Panthay; Burmese Chinese Muslims


Panthay (Burmese:MLCTS: pan: se: lu myui: is a term used to refer to the predominantly Muslim Hui people of China migrated to Myanmar. They are among the largest groups of Burmese Chinese, and predominantly reside in the northern regions of Myanmar (formerly known as Upper Burma), particularly in the MandalayTaunggyi area and Shan States.
The name Panthay is a purely Burmese word, which is said to be identical with the Shan word Pang hse.[1] It was the name by which the Burmese called the Chinese Muslims who came with caravans to Burma from the Chinese province of Yunnan. The name was not used or known in Yunnan itself.[2] But curiously in the research paper from Karachi on the Muslims in China, the Pakistani researchers used the name Panthay. Later, they acknowledged that they got that name from Burma.
The root of the name is exceedingly obscure. Several theories have been suggested as to its derivation, but none of them is strong enough to refute the others. The most plausible among them is the suggestion that the name Panthay has some kind of link with Pathi, the old Burmese word for Muslim. The Burmese word Pathi is a corruption of Farsi (Persian). The Burmese of Old Burma called their own indigenous Muslims Pathi. It was applied to all Muslims other than the Chinese Muslims. Thus the name Panthay is assumed by many as a corrupted form of Pathi. Whatever its origin, the name Panthay was, and still is, applied exclusively and uniquely to the Chinese Muslims.
Panthay; Burmese Chinese Muslims Panthays formed one of the definite group among Myanmar Muslims or Muslims in Burma/Myanmar . Some people like to refer Burmese Muslims as the more assimilated or original or oldest group amongst all the Muslims in Burma or Myanmar. That is because they are more “Burmanized” when compare to other groups. But nowadays, because of mixed marriages and intermarriages, it is some times difficult to differentiate who is who.



[edit] Etymology

Panthay (Burmese: ပန္‌းသေးလူမ္ယုိး; MLCTS: pan: se: lu myui: is a term used to refer to the predominantly Muslim Hui people of China migrated to Myanmar. They are among the largest groups of Burmese Chinese, and predominantly reside in the northern regions of Myanmar (formerly known as Upper Burma), particularly in the MandalayTaunggyi area and Shan States.

The name Panthay is a purely Burmese word, which is said to be identical with the Shan word Pang hse.[1] It was the name by which the Burmese called the Chinese Muslims who came with caravans to Burma from the Chinese province of Yunnan. The name was not used or known in Yunnan itself.[2] But curiously in the research paper from Karachi on the Muslims in China, the Pakistani researchers used the name Panthay. Later, they acknowledged that they got that name from Burma.

The root of the name is exceedingly obscure. Several theories have been suggested as to its derivation, but none of them is strong enough to refute the others. The most plausible among them is the suggestion that the name Panthay has some kind of link with Pathi, the old Burmese word for Muslim. The Burmese word Pathi is a corruption of Farsi (Persian). The Burmese of Old Burma called their own indigenous Muslims Pathi. It was applied to all Muslims other than the Chinese Muslims. Thus the name Panthay is assumed by many as a corrupted form of Pathi. Whatever its origin, the name Panthay was, and still is, applied exclusively and uniquely to the Chinese Muslims.

Chinese Muslims in Yunnan did not call themselves by the name Panthay. They called themselves Huizu (回族), meaning Muslim in Chinese. Non-Muslim Chinese and Westerners refer to them as Huihui (回回). Apart from its Burmese origin, very little is known about the name Panthay.

[edit] Origin of the Hui

Scattered across the mountainous hill tracts which separate southwestern China from northern Southeast Asia, at the furthest limits of the Silk Road and other Central Asian trade routes which carried Islam to China, the Chinese Muslims of Yunnan Province have, for centuries, excelled as long-distance traders, miners and soldiers. Chinese-speaking, and of predominantly Han Chinese ethnic origin, this little-known but economically and demographically significant group of Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi madhhab forms a predominantly endogamous, closely inter-related minority group in four countries – China, Burma, Thailand and Laos – and today represents an outpost both of Islamic and of (“Overland”) Chinese culture in northern Southeast Asia.

Commercial and cultural contacts between the Yun-Kwei Plateau and the Irrawaddy and lower Salween Valleys probably predate significant migration by Han Chinese of Burman populations into either area; certainly it is likely that by the time of the Later Han Dynasty (25-220 A.D.) itinerant traders and Buddhist pilgrims traversed this marginal region of the Sino-Indian cultural frontier on a regular if infrequent basis. By early Tang times, Chinese control over western Yunnan was established for the first time with the submission of the population of the Erh-Hai region, near Ra-li, in 672 A.D., and the extension of the Imperial Mandate to the region of the present-day Yunnan-Burma frontier some twenty-two later, in 694. This Han Chinese dominance was to be short-lived, however; thus, within forty-five years – about 738 A.D. – the T’ai-dominated Kingdom of Nanzhao had emerged as the dominant power of the Yunnan-Burma frontier region, a position which both it and its successor, the Kingdom of Dali, were to hold until the Mongol conquest of the region five centuries later.

