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Charles Alfred Browne.

An introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; online

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is situated on the Dikho, in lat. 26 55'



S28 ASSAM.

Towns. N. long. 94 30' E. It is a walled town,
and contains several mosques and other
buildings.

Seediya is little more than a village.
It is situated at the mouth of a small
river, named the Kondeil nulla, running,
into the Brahmapootra in about lat. 27
52' N.

inhabit- r pj ie inhabitants of this country con-
sist of numerous different tribes, some
of Hindoo origin, others apparently from
Tibet and China. The following are the
names of some of the principal classes :
Ahams, Mismees, Mahamaris, Meerees,
Singhpos, and Kolitas ; all differing from
each other more or less in language and
manners. The whole are, however, com-
monly denominated by European writers
by the general name of Assamese.

The amount of the population is doubt-
ful, but it may be estimated not to ex-
ceed 150,000, including the petty states
adjacent.

History. Nothing satisfactory has been ascer-
tained respecting the early history or
religion of Assam. The first authentic
notice of them is found in Mahomedan
writers in 1 638 ; from whom it appears,
that during the reign of Shah Juhan, the
Assamese sailed down the Brahmapootra,
and invaded Bengal, but were defeated
and driven back. Subsequently, in the
reign of Aurungzeb, his general, Meer
Joomla, attempted the conquest of As-
sam, which he entered with a large
army ; but being overtaken by the rains.,
and harassed by the Assamese, nearly



ASSAM. 329

History* the whole perished, and the few who
escaped spread such a report of the dif-
ficulties they had encountered, that the
Mooghul government abandoned all fur-
ther idea of its subjection, and it was for
long afterwards held by the Mahome-
dans of Bengal in great horror, as a region
inhabited only by infidels and evil spirits.
After the introduction amongst them,
however, of the Brahminical system,
the Assamese seem entirely to have lost
their former warlike character, and to
have become exceedingly abject and
pusillanimous towards foreigners, while
they were filled with discord and con-
fusion amongst themselves. About A.
D. 1770, in consequence of a dispute
between the priests and the government,
an insurrection broke out, headed by a
priest of the Mahamari tribe, which was
at first suppressed, but afterwards burst
forth with increased violence ; and in
1793 the raja was driven out of his do-
minions, and compelled to solicit the pro-
tection of the British Government. A
detachment of British troops in conse-
quence entered Assam, and reinstated
the raja in his authority, and the Maha-
maris were driven out. After many years
of disorder, the Bura Gohaing, one of the
rajahs principal officers, usurped the gov-
ernment, bands of free-booters establish-
ed themselves in different parts, and the
country was plunged into a state of the
greatest misery and confusion until 1822,
when it was subjugated by the Burmese,
who had been called in as allies by one
of the claimants to the throne. The
Burmese general was now proclaimed

EG*



ASSAM.

History. ra j a o f Assam, subordinate to the em-
peror of Ava. Disputes shortly ensued
between the new government and the
British, in consequence of the aggressions
of the former upon the territory of the
latter, which brought on war; and in
1825, Assam was invaded and conquer-
ed by the British, with whom it has
since remained.

Religion. Of the ancient religion of the Assam-
ese, too little is now known to afford
any clear idea of its nature. They had
priests called Deodhaings, under whose
guidance they were accustomed to wor-
ship an idol, named Chung, with much
mystery and secrecy, and they had books
called Bulonji, written in a character
much resembling that of the Burmese
sacred writings, but in a .language which
is not now understood. From the begin-
ning of the 17th century, the Brahmin-
ical system appears gradually to have
taken place of the original superstition,
and about the year 1650 was embraced
by the raja, when it became predomi-
nant, and may now be considered the
national religion of the country. In the
parts adjacent to Bengal, there are many
Mahomedans, but of so degenerate a
character, that they are not acknowledg-
ed as such by the Mahomedans of India.

Language. T ne common language of Assam is a
corruption of the Bengalee, which was
introduced with the Hindoo system of
religion, and soon became so general,
that the original Assamese is now nearly
a dead language.



ARRACAN.



331



CHAP. XIX.



Arracan.



Bound- Arracan lies to the south-east of Ben-
gal, between lat. 18 and 21 N., and
is bounded on the north by the district
of Chittagong, in the province of Bengal,
from which it is separated by the river
Nauf; east, by a chain of mountains
dividing it from Ava; south, by the dis-
trict of Bassein in Pegu ; and west, by
the Bay of Bengal.

Divisions. Jt i s divided into the districts of Arra-
can, Ramree, Sandowy, and Cheduba.

