Sutiya Kingdom

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This article is about the medieval kingdom of Assam Valley, India. For other related article that focuses on the Sutiya community of Assam, see Sutiya people.
Sutiya Kingdom
চুতীয়া ৰাজ্য

1187 CE–1673 CE


Coat of arms

Capital Swarnagiri
(1187-1225)
Ratnapur
(1225 - mid 13th century)
Sadiya
(mid 13th century - 1523)
Languages Assamese

Sutiya

Religion Hinduism Shaktism
Government Absolute monarchy
Monarch
 -  1187 - 1224 Birpal
 -  1224 - 1250 Gaurinarayan
 -  1502 - 1522 Dhirnarayan
Historical era Medieval Assam
 -  Founded by
Birpal
1187 CE
 -  Ahom-Sutiya war 1513 - 17th century
 -  Siege of Sadiya 1523
 -  Disestablished 1673 CE
Currency Gold and silver coins
Today part of  India(Assam)

 India(Arunachal Pradesh)

Modern representation of Sutiya king, Ratnadhwajpal

The Sutiya Kingdom[1] (Assamese: চুতীয়া ৰাজ্য) (1187-1673) was a kingdom established by Birpal in 1187 on the north bank of Brahmaputra in the present Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. It was a powerful kingdom which had absorbed the ancient Pal dynasty and reigned for over 400 years with the capital at Sadiya.[2] The kingdom controlled the present Assam districts of Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia and parts of Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Sonitpur. The Sutiya are an indigenous ethnic group originally from Tibet and the Sichuan province of China. They spoke a Tibeto-Burman language, but now they speak Assamese language and has adopted Hinduism.

The kingdom was the most dominant in eastern Assam till the 16th century with its domain from Parshuram Kund in the east to Vishwanath in the west and in the process of its expansion had absorbed many local communities and tribes. The most illustrious of the Sutiya kings was Gaurinarayan (Ratnadhwajpal), son of Birpal. He brought many other Sutiya groups into his kingdom. In 1224 Ratnadhwajpal defeated Bhadrasena, the king of Swetagiri. Then he went on to subjugate Nyayapal and marched toward Kamatapur, where he formed an alliance with the Kamata ruler by marrying a princess. Then he marched to Dhaka, and made friends with the Gauda ruler.

The hostilities with the Ahoms began when the Sutiya Kingdom expanded to the south and during which Ahom king, Sutuphaa, was killed by the Sutiya king during a friendly negotiation. This conflict triggered a number of battles between the two sides, which saw great loss of men and money. The simmering dispute often flared till 1523 when the Ahoms struck the Sutiya Kingdom at its weakest state, took Sadiya and killed the then king Nityapal. The Ahoms established their rule by instituting the position of Sadiyakhowa Gohain, a newly constituted position of frontier-governor in charge of Sadiya. But the Sutiya had dispersed to frontier regions, and continued raids against the Ahoms. It finally ended in 1673 when they fall under the domination of the Ahoms.

Etymology[edit]

According to Sutiya language, the word Sutiya stands for glory.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

The founder of the kingdom was Birpal who claimed descent from the legendary Bhishmak and reigned in 1187. He ruled over 60 families with his capital on a hill called Swarnagiri and assumed the title of Gayapal. The surname 'Pal' is possible imitation of the Pala dynasty of Kamarupa. He was succeeded by his son Sonagiri assuming the title of Gaurinarayan. [3]

Reign of Gaurinarayan (1224-1250)[edit]

Gaurinarayan (Ratnadhwajpal) was one of the most powerful Sutiya king, he brought under his sway tribes of neighbouring mountains Rangalgiri, Kalgiri, Nilgiri, Chandragiri, Dhavalgiri etc. He conquered the whole northeastern region of Assam which included the areas of present day Arunachal Pradesh and assumed the proud title of Lord of Hills. In the year 1224, with a large army, he descended on the valley of Brahmaputra, attacked and deported a king named Bhadrasena, ruler of Swetagiri Mountains. In the expedition, he gained rich booty and many prisoners of war belonging to Brahmin, Tanti, Sonari, Sutar and Kumar castes and settled them in various parts of the kingdom. He built his capital at Ratnapur, hence also called Ratnadhwajpal and used certain techniques to advance the agricultural system in the kingdom. The neighbouring king, Nyaya Pal surrendered with costly gifts, even before he was attacked. To cement the alliance, he married the daughter of Nyayapal. He build a line of forts along the foot of the bills against inroads by the hill tribes and build large tanks and temples for his people. In Kamatapur, when Kamateswar refused his daughter for one of Gaurinarayan sons, the king marched against him, constructing a road with forts at certain intervals. Alarmed at the energy displayed by his troops, Kamateswar agreed to give one of the Princess in marriage to the Sutiya Prince.[4]

These expeditions by Gaurinarayan took Sutiya Kingdom to supremacy to such an extent that after a few years the impact of his power was felt even by the Gauda ruler. The Gauda ruler possibly Khesav Sen made friends with Gaurinarayan who sent one of his son to that country for education. Unfortunately, the Sutiya Prince died there and the corpse was sent to Gaurinarayan, who was then engaged in building a new city. He named the city as Sadiya (Sa-Corpse, Diya-Given) which later on became the capital of the Sutiya Kingdom. Extensive remains of buildings and fortifications built during the rule of the Sutiyas near about Sadiya still point to the importance of the region in the past.

