[Assam] Tai-Ahom Connection - Yasmin Saikia/ A Follow-up

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at charter.net
Mon Mar 9 19:48:51 PDT 2009

*** Should this open our eyes to the pitfalls of 
our own certitudes of what we consider HISTORY ?

At 8:50 AM -0700 3/9/09, Dilip and Dil Deka wrote:
>Does anyone know Yasmin Saikia's whereabouts? Is she still in the USA?
>She has done a significant amount of research in 
>Tai-Ahom history. She should be able to educate 
>us on the origin of the word Ahom and other 
>related issues we have been discussing. How do 
>we bring Yasmin Saikia into the net?
>Dilip Deka
>The Tai-Ahom connection
>Andrew and John Carnegie, two brothers from 
>Liverpool, England, unable to find employment in 
>the metropolitan city of London, decided to set 
>sail for India in May 1865. A month later they 
>arrived in the colonial capital city of Calcutta 
>and immediately found employment in an English 
>tea garden in Assam. On 18 July 1865, Andrew 
>wrote a letter to his mother in England in which 
>he described the people and place in these 
>words: 'There is nothing visible but mud and 
>jungle here in Assam. I am alone in the jungle, 
>a sort of a small king among the 400 niggers, 
>counting women and children.' Andrew's 
>representation of a dark, impenetrable land and 
>people echoed the sentiments of colonial 
>administrators of the 19th century. Almost all 
>of them agreed that 'Assam [is] more a land of 
>demons, hobgoblins, and various terrors.'1 'The 
>denseness of its jungles, the steep precipices, 
>the torrential streams,' in British colonial 
>eyes, 'created a sharp
>  geographical line separating the known from the 
>unknown, civilization from savagery.'2
>Colonial representation of the place matched 
>their attitudes concerning the people. 'The 
>Assamese,' Colonel Butler writes, 'have 
>ferocious manners, and brutal tempers. They are 
>fond of war, vindictive, treacherous and 
>deceitfulŠ the seeds of humanity and tenderness 
>have not been sowed in their frames.'3 Further, 
>they were declared as unlike any other group and 
>not part of the Aryan race, within which the 
>British codified the high caste Hindus who were 
>deemed the majority community in India. Placed 
>outside the lineage of Aryan history and Indic 
>culture, Assam and her people were reduced in 
>the colonial official lexicon into a wild 
>frontier society without history. The 
>unthinkability of a history of Assam survived 
>and has been reinforced in postcolonial India. 
>Even today, scholars of Indian history by and 
>large view the region as a 'militant' frontier 
>peopled by insurgent groups who disrespect the 
>sacred national history. These perceptions,
>  we should note, are the views of outsiders who 
>back their assumptions with official power to 
>transform myths into believable facts.
>If, on the other hand, one investigates the 
>memories and local narratives of the people of 
>Assam a very different picture emerges. Local 
>history that is recorded in the premodern 
>chronicles called buranjis provides a picture of 
>a place in motion. Ruled by a god-like king 
>referred to as swargadeo, the area of the 
>swargadeo's domain was a blended space settled 
>by a hybrid community referred to as kun-how in 
>the Tai language and Ami in the Assamese 
>language buranjis. This group did not have a 
>fixed label but was referred to as a 
>conglomerate of 'we' people.
>What is the memory of the historical 'we' 
>community in Assam today? In this paper I 
>investigate the process and consequences of the 
>making of a new Tai-Ahom memory to rethink a 
>history of the 'we' community at the crossroads 
>of Assam linking South Asia with Southeast 
>Asia.4 Although a very small number, no more 
>than six hundred thousand people in Assam, are 
>involved in the Tai-Ahom identity struggle, they 
>have raised a salient question about the 
>epistemological and geographical limits of 
>Indian history and are challenging the inherited 
>colonial historiography to open the space for a 
>dialogue between Delhi, Rangoon and Bangkok in 
>order to benefit marginal groups and extend the 
>horizons of history and memories to include the 
>past in the present, South with Southeast Asia.
>In the following sections I first provide three 
>short disjointed narratives of the moments when 
>Ahom and later Tai-Ahom were conceived, 
>constructed, and used for different purposes. 
