Battle of Ngasaunggyan

The Battle of Ngasaunggyan (Chinese: 牙嵩延之戰) was fought in 1277 between the Yuan dynasty of China and the Pagan Kingdom of Burma led by Narathihapate. The battle was initiated by Narathihapate, who invaded Yunnan, a province of the Yuan dynasty. Yuan defenders soundly defeated the Pagan forces.

Battle of Ngasaunggyan
Part of Mongol invasion of Burma
Ngasaunggyan (present-day Myazedi, Myanmar)
Result Yuan victory
Pagan Empire Yuan dynasty
Commanders and leaders
Narathihapate Khudu[1]
10,000+ plus more than 120 war elephants[2][page needed] 6,000–12,000 cavalry[citation needed]
Casualties and losses
Heavy[citation needed] Unknown



Hostility between the two empires had already been established by that time. When Kublai Khan had sent emissaries to regional powers of eastern Asia to demand tribute, Narathihapate refused the Khan's representatives the first time they visited in 1271. A later tribute mission ended up with the Mongol envoys being killed by bandits in 1273. When Kublai Khan did not immediately respond to this insult, Narathihapate gained confidence that the Yuan would attack him.



In 1277, Narathihapate subsequently invaded the state of Kaungai, whose chief had recently pledged fealty to Kublai Khan. Local garrisons of Yuan troops were ordered to defend the area, and although outnumbered were able to soundly defeat the Pagan forces in battle.

The Burmese attack was led by their war elephants, which caused initial difficulty to the horse archer-based Yuan army, as their ponies became uncontrollable in the presence of the grey beast. However the Yuan general Khudu (Qutuq)[citation needed] calmly ordered his men to dismount and tether their horses in a nearby woods, and fight as foot archers instead. The showers of Mongol arrows so badly wounded the elephants that they fled back in panic and trampled their own troops. Seeing this the Yuan troops immediately remounted and charged down upon the shaken Burmese infantry, first pouring arrows into their ranks and then closing into melee with sabers and maces. Eventually the Pagan troops were routed and then vigorously pursued, resulting in a comprehensive Yuan victory.

After the battle the Mongols pressed on with an offensive into the Pagan territory of Bhamo. In the end however they had to abandon their invasion and return to Yunnan after Khudu was wounded.



In the end of 1277, Yunnan governor's son Naser al-Din attacked Bhamo again and tried to establish a postal system. However, deadly heat forced him to leave Burma. He returned to Khanbaliq with 12 elephants and gave them to Kublai Khan in 1279.[2][3]

The Battle of Ngassaunggyan was the first of three decisive battles between the two empires, the others being the Battle of Bhamo in 1283 and the Battle of Pagan in 1287. By the end of these battles, the Yuan dynasty had conquered the entire Pagan Kingdom and installed a puppet government.

The battle was later reported back to Europe by Marco Polo, who described the battle vividly in his reports. His description was presumably pieced together by accounts he heard while visiting Kunming.


  1. ^ d'Ohsson, Constantin Mouradgea (1940) [1834-35], Histoire des Mongols, depuis Tchinguiz-Khan jusqu'a Timour Bey, ou Tamerlan, Amsterdam: Les Freres Van Cleef
  2. ^ a b Man, John (2012), Kublai Khan : from Xanadu to superpower, London: Transworld, ISBN 9781446486153
  3. ^ "Монгол-Татарууд, Ази Европд: Ulan Bator, 1984". Archived from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-19.

Further reading

  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma. Hutchinson & Co.: London. Third edition.