During the reign of Ahom king Sutuphaa, there were frequent skirmishes between Ahoms and Sutiyas. In 1376, Sutuphaa was killed by the Sutiya King evidently Jayadhwajpal during a friendly encounter. During the following years, both the sides got involved in numerous battles.

Reign of Dhirnarayan (1502-1522)[edit]

Dhirnarayan, a powerful Sutiya King and also known as Dharmadhwajpal, encountered in many battles with the Ahoms. He had a son Sadhak Narayan and a daughter Sadhani. In 1513, another clash with the Ahoms took place. King Dhirnarayan attacked the Ahom Kingdom both by land and water. The Ahom were victorious in the battle fought at Dikhoumukh. But in 1520, the Sutiyas invaded the Ahom territory twice, in the second invasion the Sutiyas killed the Ahom commander and were successful in defeating the Ahoms in the battle fought at Dihing.

Sati Sadhani, the last Queen of the Sutiya Dynasty

Downfall of Sutiya Kingdom[edit]

In 1522, Dhirnarayan due to his growing age wished to pass the throne to his son Sadhank Narayan but the prince was too young to handle the duties of being a king, seeing no option Dhirnarayan gave away his throne to Nityapal, who was the husband of his daughter Sadhani. Nitypal belonged to a humble family and had no experience in administration. The Sutiya nobilities and ministers opposed Dhirnarayan decision of giving away the throne to Nityapal. In 1523, the Ahoms taking advantage of this chance attacked a much weaker Sutiya Kingdom. As a partial culmination of the inter-kingdom feud, the Ahoms took Sadiya and killed Nityapal. Sadhani seeing her husband killed and Sadiya conquered by the Ahoms preferred death to dishonour and committed suicide by jumping from the top of Chandragiri hills near Sadiya. However the Sutiyas went to the countryside where they were still in power and continued their fight against the Ahoms to reclaim their lost territories. It finally ended in 1673 when the Sutiyas fall under the domination of the Ahoms and were absorbed into their state.[5]

Rulers[edit]

List of Rulers
Years Reign Name Other names
1187 - 1224 37 y Birpal Gayapal
1224 - 1250 26 y Ratnadhwajpal Gaurinarayan
1250 - 1278 28 y Vijayadhwajpal Shivanarayan
1278- 1302 24 y Vikramadhwajpal Jagatnarayan
1302 - 1322 20 y Gauradhwajpal Pramonarayan
1322 - 1343 21 y Sankhadhwajpal Harinarayan
1343 - 1361 18 y Mayuradhwajpal Goluknarayan
1361 - 1383 22 y Jayadhwajpal
1383 - 1401 18 y Karmadhwajpal Nandeshwar
1401 - 1421 20 y Satyanarayan
1421 - 1439 18 y Laxminarayan
1439 - 1458 19 y Dharmanarayan
1458 - 1480 22 y Pratyashnarayan
1480 - 1502 22 y Purnadhabnarayan
1502 - 1522 20 y Dharmadhwajpal Dhirnarayan
1522 - 1523 1 y Nityapal Chandranarayan/Nitai

Cannons and firearms[edit]

British researcher, J.P. Wade says: “The firearms were first made in Assam. When the Ahoms came to Assam they fought with the Sutiyas. The Sutiyas battled the Ahoms with cannons and other varieties of firearms. Therefore, it can be proved that firearms and gunpowder were traditionally made in early Assam."

Another British traveler and historian J.B. Traveneer states: “It is believed that it is the same people who in ancient times first discovered gun and gunpowder, which passed from Assam to Pegu and Pegu to China. This is the reason why the discovery is generally ascribed to the Chinese”.

When the Sutiya kingdom was annexed by Ahoms, the Ahoms acquired a lot of things from the Sutiyas. One of those were the big gun, called Mithaholong. This was the one of the largest classes of big guns which were produced in this part of the country. Mithaholong was the largest and the sound was so big that people have to dig a ditch and hide there to ignite it.

As per History of Assam by Edward Gait, the first usage of Gunpowder by Ahoms date back to their war against Turbak in 1532. Up to this time their weapons consisted of swords,spears and bows and arrows. Sutiyas were defeated in 1527 which indicated that the Sutiyas were the first to use Gunpowder in Assam.

