Uzana I of Pinya

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Uzana I of Pinya
ပင်းယ ဥဇနာ
King of Pinya
Reign c. February 1325 – 1 September 1340
Predecessor Thihathu
Successor Sithu
Chief Minister Ananda Pyissi
Born June 1298
Tuesday, Waso 660 ME
Pinle, Myinsaing Regency
Died c. 1356/57 (aged 58)
c. 718 ME
Mekkhaya, Pinya Kingdom
Consort Atula Maha Dhamma Dewi
Issue Sithu
Saw Pa Oh
Mway Medaw
Full name
Anawrahta Maha Dipati
House Myinsaing
Father Kyawswa of Pagan
Mother Mi Saw U
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Uzana I of Pinya (Burmese: ပင်းယ ဥဇနာ, pronounced [ʔṵzənà]; 1298 – 1356/57) was king of Pinya from 1325 to 1340. Of Pagan royalty, Uzana inherited a disunited kingdom, which fell apart right after his predecessor Thihathu's death. Not only could he not retake the northern Sagaing Kingdom but he also had little control over his southern vassals. Even in his core power base in present-day central Myanmar (Burma), Uzana faced a serious rival in his half-brother Kyawswa. He ultimately lost the power struggle, and abdicated the throne in 1340 to a regent. He lived out his last years as a monk in Mekkhaya.

Early life

Born in June 1298,[note 1] Uzana was the biological child of King Kyawswa of Pagan (r. 1289–97) and Queen Mi Saw U. By his birth, his father had been dethroned for six months, and his mother had been taken by Thihathu, one of the three brothers and former Pagan generals who overthrew Kyawswa.[1] Adopted at birth by Thihathu, co-regent of the newly founded Myinsaing Kingdom,[1] Uzana never knew his biological father who was executed on the orders of the three regents in 1299.[2] The young prince grew up in Pinle with Thihathu's children: his two maternal half-siblings Kyawswa and Nawrahta as well as his step-siblings Tarabya, Saw Yun and Saw Pale.[3]

Perhaps because of his Pagan royal descent, Uzana grew up being a key scion of the Myinsaing ruling house. His stepfather Thihathu, who consolidated power in the following decade, was eager to be seen as a legitimate successor to the Pagan line.[4] On 7 February 1313 at the newly built capital at Pinya, Thihathu proclaimed himself the rightful successor of the Pagan Dynasty, with the dowager queen Pwa Saw of Pagan presenting him the golden belt and the golden tray of the 11th century King Anawrahta. In the same coronation ceremony, he also pronounced Mi Saw U, daughter of King Narathihapate, his chief queen consort, and Uzana his heir-apparent. He also appointed Kyawswa, his eldest son by Mi Saw U, governor of Pinle.[5]


Uzana's appointment was resented by Thihathu's biological sons. In particular, Saw Yun, whose mother was a commoner, resented being treated as a second-class royal, not only behind his stepbrother Uzana but also behind his half-brother Kyawswa. He constantly agitated his father for more power.[6] Thihathu appointed Saw Yun governor of Sagaing, across the Irrawaddy, in 1314.[7] Even then, Saw Yun still resented that he was not allowed to command as large a force as Uzana or Kyawswa, and that he had to constantly beg for cavalry and war elephants from his brothers.[6] On 15 May 1315, after another disagreement with his father, Saw Yun walked out of the Pinya Palace, never to return. At first, Thihathu dismissed his teenage son's insubordination. But Saw Yun spent the next year consolidating his support around Sagaing and in the north, and went on to upgrade Sagaing's timber walls with a brick wall by March 1316.[8]

Uzana now faced a test. Thihathu now asked Uzana to retake Sagaing, saying it was as a test to prove the latter's worth as crown prince. But Thihathu order seemed halfhearted. Because the king never mobilized all his forces, Uzana had to use the small army under his command (about 1000 men, 80 horses, 10 elephants).[9] Uzana's expedition never made it to Sagaing as they were driven back at the Irrawaddy crossing. Back at the Pinya Palace, Thihathu treated a defeated Uzana with contempt, saying he had failed the test. The king now ordered Kyawswa to lead another expedition, also presenting it as a test. The second expedition by Kyawswa also failed.[10]

Uzana and Kyawswa were to get a chance to redeem themselves. The Sagaing rebellion in the north begot instabilities in the south in Taungdwin and Toungoo (Taungoo). Taungdwin submitted but Toungoo required an expedition. In 1317–18, Uzana and Kyawswa with a combined force marched to Toungoo, and got its ruler Thawun Nge to submit.[11][12]

