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These Buddhist Kings with Muslim Names...

Dr Jacques P. Leider
12/28/2008

A discussion of Muslim influence in the Mrauk-U Period

‘Shut off from Burma by a hill range, Arakan has a separate history, but it is the same in kind’, is
one of those unhappy generalizations of Geoffey, Harvey, the British colonial historian, which are
waiting to be shaken by thorough research.

If Arakanese history were the same in kind, why should we care to study it in lengthy detail? It
might turn out to be a case study of general Myanmar history and as such be local history. But can
Rakhaing history be reduced to be a case study of Myanmar history?

If Arakan has a separate history, while having a common past with the country it belongs to, I
wonder why there has been so little interest in Arakanese history.

Let’s go back to the colonial historians. Arakanese history makes up to ten percent of Phayre’s
History of Burma. In Harvey’s History of Burma there is a chapter on Arakanese history which
makes up about 5% of the whole book and in D.G.E. Hall’s History of Southeast Asia, Arakanese
history deserves a whole chapter.

Whenever I have read anything about Arakanese history in general history books, it is reduced to
be a by-side of Burmese history and it is mentioned only in connection with major political events.

For decades, interest in Arakanese history has remained not with properly trained historians, but
with collectors of coins, local chronicles and amateur historians from Arakan or the Chittagong
area.

There has been in fact no thorough research on modern Arakanese history among Western
scholars? Even if you look at the early colonial period, nobody did for Arakan what John S.
Furnivall did for Tenasserim, namely an analysis of the beginnings of British government and
administration.3

As a result, there are fewer reference to Arakan in the recent Cambridge History of Southeast Asia
(two volumes) produced by some foremost specialists of SE Asia (in 1992) than in Professor
Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s remarkable, medium-sized book on The Portuguese Empire in Asia
1500-1700, which was published in 1993. The conclusion is that the sheer existence of an
independent Arakanese kingdom over several centuries is virtually ignored by Southeast Asian
historians.

This is indeed sad news which I do not however evoke to complain, but to stress that research on
Arakanese history can certainly be considered as a field for pioneering studies. With a contribution
on Arakanese history I am pleading for study of Arakan not as by-side of the history of the
kingdoms of the Irrawaddy valley or Bengal, but as a thing of interest of its own. I do not believe
that Arakanese history and its study should be isolated from the history of its prominent
neighbours. Arakanese history forms an intricate part of the cultural and economic history of the
whole area we are dealing with. One example may be enough to understand my methodological
starting point. The main question is not to know if Arakanese Buddhism or Arakanese kingship
were something different from Buddhism or kingship elsewhere, but to understand how Arakanese
Buddhism, how Arakanese kingship integrated into political and cultural environment largely
dominated by the Burmese, the Mon, the powers in Bengal and India and the actors from the
abroad (Portuguese and Dutch).

I will deal with subject of Muslim influence and presence in Arakan and more specifically at the
Arakanese court. The influence of the Islamic culture on the court of Arakan is in fact one of the
very few subjects of Arakanese history that arose some interest among historians, especially
Bengali historians. Arakan was a Buddhist kingdom which had a Muslim minority for several
centuries. There is no doubt about the influence of the Sultanate of Bengal on Arakanese kingship.
The open debate is about the nature and the importance of the influence exercised. Interpretations
reach from political ascendancy over intermittent cultural prevalence to virtual rejection of any
specific cultural identity.

The period under consideration loosely extends from the beginning of the 15th to the end of the
18th century.

During the first three decades of the 15th cent. the Burmese of Ava and the Mon of Pegu were
rivals for the control of Arakan. Mrauk-U founded in 1430, remained the capital of Arakan until
the conquest of the independent kingdom by king Bodawphaya in January 1785.

In the middle of the 15th century a thriving Arakanese kingship grew more and more powerful and
pushed its military expeditions up to Chittagong. The end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th
century mark a period of drawback and short reigns; but in the middle of the 16th century, the
reign of king Mong Ba (1531-1553), the builder of Mrauk-U’s walls and the defender of his capital
against Tabinshweti, marks a culminating point of the history of the kingdom. The century of
Arakan’s greatness and splendor extends from 1580 to about 1690, from the conquest of
Chittagong, a pivotal center of power of the kingdom, to the aftermath of its loss in 1666. It covers
the reigns of kings who fully profited from the weakness of their big neighbours and joined a keen
sense of alliances to a remarkable spirit of openness to foreign influences. The 18th century is duly
considered as a century of decline.

Now I should insist on the fact that while dealing with Islamic influences in Arakan during the
Mrauk-U period, I am not concerned with the question of the so-called Rohingyas and the very
contemporary problems of refugees on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. My paper is but
indirectly concerned with the origins of any Muslim community in Arakan. It can be confidently
assumed that the contemporary problems are linked to the colonial period for more than to
Arakan’s past history.

On the other side, I cannot hide the fact that articles written on the refugee question by western
amateurs contain a painful lot of historical errors.4

**************

While discussing the question of Muslim influence on the Arakanese court, we should bear in
mind two major facts.

First, the political relations between the sultanate of Bengal, later a Mogul province, and the
kingdom of Arakan, were conflictual all over the period under review. The atmosphere was mostly
hostile and the state of relations can be best described by a status of permanent war, a fact which
has been emphasized by all Bengali and English authors. In the Muslim sources, the Arakanese
navy is generally presented as an awful bunch of pirates infesting the rivers of southern and
southeast Bengal. The most prominent economic activity of the Arakanese, the so-called Mugs or
Maghs, in Bengal has up to now been described as slave raids.

The answer of Bengal’s sultans and governors to the Arakanese incursions has been a tenacious
warfare against the Arakanese and, in the long run, the extension of Muslim power to southeastern
Bengal and the conquest and control over the Chittagong area. Rivalry among the regional powers
implicated as well local powers like the Hindu kingdom of Tripura and the semi-autonomous
Portuguese communities around Chittagong.

The other fact that has not sufficiently been appreciated by historians concerns the poorly studied
commercial relations between Bengal and Arakan. Arakan has always been a part of the
commercial network of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Over centuries traders from India
and Southeast Asia have come to Arakan. Many of these traders were Muslims. They did not come
as enemies, they come for peaceful trade and they were welcome.

Let me shortly recall the arguments on which several authors have built their thesis of Muslim
influence on the court of Rakhuin pran kri:, as the chroniclers call their home country.

The exile of King Man: Co Mwan in India and the reconquest of his throne with the help of
Muslim soldiers.

The use of ‘Muslim’ names by an important number of Arakanese kings between the first half of
the 15th and the beginning of the 17th century.

