Panthay Rebellion

Panthay Rebellion
Date 1856-1873
Location Yunnan, China
Result Victory by the Qing dynasty
Fall of Pingnan Guo
Weakening of the Qing Dynasty
Qing Empire Pingnan Guo
Commanders and leaders
Cen Yuying
Ma Rulong
Du Wenxiu
Ma Shenglin
Ma Shilin
Manchu, Han Chinese, and Loyalist Muslim troops Rebel Muslims, Rebel Han Chinese, and non-Muslim ethnic minorities
Casualties and losses
1,000,000 including civilians and soldiers

The Panthay Rebellion (1856–1873), known in Chinese sources as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion (Tu Wen-hsiu Rebellion; Chinese: 杜文秀起義; pinyin: Dù Wénxiù Qǐyì), was a rebellion of the Muslim Hui people and other (non-Muslim) ethnic minorities against the Manchu rulers of the Qing Dynasty in southwestern Yunnan Province, as part of a wave of Hui-led multi-ethnic unrest.

The name "Panthay" is a Burmese word, which is said to be identical with the Shan word Pang hse.[1] It was the name by which the Burmese called the Chinese Muslims who came with caravans to Burma from the Chinese province of Yunnan. The name was not used or known in Yunnan itself.[2]


  • Causes 1
  • Rebel ideology 2
    • Revolution slogans of Du Wenxiu 2.1
  • Course of the war 3
    • The Pacified Southern Kingdom 3.1
    • Decline 3.2
  • Aftermath 4
    • Atrocities 4.1
    • Impact on Muslims 4.2
    • Impact on Burma 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8


Flag of the Panthay Rebellion.

Discrimination by China's imperial administration against the Hui caused their rebellions.[3] Although some sources suggest that the Panthay Rebellion originated solely as a conflict between Han and Hui miners in 1853, Han-Hui tensions had existed for decades prior to the event including a three-day massacre of Hui by Han and Qing officials in 1845. Hui and Han were regarded and classified by Qing as two different ethnic groups with Hui not regarded as an exclusively religious classification.

Volume 8 of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics states that the Panthay Revolt by the Muslims was set off by racial antagonism and class warfare, rather than the mistaken assumption that it was all due to Islam and religion.[4]

In 1856, a massacre of Muslims organized by a Qing Manchu official responsible for suppressing the revolt in the provincial capital of Kunming sparked a province-wide multi-ethnic insurrgency.[5][6] In Dali City in western Yunnan, an independent kingdom was established by Du Wenxiu (1823–1872) who was born in Yongchang to a Han Chinese family, which had converted to Islam.[7][8]

Rebel ideology

The revolt was not religious in nature, since the Muslims were joined by non-Muslim Shan and Kakhyen and other hill tribes in the revolt.[9] A British officer testified that the Muslims did not rebel for religious reasons, and that the Chinese were tolerant of different religions and were unlikely to have caused the revolt by interfering with the practicing of Islam.[10] In addition, loyalist Muslim forces helped Qing crush the rebel Muslims.[11]

Du Wenxiu was not aiming his rebellion at Han, but was anti-Qing and wanted to destroy the Manchu government. During the revolt Hui from provinces which were not in rebellion, like Sichuan and Zhejiang, served as negotiators between rebel Hui and the Qing government. One of Du Wenxiu's banners said "Deprive the Manchu Qing of their Mandate to Rule" (革命滿清), and he called on Han to assist Hui to overthrow the Manchu regime and drive them out of China.[12][13] Du's forces led multiple non-Muslim forces, including Han Chinese, Li, Bai, and Hani.[14] Du Wenxiu also called for unity between Muslim Hui and Han. He was quoted as saying "our army has three tasks: to drive out the Manchus, unite with the Chinese, and drive out traitors."[15]

Du Wenxiu did not blame Han for the massacres of Hui, but blamed the tensions on the Manchu regime, saying that they were foreign to China and alienated the Chinese and other minorities.[16]

