DOBES Archive

Lakni (Calendar)
This is a transcription and a set of images of the Lakni book, which details aspects of the Ahom Calendar. The version of the Lakni Book that we are presenting here was copied by Atul Borgohain in the 1980s. The book consists of 23 pages, all of which are numbered on the back side in the Ahom style. Following European Tradition, we will number the front side of each page as 1r (1 recto), and the back side as 1v (1 verso). The copy made by Atul Borgohain is unreadable in part, but with the assistance of Medini Mohan, we were fortunate to obtain photographs of another xerox copy, now held by Chaw Puspa Mohan of Parijat Village, Sibsagar District. When we examined it, this photocopy was bound in such a way that the back side of the first page (the numbered side) was first and the front side (the unnumbered side) was following it; this means that the 2nd page precedes the 1st which is then followed by the 4th page which precedes the 3rd and so on. Nevertheless, between the two copies we have been able to read the entire manuscript. Chau Puspa Mohan informed us that the original book is now at Jojoli, Sibsagar, in the possession of the family of Moniram Mohan. The last page of the text is the numbered side of page 23, and the back side of that page contains some information about the author, which is very difficult to read. The book appears to have been copied, and perhaps composed, by one Juna Phukan, since words which appear to read kau Juna Phukon (kw yUnoa fUkonq “I Juna Phukan”) appear at the end of the 2nd line of the back page. The author identifies himself as the descendent of one Nokumiya Phukon (lukq lnq enakuMmIAa fUkonq). The fact that the name of the ancestor and that of the writer/copyist are both Assamese suggests that the book was written very late in the Ahom kingdom, or perhaps even in the 19th century. The Lakni book is divided into the following sections: 1r1 to 4r5 Me Pi – the table of Lakni, Kham Mvng, Pi Pan and Pi Han 4r5 to 5r3 Twelve year ‘Zodiac’ cycle, and predictions for those years 5r4 to 9v2 Association of Zodiac years and Me Pi and predictions for those years 9v3 to 21r2 Texts A to C of Tai Ahoms and the Stars (Terwiel and Ranoo 1992) 21r3 to 21v2 Predictions on what will happen if it rains on certain days 21v3 to 22r1 Overcoming misfortunes 22r1 to 22v1 Predictions on what will happen if there are eclipses, by Tai days 22v1 to 22v5 Predictions on what will happen if there are eclipses, by Burmese days 22v5 to end Predictions on what will happen if there are eclipses, by time of day The first section lists the Me Pi (perhaps literally ‘mother of the year’), a term that is first encountered on folio 9v4, in the portion translated by Terwiel and Ranoo’s 1992 book Tai Ahoms and the Stars. The Me Pi consists of 60 sentences which names each year of the Lakni cycle and their correspondences with three other cycles – Kham Mvng, Pi Pan and Pi Han (which can also be read as Pi Kan). The exact meaning of these three last terms is not known. The second section contains 12 sentences that associate the years of the Lakni cycle with a twelve year Zodiac cycle. Since there are 60 years in the Lakni cycle and only 12 in the Zodiac, there are five Lakni years corresponding to each Zodiac year. The Zodiac is parallel to the 12 year cycles found in China, Thailand and various other parts of South East Asia and discussed in some depth by Terwiel (1981). This section also includes predictions for what will happen in the particular years The third section of 60 sentences associates each one of the Lakni years with both the Zodiac cycle and the full set of cycles that make up the Me Pi. For each of these years, there is a prediction given. Having established the regular calendrical cycles, there follow three sections relating to the ceremonies that need to be undertaken in times of trouble. These three section forms Texts A to C of Tai Ahoms and the Stars (Terwiel and Ranoo 1992). The last five sections of the Lakni book relate to predictions in the event of rain, misfortunes and eclipses. In the appended .pdf and Toolbox (.txt) files, only the first and last line of the first section have been transcribed in full
Ming Mvng Lung Phai
A Manuscript, in the possession of Tileswar Mohan, Parijat village, Sibsagar District, Assam. According to Chaw Junaram Sangbun Phukan, the senior Ahom priest, this manuscript is called Ming Mvng Lung Phai, literally 'the tutelary spirit of the country comes down moving.' The manuscript would have been performed at ceremonies held to 'call back the spirit of the country', ceremonies that would have been held in times of trouble, violence, famine and so on; times which in the belief of the Tai people indicate that the spirit of the country (khon in Tai Ahom) had gone away. The contents of the manuscript are as follows: 1r1 to 1r8 Introduction; The priest explains why the spirit is being called and how powerful the country is 1r8 to 2v5 About the richness of the kingdom. This section of the manuscript consists of a repeated phrase 'up to today it is better', in between text about the bounty of the kingdom is presented 2v5 to 5v8 About the holy chickens; Describing the chickens clearing the skies of rain clouds, coming down to earth, bearing chicks that go on to be the ancestors of the different occupations within Tai society and provide riches for the country 5v8 to 7v5 Calling the tutelary spirit of the country; A pair of these holy chickens are used in this ceremony; this section consists of many sections in which the possible location of the missing spirit is given. These sections are preceded by the phrase 'You spirit of my king, go and live there!' and conclude with 'You come, please come, Lord!'