Thao Hung Thao Cheuang

By Dr. Wajuppa Tossa

Thao Hung, or Cheuang, was a son of Khun Chomtham, ruler of Suantan or Nakhong Kingdom (now Chiangrai, Thailand ).  When he was three years old, the Phangdam tribe presented him with a sword and a couple of silver gongs, and later on he was offered a white elephant named Xangpheuakphankham. Khun Chomtham died when Thao Hung was in his teens and his mother, together with the people of Suantan Kingdom, crowned Thao Cheuang, Thao Hung's elder brother, the ruler of Muang Suantan, and Thao Hung was his viceroy. Thao Hung trained his elephant in the arts of warfare and sometimes he rode it to faraway places.  One day he met Nang Ngom, daughter of Nang Meng, who was a ruling princess of the Kingdom of Xieng Kheua (Nang Meng was Thao Hung's aunt). Thao Hung fell in love with Nang Ngom, so he requested his elders to ask for her hand in marriage from her mother.   Nang Meng demanded too much brideprice for Thao Hung to afford.    Thao Hung therefore secretly entered his lover's room to consummate their love.

At that time there was a Vietnamese (Keaw Moy) prince from Muang Khamwang  named Einka; he was the nephew of Thao Kua, ruler of Muang Pakan (now Xieng Khouang).     After his father's death, Einka became ruler of Muang Khamwang.   At that time, he was not yet married; thus, Einka wanted to marry a beautiful girl.     Hearing of one named Nang Oua, daughter of Khunjum, king of Muang Ngoenyang (now Chiang Saen in Thailand) he sent an envoy to ask her hand in marriage, but Khunjum did not agree.   Moreover, Khunjum told the envoy that he would give Nang Oua to his own nephew, Thao Hung.  (Khunjum was the elder brother of Khun Chomtham).

On receiving this report from his envoy, Einka hastened to inform his uncle, Thao Kua, at Muang Pakan. The latter was so angry, that he sent an envoy to Khunjum threatening that, if he did not agree to let his daughter marry Einka, his kingdom would be in jeopardy. Khunjum, hearing this, was also angered, and immediately told the envoy:

Since I have ruled Ngoenyang,
No-one, but you, dared to utter arrogant words.
He who marries my daughter must be of her race;
No-one else has the right to speak thus. 11

When these insults were reported to Thao Kua and Einka, they were infuriated, and led their armies to attack Muang Ngoenyang.  Eleven of Einka's commanders took part in this war: Hunbang, Kuankae, Aiykam, Maenfong, Kaewthong, Maensom, Ngodpong, Xiangpha, Thao Daed, Kaewkong, and Aiy-hing.

While they were marching towards Ngoenyang, Thao Kua told Naymat to ask Samma-heng, chief of the Phu Thum tribe, for directions and for help.  Thao Kua also asked Aiyhad, chief of the Pha Lod tribe for help.  Samma-heng and Aiyhad then were told to lead his troops ahead.  However, Samma-heng and Aiyhad, who were allies of Khunjum, decided to inform Khunjum about the attack so that he could be ready for it.   Khunjum, hearing of his enemies' plot, prepared to defend his kingdom.  His commanders were Naychanh, Nguawat, Kham-yong, Sammahio, Aiykad, and Samma-heng.

Khunjum's troops could not resist Einka's army, so they withdrew into the town. Khunjum then sent a message to his nephew Thao Hung, asking for help. The latter set off with his army to aid his uncle.  His generals were Aiykhuang, Einkhon, Hengphay, Khunkhan, Khonxay and Chason.   At the same time, Nang Ngom, Thao Hung's lover from Xiengkheua, commanded a troop of twenty elephants and many important generals to fight along side Thao Hung.  Her generals were Khunkeuan, Khun-pheng, Khun-yia, Xailue, Einphay, Aiyphong, Khunkhon and Thao Xoy.

Arriving in Ngoenyang, Thao Hung's troops, together with his lover's, attacked Einka's soldiers, who were hiding in the surrounding area. The latter fled in disorder and split into small groups. In the course of the fighting, Thao Kua, prince of Pakan, was killed on the battlefield, while Thao Einka was captured by Khun-yia, Nang Ngom's general.    Thao Kua's commanders were also killed. The rest of Einka's troops, 30,000 in number, were captured. Those who managed to escape were Thao Pong, Hunbang, Kaewthong, Maenlay, Maenfong, Kuankae and Xiang-hang.

In this war, Thao Hung lost three thousand men. When the war was over Thao Hung, with the three armies from Suantan, Xiangkheua and Ngoenyang, had driven their enemy up to the frontier. Thao Hung's army returned home in the fifth month with Nang Oua and Nang Amkha accompanying him as far as the land called Xiangkhuan.  Nang Oua rode an elephant named Phang-hoen-pakhuemad, while Nang Amkha rode an elephant named Inkong. From there, Thao Hung led his army to Tha-yong Phalod where he found a number of Hunbang's elephants and horses.  Hunbang was able to escape.  Then Thao Hung's army went on their way to Phu Thum where the Phangdam tribe lived.  After Phu Thum, they arrived at Muang Pakan on the same day.  

