The Golden days of the Great Shan Empire III

The Golden days of the 

Great Shan Empire III

To make it easy for the busy readers who could not give much time to read, I have prepared another version in notes form  below_ 

  1. Shan (also known as Tai) lived independently up north round about 650 B.C. in China at the lower part of the Yangtze River.

  2. Shan’s (also known as Tai) migrated down through the present day Yunnan and desended further down into Burma and settled in the Shan Plateau.

  3. A large group of them made a detour U turn and went up north and climbed the Tibet hills and stayed there forming the Tibeto-Burman ancestors of the whole region. (According to Thailand history books.)

  4. One group continued their journey west, up to the present day Rakhine.

  5. Another group even decided to continue the long march up into the present day north eastern part of India.

  6. One of the group continued south in Burma and settled in lower Burma closely with Mon and  Kayins.

  7. Few of them decided to continue to just stay-put in the present day Yunnan.

  8. One group broke away from all others and decided to go straight southwards and settled in present Thailand.

  9. One of them also broke away from all and moved to the east, settling in present day Lao and Cambodia.

  10. Actually they are a little bit different, some had more of the Chinese blood and some even have mixed blood with Khamars and some even went further and said to be settled in Vietnam.

  11. One of the group, known as Thet mixed the Pyus and their decedents are part of the ancestors of Bamars.

  12. Some of the ethnic groups, who made a detour U turn, went up north, climbs the Tibet hills and later came down and they were known as Kan Yan and formed one of the ancestors of Bama.

  13. At last intermarriage of the groups who were the descendents of Pyu, Kan Yan and Thet give rise to the present day Bama ethnic group.

Note (A) : the long march travelers of Shan came down in different times in batches. Because it happened in the prehistoric times, I have searched and collected data, and made it simple and easy from various references below.

I hereby wish to go into some details of what I had given as a gist above: Shan’s other cousins descended from the same ancestors, now inhabit northeast Assam or Asom in India.

Note (B) : they established the Ahom kingdom in Assam, India, where the Burmese General Maha Bandula’s troops committed_

  • indescribable cruelties

  • and barbarities  as to

  • annihilate something like 2/3 of the population

  • and certainly 1/3 of the men and boys –

  • disemboweling them,

  • eating their flesh

  • and burning them alive in cages

  • to intimidate

  • and suppress the Shan Ahom of Assam, India.

This event so weakened and disorganized the Shan Ahom that by 1839 the kingdom was completely annexed by the British.

Before that from about 1220 – 1812 AD they maintained themselves under one Dynasty, (that of Mong Mao 568-1604 AD when its descendants ruled Hsenwi or Theinni in Burmese).

Indeed the Shan Ahom resisted conquest by the Mughals who had conquered much of India before the British incursion.

Some groups of Shan settled along the way, at  Yunnan in the north east of Burma.

Some mixed blooded with Chinese and Khamar, went to the east and founded the Laos and  Cambodia.

Others went down to the southeast and settled in Thailand. No wonder Thailand was known as Siam or we could even easily understand it is just a slang of Shan.

Shans were  gradually pushed south, at about the beginning of the Christian era by the advancement of the Tar Tars.

About 650 A.D. one group of Shans formed a powerful country at Nan Chao, now known as Yunnan.

Nan Chao Shans were quite powerful and could resist Chinese attempts at conquest until 1253.

During the years 754 to 763 A.D. the Nan Chao Shans extended their rule even up to the upper basin of the Irrawaddy River and came into contact with the Pyu.

Pyu was one of three ancestors who founded our Burma: viz, Pyu, Kan Yan and Thet.

Pyu was then the ruler of the Upper  Burmese Plains.

Some of Shan’s descendents ventured beyond Upper Burma into Lower Burma to mingle and live together with the Mons.

During the heydays of the Nan Chao Shans, some of them had even crossed Upper Burma to reach far west and established the once powerful Ahom Shan Kingdom, in the northeastern part of India, now known as Assam or Assom , as stated above.

