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Full text of "Some Assamese proverbs"

UC-NRLF 




SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



COMPILED AND ANNOTATED 



BY 



CAPTAfN P. R. GURDON, i.s.C, 

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, GOALl'ARA. 




2 SHILLONG: 

j PRINTED AT THE ASSAM SECRETARIAT PRINTING OFFICE. 

1896. 



O 
>- 



Prico Rs 2, inclusive of Postage. 



GIFT OF 




739 




SOME ASSAMESE PROVER 



COMPILED AND ANNOTATED 



BY 



CAPTAIN P. R. GURDON, i.s.c., 

DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, GOALPARA. 




SHILLONG : 
PRINTED AT THE ASSAM SECRETARIAT PRINTING OFFICE. 

1896. 



Price Rs 2, inclusive of Postage, 






SHILLONG: 

PRINTED BY THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE ASSAM 
SECRETARIAT PRINTING OFFICE. 





INTBODUCTION. 



I HAVE but few remarks to make by way of introduction ; the 
proverbs, which have in many cases been picked up from the 
mouths of the people, will speak for themselves. I do not wish to 
advance that the proverbs in themselves are specially interesting, but I 
trust to those who are acquainted with Assamese, or are interested in 
the Assamese, they may not be altogether without interest. The 
translations have been considerably revised since they were first made, 
and, in the revision, I am specially indebted to Mr. Abdul Majid, 
B.A., LL.B., Barrister-at-law, who is a native of Jorhat, for his very 
valuable help and suggestions. This collection does not pretend 
to be a collection from all the Assamese-speaking districts of the 
province ; it consists of only proverbs from Sibsagar, Nowgong, and 
Gauhati ; hence the title " Some Assamese Proverbs." 

I have a few remarks to make about the method of transliteration. 
Throughout ^1 (long a) has been represented by an accented a ; ^T 
(short a) is unaccented. I should, however, have preferred to have 
written the Assamese ^ phonetically as " o ", and in this I am sup- 
ported by Mr. Melitus, although the latter remarks that it is usual 
to transliterate the Assamese <sf as "a" on the analogy of Bengali, 
Hindi, and other languages derived from Sanskrit. If it had been 
transliterated "o," there would have been a difficulty about the 
transliteration of the letters ^ and ^, although, perhaps, this might 
have been got over by transliterating the last two letters by " o." 
This, however, would not have been strictly correct. It has not 
been thought necessary to distinguish ^ from ^, the letter " i " being 
considered sufficient to represent both sounds. The long ^, more- 
over, being seldom met with in Assamese writing. In the same 
way the letters " u " and " o " have been used to denote ^ ^ and 
VB ^, respectively. In the above I have been guided by Sir \V. 
Hunter's " Practical Guide to Transliteration." The proverbs have 
been classified, as far as possible, according to objects, not subjects, 
this being thought the best method after consideration. 

4G4206 

Mubri, P. R. GURDON. 

The 4tA July 1895, 



TABLE OF CONTENTS. 



Class I. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO HUMAN FAILINGS, FOIBLES, AND VICES. 



Sub-class. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Anger 



Anxiety 
trifles. 



Affectation 



about 



Boasting 



Blaming others for 
one's own faults. 



Conceit 



Counting one's 
chickens before 
they are hatch- 
ed. 



9 
10 



What an exhibition of anger, you have put 
down the good one and have picked up the 
torn one. 

Put aside your anger; the dhdn is expended 
and the chdng is empty. 

I had forgotten it, and thon I remembered. 
It was a five-coloured leaf in the palace of 
Uawan. 

Rahdoi from Roha, Bhadoi from Tipam, 
Aghanibai from Solaguri ; all three are 
weeping and embracing one another, although 
they are none of them related. 

He tells the news of Gargaon without ever 
having gone there. 

There were five shells in the ocean ; the snail 
with a tail said " I am related to them." 

Nothing causes my death but fire. I hang my 
torn mosquito curtain in an irregular manner. 

There is an opening for my mouth, and I 
cannot help speaking, but if I speak, it is the 
fault of the bhakat. 

He came (a strong man wishing to fight), but 
he pulled out one hair with his two hands. 

Rubbing the lips with oil whilst the jack fruit 
is still on the tree. 



IV 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to human failings, foibles, and vicjs continued. 



Sub-class. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Improvidence 



Ingratitude 

Laying traps for 
others. 



Love of false 
display. 



Lying 



37 

38 
39 
40 

41 
42 
43 

44 
45 

46 

47 
48 
49 

50 



You lived in a way (before"*, but since you have 
taken to regally entertaining religious 
strangers, you have become much embar- 
rassed. 

One who has nothing to cover his body with, 
drinks 3 " tekelis " of liquor. 

He has the mind and the mouth, but not the 
milk or the vessel to drink it from. 

The host expends his salt and oil, and is not 
able to cook the " micha" fish. 

He has no money in hand, yet his cravings are 

great. 
He cries " Earn " when in distress. 

He who lays thorns in the way of others, falls 
amongst them himself. 

There are many rosaries, the beads of which 
are not counted in devotion. 

He wishes, by all means, to take the lead 
having a turban on his head, although -the 
lower part of his body is naked. 

If you meet him in the way, you &ee the folds 
of his large " dhoti." If you go to his house, 
you see the walls are worn out. 

The front shows a young man, but the back 
makes one weep. 

One having no cow for seven generations past, 
goes to milk with a " kariya." 

The dish is seven seers in weight, but the rice 
is of the day before. Fie on him who eats 
it. It is a shame to hear about it. 

He had not a rag to cover himself with, and 
jet the little " maina " pulled oft his clothes ! 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to human failings , foibles, and vices continued. 



Sub-class. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Meddling 



Oppression of 

others. 

Out of sight, out 
of mind. 

Straining at a gnat, 
etc. 



Penny wise pound 
foolish. 



Peevishness 



51 

52 
53 
54 

f 55 



^ 



56 



57 



Presumption 



Pot calling the 
kettle black. 



Pride of family 



Restlessness 



f 58 



59 



60 



61 



62 



The well belongs to one, the rope to another, 
but a third person comes and draws water 
making a clatter. 

He who injures others, is injured in his own 
home. 

When we are away from other people, he is my 
" porohit." 

He is able to see through the eye of a needle, 
but he cannot see through that of the axe- 
head. 

He does not take a pinch of salt with his curry, 
but three times that amount he uses in 
making the sauce. 

Seers go away, but he cries after the quarter- 
seers. 

No, I won't eat. I won't go there even if a 
Brahmin is present. I won't give myself any 
trouble. 

What an unexpected thing has happened ? 
The woman, covered with sores, has gone to 
the "hat." 

Quickly cut the beteUmt, don't you know we 
are related ? 

To throw water to clean the backs of others 
when one's own is covered with mire. 



Although he has no hair on his body or tail, he 
says his father's name is " Ranjit " and his 
mother's " Barpuhari/' 

Bring the adze, I am itching to be off. To- 
morrow morning I shall start in the boat. 



VI 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to human failings, foibles } and vices concluded. 



Subclass. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Selfishness 



Egotism 



Selfishness 



Sponging on others 



Stinginess 



Toadying 



Trickery 



Unsobriety in old 
age. 

Want of feeling... 




65 




68 



(. 6< 




72 



73 



74 



75 



Each has his own cares, but the old Brahmin 
woman only thinks of her ear ornaments. 

My mother went to the house of the Gosain 
and I went with her. When I got rice and 
plantains there, I became a bhakat. 

His own dispositioa is of one description, and 
he thinks that every one else's will be the 
same. 

He eats himself sweetmeats, but to others he 
gives a measure of maize. 

The eaves of our houses touch. I have been 
thinking of asking you for a year and a half, 
dear friend, how your fever is. 

I leave upon others and go along with the 
stream. 

Every country has its own customs, and every 
one has a hanger-on. 

He gives away ashes of paddy straw, and it is 
a long time before he gives that even. 

Come to a feast at another's house and see my 
liberality. 

For some the host cooks and serves a meal, but 
he bolts the door in the face of others. 

The oil-seller weeps, because his oil is spilt. 
The cotton-dealer weeps and soaks his cotton 
in it. 

The old woman is very fond of dancing, and 
now is the occasion of her grandchild's 
marriage. 

The husband died at Koliabar. The wife- 
remembered this when she was husking the 
paddy. 



CONTENTS. 



Vll 



Class II. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO WORLDLY WISDOM AND MAXIMS, EXPE- 
DIENCY AND CUNNING, AND WARNINGS AND ADVICE. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




76 


Little work and much eating are the signs of 
a man becoming poor. 




77 


I got weary of teaching a fool. I threw down 
the eggs and destroyed the nest. 




78 


Have nothing whatever to do with these three 
things, the honesty of the wicked, the 
bathing of a cattle-thief in the Ganges, the 
fasting of a wanton on the eleventh day of 
the moon. 




79 


I have obtained it by begging, how can I give 
it to you from my bowels ? 




80 


You wish to cut the wings of the unfledged 
nestling ? 




81 


In times of need, even an " owtenga " is 
welcome. 




82 


Give according to the best of your ability. 
At any rate, say something nice. 




83 


You can do what is unbecoming in evil times. 




84 


He shot an arrow to a great height. The 
fisherman has seven wives, but only for one 
wife has he a bed. 




85 


What does a ginger-seller want with news of 
the arrival of the vessel ? 




86 


Do one thing at a time ; first of all cook 
the " kerela," then fry the brinjal. 




87 


"What the feathers are to the arrow, his art is 
to the wizard. 



Vlll 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims, etc, continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




88 


The gum is the evidence against the stealer 
of jack fruit, and the feathers of the duck 
betray him who has stolen that bird 




89 


Whence comest thou ? With thy footstep 
the courtyard is shattered to pieces. 




90 


What fault have I committed ? I have appeared 
on the Sotai Hill and I have to pay five 
eight-anna pieces. 





91 


With the sickle in her waist-band, the old 
woman dances along the road. 




92 


Where is your advice ? Underneath the 






" Bhekuri " bush ? 




93 


Whose nephew dies, and whose loss is it ? 
Who drinks water at whose attack of fever. 




94 


What a wife for such a man ! The worthless 






has three wives and the worthy none. 




95 


Don't call any one grandfather. All have 
grey hair and beards. 




96 


Whet your knife on a stone. Rule your wife 
by blows. 




97 


The one-eyed, the lame, and the hunch-backed, 
these three are a tail of ill. 




98 


He who has not a grain to eat, wishes to 
become great. 




99 


As wonderful as cattle climbing trees, or 
the lobe of the ear being bored with a 
" holonga. " 




100 


" Ghok " " Ghok " ! sister, a snake has bitten 
you, and I have caught a fish. 




101 


He has not a single grain of rice in his own 
house, yet he wants to go to a big feast. 



CONTENTS. 



IX 



Pro-verbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




102 


A good horse can be recognized by its ears, a 
woman is tested in times of adversity, and a 
razor is tried on the whet-stone. 




103 


When the " lopha " (a kind of vegetable) is 
stolen, the householder eats " chutney." 




104 


The thief was attacked with colic, and the 
weaver was stung by a wasp. 




105 


Can clouds be avoided by bending down ? 




106 


He who wishes to thrive roots up the weeds, 
even when sitting down. 




107 


What herds and herds of brothers-in-law 






he has ! 




108 


What fault have I committed ? I admit I am 






in the wrong, and give you a duck's egg. 




109 


The light of a lamp before a torch ! 




110 


To sleep in the early morning is pleasant. 
A sharp knife is required to cut betelnut. 




111 


He ate the " tenga " a long time ago, but he 
is blamed now. 




112 


What is yours is mine, but what is mine can't 
be taken even by your father. 




113 


The result of giving a place, is to hear 
grumbling. 




114 


Instead of riding in a " dhooly," you will be 
carried slung on a pole instead of milk 
you will drink water. 




115 


All ten fingers are used in eating, but it is 
the thumb that pushes the food into the 
mouth. 




116 


The sticks of ten men are a load to on 






person. 



X 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




117 


The unlucky man goes to the wood, his knife 
breaks in two, and he is stung by a wasp. 




118 


When the sloven becomes poor, his wife does 
not esteem him ; when his friends meet 
him, they take no notice, fearing that they 
may have to lend him money. 




119 


The " dheki " has become unsteady, the cup 
is broken. Has the drum gone away with 
the violin string ? 




120 


Each grain of paddy has its grain of rice ; 
every person has his own character. 




121 


Count money when you receive it, and tell 
the way only if you have seen the road. 




122 


A bride of hell has rescued me from 






perdition. 




123 


They cut off the tiger's tail, and let him loose 
in his haunt. 




124 


From mentioning his name even, comes ill- 
luck ; go and bolt the door. 


* 


125 


Laugh not at me, it will scratch you. 




126 


Money got by unfair means, goes in ex- 
piations. 




127 


When you have caught a bird, break its 
wings. Don't place on one side rice which 
is cooked. 




128 


He who reads, he who teaches, he v/ho sows 
pan, he who causes to sow pan , these four 
should not think of anything else. 




129 


He learnt it by heart, and then a thief stole 
it away. 




130 


They met the blacksmith by the wayside, 
and said to him make a dao for us. 



CONTENTS. 



XI 



Proverbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




131 


Thirteen scrapes in twelve months, I can't help 
getting into hot water. 




132 


What passage -of-arms can there be between 
the strong and the weak ? What amity can 
there be between the rich and the poor ? 




133 


" Bhogobanto " even flies through fear, and 
" Basudev " is alarmed lest he be beaten. 




134 


It is good to eat bitter rice, but it is hard to 
hear bitter words. 




135 


Good comes from good for all time. 




136 


Which is sweeter sweet words, or sweet food ? 




137 


Go to battle if you are summoned, but don't 
go to a feast if you are not invited. 




138 


My son will have a daughter-in-law. He will 
catch me by the hair and throw me on the 
path. 




139 


The uncle cuts wood, which his wife thinks 
as easy a task as drawing water. 




140 


If I put my mind to it, I can find a way 
out of the difficulty. 




141 


The shorter it is the more it tears. 


The wearer knows 
where the shoe 


142 


The Lohit knows how deep the oar is dipped. 


pinches. 


143 


It is all the same whether you kick him or 
call him father. 




144 


In company one can go as far as Lanka even. 




145 


When you are in a hurry, you can't get in a 
" japi " into the knapsack. 




146 


Children make up the house, sundries also 
serve the same purpose. 



Xll 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




147 


Deal fairly with your equals, then you won't 
be ashamed whether you gain or lose. 




