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HI.—./ozirnal of a Tour through the Island of Rambree, (Ramri; Sans; Ramdvati,) on the Arracan Coast. By Lient. WILLIAM FOLEY.
[Continued from page 95.]
The town of Rambree*, with its meandering creek, fine woodenbridges, and the handsome temples that surround it, is perhaps the prettiest spot upon the island; and from no place is it seen to such advantage as from the hill of K03/andoung. The creek is not very broad, but it contains sufficient water to admit of the approach of large boats to the market place—a matter of some importance in a country where land carriage is not to be obtained ; or if procurable, would scarcely be available, from the absence of good roads, bridges, and ferries, throughout the island. The town is divided into the following compartments; viz. Oung-tshiet, Shuwe-dong, Wedt-chu, Tath-twang, and Taing-kaman. The former commemorates the landing of the first Burmah chieftain at the ghaut of Rambree, when the island was first annexed to the dominions of Ava. In Shuwe-dong, a large pole, covered at the top with gold, was erected; and in its immediate vicinity, stood a house in which the conjurorsf used to dance, invoking the aid of their favourite idol on the occasion of any calamity. Wettichu was so called from the great assemblage of pigs in that quarter.‘ Tath-tweng was the site of the Burmah stockade, and now the 10cality of the Government jail, formed chiefly from the materials of that stockade. Taing-human is the place occupied by the Kuman-thsz', a class that shall be more particularly noticed hereafter. It is gene
* Also called “ Ttiing,” or “ Ya'ing-Ruah” by the Mughs; the provinces Ramhree, Maong, and Thandcwey having suffered considerably from the incursions of the Burmahs and Thaliens during the year 791 M. S. theRajd Cl-IOUMOENG, on his restoration to the throne of Rukkhein-preh (Arracan), adopted such means as were likely to restore them to their former flourishing condition ; and for thatpurpose, deputed his minister ANUNDA'-SUYA'H to proceed to those provinces, taking with him such Burmah or Thalien agriculturists and artisans as had beenable to quit the country. ANUNnA'-SUY.».’n, in the first place, visited Rambree Island, forming colonies, and giving names to the several new settlements, according to the various ominous appearances that presented themselves. It is said, that during the night his vessel lay at anchor in the Rambree Creek, a voice was heard to exclaim,
“ Thain-lo ."’ “ Thain-lo I" Stop! Stop! a favourable omen, inducing a further stay at the place, and the foundation of a town that received the name of “ Thing” or “ Tliing-Ruah."
1- A set of vagabonds, receiving little countenance from the people at large. A man, attired in woman’s apparel, connects himself with another of the profession, whom he calls his husband, and obtains for this husband a woman as his second wife, with whom both cohabit; every respectable native looks upon this class with disgust and horror.
rally admitted that the town has increased in size (though perhaps not in wealth) since it fell into the hands of the British; but this augmentation has been slow, and by no means equal to the expectations that might have been indulged on the change of rule. It would be foreign to the purpose of this brief sketch of Rambree to enter into a detail of those causes that seem to obstruct the accumulation of capital; but this much may be said, that the multiplication of taxes, by the intricate division of trades, and the vexatious nature of many of‘ these taxes, is one grand check to the industry of the population ; and from thence it is easy to deduce its consequences, as they may afi'ect the revenue, or the morals of the people.
The whole of those improvements which have been made in the town of late years, and contribute so much to the comfort and convenience of the inhabitants, it owes to the taste and liberality of the magistrate* (now residing there), who has devoted large sums of money from his private purse towards the erection of ‘bridges, market stalls, and other public buildings.
Noticing each class under a separate head, with the distinction of sexes, the number of souls residing in Rambree town will be as much as follows :
In addition to the above there are a few Musalmans and Hindus; buttheir number is comparatively small, and their residence in the town (especially of the latter), attended with so much uncertainty, that I have not thought it necessary to include them in the census. The Musalmans were either (originally) adventurers from Cathai and Ava, or owe their extraction to the Musalmans of Bengal, who fell into the hands of the Rukkhein marauders in earlier times, and were taken prisoners during the wars of the Ru/ckhein-preh1“ Rajzis with the Nawébs of Chittagong and Dacca. They are now so assimilated to the rest of the» population in dress, language, and feature, that it is difficult to conceive a distinction ever existed. As if ashamed of their Muhammedan descent, individuals of this class have generally two names, one that they derive from birth, and the other such as is common to the natives of Arracan, and by which they are desirous of being known. The Hindus, again, are generally natives of Chittagong and Dacca, who came down into Arracan to pick up what they can, returning to their homes so soon as a certain sum of money shall have been collected.
* Captain WILLIAMS, 45th Regt. B. N. I.
