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The Ahoms established the Ahom kingdom (1228-1826) in parts of present-day Assam and ruled it for nearly 600 years. Historical documents didn't call the kingdom "Ahom". They called it "Asam", and the subjects of this kingdom "Assamese" or "Axomiya". After the advent of the British, the meanings of these categories changed. "Ahom" as a term appears in the Buranjis to denote the collection of civil and military officers under the Ahom king, all of which were non-hereditary offices.


History of Ahom kingdom

See: Ahom kingdom




In early 13th century, Sukaphaa, a Shan (Mong Mao) prince began his journey with about 9000 (Edward Gait) followers, mostly men. He crossed the Patkai hills, fought and defeated the Nagas and reached the Brahmaputra valley in 1228. He moved from place to place, searching for a seat. He decided not to attack the Morans and Borahis but befriend them instead. His followers, much depleted from the original 9000, married into the Borahi and the Moran ethnic groups. The Borahis, a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group, were subsumed into the Ahom fold, though the Moran maintained their independent ethnicity. Sukaphaa finally established his capital at Charaideo near present-day Sivasagar in 1253 and began the task of state formation.

The Ahoms brought the dispersed tribal groups and regions to under one roof. They are considered as the architect of the modern Assam.


The Ahom kingdom then consolidated its powers for the next 300 years or so. The first major expansion was at the cost of the Chutiya kingdom, which was annexed in 1522 under Suhungmung. The expansion was not just a success of Ahom military prowess, but also a result of changes in the Ahom social and political outlook. For example, Suhungmung was the first Ahom king to adopt a Hindu name: Swarga Narayan. The Chutiya region was placed under the Sadiyakhowa Gohain a new position that was created. In 1536 the Kacharis were uprooted from their capital at Dimapur. Thus by the middle of the 16th century, the Ahoms were in control over eastern Assam. In 17th century, after the Battle of Itakhuli in 1682 that marked the end of the Ahom-Mughal conflicts, much of the control of Koch Hajo fell into the hands of the Ahoms.

THE AHOM DYNASTY 1.Sukapha 1228–1268 2.Suteupha1268–1281




6. Sutupha1364–1376


7.Tyao Khamti1380–1389
































38.Purandar Singha1818–1819

Burmese Rule1819-1824

End of Ahom rule

Their power declined in latter half of the 18th century. The capital city was taken for a short period during the Moamoria rebellion. In the first part of the 19th century, the Burmese army invaded their kingdom who set up a puppet Ahom king. The Burmese were defeated by the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War resulting in the Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826, which paved the way for the British to convert the Ahom kingdom into a principality and which marked the end of the Ahom rule.

The Ahom people

The Tai Ahoms who came into Assam followed their traditional religion and spoke the Tai language. They were a very small group numerically and after the first generation, the group was a mixture of the Tai and the local population. Over time the Ahom state adopted the Assamese language and kings and other high officials converted to Hinduism. Except for some special offices (the king and the raj mantris), other positions are open to members of all tribes and religion. They kept good records, and are known for their chronicles, called Buranjis.

One of its greatest achievements was the stemming of Mughal expansionism. In the celebrated battle of Saraighat, the Ahom general Lachit Borphukan defeated the Mughal forces on the outskirts of present day Guwahati in 1671.

Ahom people today

The Tai-Ahom were historically seen as "Assamese" people. However, the term "ethnic Assamese" is now associated by the Indian government at Delhi with the Assamese-speaking Indo-Aryans of the Brahmaputra valley (see Assamese people).[1] .[1][2][3]

Further reading

  • "Fragment Histories:Struggling to be Tai-Ahom". Duke University Press.2004
  • Gogoi, N. K. (2006). Continuity and change among the Ahom. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co. ISBN 8180692817
  • Phukon, G. (1998). State of Tai culture among the Ahoms. [Assam, India?]: G. Phukon.

See also

External links


  1. ^ a b Yasmin Saikia. Fragmented Memories.  
  2. ^ "ST status to Assam groups only from a national perspective". Retrieved 11/03/2009.  
  3. ^ "Separatist strains". The Hindu. Retrieved 11/03/2009.  