The district of Ramree is an island
separated from the mainland by a nar-
row creek.

Cheduba is also an island in the open
sea, a few miles from the coast of Ram-
ree. It is one of a small cluster, and
is in length 30 miles, by about 10 in
breadth. Limestone is found in these
islands.



General
tion? P



Between the mountains and the sea,
country is covered with thick jun-
gles, inundated and intersected in all
directions by small rivers, lakes, and
creeks. In extreme length it may be
estimated at 230 miles from north to
south, by an average breadth of 50 from
east to west.



332

General The great chain of mountains form-
I tion rlP ~ m o the eastern boundary, commences
at Cape Negrais, and runs northerly
almost as far as the southern bank of
the Brahmapootra in Assam. By the
Natives these mountains are called the
Yomadoung. Their general elevation
seems to be from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

In both Ramree and Cheduba are
many small volcanoes, mostly of the
description called mud volcanoes ; gen-
erally when in their tranquil state
throwing up greasy mud, mixed with
petroleum, and strongly impregnated
with sulphur ; and occasionally also dis-
charging flames, and quantities of iron
pyrites. These volcanoes are worship-
ped by the Mugs, who think they are
occasioned by the great Naga, or ser-
pent, which supports the world.

Produc- The productions of this country are

tions. 11 i, j i * T

principally rice, salt, tobacco, indigo,
cotton, hemp, ivory, timber, and bees-
wax. Lead is found in the mountains,
and in the streams towards Bassein,
small quantities of gold and silver.

The forests afford abundance of timber
of various kinds, but although they pro-
duce the teak, it is generally found in
places so difficult of access, that little
advantage is derived from it.

The animals are in general the same
as in Bengal, the principal being the
elephant.

Towns. The principal towns are Arracan, Ak-

yab, Ramree, and Sandowy.

Arracan is the capital, and is situated



ARRACAN. 333

Towns. inland about 40 miles from the coast,
upon a river of the same name, which
flows into the sea. Lat. 20 30' N. long.
92 5' E.

Akyab is the principal military station
of the British troops. It is situated on
the sea coast, about two hundred miles
to the southward of Chittagong.

Name. Tins country is called by the Natives

Rekhaing, and by Mahomedan writers
" Urkhung," from the name of its cap-
ital, and from this last is derived the
English name Arracan.

Its inhabitants consist of Mugs, who
are the original Natives, Mahomedans
originally from India, and Burmese.
The Mugs are called by the Burmese
"Great Mrunmas," and are considered
by them as the original source of their
own race. The total population in 1826,
including the islands, was estimated at
not more than 100,000, of whom 60,000
were Mugs, 30,000 Mahomedans, and
10,000 Burmese.

History. According to Native historians, the
dominions of Arracan formerly extended
over Ava, part of China, and a portion
of Bengal. Nothing, however, now re-
mains to show that it was ever in a state
of so much power and civilization ; for
when taken possession of by the British
its condition was found to be exceedingly
savage and barbarous. In 1783 Arracan
was conquered by the Burmese. Many
attempts were subsequently made by the
inhabitants to expel the invaders, particu-



334? AVA.

History. Jarly in 1811, under a cliief named King-
herring, but without success. In 1825 it
was conquered by the British, to whom
it was finally ceded by the Burmese on
the conclusion of peace in 1826.

Religion. The religion of the Mugs is that of
Booddh, mixed with many Hindoo super-
stitions.

Language. The prevailing language is the Mug,
which is written in the same character
as the Burmese, though in other res-
pects it differs, especially in its pronun-
ciation. The principal Mahomedans gen-
erally speak good Hindoostanee.



CHAP. XX.

1-
Ava, including the 82ian Country.



Bound- Ava is situated to the eastward of

India. It is bounded on the north by
Assam, north-easterly by China ; east,
by Siam ; south, by Siam and the sea ;
west, by the sea, Arracan, and Bengal.

Divisions. It i s divided into the following chief
provinces : Ava, Pegu, Martaban, Ta-



AVA.



335



Divisions. Y oy. and Tenasserim, of which the latter
two are subject to the British Govern-
ment.

The province of Ava extends to
Prome, which was the southern bound-
ary of the empire previous to the con-
quest of Pegu. Its principal districts
are Cassay, Mogaong, Ava, and the
Shan country.

Cassay, and the Shan country will be
separately noticed.

Mogaong borders upon Cassay on the
west, and Assam on the north.

Ava, so named from the capital, con-
stitutes what was originally the whole
extent of Burma proper, and comprises
the remainder of the province.

