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extra Gangem. It is described as bounded by unknown regions on the east, by the sea on the south, and by Serica on the north. The Sinae appear to have been the ancestors of the modern Siamese, of the Shyans of Laos, and other adjoining States, and of the Ahoms of Assam. The Siamese, who are a branch of the Laos, separated from them A. D. $13. The Laos civil era, or that of the introduction of Buddhism into that country, commenced A. D. 638.* The Shyam chronicle preserved in Munipore states that the ancient territory of the Shyans was called Pong, and that it constituted a kingdom, the capital of which was Mogaung or Mongmaorong, as it is called by the Shyans. Their first king, named Khool-liee, reigned in the 80th year of the Christian era. Chukapha, the first Ahom king of Assam, of whom there is any authentic information extant, reigned in the 13th century. It appears, however, from this chronicle, that some centuries anterior to this, Assum was invaded by Samlongpha and placed by him under the dominion of his brother Sukampha, king of Pong. This is said to have occurred about the year A. D. 77.t. It has been discovered that there are no traces or mention of Buddhism in the religion of the Ahoms, and it is therefore, inferred, that they emigrated to Assam before A. D. 638, the era of the introduction of the Buddhist faith into Laos.1 This circumstance, coupled with the fact of the Ahoms having a list of the names of forty-eight kings descending from the god Indra down to Chukapha, tenders it probable that they were in possession of Upper Assam at an early period, or as far back, at least, as the second century—the era in which Arrian and Ptolemy wrote. The name of Thai, which signifies "free,” is supposed by Capt. Low to have becn assumed by the Siamese at the time they separated from the Laos. It seems not improbable, however, that it is of more remote origin, and that Thai is the root of Thine, while Shyam is that of Sinae—the names by which the inhabitants of the Laos and Siamese territories were known to the ancients. Thai Nai, it may be remarked, is an appellation which is given to the central Siamese, and Thinee appears as the name of a town in 23° N. L. 98’ E. L. in the territory of the Shyans dependent on Ava. The Laos also called their country “Chi Mai,” signifying “Priests' dominion,”$ * Capt. Low's History of Tennasserim, Jour. Royal As. Soc. Vol. V. p. 269.
* Pemberton's Report on the Eastern Frontier, p. 110.
and it is probable, that from this word is derived Chimay, which wa the name given by the older geographers to a lake, whence the Brahma. putra was supposed to issue. Serica is described by Ptolemy, as bounded on the east and north b. unknown countries, on the west by Scythia extra Imaum, and on th south by India extra Gangem and the country of the Sinae. The word which describe the relative position of the latter nation, are in the La tin text; “Quodque supra Sinas, Serum jacet regio et metropolis.”
This evidently refers to Upper Assam, which may, therefore, be con sidered as the country, in which, Sera, the metropolis of the Sinae (>mpa or Tns row sway untporoxees) was situated. A river called Serus is represent" ed by Ptolemy, as rising in a situation apparently corresponding with that of the mountains in which the Irawaddee has its origin, and as run.” ming to the south, through India extra Gangem. The latitude, which is . assigned to Sera, is ten degrees north of that of Sadiya in Upper Assam —the former being mentioned as 38°N. L. and the latter being 28° N. . . L.—an error which is, no doubt, to be attributed to the very vague and - imperfect knowledge which the ancients had of this country. 's.
The journey from the Stone Tower to the frontier of Serica occupied to a space of seven months. It is described as attended with many diffi- o culties and hardships, and it seems to have been from the account of a the bleak inhospitable regions of Bootan and Thibet, the excessive cold * of the climate, and the severe storms which the travellers encountered : *. “via autem quae est a turra lapidea ad Seras vehementissimis obnoxia to est tempestatibus,”t that Ptolemy was induced to assign to Sera the northern latitude which is mentioned above. Marinus derived his infor- * .
mation regarding the route to Serica from Mačs of Macedon, called o Titianus, who sent agents from the Stone Tower to trade with the people of that country. He describes the route, which the caravan travelled , from Byzantium to the Stone Tower, as crossing Mesopotamia from the * Euphrates to the Tigris, as proceeding through Assyria and Media to . " Ecbatana, to Hecatompylos, and to Margiana, and thence through Aria, , or Herat, to Bactria or Balk. It next crossed a range of mountains called Montes Comedorum, whence it proceeded through the country of , os the Sacae, and then arrived at the Stone Tower.; Different sites have , o,
\,, been assigned to the latter place, but it is probable, notwithstanding the so * Ptol. Lib. I. Chap. XVII. + Ibid. Chap. XI. : Ibid, Chap. XII. o s ** **
position given to the Montes Comedorum to the north-east of Bactria, that it was a station near one of those Topes or lofty towers, which are to be seen in the kingdom of Cabul. No itinerary appears to have been kept of the route from this place to the frontier of Serica, but from the account which is given of it, and of the difficulties that occurled in travelling through the intervening country, it seems to have been identical with that mentioned by Arrian from Thina to Bactria, or with the route from Bootan to Cabul and thence to Balk, which is described by Tavernier, as extending “over deserts and mountains covered with show, tedious and troublesome as far as Cabul, where the caravans part, some for great Tartary, others for Balk.” It would appear that the merchants, who traded with the Seres, were not allowed to enter the country of the latter, but that they carried on traffic with them at an opening or pass in the mountain Imaus. This evidently refers to one of the duwars or mountain passes into Assam, where the merchants from Bhotan and Thibet formerly assembled to traffic. The circumstance of strangers having been prohibited from entering Serica has been regarded as an indubitable proof of the identity of that country with China, but the same jealousy of foreigners, it may be remarked, existed among the Assamese, and led to their exclusion from their territory. Dr. Buchanan remarks that in former times the only communication that was permitted by the Assamese between their own country and Bengal, was by the pass of Luckhah, eighteen miles north of Sylhet, and that of Bookool in Cachar, all access by the Brahmaputra having been strictly prohibited. Dr. Wade also states, “strangers of every description and country were scrupulously denied admission into Assam.”* The same prohibition was enforced against the admission of strangers through the duwars or passes leading into it from Bootan and Thibet, and it appears, therefore, to have been at one of these passes, described as an opening in Imaus, that the agents of Titanius carried on their trade with the Sinae, Seres, or Assamese. There are two routes from Bootan and Thibet to Assam, by which a commercial intercourse is carried on in the present day. That from Bootan is by the valley of the Monas, via Tassgong and Dewangiri: the other does not enter any part of the Deb and Dhurma Rajah's dominions, but extends through a tract of country dependent on Lassa, from Towung to
* Martin's Eastern India. Vol. 3. p. 626.
