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Kengtung (Burmese: ကျိုင်းတုံ; Thai: เชียงตุง Chiang Tung), known as Menggen Prefecture (Chinese: 孟艮府) or Möng Khün Chiefdom or Mueng Khuen Fu (Tai Khün: ᨾᩧᩙᨡᩧ᩠ᨶ) from 1405[2] to 1895, was a Shan state in what is today Burma. The capital and the residence of the ruler was Kengtung (then known as "Tai Khuen City" 歹掯城) in the centre of the state. It was the only urban area in this mountainous state whose landscape is dominated by the Daen Lao Range.

ကျိုင်းတုံ / LN-King Chiang Tung.png
State of the Shan States

c. 1243–1959
Location of Chiang Tung
Kengtung State in blue in a map of the Shan States
 •  Dynasty established by a delegate of King Mangrai c. 1243
 •  Abdication of the last Saopha 1959
 •  1901 31,079 km2 (12,000 sq mi)
 •  1901 190,698 
Density 6.1 /km2  (15.9 /sq mi)
Kengtung (Cheing Toong) on a 19th century map of the Shan States.
Princess Tip Htila of the Kengtung royal house, photographed by J. G. Scott in 1910 or earlier
The Palace of the Saophas of Kengtung, a historic landmark with intricate interiors of carved and lacquered teak. It was destroyed in 1991 by the Burmese military regime despite local protests.[1]
Sao Saimong and his wife, Mi Mi Khaing.
Territories annexed by Thailand in the Shan and Karenni States.

Kengtung was the largest of the states in present-day Shan State and ranked first in the order of precedence at the time of the invasion of the Shan States by the British Empire. It was also the easternmost of the Southern Shan States, lying almost entirely east of the Salween and stretching eastwards to the Mekong. It was separated from the northern Shan state of Manglon by the Hka River.

Most of the early history of Kengtung is made up of myths and legends. At the time of British rule in Burma the Tai Yai people were the majority of the population in Kengtung state with other groups such as Akha and Lahu, forming sizeable communities. According to Wa tradition, in the distant past the territory had belonged to the Wa people who were displaced around 1229 and were later defeated by King Mangrai. The Wa now form a minority of only about 10% in Kengtung State despite having been —according to their myths— the original inhabitants.[3]



Early kingdomsEdit

According to local tradition, Khemāraṭṭha[4] (ခေမာရဋ္ဌ), the predecessor state, was founded in an unknown date in the distant past. It was ruled by the Tai Khün of the Tai Yai (Shan) ethnic background. The current dynasty has its origins in the kingdom that was founded around 1243 by a prince named Mang Kun, said to be a delegate of King Mangrai.[5][6] Despite the ethnic affinity of the ruling Tai with the Siamese to the south,[7] Kengtung was led by Saopha princes who historically preferred to pay tribute to the Burmese kings to the west. The King of Mandalay restricted himself to exacting a yearly tribute, often in the form of offerings of ritual gold flowers, leaving the Kengtung rulers largely alone. The Salween river also acted as a protective natural border in the West hampering communication with Upper Burma. On the other hand, the kingdoms of Lanna and Ayutthaya, as well as the Chinese to the northeast, were closer, more bellicose and had easier access to the territory.

Modern historyEdit

In 1760, following conflicting claims of political influence over Kengtung State, there was a war between the Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty and the King of Burma, Hsinbyushin. In 1802 Kengtung came under the rule of Chiang Mai, but with the help of the Burmese the former ruling dynasty was reinstated in 1814 and Mongyawng (Möngyawng) state was annexed.[8]

Kengtung was historically located at the crossroads of the trade between China and Siam and 19th century sources talk about caravans crossing Kengtung on their way to Chiang Mai totaling yearly 8,000 mules loaded with goods from China.[3] During British rule in Burma the eastern border was demarcated by the colonial powers and the western part of Kengcheng was merged with Kengtung.[9] Historically Kengtung also included the substates of Hsenyawt, Hsenmawng, Monghsat and Mongpu.[8][10]