Arakanese silver coins issued between the 15th and the beginning of the 17th century imitate the
Bengali coins and contain Persian inscriptions. The Arakanese coins are monolingual, bilingual
and trilingual, using Bengali, Persian and Arakanese.

The presence of two famous Bengali poets at the court of Arakan, Dawlat Kadi resided for several
years at the court of King Thirithudhamma (from 1622 to 1638) and Sayyid Al-Awwal flourished
at the court of King Sa tui: (from 1645 to 1652). ‘At the court of Rosang (as they call Arakan),
they were patronized by ministers which are introduced in their poetry with typical Muslim names
and titles.

The presence of Persian archers in the royal guard. Their presence in Arakan has been attributed to
the arrival of Shah Shuja, the brother of the Mogul emperor who took refuge in Arakan in
November 1660. Shah Shuja was killed in 1661 under circumstances which have led to different
interpretations as to who is to blame. As it seems, Shuja’s wealth arose the aim of dethroning the
king. Many were killed in the ensuing massacres. A part of those men who survived were
integrated in to the royal guard.

Everybody will agree that we are in front of evidence of a very diverse nature. But these are
actually the arguments which, put on a string, have generally served to justify the thesis that
Arakan has been subjected to Muslim influence since the 15th century.

The association of these elements is far from being self-evident as one may probably guess. The
use of the so-called Muslim names extends from the 15th to the beginning of the 17th century
while the use of Persian legends on Arakanese coins was discontinuous between 1523 and 1638.
The arguments related to Shah Shuja and the archers of the Royal Guard pertain to the 17th
century.

Appreciations and interpretations of the facts have varied according to the authors. In an article
dating from 1925, the former British judge well-known for his romanticizing historical books,
Maurice Collis, interpreted the stay of King Man: Co Mwan at the court of the sultans of Bengal as
a decisive turn in the history of Arakan. Having reconquered his throne thanks to the military help
of the sultan of Bengal, ‘he turned away from what was Buddhist and familiar to what was
Mohammedan and foreign. In so doing he loomed from the medieval to the modern, from the
fragile fairyland of the Glass Palace Chronicle to the robust extravaganzas of the Thousand Nights
and one Night’.

On the use of Bengali-modeled coinage, Collis comments: ‘In this way Arakan became definitely
oriented towards the Moslem States’. And so our author concludes: ‘Contact with a modern
civilization resulted in a renaissance. The country’s great age begon’.5

Two years after Colli’s article in the JBRS, Bisvar Bhattacharya further developed Collis’s views
and arrives at a most surprising conclusion. The author writes: ‘As the Mohammedan influence
was predominant, the Arakanese kings though Buddhist in religion, became somewhat
Mohomedanised in their ideas….’

The conclusion reads: ‘….the dynasty under which Southern Bengal suffered such untold miseries
appears to have been essentially a Bengali dynasty.’.

In his article on the Muslim in burma6, Mohammed Siddiq Khan does not contribute any new
elements to the question and what he writes on the Muslims in Arakan is nothing more than a
compilation of what you read in the books of Collis, Harvey and Sarkar7. Moshe Yegar, in his
important and well-known book on the Muslims of Burma follows to the letter the interpretation of
Collis and U San Shwe Bu. The Indian historian Ramesh C. Majumdar speaks of a decisive role of
the Muslims in the history of the kingdom of Arakan8 and Jamini M. Ghosh (writing in 1960)
thinks that the use of Muslim names and the favours granted by the king to the Muslim poets
testify to the ‘cultural affinity’ of the Arakanese and the Muslims9. Suniti b. Qanungo, starting
from the gratuitous affirmation that Arakan had been dominated by Muslim powers, writes: ‘The
Muslim subjugations of Arakan from time to time undoubtedly increased the Islamic influence in
that country.’10

In two lesser known articles, A.B.M. Habibullah and S.M. Ali, are a good deal more sensible in
their interpretation of facts.

In his excellent article on Arakan in the pre-Moghol history of Bengal, published already in 1945,
A.B.M. Habibullah used for the first time previously neglected Persian and Bengali sources.11 In
his contribution on the Arakanese government in Chittagong, S.M.Ali provides us with a useful
synthesis on the period from 1550 to 1666.12

Habibullah notes an increasing Bengali Muslim influence starting from the reign of Mong Saw
Mwan, but he does not exaggerate the role of Muslim officers at the Court.

Was Arakan politically dependent of the sultanate of Bengal after king Man: Co Mwan’s return to
power? All the authors previously quoted are more or less affirmative on this point. But political
subjection of Arakan to Bengal at this time is indeed far from being a historical truth. Habibullah
does not hide his doubts when writing: ‘In these instances of Bengal’s influence one cannot,
however, read anything like proofs of Arakan’s continued political subjection. How long and in
what form Meng-tsau-mum’s vassalage was given expression in detail will remain a
problem’….And he joins a persuasive argument: ‘Nor was Bengal, after Jalaluddin’s death, in a
position to demand its fulfillment.13

The opinion that the adoption of Muslim names by Arkanese kings betrays a strong Muslim
influence at the royal court of Arakan, seems to be still very popular in Bengal. So popular that in
1986 professor Alamgir M. Serrajuddin (from the University of Chittagong) strongly argued
against it. This historian pointed- at last I should say- to the paradoxical fact that Muslim influence
at the court is most prominent at a time when the Arakanese kings were no more assuming Muslim
names and titles! We are talking about the first part of the 17th century.

The quality of Serrajuddin’s article suffers nevertheless from the prejudices of its author. Relations
between Arakan and Bengal are analysed as relations between a superior and an inferior culture.
Arakan qualifies as a little tribal kingdom14, the Arakanese are styled as ‘tribal and
backward’,Arakanese society is said to be primitive, the Bengal army escorting King Man: Co
Mwan on his way back to Arakan is characterized as host of adventures, fortune hunters and
admirers.15

The Italian traveler Nicole Manucci16 relates the rumour that Shah Shuja had been disgusted by
the table manners of king Candasudhamma17, a king who is generally considered as one of the
most pious Buddhist kings of Arakan. Serrajuddin is using this gossip as a historical argument to
establish that the superior culture of the Muslims did not produce any major effects on the manners
and customs of the Arakanese kings. SO this author’s interpretation is falling into another extreme.

Recently professor Snajay Subrahmanyam of the Delhi School of Economics presented a


diametrically opposite stand on the subject. He quotes Arakan as an example of the Persianisation
of Southeast Asian courts. I do not favour this thesis which he bases on (what is termed) the
translation of a letter of king Sirisudhamma in the Baharistan-i-Ghaybi of Mirza Nathan and the
presence of Persian traders in Arakan18. I will put forward my arguments a little bit later.