the Kooreeaparah Duwar. The traffic is conducted by a class of Tibe
tans called Kumpas, an appellation that is given to the inhabitants of the
southern part of Thibet or that portion of it which is included within th great bend of the Sampo up to the point where it enters the Abor hills The Kumpas proceed to Hajoo in Assam, the resort of pilgrims from Bootan and Thibet, and carry on their traffic at the great annual fail which is held there. “It is estimated” says Capt. Pemberton, “that during the season there are about two thousand Kumpas assembled at Dewangiri, where they erect huts for temporary occupation on the sub
ordinate heights. On quitting the hills to descend to the plains they
are accompained by Gurpas and Zeenkafs on the part of the Dewangiri Rajah, from whom they obtain passports and pledge themselves to return by a stated period. “The goods they bring, consist of red and partycoloured blankets, gold dust, silver, rock salt, chowrees, musk, and a
few coarse Chinese silks, munjeet and bees wax :” these they exchange
for lae, the raw and manufactured silks of Assam (the optov kai to obovov
to anpikov of the Periplus), cotton, dried fish and tobacco: they re- s
turn homewards during the months of February and March, taking care to leave the place before the return of the hot weather or rains.”* In 1809 this trade amounted to two lacs of rupees. The principal article that was purchased by the Kumpas was silk, consisting both of the muga and eria kinds. That Assam is the country that is referred to by Ptolemy, is further probable from the fact stated by him, namely, that there was another route to Serica vià Palibothra: “quod non solum inde ad Bactra iter si per turrim lapideam, sed et in Indiam quoque per Palimbothra.”t This might be regarded as referring to the route through Nepal and Thibet
to China, but it seems more probable that it has allusion to the Brahma- o
putra and the entrance to Assam by Gowalpara, which is the route by
the Ganges mentioned by Arrian, or that by which merchandize was o
exported to Limurike. Again, Ptolemy remarks that beyond, or to the east of Serica, there was an unknown or unexplored country containing lakes or marshes, in which grew large canes, so compact or close to each other, that the inhabitants in the neighbourhood were in the habit of using them as
* Wide Pemberton's Report on Bootan, p. 144.
bridges; “ac quod his orientalior terra sit incognita stagna habens Paludosa in quibus calami mascuntur magni et ita compacti ut accolae transfretare soleant:”* or according to the Periplus Marciani Heracleotae, “paludes habens uliginosas in quibus calami magni nascuntur, atque adeo densi et conferti, ut per illos sibi invicem adhaerentes fiant transitus.”+ There seems to be an allusion here to the cane bridges, which are so common in the hill countries bordering on Upper Assam ; or to the roots or branches of trees growing on the opposite sides of streams or pools and so intertwined as to afford a passage across them. Lieut. Yule, speaking of bridges of this kind in the vicinity of Cherra Poonjee, remarks, that while travelling through that country, he saw such bridges in every stage, and that one measured 90 feet in span: they were generally composed of the roots of two opposite trees bound together in the middle. (Wide Journal Asiatic Society, Vol. XIII. p. 613.) Ptolemy states that mountains surround Serica,(montes autem cingunt Sericam,) and that it is traversed to a considerable extent by two large rivers—a description which proves that Serica was a valley. The mountains surrounding Serica were designated the Annibi, which appear to be the Abor hills; the Auracii extending from Scythia extra Imaum into Serica, which are apparently the Auka hills on the northern side of Assam : Mount Casius, or the mountain where the Brahmakund is situated: Mount Thagurus, apparently the Tabis of Pomponius Mela, and Pliny, which seems to be Reging; and the chain or range of the Euodi or Himalaya, the eastern parts of which were called Sericus and Ottorocorras—the latter being identical with the Uttara Cura of the Hindoos, or the snowy range which separates Assam from the country of the Lamas. Two rivers called Oechardes, and Bautes or Bautisus, flowed through Serica. They are delineated in the map of Serica, attached to Ptolemy's Geography as running to the north; but this must be an error, as there is no country in the situation assigned to Serica, namely, bordering on India extra Gangem (Burmah) and the country of the Sinae (Siam and Laos) on the north, which has rivers proceeding in this direction. It is evident that the rivers, which are alluded to, are the Sampoo or * Ptol. Lib. I. Chap. XVII. * Wide Geoghaph. Vet. Script. Graec. Minor. Hudson, p. 29.