Monday, January 14, 2008

13. Preparations for war

On Wednesday, the 4th waxing day of the moon in the month of Tagu, Rajadhirat readied himself for the coming battle by planning how the troops would be arrayed on the battlefield.

Prince Dhamma Yaza would be riding the elephant Yan-gami escorted by 1,000 elephantry troops dressed completely in black carrying black lances and shields, followed by King Rajadhirat mounted on the war elephant Yan.

Rajadhirat’s elephant was to be harnessed to a gold howdah with ruby studded flaps, bravely flying gold pennants and a white umbrella in accordance with his high status. The son of Rajadhirat’s wet nurse Paik Kaman was to ride in the middle of the elephant guarded by 1,000 elephantry troops carrying gilt lances and shields.

To Rajadhirat's right, Deinmaniyut would ride the war elephant sired by Yaza at the head of 1,000 elephantry. Positioned to his left, the minister Maha Tha-mun would be mounted on the elephant named Maha Peik-toun at the head of 1,000 elephantry troops. The warrior Binnya Ram (Yan) would ride Pa-swe-tha-mun accompanied by Emuntaya with an unsheathed sword.

Prince Binnya Dala accompanied by 1,000 men would ride the war elephant Sri Maran, the white canopy of an umbrella spread above him. He was to be deployed close to the town of Dala. Smim Awananaing, mounted on the elephant Nga Yet-nwe would lead 2,000 troops riding by his side.

Meanwhile, Minyekyawswa had heard they were readying themselves for war and was in conference with his nobles. Yaza-thin-gyan cautioned the prince not to be hasty and to act judiciously as "one knows not the course of war just as one cannot fathom whether a white chick or black chick will hatch from a certain egg." Others agreed with his observation and Minyekyawswa continued to feast and drink with his nobles.

Meanwhile, Rajadhirat reminded Deinmaniyut that he had taken the responsibility to see that Minyekyawswa came out to fight.

Deinmaniyut rode in a gilt basket-like howdah with a red umbrella spread atop. Five female elephants and seven to eight hundred troops followed him with measuring poles, string and picks. Deinmaniyut went over to Minyekyawswa’s stockade at Pethakan and from a respectable distance began to measure and mark out frontages with rope and stakes.

Minyekyawswa saw this from a turret and sent his men to investigate. Asked what they were doing, the Mon troops replied that they had been sent by Deinmaniyut to mark out frontages for each unit that was to participate in laying siege to the fortifications.

(edited version of San Lwin’s translation, in the Burmese of Banya Dala, page 321)