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The question of ‘China’ in Burmese chronicles


Historical studies of Burma–China relations have emphasised warfare, seen from the perspective of Chinese sources. One commonly studied event is the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion of Bagan. Burmese sources describe the flight of King Narathihapate (1257–87) from the Mongols, thus earning the Burmese epithet ‘Taruppye’. ‘Tarup’ now refers to the Chinese, but the identities of the people and region to which the term applies have not been constant. This paper discusses the question of the identity of ‘Tarup’ in the Burmese chronicles.

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1 Exonym refers to a name given to an ethnic group by outsiders, so the members of that ethnic group may or may not accept the moniker as an accurate description of themselves.

2 See Theodore G.Th. Pigeaud, Java in the 14th century: A study in cultural history – The Nagara-Kertagama by Rakawi Prapanca of Majapahit, 1365 A.D. 3: Translations. Koninklijk Instituut Voor Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde Translation Series, 4, 3 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1960), p. 51.

3 See Coedès George, The Indianized states of Southeast Asia (Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii, 1968); and Wheatley Paul, Nagara and commandery: Origins of the Southeast Asian urban traditions (Chicago: University of Chicago, Department of Geography, 1983).

4 Taylor Keith W., The birth of Vietnam (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of Los Angeles, 1983), pp. 350–1.

5 For detailed discussions, see Aung-Thwin Michael, Myth and history in the historiography of early Burma: Paradigms, primary sources, and prejudices (Ohio and Singapore: Ohio University Center for International Studies and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998), pp. 3362; J. Paul Bennett, ‘The “fall of Pagan”: Continuity and change in 14th century Burma’, in Bennett , Conference under the tamarind tree: Three essays in Burmese history (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1971), pp. 353.

6 In the Chinese account of the pilgrim Puṅyodaya, in 656 the emperor asked the Indian pilgrim who was then in China to travel to Kunlun, which was Southeast Asia. The account is contained in the T. 486 Maṇḍāsta sūtra; see Li-kouang Lin, ‘Puṇyodaya (Na-t'i), un propagateur du tantrisme en Chine et au Cambodge à l’époque de Hiuan-tsang’, Journal Asiatique, 227 (1935): 83100; Woodward Hiram, ‘A review article: Esoteric Buddhism in Southeast Asia in the light of recent scholarship’, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (henceforth JSEAS), 35, 2 (2004): 336. Paul Wheatley also pointed out that just like ‘Suvarṇadvīpa’, ‘Kunlun’ was used by the Chinese as a regional toponym to refer to ‘a succession of peoples ranging from the Malays around the coasts of the Peninsula to Chams along the shores of Indo-China’; Wheatley Paul, The golden Khersonese: Studies in the historical geography of the Malay peninsula before A.D. 1500 (Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press, 1961), pp. 283 and 285. For ‘Po-sse’ and ‘k'un-lun-po’, refer to Miller J. Innes, The spice trade of the Roman empire: 29 B.C. to A.D. 641 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 52; and Wolters O.W., Early Indonesian commerce: A study of the origins of Srivijaya (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967), ch. 6–10.

7 Jones W.R., ‘The image of the barbarian in medieval Europe’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 13, 4 (1971): 398400. The Tartar threat to Europe during the later medieval period was exemplified in the popular legend which described Alexander the Great's deliberate exclusion of the peoples of Gog and Magog from his civilised world. The Gog and Magog were identified with the steppe nomads who included the Scythians, Huns, Avars, Tartars and Turks. The Franciscan monk John of Plano de Carpine used the term ‘Tartar’ to describe Mongol society in his descriptions of his travels to China which was then under Mongol rule. The text he purportedly wrote was Yystoria Mongalorum or Mongol Mission which was the source for two later documents: Hystoria Tartarorum (mid-13th century) or Tartar relation and the Vinland map (mid-15th century). Refer to Szczesniak B.B., ‘Notes and remarks on the newly discovered Tartar relation and the Vinland map’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 86, 4 (1966): 373–6. Tartary was used to signify the ‘territories occupied mostly by the Mongols or Turkic nomads between the lower Volga and Western borders of China’ (p. 373). Fourteenth-century Javanese poet Mpu Prapanca also used ‘Tartar’ to refer to the Mongol invaders in his work Desawarnana.