It is quite astounding to see how far-reaching conclusions have been drawn for a century from such
scarce evidence. Most of what has been said and thought on Arakan history is founded on Phayre’s
and harvey’s chapters on the country. Their major source was the rajawan of Na Man, a learned
Arakanese who wrote his chronicle in 1842 on the express demand of Arthur Phayre. Na Man
responded perfectly to Phayre’s demand of a comprehensive history barring most supernatural
digressions and making a choice among concurrent versions of a story.

What can actually be read in English are bare summaries of Arakanese history.

As far as other source material is concerned, the absence of any on-going research is a serious
hindrance to a revision of earlier assumptions. Arakanese coins have been collected but were
poorly studied.

Now it is time to expose my own hypotheses and present my arguments.

(1) It is still difficult to know anything clear on the relations between Bengali and Arakan in the
15th century as the traditions we find in different Arakanese chronicles are contradictory and as
there are little Bengal sources on the question.
As I have previously said, the presence of Muslims at the court has been generally linked to the
exile of king Man: Co Mwan in India. So let us turn to the biography of this king as it is found in
the Arakanese sources.

The tradition followed by Harvey and Phayre tells us that the king arriving on the throne in 1404,
was chased by the Burmese in 1406 and after an exile of some two decades reconquered his throne
with the military help of the sultan of Bengal. In 1430 he founded a new capital, Mrauk-U,
abandoning thus the old capital of Lon Krak.

In the rajawon of the minister Wimala, in Pandi’s Dhanawati rajawon sac19 and in Na Man’s
rajawon, the three texts I am using here, the king assumed the name under which he is generally
known only after he reconquered his throne. And the minister Wimala whose text is one of the
oldest Arakanese historical texts (dating from 1536) joins ‘Mong Saw Mwan’ to the names of all
the kings reigning from 1430 to 1525. So I think that this is not a name but an epithet, very
probably honorific.20

So what was the proper name of our king? One tradition calls him Naranu, the other one Naramit-
hla. The tradition which calls Naranu the king who ascended the throne calls his younger brother
Naramit-hla, the future governor of Sam twe.21 The tradition which calls Naramit-hla the king,
presents Naranu as a younger step-brother and future governor of Sam twe.22

The source do not even agree on the name of his father.23 Even the date of the king’s accession to
the throne is variously indicated as 1401 or 1404. It seems however that the last date has been
more generally accepted. I should mention that in the Maharajawan of U Kala, the date of
accession of the king is given as 1403, but the king’s name is given by U Kala as Thora.

To appreciate what kind of influence Bengal Muslim culture should have had on the king on his
court and maybe on Arakan generally, we should know these dissimilar and partly overlapping
traditions tell us on the king’s stay in Bengal.

A. Tradition according to Wimala-

At the death of his father in 1401, Naranu ascended the throne and called his younger brother
Naramit-hla to administrate Sam twe. According to this tradition, king Rajadaruik offered to the
king of Arakan one of his minister’s daughters, called Shwe Chum. This lady, once she had
become queen, provoked conflicts between the king and his Arakanese ministers until the king
exiled his ministers to Sam twe, the province governed by his younger brother. At the same time,
three Mons Phon Teja, Lakya Kri24, and Mon Khawn were appointed as ministers and advisors to
the king. Once they were in charge, they invited king Rajadaruik and their fellow compatriots to
invade the country.

King Naranu, says the tradition, fled to ‘Rum pashya’ ‘who governs the royal city of Delhi in the
country of Indriya’. Naranu asked him for military assistance and Rum pashya offered him a
coalition treaty, the king of Arakan should submit to his authority after reconquering Arakan and
cede to him ‘the twelve towns of bengal’. Thus our author implies that Bengal belonged to Arakan.

While Naranu was marching at the head of 10,000 soldiers against Lon Krak, the capital of
Arakan, his brother Naramit-hla supported the attack with 10,000 men from Sam twe. Once the
country was free from the Mons, Narunu Saw Mwan reigned under the authority of Rumpashya
strating from 1405.

(Naramit-hla succeeded to the throne at the death of his elder brother in 1432. He was then known
as Naramit-hla Mong Khari.25)

It might strike us that this is a totally different story than the one which is generally known. It is
not only different from the story we know from Phayre and Harvey, but it is indeed different from
what U Kala’s chronicle suggests. We learn next to nothing about the stay of the Arakanese king in
India. Even without anticipating a comparison with other traditions, we can easily see the
improbabilities of this tradition.

The expression ‘Rum pashya’ residing in the city of Dili should evidently refer to the Moghul
Sultan. AAround 1398-1399, Timur invaded and sacked Delhi, and the last sultan of the Tughluq
dynasty, Nasir ud-din Mohmud, and his minister Mallu Iqbal were strictly not in the measure to
retrieve the lost territories. under the Sayyid dynasty (from 1414 to 1451) the disintegration of the
Delhi Sultanate went on. The request for armed assistance of the Arakanese king is thus entirely
contradicted by the historical context. The Turkish Sultan of Delhi, being unable to reestablish his
own authority, could surely not pretend to conquer Bengal and to help the exiled king.26

B. Tradition according to U Pandi-

When Naramit-hla became king in 1404, he appointed his brother as governor of Sam twe. He
married Rhwe Chum, the daughter of Rajasu, the governor of Malwan and appointed his father-in-
law as chief of the royal guard. By her immoral behavior and intrigues Queen Rhwe Chum
incurred the dislike of the people and the former ministers of the king’s father. Some of these old
ministers and chiefs fled to Naranu, the king’s brother and governor of Sam twe, and tried to push
him to revolt against his brother. But the good-hearted Naranu refused.

Naramit-hla heard of the intrigues of those ministers, distrusted his brother and wanted to go and
attack him. He even distrusted his brother when Naranu warned him against the imminent attack of
the Burmese under the crown prince Man: Co Mwan, son of king Mong khon.27 Naranu’s
messenger was considered as a spy and tortured.

After the conquest of Arakan by the Burmese in 1418, Naramit-hla took refuge in the 12 towns of
Bengal, to employ the frequent expression of our author.

After thirteen years of Burmese government under Narathaa, who was married to the Burmese
king’s daughter Rhwe pran khyam: sa, it was Naranu, Naramit-hla’s brother, who thanks to a
coalition with the Mon king Rajadhiraj28 , reconquered Arakan from the Burmese, it was Naranu
who called back his brother from exile and put him back on the throne.

