Jia-jing: Year 7, Month 10, Day 29

10 Nov 1528

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Initially, the native yi of the areas of Ava-Burma, Mu-bang, Long-chuan, Meng-mi and Meng-yang in Yun-nan, wrangled and fought feuds among themselves. This went on for years without peace being found. All then memorialized giving their own accounts of the situation and the matter was sent to the grand defender and the grand coordinator for investigation. The Regional Commander Mu Shao-xun and the Grand Coordinator and Censor-in-chief Ou-yang Zhong deliberated and jointly sent the Administration Vice Commissioner Wang Ru-zhou, the Prefect Yan Shi-tai and others to travel successively to the various yi to warn them of what would bring calamity and what would bring prosperity. The various yi all admitted guilt and returned the territory they had occupied. Further, Han Lie of the Mu-bang Pacification Superintendency and Si Lun, the bandit spawn of Meng-yang, both offered tribute of elephant tusks, local brocade and gold and silver utensils, seeking to atone for their crimes. The rebellious ruling family member Duo Jing of Long-chuan also obeyed and handed rule back to Duo Can, the son of his elder brother.

At this time, Shao-xun and so on memorialized, saying:

"Mu-bang and Meng-yang have massacred innocents while Duo Jing killed his elder brother's mother. Under imperial laws, these crimes require execution. However, for the various yi on the border, wrangling and killing through feuds is normal behaviour. They have now confessed their crimes. It is requested that they be leniently pardoned their punishments and that they be required to bring tribute in atonement. Further, it is requested that Si Lun of Meng-yang be warned against having communication with Meng-bie and against invading or disturbing Ava-Burma; and that Han Lie of Mu-bang be warned against joining in a clique with Duo Jing to help him wrest the official post in Long-chuan. As Si Zhen, a member of the ruling family of the Meng-yang Pacification Office used his isolated force to fight against two strong enemies, eventually achieving success in his defence effort, he should be rewarded as an encouragement. Also the grandfather of the Ava-Burma ruling family member Mang Qi-sui was extremely loyal, but he became involved in disputes and thereby met his death. It is appropriate that the latter be instructed to inherit the post so that he can continue to carry out the sacrifices to his ancestors. Duo Can of Long-chuan and Han Hu of Meng-ding should both be instructed to return to their former territories and the yi people should be called to return. As to the 13 areas including Man-mo and Meng-mu, the region is broad and the various yi there have been fighting for successive years. Initially, it was proposed placing them under the Teng-chong Office and sending troops on rotation to guard the region. However, there were concerns about the miasma. There was also a proposal to have them placed subordinate to Mu-bang. However, it is situated far in the distance and the hearts of the yi would not be in accord. There is nothing more suitable than leaving them under Meng-mi, which could manage and utilize them (管食). Then an amount of 1,000 liang of silver can be levied annually in lieu of labour. However, seven of the areas including Meng-nai should be returned to Han Lie. This way all will be fairly distributed and the wrangling will come to an end."

The memorial was sent to the Ministry of War which noted:

"The proposals Shao-xun and the others have submitted for soothing the region are all-embracing and should be instituted as proposed. Also, the Prefect Yan Shi-tai, the Assistant Prefects Yin Xiang and Zhou Kun, the Administration Vice Commissioner Wang Ru-zhou, the Assistant Surveillance Commissioner Guo Xu, the Vice Commissioner Tang Zhou and the Commanders Ma Ming-feng and Wang Xun all realized achievements and they should all be rewarded in order to encourage their loyalty and diligence." The Emperor said: "Because the native yi of Ava-Burma, Mu-bang, Long-chuan, Meng-mi, Meng-lian and Meng-ding in Yun-nan repeatedly wrangled and killed each other in feuds, the local people suffered harm. Thus officials had to be employed to soothe these areas. They engaged in expeditions and soothing for decades, but still there was no peace. Now the provincial, prefectural and guard officials who were sent by the grand defender and grand coordinator have achieved success in soothing the areas. Both grace and majesty were equally extended and Si Lun and Han Lie were awed by the majesty and have returned to loyalty. Both are permitted to make amends for their crimes.

Duo Jing's crime of rebellion is particularly serious. However, we cannot judge the distant yi too harshly and he is leniently being allowed to repent and begin anew. Han Lie is allowed to offer in tribute the local products he prepared previously. Imperial orders of warning are to be sent to Si Lun and Han Lie requiring that they guard their borders so as to ensure security. They are not to cross into others' territory and create trouble, as thereby they will bring extermination upon themselves. Si Zhen withstood a violent and powerful enemy and protected his territory. Have the grand defender and grand coordinator reward him as encouragement. Mang Qi-sui is to be shown great compassion and assistance. He and Si Zhen are both permitted to inherit their respective posts. Duo Can and Han Hu are to be provided with headwear and belts and both are to be instructed to return to their original territories to protect and manage them. As to the yi matters in the other areas of Man-mo, Meng-nai and so on, they are to be handled as proposed. Yan Shi-tai is to be promoted and employed in the Ministry of Personnel, while the assistant prefects, commanders and other officers are to be given individual rewards by the grand defender and grand coordinator. As to those who realized outstanding achievements, the facts are to be investigated and memorialized upon separately. Wang Ru-zhou and so on are to have their achievements recorded and are to be promoted and employed in the ministry."