8 Ethnic groups and boundaries: The social organization of culture difference, ed. Fredrik Barth (Oslo: Universitets-forlaget, 1969); Eriksen Thomas H., Ethnicity and nationalism: Anthropological perspectives (Boulder, CO: Pluto Press, 1993).

9 Leach Edmund R., Political systems of highland Burma: A study of Kachin social structure (London: Athlone Press, 1970).

10 The negotiability of boundary between Burmese and Shan on one hand and the non-negotiability of Burmese and Tarup on the other were likely determined by the nature of relationships between these groups. The Shan, unlike the Tarup, fell within the Burmese kingdoms' spheres of authority in the sense that the Shans were traditionally seen as tributaries of the Burmese states. ‘Tarup pyi’, on the other hand, was an independent political entity comparable in size or in fact larger than the Burmese kingdoms.

11 inline-graphicThilawuntha Shin Maha, Rājavaṅˋkyò (Yangon: Hanthawati, 1965). I have utilised two different transliterations systems for the Burmese-language works. In the main text the titles are transliterated phonetically as they are pronounced in Burmese, whereas in the footnotes the Library of Congress Romanization system is used for the titles so as to allow readers to locate these sources more efficiently.

12 inline-graphicMahasitthu Twinthin Taikwun, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ (Ranˋkuinˋ: Maṅgalā puṃnhipˋtuikˋ, 1968). The first volume of Twinthin's chronicle published in 1968 bears the title Myanma Yazawinthit, but vols. 2 and 3 which were published later in 1998 and 1997 respectively both bear the title Mahayazawinthit. Palm-leaf manuscript copies of the same chronicle normally bear the title Mahayazawinthit or Yazawinthit.

13 Although there is some controversy over the date of the chronicle, most scholars such as U Tin Ohn, U Thaw Kaung and Victor Lieberman have concurred on ‘1798’ as the date of the completion of Twinthin's chronicle; see Ohn Tin, ‘Modern historical writing in Burmese, 1724–1942’, in Historians of South East Asia, ed. Hall D.G.E (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 88; Thaw Kaung, ‘Two compilers of Myanmar history and their chronicles’, paper presented at the Universities Historical Research Centre Golden Jubilee Conference, Yangon, Jan. 2005, p. 9; and Victor Lieberman, Strange parallels: Southeast Asia in global context, c. 800–1830: Volume 1: Integration on the mainland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 198.

14 Luce G.H. and Tin Pe Maung, The Glass Palace Chronicle of the kings of Burma (Rangoon: Rangoon University Press, 1960), p. xvii; see also Thaw Kaung, ‘Two compilers of Myanmar history and their chronicles’, and Yi Dr Yi, ‘A bibliographical essay on the Burmese sources for the history of the Konbaung period, 1752–1885’, Bulletin of the Burma Historical Commission, 3 (1963): 143–70.

15 inline-graphicMhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋto ˋkrī” (Hmannan Maha Yazawindawgyi) (Ranˋkuinˋ: Myui” Khyacˋ Sitˋdhātˋ Thakˋsanˋre”, 1992), 3 vols.

16 Legge J.D., ‘The writing of Southeast Asian history’, in The Cambridge history of Southeast Asia, vol. 1, ed. Tarling Nicholas (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 2.

17 Cady John F., A history of modern Burma (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1958), p. vi.

18 See Reynaldo Ileto, ‘On the historiography of Southeast Asia and the Philippines: The “Golden Age” of Southeast Asian Studies — experiences and reflections’, paper presented at Workshop for the Academic Frontier Project: ‘Social change in Asia and the Pacific’, Meiji Gakuin University, 1–2 Mar. 2003, p. 12.

