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Sithu IV
King of Burma
Reign May 1256 – December 1287
Coronation November 1256[1]
Predecessor Uzana
Successor Kyawswa
Chief Minister Yazathingyan
Consort Shin Saw[2][3]
Saw Nan
Shin Hpa
Shin Mauk
Shin Shwe
Saw Lon
Issue Uzana[3]
Phwa Saw Shin
Mi Saw U
House Pagan
Father Uzana
Mother Su Le Htone
Born 23 April 1238
Died c. December 1287 (aged 49)
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Narathihapate (Burmese: နရသီဟပတေ့, pronounced: [nəɹa̰ θìha̰pətḛ]; also Sithu IV; 1238–1287) was the last king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1256 to 1287. The king is unkindly remembered for two things: his gluttonous appetite which supposedly required all his dinners to have 300 varieties of dishes; and his panic flight from Mongol invasions. He is known as Tayok-Pyay Min, (lit. "King who Fled from the Chinese"). At Lower Burma, the king was poisoned by his second son Thihathu. Nearly 250 years of Pagan's rule over the Irrawaddy basin and its periphery came to an end. The country broke apart into multiple kingdoms, an interregnum that would last for another 250 years until the emergence of Toungoo dynasty reunited the country in the mid-16th century.

Early life[edit]

Narathihapate was a son of King Uzana and Queen Asaw.[4][5] He was born on 23 April 1238. The table below lists the dates given by the four main chronicles.[6]

Chronicles Birth–Death Age Reign Length of reign
Zatadawbon Yazawin 1239–1287 48 1254–1287 33
Maha Yazawin 1225–1284 59 1240–1284 44
Yazawin Thit 1240–1286 46 1255–1286 31
Hmannan Yazawin 1240–1286 50 [sic] 1255–1286 35 [sic][note 1]
Scholarship 1238–1287 49 1256–1287 31

For much of his early years, he was a minor prince borne by a minor queen. He was known at the palace as Min Khwe-Chi (lit. "Prince Dog's Dung") as a harmless royal.[7]


After Uzana's death from a hunting accident in 1256, Narathihapate was placed on the Pagan throne over more experienced elder princes by the chief court minister Yazathingyan who believed could control the young prince. The young king turned out be quick-tempered, arrogant, and ruthless. He quickly sent Yazathingyan into exile. But he soon had to recall Yazathingyan to quell the rebellions in Martaban (Mottama) (1258–1259) and Arakan (1258–1260).[note 2] Yazathingyan put down the rebellions but died on the return journey. With the old minister's death removed the only person that could have controlled the ruthless, inexperienced king.[8]

Narathihapate was incompetent in both domestic and foreign affairs. Like his father and grandfather before him, he too failed to fix the depleted royal treasury, which had been deteriorating for years because the continued growth of tax-free religious landholdings. But unlike his grandfather Kyaswa, who would rather build a small temple than to resort to forced labor, Narathihapate built a lavish temple, the Mingalazedi Pagoda with forced labor. The people, sinking under his rule, whispered: "When the pagoda is finished, the king shall die".[8]

Mongol invasions[edit]

Mongol mounted archers overcame Burmese elephant corps

But the real threat to Narathihapate and the Burmese kingdom came from the north. The Mongols had conquered Yunnan in 1253, and in 1271 under instructions from Kublai Khan, the new military governors of Yunnan sent envoys to Pagan demanding tribute.[9] The Burmese king refused. At Beijing, the Mongol emperor again sent another mission on 3 March 1273. This time the king ordered the envoys executed.[10] The Mongols then systematically invaded the country. The first invasion defeated the Burmese at the battle of Ngasaunggyan in April 1277, and secured their hold of Kanngai (modern-day Yingjiang, Yunnan, 112 km north of Bhamo). In September 1283, their forces moved south and occupied Bhamo, and captured as far south as Tagaung in January 1284.[10]

The Mongols could not stay in the heat of central Burma, and evacuated Tagaung, which the Burmese army reoccupied in May 1284. The Burmese king decided to sue for peace. In 1285, he sent a diplomatic mission led by a monk named Shin Ditha Pamaukkha (Disapramok). The Burmese mission trekked over the Shan hills and reached Yunnan in June 1286, and they eventually reached Beijing c. January 1287.[11] However, the emperor had already ordered another invasion. The negotiations were successful as the Burmese agreed to pay tribute. The emperor ordered his troops to halt at the northern border.[12]

However, the commander of the invasion army, a grandson of the emperor, either did not get the emperor's order in time, or decided to ignore it, and proceeded with the invasion in early 1287. The invasion army certainly reoccupied Tagaung but did not advance on Pagan per the emperor's order.[13] (Some of the troops may have reached Pagan by early 1288 although the sources are unclear on this event.) At any rate, the king, instead of defending the country, had already fled to Lower Burma in panic, hence gaining the posthumous moniker Tayok-Pyay Min ("the king who Fled from the Chinese").[12]


The king may have felt safer in the south as all the key ports in Lower Burma were ruled by his sons. His eldest son Uzana was governor of Bassein (Pathein); Thihathu ruled Prome (Pyay); and Kyawswa ruled Dala (modern Yangon). The king and his retinue first fled to Pathein where he was warmly received.[13] The king then made the mistake of traveling to Prome where he was arrested and forced to take poison. To refuse would have meant death by the sword, and with a prayer on his lips that in all his future existences "may no male-child be ever born to him again", the king swallowed the poison and died.[14]

He died in December 1287.[note 3]


Narathihapate's death was promptly followed by the breakup of the kingdom. Nearly 250 years of Pagan's rule over the Irrawaddy basin and its periphery was over. In Lower Burma, the Hanthawaddy Kingdom of the Mons emerged in April 1287.[note 4] In the west, Arakan was now de jure independent. In the north, the Shans who came down with the Mongols came to dominate Kachin hills and Shan hills, and went on dominate much of western and central mainland Southeast Asia.