Shans had moved into the area now known as the Shan Pyae of Burma in large numbers and settled down and were well established by the time our first Burmese King Anawrahta ascended his throne in 1st century.

Nan Chao  Shans tried desperately to defend their Nan Chao  kingdom from the Chinese attackers, but in 1253 the Nan Chao Kingdom fell.

Some of the Nan Chao Shans, unwilling to live under foreign domination there; move towards the south in strength, to seek freedom in present day Tailand area.

They joined forces with the other Shans, who had already settled in that area, and

  • in 1262 took over Chiang Rai,
  • in 1296 Chiang Mai 
  • and in 1315 took Ayuddhaya, and established their own kingdoms.

In Upper Burma the Shans established the kingdoms of

  • Mo Gaung (Mong Kawng),
  • and Mo Hnyin (Mong Yang),
  • and in the Shweli basin, the Mao Kingdom.

Anawrahta ruled the Pagan for 43 year. He was able to unify the whole Burma under his rule for the first time in history.

During this time he sent his armed soldiers into the Shan’s kingdoms to help ensure the security of his Pagan Kingdom. However, he had no intention of annexing or taking over of the Shan’s kingdoms. He merely wished to defend the low lying plains of his Burma from raids by the Shan’s disgruntled militias.

For this purpose he established a string of fortified towns along the length of the foothills.

Relations between Shan and Burma became friendlier under Anawrahta’s successors , but the Burmese Pagan fell to the attackers from China in 1287 A. D. and was destroyed.

Then in 1312 A. D. one of the groups of Shans took the kingly Title of “Thihathu” and ascended as the Burmese king or throned in Pinya.

The (Mao) Shans, who had established kingdoms in Mo Hnyin, Mo Gaung and the Shweli areas then overran the villages of Pinya and Sagaing in 1364 A.D.

After they had withdrawn, Shan’s from Ava, whose title was Thadominbya, combined Pinya and Sagaing and established a new Kingdom, over which he ruled.

So Shans effectively became Kings in Burma from 1282 A.D. to 1531 A.D.

In 1527 A.D. due to the attacks of the Mo Hnyin Saw Bwa on Ava, the Shan’s and Burmese of the area left their homes and descended southwards towards Toungoo, where they established a new kingdom.

Thohanbwa, the son of the Moehnyin Saw Bwa, who became the King of Ava, was soon assassinated due to his lack of skill in statecraft and administration, and in 1543 A.D. Onbaung Khun Maing succeeded him as the King.

Early Shan Settlements in North Myanmar

The successive conquests achieved by Sao Hsam Long Hpa over the northern territory encouraged greater Shan migration to these new areas and led to further establishment of their Ban-Mong system. Territories which now belong to Kachin State were once under the rule of the Mong Kawng Saohpa and many Shans (affiliated to the Thai-Long ethnic group) can still be found dominating the following Bans and Mongs of the region shown below:

1. Alambo
2. Aungthagon
3. Bilumyohaung or Waing Hpai Kao
4. Bilumyothit or Waing Hpai Mai
5. Gurkhaywa
6. Hopin or Ho-Pang
7. Htantabin or Ban Htan Ton Leo
8. Htopu or Ban Hto Hpu
9. Inbaung or ban Kyapt Naung
10. Ingyigon (old) or Ban Kaung Pao Kao
11. Ingyingon (new) or Ban Kaung Pao Mai
12. Kangon or Ban Kong Naung
13. Kanhla or Ban Naung Ngarm
14. Kayuchaung or Ban Nam Haung Hoi
15. Kondangyi or Ban Kong Khay
16. Kyakyikwin Ban Naung Mo Long
17. Letpandan
18. Lwelaw or Ban Loi Law
19. Mahaung
20. Maing Naung or Mong Naung
21. Mamana
22. Manywet or Ban Ywet
23. Mawhan
24. Mogaung or Mong Kawng
25. Mohnyin or Mong Yang
26. Moknaung
27. Myadaung
28. Myohla
29. Myothitgyi or Waing Mai
30. Nam Khwin
31. Namma
32. Nampoke
33. Namti
34. Nanhaing
35. Nansawlaw
36. Nansun
37. Natgyikon or Ban Hpi Long
38. Natyingya
39. Nyaunggaing
40. Nyaunggon or Ban Kon Nyaung
41. Ohnbaung
42. Pinbaw or Ban Pang Baw
43. Pinhe
44. Pinlon or Ban Panglong
45. Pintha or Ban Pyin Hsa
46. Pwinbusu
47. Sahmaw or Ban Mao Khay
48. Shanzu
49. Shwe-in or Ban Naung Hkam
50. Tagwin
51. Ta-paw
52. Taungbaw or Ban Ho Loi
53. Taungni or Ban Loi Leng
54. Tiggyaingsu
55. Theikwagon
56. Thutegon
57. Yawthit or Ban Mai
58. Yawathikyi or Ban Mai Long
59. Thayetta