So the tradition reported by U Pandi does not mention the stay of Naramit-hla in India at all. The
reconquest of the throne is not at all put into relation with Bengal forces and it is not even related
to the exiled king. The dates given by U Pandi do not match with those given by Phayre, Harvey
and other writers as they do not match with the tradition of Wimala we just mentioned.

So once more we do not find any solid evidence which we could use as a proof for any kind of
Muslim immigration, presence or even just influence on the court.

C. Tradition according to Na Man


While turning to the third tradition, I am not either confident to say that it is more reliable than any
of the other traditions. Once again the names are not the same, the story is a different one and the
dates do not match.

There is not need to completely retell the story as it is given in Phayre’s article on the history of
Arakan, which is a convenient, though imperfect translation of the Na Man chronicle. I would
above all stress one point as regards Na Man’s narration while dealing with this king’s reign.

The chapter on king Man: Co Mwan, as Na Man calls the king from the beginning, might be
divided into three parts. First the chronicler explains the reason of the king’s exile. According to
Na Man, the governor of Talak asked for Burmese help to dethrone the king who had raped the
governor’s sister. Secondly the chronicler tells us what happened in Arakan during the 20 years
extending from 1406, the year of conquest, to 1426, the date of the first attempt to reconquer the
throne. This part of the story is quite laconic in style (as the chronicles mostly are) but gives
detailed events and precise dates.

The third part is concerned with Man: Co Mwan’s stay in Bengal, which is called the country of
the king of Suratan. The name ‘king of Suratan’ is another standard expression in Arakanese
historical literature for Bengal. The etymology which has been suggested is Sultan. This part of the
story on which a whole line of arguments has been built as regards Muslim presence and influence
on the country, is the vague narration of adventures that the Arakanese king should have gone
through Bengal.

Since this narration does not contain any proper name, nor any date, nor any geographical
reference allowing to replace the adventures into a general historical setting of Bengal’s history of
that time, even a superficial reading of these adventures must lead a critically-minded reader to
throw heaps of doubts on the reliability of the stories.

Na man is boasting our exiled hero as somebody who teaches the Bengalis how to tame elephants
and devises stratagems for the defence of their land while definitely ignores that the only enemy
who confronted the Bengal sultan at that period was not the ‘king’ of Dili, but Ibrahim Sharqi, the
sultan of Jaunpur. Thus it has been repeated that the actually read in Na Man chronicle is more a
kind of anecdotes than historical accounts. When the army of the Sultan was blocked by a forest of
bamboos, Man: Co Mwan told the Sultan to throw thousands of coins into the forest so that the
local population would cut the bamboos and free the way.

Confronting the three traditions is not giving us a definite clue to recognize facts and fiction. It
could be admitted that the king, after having been in exile somewhere in India and most probably
in Bengal, came back after some years with support of arms and men to recover his throne. Still
the circumstances of his exile, the extent of his stay, the conditions of his return to Arakan and the
question who exactly gave him this support remain unknown and bound to speculation unless other
sources confirm part of the tradition.

Another major problem related to the personality of Man: Co Mwan is the alleged dependence or
vassalage of Arakan to Bengal after the reconquest of the throne.

Wimala’s assertion is categorical: Arakan was subject to ‘Musalaman Rum Pashya’29 for 125
years from Man: Co Mwan’s return from Bengal, dated 1401 to 1525.30 We could possibly
understand that the Arakanese king was under an obligation to the sultan, but the fact is that we do
not have any proof of it. Man: Co Mwan is precisely the king who did not adopt a Muslim name
and who did not mint any coin on the Bengal model! His direct successors lead a policy of
reconquest of the area south of Chittagong which does not conform to the idea of recognizing
one’s suzerainety. No Muslim source confirms the hypotheses of any military aid from Ghiyas-ud-
din Azam Shah (1389-1410) to Man: Co Mwan and the suzerainty of Bengal over the kings of
Arakan. Habibullah thinks, as we mentioned, that the sultans were hardly able to provide such a
help and to enforce their rule.

If the Bengal intervention happened at the end of the second decade of the 15th century (following
the Na Man tradition), Jalal-ud-din, the son of Raja Ganesh converted to Islam under the pressure
of the nobles would have been the one to provide the aid. He controlled by then the thriving port of
Chittagong.31 Would geographical proximity render more probable a military intervention?

The origins of a first Muslim community in Arakan have been as well related to the name of the
founder of Mrok U (Mrauk-U). The mercenaries at his disposal would have built the Santikan
mosque at the Mrok-U. But this attribution to the 15th century seems to belong to the popular
tradition, According to Forchhammer, the construction technique of the Santikan mosque is closely
related to the Dukkanthein and Chitethaung pagodas which date from the first half of the 16th
century.32 it is precisely at this period that we have a first written account of a Muslim religious
mission at the Arakanese court.

Let me draw a first conclusion to this expedition into the evidence of Arakanese source material. I
do not reject the Arakanese chronicles as sources of information, either do I completely reject the
possibility of an Indian exile of our king. But I do not think that on the available written evidence
which is, as I have shown, extremely controversial, one can build any argument testifying Muslim
or Bengal influence on the Arakanese court.

2. The fact that an impressive number of Arakanese kings were apparently using so-called Muslim
titles and names has been used as a most convincing argument to prove that there has been a
steadfast Muslim influence at the Arakanese court.

But even for someone acquainted with Arakanese history it is difficult to quote spontaneously such
Muslim names of Arakanese kings. They have been very popular and making a list of these so-
called Muslim names has been a painstaking task for me. The list I have compiled can nowhere be
found in such a complete form. I is an artificial compilation put together from a large range of
sources, mainly dynastical lists joined to the chronicles.

Even those authors who, like Collis overestimated the Muslim influence, were unable to quote
more than four names. Phayre gives none and Harvey mentions just three. Phayre observed in 1844
that ‘they (the kings) assumed foreign names…which are now frequently applied to them, though
the some Indian names are not always applied to the same individual kings, even by the best
informed among the Arkanese.33

Some of the names are known by the coins. The Arakanese written sources mention them
erratically. As Arakanese numismatics have been insufficiently studied until now, a few general
remarks must be sufficient to support my point which is: the use of Muslim names on the coins
seems to be a political one, it may be interpreted as the expression of political overlordship over a
Muslim community in the area south of Chittagong and maybe in parts of Arakan as well; but the
available evidence leads me to think that the importance of the use of Muslim names should not be
overrated. (See detailed list at the end of this paper!)
From this I infer that no major cultural influence can be related to the use of such names whose
spelling has frequently been commented on as curious by Bengali authors.