Despite the political independence of the Nanzhao Kingdom, Chinese cultural influence continued to penetrate and influence the Yunnan-Burma frontier region throughout the Tang and Sung dynastiess. Moreover, it is possible that during the mid-Tang period – in about 801 A.D. – surrendered Muslim soldiers, described in the Chinese Annals as Hei-I Ta-shih or “Black-Robed Muslims” (a term generally applied with reference to the Abbasids) were first settle in Yunnan.

Whilst this early settlement remains in some doubt, however, it is at least certain that Muslims of Central Asian origin played a major role in the Yuan (Mongol) conquest and subsequent rule of south-west China, as a result of which a distinct Muslim community was established in Yunnan by the late 13th century A.D. Foremost amongst these soldier-administrators was Sayyid Ajjal Shams al-Din Omar, a court official and general of Turkic origin who participated in the Mongol invasion of Sichuan and Yunnan in c. 1252, and who became Yuan Governor of the latter province in 1274-79. Shams al-Din – who is widely believed by the Muslims of Yunnan to have introduced Islam to the region – is represented as a wise and benevolent ruler, who successfully “pacified and comforted” the people of Yunnan, and who is credited with building Confucian temples, as well as mosques and schools. On his death he was succeeded by his eldest son, Nasir al-Din (the “Nescradin” of Marco Polo), who governed Yunnan between 1279 and 1284.

Whilst Arab and South Asian Muslims, pioneers of the maritime expansion of Islam in the Bay of Bengal, must have visited the coasts of Arakan and the Gulf of Martaban from at least the reign of Anawrahta (1044-77 A.D.), founder of the Burmese Kingdom of Pagan, it is only from the time of Shams al-Din – and, more particularly, of his son, Nasir al-Din – that we may be sure of the advent of overland” Islam, travelling via the trade and invasion routes of Inner Asia, to the eastern frontiers of Burma. Thus – in an indication of the future specialisation of Yunnanese Muslims in the military and commercial fields – during his father’s governorship of Yunnan, Nasir al-Din was first appointed Commissioner of Roads for the province and then, in 1277-78, appointed to command the first Mongol invasion of Burma. Leading to the overthrow of the Pagan Dynasty. Subsequently, during Nasir al-Din’s Governorship, his younger brother Husayn (the third son of Sayyid al-Ajall Shams al-Din) was appointed Transport Commissioner for the province. As a result of the pre-eminence of Shams al-Din and his family during this period, a significant number of Muslim soldiers of Central Asian origin were transferred to the Dali region of western Yunnan – an area still largely unpopulated by Han Chinese settlers – and the descendants of these garrison troops, who participated in a number of Mongol invasions of Burmese territory during the Yuan period, from the nucleus of the present-day Chinese Muslim population both in Yunnan and Burma.

[edit] Development of Hui society

Over the next five hundred years this nascent Yunnanese Muslim community established itself in a position of economic and demographic strength in southern and western Yunnan – though there are few indications of significant settlement in Burmese territory before Qing times and acquired a distinctive ethnic identity through intermarriage with the local population, a process paralleled in areas of Muslim settlement elsewhere in China. Thus, following the demise of the ‘Abbasids in 1258 A.D. and the related rise of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in China, the term Ta-shih (as applied loosely both to foreign Muslims and to those settled within China) disappeared from the Chinese Annals and was gradually replaced by a new term, Hui or Hui-hui giving rise in turn to the modern Chinese term Hui-min, the recognised contemporary designation for China’s Chinese speaking Muslim minority.

[edit] Muslim Settlement of Yunnan

Within Yunnan, the Hui Muslim population seems to have flourished and expanded throughout the Yuan and Ming periods (c. 1280 – 1644). Certainly when Marco Polo visited Yunnan in the early Yuan period he noted the presence of ‘Saracens” amongst the population, whilst the Persian historian Rashid al-Din (died 1318 A.D.) recorded in his Jami’ ut-Tawarikh that ‘the great city of Yachi’ in Yunnan was exclusively inhabited by Muslims. Rashid al-Din may have been referring to the region around Dali in western Yunnan, which was to emerge as the earliest centre of Hui Muslim settlement in the province, though other areas of significant Muslim settlement were subsequently established in north-western Yunnan around Chao-t’ung by the Emperor Jen-tsung in about 1313 as well as – much later on, during the Qing Dynasty – in and around Qianshui in southeastern Yunnan.