148 


If a fly even falls into a toothless mouth, it is a 






gain. 




149 


The kiss of love breaks the nose. 




150 


If you find even fourteen annas of lost money, 
it is well. 




151 


The hawk has taken the duckling, now we are 
equal. 




152 


He who carries no jhapi, stick, or tanga, is 
blind even in the daytime. 




]53 


Look out as you move, for there are many 
holes in your own body, and you might slip 
into one of them. 




154 


If you don't take pains, you won't fill your 
mouth. 




155 


Labour alone fills the mouth, so the old folk 
say. Every one has heard this and seen it. 
It is not false. 




156 


Two words in speaking, and two rounds in a 
fastening. 




157 


It is the same whether you strike with the 
blunt or sharp edge. 




158 


By weeping a debt is not paid. 





159 


Like father, like son. 




160 


Even with washing, charcoal does not become 
white. 




161 


He who has no money is anxious in mind. 




162 


Wherever there are kingdoms, there are 
duties to perform. 



CONTENTS. 



Xlll 



Proverbs relating to worldly wisdom and maxims ', etc. concluded. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




163 

164 
165 


In a temporary residence, there is no rule, or 
in a foreign country, you need not regard the 
rules of society. 

A blind uncle is better than no uncle. 

Pick up the wood with care, so that you can 
find your stick (for carrying the bundle on), 
as well as something to tie the wood up with. 



Class HI. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO PECULIARITIES AND TRAITS CHARACTERISTIC 
OF CERTAIN CASTES AND CLASSES. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 


Ahoms 


166 


For the " Ahoms" is the " choklong," for the 
Hindus " biya." Deal with me as you like, 
now that I am in your power. 




f 167 


The ducks lay eggs and "Bhakats" eat them. 






168 


Is a paddy-husking machine greater than a 
bhakat "? 






169 


When the "bhakats " clap their hands at the 
temple, cover your head with your cloth. 


Bhakats 


< 


170 


" Bhakats " don't cook plantains even. 






171 


An unexpected thing has happened : a fault 
has been found with the head of the " bha- 
kats." Whom shall I make a " medhi "? 






172 

ii 


The Kamalabari " bhakats " of former days 
used to wash firewood before they cooked 
with it. 



XIV 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to peculiarities and traits, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 


Bhot 


173 


The rent-collector is the owner of the king's 
wealth. 


Bhuiya 


174 


Let it be torn, let it be broken, it is still a 
scarf of fine silk. Let him be young, let him 
be old, he is still the son of a " Bhuiya." 


Bora 


175 


In a Bora's house the walls are fastened with 






" tora"; how many nights will he live in it ? 




" 176 


Brahmins and vultures look out for corpses, 
but gonoks watch from the time a person is 
taken ill. 


Brahmins 


{ 177 


Is the ridge-pole of the Brahmin's house made 
out of a bamboo ? 




| 178 


I was combing my beard. He brought me 
here calling me Brahmin. 


Mahang 


179 


His wealth has gone to the Mahang, so he 
threw down his load of salt and brought 
one of earth, and began to plaster his house. 


Miri 


180 


When the Miri meets his wife, he beats her. 


Mohant 


181 


The traces of the Mohant are to be found in 






the " matikolai" field ; those of the old bullock 






in the meadow. 


Moria 


182 


Why should a Moria have paddy or a Mussal- 
man (Goria) ears ? 


Ngas 


183 


The Naga's \vife is brought to bed, but the 
N6ga drinks the medicine. 




f 184 


The stock in trade of a thief is his appearance. 


Thieves 


185 

< 


My father was a thief ; I also am of the same 
persuasion. 




186 
L 


A couple, a good couple. One has cropped 
ears, the other is a thief. 



CONTENTS. 



XV 



Class IV. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO SOCIAL AND MORAL SUBJECTS, RELIGIOUS 
CUSTOMS, AND POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS. 



Sub-class. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Betelnut 


r 187 


Cut it small and eat it thick, and enjoy the 
betelnut. 




(. 188 


A sharp knife for betelnut. To sleep in the 
early morning is pleasant. 


Bihu 


189 


An egg which has passed through seven Bihus. 


Brahminical thread 


190 


Don't touch anything stale, and don't delay 
giving your children the Brahminical thread, 
and give always cooked rice in the evening. 


Busy-bodies 


191 


Without a fire-brand the fire won't light. 
Without the aid of a busy-body, the village 
won't settle down. 


Childless woman... 


192 


Let her make her old man dance, who has not 
got a baby. 


Cutting off the 


f 193 

\ 


She cut off her own nose, so as to prevent her 
husband's second wife from starting on a 
journey. 


nose. 


I 






L 194 


If the nose is cut off, it will come back again, 
with treatment. If the hair is cut off, when 
will it come again ? 


Daughter 


f 195 
\ 


One argument begets another. A bit of 
straw makes the hole in the ear larger. 
The daughter grows up best at her 
mother's house. Paddy grows best on the 
" pathar." 




196 

I 


A good bullock comes when it is called. If 
the mother is good, the daughter is the 
same. 



XVI 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to social and moral subjects, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




197 


The daughter is more skilful in work than the 
mother ; but the dheki is an obstacle iri the 


Daughter 




way. 




1 198 


You ara your mother's daughter, and I am a 
daughter of some one. You must know 
that I make hot rice cool by pressing 
against it and sqeezing it. 


Dheki 


199 


The " dheki " has gone out for a walk what 
a misfortune for the rice refuse ! 


Father 


200 


The broom has touched father's body. 


Fisherman 


201 


A fisherman became rich, and he placed in the 
corner of his house a basket for storing 
paddy. Then he threw the basket away, 
saying he feels his body itching. 


Guitar 


202 


Out of respect they play the guitar. 




f 203 


Now has come the worthy husband ; he comes 
to beat me with a knife made of straw. 




204 


What I am to say, what I am not to say, 
my husband's name is " Botali." 




205 


What have I done? I have bought a husband 
for a " dun " of a paddy, and he always beats 






me. 




' 206 


If eaten in a spirit of thankfulness, common 
rice is " chira." To the man who knows 


Husband 


J 


how to sit down, the ground is the stool. To 
the person who knows how to walk, the 
cooking place is one and a half prohar's 






journey. 




207 


Hunger, hunger, cries the husband. The wife 
says let both morning and evening meals be 
taken together. 




208 


In the dark, the net was mistaken for a 
" jokai," and the elder brother for the hus- 
band. 



CONTENTS. 



XV11 





Proverbs relating to social and moral subjects, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 


Learned 


209 


What is fish and cooked rice to the learned, is 
an insurmountable difficulty to the uneducat- 
ed. 


Low birth 


210 


I know your lineage. You live in the seedling 
bed. If I say a little more, you will bolt. 


Lover 


211 


He came only to have a look, but he was cap- 
tured and tied up. 


Maternal uncle ... 


212 


Let the uncle die, I will afterwards find the 
evil spirit. 


Marriage 


213 


The slip-knot of marriage is the strongest slip- 
knot of all. 


Mother-in-law . . . 


r 214 


If the mother-in-law gets a chance, she comes 
three times a day. 




(. 215 


The mother-in-law is at her daughter-in-law's, 
who is going to drink the cream ? 


Oil 


216 


Having fallen in battle, I have become black ; 
and without oil I have become scurfy. 


Old men 


217 


He looks old to you, but in reality he is a 
flame of fire. 


Pohari 


218 


The Pohari has for a witness her husband. 


Porter 


219 


The burden does not leave the porter, nor does 
potash forsake the vegetables. 


Religion 


220 


The victory of religion is the destruction of 
wickedness. 


Step-mother 


221 


What shall I say of my step-mother's character ? 
In the one hand she has acid, and in the 
other salt. 





CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to social and moral subjects, etc. continued. 



Sub-class. 



Subject of proverbs. 



Step-son 



Stolen cattle 



Teacher 



Urbashi 



Village conversa- 
tion 



Water- sprite 



Widower 



Wifa 



222 



223 



224 



225 



226 



227 



228 



229 



230 



i 



231 



232 



You are not my son, but a son of my fellow- 
wife. I have no dhuri (rug) and no pati 
(bed) ; you must sleep on the ground. 



Stolen cattle find grass along the road. 



What sort of a teacher is he, for when he 
finds a companion he sings hymns and lights 
a grass-fire ? 



The temple of Urbashi has but one door and 
passage. 

Bits of fern he drinks water when he eats 
rice : these are the subjects of conversation. 



The digging of the ditch, has brought the 
water-sprite nearer. 



A king reigns on land, but in the tank the 
water-sprite. 

The torch burnt down to the widower's hand. 



He is all by himself a " Madangopal," a 
widower ; he possesses nine courtyards. 



To look for turtle's eggs in the hills, or to set 
a fish-trap in the plains, are as difficult things 
as for a widower to get dry paddy. 



I ask for r.cid and she gives me salt, who will 
remain under such provocation ? 



CONTENTS. 



XIX 



Pro-verbs relating to social and moral subjects, etc, continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




r 233 


A hasty cook, a hasty broom, and the husband 
goes fasting. A slow cook, a slow broom, 
and the husband takes three meals a day. 




234- 


In every house the wife is mistress. In each 
ditch reigns the water-sprite. 




235 


She has been weaving at the loom for three 
evenings, but by mistake she has broken her 
husband's tooth. 




236 


Cross me over, stupid, says the wife. I am so 
tired. 


Wife 


\ 237 


The maid servant, broke a cocoarmt shell, and 
the news spread to Gargao. The Mife broke 
a brass plate, and the result was only a 
smile. 




238 


Through the elder wife's fault he slips down. 
When the younger one makes a mistake, 
he investigates the matter. 




239 


The wife does not give even when Bidhata 
does. 




240 


The wife is bald in the middle of her head, but 
her husband calls her Kupohi. 




L 241 


A paragon of a wife ! She spoils the bed and 
eats from the cooking pot. 




" 242 


Women that are short, and worn-out brooms, 
are alike. 


iVomen 


\ 243 


Women, Miris, parrots, and crows : the minds 
of these four you cannot know. 




, 244 


Being married to a worthless woman, a cart- 
covering that has a hole in it, the journey- 
man who lives by doing piece-work: these 
three are the agony of death. 



XX 



CONTENTS. 



Class V. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO AGRICULTURE AND SEASONS. 



Bub-class. ' 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




245 


The " brinjal " that is out of season, cries out 
"pluck me, pluck me." 




246 


The bogori plum is found amongst the ulu 






grass. 




247 


In one Ahin dhdn, in three Hawans pan. 




248 


It is pan from the same tree ; how will it be 
different ? 




249 


Paddy should be under soft feet; the sharp point 
of the paddy pierces, and the man goes along 
crying out. 


* 


250 


The kothiya is small, but it was sown in Jeth. 




251 


In the evening he has seven ploughs, in the 
morning he has not one. 




252 


The radish that will grow large, is known 
when it has spread but two leaves. 




253 


The largest jack-fruit was hidden under the 
leaves. 




254 


There is better wood even than nahar. 




255 


The month of Choit has arrived, where am I 
going to put the paddy ? 




256 


Now is the time for ripe mangoes, how can 
you be bent double with care any longer, 
uncle ? 



CONTENTS. 



XXI 



Proverbs relating to agriculture and seasons continued. 



Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




257 


The whole season of Mah went in sharpening 
the ploughshare. 




258 


Do you find a " seluk " at every dive ? 




259 


When the bor tree was cut down, it fell with a 
loud noise and the juice poured out. Before 
people speak to him sharply, inwardly you 
should feel for him kindly. 




260 


The kerela is twelve hats long, but the seeds 
are thirteen hats long. 




261 


Buy land which slopes towards the centre, and 
marry a girl whose mother is good. 




262 


Look at your paddy cultivation in the evening, 
look for your cattle in the morning, look at 
the girl fishing with the jokai, and see what 
she is like. 




263 


It is harder to sow the plot that was left un- 
cultivated before, than to sow the whole of 
the rest of the field. 




264 


A fence always requires looking after. 




265 


Place cowdung round the black pepper bush, 
and earth round the pan, and cut the plan- 
tain three times before you plant it. 




266 


When you plant sali, you must make the alis 
as near to one another as possible. If the 
sali does not grow well, then abuse the rake. 




267 


A house with a tamarind tree in front, and an 
owtenga behind, has not the owner of that 
house gone away from here yet ? 




268 


Seeing the matikalai beaten out, the sesamum 
opened its cane-fastening. 




269 


The best crops are on the fields of others. 
The best sons are those at home. 



XX11 



CONTENTS. 



Class VI. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO CATTLE AND ANIMALS AND INSECTS. 



Sub-class. 



Ko. 



Subject of proverbs. 



270 



271 



272 



273 



274 



275 



276 



277 



278 



When fish are too plentiful, the paddy-bird is 
blind. 



The jackal fell into the dye-pot and got 
coloured. 



In a bad place the foot of even the elephant 
slips. 



The mosquito under the mosquito net is crushed 
to death. 



The mosquito. It has a trunk, but it is not 
an elephant. It bites men and cattle, but 
it is not a tiger. "Whatever it eats, it eats 
on the spot. 



The little dove has flown away, the fish-eagle 
has chased it away ; with one arrow it has 
been pierced in seven places, this thing also 
is like that. 



A mouse has seven pains. 



A man who has once been bitten by a snake, 
is afraid of every piece of rope on the ground. 



Near us we have the puthi and the khalihona, 
but the te ro " and the " borali " are far 
away. 



CONTENTS. 



XXlll 



Proverbs relating to cattle and animals and insects continued. 


Sub-class. 


No. 


Subject of proverbs. 




279 


The duck that has been bought has flesh right 
up to the beak. 




280 


What a time ! A time for the contrary to 
happen : the deer licks the tiger's cheek. 




281 


You need not see a tiger look for a tomcat. 
If you want to see gentlemen, go to the road. 




282 


I laid a good bait for the tiger, for I killed a 
deer and placed it in front of it. 




283 


Having got nothing, he found a bhadoi and 
squeezed it into the fish basket. 




284 


The karsalu having eaten, climbed up on to the 
bough. The person who licked the wood, 
died. 




285 


The dog is the enemy of the man who begs for 
scraps. 




286 


To the ant a few drops of rain is a flood ; a 
single slap is too much for a toothless mouth. 




287 


The bird is small, but it builds its nest in 
the hulling tree. 




288 


Obviously a situl, see the bones in its back. 




289 


The monkey also looks handsome when it is 
full-grown. 



XXIV 



CONTENTS. 



Proverbs relating to cattle and animals and insects concluded. 



Sub-class. 



No. 