>Next, I examine the performance and production 
>of Ahom memory in different public sites to show 
>that it is both a political and economic process 
>attracting diverse audiences. In the final 
>section I investigate the Indian national and 
>the Thai transnational interests in this 
>movement to suggest possible outcomes of the 
>invocation of memory linking Assam with 
>Southeast Asia.
>Until 1826, the kingdom of Assam was 
>independent. On colonial occupation the region 
>was transformed into a frontier and a policy for 
>taming the hostile tribes was immediately 
>generated.5 In 1873, the northeast was 
>demarcated into two zones by the Bengal East 
>Frontier Regulation I: the inner line area of 
>hills with their local administration, and the 
>plains area of the Assam Valley under colonial 
>administration. Ironically, while the 
>topographical and administrative division 
>between hills and plains was established within 
>colonial discourse the negative stereotypical 
>perception toward the people remained unchanged.
>Initial reports on the people were not 
>positive.6 The Assamese were deemed by Moffat 
>Mills an 'unattractive', 'degenerated' and 
>'stupid people' (1854, 5).7 The colonial 
>representation was neither strange nor 
>surprising. However, what is deeply problematic 
>is that colonial intervention led to an abrupt 
>end of histories that preceded that encounter 
>and closed the channels of communications with 
>groups that were mapped outside British India. 
>Hence when we view the changes during 
>colonialism we have to interrogate the policies 
>and labels of representations both for what they 
>convey as well as hide.
>The negative recognition of Assamese by the 
>colonials, in turn generated internal 
>formulations of labels by pioneers like Moniram 
>Dewan and Ananda Ram Dhekial Phukan, to name a 
>few. While the local leaders readily accepted 
>the colonial name, Assamese, to refer to 
>themselves, they focused on constructing 
>positive markers of community identification and 
>suggested Assamese was a 'blended' community 
>constituted by Hindus and non-Hindus who were 
>bound together by shared social interactions 
>facilitated by the Assamese language.8 The 
>emphasis on language as an identity marker was 
>very effective in the face of Bengali 
>penetration and degradation of the local 
>Alongside the construction of a linguistic 
>identity for the Assamese, political rhetoric 
>also emerged. The high-tide of Gandhian 
>nationalism drew many in Assam to join the 
>Indian National Congress (INC) in the shared 
>hope of freedom and economic development to 
>follow. Immediately, the Assamese started seeing 
>themselves through caste Hindu eyes as a 
>low-caste, polluted people, not unlike what the 
>British had told them.
>To rethink an image for overcoming the stigma, 
>the Assamese created several new organizations, 
>such as the 'Assamese Language Improvement 
>Society', 'Assam History Society', and 'Assam 
>Literary Society' that laboured to produce a 
>'civilized' history for making the Assamese a 
>cultured Hindu group. This met with opposition 
>from groups in Upper or eastern Assam. In 1893, 
>'Ahom Sabha' and, again, in 1915, an 'Ahom 
>Association' were created to bring the Mongoloid 
>people together and resist the intrusion of the 
>Congress party. In reaction, the Hindu community 
>published a book called Ripunjay Smriti in which 
>they defamed the Ahom as a polluted group and 
>suggested that the Assamese should perform 
>rituals to cleanse themselves for seeking 
>reentry into the Hindu caste fold. The harsh 
>language of the Hindu Assamese motivated the 
>Ahoms leaders to ask their supporters to 
>relinquish Hinduism, give up learning Assamese 
>language and return to
>  local dialects and archaic rituals of ancestor worship.
>In turn, to create pride in their past, new 
>narratives of Ahom were written by trained and 
>amateur historians to enable children to 
>remember 'Assam in the context of heroes.'10 The 
>assumption that history should be the saga of 
>heroes was not an unusual expectation. Almost 
>all history is the record of the winners and a 
>tool for creating a continuous genealogy of 
>power. What is surprising in the narrative of 
>Ahom history is the disruption of the formula in 
>very interesting ways. Instead of borrowing 
>heroes of the 'high' Aryan civilization and 
>culture, danabs and akhurs (demons and monsters) 
>were invoked as the founder of Assam's history. 