Of these areas of Muslim settlement within Yunnan, it is the oldest and most westerly – that centred in and around Dali – which was most significant in the gradual migration of Chinese Muslims to Burma. As has already been indicated, China’s Hui population has a considerable (and well-deserved) reputation for excelling at long-distance commerce, a traditional calling well-suited to the rigours and rewards of the overland caravan trade between Yunnan and Southeast Asia.

Moreover – in the case of Muslim Chinese — to the purely material drive of trade must be added the spiritual motivation (and ibadat requirement) of performing the Hajj pilgrimage; thus, as early as A.D. 1350 the Chinese traveller Wang Dayuan was to record the existence of an overland road between Yunnan and Arabia by which way the latter might be reached in a year, indeed, for prospective Yunnanese pilgrims this difficult overland rout via Burma was to remain the preferred route for performing the Hajj until the establishment of regular steamship services between China and the Hijaz during the mid-19th century.

Whilst it is thus apparent that long-distance caravans traversed the Yunnan-Burma frontier on a regular basis during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and that by early Qing times the trade carried thereby ‘appears to have been of considerable important, significant settlement of Chinese Muslims in Burma (excluding, perhaps, the important frontier entrepots of Bhamo and Kengtung) does not seem to have commenced until the collapse of the Yunnan Muslim Rebellion in 1873, from which date the history Burma’s “Panthay”, or Yunnanese Muslim population may be said to begin.

Briefly, during the first decades of the 19th century, population pressures on the Hui Muslim and other minority peoples of Yunnan increased substantially as a result of Han Chinese migration to the province, Resentment against this development, coupled with mounting hostility towards corrupt and incompetent Qing rule, led in 1855-56 to the outbreak of rebellion amongst Muslim miners in the Chien-shui region. Within two years, however, the centre of rebellion had spread to the west of the province under the leadership of Wenxiu. For the next fifteen years, until the Qing reconquest and his own death in 1873, Dali remained the capital of Pingnan Guo (the “Country of the peaceful South”), where Tu erected a forbidden city, wore Ming dynasty dress in repudiation of Qing authority, and is reported by some sources to have adopted the Muslim name Sultan Sulayman.

[edit] Yunnan, the place of origin of Panthays

The history of the Panthays in Burma was inseparably linked to that of Yunnan, their place of origin, whose population was predominantly Muslim. The Chinese Muslims of Yunnan were noted for their mercantile prowess. Within Yunnan, the Muslim population excelled as merchants and soldiers, the two qualities, which made them ideally suited to the rigors of overland trade in the rugged, mountainous regions, and to deserve the rewards therefrom. They might have been helped in this by their religion of’ Islam from its inception had flourished as a Religion of Trade. The religious requirement to perform Hajj pilgrimage had also helped them to establish an overland road between Yunnan and Arabia as early as the first half of the 1300s.[3]

[edit] Panthay caravaners

In the pre-colonial times the Panthays emerged as excellent long-distance caravaneers of southern China and northern Southeast Asia. They had virtually dominated whole caravan trade of Yunnan. By the time the first agents and adventurous pioneers the French and British imperialism arrived at the fringes of Yunnan, they found the caravan network of the region dominated by the Chinese Muslim muleteers.

One contributor to the British Royal Geographical Society had remarked in 1888, shortly after the British conquest of Upper Burma, on the Muslim caravaners of Yunnan as follows:

They (the Muslim caravaners) are perhaps the greatest travelers on the face of the earth, if we may distinguish between those who are carried by trains or steamers and those who travel on their own feet. Every year numbers of these men came from Yunnan to Rangoon and Moulmein, doing thousands of’ miles on foot, with caravans of ponies, mules or cattle to exchange the productions of the country for the imported wares of Rangoon.[4]

According to Hanna, a missionary who spent many years in Yunnan at the beginning of this century; The men who guide the long trains of mules and ponies through the wild mountain passes of Yunnan and the Burmese frontiers, must be rugged in constitution and resolute in spirit to endure this rough life, filled with hardship sand dangers. The scanty and ill-cooked food, the long marches, the exposures to all kinds of weather…would indeed daunt any but men of iron mould.[5] The Chinese Muslim domination of the Yunnan caravan network seems to have continued well into the 20th century. By the mid 19th century the caravans of’ Yunnanese traders ranged over an area extending from the eastern frontiers of Tibet, through Assam, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Tongkin (presently part of Vietnam), to the southern Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi.

[edit] Panthay caravaneers travelling to Burma

These sturdy caravaneers were the first Pathays from Yunnan who came to Burma with their caravans and their merchandise. In fact, the caravan trade between Burma and Yunnan had been going on for centuries before the Konbaung period. There were well-established caravan routes between Yunnan and Burma.