The Sagaing affair remained unresolved. It is unclear if Sagaing could have been taken if Thihathu ordered a larger expedition as he did with Toungoo. But the king accepted Saw Yun's nominal submission, and did not again order another attack. Though Uzana remained the official crown prince, Saw Yun was already the de facto ruler of the northern country. Thihathu was resigned to the fact that his kingdom would be split into two after his death.[4]


Rivalry with Kyawswa

The Pinya kingdom formally separated into two at Thihathu's death in 1325. Uzana succeeded as king with the title of Anawrahta Maha Dipati, with his half-sister Atula Maha Dhamma Dewi as chief queen consort.[13] Uzana's rump Pinya Kingdom ruled the eastern and southern Central Burma while Saw Yun's Sagaing Kingdom ruled the northern and western parts. Uzana's Pinya should be the stronger of the two since it still controlled two out of the three main irrigated regions, Kyaukse and Minbu, whereas Sagaing controlled only the Mu valley. But in reality, Uzana never had much control of his remaining vassals. Indeed, his main rival was not Saw Yun but his half-brother Kyawswa, who openly held court at Pinle, just a few miles away from Pinya and also in the all important Kyaukse region. Kyawswa still controlled his own army, and conducted his own policy.[14] It was Kyawswa, not Uzana, who famously ordered his commander Khin Nyo to assassinate Saw Yun.[15]

According to the chronicles, Uzana formed the following special military units, that responded only to him.[14] The list shows that Uzana's core power base extended no more than 150 km from Pinya. His power base overlapped with that of Kyawswa, who had his own specialized military units.[14]

Region Cavalry Shielded knights Archers
Pinya 300
Thingyi 300 300
Nyaungyan 300 300 300
Kyauksauk 40 40
Lanbu 40
Thindaung 30
Yet-Khant Kan-Zaunt 30

Nominal vassals

The rivalry greatly limited Pinya's power. Its southernmost vassals were practically independent, and had to fend for themselves. Pinya took no action with the 1325 assassination of Saw Hnit, the Pinya-recognized ruler of Toungoo, and had to be satisfied with the usurper Kayin Ba's nominal submission.[16] Nor did it command any respect from its neighbors, which regularly breached its borders. Pinya took no action when Ramanya attacked Prome (Pyay) in 1330,[17] or when Arakan attacked Thayet in 1334.[18]

At any rate, Uzana's main concern remained Kyawswa. In the 1330s, Kyawswa consolidated power, and increasingly acted as a sovereign. The inevitable confrontation came to a head when Kyawswa found five rare white elephants, which were symbols of monarchs. When Uzana asked for them twice, Kyawswa openly refused both times.[19][1]


The refusals signaled war but Uzana ultimately backed down, and decided to abdicate. Most chronicles say that he abdicated the throne to Kyawswa in 1342/43 after a period of 4 years.[note 2] Inscriptional evidence shows that Uzana first handed power to Gov. Sithu of Myinsaing, uncle and father-in-law of Kyawswa, on 1 September 1340.[20] Uzana became a monk at Mekkhaya. Sithu's regency may have been a face-saving measure for Uzana but Kyawswa apparently did not recognize Sithu either. According to an inscription donated on 17 June 1342 by Kyawswa's chief queen consort Atula Sanda Dewi, Kyawswa had already claimed himself king.[21] Inscriptions show that Sithu officially handed over the reins to Kyawswa on 29 March 1344.[20]

Uzana remained a monk at Mekkhaya,[21] and died at age 58.[22][23]


Uzana had at least two sons, Sithu and Thihapate,[1] and two daughters, Saw Pa Oh[24] and Mway Medaw of Lanbu, who according to the chronicle Alaungpaya Ayedawbon was an ancestor of King Mohnyin Thado and the Konbaung kings.[25] Thihapate was a powerful governor of Yamethin in the 1340s, and contemplated a rebellion against Kyawswa I.[26] Saw Pa Oh became queen of King Kyaswa of Sagaing.[24]

Chronicle reporting differences

The royal chronicles do not necessarily agree on his birth, death or reign dates. None of the major chronicles mentions Sithu's regency although they do recognize that Uzana became a hermit for about 4 years. Chronicles count Uzana's reign to the handover to Kyawswa, 20 or 22 years. Inscriptions show that Uzana's reign would have been 19 years if it is counted to Kyawswa's undisputed takeover in 1344.