>Padmanath Borooah wrote a narrative that soon 
>found wide circulation and was repeated in many 
>new versions by historians of Assam.11
>Borooah writes, 'In ancient times this land was 
>ruled by danabs and akhurs. Mahiranga Danab was 
>probably the original king here. Among his 
>successors Narak Akhur became a very powerful 
>king. During his rule, this land became 
>Pragjyotispur [land of the eastern light].' The 
>story continues to relate that the Hindu god 
>Krishna attacked the kingdom of Pragjyotispur 
>but could not defeat the local king. Krishna 
>ingratiated himself by marrying a local princess 
>and his grandson, Anirudha, too, married a 
>princess from Assam. Many more dynasties of 
>akhurs and danabs followed who thwarted invasion 
>and made Hindu gods compromise to their superior 
>In the 13th century 'the Tai people came from 
>BurmaŠ They were Buddhist peopleŠ But to conquer 
>land they moved southwest, intermixed with the 
>hill tribes, and adopted their religionŠ 
>Sukapha, a prince of Mungrimungram, the original 
>homeland of the Tai people, came to Saumar in 
>1229 A.DŠ The Ahom kings ruled for six hundred 
>years.'12 In narrative a chronology of the 
>swargadeos was suggested and they were valorized 
>for mitigating differences and generating a 
>combined polity in an ever expanding domain.
>What was the purpose of this kind of history 
>telling and memory building and wherefrom did 
>the historians of Assam derive a story of the 
>historical Ahom and swargadeos? To examine these 
>issues we have to return to the category called 
>Ahom and Assamese and the politics of identity 
>generated by the colonial administrators. It 
>appears that the first myths about Ahom were 
>created by the British agents. Borrowing from 
>the myths of Ahom origin compiled by J.P. Wade, 
>the first British resident in Assam, Walter 
>Hamilton-Buchannan introduced the term Ahom in 
>the East India Gazetteer in 1828. He claimed 
>that originally a group of Shan warriors led by 
>a mythical godlike figure called Sukapha came to 
>Assam in 1228 and established an Ahom kingdom. 
>Buchannan's story of the Ahom which was neatly 
>packaged within a western linear chronology 
>became a colonial discourse in the early 19th 
>By telling a story of migration, conquest, and 
>settlement of a warrior group from upper Burma, 
>over and over again, a particular memory of the 
>past was created in colonial documents. Most 
>importantly, by creating a group of rulers and 
>identifying the swargadeo as the fountainhead to 
>inherit power from, the colonials predicted 
>their own future in Assam. No sooner they 
>achieved this purpose the colonials became 
>active in debunking the Ahom rulers. In 1891, 
>the colonial ethnographers, E.T. Dalton and H.H. 
>Risely concluded that the Ahoms, the descendents 
>of the proud race of Shans, had degenerated into 
>superstitious, backward, apathetic Assamese.
>Consequently, new problems emerged as the 
>economy of Assam was radically altered with the 
>imposition of tax on all products and 
>importation of labour to slave in the colonial 
>capitalist economy. In the shifting economic and 
>social conditions new enclave societies emerged 
>and the historical 'we' community became a 
>phantom. Its only visible remnant was in the new 
>shared condition of poverty of the local people. 
>By the beginning of the 20th century, Assam, 
>which was once a thriving crossroads kingdom in 
>the east, became one of the poorest regions in 
>British India.
>The distinctions between Assamese and those 
>claiming to be Ahoms were blurred, so much so 
>that when Ahom was declared dead and folded into 
>the Assamese no one questioned the colonial 
>power of myth making; rather the local 
>intellectuals accepted the colonial version of 
>their history. The elimination of Ahom as a dead 
>community by the colonials is bothersome, but it 
>was preceded by yet another blatant lie - that 
>of the 'discovery' of an Ahom community in the 
>buranjis. Did the colonials find a distinct Ahom 
>community in the chronicles? To answer this 
>question we have to return to the buranjis and 
>investigate the descriptions of Ahom within them 
>and the distortions that followed in the 
>colonial reading of these texts.
>It is assumed with some reservation, following 
>G.E. Grierson's suggestion in The Linguistic 
>Survey of India that buranji means 'a storehouse 
>to teach the ignorant' (1904). By and large, 
>almost all buranjis being narratives of 
>swargadeos tell the readers of the deeds of the 
>godlike figures. The effort is to create a cult 
>of god-kings. In this ontological scheme 
>demarcated identities of the subject communities 
>was counter-politic; they appear to us a generic 
>'we' community that is continuously in process. 