Prominent among them the Yunnan-Bhamo route, the Yunnan-Ava (later Mandalay) route via Theinni and Thibaw (Hsipaw) in the northern Shan State, and the route from Yunnan via Kengtung, through Lao and Siamese country to Moulmein (Mawlamyine) and Rangoon. Bhamo was an important natural entry-port and terminus for caravans from Yunnan. From there the Chinese goods were carried down by boat along Ayeyarwadi to the Burmese royal capital. Likewise, Kengtung in the eastern Shan State was the most important entry-port in the Yunnan-Thailand trade as well as for caravans coming to Mawlamyine and Yangon. Similarly, Theinni served as an important transit station for caravans coming to the royal capital along the overland route across the northern Shan State. For many caravans from Yunnan, Ava, and later Mandalay, was the destination. Thus, the Panthay caravaneers presented a familiar sight at the royal capital of Konbaung kings. The Bhamo route was the shortest, easiest and safest route from Yunnan. The over land route via Theinni was six hundred and twenty miles long, and forty-six hills and mountains, five large rivers and twenty-four smaller ones, had to be traversed in the of two months.[6]

There were three routes from Bhamo in Burma to Momien (Tengyue) in Yunnan. The northern route called the Ponlyne route, passed through the northern Sanda valley formed by the Taping river, a tributary of the Ayeyarwaddy. The central route, called the Embassy or the Ambassador Route, passed through the Hotha valley formed by the Namsa River, a tributary of the Taping. The southern route, called the Sawuddy route, passed through the Muangwan valley formed by the Nam-wan river.[7] The Bhamo-Momien-Tali route was the main commercial highway used by and Chinese merchants form time immemorial, leading through the richest part of Yunnan, and tapping Sichuan and Guizhou, the most populous provinces in China. Tens of thousands of mules passed through this route each year. The volume of trade by Bhamo route in 1855 was estimated to be about nearly half a million pound sterling.[8]

The merchandise brought from Yunnan by the Panthay caravaneers included opium, wax, silk cloth, tea, metal utensils, iron in the rough, felts, finished articles of’ clothing, walnuts, preserved fruits and foods, and dried meat of’ several kinds. The Burmese goods taken back to Yunnan were raw cotton, raw and wrought silk, amber, jades and other precious stones, velvets, betel-nuts, tobacco, gold-leaf’, preserves, paps, dye woods,stick lac, ivory, and specialized foodstuffs such as slugs, edible birds’ nests, among other things.[9] Raw cotton, which was reserved as a royal monopoly, was in great demand in China. An extensive trade in this commodity had existed between the Burmese kingdom and Yunnan. It was transported up the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bhamo where it was sold to the Chinese merchants, and conveyed partly by land and partly by water into Yunnan, and from there to other provinces of China. Most caravans consisted of between fifty and one hundred mules, employing perhaps ten to fifteen drivers.[10] Thus, it can be said that the history of the Panthays in Burma began with the caravan trade between Burma and Yunnan, which had benefited both.

[edit] Panthays recorded in Myanmar History

In the stone inscriptions of Bagan, first Burmese Kingdom, the name pan:si comes up from time to time.[11] There is no other scholarly explanation for this than that it refers to Panthay, which later in the Konbaung period became a common name.

[edit] Panthays’ role during Mongol invasions of Bagan

This is all the more probable if we consider it in the light of the fact that the Muslims of Yunnan had played an important role in the Mongol invasions of the Kingdom of Bagan towards the close of the 13th century. Some of the administrators of Yunnan during the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty were Muslims. Prominent among them were, Sai-Tien-Ch’ih-Shan-ssu-ting Wuma-erh (Sayyid Ajal Shams-al-Din-Umar), who was a general and (governor of’ Yunnan between 1274 and 1279. Hisson Na-Su-la-ting (Nasir-al-Din) was in charge of’ the road systems of Yunnan and personally commanded the first Mongol invasion of Bagan in 1277-78. And his younger brother Hushin (Husayn) was Transport Commissioner in 1284 and later Senior Governor of Yunnan.[12]

It was believed that in all the three Mongol invasions of Bagan, there were Panthay officers and men in the ranks of the invading armies. This explains the occurrences of the name Pan:si in the inscriptions.

[edit] Panthays arrived Mogok

Besides the caravaneers, there were other Panthays, though very small in number, who came to Burma, to trade in jades and other precious stones. These merchants came via the Bhamo route. They were chiefly interested in the jade mines of northern Burma and ruby mines of Mogok. With whatever purpose they had come to Burma, most of these early Panthays, whether caravaneers or precious-stone dealers, had no intention of taking permanent residence in the Burmese Kingdom. They came and went only as itinerant merchants.

