Battle of Ngasaunggyan

The Battle of Ngasaunggyan (Chinese: 牙嵩延之战) was fought in 1277 between Kublai Khan's Yuan dynasty, the principal khanate of the Mongol Empire, and their neighbors to the south, the Pagan Empire (in present-day Burma) led by Narathihapate. The battle was initiated by Narathihapate, who invaded the Yunnan, a province of the Yuan dynasty. Mongol defenders soundly defeated the Pagan forces.

Battle of Ngasaunggyan
Part of Mongol invasion of Burma
Result Mongol victory
Pagan Empire

Mongol Empire

Commanders and leaders
Narathihapate Khudu[1]
80,000 plus more than 120 war elephants[2] 6,000–12,000 cavalry
Casualties and losses
Heavy Unknown

Hostility between the two empires had already been established by that time: when Kublai Khan had sent emissaries to regional powers of eastern Asia to demand tribute, Narathihapate refused the khan's representatives the first time they visited (in 1271), and they were killed by bandits in 1273. When Kublai Khan did not immediately respond to this insult, Narathihapate gained confidence that the Mongols would not fight him. He subsequently invaded the state of Kaungai, whose chief had recently pledged fealty to Kublai Khan. Local garrisons of Mongol troops were ordered to defend the area, and although outnumbered were able to soundly defeat the Pagan forces in battle and press into the Pagan territory of Bhamo. The presence of war elephants initially caused Mongol horses to shy in terror, but Mongol general Khudu (Qutuq) ordered his men to shower the elephants with arrows. The wounded elephants stampeded and destroyed everything in their path. In the end, Mongol troops abandoned their offensive and returned to Yunnan, a province of Yuan dynasty with their wounded general Khudu.

The Battle of Ngassaunggyan was the first of three decisive battles between the two empires, the others being the Battle of Bhamo in 1283 and the Battle of Pagan in 1287. By the end of these battles, the Mongols had conquered the entire Pagan empire and installed a puppet government.

In the end of 1277, Yunnan governor's son Naser ad-Din attacked Bhamo again and tried to establish postal system which had already covered Mongol Empire after defeating enemies. But deadly heat forced him to leave Burma. He returned to Khanbaliq with 12 elephants and gave them to his master Kublai Khan in 1279.[2][3]

The battle was later reported back to Europe by Marco Polo, who described the battle vividly in his reports. His description was presumably pieced together by accounts he heard while visiting the court of Kublai Khan.


  1. d'Ohsson, Constantin Mouradgea (1940) [1834-35], Histoire des Mongols, depuis Tchinguiz-Khan jusqu'a Timour Bey, ou Tamerlan, Amsterdam: Les Freres Van Cleef
  2. Man, John (2012), Kublai Khan : from Xanadu to superpower, London: Transworld, ISBN 9781446486153
  3. "Монгол-Татарууд, Ази Европд: Ulan Bator, 1984". Archived from the original on 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-03-19.

Further reading

  • Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma. Hutchinson & Co.: London. Third edition.

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