>For creating identifiable units within the 'we' 
>polity, service caucuses under the command of 
>six nobles were created. The name of the place 
>they were associated with became their identity.
>Although Ahom is not a defined ethnic community 
>in the buranjis, it is not an unknown term 
>either. It is used to refer to a class of 
>officers constituted from within the 
>preponderate 'we' community. The Ahom men, in 
>other words, were the swargadeo's or king's men. 
>They were the civil and military officers 
>controlling and administering his domain. Ahom 
>was not an inherited status, but an appointment 
>that could be gained and lost in one's lifetime. 
>Ethnicity was not the factor that made Ahom, but 
>the favour of the reigning swargadeo and an 
>individual's ability determined his status as 
>Ahom. Hence, in the reign of different 
>swargadeos, the composition of the Ahom officers 
>differed greatly. In the buranjis we find that 
>Naga, Kachari, Nora, Garo, Mikir, Miri, and even 
>Goriya (Muslim) formed this blended community of 
>trusted servants. Like the space of the polity, 
>the class called Ahom expressed the reality of 
>the crossroads. This history of the
>  hybrid Ahom was overlooked by the British when they came to Assam.
>Unable to read the original chronicles, they 
>concluded that the large number of king's men 
>belonged to one community. The discovery of Tai 
>language buranjis led the colonial 
>administrators to conclude that a 'foreign' 
>group had migrated from the hills of Burma into 
>Assam, established an Ahom kingdom, and used the 
>buranji literature to record their history and 
>culture. Immediately after declaring them an 
>ethnic group, the colonials made the Ahoms 
>'unthinkable' by proclaiming them 'dead'.
>Ahom as a memory and a politics resurfaced in 
>Assam in the 1940s and, again, in the 1960s. In 
>1967 when Assam was reorganized into hill and 
>plains states, the Ahom group petitioned the 
>Indian government to recognize them as a 
>separate community. In October 1967 the 'Ahom 
>Tai Mongolia Parishad' demanded a separate 
>Mongolian state to be formed in Upper Assam 'in 
>which Ahom-Tais and the various other tribes 
>would enjoy social recognition and all political 
>rights.'13 Their demand was not accepted and 
>Ahom continued to be part of the Hindu Assamese 
>but within it became a 'backward community'.
>In 1968, an attempt to create the boundaries of 
>Ahomness led to a renewed invocation of 
>Southeast Asia. This was actualized in the term 
>Tai-Ahom that was coined by Padmeshwar Gogoi, a 
>professor at the Guwahati University, in his 
>book, Tai and the Tai Kingdoms with a Fuller 
>Treatment of the Tai-Ahom Kingdom in the 
>Brahmaputra Valley (1968). To complete the 
>breakaway from the Assamese Hindus, the new 
>Tai-Ahoms revived a religion calling it Phra 
>Lung, which emphasized the worship of ancestors, 
>mainly swargadeos. In the next section of the 
>paper, I will focus on the contemporary 
>dialogues and politics of identity in various 
>sites, in Upper Assam, Thailand, and Delhi, 
>which point to one thing - Tai-Ahom is now a 
>label of identity that is exchangeable for a 
>variety of aspirations and demands for the 
>future. The question is whether these 
>aspirations will be fulfilled?
>On 17 October 1981, during the International Tai 
>Studies Conference in New Delhi, a group of Ahom 
>men and Thai scholars met to discuss strategies 
>about how to make the Ahoms of Assam Thai-like. 
>Tai-Ahom they hoped would overcome the 
>restrictive labels of Indian, Hindu and 
>Assamese. The foundational moment was also part 
>of a long series of 'articulations' of 
>marginalization and disempowerment that had 
>produced anxieties and hopes, which now 
>travelled easily to new distances to find 
>'belonging' among Thai people in Thailand.
>But first the base in Assam had to be 
>constructed and strengthened. Toward this end, 
>the Tai-Ahom activists created an organization 
>called the Ban Ok Publik Muang Tai (Eastern Tai 
>Literary Society) and revived the moribund Phra 
>Lung religion. New prayers were written by the 
>late Domboru Deodhai Phukan, who was earlier 
>identified by the Thai anthropologist B.J. 
