صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

a vagrant gipsey tirbe, who live in boats throughout the year. They dis pose of the shells, which are used for domestic purposes by the Hindoos and sell the pearls at the annual fairs which are held in Vikramapurɛ Sonargong, and Bhowal. The pearls found in the present day ar small, of a reddish colour, and generally of little worth, but occasional ly, a pair of the value of 100 Rs. is met with; the Buddeahs sell th ordinary kind by weight to dealers in precious stones, who frequen the fairs for the purpose of purchasing them. The quantity sold by them, at the Cartick Barnee, or fair held in Vikramapura in 1841, was estimated at three thousand rupees in value; one pair was dis posed of at one hundred rupees. The pearls suited for ornaments are retailed by the merchants at a price ranging from four annas to four rupees per ten pairs, and the rest are disposed of to native physicians for medicinal purposes.

The Gangetic muslins described in the text as the finest fabrics of the sort, are the fine muslins of Sonargong, and of the other places of manufacture in the district of Dacca. It may be inferred from one of the Institutes of Menu,* that the cotton manufacture was a branch of industry of considerable importance in his time, and that, therefore, the art of weaving the finest cloths was practised even in that early age. It is probable that these fabrics were exported from Sonargong from a very early period, and that they constituted the delicate vestures so frequently alluded to by Latin authors, under the names of vestes tenues vel pellucidæ, ventus textilis, nebula. The extreme tenuity of texture, which these terms imply, is a quality that belongs, rather to a cotton, than to a silken fabric, and leads us to conclude that the cloths so designated were the very fine transparent muslins of Dacca. The term каржάσos -derived from the Sanscrit Karpassa or Hindee Kapas signifying "cotton,' was also used to designate fine muslins. It is employed by the author of the Periplus in two senses, viz. first, to denote the raw material of cotton, as when he states that the region of Membarii is fertile in Karpasos from which the Indian cloths are manufactured; and secondly, as the name of fine muslins, in which acceptation it would seem to refer to the Gangetic muslins of the text. The two Mahomedan

[ocr errors]

* Let a weaver who has received ten palas of cotton thread, give them back increased to eleven, by the rice-water and the like used in weaving; he who does otherwise shall pay a fine of ten panas. (Inst. No. 397.)

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

travellers of the 9th century state that cotton garments were made in the kingdom of Rami" in so extraordinary a manner that no where

else was the like to be seen." The country which is here alluded to is evidently Bengal, from the circumstance of Rhinoceros' horns, Lign Aloe, and skins being mentioned as exports from it, and of shells being used as money. The cotton garments are described as being so fine, that a web might be drawn through a ring of middling size. This is a test which has been used by the Dacca weavers from time immemorial, and there can be no doubt, therefore, that the fabrics here alluded are the Dacca muslins.

The gold mine mentioned in the text appears from the words λéyerai δὲ καὶ χρυσωρύχια περὶ τοὺς τόπους είναι in which it is described in the original, to have been situated not exactly in, but rather in the vicinity of, the province to which the Gangetic mart belonged. The words must be considered as referring not to the alluvial plains of the Gangetic Delta, but to a country in its vicinity; and they have allusion, in all probability, to a gold mine which formerly existed in the adjacent hilly Country of Tipperah. Tavernier in his account of this country remarks; “there is here a gold mine but the gold is very coarse." He also states that the gold from this mine was exported to China and exchanged there for silver. Tipperah does not produce gold in the present day, but the natives assert that it was obtained in that country in former times, and that the Kookis or hill people were in the habit of bringing it from the interior, and presenting it as tribute to the Rajah. The gold coin called Kaltis, νόμισμά τε χρυσοῦ ὁ λεγόμενος Κάλτις is supposed by Wilford, to have been the refined gold named Canden, for which India was celebrated in ancient times.* A small fragment or piece of gold of an irregular shape, having either a plain surface, or a few obscure symbols marked upon it, constituted the earliest type of a gold coin in India; specimens of this description of coins have been found in Southern India and the Sunderbunds.† As stamped coins, however, were current in India in the time of Arrian, it is probable that Kaltis was one of them. Stuckius mentions a coin called Kallais which was current in Bengal in his time. Tavernier, speaking of Tipperah, states that the Rajah “makes thin pieces of gold like to the Aspers of Turkey, of *As. Researches, Vol. V. P. 269.

+ Journal Asiatic Society, Nov. 1835. No. 47, p. 627.


which he has two sorts; four of the one sort making a crown, and twelve of the other." The modern gold coin of Tipperah has on one side the Singha or lion resembling at the same time the Chinese dragon. The era employed is that of Salivahana, which dates 78 years later than the Christian. (See Marsden's Numismata Orientalia.) Kaltis, however, appears to have been the coin of the lower part of Bengal in which Gange regia was situated. The name of Sonargong, or Suvernagrama, (the town of gold) seems to imply, that it was a place of great wealth, or what is not improbable, the appellation may have been given to it," from the large quantity of gold that was brought to it in the course of trade. Formerly, a considerable quantity of gold was imported into the eastern part of Bengal from Arracan and Pegu. Speaking of the vessel. in which he sailed from the latter country to Chatigan, Cæsar Frederick remarks: " save victuals and ballast they had silver and gold and no other merchandize."* Gold is still brought annually from Pegu to Naraingunge; and no doubt it was one of the chief imports into Sonargong in ancient times. Sonargong was the seat of a mint in the time of the Mahomedan Kings of Bengal, as appears from coins of the Sultan Shums-ooddin having the word Sonargaun marked upon them, and bearing the dates 754 and 760 of the Mahomedan era.†

Khruse, which is mentioned as situated at the mouth of the Ganges, is regarded by Dr. Robertson as an imaginary island. From its being described as lying directly "under the rising sun and at the extremity of the world towards the east," Dr. Vincent identifies it with Sumatra, which is situated on the Equator, and is celebrated for its gold and tortoise shell. Khruse, it will be observed, is twice mentioned by Arrian ; first as a continent, and secondly as an island, and in both instances, as a place in the immediate vicinity of the Ganges (κατ αυτὸν δὲ τὸν ποταμὸν): from which, it would seem that Arracan or some island off that coast, is the locality that is here referred to. Perhaps the expression " directly under the rising sun," applies merely to the situation of Khruse

Hakluyt's Voyages, Vol. II. p. 370.

