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King of Martaban
Reign 4 April 1287 – January 1307
Coronation 19 January 1288
Predecessor None
Successor Hkun Law
Born 20 March 1253
Thursday, 4th waning of Late Tagu 614 ME[note 1]
Died January 1307 (aged 53)
Saturday, Tabodwe 668 ME[note 2]
Martaban (Mottama)
Consort May Hnin Thwe-Da
Issue May Hnin Theindya[1]
House Wareru
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Wareru (Burmese: ဝါရီရူး, pronounced [wàɹíjú]; 1253–1307) was the founder of the Martaban Kingdom located in today's Lower Burma (Myanmar). The kingdom is more commonly known as Kingdom of Hanthawady Pegu (Bago), or simply Pegu although the kingdom's first capital was Martaban (Mottama). By using both diplomatic and military skills, he successfully carved out a kingdom for the Mon people in Lower Burma following the collapse of the Pagan Empire in 1287. Wareru was nominally a vassal of his father-in-law Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai, and of the Mongols, and successfully repulsed attacks by the Three Shan Brothers of Myinsaing in 1287 and 1294.

Wareru was assassinated by his grandsons in January 1307, and succeeded by his brother Hkun Law. The greatest achievements of his reign were his initiative to appoint a commission for the compilation of the Dhammathat, the earliest surviving law code of Burma;[2]:210 and the founding of the Mon kingdom which would prosper for another two and a half centuries.


His Mon name was Ma Gadu (Thai: มะกะโท, rtgsMakatho, Thai pronunciation: [mä˥.kä˩.tʰoː˧]), and the Shan title is recorded as Wa Row (IPA: /waraʊ/; Thai: วาโร, rtgsWaro, Thai pronunciation: [wäː˧.roː˧]), from which came the name Wareru.[3]

His name is also recorded in Thai as Chao Farua (เจ้าฟ้ารั่ว, "Lord Farua", Thai pronunciation: [t͡ɕäːw˥˩ fäː˥.ruːä˥˩]) or Phrachao Farua (พระเจ้าฟ้ารั่ว, "Holy Lord Farua", Thai pronunciation: [pʰrä˥.t͡ɕäːw˥˩ fäː˥.ruːä˥˩]).[2]:205–206[4] Thai historical documents state that King Ram Khamhaeng granted him the name Farua, which literally means "heaven leaking", because he had great merits as if having leaked or descended from the heaven above.[5][6]

He was also recorded as a Shan Saopha, (IPA: /saʊpa/) that corresponds to the Thai title Chaofa (เจ้าฟ้า, "heavenly lord").[citation needed] Sao and Chao both derive by different routes from Chinese master.[citation needed]

Early life

Magadu was born near Thaton to a Shan father and a Mon mother.[7] He was the eldest child, and had at least two brothers and a sister. As a young man, Magadu became a merchant travelling between Martaban and Sukhothai. In the 1270s, he entered the service of Sukhothai King Ram Khamhaeng (r. 1278–1298) in the elephant stables[note 3] and rose to become the Captain of the Palace Guards. In 1280, he eloped with the king's daughter, Me Nang Soy Da (Thai: แม่นางสร้อยดาว, rtgsMae-nang Soidao; "Lady Soidao"), and fled Sukhothai with a few dozen followers.[3][7]

Rise to power (1281–1287)

Back at Martaban, Wareru schemed to take over the governorship there. According to the Burmese chronicles, Wareru supposedly had asked his beautiful sister Hnin U Yaing to choose her bathing place in a river spot where Aleimma would see her. Aleimma asked to marry her. At the wedding ceremony, Wareru killed the governor, and became the lord of Martaban.[8] The year of revolt was 1281 according to Mon records but 1286 according to Burmese records.[2]:205–206[9] At any rate, the Pagan Empire, preoccupied with the Mongol invasions, was on its last legs and could not take any effective action.

