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Barua, B. K. (1947) A cultural history of Assam of the early period, 400 A.D.-1200 A.D. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The Thesis submitted forms a part of a comprehensive work on the Cultural History of Assam, comprising the various aspects of the life of the people. The materials were collected in India as well as during the course of my study in England. The present volume contains an account of Assam from circe 400 A.D. to 1200 A.D., i.e., to the advent of the Ahoms. Assam, known as Kamarupa, figured during this period as a well-lnown Hindu kingdom. But so far no book has been written delineating the multifarious acivities of the country. The present work strives to depict the life of the people of the period with special reference to their economic and social conditions, their religion and religious institutions, and finally, their achievements in the fields of art, literature and architecture. Since the cultural life of a country cannot properly be evaluated without a thorough understanding of the political history, a chapter on political history has also been included. In the treatment of this chapter, an endeavour has been made to bring new facts to notice and to study the known facts from a fresh view point. The work is divided into seven chapters. It opens with a general introduction, and deals with the physical back-ground, including geographical divisions, population and terminology. It includes a sub-section on Early Geography: The Literary Tradition, in which all available references from early texts are collected and discussed. In the light of this information, a map of ancient Assam is reconstructed for the first time. The second chapter is on Political History. The third chapter, on Administration, deals with the theory of kingship and systems of central and local administration. A sub-section is added on Military Organisation. The fourth chapter is on Economic Conditions, in which the nature of village and town, the various aspects of the land-system and tenure, agriculture, crafts and industries, and trade and trade-routes to Magadha, Burma and China are discussed. Chapter Five on Society deals with the various classes of people, their occupations and their different social institutions. It is completed with a survey of the Learning and Literature of the period. The next chapter traces the history and the spread of different religious creeds, such as Saivism, Saktism, Vaisnavism and Buddhism, along with their respective rites and rituals. The closing chapter is devoted to Fine Art, which is divided into three sections, namely, (i) Architecture, (ii) Sculpture and (iii) Iconography. Almost all the available materials relating to the archaeology of Assam of the period are systematised here for the first time. An attempt has also been made to throw light on the principles on which Assamese art is based, as well as upon the sources from which its aims and ideals are derived. Finally it ends with an assessment of Assamese art. The chief sources of information of the author are the contemporary inscriptions, literary works, and accounts of foreign travellers. In respect to the first, the writer may say that he has thoroughly studied the inscriptions relating to Assam history, and has been able to extract even minute bits of information useful for his work. The literary source mainly centres round the Epics, Puranas, the works of Kautilya, Kalidasa, Bana and others. One of the foreign travellers who visited Assam during the period was Hiuen Tsiang. His invaluable account is very critically examined. In addition to these specific sources, the relevant modern publications, books written by eminent authorities, and their contributions in learned journals, have also been read and fully utilised. All sources quoted in the work are indicated in the foot-notes. The Thesis concludes with three appendices and a bibliography.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:22

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