Du Wenxiu also called for the complete expulsion of Manchus from all of China in order for China to once again come under Chinese rule.[17]

Total war was waged against Manchu rule. Du Wenxiu refused to surrender, unlike the other rebel Muslim commander, Ma Rulong.[18] This may have had something to do with the sects of Islam practiced among the rebels. The Gedimu Hanafi Sunni Muslims under Ma Rulong readily defected to Qing, while the Jahriyya Sufi Muslims did not surrender. Some of the Jahriyya rebels in the Panthay Rebellion like Ma Shenglin were related to the Dungan revolt Jahriyya leader Ma Hualong and maintained contact with them.

The rebellion started after massacres of Hui perpetrated by the Manchu authorities.[19] Du used anti-Manchu rhetoric in his rebellion against the Qing, calling for Han to join the Hui to overthrow the Manchu Qing after 200 years of their rule.[20][21] Du invited the fellow Hui Muslim leader Ma Rulong to join him in driving the Manchu Qing out and "recover China".[22]For his war against Manchu "oppression", Du "became a Muslim hero", while Ma Rulong dfected to the Qing.[23] On multiple occasions Kunming was attacked and sacked by Du Wenxiu's forces.[24][25] His capital was Dali.[26] The revolt ended in 1873.[27] Du Wenxiu is regarded as a hero by the present day government of China.[28]

Du Wenxiu wore Chinese clothing, and mandated the use of the Arabic language in his regime.[29][30] Du also banned pork.[31] Ma Rulong also banned pork in areas under his control after he surrendered and joined the Qing forces.[32]

Revolution slogans of Du Wenxiu


Course of the war

The rebellion started as widespread local uprisings in virtually every region of the province. It was the rebels in western Yunnan under the leadership of Du Wenxiu who by gaining control of Dali in 1856 (which they retained until its fall in 1872) who became the major military and political center of opposition to the Qing government. They turned their fury on the local mandarins and ended up challenging the central government in Beijing.

The Imperial Government was handicapped by a profusion of problems in various parts of the sprawling empire, the Taiping rebellion being one of them. It was a time when China was still suffering from the shocks caused by the first series of unequal treaties, such as the Treaty of Nanking. These circumstances favored the ascendancy of the Muslims in Yunnan.

The Pacified Southern Kingdom

The rebellion successfully captured the city of Dali, which became the base for the rebels' operations, and they declared themselves a separate political entity from China. The rebels identified their nation as Pingnan Guo (Ping-nan Kuo; Chinese: 平南国; literally: "Pacified Southern State"); their leader Sulayman ibn `Abd ar-Rahman, known as Du Wenxiu [originally Yang Xiu] (died 1873) was styled Qa´id Jami al-Muslimin ('Leader of the Community of Muslims', but usually referred to in foreign sources as Sultan) and ruled 1856 – 26 December 1872.

Governorships of the sultanate were also created in a few important cities, such as Momein (Tengyue), which were a few stages from the Burmese border town of Bhamo. The sultanate reached the high-water mark of their power and glory in 1860.

The eight years from 1860 to 1868 were the heyday of the Sultanate. The Yunnanese Muslim rebels had either taken or destroyed forty towns and one hundred villages.[35]

Various rebel forces besieged the city of Kunming repeatedly: in 1857, 1861, 1863, and 1868. Ma Rulong, a Hui rebel leader from southern Yunnan, besieged the city in 1862, but he defected to the central government's forces after being offered a military post. His decision to quit the siege was not accepted by his followers, who took the opportunity of his absence to kill the Governor-General (Pan Duo) and to wrest control of the city from the Qing in 1863, with the intention of handing the city over to Du Wenxiu. However, before Du's forces could arrive, Ma Rulong — with the assistance of a rising Qing military officier, Cen Yuying — raced back to Kunming and regained control of the provincial capital.