On 27 May 1942, during World War II, Kengtung State was invaded and its capital captured by the Thai Phayap Army.[11] Following a previous agreement between Thai Prime Minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram and the Japanese Empire, in December the same year the Thai administration occupied Kengtung and four districts of Möngpan. The annexation of the trans-Salween territories historically claimed by Thailand was formalised on 1 August 1943 and the northern province of Saharat Thai Doem was established.[12] Thailand left the territory in 1945, but officially relinquished its claim over Kengtung State only in 1946 as part of the condition for admission to the United Nations and the withdrawal of all wartime sanctions for having sided with the Axis powers.[13]

The last ruler of Kengtung abdicated in 1959. The state became then part of Shan State and, despite the independence struggle of the latter, eventually part of Burma. After the 1962 military coup by General Ne Win all the privileges of the saophas were abolished.[14]


The rulers of Kengtung bore the title of Saopha; their ritual style was Khemadhipati Rajadhiraja.[15]

The Kengtung Yazawin, also known as 'Padaeng Chronicle' and 'Jengtung State Chronicle', is a history of the rulers of Kengtung written in the 19th century in Burmese language. It was translated into English by Sao Saimong Mangrai.


Chinese records

Mang Kun and Mang Kyin were Yonnaka governors sent by Mang Lai. Marquess of Kengtung refers to a son of Mang Lai.

Saopha Khuen name Enthrone Dethrone Chinese name
Mang Kun 1263年 1267年
Mang Kyin 1267年 1273年
Marquess of Kengtung -- 1273年 1284年
Sao Nannan 1284年 1317年
Sao Shanmuwei 1317年 1324年
Sao Lai 1324年 1342年
Sao Sainan 1342年 1360年
Sao Yu 1360年 1370年
Sao Xipantu 1379年 1387年
Sao Ai'ao 1387年 1390年
艾乌萨 1390年 1403年
伊康伽 1403年 1416年 Dao Ai[16]
Sao Shan 1416年 1441年 Dao Jiao[17]

Dao GUang[18]

Sao Shan Sili (Sri?) 1441年 1456年 庆马辣[19]
艾劳康 1456年 1474年
艾劳 1474年 1501年 招禄[20]
Sao Naojiang 1501年 1503年 招帕雅?[21]
赛考 1503年
绍康木 1523年
比亚江 1523年 1560年
绍蒙卡 1560年 1598年
绍康陶 1598年 1600年
绍蒙伽 1620年 1637年
绍温 1637年 1650年
绍因康 1650年 1659年
Sao Ao 1659年
Sao Mengsai 1682年
Sao Shanpi 1682年 1721年
Sao Mangxin 1721年 1739年
Sao Maung Nyo 1739年 1749年
Sao Mangshan 1750年 1787年
Sao Kaotai 1787年 1813年
绍摩诃加那 1813年 1857年
绍摩诃蓬 1857年 1876年
绍康胜 1876年 1881年
绍考泰 1881年 1886年
绍考康 1886年 1897年
绍考江因塔楞 1895年 1935年
绍考泰 1935年 1937年
绍赛隆 1937年 1959年
Burmese records
  • 1243 - 1247 Man Kun (1st Saopha) (b. .... - d.1247)
  • .... - .... Sao Awk (28th Saopha)
  • .... - 1730 Sao Möng Lek (b. 1646 - d. 1730)
  • 1730 - c.1735 Sao Maung Hkawn (1st time) (b. 1706 - d.17..)
  • c.1735 - 1739 Vacant
  • 1739 - 1742 Sao Maung Hkawn (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1742 - 1786 Sao Möng Hsam (b. 1744 - d. 1786)
  • 1787 - 1802 Sao Kawng Tai I (1st time) (b. 1769 - d. 1813)
  • 1814 - 1815 Sao Kawng Tai I (2nd time) (s.a.)
  • 1815 - 1857 Sao Maha Hkanan (b. 1781 - d. 1857)
  • 1857 - 1876 Sao Maha Pawn (b. 1814 - d. 1876)
  • 1877 - 1881 Sao Hseng (b. 1818 - d. 1881)
  • 1881 - 1885 Sao Kawng Tai II (b. 1829 - d. 1885)
  • 1886 - 1895 Sao Kawn Kham Hpu (b. 1874 - d. 1895)
  • 7 May 1895 - 21 Jul 1935 Sao Kawng Kiao Intaleng (b. 1874 - d. 1935) (administrator to 9 Feb 1897)
  • 21 Jul 1935 - Aug 1935 Sao Kaung Tai (b. 1899 - d. 1935)
  • 1935 - 1942 British administration
  • 1942 - 1945 annexed by Thailand
  • 1945 - 1962 Sao Sai Long (b. 1927 - d. 1997)

