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Ban Yong 班勇

Nov 1, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Ban Yong 班勇 (died 128 CE), courtesy name Yiliao 宜僚, was an important general of the mid-Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE). He was a son of general Ban Chao 班超 and grew up in the Western Territories 西域, where his father occupied the position of protector-general (duhu 都護).

In 101 CE Ban Yong accompanied the embassy to the empire of Anxi 安息 (Parthia). After the death of his father in 102 he took over the post of Cavalry commander of the army (jun sima 軍司馬) and secured the withdrawal of the protector-general and the Han armies during the rebellion of 107 CE.

In 119 CE the governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Dunhuang 敦煌, Cao Zong 曹宗, sent out Chief Clerk (zhangshi 長史) Suo Ban 索班 to establish military colonies in Yiwu 伊吾 to prepare the reconquest of the Western Territories. Suo Ban was killed in battle by the joint armies of the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 and the kingdom of Rear Cheshi 車師後部. Fortunately enough, the kingdom of Shanshan 鄯善, the easternmost city state on the Silk Road, did not rebell against the Han empire.

The reigning Empress Dowager Deng 鄧皇后 summoned Ban Yong to the court to discuss a further plan to appease the Western Territories. Ban Yong suggested appointing a vice commander (fu xiaowei 副校尉) in Dunhuang, the westernmost commandery (jun 郡) of the Han empire, to reinforce the garrison of Dunhuang, and to sent out the Chief Clerk of the Western Territories to set up military colonies in Loulan 樓蘭 near Shanshan.

Although the first steps were done to regain the lost territories in the west, it was only in 123 CE that Ban Yong was appointed Chief Clerk of the Western Territories and forced the states of Qiuci 龜茲 and Gumo 姑墨 into submission. After securing peace on the northern route of the Silk Road, he attacked the kingdoms of Cheshi and their allies, the Xiongnu.

His troops first conquered Fore Cheshi 車師前部, set up military colonies to ensure the supply of the army, and then smashed Rear Cheshi. In 126 Ban Yong led a large army of Han troops and native auxiliaries against the Xiongnu Khan Huyan 呼衍. A year later Ban Yong led a campaign against the rebellious state of Yanqi 焉耆, together with the governor of Dunhuang, Zhang Lang 張朗. Yanqi surrendered, but because Ban Yong himself arrived lately on the battlefield, he was stripped of his rank. He died in retirement.

Ban Yong compiled at least part of the treatise on the Western Territories of the official dynastic history of the Later Han, the Houhanshu 後漢書.

Ma Yong 馬雍 (1992). "Ban Yong 班勇", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 23.