Subject of proverbs. 



290 



291 



292 



293 



294 



295 



296 



297 



298 



299 



300 



301 



The squirrel eats the widow's betelnut. If she 
gives me the tree, 1 know it will grow crooked. 



In the hand of the old man is the sengeli. 



Good horses even are not getting grass, but 
inferior ones are looking out for man. 



On the horns of the buffalo is the snout of the 
"kokila.' ; 

A game-cock dies in battle. 

You will be able to recognise a king by his 
liberality, an elephant when it is another's, 
a horse by its ears. 



The house sparrow in trying to imitate the 
gait of the goose, has forgotten its own. 

Why does a tadpole require warm water ? 

The sal laughs at the singi. I am a girl and 
you are a girl, but no good husband conies for 
either of us. 



Whether a man was bitten by a snake or eaten 
by a tiger, it is the same thing he has met 
his fate. 



Don't give a dog a place, and don't spoil 
children. 



What does a dog know of the value of copper 
vessels or of the tulsi ? 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



Class 1. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO HUMAN FAILINGS, FOIBLES, AND VICES. 



1. Anger, affectation, boasting, conceit, etc. 



Ki no bhamakar tali, bhal khan thoi phata khan pli. 

What a repetition of anger, you have put down the good one 

and picked up the torn one. 

This is addressed to a person who is in a great rage, and who 
is so angry that he puts down the good cloth, he has in his hand, 
and 'takes up a torn one instead. 

ss[<jp- (bhamak) signifies the sudden rising of anger. It is also 
applied to a fire which suddenly blazes up. 



2. 

Kop dang dhan nal kiya shudd cha"ng. 

Don't be angry, the paddy is spent and the " chdng " is empty. 
C^t*t (kop) is equivalent to *f5f (anger), iftsf (dang) literally 
means lift up. srft f^l (nai kiyd) literally is not. Ff$f (chdng) is 
the platform inside the ^tT (bharal) or granary. 



3. Over-anxiety about trifles. 



Pahari dchilo paril manat, 

Panch baraniya pata ache rdwnar gharat. 

I had forgotten it, and then I remembered, 

It was a five-coloured leaf in the house of Bawan. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



The word *t*\ (patd) is sometimes used to indicate gold leaf. 
Apparently, this is the sense intended here. ^^R (Rawan) was the 
mythical king of Ceylon. 

4. Affectation. 



TTT ^ tf I 

Rahar Rahdoi, Tipamar Bhdoi, Salagurir Aghani bai, 
Tinior dingit dhari tiniye kandiche, shamandhar bal gach nai. 
Rahdoi from Raha, Bhadoi from Tipam, sister Aghani from Salaguri, 
Are all three weeping on each other's necks and embracing, 

although there is not the least relationship amongst them. 

Raha is in the Nowgong district, Tipam, or Namti, is close to 
Sibs&gar. Salaguri is also in Sibsdgar. 



5. Boasting. 



Nagoi Garga(n)or batara koy. 
He tells the news of Gargaon without having gone there. 

A man tells the news of the court without ever having been to it. 
Gargaon was formerly the capital of the Ahom kings, or rather was 
one of their capitals, 

6. Boasting. 

it 



Sh,garat achil pancha jala shangkha, 
Neguria shamuke kale maio tare bangsha. 

There were five sacred shells in the ocean. 

The shamuk with a tail said " I am related to them." 

The shdmuk is a shell-fish, which is found in almost every 
marsh or " bil." Its shell is in appearance very like a snail shell. 
It is useless as an article of food, except to the yftsgf ^r| (shamuk 
bhanga), which is a species of heron that cracks the shells with 
its strong beak. Lime is, however, made from the shells in 



BOA STING CONCEIT. 



considerable quantities, and is sold and bought by the poor to eat 
with " tamul" (betelnut). The ^rl *R*ti (jald shangkha) are the 
large conch shells which are blown by the priests at festivals, and 
are also used by them for pouring out libations to the gods. The 
FTl jf'^y (jala shangkha), which are of considerable size, are marine 
shells ; they are considered by Hindus to be sacred. The meaning 
of the proverb is obvious. 



7. Boasting. 

br 



Eko loi namaro, jahaloi maro, 
Phata athuwa khan tingali koi taro. 

Nothing causes my death except fire. 

I hang my mosquito curtain in an irregular manner. 

This means I risk my life to win fame, and not for anything 
else. I go so far as to hang up a torn mosquito curtain above my 
bed, rather than that people should think I am too poor to buy 
one. 



8. Blaming others for one's own fault. 



Nakaleo noawro phata mukh, 
Kaleo lage bhakatar dosh. 

There is an opening in the mouth, and I can't help speaking. 
If I do speak, the blame will fall on the " bhakat." 



A very lame excuse. N^ (bhakat) means a disciple of a 
gosain or priest. 



9. Conceit. 




Jujhibaloi ahile mal, 
Dui hate singile bal. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



He came to fight in all his strength, 

But he only broke one hair (of his adversary). 

This proverb applies to the man who is over-conceited about 
his capabilities. The word *rfT (mdl) more properly means a boxer 
or wrestler. 



10. Counting one's chickens before they are hatched Discontent and 

exaggeration. 



Gachat kathal othat tel, 
No khaotei mel bel. 

Rubbing the lips with oil 

While the jack fruit is still on the tree. 

0*?r (othat tel) means on the lips oil. The jack fruit, if 
eaten without putting oil on the lips, causes sores. There is a 
Hindi proverb exactly similar to the Assamese. It is (gach par 
kothal h6nth men tel). Clearly this is an instance of counting 
one's chickens before they are hatched. 



11. Discontent. 



Lahu bakalir chal, 
Sh^tota shukhar et5,, 
Nepalo, dheki to o 
Nepalo bhal. 



A covering of blood and skin. 

I did not find one of the seven happinesses, 

And I did not find even the dheki (rice-husking machine) nice. 

A complaint of a woman, who is discontented with her lot. 
She did not find even the " dheki " any comfort. To work the 
" dheki," is one of the hardest household duties. 



EXAGGERATION. 



12. Exaggeration. 



Eke kathi kare shatota shinghok marilo(n), 
Lokok nakalo(n) laje, 
Chamah khap di nigoni eta marile tate, 
Dhanjoy dhol baje. 

With one arrow I killed seven lions, 

I was too shy to tell any one ; 

But he, after lying in wait for six months, killed a mouse, 

At that I see the drum of victory beaten. 



The SRSHT (dhanjay) was a large drum which used to be beaten 
by the Ahoms when they gained a victory. The " dhanjoy " was 
of a particular shape and of large size. An illustration of it is 
given by Montgomery Martin in his book. Mr. Abdul Majid gives 
another reading " ifc^fff C5tT^8f" (dahojay dhol baje), Wl (daho) 
being equivalent to ^ (dah) ten. The translation, therefore, would 
be " I see ten drums of victory beaten." A man who brags is 
met by this saying. 

13. Exaggeration, 



Katha kalei lagil pak, 

Bare jani goichil pani anibaloi, 

Tera janir katile nak. 

If I say, a fault is found with my story, 
Twelve girls went to fetch water, 
The noses of thirteen were slit. 



(lagil pak) literally a turn or twist has occurred. 
(katile nak) they cut the noses. It was a common punishment 
to slit the nose in the days of the rajas. The proverb points to the 
growth of a story, or probably in this case, scandal, by being 
repeated. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



14. Exaggeration. 



ft tftfk*rl 



Jap mari dehichilo Dhapalika parbat. 
Tilikit marichilo bag. 
Kheda mari dharichilo mata harina. 
Etiya nepao mata ha(n)har lag. 

I used to be able to jump over the Dhapalika hill. 
I killed the paddy-bird in an instant. 
I chased a stag and caught him. 
Now I can't even catch up a drake. 



is a low range of hills. FNwl also is used to 
express a screen usually made of thatching-grass. This screen, 
which is sometimes called ffafsr (parali), is used for watching 
crops and for guarding them from wild animals. ^ j s short for 
^ti1 or ^sffa (bagla or bagli), the common paddy -bird. f%t%f^\5 
or f^ft?!^ literally, at a snap of the fingers, and so it comes to mean 
instantly. 



15. Exaggeration. 



Tilake tal karile. 
He made a palm tree out of a mole. 

The Assamese version of " to make a mountain out of a molehill." 
is a freckle or mole. \st^ is the fan-palm or palmyra tree. 
In this proverb apparently ^tr has nothing to do with the clap- 
ping of hands together, or cymbals. 



16. Exaggeration. 



Dhanar nariya tan, 

Bhat khaiche udhanar man. 



EXAGGERATION. 



Shamming illness. 

Dhan's illness is very serious, 

But he eats a pile of rice as big as an udhan. 

^sj-fa is a large clod of earth. Three such clods are used to 
support the cooking pot. 



17. Exaggeration. 



Nuchui dumuni tuli dile bojha, 
Isapari nushuni hal oja. 

The fish-wife lifted up the load without polluting it, 
Without study he became a magician. 

This proverb is meant ironically. According to Assamese ideas, 
it would be impossible for a " Diiiu " woman to touch anything 
without defiling it. The " Diirn " caste in Assam appears to be 
considered of equally low status as in Bengal. ^fl (oja) means 
a teacher of arts, magician, exorcist. It is in its last sense that \gsfj 
is most frequently used, particularly amongst the semi -civilised 
and more ignorant people. Brian Hodgson gives an interest- 
ing account of " ojas " on page 138 of his Collection of 
Essays. _ 

18. Exaggeration. 



Nakata kherar na sha. 
Uncut grass has nine bodies. 



The longer a man puts off cutting his c^ (kher) or thatching- 
grass, the greater does the task appear, and the longer the grass 
becomes, the harder it is to cut. 



19. Exaggeration. 

c^rf^i 



Bal chingote moha maril, 
Moi bolo maha ranat he paril. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



In scratching a mosquito was killed, 
I say it fell in a severe engagement. 



20. Exaggeration. 



Shajanar lagat shaj shangati, 
. Mudhat karilo pan, 

Bikramadityar murat uthi 
Gangat karilo snan. 

Good associates with good. 

I have drunk on the ridge of the roof of the house ; 
Have mounted on the head of Bikramaditya 
And have bathed in the Ganges. 

TO is pure, good, excellent. ^ is the ridge of the roof of the 
house. Bikramdditya was the name of a Hindu king. Apparently, 
the first line is inserted for purposes of rhyme. The meaning of 
this proverb is not very clear, but apparently it is meant to convey 
the idea of vain boasting. 



21. False excuses. 



Har nai kiya jiba, 
Koy kiba kiba. 

The tongue because it has no bone, 
Says various things. 

A poor excuse made by a man when he says more than he ought. 
He does not admit the blame, but throws it on his tongue, which, 
he says, is easily pliable, because it is unsupported by bone. 

cf. The modern Greek proverb (translation). " The tongue 
has no bones, yet it breaks bones," and also the Turkish proverb 
(translation) " The tongue has no bone, yet it crushes." 



FALSE PRIDE GREEDINESS. 



22. False pride and over-sensitiveness. 



Kar agat kam kone patiaba, 
Jr &gat kam sheiye lathiyaba, 

Before whom shall I speak, \\ho will believe ? 
To whoever I say it he will kick me. 



23. Greediness. 



Khukaa gal pat ktibaloi, 
Nikhukuai matite kbale. 

The greedy went to cut a plantain-leaf, 
He who was not greedy ate on the ground. 



Perhaps ironically meant. 



24. Greediness. 



Khabaloi jam jam banaloi gariya, 
Pindhibaloi lage tak &chuali churiya. 

He is a great hand at eating, but he is like a bullock as regards 

work, 
And he requires an embroidered " dhoti " to wear. 

*TO ^ la eating he is like " Jam " (the god of death), i.e., he 
has an insatiable appetite. I give the following quotation from 
Dowson : 

" ' Jom ' or 'Jam' is ' Ydma/ the Pluto of the Hindus. Ydma 
is described as being the son oi the Sun by Senjna (conscience), and 
brother of Vaivaswate (Manu). Mythologically, he was the father 
of Yudishthira. He is the god of departed spirits and judge 
of the dead. A soul, when it quits its mortal form, repairs to his 
abode in the lower regions ; there the recorder, Chitra-Gupta, reads 



10 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

out his account from the great register called Agra-Sandhdni, and 
a just sentence follows, when the soul either ascends to the abode 8 
of the Pitris (manes), or is sent to one of the twenty-one hells 
according to his guilt, or it is born again on earth in another form. 
Ydma is regent of the south quarter, and, as such, is called Dakshin- 
pati. He is represented as of a green colour, and is armed with a 
ponderous mace, and a noose to secure his victims." (Dawson.) 

fff^ral may mean either like a bullock (*fa) or a Musalman, who 
are named Gariyds by the Hindus, because the former originally came 
from Gaur (Bengal). Gariyd has lately been considered an 
opprobrious epithet. I don't know why. I see Bronson gives this 
meaning to Gariyd, i.e., " an ox that won't work." Literally, Gariyd 
means like an ox or one that requires driving, and so it comes to 
mean lazy. ^rt^tf^T (dchuwdli) means a cloth embroidered with 
^ (dchu) or red thread. The colour is obtained from the root 
of a tree called *rt^ft (achukari). 



25. Greediness. 



Tini molla to thakile chai, 
Khodai to olal hi bharakai. 

Whilst the three mollas were watching, 
Their god suddenly appeared. 

I am told that this means that the three mollds were watching 
the feast being prepared, when their god appeared ; but this proverb 
might mean anything. The Assamese Muhammadan has a feast 
on every possible occasion, the feast being prepared in a house 
adjoining the house of prayer. c*ftfl is, of course, not an Assamese 
word, but the Arabic (khoda) for God. 



26. Greediness. 



c^rtntR *rtft 

Bhatar bhatua mekela bhari, 
Bhat bari thoicho khoahi ahi 



HITTING A MAN WHEN HE IS DOWN HYPOCRISY. 11 



Greedy rice-eater and mekela-bearer, 
I have prepared and served up the rice, come and eat it. 



This is addressed by some one to a greedy dependent. ^^rl and 
tft are both terms of reproach. The first means one who is 
fond of ^3 ( r i ce )j and the second means one who carries a 
(mekela), a garment worn by women. 



Bitting a man when he is doivn. 



Dukhar uparat dukh, 
Kukure k&more, 
Charale duliai, 
Kata nimilile sukh. 

Misery upon misery, 

The dogs bite me, 

The (boys) have slapped me and pelted me, 

Nowhere have I found rest. 

This is the cry of a beggar who is thus treated. 



