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Ban Yong (Chinese: 班勇; Wade-Giles: Pan Yung, courtesy name Yiliao (宜 僚) (died c. 128 CE)) was the youngest son of the famous Chinese General, Ban Chao (班超), and the nephew of the illustrious historian, Ban Gu (班固) who compiled the Hanshu, the dynastic history of the Former Han dynasty.

Ban Yong's family[edit | edit source]

His Life and Achievements[edit | edit source]

In 100 CE, his father, Ban Chao, wrote a request to the Emperor saying, amongst other things: "I have taken care to send my son (Ban) Yong to enter the frontier following porters with presents, and thus, I will arrange things so that (Ban) Yong sees the Middle Territories [usually referred to as the 'Western Regions' - mainly the kingdoms in and around the Tarim Basin] with his own eyes while I am still alive." See the Hou Hanshu (Book of the Later Han), Chapter 77 (sometimes given as Chapter 47), translated and adapted by E. Chavannes:[1]

In 107 CE, the Western Regions in modern Xinjiang province rebelled against Chinese rule. Ban Yong was appointed as a Major (Jun Sima 軍司馬) and, with his elder brother, Ban Xiong (班雄), went via Dunhuang to meet up with the Protector General of the Western Regions, Ren Shang (?-119 CE), who had replaced Ban Chao as Protector General in 102 CE.[2] The Chinese had to retreat and, following this, there were no Chinese functionaries in the Western Regions for more than ten years.[3]

In 123 CE the Emperor gave Ban Yong the title of 'Senior Clerk of the Western Regions' so that he could lead five hundred freed convicts west to garrison Liuzhong (= Lukchun, in the southern Turpan Basin). After that, Ban Yong conquered and pacified Turpan and Jimasa (in modern Jimsar County).[4]

In the first month of the following year (3 February-3 March, 124 CE), he arrived in Loulan and rewarded the King of Shanshan with three new ribbons for his submission. Following this, the kings of Aksu and Uch Turpan (the modern town of Wushi), presented themselves with their hands tied behind their backs to make submission. Ban Yong then sent the soldiers of these kingdoms (numbering 10,000 infantry and cavalry) into battle. Close to Turpan he put the 'Yili King' of the Xiongnu to flight in the Yihe Valley. He won over more than 5,000 men of Turpan to his cause, and communications between Turpan and China were reopened. He then established a military colony at Lukchun. In the following year (125 CE) Ban Yong, with more than 6,000 cavalry from the commanderies of Dunhuang, Zhangye (= modern Gansu), and Jiuquan (= modern Suzhou), as well as soldiers from Shanshan, Kashgar and Turpan, defeated the King of Jimasa and beheaded both the king and a Xiongnu envoy. He sent their heads to the capital. He also captured more than 8,000 prisoners and 50,000 horses and cattle.[5]

Near the end of the reign of Emperor An [107-125 CE], Ban Yong presented a report to him on the countries to the west of China, covering all the territory to India as well as to the Roman Empire. This report formed the basis, with a few later additions, of the 'Chronicle of the Western Regions' in the Hou Hanshu.[6] In 126 CE, all the "Six Kingdoms of Jushi" (across the mountains to the north and east of Turpan) submitted to Ban Yong. In 127 CE he subdued Karashahr and then Kucha also capitulated, thus opening the route all the way to Kashgar which, in turn, opened communications once again to the countries further west such as Ferghana, Kangju and the Yuezhi. Only Yuanmeng, Weili [Korla] and Weixu [Hoxud] refused to submit.[7] In 127 Ban Yong with Zhang Lang, the Governor of Dunhuang, attacked and subdued 17 kingdoms including Karashahr, Kucha, Kashgar, Khotan, and Yarkand, who all came to submit to China. The king of Yuanmeng sent his son then to the palace with offerings. Following this, the Wusun and the countries in the Pamir Mountains stopped disrupting communications to the west.[8] However, during the attack on Karasahr, Ban Yong was late in making his planned rendez-vous with Zhang Lang and was later punished by being recalled and imprisoned. He was later pardoned and died amongst his family.[9]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Chavannes (1906), p. 239.
  2. Hill (2009), n. 1.45.
  3. Chavannes (1906), p. 246.
  4. Hill (2009), p. 11.
  5. Hill (2009), p. 46.
  6. Hill (2009), pp. vi, xv, 13.
  7. Chavannes (1906), pp. 253-254.
  8. Hill (2009), pp. 11, 45.
  9. Chavannes (1906), pp. 254-255.

References[edit | edit source]

  • Chavannes, Édouard (1906). "Trois Généraux Chinois de la dynastie des Han Orientaux. Pan Tch’ao (32-102 p.C.); – son fils Pan Yong; – Leang K’in (112 p.C.). Chapitre LXXVII du Heou Han chou." T’oung pao 7, pp. 210–269.
  • Hill, John E. (2009). Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, First to Second Centuries CE. BookSurge. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1. 

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