The 15th century is considered as a great time of Bengali coinage and it is not surprising at all that
the Arakanese kings some time later tried to imitate their prestigious neighbours and started to use
silver coins using a similar device. Incidentally it should be interesting to point out that it has not
been established yet who did the coinage and where the silver used for it, come from, since it was
not locally produced.

If we provisionally accept that the Arakanese kings were using coins with so-called Muslim names
and Persian legends to demonstrate their overlordship over their Muslim subjects, in the same way
as did the Bengal sultans, there are nonetheless many puzzling facts that hardly conform to his
candid explanation.

We should first notice of the fact that Bengal authors commenting on the coins have spoken of
‘curious’ Muslim names. It is indeed not easy to find out what original name the names of the
coins are derived from. As my list shows, this is sometimes of the order of pure speculation.

-It is equally worth pointing out that these names are never mentioned in any Bengali sources as
the names of the Arakanese kings.

- Little attention has been paid until now to the inscriptions in the nagari script on the coins.
Difficult to read or even quite unreadable, no conjections have been formulated until now. When
we look at Paton’s strange list of Arakanese kings, we might be puzzled at first at the way the
names of the kings were written. There is no doubt for me that Paton transcribed the list with the
help of a Bengali Muslim interpreter. But with the exception of one name, not a single Muslim
name in the list is known from a coin.

- The Arakanese kings of the 15th centuries to whom Muslim names are attributed, did not all
control the Chittagong area where a majority of Muslims may have lived.

- A trilingual coin is attributed by U San Tha Aung to king Cakrawate: (1564-1571) though this
king did not have a Muslim name and he lost Chittagong.

- There are only two Arakanese kings whose Muslim names may be found on the coins and in the
dynastical lists of the chronicles. These are two of the warrior kings: the famous Mong Razagri
(1593-1612) and his equally famous successor Mong Kha Moung (1612-1622).

- While the Arakanese control over Chittagong extended until 1666, Arakanese kings did not use
Muslim names any longer after 1622. Futhermore, after 1634, the coins did not bear Persian
inscriptions any more.

When we analyse the history of Arakanese coins from the middle of the 15th to the 18th century,
we get a clear picture of its evolution. In the middle of the 15th cent., inscription were in Persian
only. in the middle of the 16th cent., a hundred years later, we find bilingual and trilingual coins.
But starting from 1634 – as I just mentioned –inscriptions on the coins were in Arakanese only.

It is a striking fact to see that at the time when Arakanese kingship was at its peak and Muslim
presence at the court and in the kingdom was prominent (a point I will stress later), the kings of
Arakan did not feel compelled to use Muslim names any more to state their power. We are
definitely dealing with self-conscious Buddhist kings, proud of their power, governing and
employing Muslim subjects without resenting any Muslim cultural dependence.

There is only one Arakanese king whose Muslim name was more popular than his Arakanese
name. He is the brother of king Naramit-hla/ Mng Saw Mwan, a prince always appearing in a very
favourable light in the sources: a good-hearted, pious and virtuous man. One might speculate about
any Muslim influence on the king. Might this king, reigning from 1434 to 1459, indeed have been
a subject of the Bengal Sultan? Besides the fact that the thesis of subordination of Arakanese kings
to Bengal sultans is difficult to uphold (there is not a single Bengal source affirmative on this
point). King Ali Khan is said to have reconquered the territories north of the Naf river up to Pan
Wa, i.e. Ramu. The famous meeting between the assembled court of Arakanese king and the court
of king of Ava, Thuparum dayaka Narapati Mong, on mount Bhui: khon nway khyui (1454),
shows the power and prestige of the Mrok U: dynasty34 at this time.

The successor of Ali Khan was his son Ba Co Phru (1459-1482). The Arakanese conquered
Chittagong probably at the beginning of the reign, but lost the town a few years later. Around
1474, it was under the control of sultan Rukh-ud-din Barbak Shah (1459-1474), one of the great
conquering sultans of Bengal.35 Ba Co Phru surprisingly adopted the title Kalima Shah, but coins
bearing this title cannot be safely attributed to him.36 Owing to this title, the hypothesis was
expressed that coins wearing the kalima (known since the 16th century only) had already been
minted since the middle of the 15th century.37 It is at the court of Ba Co Phru that the minister
Adu Mong Nyo38 composed the famous Mok-to-ekhran39, the first poem of the Burmese
literature we know. The king, a pious Buddhist, is equally known as a builder of pagodas.4

Under the leadership of these two kings, the dynasty reached thus first political and cultural apogee
while showing its military strength. The control exercised by the kings over a Muslim population
in conquered territories and assuming a slightly growing influence of the prestigious Bengal
sultanate can give us a satisfying answer to the adoption of Muslim titles.

Between 1474 and 1515, the Arakanese kings did not possess Chittagong. After the reign of Ba Co
Phru until 1501, Arakan was governed by weak and insignificant kings. In Bengal however Ala-
ud-din Husain Shah reigned since 1493, hailed as the greatest of the independent sultans of Bengal.
In 1513 the king of Tripura took control of Chittagong and invaded, according to the Rajamala41,
Arakan. But the invaders were rapidly repelled. Around 1515, Man: Raja (1501-1513/23)
conquered Chittagong, but the heir-apparent of Bengal, Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah, retook the place
in 1517 and the city remained under the Husain Shahi sultans until 1538.42 When Sher Khan Sur
had it occupied by one of his generals.43

It is under the reign of Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah (1519-1532) that happened an episode which
perfectly illustrates the influence of the prestigious court of Gauda: the arrival of a religious
mission from Bengal aiming at converting the Arakanese to Islam. Wimala reports that the
‘ambassadors’ kadi, Musha et Honumya, having arrived in 1525, were preaching to the crowd,
founding schools, Some Buddhist Arakanese were converted. The king receiving presents is said to
have had much sympathy for the missionaries.44 if this mission and its results, which can not be
traced in any other chronicle, are a historical fact, it is according to my knowledge the only
available written instance to fix an origin to an indigenous Muslim community.

It is not clear which king the mission actually arrived. Mong Co the Old, became king at the age of
60 and reigned only 6 months. The foundation of three pagodas is attributed to him.45 His
successor Sajata 91525-1531), crowned at the age of 52, is said to have minted a unlingual
(Persian) coin with the kalima.46 The use of the Kalima deserves attention. It was Jalal-ud-din
(1418-1433), the son of Raja Ganesh converted to Islam, who used the kalima for the first time in
Bengal on his coins; this was interpreted as a symbolic gesture directed towards the Muslims to
gain their support.47

While the use of the kalima on Arakanese coins can hardly be interpreted as an instrument of
religious policy., it may possibly be looked upon as something on the court of the Arakanese kings
is sensible through numismatic evidence and equally probable in the context of that period, we are
still left with the problem of the Bengal-Arakan relationship at that time. The fact that the
dependence of Arakan from the Bengal should precisely have stopped at the movement the
mission arrived, as Wimala put, is quite inconsistent. The reign of this quite insignificant king is
badly known. He was dethroned in 1531 by king Mong Ba, the greatest of the Arakanese kings of
the 16th century.