Thai Military governorEdit

Following the Thai occupation, a military governor was appointed for the administration of the annexed territories of Kengtung and Möngpan by Thailand.

  • Dec 1942 - 1945 Phin Choonhavan (b. 1891 - d. 1973)

See alsoEdit


  • G. J. Younghusband, The Trans-Salween Shan State of Kiang Tung, ISBN 9789749575789


  1. ^ Mi Mi Khaing, Kanbawsa - A Modern Review
  2. ^ The seventh month of 1405 (Datong calendar). Chapter 313: Liezhuan ⅭⅭⅠ - Tusi of Yunnan Ⅰ § Menghen of History of Ming
  3. ^ a b Donald M. Seekins, Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar), p. 251
  4. ^ Society, Royal Geographical (1857). The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society: JRGS. Murray.
  5. ^ Keng Tung Royal
  6. ^ Kengtung (Kyaington) (Shan State)
  7. ^ The Migration and History of Tai Yai
  8. ^ a b Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 15, p. 200.
  9. ^ The Tai Of The Shan State
  10. ^ Sir Charles Crosthwaite "The pacification of Burma"
  11. ^ "Thailand and the Second World War". Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  12. ^ Shan and Karenni States of Burma
  13. ^ David Porter Chandler & David Joel Steinberg eds. In Search of Southeast Asia: A Modern History. p. 388
  14. ^ "WHKMLA : History of the Shan States". 18 May 2010. Retrieved 21 December 2010.
  15. ^ Ben Cahoon (2000). "World Shan and Karenni States of Burma". Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  16. ^ Ming Shilu·Taizong Shilu》Chapter 44:(永乐三年秋七月)癸丑,设孟艮府,隶云南都司,以歹掯土官刀哀为知府,给印诰及赐冠带。时刀哀遣人来朝,请设治所,故有是命。
  17. ^ Ming Shilu·Taizong Shilu》Chapter 182:(永乐十四年十一月)丙辰,云南老挝宣慰使司宣慰使刀线歹、孟艮府土官知府刀交各遣头目贡马及方物,赐赉有差。
  18. ^ Ming Shilu·Xuanzong Shilu》Chapter 77:(宣德六年三月)壬辰,云南孟艮府土官知府刀光遣头目招板陆等贡马及金银器皿方物。
  19. ^ 《明实录·大明英宗睿皇帝实录·废帝郕戾王附录》卷一百八十四载:(正统十四年冬十月辛未)云南孟艮府故土官知府舍人庆马辣遣头目孟赛等来朝贡马及银器方物,赐宴并彩币表里等物有差。
  20. ^ 《明实录·大明宪宗纯皇帝实录》卷九十五载:(成化七年九月壬申)云南孟艮府土官舍人招禄遣头目板新等来朝贡马及方物,赐衣服彩叚等物有差。
  21. ^ 《明实录·大明孝宗敬皇帝实录》卷八十三载:(弘治六年十二月辛未)云南孟艮府署府事舍人招帕雅......遣头目猛笼等来朝贡方物,赐彩叚衣服等物有差。

External linksEdit