Panthay Rebellion

Panthay Rebellion
Panthay Rebellion
Date 1856-1873
Location China
Result Victory by the Qing dynasty
Fall of Pingnan Guo
Weakening of the Qing Dynasty
China Qing Dynasty Flag 1862.png Qing Empire Pingnan Guo
Commanders and leaders
Cen Yuying
Ma Rulong(A.K.A. Ma Julung)
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 as the Du Wenxiu Rebellion (simplified Chinese: 杜文秀起义; traditional Chinese: 杜文秀起義; pinyin: Dù Wénxiù qǐyì) was a separatist movement of the Hui people and other non Muslim ethnic minorities against the imperial Qing Dynasty in southwestern Yunnan Province, China, 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]



The discrimination with which the Hui were treated by the imperial administration was the cause of their rebellions.[3][4] Some suggest that the Panthay Rebellion originated solely as a conflict between Han and Hui miners in 1853, but Han-Hui tensions existed for decades prior to that 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, Hui was not an exclusively religious classification.

The "Encyclopædia of religion and ethics, Volume 8" stated that the Panthay Revolt 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 that the rebellions broke out.[5]

In 1856, a massacre of Muslims was organized by the Qing Manchu officials responsible for suppressing the revolt in the provincial capital of Kunming sparked a province-wide multi-ethnic insurrgency.[6] In the western Yunnan city of Dali, an independent kingdom was established and led by a man called Du Wenxiu (杜文秀; pinyin: Dù Wénxiù) (1823–1872), an ethnic Hui born in Yongchang.

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.[7] 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 Islam.[8] In addition, loyalist Muslim forces helped Qing crush the rebel Muslims.[9]

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.[10][11] Du's forces led multiple non-Muslim forces, including Han Chinese, Li, Bai, and Hani.[12] 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."[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

Total war was waged against Manchu rule. Du Wenxiu refused to surrender, unlike the other rebel Muslim commander, Ma Rulong.[16] 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.

Du Wenxiu wore Chinese clothing, and mandated the use of the Arabic language in his regime.[17][18] Du also banned pork.[19] Ma Rulong also banned pork in areas under his control after he surrendered and joined the Qing forces.[20]

Revolution slogans of Du Wenxiu

  1. Have Peace with Han Chinese, Down with Qing court

  1. 安汉反清

    —in Chinese

  1. To unite Hui and Han people as one,
    To erect flag of rebellion,
    To get rid of Manchu barbarians,
    To resurrect China,
    To cut away corruption,
    To save people from water and fire

  1. 連回、漢為一體、

    —in Chinese


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 the 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 (平南国 The Pacified Southern Kingdom); 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 is 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 watermark 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.[23]

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 Tucheng
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 Yunnan. By degrees the Imperial Government had tightened the cordon around the Sultanate. The Sultanate proved unstable as soon as the Imperial Government made a regular and determined attack on it. Town after town fell under well-organized attacks made by the imperial troops. Dali itself was besieged by the imperial Chinese. Sultan Sulayman found himself caged in by the walls of his capital. He now desperately looked for outside help. He turned to the British for military assistance.[24] He realized that only British military intervention could have saved his Sultanate.

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 Momien from May to July 1868. The Sladen mission had stayed seven weeks at Momien meeting with rebel officials. The main purpose of the mission was to revive the Ambassador Route between Bhamo and Yunnan and resuscitate border trade, which had almost ceased since 1855 mainly because of the Yunnan Muslims' rebellion.

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, requesting British military assistance. 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.[24] Indeed, the mission was too little too late. While Hassan and his party were abroad, Dali was captured by the Imperial troops in January 1873.

The Imperial Government had waged an all-out war against the Sultanate with the help of French artillery experts.[24] 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. 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.[25] Manchu troops then began a massacre of the rebels, killing thousands of civilians, sending severed ears along with the head.[26] His body is entombed in Xiadui outside of Dali.

