Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Research Article

The question of ‘China’ in Burmese chronicles

Goh Geok Yian


Historical studies of Burma–China relations have emphasised warfare, seen from the perspective of Chinese sources. One commonly studied event is the thirteenth-century Mongol invasion of Bagan. Burmese sources describe the flight of King Narathihapate (1257–87) from the Mongols, thus earning the Burmese epithet ‘Taruppye’. ‘Tarup’ now refers to the Chinese, but the identities of the people and region to which the term applies have not been constant. This paper discusses the question of the identity of ‘Tarup’ in the Burmese chronicles.


Goh Geok Yian is Assistant Professor at Nanyang Technological University. Correspondence in connection with this paper should be addressed to: The author would like to thank Michael Aung-Thwin, Leonard Andaya, Kenneth R. Hall and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier drafts of this article. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the former Librarian of the University of Yangon Library, Saya U Thaw Kaung, the former deputy director of Universities Historical Research Centre (UHRC), Daw Khin Hla Han and all the research assistants and librarians of UHRC and Universities Central Library (UCL) in Yangon.