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AHOM, or Aham, a tribe of Shan descent inhabiting the Assam valley, and, prior to the invasion of the Burmese at the commencement of the 19th century, the dominant race in that country. The Ahoms, together with the Shans of Burma and Eastern China and the Siamese, were members of the Tai race. The name is believed to be a corruption of the word "A-sam," the latter part of which is identical with "Shan" (properly "Sham") and with "Siam." Under their king Su-ka-pha they invaded Assam from the East in the year A.D. 1228, giving their name to the country. For a century and a half from 1228 the successors of Su-ka-pha appear to have ruled undisturbed over a small territory in Lakkimpur and Sibsagar districts. The extension of their power westward down the valley of the Brahmaputra was very gradual, and its success was by no means uniform. In the time of Aurangzeb the Ahom kings held sway over the entire Brahmaputra valley from Sadiya to near Goalpara, and from the skirts of the southern hills to the Bhutia frontier on the north. The dynasty attained the height of its power under Rudra Singh, who is said to have ascended the throne in 1695. In the following century the power of the Ahoms began to decay, alike from internal dissensions and the pressure of outside invaders. The Burmese were called in to the assistance of one of the contending factions in 1810. Having once obtained a foothold in the country, they established their power over the entire valley and ruled with merciless barbarity, until they were expelled by the British in 1824-1825. In the census of 1901 the total Ahom population in Assam was returned at 178,049.

The Ahoms retained the form of government in Assam peculiar to the Shan tribes, which may be briefly described as an organized system of personal service in lieu of taxation. Their religion was pagan, being quite distinct from Buddhism; but in Assam they gradually became Hinduized, and their kings finally adopted Hindu names and titles. They believed that there were in the beginning no heavenly bodies, air or earth, only water everywhere, over which at first hovered a formless Supreme Being called Pha. He took corporeal shape as a huge crab that lay floating, face upwards, upon the waters. In turn other animals took shape, the last being two golden spiders from whose excrement the earth gradually rose above the surrounding ocean. Pha then formed a female counterpart of himself, who laid four eggs, from which were hatched four sons. One of these was appointed to rule the earth, but died and became a spirit. His son also died and became the national household deity of the Ahoms. The origin of mankind is connected with a flood legend. The only survivors of the flood, and of the conflagration that followed it, were an old man and a pumpkin-seed. From the latter there grew a gigantic gourd. This was split open by a thunderbolt, the old man sacrificing himself to save the lives of those who were inside, and from it there issued the progenitors of the present races of men, beasts, birds, fishes and plants. The kings claimed independent divine origin.

The religion and language have both died out, being only preserved by a few priests of the old cult; but even among them the tradition of the pronunciation of the language has been lost. The Ahoms had a considerable literature, much of which is still in existence. Their historic sense was very fully developed, and many priests and nobles maintained bia-ran jis (i.e. " stores of instruction for the ignorant"), or chronicles, which were carefully written up from time to time. A few of these have been translated, but as yet no European scholar possesses knowledge sufficient to enable him to study these valuable documents at first hand.

The Ahom language is the oldest member of the Tai branch of the Siamese-Chinese linguistic family of which we have any record. It bears much the same relationship to Siamese and Shan that Latin does to Italian. It is more nearly related to modern Siamese than to modern Shan, but possesses many groups of consonants which have become simplified in both. It is a language of the isolating class, in which every word is a monosyllable, and may be employed either as a noun or as a verb according to its context and its position in a sentence. In the order of words, the genitive follows the noun it governs, and, as usual in such cases, the relations of time and place are indicated by prefixes, not by suffixes. The meanings of the monosyllables were differentiated, as in the other Tai languages and in Chinese, by a system of tones, but these were rarely indicated in writing, and the tradition regarding them is lost. The language had an alphabet of its own, which was clearly related to that of Burmese.

See E. A. Gait, A History of Assam (Calcutta, 1906). For the language see The Linguistic Survey of India, vol. ii. (Calcutta, 1906) (contains grammar and vocabulary); G. A. Grierson, "Notes on Ahom," in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, vol. lvi., 1902, pp. 1 ff. (contains grammar and vocabulary, with specimens), and "An Ahom Cosmogony, with a translation and a vocabulary of the Ahom language," in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1904, pp. 181 ff. (G. A. GR.)

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