"Sawbwa" redirects here. For the fish, see Sawbwa barb
Two Shan saophas on a visit to Delhi, India in 1903
Wife and child of the Saopha of Wuntho, c. 1880
Saopha, Chaofa, or Sawbwa (စော်ဘွား, pronounced: [sɔ̀ bwá]; Shan: ၸဝ်ႈၾႃႉ) was a royal title used by rulers of the Mong (Shan: မိူင်း, pronounced [mə́ŋ]) of the Shan States of Myanmar (Burma). The words are often taken to mean "king" and "kingdom" in the Shan and Tai languages. In some ancient Chinese literature it was recorded as 詔 (pinyin: Zhào; Modern Mandarin pronunciation: [tʂɑ̂ʊ̯]), for example Six Zhao and Nanzhao.
Chao Fa (Thai: เจ้าฟ้า) is the Thai equivalent. Chao is from Middle Chinese 主 (zhǔ "master"), and Fah means Sky or Heaven.
According to local chronicles, some dynasties of saophas date from as early as the 2nd century BCE; however, the earlier sections of these chronicles are generally agreed to be legendary.