In Kamaing Township:
1. Chaungwa or Ban Pak Haung
2. Haungpa or Ban Haung Par
3. Hepan or Haipan
4. Hepu or Haipu
5. Kamaing
6. Lawsun
7. Lepon
8. Letpangon
9. Lonsan or Long San
10. Lonton
11. Lwemun or Loimun
12. Maing Pok or Mong Pok
13. Mapyin
14. Maubin Natlatan
15. Nammun
16. Nanhlaing
17. Nankat
18. Nanya
19. Nyaungbin
20. Sezin
21. Taunghaw

In Myitkyina Township:
1. Akye
2. Ayeindama
3. Baingbin
4. Hokat
5. Katcho or Kat Kiao
6. Khaungpu or Hkaunghpu old
7. Khaungpu or Hkaungpu new
8. Kokma
9. Kwitu
10. Legon
11. Maingmaw or Mong Maw
12. Mainga or Mong Na
13. Male
14. Mangin
15. Mankin Saragatawng
16. Mankin Shewzet
17. Manmakan or Man Mark Karm
18. Manpwa
19. Mintha
20. Myitkyina
21. Nampong
22. Nanhe
23. Namkalan
24. Nankwe
25. Nanpomaw
26. Nanwa
27. Naunghi
28. Naungmun
29. Naungpakat
30. Nyaungbintha
31. Okkyin
32. Pamati
33. Panpa
34. Pidaung
35. Pinlontaw
36. Pinlonyana
37. Rampur
38. Sanga
39. Sangin
40. Sekow
41. Sinbo
42. Sitapur
43. Tahona or Ta Ho Na
44. Taiklon
45. Talawgyi
46. Tasaing
47. Talkon
48. Thagaya
49. Tonpakut
50. Ulauk
51. Wainglon
52. Waingmaw
53. Washaung
54. ZigyunSource:

The Kachin Hill Manual. Rangoon: The Superintendent Government Printing, Union of Burma, 1959. pp. 17-18

Appendix II: Shan Kings in Myanmar

The list of Shan kings who succeeded the kings of Bagan and reigned at Myinsaing and Pinya is:

  1. The three Shan brothers who acquired power after the fall of Bagan and governed the country with equal status from A.D. 1298:
    • Athinhkaya,
    • Yazathinkyan
    • and Thihathu, Their joint reign lasted fourteen years.
  2. Thihathu or Ta-tsi-shin, youngest of the three brothers who made himself king at Pinya in 1312 and reigned for ten years.
  3. Uzana son of Kyawswa (1287-98, deposed king of Bagan) and the adopted son of Thihathu.
  4. Ngasishin Kyawswa (half brother of 3), son of Thihathu, he became king in 1343 and reigned eight years.
  5. Kyawswa-nge (son of 4) became king in 1350 and reigned five years.
  6. Narathu (brother of 5) became king in 1354 and reigned nine years.
  7. Uzana Pyaung (brother of 6) became king in 1364, and was assassinated after three months’ rule by Thadonminbya.

