Ban Yong

Ban Yong was a well-known general of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). He was the youngest son of Ban Chao, an outstanding military leader, explorer and diplomat in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

In 101 AD, with the envoys of Anxi (Parthia, in now Iran), Ban Yong was dispatched by Ban Chao to go to Luoyang, capital of the Eastern Han Dynasty. The following year his father, Ban Chao returned to Luoyang and died there. Ban Yong remained in Luoyang and held an office in the Han Dynasty until 107 AD.

At that time, all the states in the Western Regions rose in revolt. Ban Yong and his brother, Ban Xiong were sent by the emperor to Dunhuang to meet the soldiers stationed in the Western Regions. In 119, the Northern Hun united with Cheshi Houbu (in Jimu Sai'er County) to attack Yiwu (Hami). Shanshan (Ruoqiang) sought protection from the Han Dynasty. Many officers persuaded the emperor to give up the Western Regions and close the Yumenguan Pass. However, Ban Yong prevailed over all dissenting views and stated the advantages of uniting the states of the Western Regions.

In 123 AD, Ban Yong was stationed in Liuzhong, in the west of Shanshan, with 500 soldiers. Using clever diplomacy he successfully made a military alliance with Shanshan (the present Ruoqiang), Qiuci (Kuche or Kuqa), Gumo (Aksu) and other states. He then led the soldiers of these states to gradually subjugate Cheshi and beat the Northern Hun. By this time, almost all the states in the Western Regions were under the governance of the Han Dynasty. In 127 AD, Ban Yong enlisted Zhang Lang, the ruler of Dunhuang to fight against Yanqi (Qarashar). In order to take the credit, Zhang Lang reached Yanqi in advance and defeated it. As a result, Ban Yong was accused of delaying tactics over the war and put into prison. Although he was finally pardoned, he died of anxiety and anger before long.

Ban Yong consolidated the dominion of the Han Dynasty in the Western Regions, making a great contribution to the smooth running of the Silk Road. Moreover, because he was born in the Western Regions and lived there for a long time, he was well acquainted with the people, geography, produce, customs and political systems of the various states of the area. His book, the Records of the Western Regions, contains valuable historical data for studying the ancient Western Regions.

Related link: Silk Road in Eastern Han Dynasty

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