Hypocrisy, impatience, inattention, ignorance. 



Hati chur kari jdi bite bate, 
Bengena chorak dhare, 
Nakto kitile laj nelage, 
Nakhto kdtile mare. 

The elephant is stolen on the roadside, 
He catches a man who has stolen brinjals, 
If his nose is cut off, he is not ashamed, 
But if you pare his nails, he dies (of grief). 

The proverb describes one who is a thorough hypocrite. 



12 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



29. Hypocrisy, impatience, inattention, ignorance. 



Aroitkoi ukhuwar 
Khach khachani tan. 

People are more impatient to get ukhuwar than &roi (now-a-days). 
^S^fr means an itching, burning sensation. *rfa is rice ob- 
tained from new paddy, ^^ft is rice obtained from old paddy, the 
husk of which has to be boiled first before the rice ' is separated 
from the shell. 



30. Hypocrisy, impatience, inattention, ignorance. 



Alahiye bichare shakat Ion, 
Dhdn kinar bichdre ddngr don. 

The guest looks out for salt in his vegetables ; 
The paddy-buyer searches for a large " don." 

In the old days salt was a luxury, and was therefore much ap- 
preciated. The " don " is a measure of capacity, and varies in size 
according to locality. It is supposed to contain five seers weight. 



31. The impatient husband. 

ft fct 



Ki poi hatai tal 
Lon kharichd 
Dibar tat nai. 

What an impatient husband ! 

He cannot even wait to be served with salt and pickle. 

I am not quite certain about the meaning of ^\st^ ^t^, Du ^ I am 
told that here it means impatient. *r%1 is a pickle made from the 
young shoots of the bamboo, and is eaten with boiled rice. It is 
much esteemed. 



INATTENTION IGNORANCE. 13 

32. Inattention. 

^fe^ ^Fl1, sr^re *F\\ \ 
Ko(n)tei kald, jatarate shala. 
If I tell him he is deaf, the spindle is in the spinning wheel. 

" There are none so deaf as those who won't hear." 



33. Inattention. 



Moi ko raj bhaganar katha, 

Shi koi kal thoka baduliye khale. 

I talk about a revolution ; 

He interrupts me, saying, a bat has eaten the 

bunch of plantains. 

literally means the breaking up of a kingdom. 



43 Ignorance. 



Jar nai tarja tul, 

Shi ki jane banijar mul. 

lie who has not a pair of scales, 

What does he know of the essence of trade ? 

^ literally root, origin, source. 



35. Ignorance. 

" An unskilful workman quarrels with his tools." 



Nachiba najane chotal 
Khan herem gariy^,. 

He who does not know how to dance, 
(Finds) the floor of the courtyard sloping. 



14 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



is usually applied only to land which is not level ; 
perhaps the better reading is c^^l (beka), which is the usual 
Assamese word for crooked. It is interesting to compare 
Christian's Bihar proverb, which is almost identical (nache na janin 
anganwen terh). The meaning is the same. 



36. Ignorance. 



Bejar nfikat khare khale. 
The disease has eaten at the nose of the doctor. 

This not very elegant proverb means that the doctor caused 
the disease by his ignorance. The c^W (bej) is like the kabiraj 
of India, a quack doctor. The "bej " makes more use of " mantras " 
and charms than medicines ; and, although he sometimes knows a 
little about the medicinal qualities of certain roots and plants, his 
knowledge is a source of considerable danger to his patients ; 
cases having been known of poisoning by a dose of the "bej's" 
inedcine. <H is dysentery, although the word $$fi\ is perhaps more 
frequently used to denote this disease, m is also a skin disease. 



37. Improvidence. 



Agoi d,chile jen ten, 

Bhakatak bhujabar para hal pen pen. 

You used to live before after a fashion, 

But since you have taken to entertaining " bhakats," . 

you have become very poor. 

c*R generally refers to the fact of a man being involved 
in debt and difficulty, the usual phrase being <ftt^ c*fa zffarl ^\ 
(dharere pen peniyd hal) became involved in debt. Perhaps the 
proverb explodes the idea of the good effects of entertaining 
" bhakats." The latter have very considerable appetites, as the 
saying ^fa tfas *fa *ti$ ^^ ftc^ (kani pdre hahe khai bhakat 



IMPROVIDENCE. 15 



dahe) shows. The above means that, as soon as the ducks lay 
eggs, the " bhakats " eat them up. 



38. Improvidence. 



Gat nai chal bakali, 
Mad khai tin tekeli. 

He has nothing to cover himself with, 
But he drinks three pots of rice-beer. 

literally skin. 1? is Tte *ffR (lao pani) or the Bengali 
" pachwai," which is a liquor fermented from boiled rice. 1? is largely 
drunk by the aboriginal people of Assam Kacharis, Ahoms, Miris 
and Deoris are particularly fond of it. It is not an unpleasant drink 
when fresh, its taste being a bitterish sub-acid. Hodgson gives the 
following description of how the Bodo (Kachiri) brews it : " The 
grain is boiled ; the root of a plant called * agaichito ' is mixed 
with it ; it is left to ferment for two days in a nearly dry state ; 
water is then added quantum suffidt ; the whole stands for three 
or four days, and the liquor is ready. In Goalpara the ' bora mad/ 
which is the { mad ' of the Rabhas, is a fermented liquor made from 
1 bora dhan.' The following ingredients also are added : leaves 
of the jack tree, leaves of a plant called ' Bhatai tita/ and long 
pepper. The Assamese 'mad' is very similar in taste to the 
Naga ' zii, ' although the former is perhaps preferable." 

The proverb applies to an extravagant drunkard. Christian 
gives a Bihar saying, which it is interesting to quote, because it 
expresses the same idea, i.e., (maiir na jure tari) = "He cannot 
afford rice gruel, yet he drinks toddy !" 



39. Improvidence. 

STFT ^ *fts ^ stlfttf f t^ ^tto ^ i 

Mane mukhe ache mahar gakhire kahar batiye nai. 
He has the mind and mouth, but not the vessel to drink buffalo milk 
from. 



16 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



40. Improvidence. 



Shachi grihashtar Ion tel boy, 
Michar bakali no jai khoi. 

The oil and salt of the host flow like water, 
But the skin of the prawn is not rubbed off. 

The proverb means that the host is an unthrifty man, who 
expends all his salt and oil before he commences to cook the 
fwl or prawn. *tf$ generally refers to water used for other than 
culinary purposes, fwl is the fresh-water prawn or " chingari." 
^ means decay, waste, loss, or destruction, but when used in 
Assamese, as here, with* the verb ft^fo it means to wear 
off. 



41. Improvidence. 



Hatat nal bit 
Mane kare pit pit. 

He has no money in hand, 
But his cravings are great. 

f^5 literally gall, bile, f^ literally wealth, substance. 



42. Ingratitude. 



ttCT Tfa 
Tan pdle Earn bole. 

When in distress, a man calls on R&ma. 

This proverb is not confined to Assam. There is a similar one in 

Bengali, and probably in Hindi. The proverb means that in 

times of prosperity, there is a want of gratitude to Harna ; 

it is only in times of distress that a man calls on his 
god. 



LAYING PITFALLS FOR OTHERS LOVE OF FALSE DISPLAY. 



43. Laying pitfalls for others. 

W^ ^fi>, 

\f% 



Kotar gharar kuti, 
Lokaloi bull hul pati, 
Apuni mare phuti. 

He who lays thorns for others, 
Dies amongst them himself. 

The first line means nothing, and is merely inserted for purposes 
of rhyme, ^fe (phuti) literally means pierced, or rather burst 
asunder. 



44. Love of false display. 



Paliba noaura rudrakhyar jotajdt, 
There are many rosaries, the beads of which are not told in devotion. 

The proverb means that rosaries are as often as not worn 
for show as for devotional purposes. ^5t^F is the seed of a certain 
tree. The seeds are bored through and strung together to make 
rosaries. CVtfctffa literally telling, from c^tFstfl, to join together. 



45. Love of false display. 



Pokarat nai murat pag, 
Shi hai dehatar ag. 

With a pdgri on his head, 

And with nothing on the lower part of his body, 

he wishes take the lead. 

The Assamese thinks if he puts on a turban, this is a mark of 
respectability, and he will be thought a ^t*T sffis^ (bhal m&nush) or 
respectable person. ttt is short for 



18 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

46. Love of false display. 

CFfol ^ ^R frrR C*R, 
0*1*1 ^ CFtTfa C^ 1 
Batat chowa jadi bar churiyar pher, 
Gharat jowa jadi dhokar her. 

If you meet him in the road, see the folds of his dhoti. 
If you go to his house, (see) the walls are all propped up. 

Another proverb with a meaning very similar to the last " The 
man puts on fine clothes to go out walking, but his house is toppling 
down." The "dhoti" worn by the ^t 5 ! lt^ (bhal manush) has as 
many yards of stuff in it as it is possible to walk in. cFfl literally 
means a prop, stay, support, and so comes to mean the propping of 
anything. A range of hills that fronts another, and higher range 
of hills behind it, is called CFffl *f^ (dhoka parbat). 



4*7. Love of false display. 



FfcT 

Mukhaloi chale bar deka, 
Pokaraloi chale kandakata. 

The front view shows a fine young man, 
But the back is a sight for tears. 

Another proverb conveying the same meaning as 44 and 45. 



48. Love of false display. 



. 

Shat purushat nai gai, 
Kariya loi khirabaloi jai. 

His family had no cow for seven generations, 
But he takes a " kariyd " and goes a milking. 

The proverb means that the man's forefathers were too pool 4 
to be able to keep any cows ; but when he gets one cow, he makes 



LOVE OP FALSE DISPLAY LYING AND EXAGGERATION. 19 

a great show of going to milk with a " kariya " or milkpan. 
^%1 is really a bamboo chunga. The bamboo is cut about a foot 
above a joint, and the hollow portion inside serves to hold the 
liquid. Milk is generally carried in such chungaa, and they are 
generally used for milking. 



49. Love of false display. 



a ffo ft* 

Sh&t sheriyd kahi khud chaolar bhat, 
Khowar je dhik dhik shunaro laj. 

The dish, is of seven seers weight, but the meal of cooked rice is the 

leavings of the day before. 
Fie on him who eats it. It is a shame even to hear about it. 

A ^rff^ is a metal dish ; such dishes are sold according to weight 
of metal. A seven-seer dish would be an expensive one. *JTF is the 
refuse of rice, or broken grains, left in the dish after eating, that 
is to say, the leavirgs of the day before. 



50. Lying and exaggeration. 



Gat nai kani, chuta halikai nile tani. 
Although he had not a rag on his body, the little maina 

pulled off his clothes. 

This is a proverb from Gauhati, which accounts for the word 
jriM, being used a corruption of the Bengali ($$ (chota). In the 
Kamrup district, a mixture of Bengali and Assamese is spoken, 
which is called <K*ft (dhekeri) by the Assamese of Central and 
Upper Assam. In Jorhat, j^M would not be used, but ^ (sharu). 
$tfa*i, or more properly sflfsr^l, is the ordinary '* maina " of India. 
There is, however, in Assam also -the more handsome species 
the hill inaina, which can be taught J to talk [extremely 
well. 



20 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



51. Meddling. 

ttfr sr 



Egharar pat nad egharar jari, 

Eghare pani tole ghatang matang kari. 

The well belongs to one house, the rope to another, 

A third house has drawn the water making a great clatter. 

A busy-bod}' interfering in other people's affairs. *!t& ft? is a 
boarded -up well, or a well with its sides earthed-up and plastered. 
T5* SFK is a word derived from the sound of two things, dashing; one 

O J O 

up against the other. The Assamese are fond of using such 
onomatopogic words. 

5& Oppression of others. 



Ji kare parat, tak mile gharat. 
Do as you would be done by. 

Literally, whatever he does to others, he gets the same at home, 



53. , Out of sight, out of mind. 



Lokar para antar hale shi mor porohit, 
When we are away from others, he is my " porohit." 

That is to say, when a man is in company, he forgets all about 
his {( porohit." A " porohit " is a family priest, who performs the 
?^WW (dahakaj), funeral ceremony, as well as other offices for the 
Assamese Hindu. The "porohit" is, as a rule, a Brahmin. 



54. Straining at a gnat, etc. 

cffix sprft^ IOT ^frm *f*rt ^ src=r i 

Bejir jalake mane kutharar jalao na mane. 
He can see through the eye of a needle, 

but not through that of an axe-head t 



PENNY WISE POUND FOOLISH PEEVISHNESS. 21 



55, Penny wise pound foolish. 



Shakat na jai Ion, pitikat jai tini gun. 

He does not use salt in cooking vegetables, 

but three times the amount (of salt) goes in making salad. 

The ordinary Assamese meal consists of 

i, " Bhat " (cooked rice). 
ii. (a) fish or mdh (dill) cooked, cr 

(b) fish and vegetable cooked together. 

iii. In addition to the second, or as a substitute for it, a kind of 
salad is made; this is called " pitih'i" by the Assamese. This is 
made from potatoes, vegetables, and chillies. These three ingredients 
are mixed with " kharali " (sauce). 

The proverb is a warning against false economy, because it costs 
far less to use common salt in cooking than to make " pitika"." 



56- Penny wise pound foolish. 



Sere sere jai powaloi kande. 
Seers go away, but he cries after the quarter-seers. 



57- Peevishness. 



Nai he nekhao, laguneo 
Gato nidio dukh. 

No, I won't eat. I won't go (to the feast), 

even if a Brahmin is there, 
I won't give myself any trouble. 

This should be more properly laziness. The last line of the 
proverb should be, I think, the motto of the Assamese, for he hates, 
above all things, giving himself the least trouble. 

" Even if a Brahmin is present " is a free translation. The literal 
translation is " even if a Brahminical thread is there." The ?T^ is the 
Bengali fctsl (poitd), or sacred thread worn by Brahmins and Khaysths. 



22 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



58- Presumption. 



Ki nahabar hal, pok Idgi hataloi gal. 
What'a "centre temps" has occurred, 

the man covered with sores has gone to the market. 

*rtfr literally, full of maggots. Another reading is c\t 
(bhok Idgi) for ctlT *rff*tj i n which case the meaning of the proverb 
is ironical. 

59. Presumption. 



f ft *rt=rt 

Khach khach kara kata gua, 
Tumi jdna amS,r kiba how. 

Cut the betelnut quickly^ 

You know there is something between us. 

Assamese women are supposed to give betelnut only to their 
hasbands. The proverb illustrates a phase of a rustic "affaire du. 
cteur." ^1 is the same as ^t^H (tdmol) betelnut. 



