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but in its immediate vicinity and in the country to some distance around it, there are found at a great depth under ground, the foundations of walls from which large quantities of bricks have been dug, and sent to Dacca and different places in the neighbourhood. Sculptured images of Hindoo gods, pieces of timber, large slabs of stone, and various articles of gold, and copper, consisting of ornaments and of vessels used in celebrating poojahs, have been excavated from these places. There is a tank in the centre of Bullal-baree, in which were deposited, it is said, the ashes of the Hindoo prince, who governed this part of Bengal, when it was invaded by the Mahomedans. It is called “ Mitha Pukar,” and is said by the natives to have belonged to that part of the palace which was occupied by the females of the Rajah's Court. Near it is the Agnikunda, where the funeral pyre was kindled. Tradition asserts that the Rajah, when he went forth to oppose the invaders of his territory, took with him a carrier pigeon, whose return to the palace was to be regarded by the prince's family as an intimation of his defeat, and a signal therefore to put themselves to death. He gained the victory, it appears, but unfortunately, whilst he was stooping to drink from the river after the fatigues of the day, the bird escaped from the loose folds of his dress in which it was concealed, and flew to its distination. The Rajah hurried homeward, but arriving too late to avert the consequences of this unhappy accident, he threw himself upon the funeral pile still smoking with the ashes of his family, and thus closed the reign of the last dynasty of Hindoo princes in this part of India. The other objects of antiquity pointed out by the natives are a large tank on the banks of which the Rajah's elephants were picketted ; the remains of a road leading to Sonargong on the opposite side of the river ; several small mounds called Deool-baree, the sites of Hindoo temples: and a few more recent structures as mosques and bridges. One of the mosques is said to have been built by Pir Adam, who obtained possession of the country after the death of the Rajah. The natives state that there was in ancient times in Vicramapura, a mart called Lakhi bazar, which was under the direct control of the Rajahs, and that it was so designated from the circumstance of no merchant being allowed to carry on traffic in it, who was not possessed of property to the amount or value of one lac of rupees. This tradition, however improbable it may appear as regards the origin of the name of the mart, is in other respects, in strict accord
ance with the spirit of the ancient Hindoo laws, which gave to the king a direct interference in the commercial affairs of the state. “In com... mercial affairs the king,” says Heeren, was permitted to exercise an. extraordinary degree of influence. He might absolutely forbid the exportation of merchandize, or reserve the whole monopoly to himself. He issued ordinances relative to the buying and selling of goods ; he regulated the price of the market, and received as his customary dues five per cent. on the profits of sale.”* The mart of Vicramapura stood in a part of Bengal, which, from its numerous navigable rivers, possesses great facilities for inland trade. Situated at the confluence of the large rivers, .. which proceed from Sylhet, Assam, and Rungpore, and having a direct communication with the Bay of Bengal, this place was no doubt the centre of an extensive trade, which yielded, in the shape of customs and imposts on its merchandize, a considerable portion of the royal revenues of the Rajahs of Banga. Sir W. Jones alludes to a town situated on an island at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, which derived its name from Lacshmi, the goddess of wealth, and which may, therefore, be considered as identical with the Lakhi bazar of Vicramapura. There are no traces of this mart now to be seen, but from the names of several places in the vicinity of Rampal, as Sanchacara-buzar, or shellcutters' bazar, Pan-hatta, or betel-leaf market, Recabee-bazar, &c. it is probable that this spot was the site of a city in former times. From the appearance which the country presents, it is further probable that this city was not built in a compact form, but consisted, like all Hindoo towns in the lower part of Bengal in ancient times, of detached groupes of houses erected on elevated portions of ground interspersed with gardens, fields, and creeks,-constituting paras, or separate municipal divisions assigned to people of different castes and trades. I Wilford refers to this locality a town, which, he says, was called Antibole by Ptolemy,
* lleeren's Asiatic Nations, Vol. III. C. II. p. 349. + Sir W. Jones's Works, Vol. VII. p. 383.