19 Aung Htin, Burmese history before 1287: A defense of the chronicles (Oxford: Asoka Society, 1970); Aung Htin, A history of Burma (New York: Columbia University Press, 1967); Tet Htoot, ‘The nature of Burmese chronicles’, in Hall ed., Historians of South East Asia, pp. 50–62.

20 Lieberman Victor, ‘How reliable is U Kala's chronicle? Some new comparisons’, JSEAS, 17, 2 (1986): 253.

21 See Aung-Thwin Michael, Mranma Pran: When context encounters notion’, JSEAS, 39, 2 (2008): 193217.

22 Burmese is used here to refer to the rulers of various kingdoms which existed at different periods in what is known today as Myanmar/Burma.

23 In the words of Marius the Epicure, polis can also refer to a commonwealth. ‘Ho kosmos hùsanei polis estin — the world is as it were a commonwealth, a city: and there are observances, customs, usages, actually current in it, things our friends and companions will expect of us, as the condition of our living there with them at all, as really their peers or fellow-citizens.’ Walter Pater, Marius the epicure, vol. 2, Etext of the Project Gutenberg. (last accessed on 2 Mar. 2009), p. 12.

24 Aung-Thwin, Myth and history, p. 162.

25 Luce G.H., ‘Note on the peoples of Burma in the 12th–13th century A.D.’, Journal of the Burma Research Society [henceforth JBRS], 42, 1 (June 1959): 69.

26 Luce G.H., Old Burma-early Pagan (Locust Valley, NY: J. J. Augustin Publisher, 1969), p. 28; and Luce G.H., ‘The early Syam in Burma's history: A supplement’, Journal of the Siam Society [henceforth JSS], 47, 1 (June 1959): 136, 184.

27 For discussion of Tujue and China's relations with the Turks, see Yihong Pan, Son of Heaven and Heavenly Qaghan: Sui-Tang China and its neighbors (Bellingham, WA: Center for East Asian Studies, Western Washington University, 1997), and Xiong Victor Cunrui's review of Pan's book in China Review International, 6, 2 (1999): 511–14.

28 Kara György, ‘Aramaic scripts for Altaic languages’, in The world's writing systems, ed. Daniels Peter and Bright William (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 536–58.

29 Luce, ‘Note on the peoples of Burma’, p. 69.

30 Ibid., pp. 69–70.

31 Macartney C.A., ‘On the Greek sources for the history of the Turks in the sixth century’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 11, 2 (1944): 268, quoting Specht Édouard, ‘Études sur l'Asie centrale d'après les historiens chinois’, Journal Asiatique, Série 8, 2 (1883): 327–8.

32 According to Macartney's discussion of Németh's description of Mongol tribal names, the Avars, Huns (including the Kushan) and Toue-Kioue belong to the same linguistic branch of the Turkish family. The Kushan can thus be considered Turkic-speaking people or in many ways, Turks.

33 Macartney, ‘On the Greek sources for the history of the Turks in the sixth century’, p. 272.

34 Anthropologically ethnonyms have been used to refer exclusively to names which ethnic groups have given themselves as opposed to exonyms which refer to names given by outsiders.

35 Dunnell Ruth W., The great state of White and High: Buddhism and state formation in eleventh-century Xia (Honolulu: University of Hawaìi Press, 1996), p. xiii.

36 Sen Tansen, Buddhism, diplomacy, and trade: The realignment of Sino-Indian relations, 600–1400 (Honolulu: Association for Asian Studies and University of Hawaiˋi Press, 2003), pp. 171–4.

37 Ibid., p. 191.

38 Ibid., p. 153.

39 For a detailed discussion on these issues, see Sein Chen Yi, ‘The Chinese inscription at Pagan’, Bulletin of the Burma Historical Commission, 1, 2 (1960); Sein Chen Yi, ‘Rhan Disapamkha Nrim Khyam Re Mac Rhan Aphwai’ [Account of Shin Disapramok's peace mission], Nuiṅṅaṁ Samuiṅ Sutesana [Researches in Burmese History], 1 (1977): 4157; Luce G.H.‘The early Syam in Burma's history’, JSS, 46, 2 (1958); Luce, ‘The early Syam in Burma's history: A supplement’, pp. 59–101; Tun Than, ‘History of Buddhism in Burma: A.D. 1000–1300’, JBRS, 61, 1-2 (1978): 1266; and Aung-Thwin, Myth and history, chs. 2 and 3.

