Second World War caused a run on the Kyat. Myanmar witnessed inflation rates of 4000% by 1951. In 1952, a new series was introduced with banknotes of 10, 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 Kyats introduced. By 1970, a new series was released where the coins were withdrawn and new banknotes featuring Coup leader and 1st premier General Aung San were printed, with values of 1.000, 5.000, 10.000, 50.000, 100.000 Kyats.

In 1983, the Dinga Kyat was introduced, where 10.000 Kyats were equivalent to 1 new Dinga Kyat. Banknotes with values of 1/4, 1/2, 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 were introduced. Inflation soon forced the government to print up to 500.000 Dinga Kyats. In 1987, the government demonetized the large denomination banknotes and only allowed the population to receive 40% of their affected money. This was the trigger which brought about the fall of the military government in Myanmar.

The post 1988 government introduced a new set of banknotes, with 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000, 100.000 and 200.000 Kyat values. The financial reforms of 1992 and 1993 resulted in the introduction of the fourth and current Kyat.

Fourth Kyat

On June 18, 1994, the post-military Burmese government introduced the New Kyat, with 10.000 Dinga Kyats equal to 1 New Kyat. A new series of banknotes, with values of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Kyats were introduced. The 1000 Kyat banknote is the World's second highest value banknote after the 200 million Kepang banknote of the Majapahit Republic.

New coins were also introduced, with values of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 pyas and 1 and 2 Kyats. In 2011, the latest banknote set was released with all banknotes in polymer. This was the first complete set of polymer banknotes to be used in Myanmar. A clear security window in the shape of a dancing peacock is found in the lower left corner of the banknotes.

Banknotes of the New Kyat (2011)
Value (Kyat) Obverse Reverse
5 War Hero General Aung San Martyrs' Mausoleum and Mt. Everest
10 Laurate Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing Bagan Scene
20 Author Journal Gyaw Ma Ma Lay Angkor Wat
50 Activist-monk U Ottama Anuradhapura Scene
100 King Anawrahta Inle Lake
200 King Bayinnaung Shwedagon pagoda
500 King Alaungpaya Bodh Gaya Scene
1000 King Mahathamadayazar II Old Royal Palace

The inclusion of leftist laurate Thakhin Kodaw Hmaing, who is seen as one of the most influential authors in the 20th century but also an inspirational icon for the Communists drew criticism from right wing nationalists.

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