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Eroochoomboo, and the Brahmaputra, and that the error in their deli neation in the maps of Ptolemy's Geography by Agathodæmon, con sists in their being laid down, as running to, instead of from, the nort! or north-east. The Oechardes is described by Ptolemy, as having it origin in Seythia extra Imaum, as flowing through that country, as having a great bend or curve in its course, and as afterwards entering Serica This exactly corresponds with the Sanpoo which runs through Thibet, and which has an extensive bend or turn in its course before it enters Assam The Bautes is the Brahmaputra. It is delineated in the map of Serica as being composed of two large affluents rising from the mountains called Ottorocorras or Sericus, and Casius. They are the Dibong, which is composed of two branches ; and the Brahmaputra which proceeds from the mountains on the east and north-east of Assam. The Bautes is described by Cellarius, as entering Serica “recto casu,” which perhaps refers to the straight course of the Brahmaputra from the Brahmakund. This celebrated place of pilgrimage is designated the sacred pool—the Deo-panee—or divine well of Brahma. The summit of the rock, which is described by Capt. Bedford as inaccessible, is called by the Hindoos -the Deo Bari or dwelling of the deity, and it is perhaps with reference to this natural temple of the god of the Hindoos, that the ancients designated this rock and mountain-Mount Casius--a name that was probably suggested by the resemblance (real or supposed) between this rocky mountain and Mount Casius of Syria, the site of a temple to Jupiter. Dr. Stevenson remarks : “when the ancient Romans came to any new country they were sure to find there a Jupiter.' “The common figure,” says the Abbe Bannier, “ by which Jupiter Cassius used to be represented, was that of a rock or steep mountain, as is to be seen on several medals quoted by Vaillant.”+
Ptolemy describes the two rivers Oechardes and Bautes, as flowing through the greatest part of Serica. (Sericæ autem regionis maximam partem duo percurrunt fluvii.) This may be considered as referring to the two great parallel branches of the Brahmaputra, which enclose Majuli and the islands in the upper part of its course. These branches, perhaps, ran a much longer course than they do at present, and were distinguished by the names of the two great parent streams, the Oechardes * Journal Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. V. p.
and the Bautes, or the Sanpoo and the Brahmaputra, of which they are formed. This division of the river into parallel branches is mentioned in connexion with one of the oldest traditions regarding Assam, namely, that the original territory occupied by Khuntai, the first king of that country, included two very long islands formed by branches of the Brahmaputra.*
Several nations or people are mentioned by Ptolemy as inhabiting Serica—a certain proof that this valley was one of great extent; and with reference, therefore, to its situation on the north of India extra Gangem (Burmah) it can be no other than Assam. Ptolemy mentions, Arthropophagi on the northern parts of Serica. Below them were the Anxibi, who derived their name from their own mountains (gens ejusdem nominis cum montibus quibus superjacet). They are the Abor tribes, who occupy a range of hills on the northern side of Assam. In the satne situation, namely, the northern side of Serica, Ptolemy mentions the Auracii, who appear to be the Aukas. Between them and the Annibi were a people called Sizyges. Many of the names mentioned by Ptolemy closely resemble the names of places or tribes of people in Assam in the present day : thus the Damnæ appear to be the Doms : the Garinci—the Garos : the Nabanna (rendered Rabannæ by Berthius and other commentators)—the Rabhas : the Asmeraæi, the Mirees : the Orcharda—the people of Chardwar : the Batæ—the Booteahs: the Oitorocorre, the people of Outtergorah. The situations or relative positions which Ptolemy assigns to these different nations, do not in every instance correspond with the localities inhabited by the tribes or people of Assam bearing the same names in the present day; but though this is not the case, there can be little doubt from the close affinity-that exists between them, that they are the people that are alluded to.
Ammianus Marcellinus gives a general account of the physical aspect, extent, fertility, and nations of Serica. He describes it as a valley extending to the Ganges, and as abounding in silk, from which it may be inferred that Assam is the country that he alludes to.
"Ultra hæc utriusque Scythiæ loca, contra Orientalem plagam in orbis speciem consertæ celsorum aggerum summitates ambiunt Seras ubertate regionum et amplitudine circumspectos : ab occidentali latere Scythis adnexos: a Septentrione et orientale nivosa solitudini cohærentes :
* Vide Buchanan in Martin's Eastern India, Vol. III. p. 602.
