Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu

Last updated
Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu
ကွမ်းဆော် ကြောင်းဖြူ
Htibyusaung Nat.jpg
Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu depicted as Htibyuhsaung nat (spirit)
King of Pagan
Predecessor Nyaung-u Sawrahan
Successor Kyiso
Born955 (Sunday born)
Consort Myauk Pyinthe
Issue Anawrahta
House Pagan
Religion Buddhism

Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu (Burmese : ကွမ်းဆော် ကြောင်းဖြူ [kʊ́ɴ sʰɔ̀ tɕáʊɴ bjù] ; c. 955–1048) was king of Pagan Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1001 to 1021. He was the father of Anawrahta, the founder of Pagan Empire. The principality of Pagan continued to gain strength during his reign. Pagan's surviving walls were most likely constructed during his reign. [1]

Burmese language language spoken in Myanmar

The Burmese language is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Myanmar where it is an official language and the language of the Bamar people, the country's principal ethnic group. Although the Constitution of Myanmar officially recognizes the English name of the language as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese, after Burma, the older name for Myanmar. In 2007, it was spoken as a first language by 33 million, primarily the Bamar (Burman) people and related ethnic groups, and as a second language by 10 million, particularly ethnic minorities in Myanmar and neighboring countries.

Pagan Kingdom Kingdom in present-day Burma

The Kingdom of Pagan was the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern-day Burma (Myanmar). Pagan's 250-year rule over the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery laid the foundation for the ascent of Burmese language and culture, the spread of Burman ethnicity in Upper Burma, and the growth of Theravada Buddhism in Burma and in mainland Southeast Asia.

Anawrahta King of burma

Anawrahta Minsaw was the founder of the Pagan Empire. Considered the father of the Burmese nation, Anawrahta turned a small principality in the dry zone of Upper Burma into the first Burmese Empire that formed the basis of modern-day Burma (Myanmar). Historically verifiable Burmese history begins with his accession to the Pagan throne in 1044.


Kunhsaw is part of the pantheon of Burmese nats (spirits) as Htihpyusaung Nat. [2]

Nat (spirit) spirits worshipped in Myanmar

The nats are spirits worshipped in Myanmar and neighboring countries in conjunction with Buddhism. They are divided between the 37 Great Nats and all the rest. Almost all of the 37 Great Nats were human beings who met violent deaths. They may thus also be called nat sein. The word 'sein', while meaning 'green', is being used to mean 'raw' in this context. There are however two types of nats in Burmese Buddhist belief.


Htibyuhsaung is one of 37 nats in the official Burmese pantheon of nats. He was King Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu, father of Anawrahta. He was deposed and forced to become a monk by his stepsons, and died later.


According to the Burmese chronicles, Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu was a son of an early Pagan king Tannet, who was assassinated as his queen was enseint with Kunhsaw. However Tannet died in the early 10th century. It is more likely that he was a descendant of Tannet. He took over the Pagan throne from King Nyaung-u Sawrahan, and married three of Nyaung-u's chief queens, two of whom were pregnant and subsequently gave birth to Kyiso and Sokkate. Kunhsaw raised Sokkate and Kyiso as his own sons. When the two sons reached manhood, they forced Kunhsaw to abdicate the throne and become a monk. Kyiso took over as king. [3]

The royal chronicles of Myanmar are detailed and continuous chronicles of the monarchy of Myanmar (Burma). The chronicles were written on different media such as parabaik paper, palm leaf, and stone; they were composed in different literary styles such as prose, verse, and chronograms. Palm-leaf manuscripts written in prose are those that are commonly referred to as the chronicles. Other royal records include administrative treatises and precedents, legal treatises and precedents, and censuses.

Tannet was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 876 to c. 904. A son of King Pyinbya, the founder of Pagan (Bagan), Tannet was the paternal grandfather of King Anawrahta, the founder of Pagan Empire. The king loved horses and was a master of horsemanship. He was assassinated by Sale Ngahkwe, his stable groom, who succeeded him as king.

