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History, The Pagan Kingdom

Hindu kingdom, Chinese invasion, Kublai Khan, Pegu, dry zone

The first unified Myanmar state was founded by King Anawrahta (reigned 1044-1077) at Pagan in Upper Myanmar and was brought to its height by his son, Kyanzittha (reigned 1084-1112). Their domain advanced from the dry zone to incorporate the delta Mon centers at Pegu and Thaton; they extended political and religious ties overseas to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and fought off a Chinese invasion from the north. The internal structure of the state was similar to that of a Hindu kingdom, with a court at the capital supported by direct household taxes or service obligations drawn from villages, which were under the guidance of hereditary myothugis (township headmen). In time an increasing proportion of the land was donated to Buddhist monasteries in the form of slave villages for the maintenance of the sangha (monkhood). Kingship was legitimated by both Hindu ideology and the king’s role as defender of the Buddhist faith. During 250 years of relative peace, the devout rulers built the many pagodas for which Pagan is known today.

In 1287 Pagan was conquered by the Mongols under Kublai Khan. This was the beginning of a turbulent period during which Upper Myanmar led an uncertain existence between Shan domination and tributary relations with China, while Lower Myanmar reverted to Mon rule based at Pegu.

Article key phrases:

Hindu kingdom, Chinese invasion, Kublai Khan, Pegu, dry zone, Buddhist monasteries, pagodas, Mongols, sangha, Pagan, defender, Ceylon, internal structure, delta, Sri Lanka, rule, son, capital, court, China, centers, land, height, maintenance, time


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