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"Chao Fa" redirects here. For the modern Thai royal title, see Thai royal ranks and titles.
Chao-Pha (lit. 'lord of the sky'; Tai Ahom: ??? ??, Thai: ???????, Shan: ???????, romanized: Jao3 Fa5 Jao3 Fa5, Burmese: ???????? Sawbwa, Chinese: ??; pinyin: Zhàofa) was a royal title used by the hereditary rulers of the Tai peoples of Mong Dun, Mong Shan, Mong Mao, kingdoms of Thai and Tai-Khamti people. According to local chronicles, some fiefdoms of Chao-Pha date from as early as the 2nd century BCE; however, the earlier sections of these chronicles are generally agreed to be legendary.
During British colonial rule, there were 14 to 16 Chao-Phas at a time, each ruling a highly autonomous state, until 1922 when the Federated Shan States were formed and the Chao-Phas powers were reduced. However, they nominally kept their positions as well as their courts and still played a role in local administration until they collectively relinquished their titles in favour of the Union of Burma in 1959. Shan is the semi-independent Shan States in what today is Eastern Myanmar (Burma). It may also be used for rulers of similar Tai/Dai states in neighbouring countries, notably including China's Yunnan Province.
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