A Sketch of Assam: with some account of the Hill Tribes
An exploration of the tribes and scenery beauty of the forests and people of Assam. This account contains manners and customs of the natives as well as physical features of the country of Assam and small expeditions against the Nagahs of the hills.
Assam is described as a level country intersected by rivers and surrounded if not permeated by chains of hills rising into little mountains, while forest and jungle clothe both plain and hill. The inhabitants of the plains are the Assamese proper, a diminished and declining people, with the corrupt remains of an Oriental civilization.
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A race called generically Nagahs, though taking prefixes according to their geographical position, form the greater part of the bill tribes, and bear some resemblance to what the Scottish Highlanders were at an early period of their history, except that the Nagah chief or head of the Nagah village has very little real power.
Each tribe is independent of the other ; and they may unite for a common purpose, such as robbing the lowlanders, but they are as often as not at war among themselves. The Rookies are another prominent race or tribe ; not so warlike as the Nagahs, though seemingly rather more advanced.
The customs of all have a resemblance to those of the Teutonic races, rather than to the Asiatics or the people of Southern Europe ; the hill tribes having a democratic freedom, self-government, and, among the Rookies especially, the habit of transacting everything over a dinner or feast.
The great surviving feature of Assam is its game, from the elephant downwards. Of the field-sports Major Butler gives a brief picturesque account ; but we must pass the charge of the buffalo, the spring of the tiger, and the struggles of the captured elephant.
There are a few specimens of Assamese music, and translations of the songs by a friend of the author. As the interpreter has evidently made use of English poetical phraseology, we know not how far he may have added to the sentiments. The structure is that of all primitive composers.
vi, , [v]-viii, 220pp. Folding map, 17 plates (16 hand coloured lithographs, 1 woodcut plate), woodcut illustrations.
Bobins I 227; Abbey Travel 471; OCLC shows one copy only: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.