The province of Pegu extends south-
ward from Prome. Its principal dis-
tricts are the following: Prome, Sara-
wadi, Henzawadi, Donabew, Bassein,
Negrais, Syriam, Rangoon, Sitong, and
Ton go.

The provinces of Martaban, Tavoy,
and Tenasserim, follow in succession
southward from Pegu, and embrace the
whole of the coast from the south side of
the Saluen river.

Rivers. The principal rivers are the Irawa-

dee, Kienduem, Saluen or Martaban
river, Pegu river, and Lokiang.

The Irawadee has its source in the
southern mountains of Tibet, in about
3at. 27 30' N. and flows southerly
through the provinces ef Ava and Pegu,
into the bay of Bengal, below Rangoon.
It is navigable for ships as far as Ran-
goon, which is about 28 miles from, the



336 AVA.



Rivers. g^ an( j f or l ar ge boats beyond Amra-
poora, a distance exceeding 500 miles.

The Keenduem has its source in the
northern mountains of Assam, and flows
south into the Irawadee, which it joins
opposite to Yandaboo, about 45 miles
below the city of Ava.

The source of the Saluen is not cor-
rectly known. Its channel is broad but
shallow, and not navigable for vessels of
large size, except for a short distance
from its mouth.

Pe" c e r r j al This country may be described in
tion. P general terms as consisting of the great
valley of the Irawadee, intersected by
several other smaller rivers and low
hills, and having ranges of mountains
along its northern and western sides,
with another cross range separating it
from the Shan country. The inland dis-
tricts of Pegu are also generally hilly.



The plains and valleys near the rivers
are fertile and well cultivated, and yield
abundance of rice, wheat, and other
grains ; sugar, tobacco, cotton, and in-
digo.

The tea plant grows in a, district to
the north of Amrapoora, named Palong-
myoo, but its leaf is very inferior to that
of the Chinese plant, and is seldom used
except for a pickle.

The most remarkable product of the
country is petroleum oil, an article of
universal use throughout the provinces,
and affording a large revenue to the gov-
ernment. Tin, antimony, iron, coal, and
salt-petre, are also found in different



AVA. 887

Produo parts ; and it is said that in the moun-
tains of the northern frontier there are
mines of gold, silver and precious stones,
but it does not appear that these have
ever been in any great abundance.

There are quarries of excellent white
marble a few miles from Amrapoora.

The forests abound with teak, and
almost every description of timber known
in India.

The animals are the same generally as
in India, with the exception of the camel,
which does not appear to be known to
the eastward of India.

The elephant abounds most in Pegu,
it is sometimes found of a white or sandy
colour, the consequence, it is supposed,
of some leprous disease. The white ele-
phant holds a very remarkable place in
the estimation of the Burmese, who con-
sider it an indispensable part of the royal
establishment, and the want of one would
be deemed a sure sign of some great evil
about to come upon the country. The
residence of the white elephant is con-
tiguous to the royal palace, and connected
with it by a long open gallery, at the
further end of which a curtain of velvet
embroidered with gold, conceals the au-
gust animal from vulgar eyes. Its dwell-
ing is a lofty hall covered with gilding,
and supported by numerous gilt pillars.
Its fore feet are secured by silver chains,
and its hinder ones by chains of iron.
Its bed consists of a thick mattress, cov-
ered with cloth, over which is spread
another softer one covered with silk. Its
trappings are of gold, studded with dia-
monds and other precious stones. Its

Ff



333 AVA.

Prodnc- betel-box, spitting-pot, bangles, and the
vessel out of which it feeds, are also of
gold, inlaid with precious stones, and its
attendants and guard exceed a thousand
persons. It ranks next in honor to the
king himself, and all ambassadors attend-
ing the court of Ava are expected to
show it their respect by offerings of mus-
lins, chintzes, silks, Sec.

The horses are small, but very active
and hardy ; those of Pegu especially are
much valued. Amongst the wild fowl is
one named the henza or braminy goose,
the figure of which is used by the Bur-
mese as the symbol of their nation.

Towns. The principal cities are the following :

In Ava Umrapoora, Ava, Yandaboo,
Pagam, Melloon and Meeaday, all sit-
uated on the banks of the Irawadee.

In Pegu Prome, on the bank of the
Irawadee, Tongo and Pegu inland, Sar-
awa, Heriza, Donabew, Basseen, Negrais,
Syriam, Dalla and Rangoon, all on the
banks of the Irawadee and its branches.

In Martaban Martaban, Amherst and
Moulmein.

In Tavoy Tavoy.

