Ban Chao

Ban Chao

Ban Chao (Chinese: 班超; Wade-Giles: Pan Ch'ao, 32-102 CE), born in Xianyang, Shaanxi, was a Chinese general and cavalry commander in charge of the administration of the "Western Regions" (Central Asia) during the Eastern Han dynasty. He repelled the Xiongnu and secured Chinese control on the Tarim Basin region, and led a military expedition to the heart of Central Asia. He fought for 31 years.

Control of the Tarim Basin

Ban Chao, like his predecessors Huo Qubing and Wei Qing from the earlier-half of the Han Dynasty before him, is said to have been extremely effective at expelling the Xiongnu from the Tarim Basin, and at bringing the various people of the Western Regions under Chinese rule during the time of the Han Mingdi Emperor (57-75). This helped secure and flourish the trade routes we have come to know nowadays as the Silk Road. He was generally outnumbered, but skillfully played on their divisions. The kingdoms of Loulan, Khotan and Kashgar came under Chinese rule.

Ban Chao was recalled to Luoyang, but then sent again to the Western Region area four years later, during the reign of the new emperor Han Zhangdi. He obtained the military help of the Kushan Empire in 84 in repelling the Sogdians who were trying to support the rebellion of the king of Kashgar, and the next year in his attack on Turpan, in the eastern Tarim Basin. Ban Chao ultimately brought the whole of the Tarim Basin under Chinese control.

In recognition for their support to the Chinese, the Kushans (named Yuezhi in Chinese sources) requested, but were denied, a Han princess, even after they had sent presents to the Chinese court. In retaliation, they marched on Ban Chao in 90 with a force of 70,000, but, exhausted by the expedition, were finally defeated by the smaller Chinese force. The Yuezhi retreated and paid tribute to the Chinese Empire from then on, until they managed to set their own king in Kashgar in 116.

Expedition to the doorstep of Europe

Ban Chao became Protector General (都護; "Duhu") in 91, and was based at Kucha. In 97, Ban Chao crossed the Tian Shan and Pamir mountains with an army of 70,000 men comprised entirely of light cavalry and mounted infantry in a campaign against the Xiongnu/Huns, who were harassing the trade routes now known as the Silk Road. The Han general made an alliance with the Parthian king Pacorus II and established his base on shores of the Caspian Sea and at Antiochia Margiana (Merv), the eastern outpost of the Parthian Kingdom. From here he reportedly sent an envoy named Gan Ying to Daqin (Rome). Gan Ying left the first recorded Chinese account of Europe, although he actually only reached the Black Sea, after being convinced to turn back by Parthian traders who had no interest in promoting direct Han and Roman contacts.

The Han Chinese army's forts established under the alliance with the Parthians was a distance of only a few days march to the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon, itself only about 32 miles from present-day Baghdad, and the Han forces held the region for several years. In 116, the Roman Emperor Trajan advanced into Parthia to Ctesiphon and came within one day's march of the Chinese border garrisons, but direct contacts apparently never took place. However, J. Innes Miller speculates that Trajan's Parthian campaigns "should be interpreted to some extent in the light" of these Chinese actions. [J. Innes Miller, "The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 236.] Some time after this, the first of several Roman embassies to China is recorded in Chinese sources, coming from the sea route in 166, and a second one in 284.

Ban Chao was created the Marquess of Dingyuan (定遠侯, i.e., "the Marquess who stabilized faraway places") for his services to the Empire and returned to the capital Luoyang at the age of 70 years old, and before long died there in 102. Following his death, the power of the Xiongnu in the Western Territories increased again, and subsequent Chinese emperors were never to reach so far to the west.

According to a Chinese saying Ban Chao was one of the most prominent actors in the expansion of China to the west, on a level with Zhang Qian: :"In the time of the Western Han there was Zhang Qian,":"In the Eastern Han there was Ban Chao."

A family of historians

Ban Chao also belonged to a family of historians. His father was Ban Biao (3-54 CE) who started the "History of the Western Han Dynasty" ("Hanshu"; "The Book of Han") in 36, which was completed by his son Ban Gu (32-92) and his daughter (Ban Chao's brother and sister) Ban Zhao. Ban Chao was probably the key source for the cultural and socio-economic data on the Western Regions contained in the "Hanshu".

Ban Chao's son Ban Yong (班勇 Bān Yŏng) participated in military campaigns with his father and continued to have a central military role in the Tarim Basin into the 120s.