In 1287, the invading Mongols sacked Pagan, and the central authority collapsed throughout the kingdom. Many governors, especially those in remote parts of the empire, who were already ruling like sovereign kings, openly revolted. Wareru was technically already in revolt since 1281 (or 1286) for having taken over Martaban by killing its Pagan appointed governor. Wareru made an alliance with Tarabya, the governor of Pegu (Bago), each marrying the other's daughter.[8] Their southern forces together defeated the northern forces led by Yazathingyan, who later became a co-founder of Myinsaing Kingdom, and proceeded to conquer the whole of Lower Burma. Then the two rebel leaders themselves quarreled, and in a skirmish, Tarabya was captured and executed.[7]

Wareru proclaimed himself king on 4 April 1287 according to Mon records (or 18 January 1288 per Burmese records).[note 4]

Reign (1287–1307)

Wareru, a half-Shan, tried to be a worthy successor of the Mon kings who ruled Lower Burma before it was absorbed by the Pagan Empire. He declared his kingdom as Ramanna (land of the Mons) with Martaban as its capital. Although he had just defeated the northern forces, and the Pagan Empire had ceased to exist, Wareru remained concerned about the invasions from the north for the rest of his reign.

In preparation, he secured his kingdom's rear by sending a nominal tribute to his father-in-law Ram Khamhaeng, the king of Sukhothai. In 1293, he received from Sukhothai both royal recognition and the gift of a white elephant. Indeed, the news of submission provoked a response from the Three Shan Brothers of Myinsaing, who sent a force of 8,000 to take Martaban in late 1293.[10] With his base secure, Wareru successfully repulsed the invasion force in early 1294, and was never again attacked for the remainder of his reign.[7][11] Though nominally a vassal of Sukhothai, Wareru was also concerned about Sukhothai's designs on the Tenasserim coast. To strengthen his position, in 1298, he sought and obtained recognition from the Mongols as a direct vassal of China, although Sukhothai was also a Mongol vassal.[7][8]

One Saturday in January 1307, Wareru was assassinated by his grandsons, children of Tarabya. The king was succeeded by his brother Hkun Law.[8]


By his skill in diplomacy and his reputation as tough warrior, the king successfully carved out a single unified kingdom in Lower Burma that would last for another two and a half centuries. Nevertheless, he was viewed more as a Shan usurper by the populace, who cheered when he was killed.[7] Wareru is responsible for the Dhammathat, (also known as Code of Wareru), the earliest surviving law book in Burma.[12] Wareru looked to improve Pagan's law book compiled by Shin Dhammavilsa, and appointed a royal commission to compile a new, more complete legal treatise. The commission produced Code of Wareru, which forms the basis of Burmese customary law.[7][8] Professor Robert Lingat has shown Ayudhya was the only Southeast Asian kingdom to develop a code of civil law, and that this was as an outgrowth of a series of works called Dhammasattha composed by Buddhist Mons, one of the most influential of which is attributed to the initiative of Wagaru or Wareru (Siamese: Cau Fa-Rua).[4][note 5] This continued to be the case until formulation of the Siamese Penal Code of 1908.[13]