Sagaing Kings

There were seven Shan kings who reigned from 1315 to 1364:

  1. Sawyun or Saoyun, the son of Thihathu or Tai-tsi-shin who also reigned at Myinsaing and Pinya. He became king in 1315 and reigned seven years.
  2. Tarabyagyi (step brother of 1), became king in 1323 and reigned fourteen years.
  3. Shwetaungtet (son of 2), became king in 1336 and reigned three years.
  4. Kyawswa (son of 2), became king in 1340 and reigned ten years.
  5. Nawrahtaminye (brother of 4), became king in 1350 and reigned seven months.
  6. Tarabyange (brother of 5) bcame king in 1350 and reigned three years.
  7. Minbyauk Thiapate (brother-in-law of 6) was driven from Sagaing by a Shan army from the north and murdered by his stepson, Thadonminbya in 1364.

Ava 

Ava, the capital of upper Myanmar for many years, was founded with the help of the Shan chief Thadominbya in 1364.

There were nineteen chiefs of Shan descent who reigned in Ava from 1364 to 1555:

  1. Thadominbya said to be descended from the ancient Shan kings of Takawng or Tagaung on his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Athinhkaya Sawyun, the Shan king of Sagaing. He founded Ava in 1364, became king in the same year and reigned three years.

  2. Nga Nu (usurper), a paramour of Sao Umma, became king in 1368, and reigned only for a few days.

  3. Mingyiswasawke, said to be descended from both the Bagan dynasty and the Shan brothers, became king in 1368 and reigned thirty-five years.

  4. Tarbya or Sinbyushin (eldest son of 3), became king in 1401 but reigned only seven months, being murdered by his attendant.

  5. Nga Nauk Hsan, became king in 1401 and reigned only a few weeks.

  6. Minkhaung (another son of 3) hesitated to accept the throne, but his younger brother Theiddat killed a cousin claimant and made him king. He became king in 1401 and reigned twenty-one years.

  7. Thiathu (son of 6) became king in 1422 and reigned four years. He was murdered at the instigation of Queen Shin Bo Me.

  8. Minhla Ngai (son of 7) king in 1426 and reigned only three months before he was poisoned.

  9. Kalekyetaungnyo (usurper) became king in 1426 but reigned only seven months.

  10. Mohnyithado or Mohnyinmintara, chief of Shan descent who justified his claim to the throne as a descendant of the kings Narapatisithu (1173-1210) and Ngasishin (1343-1350) of Bagan and of the family of the three Shan brothers. He became king in 1427 and reigned thirteen years.

  11. Minrekyawswa (son of 10) became king in 1440 and reigned three years.

  12. Narapati (Thihathu) (brother of 11), became king in 1443 and reigned twenty-six years.

  13. Thihathu or Mahathihathura (son of 12), became king in 1469 and reigned twelve years.

  14. Minhkaung (son of 13), became king in 1481 and reigned twenty-one years.
    15. Shwenankyawshin (son of 14), became king in 1502 and reigned twenty-five years. He was killed by Thohanbwa or Hso Hom Hpa.

  15. Thohanbwa or Hso Hom Hpa, son of Mohyin Saolon who conquered Ava. He became king in 1527 and reigned sixteen years. He was murdered.

  16. Hkonmaing or Hkun Mong, Saohpa of On Baung or Hsipaw and related to Shwenanshin, was elected king of Awa in 1543 and reigned three years.

  17. Mobye (or Mong Pai) Narapati (son of 17), Saohpa of Mong Pai became king in 1546 and reigned six years and abdicated.

  18. Sithukyawhtin, a Shan chief of Salin, seized Ava and became king in 1552, and reigned three years. He was conqured and deposed by Bayinnaung in 1555.

Source: G.E. Harvey. History of Burma, from “The Earliest Time to March 1824, The Beginning of English Conquest”. London: Frank Case and Co. Ltd., 1967. p. 160.

Appendix III:

Shan Kings of Bago

The following is the list of the Shan kings of Bago of the dynasty established by Wareru in 1287:

  1. Wareru, the Shan chief who established the dynasty but had his capital at Madama. He became king in AD 1287 (S 649) and reigned nineteen years.