+ Speaking of these coins Marsden states, "on four specimens belonging to the Societé Asiatique, M. Reinaud finds the place of coinage Sonargaun (aurificium urbs) an ancient city on the Brahmaputra, and the dates 754 and 760 (Numis. Oriental. Illustr.)

[ocr errors]

within the torrid zone.* Arrian seems to have been aware, that Desarene and the country of the Kirrhadæ and Bargoosi lay to the north of the Tropic of Cancer: and after describing these countries, therefore, he traces the course from them towards the south, and defines the intertropical position of Khruse by the expression above mentioned. Khruse was the most remote maritime region towards the east that was known in the time of Arrian, as appears from its situation being referred by him, to "the extremity of the world towards the east." In all probability, however, it comprehended, not only Arracan, but likewise the country designed by Ptolemy, the Golden Chersonese, which is now generally admitted to be Pegu. It is likely also that it included Malacca and Sumatra.

Beyond or to the north of Khruse was situated Thina—a region the boundaries of which are mentioned as extending even to the confines of the Caspian, and the Euxine seas, the former being erroneously described according to the prevailing opinion of that time, as communicating with the Northern Ocean.+ Thina appears from the geographical position assigned to it by Arrian, to have been the country called "Chin" by the Hindoos. Dr. Buchanan states that the ancient Hindoos do not mention any kingdom as intervening between Kamroop (Lower Assam) and China; and that they considered the former territory as bounded on the east by "Chin," by which term, however, he thinks, was probably meant the country situate between the Indian and Chinese empiresChina itself, he states, being, according to Abul Fazel, the Maha Chin of the Hindoos. Sir Wm. Jones mentions that in the 8th century before the birth of Christ, there was erected a kingdom in the province of Shensi, the capital of which stood nearly in the 35° N. L. and about 5° west of Si-gam.§ Both this country and its metropolis were called Chin, and the dominion of its princes was gradually extended to the

The extent of the torrid zone is differently mentioned by ancient geographers. Eratosthenes limited it to eight degrees, and Posedonius to a little more than twelve on each side of the Equator: but in general it was considered (as originally defined by Aristotle) as comprehending the portion of the earth included within the Tropics. (See Robertson's America, Vol. I. p. 369, No. VIII.)

+ Strabo, (Lib. XI. p. 773,) Pomponius Mela, (Lib. III. c. 5,) Pliny, (Lib. VI. c. 13.) Buchanan's Topography of Rungpore. Martin's Eastern India, Vol. 3, p. 403. As. Res. Vol. II. p. 371.

[ocr errors]

east and the west. It is probable, he further states, that this nation was descended from the Chinas of Menu-one of the ten tribes who were. expelled from the caste of Kshatriyas, " for having abandoned the or dinances of the Vedas and the company of the Brahmins." The country however, in which the Chinas of Menu originally settled, was apparent ly not so far distant as Shensi: for according to the same distinguished author, it is designated by the learned Hindoos, "a country to the north. east of Gour and to the east of Kamroop and Nepal"-a description which seems to imply that it is the Chin mentioned by Dr. Buchanan and not the remote region of Maha Chin, Shensi, or China. The ac count given by Menu of outcast and exiled Kshatriyas, called Chinas having emigrated to a country to the east of Bengal, is supported by tradition current among the Koch, and I believe, also among the Mech and Hajong tribes of Rungpore and Assam, viz., that their chiefs ar descended from Kshatriyas "who had fled into Kamroop and the ad jacent country of Chin."* Both accounts are considered fabulous, bu it seems not improbable that they are founded on truth, and had thei origin in an incursion of military adventurers, who, on being expelled from caste, turned their arms against the barbarous tribes above mentioned. Accordingly, the Chinas and Kiratas mentioned by Menu as degraded Kshatriyas should be regarded, not as the ancestors of the aboriginal tribes of Chinas and Kiratas, as some have erroneously inferred, but as foreigners of Hindoo descent to whom the names of the tribes they conquered were given by the nation from whose society they had been exiled. Of the skill in arms of the early Brahminical conquerors of India, a highly interesting account is given in the appendix to Mr. Torrens's work entitled "Remarks on the scope and uses of Military Literature and History." They appear from the ancient authorities there adduced to have acquired at a very early period high military discipline and superior tactical knowledge. This military science, therefore, coupled with the physical strength which, doubtless, these warriors possessed (proceeding, as there is reason to believe they did, "from the great plateau of Central Asia") must have rendered them formidable enemies to the comparatively weak and uncivilized aboriginal inhabitants of India. Their conquests, it may reasonably be inferred, soon extended to the fertile countries east of the Ganges; and it was, we may suppose, at no * Buchanan's Topography of Rungpore. See Martin's Eastern India, p. 415.


[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »