The battle of Ngasaunggyan

I first read about the battle of Ngasaunggyan in the Glass Palace Chronicle / Hman Nann Yarzawin

there were some unbelievable feats of the Bagan generals describedthere, no wonder modern day historians consider it to be an unreliable record but there are truths in it

I also came across an article in English about the Battle from Chinese sources

the Ngasaunggyan battle is one of the memorable battles in the several wars between China (this time, Yuan Mongol China) and Myanmar

in all the wars between China and Myanmar, Myanmar got the upperhand finally and China has to make peace

but in some early battles, the Chinese won and the battle of Ngasaunggyan is one of them

yet this Chinese account shows the valour and determination of Bagan generals and troops

they prevented the Chinese army from crossing the Ayeyaarwaddy at Bhamo for 3 months

and again at Shwe Li river for another 3 months

here is the English article about the Battle of Ngasaunggyan from Chinese sources:

Pai-I[Shan]  inducedthe Yunnan government in 1271 to send an envoy to Pagan court demanding submission.

Another envoy was sent in 1273 with an Imperial letterthreatening invasion. They never returned to Yunnan.

1277 Burmese attacked A-hobut after 2 days of fighting were repulsed. Nov-Dec 1277, Yunnan sent Nasir-ed-Din with 3840 men toinvade Mien. Due to hot weather army withdrawn.

Sep-1283, Chinese army with more troops marched fromYunnan-Fu. They fought the battle of Ngasaunggyan in Dec. Captured Chiang t’oucity on 9th Dec killing over 10,000 men in the fighting and took 10,000prisoners.

Anantapicci and Yantapicci tried to stop the enemies whotried to cross the Irrawaddy river from Bhamo in 1283. For 3 months they killed everyone including attendents employed in feeding elephants and horses who came up their side of the river. Wave afterwave of U Ti Bwa’s men came and were killed. From sheer exhaustion, the Burmese could do nothing at last and the enemy finally succeeded in crossing over the river and Ngasaunggyan fell Dec-1283. The Burmese were able to prevent the Chinese from crossing the ShweLi river for 3 months. Mongols took Ngasaunggyan 3-Dec-1283. Kaungsin, administrative centre of northern Burma, fell 9-Dec.

Tagaung was taken Jan-1284. Northern Burma became a Chinese province of Cheng-mien.

The Burmans did not yeild easily. Quduq Tamar’s army for invasion of Mien encountered the rebels and was routed 1284. Reinforcements were sent and it was reported that peoples minds were wavering.

Yunnan reported in 1285 that they have not yet had time to invade Mien. King Narapati sent a peace mission.

King Narapati evacuated Bagan and fled to Pathein.Anantapicci and Yantapicci made another stand at Male by putting up 2fortifications on the east of the foot of a range. Anantapicci was killed andYantapicci made an orderly retreat to Bagan where he found that the king had fled.He followed to Pathein. The invaders came after him as far as Tayoke Hmyaw andfinally gave up the chase because of the scarcity of food.

HERE are comments including mine:

Nyi Win Tayoke Hmyaw is near Shwetaung town on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy

Nyi Win In Bagan, near the Shwesigon pagoda, is a temple with wall paintings
some of it are of poor quality, yet showing Mongol troops
and one shows a Mongol troop in a drunken dance beneath a toddy palm tree (from drinking Htan Yae ထန္းေရ)

Maung Nyo I have read the Ngasaungchan battle in Marco Polo’s Travel. Professor U Myo Min edited it and published it as a small booklet.I think Mongols would have won it anyway was their archers are good with metal tipped arrows that could pierce the armor and elephant skin. Besides Narthihapati was disliked by the Burmese and he was a coward.Queen Saw tried to help him but ultimately she asked him to swallow the poison given by his son. What a tragedy!

Khin Khin Kyawt Narapiti sithu over indulge in food. He feast himself over 13 kinds of dishes everyday.

Alvin Sumedha Lee ‎@Ko Nyi Win… yes, I visited that temple which showed the Mongol troops on wall paintings. Our tour guide explained some of these paintings to us. But he was not sure why there was a painting of a wolf on a flag. My wife and me shared what we know… the Mongols, who believed that they are descendants of a sacred Blue Wolf, used this animal as their army emblem.

Nyi Win

Cheers Alvin
you have witnessed what few Myanmars know
of course the tour guides show that temple to tourists
but Burmese go on pilgrimage without the benefit of tour guides
the guides on the Road to Mandalay during my time did not show the wol…f on a flag painting
and I did not have time to go over all the paintings, either during the tours or by my own twice later

Maung Nyo

Dear KKK, Thank you. Small correction: Tayokepayaymin Narathihapateh ae 300 dishes per meal and he cried when he was served only 150 dishes during the flight from the Mongol Army.
Yes, all state affairs should be decided by the majority but… a charismatic leader elected by the majority is needed to preside.

Khin Khin Kyawt Thanks, I got confused with my father. My mother used to say about him like Tayoke pyay min . She had to prepare many dishes for him everyday. Yes, Sayagyi, people like charismatic leaders as much as we women want hollywood style husbands and men want guitar shaped women. 😉

Thane Oke Kyaw-Myint ‎@ Ko Nyi Win: Dr. Htin Aung wrote “In Defense of the Chronicles” a book written in the form of a barrister’s summation of the case for defense of the integrity and reliability of the Glass Palace Chronicles. You might find a copy on Amazon or you might get a facsimile copy from U Thaw Kaung’s son. It was a very well written thesis, defending that although the language in Burmese had to be such as not to made the king upset, the facts as given in the Chronicles as being correct.