Nyaung-u Sawrahan was king of the Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 956 to 1001. Although he is remembered as the Cucumber King in the Burmese chronicles based on a legend, Sawrahan is the earliest king of Pagan whose existence has been verified by inscriptional evidence. According to scholarship, it was during Sawrahan reign that Pagan, then one of several competing city-states in Upper Burma, "grew in authority and grandeur". The creation of Burmese alphabet as well as the fortification of Pagan may have begun in his reign.

He lost the throne in 1021 although various chronicles do not agree on the dates regarding his life and reign. [4] The oldest chronicle Zatadawbon Yazawin is considered to be the most accurate for the Pagan period. [note 1] The table below lists the dates given by four main chronicles, as well as Hmannan's dates when anchored by the Anawrahta's inscriptionally verified accession date of 1044. [4]

<i>Zatadawbon Yazawin</i>

Zatadawbon Yazawin is the earliest extant chronicle of Burma. The chronicle mainly covers the regnal dates of kings as well as horoscopes of select kings from Pagan to Konbaung periods. In terms of regnal years, the chronicle is considered "the most accurate of all Burmese chronicles, particularly with regard to the best-known Pagan and Ava kings, many of whose dates have been corroborated by epigraphy."

ChroniclesBirth–DeathAgeReignLength of reign
Zatadawbon Yazawin 955–1048931001–102120
Maha Yazawin 876–1001125950–97121
Yazawin Thit and Hmannan Yazawin 907–1021114964–98622
Hmannan adjusted934–1048114992–101422

The deposed king remained a monk for over two decades. Then in 1044, Kyiso' successor Sokkate married one of Kunhsaw's queens, mother of Anawrahta, greatly angering Anawrahta. Anawrahta challenged and killed Sokkate in single combat. Anwarahta offered the throne to Kunhsaw. But the former king refused, allowing Anawrahta to ascend the throne. [5] Kunhsaw died four years after his son Anawrahta ascended the throne c. 1048. [6]


  1. (Maha Yazawin 2006: 346–349): Among the four major chronicles, only Zatadawbon Yazawin's dates line up with Anawrahta's inscriptionally verified accession date of 1044 CE. (Aung-Thwin 2005: 121–123): In general, Zata is considered "the most accurate of all Burmese chronicles, particularly with regard to the best-known Pagan and Ava kings, many of whose dates have been corroborated by epigraphy."

Related Research Articles

Theinhko was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 934 to c. 956. According to the Burmese chronicles, Theinhko was a son of the previous king, Sale Ngahkwe. Theinhko was killed by a farmer, Nyaung-u Sawrahan, from whose farm he took a cucumber. The king had been on a hunting trip and separated from his retinue, exhausted and thirsty. The farmer was accepted as king by the queen to prevent unrest in the kingdom and became known as the "Cucumber King", "farmer king" or "Taungthugyi Min".

Saw Lu was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1077 to 1084. He inherited from his father Anawrahta the Pagan Empire, the first ever unified kingdom of Burma (Myanmar) but proved an inexperienced ruler. In 1082, he faced a rebellion in Lower Burma, and was captured c. April 1083. He was later killed in captivity about a year later.

Arimaddana Place in Mandalay Region, Burma

Arimaddana Pura is a classical name of the city of Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar. It means the "City that Tramples on Enemies."

Narapatisithu King of Burma

Narapati Sithu was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1174 to 1211. He is considered the last important king of Pagan. His peaceful and prosperous reign gave rise to Burmese culture which finally emerged from the shadows of Mon and Pyu cultures. The Burman leadership of the kingdom was now unquestioned. The Pagan Empire reached its peak during his reign, and would decline gradually after his death.

Kyansittha King of Burma

Kyansittha was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1084 to 1112/13, and is considered one of the greatest Burmese monarchs. He continued the social, economic and cultural reforms begun by his father, King Anawrahta. Pagan became an internationally recognized power during his 28-year reign. The Burmese language and culture continued to gain ground.

Sokkate was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1038 to 1044. The king lost his life in a single combat with Anawrahta, who succeeded him and went on to found the Pagan Empire.

