Sayyid Ajall 'Umar Shams-ud-Din
He was a Muslim administrator who integrated Yunnan into China proper.
'Umar Shams-ud-Din's usual Persian name, Sayyid Ajall, was an honorary title for descendants of Muhammad, while the Chinese Sai Dianchi (also spelled Sai Tien-ch'ih) derives from Mongolian Sayid Elchi (Sayyid the Envoy); he inherited both titles from his Bukharan grandfather, who first joined Mongol service. 'Umar Shams-ud-Din first served Ögedei Khan (122941) as Darughachi (overseer) in Inner Mongolia and Shanxi and Jarghuchi (judge) in Yanjing (modern Beijing) and then Möngke Khan (125159) as governor in Yanjing and commissary for the Sichuan campaign. In 1264 Qubilai Khan appointed Sayyid Ajall head of the branch secretariat of Shaanxi and Sichuan. Sayyid Ajall expanded the population and economy as he carefully moved Mongol-held Sichuan, still threatened by unconquered Song strongholds, from military to civilian rule. In 1273 Qubilai appointed Sayyid Ajall manager (pingzhang) of the new branch secretariat in Yunnan (Qarajang). First conquered in 1254, Yunnan had been a virtually independent kingdom under the Mongol prince Toqur. Buttressed by Qubilai's confidence, Sayyid Ajall mollified Toqur by giving him a voice in administration but steadily enforced civilian rule. Sayyid Ajall's civilizing mission combined Islam and Confucianism; he built halls of both teachings while promoting wet-rice cultivation, literacy, arranged marriages, and burial (rather than cremation). Sayyid Ajall's sons Nasir-ad-Din (d. 1292), Husain (d. 1310), and Mas'ud all served as managers of the Yunnan secretariat, continuing Sayyid Ajall's policies. Nasir-ad-Din also campaigned successfully in Burma (Myanmar) and Vietnam.
P. D. Buell, "Saiyid Ajall," in In the Service of the Khan: Eminent Personalities of the Early Mongol-Yuan Period (12001300), ed. Igor de Rachewiltz et al. (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1993), 466479.
Text Citation (Chicago Manual of Style format):
Atwood, Christopher P. "Sayyid Ajall 'Umar Shams-ud-Din." Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2004. Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?
ItemID=WE49&iPin=EME454&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 19, 2015).
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