Rarely has a national historiographic tradition depended so heavily on a single author as the Burmese tradition has on U Kala. A native of Ava in Upper Burma, U Kala completed the so-called “Great Chronicle”, the Maha-ya-zawin-gyi, in the early eighteenth century. Beginning, logically enough, with the start of the current world cycle and the Buddhist version of ancient Indian history, this chronicle proceeded with ever increasing detail to narrate the political story of the Irrawaddy basin from quasi-legendary dynasties to events witnessed by the author himself in 1711. Before U Kala, the only Burmese histories of which we have record were biographies and comparatively brief local chronicles. Some twenty years after U Kala finished his work, many of the original sources on which he relied were destroyed by a fire at Ava. This loss combined with U Kala's admirable prose style to establish his encyclopaedic work as a model in the eyes of all subsequent historians. The pre-1712 portions of later national Burmese chronicles — including the Ya-zawin-thit (New Chronicle), the Maha-ya-zawin-gyaw (Great Celebrated Chronicle), and the famous Hman-nan maha-ya-zawin-daw-gyi (Glass Palace Chronicle) — are more or less verbatim reproductions of U Kala's history, with some interpolations of quasi-legendary material and with limited digressions on points of scholarly dispute. In essence, therefore, we have but one chronicle prior to 1712. Not surprisingly, U Kala's Maha-ya-zawin-gyi has provided the basis for virtually every survey of pre-colonial Burmese political history.