Abor Hills

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Note: National, provincial and district boundaries have changed considerably since 1908. Typically, old states, ‘divisions’ and districts have been broken into smaller units. Therefore, this article is being posted mainly for its historical value.

Abor Hills

A section of the Himalayan range lying on the northern frontier of Assam, between the Siom river on the west and the Dibang on the east, occupied by tribes of Tibeto-Burman origin loosely termed 'Abors' or 'unknown savages.' Owing to the difficulty of the country and the inhospitable character of the inhabitants, these hills have Never been properly explored. The ranges, which are of considerable height, are covered with dense forest, and intersected with large rivers which make their way through wild and precipitous gorges into the plains.

The Abor tribes fall into two chief sections: the Passi-Meyongs, who occupy the hills bounded on the west by the Miri country and on the east by the Dihang ; and the Bor Abors, who live between that river and the Dibang.

The Abors are short and sturdy savages, with countenances of a marked Mongolian type. They possess a high opinion of their own strength and importance, and the want of population on the north bank of the Brahmaputra between Dibrugarh and Sadiya is largely due to the dread of their raids. On several occasions Government has found it necessary to send punitive expeditions into their hills to avenge the murder of British subjects. Such expeditions were dispatched in 1858 and 1859 ; and in 1861, when a fresh massacre took place a few miles from Dibrugarh, preparations were made to establish a chain of outposts along the north bank of the Brahmaputra.

The Abors appear to have been impressed by these operations, and entered into agreements under which they were to receive an annual allowance of iron hoes, salt, opium, and other articles, so long as they continued to be of good behaviour. For some years the tribes remained quiet; but in 1889 four Miris, who were British subjects, were decoyed by Passi-Meyongs across the frontier and killed. The guilty villages were punished by a fine, but in 1893 the hillmen again broke out and cut up a patrol of three militarypolice sepoys.

A few weeks later a second attack was made on a police patrol, one of whom was killed and one wounded. An expedition was then sent into Abor territory, which occupied the principal villages after meeting with a good deal of resistance ; and as a further punishment a blockade was imposed against the tribe, which was only withdrawn in 1900. These measures appear to have made some impression upon the Abors, and their conduct of recent years has been satisfactory. A full account of their manners and customs will be found in Colonel Dalfort's Ethnology of Bengal.

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