40 inline-graphicinline-graphicinline-graphic U Ngyein Maung (U Nrimˋ” Moṅˋ), Rhe”hoṅˋ” Mranˋmā Kyokˋsāmyā”. Tatiyatvai. Sakkarājˋ622 mha 699 (Ranˋkuinˋmrui': Rhe”hoṅˋ Sutesana Usī”ṭhāna, 1983), p. 141. An account of these events is discussed in Aung-Thwin, Myth and history, pp. 42–3; Aung-Thwin is the first scholar to mention and demonstrate that Hlaykya was the place to which Narathihapate fled.

41 The account can be found in Lian Song, Yuanshi [History of the Yuan Dynasty] Shanghai: Zhonghua Book Image and Print, 1935), pp. 253–4. See also Zhongguo gujizhong youguan Miandian ziliao huibian [Compilation of research materials on Myanmar in ancient Chinese sources], ed. Yu Dingbang and Huang Zhongyan (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company, 2002), p. 40.

42 Song Lian, Yuan shi, vol. 15, p. 311; Yu and Huang ed., Zhongguo gujizhong, p. 43.

43 inline-graphicinline-graphic U. Hla Tin, Jãtãtoˋpum. Rãjawaṅˋ (Zatadawpon Yazawin) (Ranˋkunˋ: Praññˋtoṅˋcu Yañˋkye“mhu vanˋkrī” ṭãna, Rhe“hoṅˋ” Sutesana Ññvhanˋkrã“ re”vanˋruṃ, Rhe“hoṅ” cãpe nhaṅ'ˋ yañˋkye” mhu ṭãna, 1960), p. 1.

44 Aung-Thwin Michael, The mists of Rāmañña: The legend that was lower Burma (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005), p. 121.

45 Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 1, p. 156; Pe and Luce, Glass Palace Chronicle, p. 3.

46 Walker Benjamin, Hindu world: An encyclopedic survey of Hinduism, vol. 1 (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983), pp. 581–2. Vincent Smith wrote that ‘a tribe of Turkī nomads, known to Chinese authors as the Hiung-nū [Xiongnu], succeeded in inflicting upon a neighbouring and rival horde of the same stock a decisive defeat before the middle of the second century B.C.’; Smith Vincent A., The early history of India, 3rd edn (New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors, 1999), p. 248 (emphasis added).

47 According to Department of the Myanmar Language Commission, Myanmar-English dictionary (Yangon: Department of the Myanmar Language Commission, Ministry of Education, 1993), p. 125.

48 inline-graphicinline-graphicinline-graphicKala U, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 1 (Yangon: Burma Research Society, 1960), 142; Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, p. 55; Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 1, p. 203; see also Pe and Luce, Glass Palace Chronicle, p. 41.

49 inline-graphicPugaṃ Rājavaṅˋ, palm-leaf manuscript Accession no. 585 (Yangon: Universities Historical Research Centre, 1895), leaves inline-graphic to inline-graphic leaves inline-graphic to inline-graphic 1895 refers not to the original year of composition, but rather to the date on which this particular manuscript was copied.

50 Pe and Luce, Glass Palace Chronicle, p. xv.

51 inline-graphicinline-graphic U Bhe, Rāzavaṁsarālinī maññˋso Pugaṁ Rāzavaṅˋsacˋ, p. 106. This text contains no publication date.

52 Ibid., p. 115.

53 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 1, pp. 184–5. This passage can be found in the fourth volume of the chronicle, published in the second book of the 1960 edition which contains three books altogether.

54 Pugaṃ Rājavaṅˋ, leaves inline-graphic to inline-graphic.

55 Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, pp. 86–7.

56 Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 1, p. 250.