Source Birth–Death Age at abdication Reign Length of reign Reference
Zatadawbon Yazawin c. 1301 – c. 1359 41 1322/23 – 1342/43 20 [note 3]
Maha Yazawin c. 1301 – ? [27]
Yazawin Thit c. 1300 – ? 1319/20 – 1341/42 22 [28][note 4]
Hmannan Yazawin c. 1299 – ? 43 1322/23 – 1342/43 20 [29]
Inscriptions June 1298 – ? 42 c. February 1325 – 1 September 1340 15 [note 5]
45 (to Kyawswa) c. February 1325 – 29 March 1344 (to Kyawswa) 19



  1. ^ (Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 379): His mother was three months pregnant when his father was overthrown. Per (Than Tun 1959: 119), Kyawswa was dethroned on 17 December 1297.
  2. ^ Yazawin Thit (Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 166) gives a year earlier, 703 ME (1341/42).
  3. ^ Zata is inconsistent. (Zata 1960: 40) says Uzana I's father Kyawswa of Pagan died in 662 ME (1300/01). Because Uzana was born after his father's death, he was born c. 1301. Yet (Zata 1960: 43) says Uzana I died in his 59th year (age 58) in 704 ME (1342/43), implying that he was born c. 1284, apparently mixing up the year of abdication with the year of death.
  4. ^ (Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 166, footnote 3): Yazawin Diga criticizes Yazawin Thit's implied birth dates for Uzana I and Kyawswa I since they make Kyawswa I about a year older than Uzana I, whom all chronicles, including Yazawin Thit, agree was older.
  5. ^ (Than Tun 1959: 123–124, 127): Per inscriptions, Uzana I ascended to the throne in 686 ME (1324/25), and Uzana I abdicated on 1 September 1340. Moreover, per (Than Tun 1959: 119), his father lost power on 17 December 1297. If he was born six months after his father's dethronement as reported by the main chronicles, he was born in June 1298.


  1. ^ a b c d Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 379
  2. ^ Than Tun 1959: 121
  3. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 371
  4. ^ a b Htin Aung 1967: 76–77
  5. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 370–371
  6. ^ a b Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 374
  7. ^ Harvey 1925: 79
  8. ^ Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 161, fn-3
  9. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 373
  10. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 375–376
  11. ^ Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 160, fn#1
  12. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 372
  13. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 377
  14. ^ a b c Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 378
  15. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 383
  16. ^ Sein Lwin Lay 2006: 21
  17. ^ Phayre 1967: 66
  18. ^ Sandamala Linkara Vol. 1 1997: 180
  19. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 265
  20. ^ a b Than Tun 1959: 124
  21. ^ a b Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 166
  22. ^ Zata 1960: 43
  23. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 350
  24. ^ a b Than Tun 1959: 127
  25. ^ Alaungpaya Ayedawbon 1961: 12
  26. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 382
  27. ^ Maha Yazawin Vol. 1 2006: 264–265
  28. ^ Yazawin Thit Vol. 1 2012: 163, 166
  29. ^ Hmannan Vol. 1 2003: 377, 379


  • Harvey, G. E. (1925). History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.
  • Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kala, U (1724). Maha Yazawin (in Burmese). 1–3 (2006, 4th printing ed.). Yangon: Ya-Pyei Publishing.
  • Letwe Nawrahta & Maha Sithu (c. 1770). Hla Thamein, ed. Alaungpaya Ayedawbon (in Burmese) (1961 ed.). Ministry of Culture, Union of Burma.
  • Maha Sithu (1798). Myint Swe (1st ed.); Kyaw Win, Ph.D. and Thein Hlaing (2nd ed.), eds. Yazawin Thit (in Burmese). 1–3 (2012, 2nd printing ed.). Yangon: Ya-Pyei Publishing.
  • Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta.
  • Royal Historians of Burma (c. 1680). U Hla Tin (Hla Thamein), ed. Zatadawbon Yazawin (1960 ed.). Historical Research Directorate of the Union of Burma.
  • Royal Historical Commission of Burma (1832). Hmannan Yazawin (in Burmese). 1–3 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Myanmar.
  • Sandamala Linkara, Ashin (1931). Rakhine Razawin Thit (in Burmese). 1–2 (1997–1999 ed.). Yangon: Tetlan Sarpay.
  • Sein Lwin Lay, Kahtika U (1968). Min Taya Shwe Hti and Bayinnaung: Ketumadi Taungoo Yazawin (in Burmese) (2006, 2nd printing ed.). Yangon: Yan Aung Sarpay.
  • Than Tun (December 1959). "History of Burma: A.D. 1300–1400". Journal of Burma Research Society. XLII (II).
Uzana I of Pinya
Born: June 1298 Died: c. 1356/57
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Pinya
c. February 1325 – 1 September 1340
Succeeded by
Sithu of Pinya
as Regent
Royal titles
Preceded by
Heir to the Pinya Throne
7 February 1313 – c. February 1325
Succeeded by
Kyawswa I
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