Apart from it,there were other types of guns like Biyagom bortop, Hatimuriya bortop, Tubukee bortop and Baghmora bortop.Bortop is the Assamese word for big guns.There are another few classes of guns, they were called hilois. They are smaller in size and some of them can even be fired from hand.There were 11 important classes of hilois, they are- Gonthiya, Jombur, Pohlongi, Ramchangi, Xoru Hatnoliya, Kamayon, Jomur, Kecai, Tonwa, Khoka and Bochadari hiloi. When Mirzumla went back from Assam he took with him 675 big guns, about 4750 maunds of gunpowder in boxes because they were in much better quality than what they used.

Other sources[edit]

Assamese chronicles name Asambhinna as the first Sutiya king, who dwelt on the banks of Brahmaputra with his seven brothers. In his reign came a Brahmin, who converted all the seven brothers into Hinduism and married Asambhina's daughter. On the King's death, his seven brothers failing to agree on a successor, put the Brahmin on the throne as a vassal, who in turn was followed by a descendent of Asambhinna, called Indra Dev Raja and the latter ruled for 30 years. Thereafter, 31 kings followed Indra Dev Raja in regular succession, the last being Lekroy Raja who had four sons: Burora, Maisura, Kolaito and Kossi.

Sutiya Buranji, a document containing important dates, events and incidents related to the Sutiya kingdom

On the death of Lekroy and before the succession issue could be decided, Sambhun pha the Mau king invaded the country and consequently:(1) Burora was killed in the battlefield;(2) Maisura fled with his followers to Maing Bing ( near present Biswanath);(3) Kolaito fled westward with a considerable force and formed a kingdom on the banks of Brahmaputra;(4) Kossi Raja was captured and placed as a vassal. Sambhung pha then appointed a Tamon (Governor) over the vassal kingdom and returned to Mogaung. Four months later, Tamon was poisoned to death and Kossi Raja became independent.

Thus, 31 rulers intervened between Indra Dev Raja and Kossi Raja over an aggregate of 554 years. So the accession of Asambhinna can roughly be placed in the middle of 7th century.

Geography[edit]

The Sutiyas held the areas to the north of Brahmaputra from Parshuram Kund in the east to Vishwanath in the west which represents the areas of Dhemaji district, Lakhimpur district and Sonitpur district of present Assam. To the north, it controlled[citation needed] the present Miri Hills, Abor Hills and the Mishmi Hills in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. To the south of the Brahmaputra, it had parts of Dibrugarh district and almost the entire Tinsukia district under its rule.

Monuments[edit]

The Sutiya kings were involved in building forts, temples and palaces during their rule. However most of this monuments have disappeared in the heart of the river Brahmaputra during the 1950 Assam–Tibet earthquake and the remaining are now in dilapidated state as no initiative as has taken place to conserve them. One of the known monument built by the Sutiyas was the Tamreswari temple in Sadiya. It was built during the 12th century by Ratnadhwajpal and was later repaired in the 15th century. The temple popularly known as Sakta Goddess Khesaikhati fell down during the earthquake of 1950 and the Brahmaputra eroded the site completely. Colonel Hanny and Dalton visited the site in the middle of the 19th century and Bloch reported it along with the photograph of the ruined temple. Ruins of an ancient town are found between the river Dhal and Ghagar to 8 km east of present town of North Lakhimpur. A Sutiya king built the town during the 14th and 15th century which was deserted or destroyed by natural calamity like earthquake or flood.

Other momuments which flourished during the Sutiya reign is Bhismaknagar located 25 km from Roing.

Malinithan temple near Likabali in North Lakhimpur and Garakhiathan located at Selajan Sonowal Kachari village are other prominent monuments build during the Sutiya rule. Garakhiathan was probably built by the Sutiyas during the 13th century.

The People[edit]

Main article: Sutiya people

The Sutiyas are one of the major section of the plain inhabitants of Assam. They belong to the great Mongoloid Stock. Linguistically however they belong to the Tibeto-Burman family.The Sutiyas are considered to have reached the Brahmaputra valley from the northeast, possibly from the present border between Tibet and Sichuan province of China and travelling in the southwest direction, reached the foothills of the eastern Himalayan range.The former kingdom of the Sutiyas is well known as Vidarbha and its capital was situated at Kundill. The seat of the Sutiyas when they were in the ascendant, appears to have been about Lakhimpur and the back of the Subansiri River. They hold all the countries to the north of the Brahmaputra as far down as Vishwanath.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ (Gait 1906:38–40).The term chutiya is an expletive in Hindi language. The tribal name is pronounced Sutiya and not Chutiya.
  2. ^ .Sadiya is an Assamese name for king of the Sutiyas.
  3. ^ (Prakash 2007:267)
  4. ^ (Prakash 2007:267)
  5. ^ (Prakash 2007:267)

References[edit]

  • Prakash, Col. Ved (2007). Encyclopedia of North East India.Vol.2. Atlantic Publishers & Dist. 
  • Pathak, Guptajit (2008). Assam's history and its graphics. Mittal Publications. 
  • Bhusan, Chandra (2005). Assam : Its Heritage and Culture. Gyan Publishing House. 
  • Gogoi, Punyadhar. War Weapons in Medieval Assam.