qua meridiem spectant adusque Indiam porrectos et Gangem. Adpellan tur* autem iidem montes Anniva et Nazaricium et Asmira et Emodon et Opurocarra. Hanc itaque planitiem undique prona declivitate præruptam, terrasque lato situ distentas duo famosi nominis flumina O’Ecbardes et Bautes lentiore meatu percurrunt. Et dispar est tractuum diversorum ingenium : hic patulum alibi molli divexitate subductum : ideoque satietate frugum et pecoribus et arbustis exuberat. Incolunt autem fecundissimam glæbam, variæ gentes e quibus Alitrophagi et Annibi et Sizyges et Chardi aquilonibus objecti sunt et pruinis. Exortum vero Solis suspiciunt Rabannæ et Asmiræ et Essedones omnium splendidissimi: quibus Athagoræ ab occidentali parte cohærent et Aspacaræ. Beta vero australi celsitudini montium inclinati urbibus licet non multis magnis tamen celebrantur et opulentis : inter quas maximæ Asmira et Essedon et Asparata et Sera nitidæ et notissimæ. Agunt autem ipsi quietus Seres armorum semper et præliorum expertes : utque hominibus sedatis et placidis otium est voluptabile, nulli finitimorum molesti. Cæli apud eos jucunda salubrisque temperies, aeris facics munda, leniumque ventorum commodissimus flatus : et abunde, silvæ sublucidæ : a quibus arborum fetus aquarum asperginibus crebris veiut quædam vellera mollientes ex lanugine et liquore mistam subtilitatem tenerrimam pectunt nentes que subtemina conficiunt sericum ad usus adhuc Nobilium, nunc etiam infimorum sine ulla discretione proficiens. Ipsi præter alios frugalissimi pacatioris vitæ cultores, vitantes reliquorum mortalium cætus. Cumque ad coëmenda fila, vel quædam alia fluvium transierent adveriæ nulla sermonum vice propositarum rerum pretia solis occulis æstimantur : et ita sunt abstinentes ut apud se tradentes gignentia nihil ipsi comparent adventicium (advectitium).”+
The words, “ in orbis speciem conserte celsorum aggerum summitates ambiunt Seras,” are generally supposed to refer to the mountains of Serica mentioned in the subsequent sentence of the text, but it may be fairly questioned, whether they should not be taken in their literal sense, and be considered as applying to those extensive causeways, the remains of which are still to be seen in Assam. Dr. Wade mentions several of these embankments. Ile describes a military causeway extending from Coos Bahar (Cooch Behar) in a northern direction to the
Appellantur. † Ammianus Marcellinus, Lib. XXII. Chap. VI. pp. 293, 294. Edit. Gronovius,
utmost limits of Assam-forming a part of the southern boundaries of the Bootan dominions. “A modern causeway formed by Pertaubsing, which runs from Coosbeyhar through the whole extent of Assarn to Sadiya, forms the boundaries of Dehrung on the north." The Okkooruralee causeway is mentioned as separating the country of Ranigawn from Beltola. “ The famous causeway of Rangulighur, which divides the district of Coliabur on the east from Upper Assam, is described as a rampart which runs from Colone near its junction with the Brahmaputra during a course of ten miles to the southern moun. tains.” “A great causeway or high road raised to preserve the interior from the inundation of the river Dehing" is mentioned as situated in Khonani. It is described “ as a work of immense labour.” Rungpore, the capital of Assam, is said to have had the Duburriunniali rampart, or high road, as its security or defence on the east. It is further stated that the banks of the river Dikho, near which the fortress of Rungpore stands, " are connected by a lofty rampart with the southern mountains through an extent of ten or fifteen miles. It was constructed in remote antiquity for the protection of Gourgown, which was the principal residence of the monarch, and all the great officers of state.”* These causeways, besides constituting roads and dams to protect the low country from inundation, served also as defences, for which purpose they were surmounted with palisades of bamboos. Mahomed Cazim describes a high broad causeway leading from Salagereh to Ghergong, a distance of about fifty coss (one hundred miles), each side of which, he remarks,“ is planted with shady bamboos, the tops of which meet and are intertwined.” He further describes the latter city as encompassed with a fence of bamboos, and states that within it are high and broad causeways for the convenience of passengers during the rainy season. "The Raja's palace is surrounded by a causeway planted on each side with a close hedge of bamboos, which serves instead of a wall, and on the outside there is a ditch which is always full of water.”+ Butkhyr Khulijy, who invaded Assam in 1205, mentions stockades which were formed of stakes interwoven with bamboos in that country. I Fitch, also, in describing Coonch (Cooch Behar) remarks: “all the country is set with bamboos or canes made sharp at both ends and driven into the
* See Wade's Geography of Assam in Martin's Eastern India, Vol. 3. pp. 630, 633, 635, 637. † As. Res. Vol. II, p. 179. | Stewart's History of Bengal.
earth."'* The words, "ubertate regionum et amplitudine circumspectos' applied to the Seres, seem to imply, that the “aggeres celsi,” with which they were surrounded, were not mountains, but works of art, construct ed to protect their extensive and fertile territory from the incursions o hostile tribes. It is probable, therefore, that these defences, the sum mits of which are described by Ammianus Marcellinus, as interlaced or intertwined in a circular form, were stockades at the duwars, or close hedges of bamboos erected or planted on the causeways of Assam, with their tops intertwined in the manner mentioned by Mahomed Cazim.
The position which Ammianus Marcellinus assigns to the Scythians, corresponds with that of Scythica extra Imaum, which is placed by Ptolemy on the western side of Serica. On the ground that this Seythia is Thibet, Murray infers that China, which lies to the east of that country, is Serica. The account, however, which both Ptolemy and Ammianus Marcellinus give of the other boundaries of Serica, is opposed to the opinion which identifies Serica with China. The former author makes no mention of the sea, as the boundary on the east, which, in all probability, he would have done if he had been describing China : but speaks of Serica, as bounded in this direction by unknown lands. Ammianus Marcellinus describes Serica, as situated beyond the two Scythias, (viz. to the south of them,) and as lying opposite to the eastern country, which can be no other than China. He more particularly describes the country of Seres, as being adjacent on the north and east, to a dreary region of frost and snow, which refers, no doubt, to the lofty snowy peaks of the Himalaya, which surround the eastern part of the valley of Assam. That Serica is not China, but Assam, is still more probable, from the circumstance of India being mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, as lying to the south of the latter country. This is India extra Gangem, which is referred by Pomponius Mela, Pliny, and Ptolemy, to the situation assigned to it in the text. Pomponius Mela, and Pliny give a general description of the situation of Serica. “ They agree," say's Vincent, “ that their boundary (viz. that of the Seres) on the north is Tabis, and Taurus on the south : that all beyond them north is Scythia, and all beyond them south is India east of the Ganges.” Tabis and Taurus seem to be moutains in Upper Assam, the former being, perhaps, the mountain
* Hublyut's Voyages.