Drawing a tentative conclusive to the analysis of the so called Muslim names or titles and the
numismatic evidence, we might sum up like this. The imitation of Bengali coinage over a fairly
long period of time is a remarkable sign of influence of the splendid court of the Sultans of Bengal
on the tiny but wealthy Arakanese court. The use of coinage is linked to the king’s prestige,
demonstration of power, overlordship and glorification. The use of the so-called Muslim names of
the kings can hardly be interpreted as a proof of stronger Bengali Muslim influence as these names
were neither very popular in Arakan, nor were they apparently used by the Bengalis themselves.
Exceptions are Ali Khan and one of the warrior kings previously mentioned (Mong Raza Gri)
whoseMuslim name is well known through the Portuguese sources (Xalamixa, that is Salim Shah).

Analysing the numismatic evidence, we can see clearly that the influence of Bengal on the court of
Arakan was declining from the early 16th to the 17th century. but even in the 16th century, when
Bengal Muslim influence may have been prominent, there is no conspicuous proof of political
authority or cultural ascendancy on our Buddhist Arakan.

3. The Muslim in Arakan and at the royal court. What do we actually know about the Muslims
living in Arakan between the 15th and the 18th century? Which kind of Muslim communities or
individuals can possibly be identified?

Slaves – Through a Dutch source of the 17th cent., we know that the majority of the countrymen
abducted from Bengal to be sold as slaves were hindoos, but it can be supported that an increasing
number of those country-folk were Muslims. I would rather believe that these simple people about
whom we do not have much information, formed the majority of the Muslims in Arakan. English
sources from the end of 18th and early 19th century pretend that in some areas of Arakan, these
Bengalis represented up to a quarter of the population. But in fact these estimations are
contradicted by the more reliable figures of the early British period (after 1825) which do not
confirm the former opinions.

Traders. – Traders came mostly from Bengal ports48, Orissa and the Coromandel. They definitely
belonged to all the nationalities and races of India and the Middle East trading in the Bay of
Bengal49. Most of them were Muslims. The importance of the Muslim traders in Arakan has been
largely underestimated until now. The reasons for this are quite clear: lack of sources, little interest
of the western trading companies in Arakan, lack of information on the traders going to Arakan,
the fact that the Arakanese themselves did apparently not visit South Indian ports etc.
Manrique mentions their presence specifically in Urac ton (Orietan) and Ton bhak che: (Dobazi50)
‘Where there are settlements of merchants of various nationalities most of them being Maumetans
with a captain of the same faith.51 Incidentally Dutch sources contain information on the Muslim
traders in Arakan.52 According to Schouten, the numerous Muslim traders in the kingdom, coming
from Persia, from Surat, Golconda (port of Masulipatam), Pulicat, Orissa and Bengal, were trading
in cloth, precious stones, elephants and spices.53 Only a few had been born in Arakan; most of
these traders did not settle in the country. Schouten specially notes that they were all under a strict
control of the Arakanese authorities.

Since when Muslim traders had come to Arakan, we do not exactly know. I do not wholly agree
with my Arakanese friends who think that Muslim traders only came to Arakan during the Mrauk-
U period, nor do I easily accept that Arab traders had settled in Arakan since the 8th or 9th century.

Pretending that Arab traders had come to Arakan since the 8th or 9th century, as has been upheld
by those who want to stress the antiquity of Muslim presence in the area, is just a matter of
speculation. As far as I understand those who have been arguing the problem, this precise question
is linked to the early history of Chittagong. if you sustain that the Arab ‘Sadkawan’ can be
identified with Chittagong, you can speculate on the presence of Arab traders in the area.

Western Bengal had been under Muslim control since the beginning of the 13th century, but it took
much more time to extend and to strengthen the sultans’ control over southeastern Bengal. An
increasing number of Muslim traders may have taken part in the coastal trade from that period
onwards, without necessarily settling in the Arakanese kingdom.

What kind of influence these traders may have had on the court and on the country generally, is -
for the movement – equally a matter of speculation.

Muslims at the Arakanese court. – Friar Manrique mentions the presence of ‘Moorish’ officers and
‘many others of the latter faith’ at king Sirisudhamma’s crowning ceremony in 1634. But that is
above all that we can learn about Muslims at the court of the Arakanese kings in this author’s
book.54 We should bear in mind that Manrique, an Augustine monk and advocate of Portuguese
interests, was always ready to vilify the Muslims of the good cause of propagating the truth of his
own faith. The best example is in chapter 31 ‘the false preceptor, a Mohammedan’ who according
to our Catholic author prompted the king to commit ‘murders and holocausts’ to become invisible
and ‘obtain the vast empires of Delhi, Pegu and Siam.55 The fact is that Manrique had never any
reason of complaining about conflicts with Muslim officers at the court.56 From the evidence of
Manrique’s book, we can not conclude that any important functions at the court were held by
Muslims. M. Collis inferred from Manrique’s scant remarks on the palace that there was a
‘seraglio’, suggesting in way that the court’s style matched a sultan’s or nabab’s court. But there is
nothing in Manrique’s text to support such an assumption. While talking about ceremonies e.g.,
Manrique specifically speaks about ‘the true Magh style’57.

A.B.M. Habibullah writes that ‘…a large number of offices in the court and government appear to
have been held by Bengali Muslims’…Arakanese sources do not provide us with useful
information on this question, but Dutch sources confirm the presence of these Muslim offices. The
shabandar, (master of the port) of the capital’s port fro instance, was a Muslim until 1785, when
the Burmese conquered Arakan.

The presence of Muslim officers is testified as well by the works of two Bengali poets who lived at
the court in the 17th century. Those Muslim ministers are presented as patrons of arts and letters.
The two Bengali poets were Dawlat Kazi and Ali Awwal. Both are extremely famous and in a
Bengali general history or a history of Bengali literature, one may find a chapter on Bengali
literature at the court of Arakan. Dawlat Kazi who lived at the court of Surisudhamma (1622-1638)
is the author of ‘Sati Maynamati’ written for Asraf Khan, his patron at the court.