57 Sawbhwa is the Burmese transliteration of the Shan title, saopha (inline-graphic), which is often defined as ‘king’ or ‘prince’ in Shan language, and refers to the Shan chieftains of olden days. Saw in Shan language refers to ‘lord or master’ (Cushing's Shan-English dictionary: A phonetic version, ed. Thomas J. Hudak (Tempe: Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Monograph Series Press, 2000), p. 205.

58 Luce, Old Burma-early Pagan, p. 28.

59 Ibid.

60 inline-graphicAung Kyaw Zaw, Pugaṃ Mratˋsvayˋtò Le”chū Samuiṅˋ (Ranˋkuinˋmrui': Yuṃ Kraññˋ Khyakˋ Sāpe, 2004), pp. 1721.

61 Ibid., pp. 19–20.

62 Si-Yu-Ki: Buddhist records of the western world, by Hiuen Tsiang, trans. Samuel Beal, 2 vols. (London. Reprint: Delhi. Oriental Books Reprint Corporation, 1969).

63 Hussain J., An illustrated history of Pakistan (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1983).

64 U Bhe, Rāzavaṁsarālinī maññˋso Pugaṁ Rāzavaṅˋsacˋ, p. 116.

65 Lieberman, Strange parallels: Southeast Asia in global context, c. 800–1830, p. 90; Luce, ‘The early Syam in Burma's history: A supplement’; Luce, Old Burma-early Pagan; Wyatt David. K., Thailand: A short history (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), pp. 1314.

66 Wyatt, Thailand: A short history, pp. 13–14.

67 Ibid., p. 42.

68 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 1, p. 186.

69 It is important to make a distinction between government with complete authority and government with some limitations such as in the case of Nanzhao, which being a vassal of China at this time, was not able to conduct foreign relations freely. There is a possibility that by using the title ‘Utibhwa’ rather than ‘Mingyi’ (as in the case of the Dissapramok inscription) and by stating that he was ‘governing’ Tarup, the Burmese may have been trying to make a distinction between a sovereign and a vassal ruler.

70 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 1, pp. 188–9.

71 Sen, Buddhism, diplomacy, and trade, p. 191.

72 Ruppert Brian, Jewel in the ashes: Buddha relics and power in early medieval Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2000), p. 36.

73 Angela Howard, ‘The Dhāraṇī pillar of Kunming, Yunnan. A legacy of esoteric Buddhism and burial rites of the Bai people in the kingdom of Dali (937–1253)’, Artibus Asiae, 57, 1/2 (1997): 43.

74 Ibid., pp. 43–4.

75 Zhou Qufei, Ling wai dai da, 10 vols. (Taipei: Xinwenfeng Publishing Co., 1984), p. 142.

76 Backus Charles, The Nan-chao kingdom and T'ang China's southwestern frontier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), pp. 4652.

77 Ibid., p. 51.

78 Ibid., p. 164.

79 Zhao Rugua, ‘Zhufanzhi’, Zhongguo shixue xongshu xubian [Chinese historical works], vol. 35 (Taipei: Student Book Bureau, 1979), p. 176.

80 Zhou, Ling wai dai da, p. 142; Zhao, ‘Zhufanzhi’, p. 176; Tuo Tuo, Song shi [History of the Song] (Taipei: Chinese Book Bureau, 1977), pp. 376 and 14087.

81 Tuo, Song shi, p. 14087.

82 Songji Xu, Song huiyao jigao (Beijing: Chinese Book Bureau, 1957), p. 7682.

83 Wang Yinglin, Yuhai (Zhejiang Province: Zhejiang Publisher, 1883), p. 33.

84 Zhang Zhifu, Ke shu (Taipei: Xinwenfeng Publishing Company, 1984), p. 681.

85 Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, p. 155.

86 Rossabi Morris, ‘The Muslims in the early Yüan dynasty’, in China under Mongol rule, ed. Langlois John D. Jr. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981), p. 274.

87 Ibid., p. 277; Geoff Wade, ‘An annotated translation of the Yuan shi account of Mian (Burma)’, conference paper presented at the Burma Studies Conference 2006, ‘Communities of Interpretation’, 13–15 July 2006, Singapore, p. 4.