It would be another a year and a half until May 1289, when Kyawswa, the youngest son of Narathihapate, emerged as the king of Pagan.[12] By then, the Pagan Empire had ceased to exist. The Mongols had occupied down to Tagaung, and the occupation would last until April 1303.[10] Even in central Burma, Kyawswa controlled only around the capital. The real power now rested with the three brothers from Myinsaing who would later found the Myinsaing Kingdom in 1297, replacing over four centuries of Pagan Kingdom.[15]


  1. ^ Hmannan's reporting of the king's birth and death dates is inconsistent. (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 338, 358) says he came to power in 617 ME (28 March 1255 to 26 March 1256 CE) at age 15 (16th year). It means he was born in 602 ME (27 March 1240 to 26 March 1241), two years later than the actual inscription given birth date of 23 April 1238. However, (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 358) says he died at age 50 (51st year), having reigned for 35 years, meaning he was born in 602 ME and died in 652 ME (28 March 1290 to 27 March 1291). Yet in the next page (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 359), Kyawswa ascended to the throne in 648 ME (28 March 1286 to 27 March 1287), which was the same date reported by Maha Yazawin (Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 252). This shows that the chroniclers of Hmannan, who hitherto had followed Yazawin Thit's dates, suddenly switched to Maha Yazawin's dating but failed reconcile Yazawin Thit's dates with Maha Yazawin's. Hmannan should have updated Kyawswa's accession year to 652 ME as well but instead left it at 648 ME.
  2. ^ The Maha Yazawin chronicle (Kala Vol. 1 2006: 238–240) says the king, having reigned for two years, sent two armies to both fronts on Thursday, 6th waxing of Pyatho 604 ME, which translates to Monday, 29 December 1242. But since the king actually came to power only in 1256, the date should be Thursday, 9th waxing of Pyatho 620 ME, which translates to Thursday, 5 December 1258. The chronicle continues that he had to send another expedition the following year on Thursday, 10th waxing of Natdaw 605 ME (Wednesday, 23 November 1243), which should be Thursday, 10th waxing of Natdaw 621 ME (Thursday, 25 December 1259).
  3. ^ The death month calculation uses Pyatho 649 ME (7 December 1287 to 5 January 1288), gleaned from two sources. The month of Pyatho comes from (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 358), which says he died in Pyatho. But Hmannan implies that he died in 652 ME (1290/1291), which is inconsistent with other records. The year of 649 ME (1287/1288) is per Zatadawbon Yazawin (Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 349).
  4. ^ (Pan Hla 2004: 25–26) says per Mon records King Wareru proclaimed independence on Thursday, 6th waning of Old Tagu 648 ME (4 April 1287), which is in contradiction with full moon of Tabodwe 649 (19 January 1288) per Burmese records. Pan Hla conjectures 19 January 1288 is the date of coronation.


  1. ^ Than Tun (1964): 135
  2. ^ Pe Maung Tin and Luce (1960): 158–179
  3. ^ a b Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 358
  4. ^ Taw and Forchhammer 1899: 71
  5. ^ Furnivall 1911: 15–30
  6. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 349
  7. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 337
  8. ^ a b Htin Aung 1967: 65–71
  9. ^ Myint-U 2006: 60–62
  10. ^ a b c Than Tun 1964: 136–137
  11. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 249 footnote #1
  12. ^ a b c Aung-Thwin 1985: 195–196
  13. ^ a b Harvey 1925: 68
  14. ^ Htin Aung 1967: 71
  15. ^ Harvey 1925: 75–78


  • Furnivall, J. S. (1911) (1911). "Matriarchal Vestiges in Burma". The Journal of the Burma Research Society (Rangoon) 1. 
  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. 
  • 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. 
  • Pan Hla, Nai (1968). Razadarit Ayedawbon (in Burmese) (8th printing, 2004 ed.). Yangon: Armanthit Sarpay. 
  • Pe Maung Tin; Luce, G.H. The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma (1960 ed.). Rangoon University Press. 
  • Royal Historical Commission of Burma (1832). Hmannan Yazawin (in Burmese) 1–3 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Myanmar. 
  • Taw, Sein Ko; Forchhammer, Emanuel (1899). "Inscriptions of Pagan, Pinya and Ava". Archaeological Survey of India, Superintendent, Government Printing (Rangoon). 
  • Than Tun (1964). Studies in Burmese History (in Burmese) 1. Yangon: Maha Dagon. 

External sources[edit]

  1. Pagan Period (Part One)
  2. Pagan Period (Part Two)
Born: 23 April 1238 Died: c. December 1287
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Burma
Succeeded by
Mongol vassal