Shan researcher: Thai warrior king reached Hsenwi



 
Naresuan (1555-1605) who, according to a prominent Shan researcher, had attempted to follow in the footsteps of his Burmese captor-mentor Bayinnaung as an empire builder, and his conquering armies arrived at Hsenwi, the northern most Shan principality, according to another Shan, who was among the students that had interviewed several learned elders during the 1970’s.

Twin Gamgaw trees in Hsenwi, believed to have been planted by King Naresuan The Great and Prince Kham Kai Noi of Hsenwi. (Photo: Kyaw)
“They told us that the two Gamgaw trees (Mesua ferrea known as Boonnark in Thai and also known as Ceylon ironwood, Indian rose chestnut or Cobra’s saffron) located at Homong, on the way from Hsenwi to Kunlong, were planted by the Thai king and Sao Kham Kai Noi, the ruling saofa (Prince) of Hsenwi, as a token of their friendship and alliance,” said Sai Kyaw, 64, a scion of the Hsenwi House, who now lives in Piang Luang, on the Thai side of the border.

Kham Kai Noi, according to Shan historian Sao Yanfa Hsenwi, nephew of the last ruling prince Sao Hom Fa, was assisted by the king of Ayuddhya when he, a former hostage at Hongsawaddy like Naresuan, returned to the Shan states as a conqueror in 1600.

Following Naresuan’s return to Ayuddhya, Kham Kai Noi received royal injunctions from both Ava and Beijing that, in accordance with established traditions, he would need to pay tributes. The latter, having pledged allegiance to Naresuan, refused. And as a result, he was faced with war from both countries.

King Naresuan, in keeping with his promise, marched north to Kham Kai Noi’s rescue but died on the way in Mong Hang, now in Mongton township, opposite Chiangmai’s Chiangdao district, in 1605.

Not surprisingly, Kham Kai Noi was no match against the two formidable enemy forces and had to retreat from Hsenwi. According to the account given by historian Nang Khurh Hsen, he was killed in battle in Mongnai.

Shan accounts are found to be different from accepted Thai versions. According to the late Krom Phraya Damrong Rajanupharp, who wrote Thai Rob Phama (Thais fought Burmese), King Naresuan was taking the route through Shan States to attack Ava when he died. His death had enabled the Ava king Nyaungyan to mount an offensive against Kham Kai Noi and defeat him.

King Naresuan statue in Loi Taileng (Photo: The Nation)

Shans also disagree with some Thai researchers’ claim that the king had died in Wiang Haeng (now a district in Chiangmai) and not in Monghang, while he was attempting to cross the Salween at Tha Phadaeng (Ta Phaleng in Shan). “Ta Phaleng has a steep cliff on the northern side of the border,” said Paimong, former resistance commander, 70, who also lives in Piang Luang, Wiang Haeng district. “The foot soldiers might be able to cross it, but not the cavalry and the elephants.”

“The elephants could cross only at Tha Chang (Ta Zang in Shan, now renamed Ta Sang by the Burmese),” he added. “That’s why it was named Tha Chang (Elephant Crossing).”

Ta Sang on the Salween now has bridge which connects Mongpan township in the west with Mongton township in the east.

King Naresuan is much revered among the Shan resistance movement as the only Thai leader who had given solid support to their struggle for freedom. A statue of him can be seen in the Shan State Army’s main base Loi Taileng, opposite Maehongson’s Pang Mapha district.




 

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