صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

fistant period from the time they entered the plains of Hindoostan, that the two outcast or exiled classes of Kshatriyas called Chinas and Kiratas by Menu, invaded Assam and the Morung and were thence designated by the names of the uncivilized tribes whom they vanquished. The country of Chin, described as adjacent to Kamroop on the east, can be no other than the eastern part of the valley of Assam. This remote and secluded region was almost a terra incognita to the natives of India prior to the 17th century. Bukhtyar Khulijy invaded Assam in the 13th, and Sultan Hossein Addeen in the 15th centuries, but little information was obtained regarding it until A. D. 1660, when Aurengzebe sent an expedition to it under Meer Jumla.* Tavernier mentions, that until this time, little or nothing was known of Assam. He describes it as one of the richest and most productive countries in Asia.† His account of it and that contained in the Alumgirnamah of Mahomed Cazim‡ were the only sources of information whence geographers drew their descriptions of this country before the commencement of the present century. The natives of Bengal had few opportunities of becoming acquainted with Assam, prior to the conquest of it by the English Government. Strangers were denied admission into it; trade was carried on at the mountain passes leading into it, or at fixed marts on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where this river enters Bengal: and the only persons, therefore, who could give any information respecting Upper Assam were the few pilgrims who penetrated to the Brahmakund. The word Thina, the name of the country of the Thine or Sinæ, is supposed to be a corruption of Chin or Cheen, but it seems more probable that it is derived from Thai-the name of an extensive Indo-Chinese race, which comprehends the Siamese, the Laos or Shyans, the Khamtis, and Ahom nations, that are spread over a tract of country, stretching from Upper Assam and the sources of the Irawaddee on the north, to the gulf of Siam on the south. The Thinæ and Sinæ mentioned by Arrian and Ptolemy are one and the same nation, and apparently the T'hai or Shyans inhabiting the extensive region above mentioned. The Ahoms of Assam are descended from the Laos or Shyans. The date of their settlement in that country is not known but there is reason to infer that it was anterior to the introduction of Buddhism into Siam. Capt. Low remarks that "the Chang priests of Assam speak a dialect of the Siamese." He * Stewart's History of Bengal. Tavernier's Travels.

Asiat. Res. Vol. II.

also states that "the Laos are supposed to have progressed from som northern or north-eastern region, since the Khamti bordering on Assan speak a language scarcely differing from the Siamese."* It seems no improbable therefore that the Thinæ and Sinæ of Arrian and Ptolemy are the T'hai and Shyans. There were two capitals belonging to the Thina J or Sinæ. Thina, the capital of the Sinæ mentioned by Arrian, and Sera,... the metropolis of the Sinæ noticed by Ptolemy, are evidently, from the northern site assigned to them, the same city. Ptolemy places this city. in 38° N. L. but it is probable that it stood in 28' N. L. in the vicinity. of Sadiya in Upper Assam. Thinæ, the other capital of the Sinæ or Thinæ, is referred by Ptolemy to a situation far south, and is generally. considered as having stood on the coast of Siam. The two cities, therefore, viz. the Thina of Arrian (or the Sera of Ptolemy) and the Thinæ of Ptolemy belonged-the former to the Shyans of Upper Assam, and the latter to the Shyans of Siam. Arrian speaks of the remote situation of the capital of Thina, of the difficulty there was in travelling to it, and of the few persons who came from it εις δέ τὴν θῖνα ταύτην όυκ ἔστιν ευχερῶς ἀπελθεῖν σπανίως γὰρ ἀπ' ἀυτῆς τινες ου πολλοὶ ἔρχονται, or as Heeren renders the passage, "it is not easy to arrive at Thina and but few individuals have made the journey and returned again." This may be regarded as apply. ing to Upper Assam. All the information, it may be presumed, which Arrian obtained regarding this rarely visited country, was afforded by maritime traders from Bengal, whom he met in the ports of Western India, and as they could only speak of it from hearsay, it cannot be a matter of surprise, considering the proneness of the natives to exaggeration in their accounts of distant countries, that he should have been led to assign to it the remote situation which is mentioned in the text, and to extend its limits to the confines of the Caspian and the Euxine seas. The city of Thina is mentioned as situated at a certain point where the exterior sea terminates; but it is at the same time stated that its site is not on the coast, but inland. The sea, which is here alluded to, appears to be the gulf of Siam. It is called the exterior sea, no doubt with reference to its position to Khruse, which was considered by Arrian as the extremity of the world towards the east. It appears to have been known to the ancients that the country of the Thinæ or Sinæ bordered at one point on the sea, long