Al Awwal wrote his magnus’ opus ‘padmavati’ at the request of Magan Thakur whom the poet
characterizes as the principal minister of the king. He lived at the court of Narapati Gri: (1638-
1645) and Sa tui (1645-52). Born in 1600, Al Awwal, a poet and a musician, fled to Arakan after
having escaped Portuguese pirates and spent some years as a horseman in the king’s cavallery.

The presence of these foreign poets at the court, the protection given to them by the kings as much
as the description of the court ceremonial by Dutch writers are an ample demonstration of the
splendor of the Arakanese palace. This brilliant and refined court in its marvelously situated capital
was at peak of its greatness in the middle of the 17th century, powerful and self-conscious, tolerant
and open to foreign influences. The presence of Muslim artists and officers at the court at this time
is just another sparkling element of cultural refinement at the Arakanese court.

Muslim mercenaries. Their role may sometimes have been exaggerated in the same way than the
importance of the Portuguese pirates was exaggerated by travelers like Bernier.

While approaching this point, we should bear in mind that Buddhist Arakan and Muslim Bengali
were rivals in the area for centuries. They were not the only competitors as you know. The little
kingdom of Tripura and the semi-autonomous Portuguese communities were at times bold and
staunch opponents. The Chittagong area was at the core of this rivalry. Once the Arakanese kings
had done away with the Portuguese peril after the first decade of the 17th century, they were
employing an impressive number of Portuguese mercenaries in their armies. I think it is unlikely
that the same time i.e. in the three following decades up to the middle of the 17th century, they
would have employed an important number of Muslim mercenaries.58

The presence of Muslim mercenaries in the Arakanese palace guard has generally been connected
to the flight to Arakan of Shah Shuja, the brother and rival for the throne of Emperor Aurangzen.
Shah Shuja fled with his followers to Arakan at the end of 1660. There he met with the hospitality
of the Arakan king. it seems that he greed of the court for the incredible fortune of Shah Shuja and
a conspiracy premeditated by Shuja’s attendants were the cause of the subsequent massacres of
which Shuja himself ultimately became a victim. It is said that one part of the survivors among
Shuja’s followers were integrated into the Royal Guard, other survivors ‘were didtributed in
different parts of the kingdom. Lands and implements of husbandry were assigned to them, and
they were further encouraged to marry with the women of the country.59 They were called
‘Kamanchis’, a Persian word referring to their prior occupation as archers. Harvey writes that the
end of the 17th century ‘they, the Muslim archers, murdered and set up kings at will’, ‘rooming
over the country, carrying the fire and sword wherever they went’.

This is an oversimplification of Na Man’s text. it seems to me that just as the Arakanese marine
was not onlyu composed of Portuguese pirates, the Arakanese royal guard was not only made up of
Muslim mercenaries. The major political problem of the period 1685 to 1710 were the revolts of
the native populations north of the Naf river and the rebellions of the Mons that the royal guard
proved unable to tackle .

The communities of Kamanchis were progressively integrated into Arakanese society fitting their
behaviour to their surroundings, as English sources of the first half of the 19th century testify.60
It has been correctly said I think that the Muslim mercenaries received fresh arrivals from India
after the conquest of Chittagong. But it is quite possible that even long before the fall of
Chittagong, at the time of Islam Khan. Turco-Afghan soldiers losing ground in Bengal, fled their
deadly enemies, the Moghuls, and took refuge in Arakan where they found employment at the
royal court.

The historical content and the political situation in southeastern Bengal in the first half of the 17th
century would, according to my opinion, favour such a hypothesis.

The arrival of three Sinhalese embassies (1693, 1696 and 1697) is mentioned by the chronicles and
bears testimony to Arakan’s outstanding prestige as a Buddhist country in Ceylon, the cradle of
Therawada Buddhism.

Recently Professor S. Subrahmanyam has tried to prove his thesis of persianisation in the Bay of
Bengal by quoting extracts of the Baharistan-I Ghaibi of Mirza Nathan (17th century). Mirza
presents an exchange of letters between Mir Abd-us Salam Mashhadi (Islam Khan), the subahdar
of Bengal, and the king of Arakan, Thirithudhamma. I think it is an error to treat these documents
as an original correspondence and interpreting them like this. S. Subrahmanyam thinks that the
formulation of the letter where references are found to Persian heroes gives evidence of a Persian
influence at the court of Arakan. I disagree with this point of view as the letters were very probably
rearranged according to the gusto of the Persian author.

G. Bouchon and L.F. Thomaz published a letter of the king of Arakan to D. Manuel dated around
1518 and written in Portuguese.61. We evidently cannot deduce from this letter that the royal
chancery of Arakan was using the Portuguese language and Portuguese diplomatic turns of
phrase.62 The (rare!) letters of Arakanese kings that I came across do not use either Portuguese or
Persian diplomatic terminology. Grandiloquent and sophisticated, they display in sumptuous Pali
expressions the Buddhist conception of kingdom.

The study of Arakan, a small Buddhist kingdom situated on the fringe of a predominantly Muslim
cultural area, needs still further attention. Conceptually speaking, this study implicates an analysis
of the interactions between military and cultural resistance, tending to a relative isolation, and the
insertion into a socio-economic network of the Bay of Bengal, implementing a gradual opening to
influences form abroad.

Appendix

Introduction

Mong Saw Mwan never adopted a ‘Muslim’ name. Among the eighteen kings by whom he was
succeeded, there were fifteen to whom ‘Muslim’ names were attributed.

The following list has been compiled from various dynastic lists and chronicles. One does not find
a manuscript listmentioning all the Muslim names. Nor does any of the English-language articles
quoted in the bibliography mention all the names.63 This list is only fairly identical with U San
Tha Aung’s review of the Arakanese kings in his book on Arakanese coins64, but for one
exception. San Tha Aung counts 19 kings for the period under consideration. The succession of the
Arakanese kings from 1501 to 1531 has not yet been accurately established. Modern Arakanese
authors attribute to the reign of Mong Raja65 a length of 12 years while Phayre, Harvey and Collis
say 22 years.

All the lists do harmonize on the length of the three succeeding reigns. The gap of ten years
between 1521 and 1531 (the undisputed date of the accession to the throne of the great Mong Ba)
resulting from the first hypothesis is filled by the reign of a king variously called U: Don Raja,
Mong Khoung Raza or Ton Raza.66 As no ‘Muslim’ name is attributed to this king and as far as
the existence of the king himself has not been firmly established, I felt no need to join him to the
list.

Names of the kings are presented in the following order:

Transliteration of the Arakanese name: the usual English transcription between (brackets):
varieties of the ‘Muslim’ names found in the Arakanese sources: various transcription of ‘Muslim’
names in secondary works in [square brackets]; comments on the names and kings.67

Mong Kha Ri (Minkhari); Ali Khan, Ali Khan, Ali na khan, Alac Khan [Ali Khan].