  1. ^ (Pan Hla 2004: 36): Thursday, 4th waning of Late Tagu 614 ME = 20 March 1253
  2. ^ (Pan Hla 2004: 36): Tabodwe 668 ME = 5 January 1307 to 2 February 1307. Of these 7, 14, 21 and 28 January were Saturdays. He died in his 54th year.
  3. ^ (Terwiel 1983: 59); The category phu tat ya chang, "persons cutting grass for the elephants", was apparently used by the Ahom for a category of people being punished for some misdeed. This corresponds neatly to the Siamese term phu tat yii [sic] chang [ผู้ตัดญ้าช้าง] for a class of people punished in the same manner. This could be taken as an indication that the logistic problem of providing captive elephants with fodder goes back to pre-Sukhothai times and was solved by employing criminals.
  4. ^ (Pan Hla 2004: 25): Mon records say he formally broke away on Thursday, 6th waning of Tagu 648 ME, which translates to Saturday, 16 March 1286. But the date is more probably 6th waning of Tagu 649 ME (Friday, 4 April 1287) because the Mon records themselves (Pan Hla 2004: 36) say Wareru, who was born on 20 March 1253, became king at age 34 (35th year). Moreover, per (Pan Hla 2004: 25–26), Burmese records say he formally broke away on 18 January 1288 (Full moon of Tabodwe 649 ME), after King Narathihapate had been assassinated. But Nai Pan Hla writes that the latter date is likely the date of coronation at the newly built palace.
  5. ^ (Griswold-Prasert 1969: 1) The whole subject of the development of Ayudhyan law from the Dharmasastra, via the Dhammasattha, has been admirably studied by Mr Lingat. See the following works by him: L'esclavage privé dans l'ancien droit siamois, Paris, 1931, 21ff.; L'influence hindoue dans l'ancien droit siamois, Faculté de Droit de Paris, Conferences 1936, Paris, 1937; Les sources du droit dans le système traditionnel de l'Inde, The Hague, 1967, pp. 294–300; La conception du droit dans les pays hìnayânistes de l'Indochine, BEFEO XLIV, 163 ff.; JSS XXXVIII/I Evolution of the Conception of Law in Burma and Siam, 9 f. Cf. Quaritch Wales, Ancient Siamese Government and Administration, London, 1934, Chapters VII, VIII.


  1. ^ Pan Hla 2005: 30
  2. ^ a b c Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella, ed. The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1. 
  3. ^ a b South 2003: 69
  4. ^ a b Griswold-Prasert 1969: 110
  5. ^ Chaophraya Phra Khlang (Hon), 2013: 28–30.
  6. ^ Prachum Phongsawadan..., 1999: 186–187.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Htin Aung 1967: 78–80
  8. ^ a b c d e Harvey 1925: 110–111
  9. ^ Pan Hla 2004: 23
  10. ^ Pan Hla 2004: 35
  11. ^ Phayre 1967: 65
  12. ^ Hall 1960: 34
  13. ^ T. Masao 1908 1–10


  • Coedes, George (1968). The Indianized states of Southeast Asia (3 ed.). 
  • Hall, D.G.E. (1961). Historians of South East Asia. Oxford University Press. 
  • 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. 
  • Pan Hla, Nai (1968). Razadarit Ayedawbon (in Burmese) (8th printing, 2004 ed.). Yangon: Armanthit Sarpay. 
  • Phayre, Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur P. (1883). History of Burma (1967 ed.). London: Susil Gupta. 
  • South, Ashley (2003). Mon nationalism and civil war in Burma: the golden sheldrake. Routledge. ISBN 9780700716098. 
  • T. Masao, (Toshiki Masao) (1908). "The New Penal Code of Siam" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. Siam Society Heritage Trust. 5 (2): 1–23. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  • Lingat, R. (1950). "Evolution of the Conception of Law in Burma and Siam" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. Siam Society Heritage Trust. 38 (1): 13–24. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  • Griswold, A. B.; Prasert na Nagara (1969). "Epigraphic and Historical Studies No. 4: A Law Promulgated By the King of Ayudhyā in 1397 A.D" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. Siam Society Heritage Trust. 57 (1): 109–148. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  • Terwiel, Barend Jan (1983). "Ahom and the study of early Tai society" (PDF). Journal of the Siam Society. Siam Society Heritage Trust. 71: 59. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  • Chaophraya Phra Khlang (Hon) (2013). Rachathirat ราชาธิราช [King of Kings] (in Thai). Bangkok: Thai Quality Books (2006) Publishing. ISBN 9786165144315. 
  • Prachum Phongsawadan Chabap Kanchanaphisek Lem Nueng ประชุมพงศาวดาร ฉบับกาญจนาภิเษก เล่ม ๑ [Golden Jubilee Collection of Historical Archives, Volume 1] (in Thai). Bangkok: Fine Arts Department of Thailand. 1999. ISBN 9744192151. 
Born: 20 March 1253 Died: January 1307
Regnal titles
New title King of Martaban
4 April 1287 – January 1307
Succeeded by
Hkun Law
Royal titles
Preceded by
Ruler of Martaban
Succeeded by
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