before they heard of the Journal of Royal As. Soc. Vol. V. p. 250.

[ocr errors]

navigation to the east of Khruse (Malacca or Sumatra). This information could only have been derived from the T'hai or Shyans inhabiting the country extending from the gulf of Siam to Upper Assam: and it was communicated, doubtless, by them to the few persons who travelled to Thina or Sera, the capital of the Sina for the purpose of carrying on trade. Ptolemy mentions that Marinus had heard of Cattigara, the most eastern sea port known to the ancients, (and which is supposed to have stood on the coast of Siam) but that he never met or was acquainted with any person who had made the voyage to it from the golden Chersonese,* It follows, therefore, that he obtained his information through Maes the Macedonian, whose agents carried on a trade with the Since on the frontier of Serica: and that the Thai or Shyans of Upper Assam were the channel through whom this information was conveyed. The commercial routes leading from Thina or Assam extended through Bactria to Barugaza; also down the Ganges and thence by sea to Limarike: ἀφ ̓ ἧς τότε ἔριον, καὶ τὸ σθόνιον το σηρικὸν, ἔις την Βαρυγαζαν δια Βάκτρων πεζη φέρεται καὶ ἐς τὴν Λιμυρικὴν πάλιν διὰ τοῦ Γάγγου ποταμοῦ. The first of these routes was via Thibet or Bhotan. The Thibetans formerly carried on a considerable traffic with the Assamese. A caravan consisting of about twenty persons of the former people repaired annually to the frontier of Assam, and took up their quarters at a place called Chouna, while the Assamese merchants were stationed at Geganshur, a few miles distant from it. The articles of merchandize brought by the Thibetans were silver bullion and rock salt, which they exchanged with the Assamese for rice, silk, lac, and articles the produce of Bengal. This, no doubt, was one channel through which the merchandize of Thina reached Bactria. Another appears to have been through the duwars or passes that lead into Bhotan. Tavernier mentions that in his time merchants travelled through Bhotan to Cabul to avoid paying the duty that was levied on merchandize passing into Hindoostan via Gorruckpore. He describes the journey as extending over deserts and mountains covered with snow, tedious and troublesome as far as Cabul, where the caravans part, some for Great Tartary-others for Balk. At the latter place merchants of Bhotan bartered their goods.-The

*Ptol. Lib. 1, C. 14-Vincent, Vol. II. p. 602.

+ Hamilton's Gazetteer of Hindoostan.

Vide Bhotan in Tavernier's Travels.

account which is given in the Sequel would indicate that the merchaṛ:1 dize brought from Thina or Assam to Balk or Bactria was purchase. there by merchants who were proceeding or who were on their way 1 India-and who afterwards sailed down the Indus to Barugaza or Guze rat, where they took shipping for the Red Sea. The second route mei tioned by Arrian, viz., down the Ganges and thence by sea to Limurike no doubt refers, as Dr. Vincent supposes, to the Brahmaputra. Mei chandize from Thina or Serica was brought by this channel to the Gar getic mart in the vicinity of Dacca, and was thence shipped to Limu rike. It consisted of silk-raw and manufactured, skins and iron, al of which are exports from Assam or the countries bordering on it. Sill abounds in Assam and has always been an article of export from it. Mr Hugon states that large quantities of silk cloths were formerly exportec to Lassa by merchants known in Derung as the "Kampa Bhoteas,”the quantity they used to take away was very considerable, but in the latter years of the Assam Rajah's rule from the disorganized state of the country the number of merchants gradually decreased. He estimates the total quantity of raw silk now exported at upwards of 24,000lb. * weight, and the total quantity produced in the province at more than double that weight-" the Assamese," he observes, "generally keeping more for their own use than they sell." It is exported principally to: Berhampore and Dacca.*

