The tales contained in this collection were first told in the dark decade of Burmese history (1876–85) during the coming event of the British conquest. The stories combine exotic background with strong details that offer the Western reader both a picture of Burma in the nineteenth century and an understanding of the basic good sense, gaiety, and gentleness of the Burmese people and the Buddhist clergy. The characters that appear in the book illustrate timeless truths about human nature, which today's reader can apply to existing people and situations. For the first time since the eleventh century the future of Burmese Buddhism became uncertain, and there was widespread fear, both in Upper Burma still under a Burmese king and in Lower Burma already under British rule, that the final fall of the Burmese kingdom would result in the total extinction of both the national religion and the Burmese way of life. Told with the purpose of allaying this anxiety and fear, these tales give a full and faithful résumé and appraisal of the position of Burmese Buddhism on the eve of the British conquest of 1886.