Studying mummification technology through the ages maybe a good way of searching for the oldest known meat preservation and the use of salts at a time before writing was invented. Ancient tribes in Assam knew how to preserve corpse by smoke drying them and sometimes rubbed with honey. However, Assam has a wet climate which is not good for mummification when comparerd to the 4000 years old mummies found in Taklimakan desert in Turpan-Hami basin (where in close in proximity exists massive nitrate ore fields).
"We like the taste of salt innately because salt is a signal of protein in nature". What's more, humans need salt to regulate fluid balance and help nerves and muscles function. Salt also helped preserve food before refrigeration. The more salt people eat, the more they crave it. In most traditional cuisines, individual exceptions were rare. Most people ate what people around them ate. Seasonings allowed room for idiosyncrasies and personal preferences. Salt probably became common in the early 20th century, when producers figured out how to keep salt from clumping. Natalie Jacewicz
The region is one of the landlocked regions of South Asia. Northeastern region is a labour scarce economy rather than a labour surplus economy. This is perhaps one of the main reasons for the failure of the various labour intensive government schemes. You cannot be an economic hub without it. Labour, however, is a highly sensitive issue; the States are afraid of a repeat of what happened in Tripura, where tribals have become a minority. The spillover effect can happen only after the businesses are a success.
The 6 ST communities: According to 2011 Census, the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) or Most Other Backward Classes (MOBCs) population of Assam stands at 39 lakhs which includes Karbi, Dimasa tribe, Mising tribe and the three communities who were once rulers in Assam, Koch-Rajbangshis, Chutiya or ChuTiYa & Tai Ahoms. The unverified count is 45 lakhs tea tribes, 69 lakhs Koch Rajbongshis, 20 lakhs Tai Ahoms and 20 lakhs Moran, Motak/Muttocks and Chutiya or ChuTiYa.
In Assam, there has been an ongoing struggle by 6 tribal communities for ST status. Many tribal groups are afraid that it will lead to competition for the few jobs available and for the depleted natural resources. The existing ST communities are strongly opposed to this move as they fear that these six communities, which are intellectually and economically, better off will walk away with the advantages of reservation in education and employment. As a result, most tribal of the region oppose their inclusion. Despite tall promises of successive governments both, at the Centre and the state, these 6 communities are still battling for their rightful status. Moreover, the adivasis are considered outsiders since they were brought by the British from Jharkhand as plantation labourers.
The ancestors of these tea-tribes were brought to tea plantations in Assam from the Chhota Nagpur plateau called the ‘labour-catchment area’ three to four generations back and today they form the backbone of the state’s tea plantation economy; they speak Assamese and identify themselves as ‘Assamese’. The British appropriated the land of the local populations through unjust means. Since the adivasis worked on this land as indentured labour, the resentment of the local people at losing their land to the colonialist (partners) is also not surprising. Besides the fight for citizenship rights, tea-tribes have over the years also faced extreme physical hostility, particularly from the dominant tribal groups in the state.
(so does that mean they are comparable to people of the Ming and Han or Shu, Chu and Ba or Majiayao and Yangshao cultures? Yangshao used small-scale slash-and-burn agriculture, had raised floor buildings used for the storage of surplus grain and practiced an early form of silkworm cultivation). also keep in mind in the North-eastern China, Xia dynasty, an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.
Some of these tribes are Boro, kachari, Karbi, Koch-Rajbanshi (one of the most ancient community), Miri, Mishimi and Rabha. It seems probable that the Indo-Mongoloids came to India long before 1000 BC. And between 500 BC and 400 AD the Kirata established themselves in Northeast India and also in North Bihar. The Kaivatra, the Matak, the Nath, the Keot, etc. belong to the so-called Dravidian origin. The Chutias are an integral part of the inhabitants of Majuli and they along with Deoris (priests during Chutias reign) are Tibetan-Burmese branch of the Mongoloids.
The last Kachari king was Gobinda Chandr who continually had to flee from one plac to another due to the attacks of the Burmese. This was the reason why he had to take refuge under the British rule in the district of Sylhet. However, he was reinstated in the power by the East India Company in 1826. But he was murdered and his kingdom was brought under the Dominion of the British. After his death the Kachari races defeated remained in the great valley of Assam and came under the main conquerors, i.e. the Ahoms. The race afterwards mixed up with other tribes and fused as one nationality largely Hinduised in the later period. Many of the Baras of the Kachari Duars of Darrang district became Christians with the advent of the missionaries in the later period of the 19th and 20th century . The prolonged fight between the Chutiya Kachari and the Ahoms has been the most unforgotten part of the history of Assam. The Kacharis being finally beaten up by the Ahoms endeavored to escape by crossing the big Brahmapurta river to the South Bank. But violent storm or a sudden flood in the river might have prevented many of the fugitives from crossing the rivers—as has been told in the traditional tales. The remaining captives took up their way to the unhealthy “Terai Land” in the north bellow the Bhutan Hills, now known as the “Kachari Duars”.
The Naths and are also known as Yoigis. They are also called as Katani on the basis of their skilled knowledge in cutting yarn especially of pat silk and muga silk. They and the Kaivartta have the so-called Dravidians origins. Other communities include the Mattaks and Misihing; there are also Nepalis, Bengalis, Gowalas and Muslims. The Mymenshingy from Bangladesh and tea-garden labourers have also become part of this fusion. 45 different languages are spoken in Assam and these communities have made Assamese culture a rich conglomerate of ethnic practices and assimilated beliefs.