Qing Suppression of the Panthay Rebellion
Capture of Qujing.
Capture of Zhenxiong.
Battle of Chenggjiang
Capture of Dali, the capital of the Pingnan Sultanate
Scroll paintings by artists of the Qing Imperial Court from the collection of the Palace Museum, Forbidden City


The Sultanate's power declined after 1868. The Chinese Imperial Government had succeeded in reinvigorating itself. By 1871, it was directing a campaign for the annihilation of the obdurate Hui Muslims of

  • WorldStatesmen: China

External links

  • Atwill, David G. (2005), The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873, Stanford University Press,  
  • Davenport Northrop, Henry (1894), "The flowery kingdom and the land of the Mikado, or, China, Japan and Corea", Making of America Project (London, CA-ON: J.H.Moore Co. Inc.), retrieved 28 June 2010 
  • Dillon, Michael (26 July 1999), China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects, Richmond, UK: Routledge / Curzon Press,  
  • Fitzgerald, Charles Patrick (1996), Southern Expansion of the Chinese People: Southern Fields and Southern Ocean, Thailand: White Lotus Co.,  
  • Forbes, Andrew ; Henley, David (2011). Traders of the Golden Triangle. Chiang Mai: Cognoscenti Books. ASIN: B006GMID5K
  • Fytche, Albert (1878), Burma past and present, LONDON: C. K. Paul & co., retrieved 28 June 2010 9=(Original from Harvard University)
  • de Kavanagh Boulger, Demetrius Charles (1893), A Short History of China: Being an Account for the General Reader of an Ancient Empire and People, W. H. Allen & co., retrieved 28 June 2010 
  • de Kavanagh Boulger, Demetrius Charles (1898), The History of China 2, W. Thacker & co., retrieved 28 June 2010 
  • Scott, J. George (1900), "i", GUBSS 1, Rangoon Government Printing 
  • Thant, Myint-U (2001), The Making of Modern Burma, Cambridge University Press,  
  • Yule, Col. Henry; Burnell, A.C. (1968) [1886 (1st ed. Murray, London)], Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical And Discursive, Munshiran Manoharlal (reprint) 

Essays, studies

  • Garnaut, Anthony (2008), From Yunnan to Xinjiang:Governor Yang Zengxin and his Dungan Generals, Etudes orientales N°25, retrieved 14 July 2010 

Articles (in journals, magazines etc.)

  • "Contemporary Review", Religious toleration in China, vol.86, July 1904 
  • Holmes Agnew, John; Hilliard Bidwell, Walter (1900), Eclectic Magazine, Leavitt, Throw and Co., retrieved 28 June 2010 
  • Littell, Eliakim; Littell, Robert S. (22 September 1900), "The Living Age", Making of America Project (The Living Age Co. Inc.), vol.225 (issue 2933), retrieved 28 June 2010 
  • 王钟翰 (2010), ]Han Chinese National History [中国民族史,, retrieved 28 June 2010 


