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Ahom Kingdom

Ahom Kingdom

Ahom Kingdom, which thrived in the Brahmaputra Valley of present-day Assam, India, was a remarkable historical realm that emerged in the 13th century and endured for almost six centuries until the 19th century. The rulers of the Ahom Kingdom hailed from the Tai-Ahom ethnic background and were instrumental in establishing a formidable realm celebrated for both its military prowess and effective governance.

About Ahom Kingdom

Founder: Chaolung Sukapha, a ruler in the 13th century, established the Ahom kingdom, which governed Assam for six centuries. The British annexed the province in 1826 through the Treaty of Yandaboo.

Political Setup: The Ahoms formed a new state by replacing the old system of landlords (bhuiyans). They relied on forced labor, known as paiks, for state work.

Society: Ahom society was organized into clans (khels), each overseeing multiple villages. While they worshipped tribal gods, the Ahoms embraced Hinduism and the Assamese language. The kings retained some traditional beliefs even after adopting Hinduism, and intermarriage with locals contributed to assimilation into Assamese culture.

Art and Culture: Poets and scholars were rewarded with land grants, and theater was actively supported. Sanskrit works were translated into the local language. Historical texts, called buranjis, were initially written in Ahom and later translated into Assamese.

Military Strategy: The Ahom king served as both the head of the state and the military. During wars, the king personally led the state forces. The main army, called Paiks, included both serving and non-serving members. Non-serving Paiks formed a standing militia mobilized by military organizers. The Ahom Army comprised infantry, navy, artillery, elephantry, cavalry, and spies. Their weaponry ranged from traditional bows and arrows to modern guns and cannons. Before expeditions, Ahom spies studied the enemy’s strength and strategies. The Ahom soldiers excelled in guerrilla warfare, sometimes allowing enemies to enter the country, then ambushing them from both the front and rear after cutting off communications.

History of the Ahom Empire

  • The Ahom Empire was a powerful kingdom in India’s northeastern region. It was mainly in present-day Assam, from the 13th to the 19th century.
  • The Ahoms originally migrated from Southeast Asia and settled in the Brahmaputra Valley. They established their rule by defeating local rulers and creating a strong kingdom. The Ahoms were skilled in warfare and administration. They built impressive monuments and temples.
  • The empire’s economy relied on agriculture and trade. The Ahoms were known for their unique irrigation system and successful cultivation of rice. The empire faced challenges from the Mughals and other invaders.
  • However, it managed to maintain its independence for a long time. In the 19th century, the British gradually took control of the region.

Economy of Ahom Kingdom

  • The Paik system, a type of corvee labour neither feudal nor Asian, served as the foundation of the Ahom kingdom’s economy.
  • The Ahoms introduced wet rice farming to upper Assam, a mostly marshy and sparsely populated region.
  • The Ahoms established the first state structures using advanced techniques for rice cultivation and land reclamation through embankments, dykes, and irrigation systems.
  • Despite the continued use of the Paik personal service system, the first coins were introduced by Suklenmung in the 16th century.

Military of Ahom Kingdom

  • The Ahom Kingdom had a strong and well-organized military that played a vital role in both defending the kingdom and expanding its territories.
  • The military comprised different parts, including infantry, cavalry, artillery, and a navy, each serving a specific purpose in warfare.
  • The main force was the infantry, which consisted of foot soldiers armed with bows, arrows, swords, spears, and shields. They formed the core strength of the army.
  • The cavalry was made up of soldiers mounted on horses, providing the army with mobility and quick responses during battles.
  • Artillery units were equipped with cannons and guns obtained through trade with European powers. This technology enhanced the Ahom military’s capabilities.
  • The Ahom navy, known as the Marang Gompa, played a crucial role in riverine warfare. They used war boats and ships to secure control over waterways.
  • The Ahom military employed smart defensive strategies, such as building fortified ramparts and moats around important towns and cities, to protect against invasions.

Read Also: Maratha Power [1674-1818] – Modern Indian History

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