A Short Note On The Khamtis

Census of India Report, 1881.

     The Khamtis in Assam come from the country known to the Assamese as Bor-Khamti, or Great Khamti land. It lies high on the Irrawaddy, in Latitude 27'o and 28'o N., eastwards from the frontier of Lakhimpur. Captain Wilcox visited it in 1826, and found the Khamtis living in the midst of an alien population, the descendants of races whom their ancestors had subjugated. The original seat of the Khamtis, as of the Ahoms, was the ancient Shan kingdom of Pong, with the city now called Mogoung for its capital. The date of their emigration northwards to Bor-Khamti, where, they say, they have been settled for centuries, is unknown, but it did not correspond with the Ahom emigration to Assam, it would seem at any rate that some Khamtis either accompanied Chukapha or came in under his successors, for the name Khamti occurs as the appellation of the rulers of the Ahom kingdom towards the end of the  14th century. Subsequent event assigned very different fortunes to these two branches of the Shan people. When the ancient kingdom of their common ancestors was broken up by the Burmese about the middle of the last century, stray parties of Khamti emigrants, pushed forward by pressure from the south, began to appear on the borders of Sadiya. They brought with them the religion of Buddha, and found the Ahoms throughly Hinduized. Civil war had weakened the hold of the Ahom king on the province of Sadiya, and the Khamtis were allowed to ouset the governor and install their own leader in his place. This arrangement was left undisturbed by the British Government until in 1839 the Khamtis attempted to imitate the Ahoms in their conquest of Assam, and had to be put down by force of arms. Their Sadiya-Khowa, or Jagirdar of the Sadiya district, and all his clan with him, were relegated to Narayanpur on the Dikrang, where they continue to live, cultivating the solid on the same terms as their Assamese neighbors, but preserving their national dress, language, customs, and religion; the rest of the Khamtis of Sadiya, after some years of fugitive life, were permitted to return and settle again in their old haunts. Colonel Dalton mentions and accession to their numbers by fresh emigration from Bor-Khamti in 1850.

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