1' Arraean, known in past times as Rekhd-pura ,- and so called from its having been the abode of the “ Rakkhus ,-" a fabulous monster, said to devour the inhabitants. The scene of this monater's alleged depredations seems to have been in the neighbourhood of what is now termed the “Fort of Arracanl” (M1'ouu-mu, built by Rajzi Cuoumoaue, in the year of GAUTAMA 1150, and in the common era 792, or A. D. 1430.) On the extirpation of this monster, Arracan was termed “ Rulckhein-preh,” or “Ruklchein-tding,” the country of the Rukkheins; an appellation equally common to the natives of Arracan with that of Mugk, or Mogh: the Burmahs substituting the letter I’, for R, call them “ Yulrkhein."
' Under the head of Mughs (Magus) are included many inferior castes, such as the Hg/a'h, P/:ra'-gyoung, and Dining. Much uncertainty prevails with respect to the origin of these castes ; it is either involved in obscurity, or totally lost to those with whom .I have conversednpon the subject. By some, it is affirmed, that the Hyliks were originally natives of a country beyond Manipur, but nothing further could be obtained, so as to facilitate a discovery of their descent, or account-for their settlement in ‘the province. In former days, the Hyzihs tilled the crown lands, were exempted from taxation, and gave one-half of the produce to the sovereign. It is insinuated by the Rakkheins, that not a few of the Hylih caste were employed as eunuchs in the service of the Arracan Reijas. They now occupy themselves in the cultivation of pawn and chilly gardens, but are looked upon as an inferior caste, and consequently never intermarry with the Rakikheins.
The caste termed Phrri-gyoung now no longer abound in Arracan, or are so concealed, that it would be difiicult to point out one particular person to whom this term can be properly applied. In Ava this class is still very numerous, more especially in the neighbourhood of the most celebrated temples* and Kioums; it being the duty of the Phroi-gyoungs to perform the several servile ofiices required, such as sweeping the sanctuary, lighting the fires, and spreading the mats in the monasteries. As a reward for these services, they are permitted to remove, for their own consumption, the fruits, grain, &c. that may be ofl'ered up to the Phrri. The Phrzi-gyoungs are said to have sprung from those who, in a distant period, had been convicted of some offence, and were-made slaves for the service of the temples as a punishment for the same. i
The Dlings are believed to be of Hindu extraction ; their appellation so like to that of the Dhu'ms of India would seem to corroborate
* Such as Slmwe-Zettan and Shuwe-day-gone. c c ' '
this statement; and it must be further remarked, that their occupation in former days is said to have resembled that now allotted to their namesakes in Bengal. The Dhzings of Arracan will not, however, so employ themselves at the present day; endeavouring to
conceal their true descent, they are generally rope-makers and fishermen.
Burmahs of pure extraction are rare in Rambree; those that retain the name are of mixed blood, and properly termed “ Bundtith." They are the descendants of those Burmahs who accompanied the several Meg/-0-wu'ns to the province; uniting themselves with the Mugh women, and remaining in Rambree with their families on its being given over to the British.
The class of Musalmans termed Kuman-ths1'* are particularly deserving of notice. There is little doubt but this interesting people owe their descent to that devoted band of warriors which accompanied the unfortunate SI-IA'H sUJA'H into Arracan. As is well known. both the Su.\'u and his followers, (who were numerous) met at first with a friendly reception from Me'ng-ka-mongt, the Réjzi of Rakkhein-preh. But the repeated representations of the cold-hearted Avmmezna induced the wretch to adopt another line of conduct; the SHA'H and his troops were several times attacked, and‘ finally defeated. The prince was put to death, and such of his followers as survived the slaughter were made prisoners, and eventually distributed in different parts of the kingdom. Lands and implements of husdandry were assigned to them, and they were further encouraged to marry with the women of the country. Many availed themselves of this permission, and their wives did not object to embrace the faith of Islam. There is a curious circumstance connected with the distribution and final settlement of the Kuman-then’ in the province. When brought to the presence of Meng-ka-mong, and asked what profession they were individually desirous of adopting, a few who were unable to speak the language of the country, put their hands up to their heads, and pointing out the two fore-fingers, endeavoured to represent an animal with horns; thereby intimating that they wished to follow the occupation of herdsmen. Upon this the Réja directed a supply of cattle and goats to be given to them, and those who received the latter were placed upon a small island that has since been termed Tchye-ki-that (Goat Island). In the time of the Arracan Rfijfis,
' Kamandar? Bowman? (Kamfinchi more probably.-—En.)
1~ I feel a pleasure in giving the name of this individual, in the hope that it may tend to perpetuate his infamy. Z Called “ Saddle Island” by the British.