After the Mongols abandoned Burma the Shans had an opportunity to make a great nation of their own, but they threw it away by constantly fighting among themselves for most of the 14th century. One of the Shan chiefs, Thadominbya, broke out of this pattern by founding a kingdom around the city of Ava, close to Pagan (1364).
What made Ava different was that it was Burmese, not Shan; Thadominbya embraced Burmese culture and traced his ancestry to the Pagan kings, giving himself an air of legitimacy that the other Shan princes did not have. Ava was not very successful as a nation, though; it was surrounded by enemies (Arakan, Pegu, and the Shan states) and whenever it tried to conquer one of them it was forced to back down by threats or invasions by the others. In 1527 the Shan state of Mohnyin sacked Ava itself, pillaging pagodas, slaughtering monks, and making bonfires of the contents of monastic libraries.
©Copyright 2000 - 2003 Charles Kimball