Saturday, July 20, 2024

The People



An ideal meeting ground for diverse races, Assam gave shelter to streams of human waves carrying with them distinct cultures and trends of civilization.

Austro-Asiatics, Negritos, Dravidians, Alpines, Indo-mongoloids, Tibeto-Burmese and Aryans penetrated into Assam through different routes and contributed in their own way towards the unique fusion of a new community which came to be known in later history as the Assamese. Assam, however, remained predominantly a land of the Tibeto-Burmese. The vast section of the people of Assam belong to either to this stock or owe their origin to the fusion of this stock with other racial groups. In Assam (excluding the Surma valley) and north-east Bengal, the Dravidian  type has, to a great extent, been replaced by the Mongolian, while in the Surma valley and the rest of Bengal a mixture of races has taken place in which the recognizable Mongolian element diminishes towards the west and disappears altogether before Bihar is reached.

There has been racial intermixture among the population of Assam. The Mongoloid racial stock have large number of tribes. Their physical  features are described as "a short head, a broad nose, a flat and comparatively hairless face, a short but muscular figure and a yellow skin." But there are numerous other races also.

Traces of the Negroid are to be found among the Nagas. The Khasis who speak Austric language belong to the proto-australoids. The Kaibartas and the Banias of Assam are said to be descendants of the Dravidians. They are distinguished by "a long head, large and dark eyes, a fairly strong beard, a black or nearly black colour and a very broad nose, depressed at the base, but not so as to make the face look flat". Then there are the Aryans, with a long head, tall and well-built, having a fine, long and prominent  nose and a fair complexion, who came to Assam from across Bihar and Bengal. All these peculiarities of physiognomy one will encounter in Assam.