88 Rossabi asserts that most of the prominent Muslims of the early Yuan period were from Central Asia or the Middle East (Rossabi, ‘Muslims in the early Yüan dynasty’, p. 260). There were also Chinese Muslims from the northern Chinese region and of course other Muslim groups who were already in Yunnan. But following Kubilai Khan's successful conquest of the Yunnan region, the Mongol court encouraged further migration of Muslim groups into the Yunnan area, some of which were in fact forced migrations.

89 Song Lian, Yuan shi, vol. 210, pp. 1423–4. For English translation of the folio, see appendix of Wade, ‘Annotated translation of the Yuan shi account of Mian (Burma)’.

90 The term in Chinese is ‘Dali Shanchan Denglu Xuanwei Sidu Yuanshua'i 大理鄯闡等路宣慰司都元帥府。 Wade, ‘Annotated translation’, states that Shanchan is the name of polity which was derived from the earlier Dali kingdom.

91 See appendix of Wade, ‘An annotated translation of the Yuan shi account of Mian (Burma)’.

92 See Wade Geoff, ‘Ming China and Southeast Asia in the 15th century: A reappraisal’, ARI Working Paper 28 (Singapore: ARI, 2004).

93 The date provided in the Hmannan differs from U Kala's chronicle by a year: Sakkaraj 774 (1412 CE). The same date appears in Twinthin's Mahayazawinthit, corroborating the date given in the Hmannan.

94 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 2, p. 10; Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 2, pp. 8–9; a variant description of the same event can be found in Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, pp. 288–9.

95 Wade, ‘Ming China and Southeast Asia in the 15th century: A reappraisal’, p. 14.

96 Ibid., pp. 23–4.

97 There is a discrepancy between the dates in U Kala's chronicle and the Hmannan: the Hmannan gives Sakkaraj 775 (1413 CE) as the date of the Shans’ attack on Mye Tu. Twinthin's account again bears the same date as the Hmannan and very likely was the source for the Hmannan compilers.

98 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 2, pp. 15–18; Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 2, pp. 21–8, a variant version is found in Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, pp. 301–8.

99 Interestingly the date first cited in Twinthin's chronicle is the same one given in U Kala's Mahayazawingyi. The date given in the Hmannan is Sakkaraj 807 (1445 CE).

100 U Kala, Mahayazawingyi, vol. 2, pp. 80–s2; Mhanˋnanˋ” Mahārājavaṅˋtoˋkrī”, vol. 2, pp. 86–8; see a variant account in Twinthin, Tvaṅˋ” Saṅˋ” e* Mranˋmā Rājavaṅˋsacˋ, pp. 360–2.

101 Wade, ‘Ming China and Southeast Asia in the 15th century: A reappraisal’, p. 16.

102 Backus, Nan-chao kingdom and T'ang China's southwestern frontier, pp. 51–2.

103 Song Lian, Yuan shi, vol. 210, p. 1423; see also appendix of Wade, ‘An annotated translation of the Yuan shi account of Mian (Burma)’.

104 Par excellence not in terms of territorial expanse, but rather with relation to the importance of the Buddha's religion epitomised in the monuments and by association with the genealogy of kingship. Presumably later Burmese kingdoms such as the second Hanthawati of Bayinnaung and Konbaung Burma amassed greater areas for their empires.

105 Other than in areas such as religion and politics, research in Burma, particularly on subjects pertaining to the early periods of Burmese history, remains scant compared to most other Southeast Asian countries, except perhaps Laos.

Goh Geok Yian is Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University. Correspondence in connection with this paper should be addressed to: . The author would like to thank Michael Aung-Thwin, Leonard Andaya, Kenneth R. Hall and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the former Librarian of the University of Yangon Library, Saya U Thaw Kaung, the former deputy director of Universities Historical Research Centre (UHRC), Daw Khin Hla Han and all the research assistants and librarians of UHRC and Universities Central Library (UCL) in Yangon.

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