Note: Among the 18 groups mentioned by Endle, the Mech in Western Assam, the Bodo in central Assam, the Dimasa and Hojai to the north of Cachar Hills, and the Sonowal and Thengal in the eastern part of the Brahmaputra river are closely related. The others have been either Hinduized (e.g. Koch, Sarania), or have developed separate identities (e.g. Garo). Bathouism is a form worshipping forefathers called Obonglaoree. Typical Bodo last names (surname) are Bargayary, Basumatary, Bodosa, Boro, Brahma, Bwiswmuthiary, Dwimary, Goyary, Ishlary, Ishwary, Khaklary, Mushahary, Narzary, Narzihary,Narzinary, Owary, Sargwary, Sibigry and Wary.
Like the term Naga, the Kuki is also a generic term applied to the various sub-tribes, viz., Thadou, Paite, Hmar, Simte, Zou, Gangte, Vaiphei, Guite, Ralte, Sukte, etc. In Manipur, they were known as Khongjais before the use of the term Kuki. However, it is still not known for certainty as to the origin of the generic term Kuki. There are three views regarding the origin of the term Kuki: (i) it is derived from a word applied to a system of cultivation by the Bengalis (Dun, 1981: 32); (ii) it is derived from the Baluchisthan word ‘Kuchis’ meaning ‘wandering people’ and (iii) it is derived from the English word ‘Kooky’ meaning ‘peculiar or unusual people’ (Vaiphei, 1995: 126). Though no definite answer is found as to the origin of the term Kuki, it is widely accepted that it was given by outsiders.
Meches migrated into India through Patkoi Hills between India and Burma and gradually spread themselves into the whole of Assam, North Bengal and parts of East Bengal. It is said that, during their migration to India, they marched towards three directions. A group of people from there went up to Kachar district in Assam. In Kachar, they are called Kacharis. Another group went along the river Brahmaputra and established themselves in the whole of Assam upto Goalpara and parts of Jalpaiguri and Koch Behar under the name of Bodo or Bara. The third group went towards the West along the foot of the Himalayas up to the river Mechi, bordering India and Nepal and settled on the North bank of the river known as Mech or Mechia. Later they spread to Dooars and eastern bank of river Tista but due to repeated floods a large number of families migrated towards Assam. it is believed that the Limbus of Nepal and the Meches of India belong to the same tribal group. Meches view the 'mother earth' as human mother. Even today, they follow the same idea and customs of agriculture even after they have shifted from ‘jhum’ (slash and burn) cultivation to settled agriculture with the bullocks and the plough. There is also a small number of followers of Brahmo cult, use Brahmo as their surname. At the beginning of the present century, the Brahmo reformative movement, under the leadership of Guru Kalicharan Brahmo, became popular among the Bodo Kachari and led to an overhauling of the social system.
Dimasas and the Chutiyas have a common tradition of the worship of Kechai Khaiti, the goddess in Sadiya. The region of Khaspur was originally a part of the Tripura kingdom, which was taken over by Chilarai in the 16th century. The region was ruled by a tributary ruler, Kamalnarayana, the brother of Chilarai. After the decline of Koch power, Khaspur became independent.
Assam’s first empire belonged to the Verman / Barman dynasty in c.350-650 AD, reign of the Varman king, Bhaskar Barman (c.600–650 AD). This dynasty was most likely of aboriginal origin, but drew its lineage from Narakasura. The kingdom reached its zenith under Bhaskarvarman in the 7th century.
Huen Shang or Xuanzang visited his court and left behind a significant account. After his visit, Mahayana Buddhism came to Assam. Relics of Tezpur, Malini Than, Kamakhya and Madan Kam Dev Temple are the evidences of Mahayana Buddhism. Bhaskar Varman died without leaving behind an issue and the control of the country passed to Salasthamba (Xalostombho, c.655-900 AD), who established the Mlechchha dynasty.
Note: the great Tsangpo- Dihang-Brahmaputra river originates from the Cima-Yang-Zung / Jima Yangzong glacier near Mount Kailash in the northern Himalayas.
The Mlechchha dynasty in Kamarupa was followed by the Kamarupa-Palas (c.900-1100 AD). the remnant of the Mlechchha kingdom formed the later Kachari kingdom (Bhattacharjee 1992, p. 393) based in Dimapur and the Chutiya kingdom based in Sadiya after being driven south and east by Brahmapala of the Pala dynasty.
After the fall of the Mlechchha dynasty in the late 9th century, a new ruler, Brahmapala was elected, who established the Pala dynasty. Tyaga Singha of Mlechha dynasty died leaving no heir to succeed him the people elected Brahma Pala to be their king. Unlike the Palas of Bengal, who were Buddhists, the Palas of Kamarupa were Hindus.
Dharmapala (8th century) was the second ruler of the Pala of Bengal. Dharamapala directly ruled over the present-day Bengal and Bihar regions. He was a great patron of Buddhism. He was the son and successor of Gopala, the founder of the Pala Dynasty. He greatly expanded the boundaries of the empire, and made the Palas a dominant power in the northern and eastern India. Dharmapala was defeated twice by the Gurjara-Pratiharas, but each time the Rashtrakutas subsequently defeated the Pratiharas, leaving Palas as the dominant power in North India.
The Pala dynasty came to an end when the last Pala king was removed by the Gaur king Ramapala in 1110. But the two subsequent kings, Timgyadeva and Vaidyadeva, though established by the Gaur kings, ruled mostly as independents and issued grants under the old Kamarupa seals. The fall of subsequent kings and the rise of individual kingdoms in the 12th century in place of the Kamarupa kingdom marked the end of the Kamarupa kingdom and the period of Ancient Assam.
This was till around 13th century, western Kamarupa was being ruled by the chiefs of the Bodo people, Koch and Mech tribes. In central Assam the Kachari/Heramba kingdom was growing, and further east, the Chutiya kingdom.