One of the Muslim generals, Ma Julung, defected to the Qing side.[27] He then helped the Qing forces crush his fellow Muslim rebels, and defeated them.[28][29][30] He was called Marshal Ma by Europeans and acquired almost totla control of Yunnan province.[31] Ma Julung's name in modern Chinese pinyin is Ma Rulong.[32]

In the 1860s When Ma Rulong, in central and west Yunnan, fought to crush the rebel precense 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.[32]

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.



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.[33]

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.

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.

Positive Impact on Muslim Power

The Qing dynasty did not massacre Muslims who surrendered, in fact, Muslim General Ma Rulong, who surrendered and join the Qing campaign to crush the rebel Muslims, was promoted, and became the most powerful military official in the province.[31][32]

It was noted that the Qing armies only massacred Muslims who had rebelled, and spared Muslims who took no part in the uprising.[34]

Impact on Burma

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.

See also


  •  This article incorporates text from Burma past and present, by Albert Fytche, a publication from 1878 now in the public domain in the United States.
  •  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.
  1. ^ Scott 1900, p. 607
  2. ^ Yule & Burnell 1968, p. 669
  3. ^ Atwill 2005
  4. ^ Berzin 1995
  5. ^ James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray (1916). Encyclopædia of religion and ethics, Volume 8. EDINBURGH: T. & T. Clark. p. 893.,+and+of+the+south+(Yiin-nan)+in+1858-72.+It+would+be+a+mistake,+however,+to+attribute+these+ruinous+insurrections+to+religious+motives+alone,+for+racial+antagonisms+and+the+conflicting+interests+of+different+social+classes+were+certainly+no+less+potent+factors.&hl=en&ei=-_AITvyjB8zogQfJnuWsDQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=The%20most%20notable%20and%20most%20serious%20of%20such%20outbreaks%20have%20been%20those%20of%20the%20north%20(Kan-su%20and%20Shen-si)%20in%201861-74%2C%20and%20of%20the%20south%20(Yiin-nan)%20in%201858-72.%20It%20would%20be%20a%20mistake%2C%20however%2C%20to%20attribute%20these%20ruinous%20insurrections%20to%20religious%20motives%20alone%2C%20for%20racial%20antagonisms%20and%20the%20conflicting%20interests%20of%20different%20social%20classes%20were%20certainly%20no%20less%20potent%20factors.&f=false. Retrieved 2010-11-28. (Original from Harvard University)
  6. ^ R. Keith Schoppa (2002). Revolution and its past: identities and change in modern Chinese history. Prentice Hall. p. 79. ISBN 0130224073.,+at+the+behest+of+a+Manchu+official,+between+two+and+three+thousand+Muslims+in+the+provincial+capital+of+Kunming+were+massacred&dq=In+1856,+at+the+behest+of+a+Manchu+official,+between+two+and+three+thousand+Muslims+in+the+provincial+capital+of+Kunming+were+massacred&hl=en&ei=mNK3TK2fG4LGlQeH4JmICQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  7. ^ Fytche 1878, p. 300
  8. ^ Fytche 1878, p. 301
  9. ^ Joseph Mitsuo Kitagawa (2002). The religious traditions of Asia: religion, history, and culture. Routledge. p. 283. ISBN 0700717625. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  10. ^ Michael Dillon (1999). China's Muslim Hui community: migration, settlement and sects. Richmond: Curzon Press. p. 59. ISBN 0700710264. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  11. ^ David G. Atwill (2005). The Chinese sultanate: Islam, ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford University Press. p. 139. ISBN 0804751595. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  12. ^ International Arts and Sciences Press, M.E. Sharpe, Inc (1997). Chinese studies in philosophy, Volume 28. M. E. Sharpe. p. 67.,+launched+by+Du+Wenxiu+in+conjunction+with+members+of+the+Han,+Li,+Bai,+Hani&dq=The+great+Yunnan+uprising,+launched+by+Du+Wenxiu+in+conjunction+with+members+of+the+Han,+Li,+Bai,+Hani&hl=en&ei=gfGzTKbIHcP48Aa7-cXwCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  13. ^ Jean Chesneaux, Marianne Bastid, Marie-Claire Bergère (1976). China from the opium wars to the 1911 revolution. Pantheon Books. p. 114. ISBN 0394492137.,+by+numerous+peasants,+and+by+units+of+women+led+by+his+own+daughter&dq=Du+Wen-xiu+went+on+with+the+struggle+and+held+his+own+against+the+Manchu+armies+for+more+than+twelve+years.+His+troops+were+reinforced+by+Miao+and+Yi+aborigines,+by+numerous+peasants,+and+by+units+of+women+led+by+his+own+daughter&hl=en&ei=_5i2TOaJD4T78Ab02tmWCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  14. ^ 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.,+Du+Wenxiu+attributed+it+to+the+alien+Manchu+ruler+who+refused+to+be+a+%5BHui%5D+min+subject+of+the+Qing+and+tried+to+establish+a+new+regime+for+people+of+different&dq=identification+of+the+root+of+the+Hui+genocide+with+the+Yunnan+Han,+Du+Wenxiu+attributed+it+to+the+alien+Manchu+ruler+who+refused+to+be+a+%5BHui%5D+min+subject+of+the+Qing+and+tried+to+establish+a+new+regime+for+people+of+different&hl=en&ei=05m2TOqWE4H-8AaA3dGUBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  15. ^ David G. Atwill (2005). The Chinese sultanate: Islam, ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford University Press. p. 120. ISBN 0804751595. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  16. ^ Yunesuko Higashi Ajia Bunka Kenkyū Sentā (Tokyo, Japan) (1993). Asian research trends, Volumes 3-4. Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies. p. 137.,+Du+chose+to+fight,+and+as+a+result+became+a+Muslim+hero+for+waging+an+all-out+war+of+resistance+against+Manchu+oppression.+Du+Wenxiu+was+born+in+the+village+of+Jinji+in+Baoshan+ft+ill&dq=While+Ma+soon+surrendered+to+the+Qing+dynasty,+Du+chose+to+fight,+and+as+a+result+became+a+Muslim+hero+for+waging+an+all-out+war+of+resistance+against+Manchu+oppression.+Du+Wenxiu+was+born+in+the+village+of+Jinji+in+Baoshan+ft+ill&hl=en&ei=gZm2TPfHMsH88Aa8yOGyAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  17. ^ Journal of Southeast Asian studies, Volume 16. McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers. 1985. p. 117. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  18. ^ Journal of Southeast Asian studies, Volume 16. McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers. 1985. p. 117.,+he+decreed+that+his+subjects+should+use+the+Arabic+language+and+honour+Muslim&dq=Although+he+and+his+court+adopted+traditional+Chinese+dress,+he+decreed+that+his+subjects+should+use+the+Arabic+language+and+honour+Muslim&hl=en&ei=KB29TLTCDoPGlQeQkumzCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAQ. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  19. ^ Journal of Southeast Asian studies, Volume 16. McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers. 1985. p. 127. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  20. ^ David G. Atwill (2005). The Chinese sultanate: Islam, ethnicity, and the Panthay Rebellion in southwest China, 1856-1873. Stanford University Press. p. 124. ISBN 0804751595. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  21. ^ 王钟翰 2010
  22. ^ 中国人民大学. 书报资料中心 (1984). 中国近代史, Issues 1-6. 中国人民大学书报资料社. p. 61. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  23. ^ (Anderson, 1876, 343)
  24. ^ a b c Thaung 1961, p. 481
  25. ^ Thaung 1961, p. 482
  26. ^ Thant Myint-U. (2006). The river of lost footsteps: histories of Burma. Macmillan. ISBN 0374163421. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  27. ^ de Kavanagh Boulger 1893, p. 319
  28. ^ Davenport Northrop 1894, p. 130
  29. ^ Littell & Littell 1900, p. 757
  30. ^ Holmes Agnew & Hilliard Bidwell 1900, p. 620
  31. ^ a b de Kavanagh Boulger 1898, p. 443
  32. ^ a b c Garnaut 2008
  33. ^ Scott 1900, p. 740
  34. ^ Dillon 1999, p. 77


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