In Tenasserim Merqui.

Umrapoora and Ava have both been
the capital of the empire at different
times, according to the caprice of the
king. At present the seat of government
is Ava.

Yandaboo is noted as being the place
to which the British army had. advanced,
when peace was concluded with the Bur-
mese, in February, 1 826. It is distant 45
miles from Ava.



AVA. 339

Towns, Pegu, formerly the capital of the king-

dom of Pegu, is situated about 90 miles
from Rangoon. It was taken in 1757
by the Burmese under Alompra, who
destroyed the city, leaving only the
temples, and dispersing all its inhabit-
ants. In 1790 the Burmese government
ordered it to be rebuilt, but it has never
recovered its former consequence, and is
now little more than a large open village.

Rangoon, which on account of its
trade may be considered as perhaps the
principal city of the Burman empire, is
situated on the Irawadee, about 28
miles from the sea. It is a dirty mean
looking town, built of wood and bam-
boo, and surrounded by a weak stock-
ade. Outside the town, and about two
miles and a half from it, stands the Shoe
Dagon Pagoda, built upon a small hill 75
feet above the road. It is 338 feet high,
and is surmounted by a cap of brass 45
feet high, the whole covered with gilding.

Moulmein is the principal town of the
British province, being the chief military
station. It lies nearly opposite to the
Burmese town of Martaban, and is 27
miles higher up the river than Amherst.

The town of Martaban is on the
northern side of the Saluen river, which
divides the Burmese from the British
territories. It belongs to the Burmese.

Name. By Europeans the country is generally

called Ava, from the common name of
the capital, but by the Natives them-
selves it is named Burma, which is a cor-
ruption of Mmmma, its original appel-
lation.



340 ATA.

inhabit- Jtg inhabitants are composed of the
following principal classes : Burmese,
properly so called ; Cassayans, Taliens,
or the people of Pegu ; Karens, also in-
habitants of Pegu ; and Shans. The
total population of the empire is estimat-
ed at about 3,500,000.

Hi&tory. r p ne early history of this country, like
that of most other eastern lands, is little
known, as no dependence can be placed
upon its records. It appears, however,,
that the Burmans were originally sub-
ject to Pegu until about the middle of
the 16th century. A revolution then
took place, and the Burmese acquired
the superiority until 1740, when the
Peguers revolted and a fierce civil war
ensued, which was carried on with sav-
age ferocity until 1752, when the Pe-
guers captured the city of Ava, and com-
pleted the conquest of the whole country.
The king of Pegu having then returned
to his own capital, the Burmans again
took up arms under the command of a
man named Alompra, an individual of
low origin, but of a brave and enterpris-
ing character, who not only succeeded in
expelling the Peguers, but also invaded
and conquered Pegu itself, which has
ever since remained subject to Burma.
Alompra, who was the founder of the
present dynasty, died in 1760, and his
successors following his example, actively
employed themselves in extending their
empire by the conquest of Cassay, Arra-
can, Cheduba and other islands, Tavoy,
Tenasserim, JMerqui and Junk Ceylon.
Various foolish schemes were formed by



AVA. 341

History, them at different times for the invasion
of British India. In 1817 they conquered
Assam, where they established a military
force, threatening the frontier of Bengal.
Various acts of aggression now took
place on the part of the Burmese troops
against the British territories. The re-
monstrances of the British Government
were treated by the court of Ava with
contemptuous silence, until in 1824 the
British found it necessary to declare
war. Ava was in consequence invaded
in May of that year by a British army,
composed principally of Madras troops,
which defeated the Burmese in various
engagements, and advanced to within fifty
miles of the capital. In February 1820
peace was concluded, the king of Ava
being compelled to renounce all claims
on Assam, Cassay, Arracan, Martaban,
Tavoy, and Tenasserim, and to pay a
crore of rupees (10,000,000,) as an in-
demnity for the expenses of the war.
The Burmese history of this war, how-
ever, is rather different from the above.
In the national records kept by the king's
historian, the following account of it is
given: "In the years 1186 and 1187,
(Burman era) the u kula pyoor," (or
white strangers of the west) fastened
a quarrel upon the lord of the golden,
palace. They landed at Rangoon, took
that place and Prome, and were per-
mitted to advance as far as Yandaboo;
for the king from motives of piety and
regard to life, made no preparation what-
ever to oppose them. The strangers
had spent vast sums of money in their
enterprise, so that by the time they
.