Shi-zong: juan 93.17a-18b

Zhong-yang Yan-jiu yuan Ming Shi-lu, volume 75, page 2165/68

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Preferred form of citation for this entry:

Geoff Wade, translator, Southeast Asia in the Ming Shi-lu: an open access resource, Singapore: Asia Research Institute and the Singapore E-Press, National University of Singapore, http://epress.nus.edu.sg/msl/reign/jia-jing/year-7-month-10-day-29, accessed January 22, 2019


This describes one of the most important events in Burmese history, the invasion of Ava by the Mohnyin Shans from 1525-27 which completely changed the map of Burma until the reconquest of Ava by the Burmese in 1555 (Harvey, History of Burma, 106-7, 125). This significant change in Burmese history appears very insignificant in this memorial to the Chinese throne. Was the misrepresentation unintentional or deliberate? In the late 18th century there were deliberate misrepresentations of border incidents to the Burmese throne.

Si Lun = Sawlon (Mohnyin Shan ruler who invaded Ava)
Meng Bie = Pyi (Prome)

The ruler of Pyi joined with Sawlon in invading Ava.

"Si Zhen" is most likely Tho-han-bwa, Tho-han sawbwa, Sawlon's son, who ruled Ava after the second invasion in 1527.

Mang-Qi-Sui's grandfather must be Narapati king of Ava (1502-27) who died in the second invasion, but Mang-Qi-Sui?

It's interesting that Hsenwi (Theinni, Onpaung in Burmese sources) is not mentioned since this state fought as an ally of Ava during the invasions. Were Ava and Onpaung the "two strong enemies" that Mohnyin was fighting against?

(email: bayinnaung@yahoo.com)

The two sentences:

"Also the grandfather of the Ava-Burma ruling family member Mang Qi-sui was
extremely loyal, but he became involved in disputes and thereby met his death."

"Mang Qi-sui is to be shown great compassion and assistance."

Could contradict each other if the first was read:

"Also the grandfather of the Ava-Burma ruling family member, Mang Qi-sui, was
extremely loyal, but he became involved in disputes and thereby met his death."

Otherwise, it wouldn't appear to make any sense at all. I know it is probably an
unreasonable request, but is there any chance that you might add the original
classical Chinese text (gu-wen, wen-yan-wen) in the future? I'm not aware of any library in Southeast Asia or any place online with the classical Chinese Ming Shi-lu text. I would like to map this very ambiguous passage to actual events.


Jon Fernquest

[Peter Schoppert: Jon, thank you for this and other suggestions. We would certainly like to link the translation to the Chinese original text, and certain design decisions were made with that eventual goal in mind. But as you correctly point out, there is not such version of the classical Chinese freely available online. The Academia Sinica was a "members only" version online, and we are in touch with them should they change their policy and open it up to public access. If you do hear of any efforts to put the classical Chinese version online, please let us know.]


We've got to be careful with Harvey's interpretation that the raid of 1527 changed Burmese history so dramatically. Mainly, I think, it was because a Shan replaced a Burman on the Ava throne, which to Harvey might have been dramatic, having reified ethnicity so much, but to the chroniclers, Thohanbwa was simply added to the list of kings of Ava, although they did make the distinction (at least the printed version does, I'll have to recheck the mss itself), that this reign was a "Shan Dynasty." It amounted (in another more contemporary chronicle) to 3 kings, after which "Myanma" kings took the throne. I'm not sure how to make of the "fall of Ava," as historians like to see dramatic beginnings and ends but am working on this period and I am not sure it was as devastating an event as made out to be. It's far more complicated as Ava had Shan sawbwas as allies as well as enemies, and some Sawbwas came to help Ava against other Sawbwas. It was more political than ethnic.

As for Mang Qi-sui, if he's Mingyi Swa (or the long version, Mingyi Swasake), the chronology is way off (by about 200 years). That doesn't surprise me as some Chinese sources sometimes continued to use old terms. One, as I recall, asked an Ava king why the tribute stopped coming since Pagan had sent tribute (this was a couple of centuries later!)

Those of us interested in the Ava period and China (Jon, Geoff, Laichen, me) should get together in a workshop of some sort. NUS will fund?