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The Burmese rupee was the currency of Burma (now Myanmar) from 1897 to 1952, excluding the years 1943 to 1945. It circulated alongside the Indian rupee until 1939. Initially, the currency was subdivided into 16 annas, but during the Japanese occupation of Burma, one rupee had a value equal to 100 cents. Upon the territory's independence in 1948, the rupee became subdivided into 20 pe, or 40 pya. It was replaced by the kyat in 1952.


Silver coin of king Nitichandra Arakan

A coin of Arakan.

The earliest recorded inhabitants of modern-day Myanmar were the Pyu, who entered the Irrawaddy valley from Yunnan around the 2nd century BC. By the 4th century, several city-states were founded and Buddhism was adopted in the area. Other groups subsequently began to settle within Myanmar. The Taungoo Dynasty later united all the city-states and kingdoms, and this unification was sustained into the reign of the Konbaung Dynasty. The lands of Myanmar became conquered by the British Empire following three wars, and later became ceded to the British Raj. Burma became separated from India in 1937, and was granted a new constitution that gave many powers to its people. The Japanese occupied Burma in 1942, and it existed as a Japanese puppet state until 1945, when the British reclaimed the territory. The British owned Burma until 1948, when it became an independent country.

The first coinage struck within Myanmar was issued by the Pyu and Mon people around the 5th century AD. In the 7th or 8th century, the Chandra dynasty of the independent kingdom of Arakan began issuing its own currency. Afterward, no coins were struck by the Burmese kingdoms until the 16th century. The Arakans continued issuing coins until the 17th century, when King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty conquered their territory. He later authorized the production of coins similar to those struck by the Pyu and Mon several centuries earlier. The residents of Tenasserim also issued lead coins during the time period. The kyat was introduced in 1852 and continued circulating until 1889. Then the Indian rupee commenced being issued. The Burmese rupee was later introduced in 1897, and circulated alongside the Indian rupee in the British colony until 1939. The kyat was briefly reintroduced from 1943 to 1945, but was replaced by the Burmese rupee afterward. The kyat replaced the rupee as the currency of Burma for the last time in 1952, when it began circulating in the country.


India 5 rupee 1871 obv

The Burmese rupee circulated alongside the Indian rupee.

When the entirety of Burma was conquered by the British in 1885, the Indian rupee replaced the kyat at par. From 1897, the government of India issued banknotes in Rangoon of the same general type as were issued in India, but featured writing in languages of Burma rather than those of India. In 1917 and again from 1927, Indian paper money was overprinted for use in Burma. When Burma became separated from the British Raj in 1937, a separate issue of banknotes was made for exclusive use in Burma.

Following the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942, a new rupee currency was introduced, and was divided into 100 cents. The currency was only issued in paper form. The rupee was subsequently replaced by the kyat in 1943. Upon the end of Japanese rule in Burma in 1945, the occupation currency was declared worthless and Burma proceeded to reuse Indian coinage and its own rupee paper money.

Following independence from the United Kingdom in 1948, Burma introduced a new rupee currency, the first of which to consist of coins and banknotes. One rupee was subdivided into 20 pe, each of 4 pyas. The rupee was replaced by the kyat at par in 1952.


Burma 8 pe 1949

An 8 pe coin from 1949.

The first emission of Burmese rupee coins was issued in 1949, and consisted of cupronickel 2 pya, 1 and 2 pe, and nickel 4 and 8 pe coins. The 2 pya coin was discontinued that year, but the 1 and 2 pe coins continued to be minted until 1951, while the 4 and 8 pe coins were struck until 1950. A cupronickel issue of the 8 pe coin was later made in 1952. All the Burmese rupee coins featured a Chinze lion on the obverse, and their value and year of minting between two sets of sprays on the reverse.


Japanese One Pound note- Occupation currency Burma

½ rupee note issued during the Japanese occupation.

The first issue of Burmese rupee notes was printed between 1897 and 1922, and consisted of paper money denominated at 5, 10, and 100 rupees. These notes differed from those of India only by the languages used. In 1917 the Government of India printed 2½ rupee notes for use in Burma, aND followed with 50 rupee notes in 1927 and 100 rupee banknotes between 1927 and 1937.

In 1937, 5, 10, and 100 rupee notes issued by the Reserve Bank of India were overprinted with the text "LEGAL TENDER IN BURMA ONLY". The first regular issue of Burmese banknotes was made by the Reserve Bank of India in 1938, and consisted of paper money denominated at 5, 10, 100, 1000, and 10,000 rupees.

The Japanese issued notes for 1, 5, and 10 cents, ¼, ½, 1, 5, 10, and 100 rupees in 1942. A similar issue of 5, 10, and 100 rupees was made in 1944. The Military Administration issued overprinted Indian 1, 5, and 100 rupee notes for use in Burma in 1945, following the Japanese surrender of the territory.

The Burma Currency Board assumed responsibility for the production of banknotes in 1947, and issued notes denominated at 1, 5, 10, and 100 rupees. Following Burma's independence in 1948, the government issued notes of the same denomination. The Union Bank of Burma issued a final series of rupee paper money, issuing the same denominations as the previous two series.


1912 double eagle obv Currency Wiki has 10 images related to the Burmese rupee.
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Burmese rupee
Banknotes 4 a8 a1 c5 c10 c¼ r½ r1 r2 r 8 a5 r10 r50 r100 r1000 r10,000 r
Coins 2 pya1 pe2 pe4 pe8 pe
Miscellaneous Burma Currency BoardFixed exchange rateIndian rupeeOverprintingReserve Bank of India
Union Bank of Burma