  1. ^ Scott 1900, p. 607
  2. ^ Yule & Burnell 1968, p. 669
  3. ^ Atwill 2005
  4. ^ James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray (1916). Encyclopædia of religion and ethics, Volume 8. EDINBURGH: T. & T. Clark. p. 893. Retrieved 2010-11-28. (Original from Harvard University)
  5. ^ R. Keith Schoppa (2002). Revolution and its past: identities and change in modern Chinese history. Prentice Hall. p. 79.  
  6. ^ Fairbank, John King; Twitchett, Denis Crispin, eds. (1980). The Cambridge History of China. Cambridge University Press. p. 213.  
  7. ^ Elleman, Bruce A. (2001). Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989 (illustrated ed.). Psychology Press. p. 64.  
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  9. ^ Fytche 1878, p. 300
  10. ^ Fytche 1878, p. 301
  11. ^ Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa (2002). The religious traditions of Asia: religion, history, and culture. Routledge. p. 375.  
  12. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 59.  
  13. ^ David G. Atwill (2005). The Chinese sultanate: Islam, ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford University Press. p. 139.  
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  15. ^ Jean Chesneaux, Marianne Bastid, Marie-Claire Bergère (1976). China from the opium wars to the 1911 revolution. Pantheon Books. p. 114.  
  16. ^ Association of Muslim Social Scientists, International Institute of Islamic Thought (2006). The American journal of Islamic social sciences, Volume 23, Issues 3-4. AJISS. p. 110. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ David G. Atwill (2005). The Chinese sultanate: Islam, ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford University Press. p. 120.  
  18. ^ Yunesuko Higashi Ajia Bunka Kenkyū Sentā (Tokyo, Japan) (1993). Asian research trends, Volumes 3-4. Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies. p. 137. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  19. ^ Schoppa, R. Keith (2008). East Asia: identities and change in the modern world, 1700-present (illustrated ed.). Pearson/Prentice Hall. p. 58.  
  20. ^ Dillon, Michael (1999). China's Muslim Hui Community: Migration, Settlement and Sects. Curzon Press. p. 59.  
  21. ^ Dillon, Michael (2012). China: A Modern History (reprint ed.). I.B.Tauris. p. 90.  
  22. ^ Atwill, David G. (2005). The Chinese Sultanate: Islam, Ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in Southwest China, 1856-1873 (illustrated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 120.  
  23. ^ Asian Research Trends, Volumes 3-4. Contributor Yunesuko Higashi Ajia Bunka Kenkyū Sentā (Tokyo, Japan). Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies. 1993. p. 137. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  24. ^ Mansfield, Stephen (2007). China, Yunnan Province. Compiled by Martin Walters (illustrated ed.). Bradt Travel Guides. p. 69.  
  25. ^ China's Southwest. Regional Guide Series. Contributor Damian Harper (illustrated ed.). Lonely Planet. 2007. p. 223.  
  26. ^ Giersch, Charles Patterson (2006). Asian Borderlands: The Transformation of Qing China's Yunnan Frontier (illustrated ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 217.  
  27. ^ Mosk, Carl (2011). Traps Embraced Or Escaped: Elites in the Economic Development of Modern Japan and China. World Scientific. p. 62.  
  28. ^ Comparative Civilizations Review, Issues 32-34. 1995. p. 36. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
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  33. ^ 王钟翰 2010
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  37. ^ John Anderson; Edward Bosc Sladen; Horace Albert Browne (1876). Mandalay to Momien: A Narrative of the Two Expeditions to Western China of 1868 and 1875, Under Colonel Edward B. Sladen and Colonel Horace Browne. Macmillan and Company. p. 189. 
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  •  This article incorporates text from Encyclopædia of religion and ethics, Volume 8, by James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray, a publication from 1916 now in the public domain in the United States.


See also

The rebellion had a significant negative impact on the Burmese Konbaung Dynasty. After losing lower Burma to the British, Burma lost access to vast tracts of rice-growing land. Not wishing to upset China, the Burmese kingdom agreed to refuse trade with the Pingnan Guo rebels in accordance with China's demands. Without the ability to import rice from China, Burma was forced to import rice from the British. In addition, the Burmese economy had relied heavily on cotton exports to China, and suddenly lost access to the vast Chinese market. Many surviving Hui refugees escaped over the border to neighboring countries, Burma, Thailand and Laos, forming the basis of a minority Chinese Hui population in those nations.

Impact on Burma

It was noted that the Qing armies only massacred Muslims who had rebelled or supported the rebels, and spared Muslims who took no part in the uprising.[54]

The Qing dynasty did not massacre Muslims who surrendered, in fact, Muslim General Ma Rulong, who surrendered and joined the Qing campaign to crush the rebel Muslims, was promoted, and became the most powerful military official in the province.[51][52]

Impact on Muslims

At least 15 years after the collapse of the Panthay Rebellion, the original Panthay settlements in Burma had grown to include numbers of Shan and other hill peoples.