>Terwiel as 'the last of the Tai-Ahom ritual 
>experts.'14 Domboru Deodhai explained to me the 
>Phra Lung religion in these words. 'Phra is a 
>Buddha like figure. Lung means the Sangha. Phra 
>Lung means the community of the worshippers of 
>Phra.'15 Dietary habits were also changed to 
>mark the departure from Hinduism. Beef, taboo 
>among caste Hindus, was introduced in the 
>Tai-Ahom diet, as did partaking of alcohol 
>called haj or lau pani.
>Along with the identification of a community 
>based on old and new customary practices, 
>revival of Tai language was taken up in the 
>newly established Tai Language Academy at 
>Patsako. New festivals and commemorative events 
>such as Sukapha dibah, Jaymoti dibah, 
>Me-dem-me-phi, etc, were created and publicly 
>celebrated. Additionally, an active academic 
>conversation about Tai-Ahom history and culture 
>was generated and several conferences were 
>organized in Assam and outside to facilitate the 
>entrenchment of a Tai-Ahom memory among 
>believers and scholars. The academic and 
>cultural impetus for this movement was 
>facilitated by the then chief minister, 
>Hiteshwar Saikia, a self-proclaimed 
>'Ahom-Assamese'. Saikia donated vast sums of 
>money to make the Ahom a community. This gave 
>boost to the publication industry, which created 
>a new knowledge base about Ahom.
>Under the leadership of the Ban Ok and many more 
>new organizations that emerged in the 1990s 
>facilitated with financial help by local 
>politicians, Tai-Ahom turned the gaze of Assam 
>from the west, that is Delhi, to the east, to 
>Southeast Asia. In this enterprise, besides Thai 
>academic interest in and support for the 
>Tai-Ahom movement, networks of complex 
>transnational relationships developed with 
>Buddhist missionaries, the Thai monarchy, and 
>rebels groups of Upper Burma who were drawn into 
>the politics of identity in Assam.
>However, after Saikia passed away in April 1996 
>the Ban Ok lost its local financial support. In 
>the mean time, in 1997 the stock market 
>collapsed in Thailand and this affected the 
>funding of academic projects and slowed the pace 
>of trade and tourism that were part of the Thai 
>search for Tai groups outside of Thailand. 
>Alongside, in India, under the leadership of the 
>Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a new wave of Hindu 
>religious nationalism took hold. The lack of 
>financial support coupled with the rising tide 
>of fundamentalist Hindu identity slowed down the 
>exchanges between the Ban Ok and their Thai 
>supporters. Nonetheless, throughout the early 
>1990s, the leaders and supporters of Tai-Ahom 
>performed the critical task of revealing the 
>restrictive limits of national identity and 
>created new patchworks of contingent labels and 
>a local narrative linking Ahom with Thailand to 
>make a pan-Thai identity.
>A question that arises is why do some people in 
>Assam want to be recognized as Tai-Ahom? The 
>reasons, like the various groups who profess 
>this identity, are neither orderly nor 
>homogenous. There are clear divides between the 
>classes and their respective expectations. The 
>urban class views it as a political and 
>professional tool for empowerment, and they 
>focus on the issue of job allocations and 
>economic improvement. On the other hand, for the 
>depressed groups of deodhais, the subalterns in 
>the movement so to speak, the movement is an 
>arena of resistance against the exploitative 
>institutions of the caste Hindus. The Tai-Ahom 
>connection with a variety of Buddhist groups in 
>Southeast Asia, the deodhais hope, will deliver 
>them from their ignominious and powerless 
>condition and place them, once again, in 
>positions of social and religious leadership.
>Because the spaces that the urban youths occupy 
>are different than their counterparts living in 
>the villages, consequently their aspirations 
>also differ. Urban youths want adventure and 
>experiences in the form of travel, education and 
>employment in Thailand. These young men consider 
>a new level of consumerism as a mark of their 
>difference from the Assamese. This is not an 
>option available to the rural youth who are 
>engaged in a life and death struggle for 
>survival. Irrespective of the gaps between the 
>different groups, it is clear that varieties of 
>people are engaged in the movement and are 
>facilitating and sustaining change. This is not 
>to suggest that they are autonomous architects 
>of their world; I believe these agents are also 
>subjects of history and the society that they 
>inhabit. They are made by circumstances of 
>history both within and outside Assam
>One of the visible groups influencing and making 
>Tai-Ahom is a group of Thai academics. Why are 
>the Thais interested? To answer this question, a 
>brief note on the 20th century Thai academic and 
>intellectual politics is important.