. As each possible location is mentioned, the spirit is called back from there 7v5 to 9r3 The spirit comes down;This section describes how the spirit comes down and brings great riches to the country Whilst both Ahom priests Tileswar Mohan and Junaram Sangbun Phukan, our principle aids in the translation of these manuscripts, had a good idea of the overall meaning of the manuscript, neither is able to give an accurate word-by-word literal translation. For this work, it was necessary to build a team consisting of Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai, an expert in reading Tai manuscripts and an expert in Tai literaure, working together with Stephen Morey, and the Ahom priests, assisted by the younger Ahom priest Medini Mohan, and several students from Gauhati University, Zeenat Tabassum and Karabi Mazumder. We were also greatly aided in this translation by revising each of thes manuscripts with the help of Nabin Shyam Phalung, a retired officer from the Tai Section of the Department of Historical and Antiquarian Studies, Guwahati, a native speaker of Tai Aiton and an expert in reading Tai manuscripts of Assam.
Malikha Lit
The book entitled Ma Likha Lit, also called Ma Likha Phura, belongs to Medini Madhab Mohan, Parijat village, Sibsagar District, Assam. We first saw the book in November 2007, when Medini Mohan kindly allowed us to photograph it. At that time, the research team consisting of Dr. Stephen Morey, Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai, Zeenat Tabassum, Karabi Mazumder and Palash Nath were all staying together in Parijat. Taking advantage of Medini’s presence and the expert knowledge of Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai, we began the work of translating the manuscript. We were also much helped by the Ahom pandits, Chaw Junaram Sangbun Phukan and Chaw Tileswar Mohan. In October 2008, the translation was completely revised by Stephen Morey, Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai, Zeenat Tabassum and Nabin Shyam. We are now confident that the translation presented here is correct; although alternative readings of some words and passages is possible. The version of Ma Likha Lit we have translated was copied by one Bhetaram Gogoi, whose son is named as Jonomi in the manuscript. The manuscript identifies him as a Mo Pong (Bailung), an Ahom priest. His home was at Halodhibari, now in Dibrugarh district. The book was copied in the Ahom year Rai Singa, which we believe corresponds to 1810 of the common era. The Ahom calendar has a sixty year cycle, so it is possible it was written down in 1750, but we think that the later date is more likely as the names of places and the persons who wrote it are given in Assamese. The scribe also says the book was completed on a Friday, and that it was written in the fourth month (around March). At times it may seem that events related in the story are out of order. For example page 17 finishes with the prince being installed into a new palace, and page 18 finds him alone in the dark forest. It may well be that at some time in the past the order of pages was re-arranged. In our translation, however, we have followed the order of the pages as they are numbered in the manuscript we were working from. In Ahom books, all pages are numbered with Ahom numerals on the back side of the page. The story of Ma Likha Lit The story of Ma Likha Lit, which means ‘horse child book’, is a story that has some parallels both with the story of Lord Ram, and also with some of the previous lives, Jataka, of the Lord Buddha. It also contains many cultural aspects of everyday life of the Ahom people. The story begins in a very rich country, where the king has many possessions and all the people are living happily. However the king has no son, and such a son is only born after the Ahom priest, Mo Sang Pha, consults the sacred books and gives a medicine in the form of a golden plum, for the queen to eat. A son is born, and at the same time, a magic horse is born from the afterbirth, a horse that can fly. When this son, the prince, grows up, he is betrothed to a lady, but he does not marry her, rather he elopes with a princess from the sky. They escape on the flying horse, but face many difficulties. The horse is caught by a giant and locked up; the prince and princess escape with the help of some river traders, but are separated after a storm. Eventually they find each other again and set up a house in the forest. When the king, the father of the prince, dies, the people of that country are without a king and they set out to search for the prince in the forest. The story ends with the people asking for the return of the prince.
Ahom - Junaram Sangbun Phukan Prayers (1)
A recording in which Junaram Sangbun Phukan intones two Ahom prayers.. This consists of the following media files: SDM04-20071115-02_1169_SM_X_Junaram_Prayer.mpg Duration 3'27'" This recording forms part of the cassette numbered SMVDP15NOV0701 (Phonogrammarchiv No 1169) and runs from 6'56'" to 10'23" on that cassette after the restart.