[edit] Problems back in homeland of Panthays, Yunnan

It is necessary here to shift our focus from Burma to China. An event that had a resounding impact on the history of the Yunnan province and rocked Manchu China from its foundation was the Panthay rebellion of 1855-73. Islam being a non-indigenous religion of China, the concepts and behavior of Chinese Muslims in Yunnan were many degrees removed from those of their eclectic compatriots. The Panthays tended to form in China exclusive circles, each retaining its identity under most adverse circumstances. They formed a closed-knitted society.

They resisted the unifying influences of Manchu China, earning for themselves the hatred of the T’ang Chinese of whose oppression they had become victims.

Starting from 1855 the Muslim majority of Yunnan had risen against the oppression to which they were subjected by the mandarins. They rose against the tyranny and extortion universally practiced by this official class, from which they were excluded.

The mandarins had secretly hounded mobs on to the rich Panthays, provoked anti-Muslim riots and instigated destruction of their mosques.[13] The religious hatred of the Panthays was thus aroused. The widespread Muslim desire for revenge for insults to their religion led to a universal and well-planned rising.

[edit] Panthay rebellion in Yunnan

Main article: Panthay Rebellion

The rebellion started as a local uprising. It was sparked off by the Panthay laborers of the silver mines of Li’nanxian village in Yunnan who rose up in one body against the overbearing conduct of their Chinese overseers. The rebels murdered every Chinese officer they set their eyes upon. The Chinese Governor of Yunnan sent an urgent appeal to the central government at Peking (Beijing) and then committed suicide. The Panthays, under the able leadership of Tu Wenxiu or Dowinsheow, and driven by the intensity of’ their feelings and the strength of their convictions, went on to rebel against all forms of authority. They turned their fury on the local mandarins and ended up with challenging the ultimate authority-the central government at Peking. In this way, the rebellion became a matter of national importance.

The Imperial Government was handicapped by problems that cropped up in profusion in various parts of the sprawling empire, the Taiping rebellion being one of them. It was a time when China was still suffering from the shocks caused by the first series of unequal treaties signaled by the Treaty of Nanking forced upon her by the imperialist powers. These circumstances favored the ascendancy of Panthays in Yunnan.

Although the Yunnan Muslim Rebellion seriously disrupted the overland trade with Southeast Asia, Du Wenxiu – a trader himself and the descendant of a merchant family – relied as far as possible on caravan links with Burma to supply his followers with weaponry and clothing. The same mountain trials – more particularly the “Ambassadors’ Route” via Bhamo – proved useful in sending a diplomatic mission seeking support for the rebel cause to Rangoon, London and Istanbul. Finally, following the eventual collapse of Pingnan Guo and the death of Tu Wenxiu, the caravan routes to Burma proved invaluable in providing an escape route for Muslim Chinese (whether rebels or not) who sought to escape subsequent Qing reprisals. Numbers of these refugees joined the gangs of bandits who roamed the Shan state (most notably in Namkham), prompting King Mindon Min of Burma, in 1873-74, to proscribe them; other settled peacefully within Burma, some joining earlier Chinese Muslim settlers at Bhamo, Kengtung, Mogok and, perhaps, Amarapura and Mandalay; other founding new villages, most notably at Panglong in the trans-Salween Wa States.

Insofar as can be ascertained, the application of the term “Panthay” to Yunnanese Muslims (and, subsequently, to Burmese Muslims of Yunnanese origin) dates from about this time; certainly it was widely employed by British travellers and diplomats in the region from about 1875, and seems to have arisen as a corruption of the Burmese word pa-the meaning simply “Muslim”. A considerable body of literature exists surrounding the etymology of this term, but the definitive notice (which remains, as yet, unpublished). Indicated that it was introduced by Sladen at the time of his 1868 expedition to Teng-yueh, and that it represents an anglicised and shortened version of the Burmese tarup pase, or “Chinese Muslim”. In fact, the term “Panthay” was never employed by the Yunnanese Muslims (whether of China or of Burma) who prefer simply to call themselves Hui-min or Hui-hui; nor did it, apparently, enjoy widespread usage amongst the Burmans, Shan, Karen or other Burmese peoples. Be that as it may, however – and the designation is virtually unused within Burma today- the term “Panthay” achieved widespread usage during the period of British rule, and remains the name by which Burma’s Chinese Muslim community has generally been distinguished in English language sources to the present day.

For a period of perhaps ten to fifteen years following the collapse of the Yunnan Muslim Rebellion, the province’s Hui minority was widely discriminated against by the victorious Qing, especially in the western frontier districts contiguous with Burma. During these years the refugee Hui settled across the frontier within Burma gradually established themselves in their traditional callings – as merchants, caravaneers, miners, restaurateurs and (for those who chose or were forced to live beyond the law) as smugglers and mercenaries.

