*HISTORY OF ORIGIN OF THE TANIS OR THE AMIS: PART ONE

History of origin:

The Tanis or the Amis are one of the early, if not the earliest, groups of human races migrating to north-eastern region of India sometimes in the past. The Tanis or the Amis are variously known to other people as the Misings, Mishimis, Pa:dams, Minyongs, Galongs, daflas, Hill Miris, Apa-tanis etc. The language, culture and traditions of these tribes are one and the same. According to ethnologists, the Akas and daflas are one in race with each other, and with the tribes of Abors and Miris inhabiting the hills coming no doubt originally from the same habitats, they are still alike in all material respects as to warrant us in calling them the earlier and later migrations of the same tribe, the abors as the last comers, retaining more of their pristine savagery and hardihood, while the Miris have been to some extent influenced by free association with theplains and the settled habits of civilization. The intercourse between Abors and Miris is still nevertheless constant and intimate. Ethnologist group them into one unit under common appellation of North assam brance although the collectively identify themselves as Tani or Ami, meaning “man”. Scholars of various academics disciplines have unanimously held that they belong to the great Mongoloid race of mankind whose ancient civilization flourished in the upper course of the Yangtse-Kiang and the Hoang-Ho-river-valleys of north-west China. They have close connections with various human races from time immemorial and contributed to the evolution of common culture. They have however no written historical traditios of their own except some disconnected oral traditions which furnish authentic facts of their early history. The history of their early period is, there fore, obscure for us to know owing to dearth of reliable historical materials. This is also mainly owing ot the deficiencies of reliable historical source, but largely to the lack of painstaking academic pursuits. It appears that the true historical period of the tanis or the Amis begins only from the time they are referred to in the historical chronicles called BURANJIS and the Vaisnavite literature of medieval Assam.

The history of origin and migration of the Tanis can be traced with the available historical materials so as to arrive at a definite conclusion on the subject. The most important source is the Greek and Roman classical literature, notably, Pliny’s Natural History, Ptolemy’s Geography and the Periplus of Erythrian Sea, compiled before and after the christen era. The Greek and Roman classical literature refer to the tribes and their habitats as “Meridionales”, “Meridiem”, “Asmira”, “Abarimon”, “Abali”, “Orxulao” etc. Which are identified by the authorities with the names of Abors, Miris, Mishimis, Akas of the north-eastern region of India. It is held on the basis of such identification that century A.D. if not earlier. In Indian classical literature holds that different branches of the great Sini-indian speaking people which had their base near the head waters of the Yangtse-Kiang and the Hoang-he rivers to the north-west china pushed south and west, probably from 2000B.C. the north-Assam tribes of the Abors and Akas, daflas and Miris, and Mishimis, appears to come later and to have established themselves in the mountains to the north of the Brahmaputra plains already in occupation of the Bodos. The classical literatures are therefore evident that the Indo-Chinese people of India have already settles in India since 2000BC and the north Assam tribes have also settled in their present habitats since the beginning of the Christian era.

The study of language has also an important bearing on the origin and migration of the people. Some linguist (Dr. GA Grierson) studied the language spoken by the Mishimis, Adi, Misings, daflas, Apatanis and Akas in some details. He classified their language under the common appellation of North-Assam brance of the Tibeto_Burman group of the Indo-Chinese language family. Grierson, on the basis of his linguistic study observe that the North-Assam brance language is a connecting link of the Tibetan and the Himalayan dialects with that of the Kuki-Chin, Bodo, Naga and Kachin groups. He therefore concluded that the home of the North-Assam tribes may be considered as a kind of backwater. The eddies of the various waves of Tibeto-Burman immigration have swept over it and left their stamps on the dialects. The impression on the North-Assam tribes was probably left before or in the course of their migration to their present habitats. The above instance indicates that the North-Assam tribes intermixed with various branches of the Tibeto-Burman language speakers, and also migrated to their present habitats later than many other groups of these language speakers. Dr. Grierson, traces, on the basis of his linguistic analysis, the migration of the Tibeto-Chinese language speakers in three successive waves; the first batch migrated during the pre-historic times; secondly, the Tibeto-Burmans migrated to Tibet and then to India, the period of which is unknown; thirdly, the Tai branch of the Siamese-Chinese group migrated in about in recent times. Apparently, the above list of migration indicates that the North-Assam tribes are included in the second wave of migration which took place between the period of prehistory and the sixth century A.D. it is therefore, certain that the North-Assam tribes have already migrated and settled in their present habitates since the beginning of the Christian era.

Archaeological evidences also point out the early history of the North-Assam tribes. Some Neolithic cultureal tools such as Jadeite, gneiss and dolerite made of local rocks, limestone and bone have been discovered at Sadiya, Abor-hills and the Mishimi-hills. These Neolithic culture tools are said to be associated with the cultivator of agriculture, slaying of animals etc. some historian has contended on the basis of these cultural materials, that “ the facetted tool has the closet link with the types of tools known from yunnan….the prolific use of jadeite further strengthens the link with Yunnan, in fact, with the discovery of a specimen in the Mishimi Hill the cultural contact of this region with Yunnan can hardly be doubted. Indeed the main tools types of Yunnan and the Sadiya Frontier zone are identical and the use of the common material, jadeite, firmly established the identity. The analysis of tools suggests that the Neolithic culture in Assam, as represented by these stone tools, are of late origin. The earliest possible date is linked us with the chronology of the developed neoliths in the countries of south-east-asia and south-china. The late origin of the Neolithic cultural materials, as concluded by historians, suggested that the North-Assam tribes have lately migrated from the Chinese province of Yunnan etc. and settled in their present habitats. Apart from this, the Tezpur rock Inscription of Harjaravana (GE=510=829/830 AD) also refers to the term Abara-Parbata which the autorities have held to be referred to the present Abor-Hills. The reference to the word ‘Abor’ in this rock inscription of 829/830 A.D. confirms that the North-Assam Tribes have settled in their present habitats since the beginning of this Christian era.

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