>In 1939, by royal mandate Siam was renamed 
>Thailand and a composite Thai society was 
>created by including the diverse communities. 
>Resistance to the contained Thai national 
>community emerged almost immediately. Phibun 
>Songgram and Luang Wichit Wathakan launched an 
>ambitious movement called Choncat Thai to claim 
>a common Tai race constituted by people living 
>within and outside Thailand. This discourse was 
>reinforced by invoking the 19th century story of 
>Tai migration from Nanchao in Southern China, 
>which western missionary historians had 
>identified as the original homeland wherefrom 
>the Tais had supposedly migrated in the remote 
>Several groups in Laos, Vietnam and Southern 
>China were claimed as sharing a common Tai 
>ancestry. The search for kin groups was 
>intensified in the 1970s as Thailand was drawn 
>into the western capitalist commercial orbit. A 
>new school of thought called 'Community Culture' 
>emerged in Bangkok. The group aimed to help the 
>Thai villages withstand the intrusion of the 
>state and western norms of economic development 
>and empower them to generate a 'native' economy. 
>For this they needed an archaic Tai village 
>system to serve as a model. Chatthip Nartsupha, 
>the leader of the Community Culture School in 
>Bangkok, saw in the buranjis of Assam the 
>possibility of an imaginative space for return 
>to a pastoral village life. Ahom, the unspoken 
>subject of Assam and Indian history, was adopted 
>to fulfil the aim of the Thais.
>Thai history and pan-Thaiism transcended the 
>boundaries of Southeast Asia and moved beyond to 
>include areas and people mapped within South 
>Asia. For a decade and a half (1981-1997) 
>exchanges between Ahom and Thai activists 
>generated a transnational discourse and created 
>a real expectation to make Assam a meeting place 
>for historical, cultural and commercial 
>exchanges between South and Southeast Asia.
>The activities in the east also drew attention 
>of the (previous) BJP government. A two pronged 
>plan toward Assam was developed in consequence. 
>One, Delhi tried to bridge the differences 
>between Assam and the rest of India by bringing 
>the Assamese closer to the Hindutva fold, 
>strengthening their power in multiple ways in 
>order to distance them from their northeastern 
>neighbours and crush the people's movements 
>through armed violence. Second, the government 
>tried to capitalize the new found connections 
>with Southeast Asia. A direct flight between 
>Guwahati and Bangkok was started in 2002 to 
>launch a new relationship with Thailand and a 
>transnational roadway system connecting India 
>with markets in Southern China and Southeast 
>Asia passing through the Northeast was seriously 
>The government went so far as to acknowledge the 
>historic connections of the Ahom people with 
>Thailand in the hope that a new level of 
>commerce and trade between the two countries 
>would be engendered in this admission. As is 
>evident, the goal of the new friendship was 
>driven by economic exigencies and financial 
>forecasts. This sets a dangerous precedent to 
>transact and barter memories, pillage history 
>and hopes of everyday people for temporary 
>monetary gains, and fictitiously manufacture a 
>friendship without the desire to uphold it in 
>good and bad times.
>The people claiming to be Tai-Ahom, however, are 
>not admitted into the new arithmetic of history 
>and commerce. They continue to struggle for 
>recognition and economic and political voice in 
>Assam. Their murmurs are rarely heard. By and 
>large, those claiming to be Ahom continue to be 
>among the poorest in Assam, which is one of the 
>poorest states in India. Nevertheless, the web 
>of interpretations concerning Tai-Ahom has 
>generated a creative tension for departure from 
>the tyranny of a modern singular national 
>I read this effort of remembering a different 
>past and attempt at writing a new history as an 
>assertion to claim a possible place for speaking 
>outside the limits of the authoritative state 
>records and engage national history to move 
>beyond the limits of a bounded geography and 
>sites determined by power. If these efforts can 
>be translated into action, it may help to 
>mitigate the continuing mistrust and grievances 
>of neglected and marginalized groups and create 
>new possibilities for them as well as herald a 
>friendship between India and Southeast Asia.