342 AVA.

History, reached Yandaboo, their resources were
exhausted, and they were in great dis-
tress. They then petitioned the king,
who in his clemency and generosity sent
them large sums of money to pay their
expenses back, and ordered them out of
the country. 1 ''

Religion. j n regard to religion the Burmese are
followers of Booddh, whose image is wor-
shipped throughout this country under
the name of Gaodhma, or Gaotoom.
The Booddhist system is not much su-
perior to mere atheism, as according to
it the World and all its affairs are left
to go on as chance may determine, the
Deity not taking any concern therein.

The Booddhists therefore offer no wor-
ship to the eternal God, but say that
from time to time men of surprising
piety have appeared, who have in con-
sequence, after their death, received
power over the living, and these saints
are the direct subjects of their worship.
^ This system has, notwithstanding, one
advantage over Hindooism and Mahome-
danism, as it leaves the people entirely
free both from the absurd prejudices of
caste and the evil feelings of ignorant
bigotry. Christian missionaries have
latterly gone amongst them, and many
have embraced the Gospel, particularly
amongst the Karens.

Language. The common language of this country
is called the Burman, and is written from
left to right in characters of a circular
form. The language in which all their
religious books are composed is called



THE SHAN COUNTRY.



343



Language, the Pali, and is written in the Sanscrit
character. The Burmese use the pal-
mira leaf, and for common purposes, the
iron style ; their religious and other
books of value are written with lacquer,
or sometimes with gold and silver, and
the leaves are splendidly gilt and orna-
mented.



2.



Situation,



Divisions.



Descrip-
tion.



The Shan Country*

The Shan Country constitutes an ex-
tensive region centrally situated between
China, Ava, and Siam, and occupied by
a number of tribes ; those on the frontier
being tributary to these three kingdoms
according to their contiguity, and those
in the interior being independent.

Former writers were accustomed to
designate this country as the kingdom of
Laos, a name derived from that of one of
the principal tribes.

It is generally divided into the follow-
ing : Lao Shan Yoon Shan and Taroop
Shan, lying in succession between Ava on
the west, China on the north, and Tun-
quin on the east; Mrelap Shan, situated
south of Lao Shan ; Lowa or Lawa Shan,
occupying the centre ; and south-east-
ward, bordering upon Siam and Cochin
China, Laos Shan.

It is mountainous and woody, and is
said to abound in metals, principally sil-
ver, lead, copper, antimony, and iron.



S44 THE SHAN COUNTRY.

inhabit- Ry the Burmese the inhabitants of this
country are called by the general name
of Shans, but they style themselves
T'hay. They form a number of distinct
tribes under chiefs called Chobwas. In
appearance and dress they bear some
resemblance to the Chinese, and they
are believed to be an active and ingeni-
ous people.

History. Little is yet known of this country,
few Europeans having entered it. A
body of 8,000 Shans formed part of the
Burmese army opposed to the British in
1825. Besides their chobwas or chiefs,
and other officers, the Shan troops were
accompanied on this occasion by three
young and handsome women of, high
rank, who were believed by their super-
stitious countrymen to be prophetesses,
and invulnerable. These females rode
on horseback at the head of the troops,
encouraging them with the promise of
victory. They were, however, utterly
defeated, and two of the heroines were
unfortunately killed in the action.

Religion. Their religion is believed to be a modi-
fication of Booddhism.

Language. Their language is that of Siam, and
according to Shan accounts, abounds
with books, some of very ancient date.



C ASS AY. S4?5



3.



Cassay.

General Cassay, sometimes called Munnipoor

Account. /> , i />, ' i

from the name ot its capital, is a moun-
tainous and woody country, lying be-
tween the province of Bengal and Ava.
By Europeans it is sometimes called
Muklee, though neither of these names
are used by the Natives, who style them-
selves Moitay. The Bengalese call them
Muggaloo. Cathee, or Kasee, is the
name given to the people by the Bur-
mese. It was under the government of
its own rajas until 1774, when after fre-
quent invasions it was finally conquered
by the Burmese. It continued to form
part of the Burman empire until 1826,
when by the terms of the treaty of peace
with the English, it was restored to in-
dependence. It is now under its own
chief, protected by the English. The
Cassayers have more resemblance to the
Hindoos than to the Burmese, and they
follow the Brahminical system of reli-
gion.

Its principal town is Munnipoor, lat.
24 20' N. long. 94 30' E.

The Cassayers are considered good
artificers, and formerly supplied all the
gun-smiths of the Burman empire. Be-
ing also much superior to the Burmese
in horsemanship, they furnished the


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Online LibraryCharles Alfred BrowneAn introduction to the geography and history of India, and the countries adjacent; → online text (page 20 of 26)