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Camp of the King’s Own Light Infantry at Mogok
On Dec. 27, the Ruby Mine column under the command of General Stewart, A.D.C., consisting of two mountain battery guns, two Gardner guns, with a hundred and fifty of the 51st King's Own Light Infantry, the 43rd Goorkha Light Infantry, and a company of Bengal Sappers and Miners, came in sight of Mogok, the centre of the ruby mining industry, in Upper Burmah. The Goorkhas and the King's Own had previously driven the Shans out of a very strong stockade by a successful flank movement, killing about twenty of them: with only one man wounded on our side. After a rest on Christmas Day, the column cautiously advanced, but found that the Shans had evacuated a nasty-looking stockade at the top of the pass. On the next day, Mogok itself was found deserted. The troops encamped on the hills overlooking the town. General Stewart allowed no troops to enter the town for three days, and thus confidence was assured, and the villagers began to return, bringing in their arms, and specimens of rubies, all of a very inferior quality. The houses and Poungy-kyoungs are well built and elaborately carved; and the inhabitants are reported to be very rich.
Mogok, the centre of the ruby mining distract. “Sketches of the Upper Burmah by Lieutenant A. G. Marrable, 51st King's Own.”
The Ruby Mines, which have long been famous, extend about seventy miles north-east of Mandalay, being situated in a valley, about a hundred miles square, surrounded by nine mountains, on one of which evidently the column under General Stewart is now encamped. They are described by Tavernier, a writer of the seventeenth century, as producing not only rubies, but yellow topazes, blue and white sapphires, amethysts, emeralds, and other precious stones. In the present century, Father Giuseppe D'Amato visited the mines at Kyat-Pyen about 1830; and there is Mr. Bredemeyer, who about 1863 was in charge of other mines, situated in the Sagyin hills, which are nearer to Mandalay, being, in fact, only sixteen miles distant. Here the gems are found in the detritus from limestone or marble rocks, indicating a not unusual original matrix for them, judging from experience obtained elsewhere. The rubies from this locality are said to be less valuable than those from the more northern mines. It is said at Mandalay that the majority of the rubies found are less than a quarter of a carat in weight, and the larger ones are generally flawed. Sapphires, though relatively rare, are generally of larger size, stones of nine to thirteen carats without a flaw being found, while rubies of that size are seldom seen. The revenue from the mines, which constituted a Royal monopoly, amounted thirty years ago to from £12,500 to £15,000 per annum. The mines are claimed by the Indian Government, as successor to King Theebaw; and it may be thought that, with proper mining appliances and under British management, these mines might be made to yield a rich return. It may prove to be so, but experience in India and in Ceylon, under more favourable circumstances, does not justify that conclusion.
“The Ruby Mines Expedition, Burmah.” The Illustrated London News. 90 (6 March 1887): 205-06. Hathi Diigital Library Trust vesrion of a copy in the University of Chicago Library. Web. 6 December 2015.
Last modified 1 January 2016