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"Reging of the Abors, which is so conspicuous an object from Sudiya; while the latter may refer to the high Naga hills, which may have been regarded as extending to the exterior sea, or gulph of Siam. India, which Ammianus Marcellinus mentions as bounding Series on the south, is evidently India extra Gangem. This, coupled with the circumstance of Serica being described as extending to the Ganges, seems quite conclusive of the identity of that country and Assam. It is mentioned as an extensive and fertile valley, inhabited by various nations, watered by large rivers, and abounding in silk, and it is evident, therefore, that the description applies to no other valley than Assam. The account, which Amnianus Marcellinus gives of the country of the Seres (namely, as extending to the Ganges) renders it probable that the eastern part of Bengal or the countries east of the Brahmaputra and Tistha, as Rungpore, Mymensing, and Sylhet, were designated India Serica. In the second book of “ Ravennatis Anonymi,” we find mention made of an extensive region called “ India Serica," which was traversed by numerous rivers “ Per quam Indiam Sericam transeunt plurima flumina : inter cetera, quæ dicuntur id est Ganges, Torgoris, et Accessenis quæ exeunt in Oceanum,” (Vide Ravennatis Anonymi Geographia, Edit. by Gronovius.)
The mountains called Annira (the Annibi of Ptolemy) are the Abor hills. Nazaricium is the Naga range. Asmira is the range inhabited by the Miris. Emodon refers to the Himalaya. Opurocarra (or the Ottorocara of Ptolemy) is Uttararocora or Outtargorah or the mountains on the north eastern part of this valley.
The Dechardes and the Bautes, as I have already mentioned, are the Sanpoo and the Brahmaputra, or rather the two paralled branches of the latter which enclose Majuli and the other islands in Upper Assam. They are mentioned as rivers “ nominis famosi.” This refers to the Brahmaputra, or rather the Brahmakund, which has always been a celebrated place of pilgrimage among the Hindoos. During the time of the Aboms,” says Lieut. Rowlatt, “it was necessary for the king on his ascension to the throne to be washed in water brought from this place, and until this ceremony was completed he was not considered fit to take upon himself the reins of government.” (Asiatic Society's Journal, Vol. XV. p. 486.) This romantic spot is described by Capt. Bedford “as situated on the left bank of the river : it is formed by a projecting
rock, which runs up the river parallel to the bank and forms a good-sizer pool that receives two or three rills from the hills immediately above it When seen from the land side by which it is approached, the rock ha: much the appearance of an old gothic ruin, and a chasm about half-way up which resembles a carved window, assists the similitude. At the foot of the rock is a rude stone seat : the ascent is narrow and chokec with jungle, half way up is another kind of seat in a niche or fissure where offerings are made : still higher up from a tabular ledge of the rock, a fine view is obtained of the Kund, the river, and the neighbouring hills : access to the summit, which resembles gothic pinnacles and spires, is utterly impracticable.” (See As. Res. Vol. XVII. p. 353.)
The Oechardes and the Bautes are represented by Ammianus Marcellinus as meandering through a plain or valley, which he describes as undique prona declivitate præruptam, and through wide or open tracts of country (terrasque lato situ distentas). This is a correct description of Assam, which is an extensive valley surrounded on its eastern and northern sides by lofty mountains, which rise abruptly like a wall to a height of five or six thousand feet above the level of the adjacent plains. The diversified scenery which Serica is described as presenting-dispar est tractuum diversorum ingenium ; hic patulum, alibi moli diversitate subductum—corresponds with the varied physical aspect which Assam exhibits in its low ranges of undulating hills, its extensive plains, and the conical-shaped hills which rise from its surface. The luxuriant fertility of Serica refers to the rich productive soil of Assam, which, though now greatly overrun with jungle, appears to have been highly cultivated in former times. Mahomed Cazim describes Upper Assam in A. D. 1661, as a wide, agreeable country which delights the heart of the beholder. The whole face of it is marked with population and tillage, and it presents on every side charming prospects of ploughed fields, harvests, gardens, and groves.” The country extending from Salagireh to the city of Ghergong is further described “as a space of about fifty coss, filled with such an uninterrupted range of gardens plentifully stocked with fruit trees that it appears as one garden. Within these are the houses of the peasants, and a beautiful assemblage of coloured and fragrant herbs, and of garden and wild flowers blooming together."* He states that “the strength and fertility of the soil are such that what
* As. Res. Vol. II. p. 173.
erer seed is sown or slips planted they always thrive.'” Tavernier, likewise describes it about the same date, “as one of the best countries in Asia, as producing all the necessaries of life and standing in no need of foreign supplies;" also “as possessing mines of gold, silver, lead, and iron, and as abounding in silk, and lac.” Speaking of the natural resources of Assam, Mr. McCosh observes : “ This beautiful tract of country enjoys all the qualities for rendering it one of the finest in the world : its numerous crystal streams abound in gold dust and masses of the solid metal : its mountains are pregnant with precious stones and silver: its atmosphere is perfumed with tea growing wild and luxuriantly: and its soil is so well adapted to all kinds of agricultural purposes that it might be connected into one continued garden of silk, cotton, coffee, and sugar, and tea, over an
area of many hundred miles.” (McCosh's Topography of Assam, p. 133.)