It was during this period that the Wa States settlement of Panglong came into its own as the “capital” of the up-country Panthay. Founded in about 1875, immediately following the collapse of the Yunnan Muslim Rebellion, Panglong is located in Son Mu, one of the northern trans-Salween Wa States, an area of considerable remoteness long contested between Britain and China, and populated by the fiercely independent (and sometime head-hunting) Wa Tribes. Scott visited Panglong in the 1890s, and noted both its inaccessibility and defensive potential. Writing in 1900, he commented at some length on the Panthay settlement:

It stands at a height of four thousand six hundred feet above sea level, in a hollow surrounded by abrupt low hills, or rather cliffs, with a singularly jagged outline. The number of houses has been steadily increasing, but they have not been counted and estimates vary greatly. These are, however, certainly over three hundred. They are built of a kind of trellis or wattle, covered with mud and sometimes white-washed, and have thatch roofs. Each house stands with its own little fenced enclosure with a garden of peach and pear trees. These is a sort of horsepond in the village, but the water is undrinkable and the supply of good water is unsatisfactory. It is brought down in little runnels from the western hills. Many of the slopes round the village are jungle covered, but in some places they are cleared for poppy cultivation. All the roads to Pang Long pass through two small defiles, one north and the other south of the village. At both north and south entrances there the other south of the village. At both north and south entrances there are recently-built gateways constructed of sun-dried bricks, with loop holes and a thatched roof.

In addition to the main settlement of Panglong, two other smaller Panthay villages, Panyao and Pachang, were established about 12 miles distant to the south and east respectively, ‘which had about eighty houses’. The dominant group in the villages were the Panthay, chiefly Hui migrants from Dali, Baoshan, Shanning, Menghua and elsewhere in southern and western Yunnan. Scott comments that these Chinese Muslims were ‘all merchants, mule-owners and men of substance’; indeed, considering this wealth Scott concluded that it was only the military prowess and superior armaments of the Panthay which kept their annual tribute to the ruler of Son Mu fixed at the low figure of 100 rupees per annum. The same source continues:

Many of the prominent traders in Pang Long have made the Haj to Mecca and Medina, and there is a mosque near the pond in the town. To supervise this they engaged a Moulvi in 1892, Fakir Syed Mahomed… Trade is the chief occupation of the settlement, and provisions of all kinds are scarce and dear. All round stretches a sort of small plateau cleared of trees except in clumps, which give it a park-like appearance, but the great scarcity of water prevents much cultivation and what there is only of dry crops. Some Chinese shoes and skull caps are turned out, but otherwise there are no manufactures. The place owns quite a thousand pack mules and could probably assemble another thousand in a short time. They have also a few pack bullocks, used locally for short trips.

By the time Scott visited Panglong – at least 15 years after the collapse of the Yunnan Muslim Rebellion – the original Panthay settlements had grown to include numbers of Shan and other hill peoples. The Panthay were, generally speaking, affluent enough to employ these more recent settlers as mule-drivers and ‘to do the drudgery generally’. In large measure this affluence must have been due the lifting of the Qing proscription on Hui settlement in Yunnan (c. 18881890), as a result of which the Panglong “Panthays” were able to re-establish trading contacts with their fellows remaining settled within Yunnan. As a result of this development a number of the original refugees returned to China, merely maintaining agents at Panglong; certainly Scott noted that as many of the Panthay caravan traded into China as throughout the Shan States from Panglong.

[edit] The Islamic Kingdom of Yunnan

The Panthays won one victory after another in the initial phases of’ the rebellion. They repulsed the desultory attacks of’ the imperial troops. They wrested one important city after another from the hands of’ the Imperial mandarins. The Chinese towns and villages which resisters were pillaged, and the male population massacred. All the places, which yielded, were spared.[14] The ancient holy city of Tali-fu fell to the Panthays in 1857. With the capture of Tali-fu, Muslim supremacy became an established fact in Yunnan.

The Islamic Kingdom of Yunnan was proclaimed after the fall of Tali-fu. Tu Wen-hsiu, leader of the Panthays, assumed the regnal title of Sultan Suleiman and made Tali-fu his capital. In this way, the Sultanate, fashioned after those of’ the Middle East, appeared in Yunnan. Panthay governorships were also created in a few important cities, such as Momein (Tengyueh), which were a few stages from the Burmese border town of Bhamo. The Panthays reached the high watermark of their power and glory in 1860.