I In the lower part of Bengal there appear to have been comparatively few brick buildings in ancient times. The expense of erecting durable structures of this kind must have been considerable, as the only lime that was procurable here was made from shells gathered on the drying up of the marshes in the cold season. All the very old mosques in Sonargong and Vikramapura were built with shell-lime, which from its great purity and whiteness, is said to have been made from cowries. The houses were constructed of bamboos and straw, and in making buildings of this
and Antomela by Pliny : he states that its Sanscrit name was Hastimalla, or Hathi-malla in the spoken dialects, and that both it and the country about it were called Hastibandh, because the Rajah's elephants were picketted there. (As. Res, vol. xiv. 444.) Murray places the Gangetic mart of the Periplus in the site of Chittagong. * Heeren remarks in regard to it: “at the mouth of the Ganges merchandize was conveyed to a town of the same name : situate probably in the neighbourhood of Duliapur to the south-east of Calcutta and on the central branch of the river." He quotes Mannert and adds in a note “its situation however cannot be defined with precision. It was not merely the emporium for Chinese commerce, but also for the productions of Bengal particularly fine muslins.”+ The articles of Chinese commerce here alluded were silk, iron, and skins from Serica, which appears to be Assam; the other exports (not the produce of Bengal) that are mentioned in the text, viz., malabathrum and spikenard—were procured, the former from Sylhet and Assam-and the latter from Rangpore. It may, therefore, be inferred from the great commercial intercourse that has long been established between these places and Dacca, that the mart through which these articles passed, was situated in the vicinity of the latter—it being contrary to probability that they should have been sent to a town on the western branch of the Ganges, while Vicramapura was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Banga, and the site, according to the traditions of the natives, of a rich mart. Was the Gangetic mart of the Periplus identical with the Gange regia of Ptolemy? With regard to the name of the latter, I may observe, that mention is made by some of the older geographers of two cities called Gange. In enumerating the mouths of the Ganges, Cellarius remarks: “Inter ostia fuit urbs Gange Ptolemæi diversa ab Artemidori Gange, modo dicta ad superiores partes hujus fluminis.” The Gange Artemidori was situated above, or to the north-west of Palibothra. This appears from the account which Strabo, on the authority of Artemidorus, gives of the course of the Ganges. He states that this river, on emerging from the Himalayan mountains and entering the plains of Hindoostan, flows t the south as far as a city called Gange, and that thence it runs in a easterly direction to Palibothra and the sea. Wilford identifies it wit Allahabad. Gange Ptolemiæ, on the other hand, stood in Bengal, an. apparently in its southern part, for it is mentioned by Ptolemy as situat ed near the mouths of the Ganges (Tepl Tå otbuata toll ráyyou). Th longitude assigned to it by Ptolemy is nearly that of the Camberichun branch of the Ganges, or the meridian of the middle part of the Gan getic Delta. The city of Tilogrammum is placed near the mouth o this river, and Gange regia about one degree farther to the north. D'An ville places Gange regia at Rajhmal,* and Rennel at Gour.t Wilford in assigning a locality to it, mentions in different parts of his writings, two sites to which he refers it: the first is Satgong or Hoogly, and the second is Calcutta, supposed by him to have been anciently called Chattragram-the metropolis of a district called Gunga-Reddha. Some geographers of the sixteenth and early part of the 17th centuries considered Gange regia as
kind, the people of Sonargong are said to excel. They are frequently ornamented in the interior with painted reeds or bamboos and fine mats.
* Murray's Encyclopædia of Geography, Vol. I. + Heeren's Asiatic Nations, Vol. III. p. 183. Strabo, Lib. XV. p. 719.
identical with the city of Bengala, 9 which stood in the eastern part of Bengal. It seems not improbable, however, from Vicramapura having been the seat of the Gangetic mart of the Periplus, and the ancient capital of Bengal, that this place was the site of Gange regia, the capital of the Gangaridæ, whose territory comprised the country about the mouths of the Ganges, and extended, according to Curtius, beyond or to the east of that river —it being in accordance with the constant experience we have of Asia, which shows, as leeren states, “that royal cities are always the principal depôts of inland traffic."
The exports from the Gangetic mart were malabathrum (rendered betel in the text), spikenard, pearls, and muslins, (87 o pépetai Tó Te mandβαθρον και η γαγγιτική νάρδος και πινικών και σινδονες αι διoφoρώταται αι Γαγγιτικαι λεγόμεναι.) )
Malabathrum is supposed by Salmasius, Vincent, and other writers to be betel-leaf, but as the former article was imported into Rome, and as the latter is used in its fresh or green state, and is spoiled by being
* D'Anville's Ancient Geography.
As. Res. Vol. XIV. p. 330, and Vol. V. p. 278.
transported to a distance, it is obvious that they are not identical. It has also been regarded as tea, but it is now generally admitted, as will be afterwards shown, to be the leaf of the Cinnamomum albiflorum, which abounds in the valleys along the foot of the hills from Sylhet to Mussouri. It appears to have been prepared for exportation in the vicinity of the places where it grows, and was thence conveyed to the Gangetic mart to be shipped to the ports of Southern India.
Gangetic spikenard was so called, it is supposed, by Dr. Vincent, because it passed through the mart on the Ganges. It is the Nardostachys Jatamanshi, a species of Valerian, which grows in Bhotan, and which was imported into the Gangetic mart from Rhandaramacotta or the modern Rungpore. Pliny mentions a variety of nard which grew on the banks of the Ganges, but as it is described by him as having a strong disagreeable taste, on which account it was designated Ozanitis, and as it was held in no estimation, it is not probable that it is the article referred to in the Periplus. Marco Polo mentions spikenard among the articles of export from Bengal in his time.
The pearls that passed through the Gangetic mart appear to have been obtained from the rivers of the eastern part of Bengal. Though small and of inferior quality, these pearls were, no doubt as much in demand among the poor, as the more valuable pearls from Perimula, Ceylon, and the Persian Gulf were among the rich. The Romans purchased pearls wherever they were to be obtained, and are said to have eren invaded Britain for the sake of the pearls that are found in one of the rivers of Wales. * Robertson remarks : “ Among all the articles of luxury, the Romans seem to have given the preference to pearls. Persons of every rank purchased them with eagerness; they were worn on every part of dress, and there is such a difference both in size and in value among pearls that while such as were large and of superior lustre adorned the wealthy and the great, smaller ones and of inferior quality gratified the vanity of persons in more humble stations of life.”+ It seems not improbable, therefore, from the ready market which pearls of every kind and quality met with at Rome, that the inferior pearls of the eastern part of Bengal were exported in ancient times. They are found in a species of muscle in the rivers and marshes of the Dacca, Tipperah, and Mymensing districts, and are collected by the Buddeahs,
* The river Conway. Vide Suetonius. + Robertson's Ancient India, p. 58.