The people or nations mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus, as inbabiting the most fertile and productive region of Serica, are many of those enumerated by Ptolemy. The Alitrophagi are (as Vossius interprets the word) the Anthropophagi of Ptolemy, or the Androphagi of "Pomponius Mela: they occupied a mountainous country north of the Annibi or Abor tribes, and are apparently identical with the Tikleya Nagas of Dr. Buchanan, or the Mishmees of Bubbajeea reported to Capit. Bedford, " as being a fierce race of cannibals.”* The Annibi referred to a situation on the northern side of the valley of Serica and deriving their name, according to Ptolemy, from their own mountains (Annibi a suis montibus denominati, Cellarius), are, beyond doubt, the Abor tribes occupying the hills on the north side of the eastern part of Assam. The Chardi would seem, from their name, to be the people of the district of Chardwar: they are mentioned under the name of Oechardi by Ptolemy, and as inhabiting a tract of country on the banks of the river of the same name.
In the Rabanne (the Nabbannæ of Ptolemy-rendered Rabannæ by his commentators) are recognized the aboriginal tribe or people of Assam called Rabhas. The Asmiræ seem to be the Miris. Ptolemy mentions their country as situated between two rivers and as extending to the mountains of the same name (inter fluvios Asmiræ gens ad montes Asmireos, Cellarius). The Batæ are evidently the Booteahs : they are erroneously described, as inhabiting a
• As. Res. Vol. XVII. p. 533.
mountainous country on the southern, instead of the western, part o. Serica. They are the Betæ of Ptolemy and are referred by him to the latter situation. The Essedones are the Issedones of Ptolemy, described by him as a great people. The other nations of Serica mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus cannot be identified with any people of As. sam in the present day. It is probable that they occupied the rich and fertile parts of the valley. That Assam was anciently inhabited by an industrious and civilized people is abundantly proved by the remains of various and extensive works of public utility, as embankments, tanks, bridges, and forts, which are still to be seen. The ruins of temples, also, are scattered over the country. "These temples," says Major Jenkins, “all completely overthrown, speak of long periods of prosperity and great revolutions of which we are entirely ignorant.”—From one of the temples at Hajoo being frequented by pilgrims from all parts of Thibet and Tartary he imagines that the Buddhist faith formerly prevailed in Assam and that this may account in part for the destruction of the temples. “That faith," he remarks, was succeeded perhaps by the Brahminical under the Pals, i. e. the Pal dynasty: they were swept away by the Koches, who probably were not Hindoos till they ceased to be conquerors, as was the case with the Ahoms, who with the Mahomedans then contended for Kamroop, and both perhaps destroying the temples which fell into their power."*
Asmira and Essedon are mentioned, as the largest, and Asparata and Para Sera, as the most noted cities of Serica. Sera, which was the capital or metropolis of the Sinæ, is described by Ptolemy as the city of Serica, situated farthest to the east. It seems, therefore, to have stood in Sadiya in Upper Assam, and as its site is laid down in the map attached to Ptolemy's Geography, as being close to the mountains called Ottorrocorras which bounded Serica on the north-east, and near one of the rivers which formed the Bautes, it would seem to be identical with the site of one of the forts which have lately been discovered by Lieut. Rowlatt, close to the hills east of Sadiya. He has given an account of these forts in a highly interesting Report of his expedition to the Mishmee hills in November 1844; published in the Journal of this Society—(Vol. XIV. p. 477.) He states :“ Soon after my return from the Mishmee hills I again left Saikwah
* Journ. As. Soc. No. 104. p. 777.
and proceeded by elephant up the Koondil-panee, and after passing the mouth of the Depho-panee, followed up the course of that stream, until I arrived at the foot of the hills; and as the fort I was in search of was said by my Khamptee guide to be between the Depho and Jameesa, I took a direction through the jungle about east, and without much difficulty arrived at the fort five days after quitting Saikwah.
* This fort is said to have been built by Raja Sisopal, and is situated on an elevated plain at the foot of the hills ; the extent of it is considerable, as it took me about four hours to walk along one side of its faces : the defence is double, consisting of a rampart of stiff red clay, which, as the surrounding soil appears of a different nature, must have been brought from some distance. Below this rampart is a terrace of about 20 yards in breadth, beyond which the side of the hill is perpendicularly scarped, and varies from 10 to 30 feet high; the principal entrance, and the defences for some distance on either side, are built of brick, and on many spots in the interior I observed remains of the same materials, so that in all probability the houses occupied by the inhabitants must have been built of masonry.
As I was unable from scarcity of provisions to remain more than one day at this place, I eould not examine it so minutely as I could have wished.
It seemed however to be composed of only three sides, the steepness of the hill at its north face precluding the necessity of any other works. sent the whole of the northern part of it is thickly covered with tea, which extends, according to the Khamptees who know the locality well, in a belt of more than a mile in depth all along the foot of the hill within the fort, and not as marked in my map, which was drawn before I visited the place. More to the west between the Dihing and Dehoug is a much larger fort, and, as I believe, entirely composed of brick, as well as a tank of similar construction, surrounding which are numerous hill forts of small dimensions erected by a Raja named Bhishmuk, and the popular tradition amongst the people of this part of the country is, that on the destruction of the empire of these kings by the Hindoo god Krishno, the people who were able to make their escape fled to the hills, and have in the course of time become converted into the present tribes of Abors. Near these forts a great number of wild Methuns* are to be met with, and the whole of the country, from the mouth of
* Bos frontalis, or allied species.-Cur. As. Soc.