[edit] Yunnan Sultan’s Hajj trip through Burma

The eight years from 1860 to 1868 were the heyday of the Sultanate. The Panthays had either taken or destroyed forty towns and one hundred villages.[15] During this period the Sultan Suleiman, on his way to Mecca as a pilgrim, visited Rangoon, presumably via the Kengtung route, and from there to Calcutta where he had a chance to see the power of the British.[16]

[edit] Panthays during Konbaung period

They were all men who never brought their wives and families along, since alone could have made such perilous and rigorous journeys of those days. This is the reason why no evidence of the existence of Panthay settlement anywhere in the Burmese Kingdom prior to the Konbaung period has yet been found.

Beginning from the late Konbaung period, however, the Panthays started to settle in the royal capital of Mandalay, particularly during the reign of King Mindon. Although their number was small, a few of them seemed to have found their way inside the court as jade-assessors. They lived side by side with non-Muslim Chinese at Chinatowns (tayoke tan), which had been designated by King Mindon as the residential area for the Chinese. The non-Muslim Chinese had started settling in Mandalay considerably earlier than the Panthays so that by the time the latter arrived, there already was a Chinese community at Mandalay, with their own bank, companies and warehouses and some kind of organized social and economic life.

It happened that there were also Chinese jade-assessors in the employ of the king. Rivalry between the Chinese and Panthay jade-assessors in courting the royal favor naturally led to a quarrel between the two groups, resulting in a number of deaths.[17] King Mindon had not given much serious thought to the religious and social differences between the Panthays and the Chinese. He had treated the two more or less alike. But after the Chinadown quarrel, the king began to see the wisdom of separating the two groups.

[edit] King Mindon and Panthays

It was also during this time that King Mindon granted the Panthays of the royal capital land on which to settle as a separate community, with a view to preventing further quarrels between them and the Chinese. The Panthays were given the rare favor of choosing their own place of residence within the confines of the royal capital, and they chose the site on which the present-day Panthay Compound (Chinese Muslim Quarter) is located. It was bounded on the north by 35th Street, in the south by 36th Street, in the east by 79th Street and in the west by 80th Street. This site was chosen because it was the camping ground for the mule caravans from Yunnan, which regularly came to the capital via the Theinni route.

[edit] King Mindon donated the land for Panthay Mosque

The broadminded King Mindon also permitted a mosque to be built on the granted site so that the Panthays would have their own place of worship. Having no funds for an undertaking of such magnitude, the Panthays of Mandalay put up the matter to the Sultan of Yunnan. Sultan Sulaiman had already started a business enterprise (hao) in Mandalay.

His company was housed in a one-story brick building located at the present-day. Taryedan on the west side of the 80th Street, between 36th and 37th Streets.[18] The hao had been carrying on business in precious stones, jades, cotton, silk and other commodities of both Chinese and Burmese origins.

[edit] Sultan Suleiman of Yunnan built the Panthay Mosque in Mandalay

Eager to establish close and friendly relations with all the neighboring states, the Sultan wasted no time in seizing the opportunity of having a Chinese Muslim mosque installed at the Burmese King’s capital, an opportunity that had presented itself without being asked. He at once sent out Colonel Mah Too-tu, one of his senior military officers, as his special envoy and agent to Mandalay with the important mission of constructing the mosque.

[edit] Colonel Mah Too-tu constructed the mosque

The mosque took about two years to finish and was opened in 1868, the second mosque to be built in the royal capital. At the grand opening of the mosque, a great feast was given. All the Muslims in Mandalay and its suburbs were invited to it. But the turnout was so big that the food ran out in a short time. As there were still so many guests left untreated, the hosts gave each of them two coins of one kyat denomination as consolation.[19] Today, 134 years after, the Panthay Mosque is still standing proudly as the second oldest mosque, in Mandalay and a standing witness to the long-lasting friendship and goodwill between the Bamars and the Panthays. (Note: The oldest mosque in Mandalay is the North Obo Mosque, which was built a few years earlier than the Panthay Mosque donated by King Mindon, second last King of Burma.)Photos of Mandalay Panthay mosque.[1]

[edit] Business relations with King Mindon’s Burma

There was another reason for the cessation of trade by the Bhamo routes. It was King Mindon’s earlier policy of confining the British to lower Burma. Mindon had feared that trade along the Bhamo route would lead to the extension of British influence to upper Burma and beyond. He did not want a fleet of British steamers to the north of the capital. He also seemed to be desirous of making Mandalay the center of trade instead of Bhamo which was difficult to control.[20] He had, therefore, deliberately discouraged all communications with China via Bhamo and restricted the trade to the long overland journey of two months, via Theinni to Mandalay. The Panthay caravans had been encouraged to come to Mandalay to the exclusion of’ Bhamo.