The pot calling the kettle black. 



Nijar pokar tek tekiya, 
Lokar pokaraloi pani chatiy^,. 

Throwing water at the buttocks of others, 
When one's own are covered with mire. 



61. Pride of family. 



Nom negur bajit, 
Makar nam bar pohari, 
Bapekar nam Kanjit. 



feESTLESSNESS SELFISHNESS. 23 

Although it has no hair on its body and no tail, 
It says its mother's name is Barpohari, 
And its father's Ranjit. 

The first line describes a mangy cur. Notwithstanding its 
miserable condition, the animal is proud of its lineage, ^ (.ftstfr. 
Assamese women who sell odds and ends, are called "pohdri." <} 
is here used ironically. ^fiW is a high-sounding name, only met 
with in good families. 



62. Restlessness. 



Bhangi an khuchari khao. 
Pua hale nao meli jao. 

Bring the adze, I am itching to be off. 
To-morrow morning I shall start in the boat. 

This proverb is aimed at those who- work by fits and starts only. 
is a kind of curved adze, which is used in hollowing out boats 
from trunks of trees. ;ft c*lfa Tfs literally, I will loose the boat 
(from its moorings). 



63. Selfishness. 



Anar an chinta, btiri bamunir dukhan kanar chinta, 
Others have other thoughts, but the old Brahmin 

woman thinks only of her two ears (i.e., her earrings). 

Chirstian, in his Bihar proverb, gives a Hindu proverb, which is 
Very similar in meaning : 

Ano ke dn chita rani ke rajawe ke chita. 
Others have other thoughts, but the rani 

has thoughts of the raja only. 

Christian says the proverb is applied to one who is intent on his 
own thoughts only, regardless of others. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS* 



64. Selfishness. 



Ai goichil gosain gharaloi, 
Moi goichilo lagat, 
Akhoi kala khabaloi pai, 
Tate halo bhakat. 

My mother went to the house of the gosain, 

I accompanied her. 

When I got " akhoi " and plantains to eat, 

I became a " bhakat." 

Perhaps tins is a hit at the " bhakats." Apparently, the qualifi- 
cation for admission to the " sastro" as a "bhakat," is to be able 
to appreciate fried rice (akhoi) and plantains. Bronson gives 
" parched corn " as the meaning of ^rtbr, but there is a sweetmeat 
made of fried rice and giir (molasses), which is also called 



65. Egotism. 



Aponar man jene, 
Ataike dekhe tene ; 
Jano man etaire eke, 

He thinks that everybody else's mind is like his own. 

I doubt if all people think alike. 

The proverb is interesting, as illustrating the use of 
This literally means, I know. In conversation, however, ^\^\ often 
means, I doubt, almost I don't believe you. 



Selfishness. 



Khaiche akhoiya gomdhan diye edon. 
He eats akhoiya (a sweetmeat), but to others he gives a 

measure of Indian corn. 



SELFISHNESS SPONGING ON OTHERS. 25 



For the meaning of Ttfcflfo see note to No. 63. ctfaffa is the 
same as the Bengali ^ (bhutta). 



Selfishness. 



CWft 3jfl I 

Mudhe mudhe eke ghar shodho shodho buli> 
Hal der bachar shakhi hero tomar jar. 

We live alongside one another. 

For the last year and a half I have been intending 

to ask you, dear friend, how is your fever. 

1$ is the ridgepole of the house. The expression ^ *p is used 
when two houses are so close that their roofs touch one another. 
0^1 or cfltrj is a cry made to call anybody's attention. ^ is the 
Bengali ^ or <t*f (Indian fever). 



68. Sponging on others. 

W ^s *ite, ^jNt Itf^s 
Parar murat khao, bhatiya panit jao. 
I live upon others, and go with the tide. 

The proverb probably means that he who lives on others, has to 
go along with the tide, arid sink all individuality of charac- 
ter. 

^fifal literally is down-stream as opposed to ^sffa (ujan) or up- 
stream. 



69. Sponging on others. 

ft opft ft rftl, ft cf t^i ft 

Ji deshar ji dhara ji pokarar ji ner3. 
Every country has its own customs, and every one has 



some hanger-on. 



26 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



70. Stinginess. 



Dio(n)te diye dhan kherar chai, 
Take dio tei khuch mucli khai. 

When he gives (at all), he gives the ashes of paddy straw, 
And it is a long time before he gives that even. 

*j5Tj5 is an idiomatic expression, meaning to take along time 
over doing nothing. 



71. Stinginess. 



Lokar shabhaloi jaba. 
Amar diyan khoan chaba. 

Go to a gathering at some one else's house, 
(And then) see my liberality. 



72. Toadying. 



Kako dekhi randhe bare, 
Kako dekhi duw^r bandhe. 

When (the host) sees some people, he cooks and serves 

them (a meal), 
And when he sees others, he bars the door. 



73. Trickery. 



Teliyai kande tel pelai. 
Kapuhawai kande let petai. 



TJNSOBRIETY IN OLD AGE WANT OP FEELING. 27 

The oil-seller weeps for the oil that is spilt. 

The cotton-dealer weeps and soaks (his cotton in the tears). 

The cotton-dealer is not a man like the oilman, who " cries over 
spilt milk," but finds a way out of the difficulty. The latter part 
of the proverb, perhaps, refers to a practice which came under my 
personal observation when in the Goldghat subdivision. The cot- 
ton is brought down from the hills by Kagas or other hillmen, 
who almost invariably soak it in water, or even sometimes put 
stones inside the bundle, to make the cotton weigh heavier. The 
cotton-dealer, who is not to be outdone, soaks the salt, which 
is generally bartered for the cotton, in water for the same reason. 
The translation I have given for c?n? c*f^tt> although n:>t strictly 
literal, conveys the meaning, which is meant to be a sarcasm on 
the dealings of these cotton merchants, c 5 ^ C^t^ more correctly 
means having plastered. 



74. Unsobriety in old age. 



Eke buri nachaniyar, tate natiniekar 

The old woman is a capital dancer herself, 

And now is the occasion of her granddaughter's marriage. 



75. Want of feeling. 



Koliyabarat poi maril, 
Dheki dionte manat paril. 

in the Nowgong distict, where there is a temple dedicated 
to ^fal (Kdmd), used to be regarded as a holy place. The proverb 
means that, although the husband was a man of some piety, the 
v* idow only thought of him, after his death, when she was working 
the dheki (paddy-husker), i.e., she did not remember any of his 
good qualities. 



28 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



Class II. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO WORLDLY WISDOM AND MAXIMS, EXPEDIENCY 
AND CUNNING, AND WARNINGS AND ADVICE. 



76. A small income and much feasting. 



Alap arjjan bistar bhojan, 

Shei purushar daridrar lakhyan. 

A small income and much feasting, 
Are the signs of a man becoming poor. 

=ain income 5 T s F e l=:a mark or token. 



77. On trying to teach fools. 



Agiyanik giyan di manat palo kashta, 
Kanibor bhangi pelai baho karilo nashta. 

In trying to teach a senseless woman I was much troubled, 
So I threw down the eggs and destroyed the nest. 



78. Have nothing to do with three things. 



Ashatir shad giyan, 
Garu chorar ganga snan, 
Beshya tirir ekadasi, 
Tinioro murat muta bahi. 

Have nothing to do with these three things : 

Honesty in an unchaste woman, 

A cattle-chief bathing in the Ganges, 

A harlot fasting on an ekadasf day. 



IMPOETTJNATE'S ANSWER GIVE A PQUTE ANSWER. 29 



79. The importunate 1 s answer. 



Apuni anicho magi, 
Tok dim kar hagi. 

I myself have got it by begging, 



80. Anticipating. 



Agei pakhi kate, 
Kei dinar nomal. 

He cuts the wings of the unfledged nestling beforehand. 
, literally the smallest of all. 



81. Times of affliction. 



Apadatoeo gal khajuwai. 
In times of affliction, even the " owtenga " tickles the throat. 

The u owtenga " is an acid fruit, which is much used by the 
Assamese for cooking with rice to make the latter tasty. 

cf. Wf* W c=rtCT^ CfTO ^ (^padat gar nomei dushman hoi.) 
In times of affliction, even the hair of one's body is an enemy. 



82. Give a polite answer. 



Tfa 

Ache dan nai shamidhan. 
Give if you can j at any rate, say something polite. 

literally giving an answer. 



30 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



83. When ail scruples must be thrown to the winds. 



Apadat ajugut karibaloi juwai. 
In times of adversity, all scruples must be 

thrown to the winds. 
l (unbefitting). 



84. On aiming too high. 



Uthuwai marile kathi, 
Jalowa domar shatjani tiruta, 
Muraloi natile pati. 

He shot an arrow high (into the air) . 
The " jalowa " dum has seven wives. 
But he has not a bed for one wife even. 

literally, caused to mount up. sjftTfal cvst^ is used in 
contradistinction*to ^twrtl C^t 5 ! (the ploughing dura). *rtj$ is matting 
made from the splints of a tree called bf (doi). 



85. The petty shopkeeper. 



Eda beparik jahajar bg,tari kiya. 
What does a petty shopkeeper want with news of the steamer ? 

literally a shopkeeper who sells ginger (4?1) 



86. Do one thing at a time. 

twi, 



Orokate parok, 

Kerela to shumuAi diya, 

Beugena to porok. 



LEARNING. 3 1 



Do one thing at a time, 
First of all cook the kerela 1 , 
And then roast the bengena 1 . 

Literally the bengend will burn if the kereM is put into the fire. 
C^c^Tl is the Bengali wrl, Hindi koraila. 

The kerela is the " momordica charantia," a very bitter kind of 
vegetable of the gourd family. It is a creeping plant. 



87. Learning, 

ffil farrl, 



Pakhi lag kr. 

What the feather is to the arrow, 
His art is to the magician. 

is a magician, or more frequently an exorcist,- (Vide note 
to Proverb No. 17.) 

88. Circumstantial evidence. 



Kath5,l chorar eth^Li sh&khi, 
Hd(n)h chorar murat pakhi. 

The gum is evidence against the jack fruit-stealer, 
And the feathers stick to the head of the duck-stealer. 

is the jack tree and its fruit. Bengali vWt (kantaki) ; 
both the bark of the tree and the fruit are covered with a sticky 
juice or gum. 

89. A person with a great idea of his own importance. 



Kar par^, ^hild kat dild, bhari, 
Chot^l khdn ph&ti gal chet chet kari. 

Whence do you come ? 

Wherever you trod on the courtyard, it split in pieces. 



32 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

Literally, whence comest thou ? This is said ironically to 
somebody who gives himself airs. Cfr\5 C5<5 is one of the many 
Assamese expressions for conveying the sense of sound. Another 
such onomatopoeic expression is ^5' 5 ; ' also ?f*f (giring). 
There are others that could be mentioned. (5^ cs~s ^f^f is meant 
to convey the idea of noise in splitting or tearing asunder. 



90. On appearing on ike " Chotai " Hill. 



Kihar jagarat maro 
Chatai parbatat gato 
Dekhadi fidhuli 
Pchota bharo. 

What fault have I committed ? 
I have appeared on the Chatai hill, 
And have to pay five eight-anna pieces. 

The F^t^ I^Ta is a mythical hill, which was supposed to be 
situated somewhere in the Sibsagar district. The proverb applies to 
the case of a person who has to pay a fine for some imaginary fault. 



91. Finding the lost sickle. 



Kakalat kachi 
' Buri phure ndchi. 

When the old woman has found her sickle, 
She dances for joy. 



92. Disregard of good advice. 



Katha ba kat bhekuri talat. 
Where is your advice ? Underneath the 

" bhekuri " bush ? 
is a kind of scrub jungle. 



SELFISHNESS -DON' % T BE TOO DISCRIMINATING. S3 



93. Selfishness. 



i 

Kar bhagina mare kar hoi hani, 
Kar jarat kone piowai pani. 

Whose nephew dies it is his loss. 

In whose fever does anyone give water to drink ? 

The proverb aptly illustrates the way of the world in such 
cases. f*Wtt means f*Rfc*T fef (gives to drink), and is the 
causative form of tW*I (to drink) ; ^tf^n or ^tf5fa is a sister's son. 



94. The reward of merit. 



Kene tor kene jani phapariya tor tini jani 

Bhal tor ejanio nai. 

What a wife for such a man ! 

The worthless has three wives, the worthy none. 

As a rule, Assamese have but one wife, or two at the most, 
but occasionally, amongst well-to-do people of the old-fashioned 
class, the luxury of three wives is indulged in. *r%1 literally 
scurfy. _ 

95. Dorit be too discriminating. 



Kako nubuliba kaka, 

Etaire dari chuli paka. 
Don't call anyone (of them) grandfather; 
They have all of them got white hair and beards. 

The proverb means that all are equally cunning, and that 
one must not single out any particular person and call him ^1, 
a clever old fellow. tTl literally means ripe, as a fruit. It so 
comes to'mean mature, and when applied to the hair of the head 

A * - 

or face turned gray, or of a mature colour. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



It is interesting to compare a Bihar proverb given by Christian 
in his " Bihar Proverbs," which means very much the same as the 
Assam proverb above : 

Kekar kekar lihi(n) nao(n) kamra orhle sagare gao(n). 

which Christian translates" Whom am I to name ? All the villages 
are similarly circumstanced ! (Literally, all are alike, covered with 
blankets, i.e., poor, in the same boat)." 



96. Assamese recipe jor managing a wife. 



Katari dharaba shile, tirota baba kile. 

Whet your knife on the grindstone. 
Sway your wife with blows. 

This is the Assamese recipe for managing a wife. f^T is a blow 
given with the elbow, and represents the pommelling given to a 
person when he is lying prostrate. 



97. The one-eyed, the lame, and the crooked. 



^ ffa 

Kana, khora, bhengur, 
Ei tini haramar lengur. 

The one-eyed, the lame, and the crooked, 
These three are a tail of ill. 

There are various Indian proverbs regarding one-eyed, squint- 
eved and grey-eyed people being untrustworthy, so that the Assam- 
ese are not alone in their idea. 

Christian gives the following proverbs, amongst others, in his 
Bihar 1'roverbs : 

" (Birle kdn bhal bhal manukh), i.e., Barely do you rrieet with 
a one-eyed man who is a gentleman." 

Also the following Urdu saying on the same subject, where a 
forced pun is made on the Arabic word kan = is : 

" Kane ki badzatiya(n) hain mere dil yaqin, 
Aya hai Qoran me(n) kdn me(n) alkafrin." 