Ban Chao's family:

* Ban Biao (班彪; 3-54; father)
** Ban Gu (班固; 32-92; first son)
** Ban Chao (班超; 32-102; second son)
** Ban Zhao (班昭; 35-100; daughter)

Famous Quotes

* "If you don't enter the tiger's den, how can you catch the tiger's cub?" (不入虎穴,焉得虎子)
* "Clear water can not harbor big fish, clean politics (or strict enforcement of regulations) can not foster harmony among the general public" (水清無大魚,察政不得下和)

Ban Chao in idioms

: "See" four-character idiom:

* "Throw away your writing brush and join the military!" (投筆從戎) based on his words "A brave man has no other plan but to follow Fu and Zhang Qian's footsteps and do something and become somebody in a foreign land. How can I waste my life on writing? (大丈夫無他志略,猶當效傅介子、張騫立功異域,以取封侯,安能久事筆硯間乎?) in "Hou Hanshu".
* "Clear water harbors no fish." (水清無魚)

Ban Chao of today

"Pan Chao" (1108) is a frigate built in Taiwan based on the Oliver Hazard Perry class-design. It is currently in service for the Republic of China Navy.

ee also

* Battle of Yiwulu
* Guo Xun
* Zhang Qian


* "The Tarim Mummies", J.P. Mallory and Vitor H. Mair, Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-05101-1

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ban Chao — Bān Chāo (chinesisch 班超, IPA (hochchinesisch) [[b̥an5 tʂʰɑo̯5]], W. G. Pan Ch ao; * 32; † 102), Großjährigkeitsname Zhong Sheng (chinesisch 仲升 Zhòng Shēng, W. G. Chung Sheng) war ein chinesischer Feldherr zur Zeit der Han Dynastie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ban Chao — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chao. Ban Chao (chinois : 班超 ; EFEO: Pan Ch ao), né à Xianyang (Shaanxi) en 32, mort en 102, était un général chinois. Chargé de l administration des « régions de l ouest » (Asie centrale)… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ban Chao — ▪ Chinese general Wade Giles romanization  Pan Ch ao  born 32 CE, Anling, Fufeng [now Xianyang, Shaanxi province], China died 102, Luoyang, Henan province, China       Chinese general and colonial administrator of the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE) …   Universalium

  • Ban Zhao — Ban Zhao. Ban Zhao (班昭) (W. G. Pan Chao; * um 45 in Anling (安陵) in der heutigen Provinz Shaanxi (陝西); † 116) war eine chinesische Hofdame und Historikerin. Die Ban Familie hatte während dreier Generationen Verbindungen zur königlichen Liu Familie …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • BAN — bezeichnet: einen Adelstitel im Königreich Ungarn und Kroatien, siehe Ban. eine rumänische Münzeinheit, siehe Rumänischer Leu eine moldawische Münzeinheit, siehe Moldawischer Leu das versperren eines Zugangs in einem Netzwerk, siehe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ban Zhao — Bān Zhāo {45 116 CE}(Zh cw|c=班昭|w=Pan Chao, fl. 1st century), courtesy name Huiban (惠班), was the first female Chinese historian. She was married to a local resident Cao Shishu at the age of fourteen, and was called in the court by the name as… …   Wikipedia

  • Ban Zhao — (gravure du XVIIIe siècle) Ban Zhao (chinois, 班昭, Wade Giles, Pan Chao, pinyin, Bān Zhāo, Anling, 45–Shaanxi, 116) était une mémorialiste, poétesse et intellectuelle chinoise connue pour son prénom social Huiban (惠班) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cháo — Chao Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Cet article possède un paronyme, voir : Chaos. Personnalités …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ban (Begriffsklärung) — Ban bezeichnet: einen Adelstitel im Königreich Ungarn und Kroatien, siehe Ban eine rumänische Münzeinheit, siehe Rumänischer Leu eine moldawische Münzeinheit, siehe Moldawischer Leu das Versperren eines Zugangs in einem Netzwerk, siehe… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ban Gu — (chinesisch 班固; * 32 im Kaiserreich China; † 92 in Luoyang, China, hingerichtet) war ein chinesischer Historiker der Han Dynastie. Er entstammte einer Literatenfamilie. Sein Vater Ban Biao war ein renommierter Geschichtsschreiber, sein… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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