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Cochin-China Annan

tribes, laos, shan, assam, chinese, east and singpho

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ANNAN, COCHIN-CHINA, KAMBOGIA, LAOS, SIAM. —Around the borders of British India, in the N.W., the N.E., S.E., and E., is an ethnical group, which contains the Tibetans, the Nepal tribes, several nationalities of the sub Himalayan range, the Burmese, the Siamese, the natives of Pegu, the Kambogians, the Cochin Chinese, and the Chinese, in populations which cover perhaps one-fifth of Asia. They have a general similarity, they are somewhat fair in com plexion, with what are called Mongolian features. There are Christians, 3Iuhannmadans, and shaman ists among their religious sects, but the Buddhist, Confucian, and Taouist philosophies are used as religions, and almost all believe in the transmigra tion of souls towards a final absorption. The first migrants from the northern side of the Himalaya, now represented by the Annam, Kam bogian, Mon, and Laos tribes, appear to have been at a later period gradually pressed to the east ward and southward by the Tibeto - Burman tribes.

The llfon-Annanz or East.Himalaic tribes occupy the territory bounded on the north by the left side of the valley of the Brahmaputra as far as the head of Assam, and a line drawn thence east wards along the range in which the Irawadi has its sources, and across the converging meridional chains, beyond to the most eastern, the Mangli, which separates the Kiang from the Mei-kong.

On the south-east of Assam are numerous tribes, many of them .subject to the Burmese. These belong to the Siamese or T'hai group, and are composed of the Siamese proper, the Khamti, the Laos, and the Shan, who each speak a dialect of their own, none of which are like the Burmese.

The Laos or Shan race speak a language which was primarily East Himalaic, like Mon, Kambogian, Annam, and Pa-long. Like them, it was carried at some remote period into the Brahmaputra Gangetic province, and received some Dravidian roots. Subsequently it shared in the great eastern movement of the Himalaic dialects, from the basin of the Ganges into that of the Irawadi, where it was intimately connected with some of the intrusive West Himalaic or Tibeto-Burman dialects. It was then pressed farther into the east, into the basin of the Upper Mei-kong and Tonkin, and became the language of Yunnhn. During the Han dynasty, Chinese colonies began to occupy the valleys of Yunnan, and from that time the Laos language was exposed to the influence of Chinese, and began to receive the modified form it possessed when the pressure of that great race on the older tribes of Yunnan caused the Laos people to swarm to the westward and southward. When they re-entered the basin

of the Irawadi, they had acquired from their partially Chinese civilisation a superiority over the Tibeto - Burman tribes of Northern Ultra India, which made the Laos clans predominant along the central belt of Ultra-India from the Himalaya to the mouth of the Menam.

The Shan or Shyan call themselves T'hi or Thai, and occupy great part of Laos and Siam, and bordering districts of Burma. In personal appearance, customs, and languages, the Shan and Karen are but offshoots of the same stock. The Laos, the Shan, and the people called Ahom were originally the same, and once held Assam and Bhutan under their dominion, Assam, indeed, being a dialectal variation of Ahom. The Shan race swarm in numerous tribes over the countries stretching from the valleys between China and Tibet on the north, to the Gulf of Siam in the south, and if united would form the most formid able state in Eastern Asia. They occupy all the territories between the Irawadi and the moun tains of Annam. At Bhamo, to the north, east, and south-east of which they are numerous, the language of the Shan corresponds with that of the Siamese, Their habits, mode of living, cultivation of 'the ground, correspond with those of the Khyen and Karen. People of the T'hai group have a superior physical development, and resemble the Balinese.

- Perpetual aggressions and frequent conquests, extirpations of villages and migrations, mark the modern history of nearly all the Tibeto-Burman tribes, and of the different branches of the same tribe. In recent ages, the Laos have settled in the lands of the Singpho, the Bodo; the Burman, the Peguan; the Kambogian, and the Malay, and have originated communities having no connec tion with each other. The Singpho at a late period forced their way from Burma into Assam. The Bodo have occupied the country of the Mikir, and the Arung Angami and Kuki have intruded on both. The same tribes also, separated into clans and villages, are permanently at war with each other ; Kuki flees from Kuki, Singpho from Singpho, Abor from Abor.

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