USELESS GRATINGS CATTLE CLIMBING TREES. of) 

Of the wickedness of the one-eyed I am thoroughly convinced, 
Because even in the Qoran it is said that the one-eyed is among the 
unbelievers." 



98. Useless craving *, 



Khabaioi nai kanto, 
Bar habaloi manto. 

He who has not a grain (of rice) to eat, 
Has a mind to become great. 

"*R is the eye or germ of a seed, that which germinates or re- 
produces an atom. (Branson*). So it comes to mean anything 
small. Young children are often called <R or ^ *T T^, T 



99- Cattle climbing trees, and the lobe of the ear being bored 

with a bamboo. 



Gachat garu utha, 
Holongare kan bindhS. 

As wonderful as a bullock climbing a tree, 

Or the lobe of the ear being pierced with a holongd. 

Men as well as women bore their ears in Assam. When 
an earring is not worn, a piece of wood is inserted to keep the 
hole from closing up, Sometimes paper or cotton is used, but 
generally a cylindrically-shaped piece of wood. A C31WW is a 
split bamboo, used for carrying bundles of paddy, when reaping 
and carrying is going on. The holonga is slightly curved in 
shape, so as to more readily fit on to the shoulder. The bundles 
of dhan (paddy) are slung on to each end of the holonga in equal 
proportions, so that the holonga balances on the shoulder. In this 
way all burdens are carried in Assam, but the word 
believe, is only applied to the pole used for carrying dhan. 
(kanmari) is the word for the bamboo that is used for carrying 
other burdens. 



30 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



100. Laughing at others' misfortunes. 



*ttC5T 

Ghok bai ghok shape khale tok, 
Machti pale mok. 

" Ghok, " sister " Ghok, " a snake has bitten you, 
And I have caught a fish. 

This is said in chaff by one girl fishing to another likewise 
engaged. 

101. Useless cravings. 



Gharat nai kanto, bar shabhaloi manto. 

He has not a grain of rice in his house, but he wishes to go to a big 
feast. 



This is almost similar to No. 97, except that Wl is sub- 
stituted for the verb ^*r. Also compare the Grauhdti proverb 
" ^ta'vs 5^ ^^1 ^ ^f^t^ ^^1 (urdlat ndi kanto bar shabhdloi 
manto). The ^5tT or ^tT is a wooden mortar used for pound- 
ing rice in. 

102. How things are tested. 



Ghorak chini kanat, 
Tirik chini thanat, 
Khurak chini shalat. 

A horse is known by his ears, 
A woman in times of adversity, 
And a razor on a whetstone. 



The idea here is [that a good horse keeps his ears erect ; a 
virtuous wife will be faithful in adversity, and a good razor does 




THE IRONY OF FATE. 37 



not break on the whetstone. As to the faithfulness of women, 
horses, etc., cf. the Persian proverb : 

" Asp o zan o shamsher-i-tez wafadar ke did. " 
What man ever saw a horse, a woman, Or a sword faithful ! 

fr (khur) (or khyur) is the usual word for razor. W is here 
used to mean a grindstone. Shal is applied to almost any machine, 
e.g., l^WWtT (kuhiyar shal), a sugar-mill. 



103. The irony of fate. 

fafl 



Chore niya lapha dai, 
Griri hate mare kharli khai. 

When the thief steals the lapha, " 
The householder" is ready to die of grief, 

but consoles himself with chutney- 

An amusing comment on the irony of fate, perhaps. The 
TtT is a common Assamese vegetable. ^f% is a kind of 
chutney made from mustard-seed. Wfo literally reaps. 



104. Sudden misfortunes. 



Chorak more pale, 
Ta(n)tik barale khale. 

The thief was seized with colic, 
And a wasp stung the weaver. 

Both of these are intended to be instances of sudden and 
unexpected mishap. 

105. Avoiding a rain cloud by bending down. 



Chaparile megh eraba ne. 
Can a rain cloud be avoided by bending down ? 



38 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



106. Never waste a moment. 



Jar khabar jibar man, 
Bahote achore ban. 

He who has a mind to thrive, 

Scratches up grass, even when sitting down. 

I'T literally, the mind for eating and living. The 
proverb means that people who wish to succeed, should never 
waste a moment, which may be devoted to work. The grass referred 
to is that growing in the man's garden or field. 



107. The man who has too many relations. 



Jetheri boinai hal 
Kihar pal e pal. 

He has got herds 

And herds of brother-in-law. 



=a wife's elder brother, fcrct^ = a younger sister's husband. 
also means a sail, and a turn of duty. The proverb relates to 
the case of a man who has more relations by marriage than 
convenient. 

108. On being taken to task for a trifling fault. 



Jagar ba lagalo ki 
Mato ha(n)h kanidi. 

What fault have I committed ? 

I admit I am wrong, and give you a duck's egg. 

The proverb refers to the case of a person who thinks he is 
taken to task for a trifling fault. 



SLEEP IS PLEASANT " MEUM AND TTJUM." 39 



109. The light of a lamp amid the glare of a torch. 



Jorar agat batir pobar. 
The light of a lamp arnid the glare of a torch. 

The proverb means that the feeble light of a lamp would not be 
noticed in the strong light given by a torch. 



110. Sleep is pleasant. 

1*31 I 



Topanir chikan puu. 
Katarir chikan gua. 

To sleep in the early morning is pleasant. 
A good knife is required to cut betelnut. 

This proverb is characteristic of the Assamese. 



111. The punishment of sin, though tardy, perhaps, is sure. 



Taha niye khale tenga, 
Etiya palehi jenga. 

He ate the " tenga " a long time ago, 
And he is blamed now! 

The proverb refers to the case of a man w r hose sin has found 
out. He stole the orange and ate it long ago, and he gets into hot 
water about it now ! 

means an offence, anything at which exception is taken- 



112. " Meum and tuum" 



Tor hale mor, mor hale bapereo na pai tor. 

What is yours is mine, but what is mine cannot be got even 

by your father. 



40 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



113. Ingratitude. 



Thai dibar gun, tapang tapani shun. 
The result of giving a person a place, is to hear him grumble. 

The proverb means that if you give a person a place at a feast, 
in all probability he will not thank you for your courtesy, but will 
only grumble. 

114. Pride goeth before a fall. 



Dolar narnere shikiyate jabfi, 
Gakhirar namere panike khaba. 

Instead of being carried in a dooly, 

you will be carried slung on a pole ; 
And instead of milk you will drink water. 

Cf?t*l1 is the Bengali ^f*f, a litter for carrying people in. 
is a contrivance of ropes for slinging burdens on to a bamboo. 



115. The use oj the thumb. 



Daho angulire khai, 
Burai hechukilehe jai. 

All the ten fingers are used in eating, 

But it is the thumb that has to push the eatables into the mouth. 

The Assamese takes up the rice in the hollow of his hand, and 
then crams it into his mouth, using the thumb to push it in not 
a very elegant way of eating. Wl^ *ftf1*[ (the chief finger). 



116. " Many hands make light work." 



Dahota lakhuti etar bojha. 
The staves of ten menjare^a load to one man. 



EVILS NEVER COME SINGLY. 41 

cf. The Bihar proverb given by Christian 
" (Das ka lathi ek ka bojh). The idea conveyed is the same as 
in our proverb " Many hands make light work." 



117. " Evils never come singly" 



Dur kapaliya habiloi jai, dd chige barale kha"i. 
The unfortunate one goes to the wood, 

and his " da " breaks, and a wasp stings him. 

This is a case of " Evils never come singly." WT is the 
Bengali ^tf1 (a wasp). The use of *Tt^ is noteworthy ; it means 
(literally) eats. The Assamese has no regular word for sting. 
cf. ?nt*t ^ttCf (shdpe khale) a snake bit him literally eat him. 



118. How the poor are despised. 



\ 

Dukhiya hale letera bharjya nedekhe hit, 
Bdtat lag pai mitire noshodhe diba lage buli kibd bit. 
When letera (the sloven) becomes poor, 

his wife does not esteem him i 
When his friends meet him by the way, they take no notice 

of him, fearing they will have to help him with money. 

The first proverb is an illustration of our own saying that 
" When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window." 
The second part shows the way of the world in such cases. cld>T), 
the man's name in this proverb, literally means a sloven, ^ftjl is 
a Bengali word for wife. The common Assamese word is 
(ghoini). f^s literally means advantageous, profitable. 
(literally) do not ask after him. fas is a synonym for R (dhanV 



119. When everything has gone wrong. 



Dhekito larak pharak katarato bhaga, 
Khol kaloi gal tarahe laga. 



42 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

The dheki has become unsteady, the cup is broken. 
Where has the drum gone ? Away with the violin string ? 

When the rice-husking machine is out of order, everything goes 
wrong in the household. The cup is broken, the drum is missing, 
and the violin has lost its string. This is the meaning of the pro- 
verb. The " dheki " has been described already. ^nHI is a cup 
made out of a cocoanut shell. c^t^T is a long cylindrically-shaped 
drum, which is slung round the neck and beaten with both hands. 
C^t^T must not be confounded with CFfa (dhol) or ^pff (mridaug), 
which are drums of different shapes. ^t<J is the string of a kind of 
violin called f^R (bin). The far is a single-stringed instrument, 
which may be the same as the Bengali ^11 (bind). 



120. Idiosyncrasies. 



*rf% 1^1 i 

Dh&ntoye pati kanto, 
Manuhtoye pati manto. 

Each grain of paddy has its grain of rice ; 
Each person has his idiosyncrasy. 

The first line is put in with the idea of throwing additional 
emphasis on the second line. As a matter of fact, it is incorrect 
that each grain of paddy contains a grain of rice, as any Assamese 
peasant will tell you, or you can see for yourself. A certain 
number of grains in each ear contain nothing. The Assamese 
call such fsfa (patdn). 



121. A good piece of advice. 



Dhan labfi lekhi, bdt bulibd dekhi. 

Count money first before you take it over. 
Tell the way if you have seen the road. 

A very sensible piece of advice. 



THE HUSBAND OF A SHREW. 43 



122. The husband of a shrew. 



Narakar kanya uddharile shuchi. 
A bride from hell has been my salvation. 

These words are spoken sarcastically by a man who has a shrew 
of a wife. R 5 ? is one of the many infernal regions enumerated in 
the Hindu books. Manu speaks of twenty-one hells and gives their 
names. Other authorities vary greatly as to the numbers and 
names of the hells. (See Vishnu Puran, II, 214, and Dowson's 
Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology.) 



123. Cutting off the tiger's tail. 



Negur kati bagh shongaloi melile. 
They cut off the tiger's tail, and then let him loose in his haunt. 

This refers to an idea that if a tiger's tail is cut off, the beast 
loses all its strength. 

124. A name that bodes ill-luck. 

Tfro tfas *rfc $3^5 *rfttft f to ' 

Namar pariche shang duarat marahi dang. 
From his name even ill-luck comes, go and bolt the door. 

i.e., to prevent his entering the house. It is not an uncommon 
idea that certain persons bring ill-luck to a house. Some people are 
supposed to have the "evil eye"; these are particularly shunned. 
In Bihar, Christian says it is considered very unlucky to pronounce 
the name of a miser in the morning. In Assam, it is generally 
considered unlucky to pronounce the names of certain low castes, 
such as Doms and Haris. 

125- " People who live in glass-houses should not throw stone" 

srtetflft crfr t^ ffst* i 

Nahahibi mok khuclaariba tok. 
Don't laugh at me, it will scratch you. 
People who laugh at others' misfortunes, are thus advised. 



44 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



123- Ill-gotten gains. 



Papar dhan prayshchitat jai. 
Money got by unfair means, goes in expiations. 

The <2Thif*5\9 is imposed by the "gosain," or spiritual guide. It 
consists of (a) money payment to the gosain, (6) penance, (c) certain 
duties to be performed. 

127. Don't lose time in partaking of a meal when it is ready. 



Pale charai bhdngiba pSkhi, howa bhatak na thaba rakhi. 

When you have caught a bird, break its wings. 
Don't place on one side rice which is ready. 



128. Four people should always be intent on their work. 

r^, c^tor, 



Parhe, parhai, boye, boyai pan, 
Ei tini chariye nichinte an. 

He who reads, he who teaches, he who sows pdn, 

he who causes to sow pdn, 
These four should not think of anything else. 



129. Learning by heart. 



Parhi shuni karile hiya, chore loi gal bhar diyS. 
He learnt it by heart, and then a thief stole it away. 

This is a sarcastic allusion to a fool, who tries to commit 
something to memory. 

130. Want oj tact. 



Batat lag pale kamar, dd gari diya 
They met the blacksmith on the road and said " Make a 

knife for us," 



ONE WHO IS ALWAYS IN HOT WATER. 45 

i.e., they expected the blacksmith to be able to make a " da " for 
them when he was away from hia forge. 



131. One who is always in hot water. 



Baxatd mahar terat jagar, shadai naguche et lagar. 

In twelve months thirteen scrapes. 

I cannot exist without getting into hot water. 

This is the complaint of somebody who is always in trouble. 



132. 



Baliye nirbalfye kihar hatahati, 
Dham'ye nidhaniye kihar mitrawati. 

What passage-of-arms can there be between the strong and 

the weak. 
What friendship can there be between the rich and the poor, 



means a strong man. Dowson writes 

" There was also in the Tretayuga, or second age, a daitya king, 
Bali or Boli, who had, by his devotions and austerities, acquired the 
dominion of the three worlds, and the gods were shorn of their power 
and diginty. To remedy this, Vishnu was born as a diminutive son 
of Kasyapa and Aditi. The dwarf appeared before Bali and begged 
of him as much land as he could step over in three paces. The 
generous monarch complied with the request. Vishnu took two 
strides over heaven and earth ; but respecting the virtues of Bali, 
he then stopped, leaving the dominion of pdt&la, or the infernal 
regions, to Bali." 

^f% also means a sacrifice. ^st3% means hand-to-hand conflict ; 
also two people working together at the same task. ft;zrfat is the 
same as faf%3tfa| which means friendship. 



46 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



133. So terrible that even Bhagabanto and Basudev are afraid. 



Bhayat Bhagabanta palai kilalai Basudeo darai. 

Bhagabanta even flies from fear, and Basudev is afraid that 

he will be beaten. 

or ^^fafa is WT^[ (Parmeswar), ^t^flr^ is another name 
for f^s (Krishna). The above saying is quoted in the case of a 
person of ungovernable temper. 



134. Bitter words are hard to hear. 



Bhatar titd khabaloi bhd,l, mdtar titd khdbaloi t^n. 
It is good to eat bitter rice, but it is hard to hear bitter words. 
, i.e., rice cooked with tengas (acid fruits). 