The following morning, Thao Hung and his army attacked Xiangban.  According to a local chronicle Xiangban had a population of 500,000 and 1,000 elephants.  Its borders were Sithom in Khen (Khmer) and Ho (Lao Nongsae).  Xiangban was seized that morning.  Kaewphoeng, Thao Daed, and Maenhuang were captured.  Kaewhuak jumped off the elephant's back and fled to Muang Pakan to tell Thao Kua's wife to defend the city.  Thao Kua's wife rode an elephant leading an army to fight against Thao Hung until she was killed in the battle.  After Thao Hung seized Muang Pakan, he appointed his noblemen and ministers to administer fourteen sections of Xiangkuan region and to oversee the tributary collection.

1. Khun-yia ruled the large Rice field, and was in charge of elephant tribute 

2. Einkhon ruled Xiang Ban Rice field, a prosperous trade centre 

3. Khonxay ruled Kongthun Rice field, where they levied more agricultural produce

4. Patcim (the western) Rice field which was the border of Phalod region was apportioned to Nang Meng

5. Nakham Rice field, formerly belonged to the land of Kaewkam, was apportioned to Xaylue

6. The plain Rice field of Pha Tham was apportioned to Einphay.

7. Rice field of Maenluean was apportioned to Nanoy

8. Rice field of Maenfay was under the administration of  Ngoenyang

9. Abundant Rice field of Xiang Khuan, with its beattle nut and coconut plants were

apportioned to Nang Oua.

10. Rice field of Dong Chan was apportioned to Nang Amkha

11. Rice field of Khamwang was apportioned to Aiy-keuan

12. Rice field of Kaew Heuak, in the eastern sector at the Chinese border, was

kept as a tributary state.

13. Rice field on Bang Bin river bank was apportioned to Uncle Phouang

14. The plain Rice field outside of the city was apportioned to Chason.

Thao Hung nominated Thao Khuang ruler of Muang Pakan.  After he finished his duties, he led his army back to Ngoenyang via Xiangban.  After ten days, he arrived home.  Upon his arrival, he asked Nang Chom, his mother, to be the ruler of Xiangkhuan which was the border city of Muang Pakan.  Thao Hung ruled Ngoenyang for seventeen years.  Nang Ngom bored him a son named Thao Khamhung.  While he was ruling Ngoenyang, the following foreign guests brought him tributes.

1  Ho Nhay ( Grand Ho ) of Nongsae

2. Phaya Fa-huan of Tumwang,

3. Ruler of a Chinese Kingdom,

4. Rulers of Muang Phakho, Muang Nan and Muang Chawa

5. Rulers of Muang Phayi, as well as Khmer and Lue.

Later on, Hunbang, commander-in-chief of Thao Einka, who had fled and taken refuge with Phaya Fa-huan of the court of Tumwang, led guerillas to attack Pakan territory.    Aiykhuang, the ruler of Pakan, reported this to Thao Hung, who immediately sent troops to Tumwang to subjugate Hunbang. There, Thao Hung's envoy, Khun Khon, negotiated with Phaya Fa-huan over the matter of surrendering Hunbang and Thao Hing, but Phaya Fa-huan refused to do so, saying that both men had requested refuge in his court.    When the negotiation had failed, Thao Hung decided to attack Tumwang.

Phaya Fa-huan was not strong enough to resist the attack, so he sent Maensom to submit to Thao Hung, but the latter did not accept this protocol, not trusting the enemy.    He decided to overthrow Tumwang.  Phaya Fa-huan therefore sent two of his soldiers to seek help from Thaen Lo of the Kingdom of Kalong.  The distance between Tumwang and Kalong was 15 days' journey by oxcart.  Upon arrival, Thaen Lo led his army to fight a bloody battle against Thao Hung and his troops. Most of Thao Hung's generals were killed, so he withdrew to Muang Pakan, sending a message to tell Aiycheuang and Khunjum ( his father-in-law ) to send reinforcements. The fighting was so fierce that Nay Phouang, one of Thao Hung's generals, feared that if they fought to the last man, it would result in genocide. He therefore asked permission to send his mother, Nang Chomsom, and  the children, among whom were Thao Khamkheuang and Thao Khamhung, sons of Thao Hung to Ngoenyang, while Thao Hung himself fought on until he was killed on the battlefield.

The local chronicle further states that, after his death, Thao Hung's spirit became commander-in-chief of the ghost army.  He led these troops to attack the Thaen Kingdom through Muang Khakhiow.  Einkhon, his most important general, had gone to ask Tai Eing the way to Muang Fa (Thaen's city in heaven).  It was also said they had to go by monkeys' ladder, by which they reached Linkham River toward Muang Lianphan, which was  Thaen's city.  After conquering Muangphan, Thao Hung led his ghost troops towards the luminescent land of Indra.  At Muang Kongthun, Thaen Lom, the city ruler there paid him homage.  At Muang Kamma, Thaen Nguang paid homage to Thao Hung.    After that he passed other cities of the Thaen and they all came to pay homage to him.  These Thaen city rulers included Thaenthao, Thaenmeng, Thaenkokay, Thaen-thuang, Thaenfeuang, Thaenmok, Thaenlee, Thaenlom, and Thaensong.

Meanwhile, Thao Cheuang ( Thao Hung's elder brother ), Khunjum, Thao Khamheuang and Thao Khamhung led the troops from Ngoenyang to attack Phya Fa-huan again.  Finally,    Phya Fa-huan was killed and the troops from Ngoenyang occupied Tumwang.  

And the story ends at this point.


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