Kyawswa of Pagan

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For other uses, see Kyawswa (disambiguation).
King of Pagan
Reign 30 May 1289 – 17 December 1297
Predecessor Narathihapate
Successor Saw Hnit
Consort Saw Thitmahti[1]
Saw Soe[2]
Mi Saw U
Issue Theingapati[3]
Kumara Kassapa
Saw Hnit[2] Min Shin Saw
Saw Min Ya
Saw Hnaung
Mway Medaw
Uzana I of Pinya
House Pagan
Father Narathihapate
Mother Shin Hpa[4][5]
Born 2 August 1260
Died 10 May 1299(1299-05-10) (aged 38)
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Kyawswa (Burmese: ကျော်စွာ, pronounced: [tɕɔ̀zwà]; 2 August 1260 – 10 May 1299) was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1289 to 1297. Son of the last sovereign king of Pagan Narathihapate, Kyawswa was one of many "kings" that emerged after the collapse of the Pagan Empire in 1287. Though still styled as King of Pagan, Kyawswa's effective rule amounted to just the area around Pagan city. Felt threatened by the Three Shan Brothers, who were nominally his viceroys, Kyawswa decided to become a Mongol vassal, and received such recognition from the Mongols in March 1297. He was ousted by the brothers in December 1297, and killed in May 1299.

Early life[edit]

Kyawswa was a son of King Narathihapate and Queen Shin Hpa.[4] He was born on 2 August 1260. The table below lists the dates given by the four main chronicles.[6]

Chronicles Birth–Death Age Reign Length of reign
Zatadawbon Yazawin 1261–1300 39 1287–1300 13
Maha Yazawin 1254–1301 47 1286–1300 14
Yazawin Thit and Hmannan Yazawin 1259–1298 39 1286–1298 12


Kyawswa was the governor of Dala (part of today's Yangon) in 1287 when his father King Narathihapate fled to Lower Burma from an impending Mongol invasion. But the king was assassinated by his second son Thihathu, Governor of Prome. Thihathu also killed his eldest brother before he himself was accidentally killed.[7][8]

Ruler of Pagan (1289–1297)[edit]

After the death of Narathihapate in December 1287, the Pagan Empire collapsed, and a period of interregnum ensued. Kyawswa, who hitherto had been governor of Dala, a key port now part of modern Yangon, won the approval of the powerful dowager queen Hpwa Saw. He was annonited king on 30 May 1289.[9] However, the new "king" had little power beyond a few miles outside Pagan. Indeed, the Pagan Empire had ceased to exist and every region of the former kingdom had its own king or pretenders. The Mongols could not hold the searing Irrawaddy valley but stayed up north in Tagaung. In central Burma, Pagan's natural power base, the real power rested with the Shan Brothers who held the main granary of Kyaukse district from their fortified base of Myinsaing. Kyawswa had no choice but to recognize the brothers as lords of Kyaukse district. On 19 February 1293 (12th waxing of Tabaung 654 ME), the nominal king appointed the eldest brother Athinhkaya as viceroy of Myinsaing, the second brother Yazathingyan as viceroy of Mekkara, and the youngest brother Thihathu as viceroy of Pinle. Although the territories were very small, it was the title viceroy that attracted the brothers.[10][11]

Mongol vassal (1297)[edit]

With the Three Shan Brothers increasingly acting as sovereign kings, Kyawswa sent his son to the Mongols in Tagaung and asked for recognition as their vassal king in January 1297. He received the official recognition and a Chinese title on 20 March 1297.[9] In December, the brothers invited the now puppet king to Myinsaing, their stronghold, to take part in the dedication ceremony of a monastery built by them. The king, with the backing of the Mongols, felt secure and went to Myinsaing. But as soon as the ceremony was over, he was arrested, dethroned, and forced to become a monk in the very monastery he had just dedicated.[12]


After deposing Kyawswa, the Three Shan Brothers went on found the Kingdom of Myinsaing which covered central Burma along the upper Irrawaddy valley. Saw Hnit, a son of Kyawswa, was elected king by the dowager Queen Saw but soon became a governor under the authority of Myinsaing. The Mongols discovered Kyawswa's dethronement only six months later in June/July 1298. The brothers executed Kyawswa on 10 May 1299.[9] Another of Kyawswa's sons, Kumara Kassapa, escaped to China to seek help in September 1299. The Mongol Emperor declared Kumara Kassapa king of Burma on 22 June 1300, and sent in an army. A Mongol army of 12,000 invaded central Burma in January 1301, reaching the Male fort, north of modern Mandalay on 15 January 1301 and reaching Myinsaing on 25 January 1301. Myinsaing's defenses held. The attacking army was persuaded to retreat with bribes, and the retreat began on 6 April 1301. On 4 April 1303, the Mongols abolished the province of Chiang-Mien based in Tagaung, and withdrew entirely from Upper Burma.[13]


  1. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 234 (fn#3), 257 (fn#1)
  2. ^ a b Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 360
  3. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 257 (fn#1)
  4. ^ a b Pe Maung Tin, Luce 1960: 179
  5. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 358
  6. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 349
  7. ^ Aung-Thwin 1985: 196
  8. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 71
  9. ^ a b c Than Tun 1959: 119–120
  10. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 361–362
  11. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 73
  12. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 74
  13. ^ Than Tun 1959: 121–122


  • Aung-Thwin, Michael (1985). Pagan: The Origins of Modern Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 0-8248-0960-2. 
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. 
  • Kala, U (1724). Maha Yazawin (in Burmese) 1–3 (2006, 4th printing ed.). Yangon: Ya-Pyei Publishing. 
  • Pe Maung Tin; Luce, G.H. The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma (1960 ed.). Rangoon University Press. 
  • Royal Historians of Burma (c. 1680). U Hla Tin (Hla Thamein), ed. Zatadawbon Yazawin (1960 ed.). Historical Research Directorate of the Union of Burma. 
  • Royal Historical Commission of Burma (1832). Hmannan Yazawin (in Burmese) 1–3 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Myanmar. 
  • Than Tun (December 1959). "History of Burma: A.D. 1300–1400". Journal of Burma Research Society XLII (II). 
Kyawswa of Pagan
Born: 2 August 1260 Died: 10 May 1299
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Pagan
30 December 1289 – 17 December 1297
Succeeded by
as Viceroy of Pagan
Preceded by
Governor of Dala
Succeeded by