135. From good comes good. 



Bhalar bhal sharbati kal. 
Good comes from good for all time. 
(literally), for ever and ever. 



136. Which is the sweeter sweet words or sweet food ? 



Bhojan mithd ne bachan mitha ? 
Which is sweeter sweet food or sweet words ? 
also means a passage from a sacred book. 



137. Only go when you are invited. 

itfoOT ^b^Tl ^t^l, c^ itf^c^r csfrfa 

Matile ranaloiko jabd, ne matile bhojaloi najdbd. 

Go to a battle even if you are summoned, 

but don't go to a feast uninvited. 



ON GROWING OLD. 47 



This saying means that the person who would go to a feast 
uninvited, would not perhaps be so ready to go to battle if called 
upon. 

138. On growing old. 



Mor por bowari haba, mok chulit dhari batat thaba. 
My son will have a sister-in-law, 
Who will catch me by the hair and throw me on the path. 

is a younger brother's wife. The speaker here is the 
old mother, who views with dismay the prospect of her new 
daughter-in-law. 



139. Cutting wood by no means an easy task. 



Momaiye kath kate maye pani hen dekhe. 
The maternal uncle cuts wood ; 

his wife thinks this as easy a job as drawing water, 



140- Where there is a will there is a way. 



Man karile chal kariba parim. 

If I put my mind to it, I can find a way out of the difficulty. 
5<?T literally stratagem, device or trick. Sometimes also it means 
fraud or forgery. 

141. The shorter it is, the more it tears. 



Jetekate nate, tetekate phate. 
The shorter it is, the more it tears. 

The meaning is rather obscure. One would have thought that 
a garment which was worn too long, i.e., touching the ground, would 
be more likely to tear than a short one, high off the ground. 
Possibly, the saying may have some reference to the woman's 



SOME ASSAMESE PKOVERBS. 



petticoat, or c*n:^Tl (mekela), which, in the best families, is worn as 
long as possible. It is considered bad form to wear a short 
" mekela." 



142. None but the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. 



Luitehe jane batha kimana loi bahe. 
The Luhit knows how deep the oar dips. 

The Luhit is another name for the Brahmaputra. Now-a-days 
by the Luhit is understood that portion of the Brahmaputra between 
the mouth of the " Subansiri" river and Luhitmukh. The saying 
has the same meaning as our own proverb "None but the wearer 
knows where the shoe pinches." 



143- A- man of no consequence. 



Lathi marileo jito, bopai bulileo shito. 
It is all the same whether you kick him or call him father. 

The saying means that it is not worth while pleasing a certain 
person, for c^ffft is a friendly address. cTf^Ft means a kick given 
backwards at any one following up behind. In the original 
version was rtfe. When spelt this way, the word means a stick or 
a club. 



144. The boon of having a travelling companion. 



Lag hale langkaloiko jaba pari. 
In company one can go even as far as Langka. 

Langkd is the name given by Hindus to Ceylon. 



THE MORE HASTE THE LESS SPEED. 49 



145. The more haste the less speed. 



Lard lari belika jolongat japi neshomai. 
When you are in a hurry, 

you can't fit in even a japi into the knapsack. 

This saying is meant to illustrate the idea expressed in our own 
proverb " The more haste the less speed." 



146. What makes up the house. 



Larai luriye ghar khan, 
Dokhorai dukhariye ghar kh&n. 
Children make up the house, 
Sundries also make up the same. 



147. Do as you would be done by. 



Shamane shamane karib^ kaj, 
Harile jikile nai laj. 

Deal equally with your equals, 

And then whether you succeed in life or not, you need 

not be ashamed. 
In fact, " Do as you would be done by." 



148. Even little things are of profit* 

Itft 



Shola mukhat makhi pare 

Shio labhar bhitar. 

Even if a fly falls into a toothless mouth, 
It is a gain. 

means the same as rt^ (lapung), i.e., toothless. 



50 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



149. The kiss of love. 



Shelehar chumai nakti chinge. 
The kiss of love wounds the nose. 

= literally the cartilage of the nose, fk^fn literally breaks 
asunder. _ 

150. Half a loaf is better than no bread. 



Hera powa dhanar choddha ana o bhal. 
If you find even fourteen annas of lost money, it is well. 



151. When the bone of contention is removed. 

tfS Ctfat^t far (7TPT I 
^ C^FP? ^fl C^sPT I 
Ha(n)h powali nile shene. 
Tumi jene mayo tene. 

The hawk has carried off the duckling, 
Now we are equal. 

Literally, I am the same as you are. The hawk has carried off 
your duckling, so you can't lord it over me any longer. 



152. The man who is blind. 



Jhapi, lathi, tanga, iyak ji nalai, 
Shi dinate kana. 

He who carries neither jhapi, lathi or tanga, 
Is blind even in the daytime. 



153. " People who live in glass-houses, etc. " 

51^ ^tt \f^Rl Ttfe C?^^ f%^5^^ <3TttF ^t^T tt, f'fFf'r 
Chai chai buliba bat dehar bhitarat dche khal bam, 

pichali pariba tdt. 



A PERSON NOT WORTH CONCILIATING. 51 

Look out as you move, for there are many holes within your own body, 

and you might slip into one of them. 

This is a sort of equivalent for " People in glass-houses should 
not throw stones!" 

154. Nothing is attained without labour. 

^ sfl ^fttfn 15$ *rt ^tft l 
Dukh na karile mukh nd bhardi. 
If you don't take trouble, you won't fill your mouth. 



155. Nothing is attained without labour. 



Fft^T f 

Dukhathe mukh bhare bura loke koy. 

Shakalo shuni chale micha nahoy. 
Labour alone fills the mouth, so the old folk say ; 
Every one has heard this and seen this ; it is not false. 

This is another proverb like the preceding one. 



156. Silence is golden. 

^offt ^aifafa Tfttf $ PR I 
Kathdr dutrashdr bandhar duimer. 
Two words in speaking, two rounds in a fastening. 
This means that you should not say more than is absolutely 
necessary on an occasion. Two rounds in a fastening refers to the 
splicing together of bamboos when two rounds or more are made 
with the rope or cane before the knot is tied. 



A person not worth conciliating. 

tftOT c^, *ttffa^ Ttf^r^ c$w \ 

Dhare marileo jene, gddire mdrileo tene. 

It is the same whether you strike with the sharp edge 

or the blunt side (of the da). 



52 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

This saying refers to a person who is so weak and insignificant, 
that it is all the same whether he is your enemy or your friend, 
as he cannot injure you or benefit you. *Tfa (dhar) and tlf^r (gadi) 
are always used to denote the sharp edge and blunt side of a "da ." 



158. Crying over spilt milk. 



Kandile dhar shodh ne jai. 
By weeping a debt is not paid, 

It is no good crying over spilt milk. 

CTfttt (shodhai), in addition to its usual meaning, i.e., to cause 
an enquiry to be made, means to deposit or commit to the care 
of another, and so to pay. 



159. A chip of the old block. 



Bapek jene pitek tene. 
Like father, like son. 

i.e., the son is " a chip of the old block." 



160. Can a leopard change his spots. 



- 

Engar dhole o bagd nahoy. 
Even with washing, charcoal cannot become white. 



161. The poor ever anxious. 



Jar nai bit, mane kare pit pit. 
He who has no money, is anxious in mind. 

(pit) literally is gall or bile. 



PICK TIP WOOD WITH CARE. 53 



162. Responsibilities of power. 



Jata raj tata kaj. 
Wherever there are kingdoms, there are duties to be performed. 



163. Rules of Society. 



Prabashat niyam nai. 
In a temporary residence there is no rule. 

The proverb means that wben you are away from home, there 
is no necessity for thinking about les convenances of society. 
Another readin is 



Pradeshat niyam nai. 

In a foreign country you need not regard rules of society. 
With reference to this proverb, c.f. No. 82 ; also the Bihar 
proverb given by Christian (page 70 of his book) 

" Jaison des, taisan bhes." 
" Suit your behaviour to the country." 



164. Half a loaf is better than no bread. 



Eko nahowatkoi kana momai o bhal. 
A blind uncle is better than no uncle. 

Here T=fl is used to signify a blind person, its real meaning 
being one-eyed. _ 

165. Pick up wood with care. 



Ttf^T 

Kak damd chai lari bd, kharf. 
Tare kan mari tare jari. 
Pick up the wood with care, 

So that you can find your stick for carrying the bundle of faggots on, 

as well as the fastening, 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



Class III. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO PECULIARITIES OF CERTAIN CASTES AND 

CLASSES. 



166. AJwms. 



Ahomar chaklang Hindur bei. 
Tomar patalit paricho jei kara nei. 

For the Ahorns the " chaklang " and for the Hindus the " bei," 
Deal with me as you like, now that I am in your grip. 
These lines are meant to express the feelings of a bride after 
marriage. 

F^*K (chaklang) is the name of the Ahom marriage ceremony. 
C^ (bei) or fts1 (biya) is the Bengali fe (biye), or ft^ft 
(bibdha). C^ (bei) is the word generally used to denote the Hindu 
marriage ceremony of the C^fa (Horn). Now-a-days, nearly all 
marriages, even amongst the Ahoms and Chutias, are performed 
according to the Hindu custom, there being very few " chaklang " 
ceremonies. The Ahoms and Chutids are becoming rapidly Hinduised. 



167- Bhakats. 



Kani pare ha(n)he khai bhakat da'n)he. 
Ducks lay eggs and the Bhakats eat them. 
(bhakut). This is the name given to the disciples of the 
gosains. 

168. Bhakats. 



Bhakatatkoi dheki thora to dan gar ne ? 
Is the pestle of the " dheki " heavier than a " bhakat " ? 
The C^1 (thora) is the heavy pestle fixed on the lever of the 
dheki. The meaning of the proverb is that a " bhakat " is a 
heavier burden to support than even the weighty dheki thord. 



BHAKATS. 55 



169. Bhakats. 



Jetiya mariba dholat chapar, 
Tetiya laba murat kapar. 

When they (the bhakats) clap their hands at the temple, 
Then cover your head with your cloth. 

The proverb alludes to the evening worship at the temple, when, 
on account of the evening chills, it is best to cover the head. Ft 9 !^ 
(chdpar) here means the clapping of hands by a number of people 
all together. The ** chdpar 11 is the principal accompaniment to the 
singing of religious hymns (ndm). The " chdpar " accompaniment 
is varied at intervals by the clashing of " tal " (cymbals) and by 
the beating of large drums. 



170. Bhakats. 



Bhakathei kalo na pakai. 
Bhakats don't even cook plantains. 

This means that, although a dainty feeder, the " bhakat" is 
above cooking even such delicacies as plantains. 



171. BhaJcats. 



Ndkat lagil pak. 

Mah4 bhakatar chidra lagil. 

Medhi patim kak. 

An unexpected thing has happened ; 

The head bhakat has been found fault with, 

Whom shall I make a medhi ? 

The saying is ironically meant. The head " bhakat " is next to 
the gosain, the most powerful person at the Sastra. He is a person 



56 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

who is generally supposed to be above suspicion. A csrfq is a person 
of much less importance, being only the gosain's agent at a village. 
These medhis are entitled to receive, I believe, a small portion of 
the offerings or of the gosain's " kar, " or tax, as commission for 
collecting the same. These officers exist all over Assam, and 
through them the gosain and the bhakats at the Sastra keep 
touch with the people. Medhis are sometimes known by the title 
of " shastola." There are also ranks of medhis, e.g., " bor " medhi 
(head medhi) and raj rnedhi (the chief officer of the gosain outside 
the Sastra). Medhis at village feasts generally receive what is 
called TR (man), which literally means honour or obedience. 
The " man," however, often takes a more tangible form in the 
way of a gift of an earthenware " kalsi " (vessel) and a pati 
(mat) by the man who gives the feast. 



172. Bhakats (of Kamldbdri). 



CTI carter 

Agar Kamlabariyai dhui khai khari. 
Etiar Kamlabariyai no dhowe bhari. 

The Kamlabari " bhakats " of former days used to wash 

firewood before they cooked with it. 
The Kamlabari " bhakats " of the present day don't 

even wash, their feet. 

This saying means that the " bhakats " of this Sastra used to 
be so punctilious, that they washed firewood before cooking 
with it, for fear that it might have been defiled by the touch 
of some person. Now-a-days the " bhakats " do not even take the 
trouble to wash their feet before eating ; washing of not only the feet, 
but the whole body, before eating being the strict custom of all 
Hindus. 



173. Shot. 

TOta <R ret^ faf^s i 
Eajar dhan bhot girihat. 
The rent-collector is the owner of the king's wealth. 



BHUIYAS. 57 

CStfc is the old name for rent-collector. In the days of the rajas, 
the revenue was farmed out to " bhots, " who paid the rajd a 
certain sum annually, and made as much out of the ryots as they 
could. 



174. Bhuiyas. 

^1 (StT Iwi C^T? Itfrl 

*& <st? ^n cstr ^43 

Phata hok chinga hok patar tangali. 
Sharu hok bura hok btmiyar powali. 

Let it be torn, let it be broken, it is still a scarf of fine silk. 
Let him be young, Jet him be old, he is still the son of a Bhuiya. 

*fti> (pat) is a fine kind of Assamese silk, obtained from the 
cocoons of a worm that feeds on the mulberry tree. The best 
descriptions of this kind of silk are to be obtained in the Jorhat 
subdivision of the Sibsagar district. 

frytfr is either a scarf or waistcloth. These are often made 
of "pat" or "mezankuri" silk, and are embroidered with red, or 
even very occasionally with gold thread. 

^jp1.- Bhuiyas were, as their name implies, landholders, " the 
word 1^1 being derived from ^^ or v?fr (land). Bronson says 
they were " rajbangshi," or of the royal family. They were, in 
addition to being landholders, entitled to certain privileges granted 
them in consideration for their performing certain judicial func- 
tions ; apparently, they were attached to the chief courts of justice' 
in the times of the rajas, and they acted as umpires or arbitrators 
in civil suits. Eobinson mentions in his "Assam" the "Baro 
Bhuiya," or 12 Bhuiyas. With reference to this proverb it will 
be interesting to compare Christian's Bihar proverb 

Bap ke put sipahi ke ghora, 
Nau to thoram thord. 

Which Christian translates 

" A chip of the old block, 

like the steed of the trooper, 
If he is not up to very much, still he is above the average." 



58 SOME ASSAMESE I'KOVEHBS. 



175- Boras. 

q*\i ^rs <m ^tffe ^ft *rtfV^ c^i ^tf% i 

JBarar gharat tarar gathi, barat thiikiba kei rati. 