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The people called Sesatæ, who inhabited a country on the confines of · Thina, are generally supposed from their features, and make or form, to be identical with the Besada of Ptolemy, placed by him, as has already been mentioned, near a range of mountains called Moandrus. The Sesatæ are described in the text as a wild uncivilized tribe" and as a race of men squat and thick set, with their face broad, and their nose greatly depressed.” The words τῶ μὲν σώματι κολοβοὶ καὶ σφόδρα πλατυπρόσωποι, σιμοὶ εις τέλος, αυτους δέ λέγεσθαι Σησὰτας παραμοίους ἀνημέριους, of which Dr. Vincent's translation is given above, are rendered by Heeren “a set of ill-formed, broad-faced, and flat-nosed people, who are called Se- > satæ, and resemble savages."+ This is a correct description of the aboriginal tribes bordering on Assam, and there can be little doubt, therefore that the Sesatæ are one of them. All these tribes exhibit the IndoChinese features, and many of them have the harsh and savage-like ex

Journal Asiatic Soc. Vol. VI. p. 34.

Heeren's As. Nations.

pression of countenance, which is here mentioned as characteristic of the Sesatæ. The northern Garos are a stout, strong-limbed people, with strongly marked Chinese countenances." The southern Garos are described as having “a surly look, a flat Caffre nose, small eyes, a wrinkled forehead, over-hanging eyebrows, with a large mouth, thick lips, and round face," they are stout and able-bodied men. The Khassias have the Mongolian cast of countenance, but less strongly marked, perhaps, than in some of the neighbouring tribes: they want the oblique position of the eyelids, which is so characteristic of the Chinese face, but have the flat, depressed nose. They are a strong, muscular, and active race, and are employed from childhood, both men and women, in carrying heavy burdens up and down their hills. The Cacharees, whose country is situated between Sylhet and Munipore, are scattered over several districts on the eastern frontier of Bengal. They have the Indo-Chinese features strongly marked; but they vary in stature and complexion. The Kookis of the Chittagong hills are described as "a barbarous, active, muscular race, short, of stouter and darker complexion than the Choomeas, and like them have the peculiar features of the natives of the eastern parts of Asia, namely, the flat nose, small eyes, and broad face."† The Kookis of the Tipperah hills are short, broad-shouldered, but slender-limbed; they have small dark eyes, and the flat nose. The Nagas, who occupy the ranges of hills on the southern side of Assam are distinguished by the peculiar features of the Chinese. The Kookis (or Lunctas) and the Nagas appear to be amongst the most uncivilized of all the hill tribes of eastern India. They devour animal food in its most disgusting forms, as the flesh of elephants, tigers, jackals and snakes. I have already mentioned the Kookis of the Tipperah hills as being apparently identical with the Padæi of Herodotus. The Kookis of the Chittagong hills are also cannibals. Many of the Naga tribes go naked, and hence the appellation of Naga derived from the Sanscrit, which is given to them. Ptolemy mentions them under this name, viz., "Nangalogo quod significat mundum nudorum."+ The Koch are an aboriginal tribe, who occupy the low country in the Rungpore district, skirting Assam and Bhotan: they are also found in the Mymensing and Dacca districts. possessing the broad outlines of the Tartar countenance: they live in

They are a strong race of men,

As. Res. Vol.

† As. Res. Vol.

Ptol. Lib.


« السابقةمتابعة »