Younger brother of Mong Saw Mwan68 whose youth name would be Naranu or Naramit-hla,
according to one or the other source discussed. He is the only Arakanese king better known by his
‘uslim’name than by his Arkanese name. Curiously enough Wimala, does not mention his
‘Muslim’ name.

Ba Saw Phru (Basawpyu); Kalama shya, Kalama shya, Kalamra rha:, Kulama69 rha70: [Kalima
Shah]. ‘Kamoola tha’ is a transcription of a 19th cent. English author.71 Son of his predecessor.
This king,well known by his ‘Muslim’ name (‘a curious Muslim name’ says Habibullah72),is the
first of the so-called Dhanawati dynasty to whom coins are tentatively attributed.73 The attribution
is rather doubtful in my eyes.74

Do Lhya, Do Lhya, Do lya, Do lya, (Dawlya): Po Khu rha, Mo khu shya, Mon khu shya [Mokhu
shah75, Mokhusya76].

Bha Co Nui, Na Ce nui, Mom nui (Basawnyo); Maha rhok rhi rha, Maha mok shya, Mahamat shya
[Maha Moshah78, Mahamauk tha, Mahamosya].

Ran On, Ram On (rare) (Yanaung); rhi rha:, Non shit shya, Rhi shya [Nan Sheet tha].

Son of Do lya. I did not found in any source available to me ‘No ri shya’given by San Tha Aung.
Ba Shin has (‘Norisya’) which he reads as Nuri Shah.

Ca Lan Ka Su, Ha Lan Ka Su, Ca Lan Su, Sin ga su (Salingathu): Do la shya, Sak khon ton rha:,
Sak khon do lo shya [Sakkokdolasya; Secunder Shah].80

Maternal uncle of his predecessor. Ba Shin reads the name as Sheikh Abdulla Shah.81 I would
rather derive the name from the Persian Sikandar.

Mom raja (Mong Ra Za); Bhali rha:, I shya [Pelee tha, Ili Shah, Illisya].82

Son of Ca Lan Ka Su. Should be read as Ilyas Shah according to Ba Shin.

Gajapati (Kasabadi), Ganhapati83; Ila shya.


Son of Man raja, Ba Shin does not mention this king. Serrajuddin includes him in his list of kings
with Muslim names and interpretes the name as Ilyas Shah.84

Given the identity of names of this king and his predecessor, we are strongly reminded of Phayre
who observed in 1844: ‘they [the kings] assumed foreign names …. which are now frequently
applied to them, though the same Indian names are not always applied to the same individual
kings, even by the best informed among the Arakanese.85

Mam Co (the od), Mam Jo, Mam Jo Si ri su (Mongsaw-O); Jalatta mam, Jala shya, Jala rha: [Jal
Shah, Jalasya].

Younger brother of Ca Lan Ka su, paternal uncle of Mam raja, Ba Shin reads as Jalal Shah.

Sajata, Sajata, Sahajata, Sahatajata (Thatasa86); Ala shya [Itali Shah, Ilisya].

Sajata was the son of Do lya87. Okkantha presents the curious reading Itali Shah.88 Ba Shin
interpretes Ilisya as Ali Shah89, a name given as well by San Tha Aung. According to an
Arakanese source, he was also called Kamala tha.90 An undated coin with Persian inscription on
the two faces, with the kalima on one face and the title Sultan Ali Shah, father of the victorious, on
the other, is attributed to him (1525).91

Mam ba:, Mam ba, Mam pa, Mam pa (Mongba); Kok Pok rha:, Jok Pok shya, Jok Bhok shya
[Zabuk Shah, Zabauk Shah, Zubbur].

Son of Mam raja. Habibullah considers the name as ‘apparently a misreading either for Mubarak
or Barbok.92 Undated bilingual coins (Persian/Arakanese and Bengali/Arakanse) have been
quoted as proofs for Mam Ba’s control of Chittagong.93 Phayre read Jatkane as Chatiganu, i.e.
Chittagong.

(the three kings whose reign stretches from 1553 to 1571 did not assume ‘Muslim’ names.)

Mam pha lom (Mongphaloung94): Shyok kyindra shya, Shyo kindra shya raja, Rhok kannara rha:;
[Secundra95, Sekendar Shah, Sikandar Shah96]

Uncle of his predecessor, called sive Mam cakkya sive Cakrawate:, and son of Mam ba.
Robinson ascribes to his king a monolingual coin with the name Sikandar.97 San Tha Aung does
not transcribe the Persian and Bengali text on a trilingual coin that he refers to this king. The
Arakanese text on the coins variously reads as Naradhipati urito mahasisura98 or.. ….urito siri
shya.99 The king’s Pali name was Sirisuriyacandra mahadhammaraja.100

Mam raja kri: (Mongrazagri)101; Thin lin rha:, Cho lim shya, [Salim Shah].

Son of Mam pha loung. Contemporary Portuguese sources quote the king by his Muslim name
Xilimixa.102 First dated coin according to Robinson. On his trilingual coins the titles Lord of the
White Elephant, Naradhibbati Cholim Shya and Shah Sultan are found.

Mam kha mom (Mong Kha Moung)103; U: Shyon shya, U Shyon rha [Hosein Shah, Husein
Shah].
Son of Mam raja kri:, his trilingual dated coins are close to those of his predecessor. A coin quoted
by Robinson reads Lord of the White Elephant Waradhammaraja U: Shyo:, shya.104 San Tha
Aung presents a coin with the increasingly ncomplex title Lord of the White Elephant, Lord of the
Red Elephant Mam : tara kri: U: Shyon Shya.

Sirisudhamma raja (Thirithudamma).

Son of Mam Kha moung:, Some authors call him Salim Shah II not to confuse him with Mam raja
kri:, but the attribution of this name may eventually be erroneous.105 The only authority to my
knowledge mentioning his name as Salim Shah is Manrique who calls him twice Xalamiza, the
second of that name106. The trilingual coins of Sirisudhamma shown by Robinson and San Tha
Aung bear an unread Persian inscription107, which apparently is not Salim. Habibullah writes:
‘For the next two kings, Narapadigri (1638-1645) and Thirithudhamma (1622-1638), no Muslim
titles which undoubtedly were designed to represent their Muslim oppellations.’108. The coin
issued at Sirisudhamma’s crowning ceremony is monolingual (in Arakanese)109, the king
assuming the prestigious titles of Lord of the White Elephant and Lord of the Red Elephant. Dating
from Narapati kri’s reign, all the Arakanese coins were monolingual110.

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