Nan Chao

   During the Later Han Dynasty, in the second century CE, the Chinese gained control of what is now Yunnan Province. In the seventh century, a local state known as Nan Chao was established, which succeeded in wresting control of the region from the Chinese by the middle of the following century. Scholars originally believed the rulers of Nan Chao had a common origin with the Shan (Tai) of eastern Burma and other Tai groups, but most currently believe, on linguistic evidence, that they were people speaking a Tibeto-Burman language, possibly related to the Lolos of modern Yunnan. During the eighth and ninth centuries, Nan Chao was a militarily powerful state that exercised influence, if not control, over several areas of Mainland Southeast Asia, including the upper Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River Valley. Its expansion had a major impact on the Pyu states of early Burma.
   By the 10th century, however, Nan Chao's power had waned because of internal dissension, the rise of an independent Vietnam (Dai Viet), and other factors. It was no longer a major force in the politics and warfare of Upper Burma when in the mid-11th century King Anawrahta founded the Pagan Dynasty, whose nucleus was a settlement on the Irrawaddy River founded by the Burmans (Bamars) two centuries earlier. The role of Nan Chao in early Burmese history is not clearly understood, but it was probably of major importance, especially because the control of Yunnan by non-Chinese dynasties between the 8th and 13th centuries may have prevented Burma from undergoing Chinese cultural assimilation similar to that experienced by Vietnam. Burma remained firmly within the Indian sphere of civilization, as reflected in the central role of Theravada Buddhism in national identity. When Nan Chao's successor state was conquered by Khubilai Khan in the mid-13th century, the way was cleared for China to assume a more important, and at times threatening, role in Burmese affairs.
   See also Pagan (Bagan).

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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