>1. The Curzon Collection, MSS Eur F 111/247a, 
>Oriental and India Office, British Library, 
>2. Col. S.G. Burrard, Records of the Survey of 
>India: Exploration on the North-East Frontier, 
>vol. IV (1911-1913), Superintendent Government 
>Printing, Calcutta, 1914, p. 3.
>3. J. Butler, Travels and Adventures in the 
>Province of Assam during the Residence of 
>Fourteen Years, Smith, Elder and Co., London, 
>1855, pp. 223, 228..
>4. Although terms such as South Asia, Southeast 
>Asia, etc, are hollow and undefinable, within 
>the world of these terms, however, are cultures 
>and communities with deep histories and enduring 
>memories. When I refer to Southeast Asia here, I 
>invoke the neighbours in the east with whom 
>Assam and her people share many centuries of 
>common memories. The forgotten memory of 
>connections with these communities is somewhat 
>revived by the Tai-Ahom identity struggle.
>5. Many more descriptive terms are available for 
>the different groups in Assam. Some terms that 
>recur are 'freebooters and plunderers', 
>'treacherous tribe', and 'warlike frontier 
>tribe'. See Albums and Scrapbooks of Oscar 
>Mallite, Bailey and Carter, British Library, 
>Oriental and India Office Collection, London.
>6. See J. Butler, A Sketch of Assam with Some 
>Account of the Hill Tribes, Smith, Elder and 
>Co., London, 1847, p. 127; W.W. Hunter, 
>Statistical Account of Assam, 2 vols, Trubner 
>and Co., London, 1879, pp. 235-239.
>7. M. Mills, Report on the Province of Assam, 
>Calcutta Gazette Office, Calcutta, 1854.
>8. See Mills, Report, Appendix 'Translation of a 
>Petition in Person by Moniram Dutta Borwah 
>Dewan, on account of Ghunnokanth Singh Joobaraj 
>and Others', pp. Lxv-ixxxvi.
>9. In 1836, influenced by the Bengali agents, 
>the colonial administration in Assam dropped 
>Assamese language from public documents, school 
>education, administrative and judicial use. It 
>was not until 1873 that Assamese language was 
>reinstated and put into use, once again. The 
>historical-political process by which Assamese 
>language was superseded and degraded into a 
>secondary position in its home ground created a 
>peculiar anxiety among the people and this led 
>over time to a struggle to self-define the 
>Assamese community.
>10. Padmanath Borooah, Assam Buranji or The 
>History of Assam, Lila Agency, Tezpur, 2nd ed., 
>1906, p. 47.
>11. See Hemchandra Goswami, Purani Assam 
>Buranji, Kamrup Ansandhan Samiti, Guwahati, 
>1922; Keshav Kanta Borroah, Ahamar Athutajati 
>Jatir Utppatir Bibaran, D.R. Gogoi Nakhrai 
>Bagicha, Tinsukia, 1923; R.K. Sandikai, 
>Mula-Gabharu, S.C. Goswami, Jorhat, 1924. Many 
>more followed and reiterated the same plot of 
>Assam history.
>12. Padmanath Borooah, Buranji-Bodh, Lila Agency, Tezpur, 1900, p. 46.
>13. Ahom-Tai Rajya Parishad, Assam Tribune, 3 June 1967.
>14. B.J. Terwiel, The Tai and Ancient Tai 
>Ritual, 2 vols, Review Office of South East 
>Asian Studies, Gaya, 1983.
>15. Sometimes, it appeared from his explanation 
>that Phra also took on the representation of 
>Shiva. The new religion combined Buddhism with 
>Hinduism to accommodate some old beliefs and 
>practices of Ahom Hindus, while slowly enabling 
>their transition to a Buddhist way of life and 
>worship to mirror Southeast Asian cultures and 
>customs. (Personal Conversation, 26 December 
>1992, Patsako, Sibsagar.)
>16. A few examples are Ney Elias, Introductory 
>Sketch of the History of Shans in Upper Burma 
>and Western Yunan, Foreign Department Press, 
>Calcutta, 1876; L. Milne, Shans at Home, John 
>Murray, London, 1910; William Dodd, The Tai, 
>Race, Elder Br ther of the Chinese, Torch, Iowa 
>City, 1923; W.A.R. Wood, History of Siam, n.k. 
>London, 1926; D.G.E. Hall, Burma, Hutchinson 
>University Library, London, 1950.
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