Nyi Win

Thanks Sayar, (TOK-M), for the information
I understand that all historians have to write what the King or Leader wants in autocracies
Even the British historians such as Luce and Hall also write in accordance with the colonial aspect of thei…r times

Alvin wrote: “Quote: “I understand that all historians have to write what the King or Leader wants in autocracies” …
Ko Nyi Win yay, it goes to show how important amateur historians like you can help to record ‘unofficial’ history for researchers to countercheck the validity of official records.
In Singapore, we have an “Oral History Department” in our National Archives Board (I used to work there as a Technical Officer)… highlighting the important role of common folks’ versions of the past. ”

Maung Nyo commented on your status.
Maung wrote: “I do not know what historians define themselves. Theodore White, author of 1000 Days, was dubbed no historian. Dr ma Tin Win Ph.D. (Moscow) was also defined no historian also she taught history at the Institute of Education in Yangon. Dr Htin Aung was als not termed historian although he had a degre in history.Physicist u San Tha Aung studied and wrote about the coins and history of Arakan. Historians at his paper reading session criticised him for being bold and cautioned that history is different from science or physics, but U San Tha Aung was highly regarded by students and historians of Arakan. Many Burmese historians hamstrung by their training by Professor G.H.Luce. Professor Michael Aung-Thwin has been critical of Luce and his colleagues. We are not historians in their definition, but we are history makers- the people who make history.We can air our opinion freely.”

The battle of Ngasaunggyan continued:

Here is Marco Polo’s account of the Battle of Ngasaunggyan mentioned by Prof. Nyo, although not the one edited by Prof. U Myo Min.

Marko Polo wrote a book called “IL MILLIONE” (The Million) which was later translated to English as “Travels of Marko Polo”

Here is an excerpt from “Marko Polo and Korcula” by Dr. Zivan Filippi:

Marko Polo arrived in Burma as the official envoy of Kublai Khan in 1278, one year after the big battle between the kings of Burma and Bengal and the Mongol army. He describes that great event which took place in the plain of Vochan. The Mongols were approaching that valley with 12,000 well-equipped horsemen to face a much bigger Burmese army of 60,000 horsemen and infantry-men and 2,000 elephants. When the Mongol soldiers saw the elephants they were so scared that they turned back and started to gallop to the rear. Then the Mongol captain had the salutary idea of making the horsemen dismount from the horses and tie them to trees in the nearby wood. His soldiers then started to shoot at the elephants hitting their vulnerable parts with numerous arrows, which was the Mongol’s favourite weapon. The elephants started to run away towards the wood with enormous noise, while the wooden “castles” on their backs, holding twelve to sixteen well-armed warriors, were falling down while striking the branches of the trees. When the Mongols saw that the elephants ran away, they mounted their horses again and began to chase the enemy. Then a fierce battle occurred. “Then might you see swashing blows dealt and taken from sword and mace; then might you see knights and horses and men-at-arms go down; then might you see arms and hands and legs and heads hewn off: and beside the dead that fell, many a wounded man, that never rose again, for the sore press there was. The din and uproar were so great from this side and that, that God might have thundered and no man would have heard it!” After the battle the Mongol commander took some elephants to Kublai Khan and from that time he always included them in his armies...

My interpretation:

The 1283 Chinese Myanmar War did not come as a surprise to the Burmese.

The root of the War is the 1271 demand of submission by the Yunnan governer and the disappearance of the envoy sent in 1273. (I will write about the matter later)

As it was noted by the Chinese Chroniclers that the Burmese attacked in 1277, without any mention of proior Chinese attack, I wonder whether Narapati having slained the envoy/s as is mentioned in Burmese chronicles, was overly confident, not knowing the might of the Yuan Mongol army.

Yunnan governer also underestimated the Burmese and sent only 3840 men to attack Myanmar / Mien in Nov-Dec 1277.

But the Bagan generals prepared well for the expected Chinese Yuan Mongol attack that finally came in 1283.

The Mongols came with 12,000 well-equipped horsemen this time. Although Burmese war elephants are the “heavy armour” of the time, they could not face the Mongol’s arrows.

It does not take much imagination to visualise the battle field from Marco Polo’s description “Then might you see swashing blows dealt and taken from sword and mace; then might you see knights and horses and men-at-arms go down; then might you see arms and hands and legs and heads hewn off: and beside the dead that fell, many a wounded man, that never rose again, for the sore press there was. The din and uproar were so great from this side and that, that God might have thundered and no man would have heard it!”

Burmese attacked again in 1284 and repelled the Mongols and the fierceness of Burmese attack made impression on the Chinese: it was reported that peoples minds were wavering.

Yunnan still could not raise an army to invade Mien in 1285.

The mighty Yuan Mongol army which annihilated all opposition met its equal in Myanmar army.

Of all countries that Mongol won, it is only Myanmar that they withdrew from, and the hot weather, scarcity of food and illness from malaria in the upper Myanmar are also factors in its withdrawing from Myanmar later.


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3 Responses to “The battle of Ngasaunggyan”

  1. Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer Says:

    1. Please go to Google and put in Sailer Buddha Footprint

    2. The duck is interesting. He appears on Burmese Theravada Buddha footprint for over 900 years.

    Marco Polo, fact or fiction.

    If I hear from you, there is much to exchange.

    Dr. Waldemar C. Sailer
    Cross-cultural educator
    Pada Enthusiast

  2. Bodhi Histimine Says:

    Waldemar Sailer is a troublemaker. Beware!

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