Later, this short-sighted policy and attitude of King Mindon gradually wore out as he began to see the practical economic and political advantages of the resuscitation of’ Bhamo trade to his country and people. Thus, he extended all the help he could to the Sladen mission. With the Burmese monarch favorably disposed towards it, the British mission was cordially received by the Panthay Governor of Momien, Ta-sa-kon. Due to lack of’ security of the roads, Sladen was not allowed to proceed to Tali-fu to discuss matters directly with the Sultan. However, the Sultan sent letters to Momien in which he expressed the desire of the Panthay government to enter into friendly relations with the British government, and to foster mutual trade. Before returning, Sladen and the Momien Governor Ta-sa-kon, as the Sultan’s personal representative, signed an agreement in which the British and the Panthays pledged to foster Yunnan-Burma trade to the best of their ability. Though far from being a satisfactory treaty to both parties, the agreement had established some kind of de facto friendship between them.

[edit] Imperial China’s ethnic cleansing on Panthays

In the meantime, in Yunnan, things were changing unfavorably for the Panthays. The Panthays in 1868 found it difficult to hold on to what they had won and assert their overlordship in Yunnan province as a whole.

Their attempts at any turn were flouted by the imperial troops and brigand chiefs like Li Xietai, who had sold their loyalty to Imperial China. They were unable to wipe out all the hostile elements. Their initial successes were only due to their superior prowess and the unanimity of their councils, directed by the Sultan (Talifu). The civil war dragged on. Yunnan was war-torn. Death and destruction became the order of the day. People abandoned honest occupations and took to brigandage as their livelihood. Shifting loyalties of brigand chiefs had complicated things. The Sultanate was unable to maintain order and security in the kingdom.

The Panthay power declined after 1868. The Chinese Imperial Government had succeeded in reinvigorating itself. By 1871, it was directing a campaign for the annihilation of the obdurate Panthays of Yunnan. By degrees the Imperial Government had tightened the cordon around the Panthays. The Panthay Kingdom proved unstable as soon as the Imperial Government made a regular and determined attack on it. Town after town fell under well-organized attacks made by the imperial troops. Tali-fu itself was besieged by the imperial Chinese. Sultan Suleiman found himself caged in by the walls of his capital. He now desperately looked for outside help. He turned to the British for military assistance.[21] He realized that only British military intervention could have saved the Panthays.

[edit] British refused to help the Panthay Sultan

The Sultan had reasons for his turning to the British for military aid. He had seen the British might in India on his pilgrimage to Mecca some years earlier, and was impressed by it. Britain was the only western power with whom the Sultanate was on friendly terms and had contacts with. The British authorities in India and British Burma had sent a mission led by Major Sladen to Momien from May to July 1868. The Sladen mission had stayed seven weeks at Momien. The main purpose of the mission was to revive the Ambassador Route between Bhamo and Yunnan and resuscitate border trade, which had almost ceased since 1855 mainly because of the Panthay rebellion.

Taking advantage of the friendly relations resulting from Sladen’s visit, Sultan Suleiman now, in his fight for the survival of the Panthay Kingdom, turned to the British for the vitally, needed military assistance. In 1872 he sent his adopted son Prince Hassan, to England, with a personal letter to Queen Victoria, via Burma, requesting British military assistance. The Hassan Mission was accorded courtesy and hospitality in both British Burma and England. However, the British politely, but firmly, refused to intervene militarily in Yunnan against Peking.[22] The mission was a failure. While Hassan and his party were abroad, Tali-fu was captured by the Imperial troops in January 1873.

The Imperial Government had waged an all-out war against the Panthays with the help of French artillery experts.[23] Their modern equipment, trained personnel and numerical superiority were no match for the ill-equipped Panthays with no allies. Thus, in less than two decades of its rise, the power of the Panthays in Yunnan fell. But the Chinese suffered the loss of more than 20,000 lives in various fights.[24] Seeing no escape and no mercy from his relentless foe, Sultan Suleiman tried to take his own life before the fall of’ Tali-fu. But, before the poison he drank took effect fully, he was beheaded by his enemies. The Sultan’s head was preserved in honey and then dispatched to the Imperial Court in Peking as a trophy and a testimony to the decisive nature of the victory of the Imperial Chinese over the Pantliays of Yunnan.[25]

The scattered remnants of the Panthay troops continue their resistance after the fall of Tali-fu. But when Momien was next besieged and stormed by the imperial troops in May 1873, their resistance broke completely. Governor Ta-sa-kon was captured and executed by the order of the Imperial Government.

Many adherents to the Panthay cause were hounded out and persecuted by the imperial mandarins. Wholesale massacres of’ Panthays followed. Many fled with their families across the Burmese border and took refuge in the Wa State where, about 1875, they set up the exclusively Panthay town of Panglong.[26]

Those who remained in Yunnan had to bow down to the iron rule of the Manchu authorities. The Panthays were never to rise again as a political force. The last traces of Panthay authority in Yunnan vanished with the tragic death of Governor Ta-sa-kon of Momien.

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