For a period of perhaps ten to fifteen years following the collapse of the Panthay Rebellion, the province's Hui minority was widely discriminated against by the victorious Qing, especially in the western frontier districts contiguous with Burma. During these years the refugee Hui settled across the frontier within Burma gradually established themselves in their traditional callings – as merchants, caravaneers, miners, restaurateurs and (for those who chose or were forced to live beyond the law) as smugglers and mercenaries and became known in Burma as the Panthay.

Though largely forgotten, the bloody rebellion caused the deaths of up to a million people in Yunnan. Many adherents to the Yunnanese Muslim cause were persecuted by the imperial Manchus. Wholesale massacres of Yunnanese Muslims followed. Many fled with their families across the Burmese border and took refuge in the Wa State where, about 1875, they set up the exclusively Hui town of Panglong.[53]



The scattered remnants of the Pingnan Guo troops continue their resistance after the fall of Dali. But when Momien was next besieged and stormed by the imperial troops in May 1873, their resistance broke completely. Governor Ta-sa-kon was captured and executed by the order of the Imperial Government.

In the 1860s When Ma Rulong, in central and west Yunnan, fought to crush the rebel presence to bring the area under Qing control, a great-uncle of Ma Shaowu Ma Shenglin defended Greater Donggou against Ma Rulong’s army. Ma Shenglin was the religious head of the Jahriyya menhuan in Yunnan and a military leader. A Mortar killed him during the battle in 1871.[52]

One of the Muslim generals, Ma Julung, defected to the Qing side.[47] He then helped the Qing forces crush his fellow Muslim rebels, and defeated them.[48][49][50] He was called Marshal Ma by Europeans and acquired almost total control of Yunnan province.[51] Ma Julung's name in modern Chinese pinyin is Ma Rulong.[52]

The Imperial Government had waged an all-out war against the Sultanate with the help of French artillery experts.[36] Their modern equipment, trained personnel and numerical superiority were no match for the ill-equipped rebels with no allies. Thus, in less than two decades of its rise, the power of the Panthays in Yunnan fell. Seeing no escape and no mercy from his relentless foe, Sultan Sulayman tried to take his own life before the fall of Dali. But, before the opium he drank took effect fully, he was beheaded by his enemies.[39][40][41][42][43] Manchu troops then began a massacre of the rebels, killing thousands of civilians, sending severed ears along with the head.[44] His body is entombed in Xiadui outside of Dali.[45] The Sultan's head was preserved in honey and then dispatched to the Imperial Court in Peking as a trophy and a testimony to the decisive nature of the victory of the Imperial Manchu Qing over the Muslims of Yunnan.[46]

Taking advantage of the friendly relations resulting from Sladen's visit, Sultan Sulayman now, in his fight for the survival of the Pingnan Guo Sultanate, turned to the British Empire for formal recognition and for military assistance. In 1872 he sent his adopted son Prince Hassan, to England, with a personal letter to Queen Victoria, via Burma, in an attempt to obtain official recognition of the Panthay Empire as an independent power.[38] The Hassan Mission was accorded courtesy and hospitality in both British Burma and England. However, the British politely, but firmly, refused to intervene militarily in Yunnan against Peking.[36] In any case the mission came too late—while Hassan and his party were abroad, Dali was captured by the Imperial troops in January 1873.

The Sultan had reasons for his turning to the British for military aid. The British authorities in India and British Burma had sent a mission led by Major Sladen to the town of Tengyue in present day Yunnan (known as Momien in the Shan language) from May to July 1868.[37] The Sladen mission had stayed seven weeks at Momien meeting with rebel officials. The main purpose of the mission was to revive the Ambassadorial Route between Bhamo and Yunnan and resuscitate border trade, which had almost ceased since 1855 mainly because of the Yunnan Muslims' rebellion.

He realized that only British military intervention could have saved his Sultanate. [36]

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