Kyiso King of Pagan

Kyiso was king of Pagan dynasty from 1021 to 1038. According to the Burmese chronicles, Kyiso was a son of King Nyaung-u Sawrahan but raised by King Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu. Kunhsaw married Nyuang-u's three chief queens, two of whom were pregnant and subsequently gave birth to Kyiso and Sokkate. Sokkate and Kyiso were raised by Kunhsaw as his own sons. When the two sons reached manhood, they forced Kunhsaw to abdicate the throne and become a monk.

Sale Ngahkwe was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from c. 904 to c. 934. According to the Burmese chronicles, Ngahkwe, a descendant of King Thingayaza of Pagan but brought up in obscurity at Sale in central Burma, came to work in the service of King Tannet as a stable groom. Ngahkwe then assassinated the king and seized the throne.

Pyinbya was the king of Pagan Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) who founded the city of Pagan (Bagan) in 849 CE. Though the Burmese chronicles describe him as the 33rd king of the dynasty founded in early 2nd century CE, modern historians consider Pyinbya one of the first kings of Pagan, which would gradually take over present-day central Burma in the next two hundred years. He was the paternal great-grandfather of King Anawrahta, the founder of Pagan Empire.

Thihathu was a co-founder of the Myinsaing Kingdom, and the founder of the Pinya Kingdom in today's central Burma (Myanmar). Thihathu was the youngest and most ambitious of the three brothers that successfully defended central Burma from Mongol invasions in 1287 and in 1300–01. He and his brothers toppled the regime at Pagan in 1297, and co-ruled central Burma. After his eldest brother Athinkhaya's death in 1310, Thihathu pushed aside the middle brother Yazathingyan, and took over as the sole ruler of central Burma. His decision to designate his adopted son Uzana I heir-apparent caused his eldest biological son, Saw Yun to set up a rival power center in Sagaing in 1315. Although Saw Yun nominally remained loyal to his father, after Thihathu's death in 1325, the two houses of Myinsaing officially became rival kingdoms in central Burma.

<i>Hmannan Yazawin</i> book by Royal Historical Commission of Burma

Hmannan Maha Yazawindawgyi is the first official chronicle of Konbaung Dynasty of Burma (Myanmar). It was compiled by the Royal Historical Commission between 1829 and 1832. The compilation was based on several existing chronicles and local histories, and the inscriptions collected on the orders of King Bodawpaya, as well as several types of poetry describing epics of kings. Although the compilers disputed some of the earlier accounts, they by and large retained the accounts given Maha Yazawin, the standard chronicle of Toungoo Dynasty.

Early Pagan Kingdom

Early Pagan Kingdom was a city-state that existed in the first millennium CE before the emergence of Pagan Empire in the mid 11th century. The Burmese chronicles state that the "kingdom" was founded in the second century CE. The seat of power of the small kingdom was first located at Arimaddana, Thiri Pyissaya, and Tampawaddy until 849 CE when it was moved to Pagan (Bagan).

Thiri Pyissaya Place in Mandalay Region, Burma

Thiri Pyissaya is a classical name of the city of Bagan (Pagan), Myanmar. According to the Hmannan Yazawin chronicle, King Thinli Kyaung I moved the palace to Thiri Pyissaya, not far from the original site at Arimaddana. It ceased being the site of the palace when King Thaik Taing moved the palace to Tampawaddy, near Thiri Pyissaya.

Myauk Pyinthe was a queen consort of three kings of Pagan, Saw Rahan II, Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu and Sokkate, and the mother of King Anawrahta, the founder of the Pagan Empire.

Taung Pyinthe was the Chief queen consort of kings Saw Rahan II and Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu of the Pagan Dynasty of Myanmar. She was also the mother of King Kyiso.


  1. Aung-Thwin 2005: 38
  2. Harvey 1925: 18–19
  3. Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 225–227
  4. 1 2 Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 347
  5. Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 229-230
  6. Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 236


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

U Kala is a Burmese historian and chronicler best known for compiling the Maha Yazawin, the first extensive national chronicle of Burma. U Kala single-handedly revolutionized secular Burmese historiography and ushered in a new generation of private chroniclers, including Buddhist monks and laymen.

Kunhsaw Kyaunghpyu
Born: c. 955 Died: c. 1048
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Nyaung-u Sawrahan
King of Pagan
c. 1001–1021
Succeeded by