Creation of the World
The book entitled Pvn Ko Mvng, literally 'History Build World' exists in several manuscript copies. The version here is owned by Tileswar Mohan, Parijat village, Sibsagar District, Assam. It was brought to our attention by Medini Madhab Mohan who had made a transcription of it into the Ahom font. The photographs of the manuscript are numbered as follows: Tileswar_Mohan_9_1r.jpg Tileswar_Mohan_9_1v.jpg through to Tileswar_Mohan_9_9v.jpg There is a final, unnumber page called Tileswar_Mohan_9_final.jpg Folio 16 is missing from this version. The appended .pdf file with analysis is a first draft prepared in November 2009. The translation was first done into Shan by Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai. This translation was then discussed and adjusted by Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai and Stephen Morey working together. The English translation was made by Stephen Morey. Further work remains to be done on this manuscript.
Ahom Sketch Grammar 2010
A sketch grammar of the Ahom language based on manuscripts, written by Stephen Morey and completed on 17/8/2010. It is published in Assam as Morey, Stephen. 2010. ‘A sketch of Tai Ahom, as recorded in original manuscripts’ to appear in Das, Biswajit and Phukan Basumatary (eds).. Axamiya aru Axamar Bhasa. (Assamese and The languages of Assam). Guwahati: AANK-Bank.
Ahom - Kham Kau Phi Dam
A recording of.Tileswar Mohan speaks and discusses the Kham Kau Phi Dam. This consists of the following media files: SDM04-2008Tascam-001.wav; Duration 3'15" SDM04-2008Tascam-002.wav; Duration The detailed contents of the recordings are: SDM04-2008Tascam-001.wav; Kham Kau Phi Dam SDM04-2008Tascam-002.wav; about the Kham Kau Phi Dam
Nemi Mang Phura
The book known as Nemi Mang Phura, literally 'Prince Nemi Book 'is owned by Gileswar Bailung Phukan, Bokota, Sibsagar District, Assam. It was brought to our attention by Junaram Sangbun Phukan and Medini Madhab Mohan who arranged for us to take a photograph of the manuscript in November 2008. The photographs of the manuscript are numbered as follows: GileswarPhukan_NemiMang_1r.jpg GileswarPhukan_NemiMang_1v.jpg through to GileswarPhukan_NemiMang_66v.jpg The manuscript is written on the bark of the Sasi tree (Aquillaria Agallocha). It consists of 66 leaves, written on both sides, of the text, as well as several pages of introduction which were missing from the original book in November 2008. The appended .pdf file with analysis is a first draft of the translation of the first 16 folios, prepared in September 2010. The translation was first done into Shan by Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai. This translation was then discussed and adjusted by Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai and Stephen Morey working together. The English translation was made by Stephen Morey. Further work remains to be done on this manuscript.
Ahom - Tileswar Mohan Prayers (1)
A recording of.Tileswar Mohan said some prayers for a meal eaten by Stephen Morey and Chaichuen Khamdaengyodtai, a meal served by Amiya Boruah, and the house of Bhadreswar and Amiya Baruah. This consists of the following media files: SDM04-20071115-03_1169_SM_X_Tileshwar_Prayer.mpg Duration 4'03'" This recording forms part of the cassette numbered SMVDP15NOV0701 (Phonogrammarchiv No 1169). This portion was recorded after a restart of numbering, and runs from 0'00'" to 4'03" on that cassette after the restart.
Singpho Sketch Grammar 2010
A sketch grammar of the Ahom language based on manuscripts, written by Stephen Morey and completed on 17/8/2010. It is published in Assam as Morey, Stephen. 2010. ‘A sketch of Tai Ahom, as recorded in original manuscripts’ to appear in Das, Biswajit and Phukan Basumatary (eds).. Axamiya aru Axamar Bhasa. (Assamese and The languages of Assam). Guwahati: AANK-Bank.
Ahom - Spirit House
A recording of.Tileswar Mohan explains the spirit house, the Rvn Phi Dam, which is attached to the kitchen of the mud house belonging to Bhadreswar and Amiya Baruah, and he also explains and performs the Kham Kau Phi Dam, the words offered to the ancestor spirits (phi dam) at the time of prayer. This consists of the following media files: SDM04-20071115-01_1169_SM_X_Tileshwar_PhiDam.mpg Duration 6'56'" This recording forms part of the cassette numbered SMVDP15NOV0701(Phonogrammarchiv No 1169), and runs from 0'00" to 0'56" on that cassette.