  2. Khun-lau’ or Tha Na’ran Bya Keit who became king in 1306 and reigned four years.

  3. Dza’u-a’u or Theng-Mha’ing (nephwe of 2), who became king in 1310 and reigned thirteen years.

  4. Dzau-dzip, or Binya-ran-da (brother of 3) who became king in 1323 and reigned seven years.

  5. Binya-e’-la’u (son of 2, Khun-lau and cousin of 4) who became king in 1330 and reigned eighteen years.

  6. Byinya-u or Tseng-Pyu-Sheng (son of 4 and cousin of 5), who restored the ancient capital Bago or Hansawadi. He became king in 1348 and reigned thirty-eight years.

  7. Binya-nwe, or Ra’dza’ Di-rit (son of 6) who became king in 1385 and reigned thirty-eight years.

  8. Binya Dham-ma Ra’-dza (son of 7) who became king in 1423 and reigned three years.

  9. Binya-Ra’n-kit (brother of who became king in 1426 and reigned twenty years.

  10. Binya-Wa-ru (nephew of 9) who became king in 1446 and reigned four years.

  11. Binya Keng (cousin of 10) who became king in 1450 and reigned three years.

  12. Mhau-dau (cousin of 11) who became king in 1453 and reigned seven months.

  13. Queen Sheng Tsau Bu or Binya-dau’ who became queen in 1453 and reigned seven years.

  14. Dham-ma Dze-di (cousin of 13) who became king in 1460 and reigned thirty-one years. He did not belong to the royal family.

  15. Binya Ran’ (son of 14 and son-in-law of 13) who became king in 1491 and reigned thirty-five years.

  16. Ta-ka’-rwut-bi (son of 15) who became king in 1526 and reigned fourteen years.He was conquered and deposed by Tabeng-Shweti, king of Taungoo in 1540.

Source: Sir Arthur P. Phayre. History of Burma, Including Burma Proper, Taungu, Tenasserim and Arakan. London: 1883. pp. 290-291. 

Meanwhile from Toungoo Kingdom, in the year 1555 A.D. King Bayinnaung succeeded in unifying the whole of Burma for the second time in our history.

He was able to “persuade’ the Shan Saw Bwa to submit his suzerainty. In accordance with the traditions of the earlier Burmese Kings, the administrative setup was that the Shan Saw Bwas who submitted to the suzerainty of the Burmese King retained full powers to rule over their kingdom.

This relationship was based on mutual respect.The military forces of Burma included contingents of Shan soldiers who proved their valour on the foreign battlefields.

That is how Shan and Burmese descendents had lived closely together, like brethren, till the fall of Upper Burma in 1886.

Then the Shan Saw Bwas, with the intention of restoring freedom to Burma and to the Shan State, chose the Burmese Princes Limbin and Saw Yan Naing to head their alliance, and started waging war against the colonialism.

We could see in the above mentioned era how Shans  migrated and grew mightier.

We should study how political, economical, social and philosophical patterns changed according to their coming.

To sum up again, after the fall of Bagan , Ava kingdom was built in 1364 M.E.

Subsequently, until Pinya, Sagaing and Myinsaing  eras, the power of Bagan collapsed and rebellious small kingdoms spread.

When the invading conqueror Shans came across Burmese, they accepted the Buddhist cultures and Burmese customs.

In this case, the saying, ‘conquerors are conquered’ need to be explained thoroughly.

Anyway no one is sure the source of Shan ancestors’ conversion to Buddhism. We should consider the fact that Shans had very good relations with Mon and Khamars. Shans could even get the Buddhism directly from them. (This is my personal idea only without reference. So I may be wrong. Please do not take this fact seriously as I am a non Buddhist and not an historian) We could see that Shan Pagodas look more like Thai and Cambodia Pagodas than our Burmese.

This episode of the history, Shans’ conquering over the  Burma, I have just highlighted is regarded by Myanmar governments as a taboo.  Our successive Bama governments’ history text books just used to mention one line only and always skipped forward to the glorious Burmese warrior Toungoo King Baying Naung who successfully established the 2nd Bama Empire.  

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