In the Bora's house the walls are fastened with " tard; " 
How many nights will the Bora live in it. 

^1 (tord). A " bord " was an inferior officer appointed by the 
Assam kings over 20 peons. The bord apparently looked after road- 
mnking and other public works, "and used to move from place to place ; 
hence the saying "thakiba kei rdti " (how many nights will be remain). 

^! (tard) or ^Rltfa is the wild cardamom, which elephants are 
very fond of. The walls and roofs of temporary huts are frequently 
made of \s^1 (tard). _ 

176. Brahmins. 



Bamuue shagune bichare mar^L. 

Ganake bichare nariyd para. 

The Brahmin and the vulture look out for corpses. 
The ganak is on the look-out from the time a person is taken ill. 



177- Brahmins. 



Bapur ba(n)h jopai marali. 

Is the ridge-pole of the Brahmin's house made of a bamboo ? 
The ridge-pole of the house is generally made of more lasting 
wood than bamboo.. It is only the poor who have to use a bamboo 
for the purpose. A Brahmin is sure to have the best of every thing, 
and it is not likely that he will be satisfied with a bamboo. Tt^ is 
really the respectful address of a man to a Brahmin. 



178. Brahmins. 



Moy dchilo dhari boi, 
Mok anile Bamunto koi. 



THE MAHANTA. 



I was combing my beard, 

And he brought me here, calling me a Brahmin. 

Perhaps this is intended for joke, as Brahmins in Assam 
don't have beards, as a rule. 



179- Mahangs. 



Dhan mahangaloi gal Ion briar pelai, 
Mati bhar anile ghar mdchibaloi hal. 

His wealth has gone to the Mahang. 
So he threw down his load of salt 

and set about plastering his house. 

The proverb perhaps means that the mahangs having exhausted 
all the supplies of the house, the master at last had time to think 
of something else besides feeding them, and was able to plaster his 
house. Possibly the proverb, however, means that the householder 
said that his wealth had gone in feeding the mahangs, but 
notwithstanding this, he was able to buy a load of salt, in which 
case there is an ironical meaning. 1^ (mahang) a class of religious 
mendicants. 

180. Miris. 

fofr* frOT, ftft fot*T I 
Tirik mile, Miri kile. 
When the Miri meets his wife he beats her. 

I should doubt if this is true of the Miri husband, as a rule, and 
there is no need to suppose that the Miri wife needs chastisement 
any more than her Assamese sister, although the Miri beats his wife 
when she deserves it. Miri women have, however, often plenty of 
muscle, and would be apt to turn the tables on their husbands if 
roughly handled. 

181. The Mdhdnta. 

H?QX fa Vfcfl, ^51 ^ fa ^f^s I 

Mahantar chin mahanit, bura garur chin gha(n)hanit. 



GO SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

The tracks of the Mahanta are in the " matikalai " field, 

and those of the old bullock are in the meadow. 

The Mahanta, who like the gosain, is a spiritual guide, takes his 
tithe in kind as often as in money ; this accounts for his tracks 
being found in the field of " matikalai." 

srt^fa (mahani) is a field of " mah, " which is a black "dal " or 
pulse. The latter part of the proverb rreans that an old bullock, 
when it is past work, is turned out to graze. 



182. Mariyds. 



Mariyak kelei dhan, Gariyak kelei kan ? 

Why should a Mariya have paddy, 

or a Gariya be allowed to keep his ears ? 

(Mariya). The Mariyds are braziers. They are, as a rule, 
much looked down upon. They are professedly Muhammadans, 
but are quite ignorant of the tenets of Islam really. Possibly, they 
are converts from Hinduism, which may account for the contempt 
with which they are held by Hindus, sffafl (gariya). This term, 
as stated before, is meant to be one of opprobrium, but in reality 
it is nothing of the sort. ?tf^1 means a man from " Gaur " (a city 
in Bengal), that formerly existed. The Assamese Muhammadans 
say they are a relict of the Muhammadan invasion. In the times 
of the rdjas, they were much oppressed, but their status has much 
improved of late years. _ 

183. Ndtjas. 



Naginie lara pai, nagai jal khai. 

The Naga's wife gives birth to a child, 

the Naga drinks the medicine. 

(jal) is the Hindustani jhdl, a preparation of hot spices 
taken by women after delivery. 

^1 (nagd) or ^N1 (ndgd) is a generic term, which includes a 
number of large and powerful hill tribes. 



THIEVES. 61 

184. Thieves. 



Ghor por mukh khanihe. 

The stock in trade of a thief is his appearance. 

There are two kinds of thieves is Assam the thief in the 
ordinary sense of the word, and the c&fatfa CFl^ (chowali chor), or 
the stealer of young women. Marriage by capture still exists in 
Assam, indeed, amongst the lower classes ; this is by no means 
uncommon. A young man singles out a girl at the "bihu" festival, 
who is perhaps not insensible to his attentions, and, when opportunity 
offers, elopes with her. This is called cFfatf*T CFtfr (chowdli chori), 
or the stealing of young women. In this way the bridegroom 
escapes the p.-iyment of money or presents to the girl's parents. 
Hence this proverb " The stock in trade of a thief is his appear- 
ance." 



185. Thieves. 

CTtltf 'Sltf&l' csfa, (7ft Hfafa C1H I 
Bopai achil chor, shei purkiti mor. 
My father was a thief, I am of the same nature. 

cf. No. 158 Tft*PF cww fHref c<3W (Bapek jene pitek tene). 



186. Thieves. 



vflft 

Jor o jor biparit jor, 
Eti kankata eti chor. 

. A couple, a dissimilar couple ; 

One has cropped ears and the other is a thief. 

The use of fttfVs is here ironical. ^HF1 (kankata) literally 
with ears that have been cut off. It was the custom in the times 
of the rajas to cut off the ears of thieves and other offend- 
ers. 



62 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



CLASS IV. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO SOCIAL AND MORAL SUBJECTS, RELIGIOUS 
CUSTOMS, AND POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS. 



187. Betelnut. 



Sarukoi kdtibd, ghankoi khba, 
Sbei tdmolar bilah chfiba. 

Cut it small and eat it thick, 
And enjoy the betelnut. 



188. Betelnut. 

^tft fk^fa ^1, c^tnfr fkrfa *l^l i 

Katari chikon gu, topani chikon pu&. 

A sharp knife for betelnut. 

To sleep in the early morning is pleasant. 

The Assamese is fond of sleeping as late as he can in the early 
morning, especially in cold or wet weather. ^1 (gua) is another 
name for xstCTt^T (tamol), the betelnut. 



189. 

ite fapr *ral 

Shdt bihur shayS kani. 
An egg that has survived seven Bihus. 

There are three Bihus, the Choit, Kartik, and Mdgh Bihus. They 
are held on the last day?, of the months just enumerated. The Choit 
Bihu is a very pretty festival, the Assamese women coming out in 
their best clothes and jewellery, and with sprays of orchid in their 
hair. They dance and sing under the trees of the forest in imitation 
of the Gopis of Brindaban. No man is supposed to go near to them, 
but this festival nevertheless results in many runaway matches. 
Cows are bathed in the rivers, and sometimes painted at this 



BRAHMINICAL THREAD BUSY-BODIES. 63 

festival. The Kartik Bihu is a much smaller festival, and has no 
peculiar customs that I can recall. The Magli Bihu is an important 
feast, as it is the harvest-home. By the end of Magh (the middle 
of February) all the rice has been gathered in, and if the season 
has been a good one, there is much rejoicing Large piles of wood 
are made, and at night a light is put to them, when they blaze up 
and make grand bonfires. 

The Assamese play a game with eggs at these festivals. Two 
men each take an egg and push them point to point at one another. 
The egg that breaks is beaten, and the unbroken one wins. This 
custom is referred to in the proverb above, and is called ^fsrsj^l 
[kanijuja]. In the old days there used to be buffalo fights, and 
even elephant fights, at the Bihu. 



190. Brahminical thread. 

^ frfiR 
CFfatfa 



Rtihit nidiba hat, 

Lara chowali laghone nathaba. 

Diba gudhalite bhat. 

Don't, touch anything stale. 

Don't delay in giving your children the sacred thread. 

Give cooked rice in the evening. 

?tf^ (rahit) cooked rice of the day before, which is stale and 
nasty. *rc^fa (laghon) = Bengali b*W (poita), the sacred thread. It 
is the custom amongst the higher castes to invest a child with the 
sacred thread when it reaches a certain age. 



191. Busy-bodies. 



Lagani nahale jui najale, 
Tutakiyd nahale gao(n) nabahe. 

Without kindling wood the fire won't light, 

And without a busybody no village can be established. 



64 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



192. Childless Woman. 



Jar nai kechhuwft burake nachhua. 
She who has not a baby to dandle, should make her old man dance. 



193. Cutting off the nose. 



Nijar nak kdti shatinir jatra bhanga. 

She cut off her own nose, so as to prevent her husband's second wife 

from starting on a journey. 

One wife, out of jealousy, because her husband's second wife is 
going out for the day, slits her own nose, so as to prevent her starting. 
The Assamese have a superstition that if anything mutilated or 
deformed is seen when setting out on a journey, the journey will be 
unlucky. ^fs^t (shatini) or arfa^T (shatiyoi) =one of the several 
wives of one husband. Polygamy brings many evils ; not the least 
of these evils is the jealousy that nearly always exists between the 
wives, which results in continual squabbles, cf. the following 
translations of Eastern sayings : 

Malay. "Two wives under one roof : two tigers in one cage." 
Telegu. "Two swords cannot be contained in one scabbard." 
Afghan. " Who likes squabbles at home, contracts two 
marriages." 

Tamul. "Why fire the house of a man who has two wives?" 
i.e., the fire of anger and jealousy is enough. 



194- Cutting off the nose, 



dhiba dale ple, 
Chuli kdtile hiba kon kale ? 

If the nose is cut off, it will regain its old size by treatment, 
But if the hair is cut off, when will it come again ? 



DAUGHTERS. 65 



Mr. Abdul Majid explains this proverb by the following little 
story : Once upon a time there was an Assamese king, who sen- 
tenced a man to have his nose cut off, mutilation being a common 
punishment in the times of the rajas. Some one, who was a friend 
of the man under sentence, advised the king to cut off the man's hair 
instead of his nose, as the hair would not grow again, whereas the 
nose would soon regain its former size with treatment. The king 
believed the adviser, and so the prisoner got off with having his 
hair cropped. 



195- Daughters. 



Kathat kath& bare, kharikat bare kdn, 
M&kar gharat jiwari bare, patharat bfire 

A story grows by telling, a bit of straw makes the hole in the ear larger ; 
A girl grows up best at her mother's house ; paddy grows best on the pathar. 

^ffs^ means a grass tooth-pick, a roasting spit, or a spire of 
dry grass to which the eggs of " mugd " silkworms are attached. 
Here it is used in its first sense, the tooth-pick being used to make 
the hole, bored through the lobe of the ear, bigger. Both men and 
women wear earrings, called thuria (^rfarl), which are nearly always 
cylindrically-shaped bits of amber, . with a gold knob at the end, 
which shows in front. As these " thuria " are often of considerable 
diameter, a large hole is required in the ear. The best way to 
widen the hole, is to put in an additional bit of straw (*ff^l) each 
time this is possible. The proverb is an answer to the question 
Where do things thrive best ? 



196- Daughters. 



\3rt^ 



Tik balad olai mati, m&k bhaleye jiyek jati. 
A good bullock comes when it is called ; if a mother is good 

the daughter is the same. 



66 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

197- Daughters. 

sit^s fo 3\mq TtWt, cu^t cfrftrl fo Tte* 

Makat koi jiyek kaji, dheki thora loi bate pa(n)ji. 

The daughter is more skilful than the mother (forsooth). 
There is an obstacle in the road to the "dheki" ! 

The proverb means that the daughter makes herself out more 
clever than her mother, but she excuses herself from working the 
" dheki " (paddy-husker), the principal work of the house. 

*fff% is a pointed bamboo stake driven into the ground with the 
object of wounding foot-passengers. The Nagas and other hill 
tribes place " panjis " round their villages to guard against sudden 
attack. 

198. Daughters. 

^ it ^ sit, 



f? I 

Toi makar ji^ moi jakar jf, 
Tapat bhatat checha karo, 
Hecha potosh di. 

You are your mother's daughter, 

And I am a daughter of so and so. 

Do you think I make hot cooked rice cool by 'pressing 

against it and squeezing it ? 

The latter half of the saying is interrogative. 



199. Dheki. 



Dheki shal phurile khudar ki akal. 

The paddy-husker has gone away, what a dearth of broken rice 

(refuse) there will be ! 

200- Father. 

^ttfl *rte vtffr Tif'tf i 

Bapur gat barhani lagil. 
The broom has touched father's body ! 



FISHERMAN. 67 



A dire misfortune, as the broom is always unclean. ?t<t (bdpu) 
is a respectful form of address for either a father or a Brahmin. 



201- Fisherman. 



Dom chhahaki hal chukat pdtile duli, 
Uliyai pelai pelai gd shungshungaiche bull. 

A Dom became rich, and he placed in the corner of his house 

a basket for storing paddy. 
He then pulls the basket out, saying that he feels his body itching. 

A Dom would not usually possess a " duli " for storing paddy, 
as he earns his bread by fishing. *f| ^s^sFt^ (ga shungshungai), 
literally to feel an itching in the body. The word is derived from 
^=a bristle, a beard of a grain of paddy. 



202. Guitar. 

si-fa^re cfrfrtCt 

Manathe tokari baje. 
Out of respect for him they play the tokari. 

cfrtvfcff (tokari) is an instrument of music played with the 
fingers like the guitar. 

203. Husband. 



Etiya palehi ghar patapoi, 
Kilabaloi dhiche kher pelai dallaoi. 

Now has come the worthy husband j 

He drops the load of straw from off his shoulders 

and wants to hurt me with the knife in his hand. 

(gbar pata") literally, he who has established the house. 
Here the wife is the speaker. 



68 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



204. Husband. 



Ki kam ki nakam poir ndm batali. 
"What to say and what not to say, my husband's name is " chisel." 

A woman who has always to be corrected for making mistakes, 
gives vent to her wrath by saying that her husband's name is 
" chisel, " i.e., he has a tongue as sharp as a chisel. 



205. Husband. 



Kihat karilo ki, dhan edon di, 
Poito anilo nito kilai mare. 

What have I done to have bought a husband 

for a dun of paddy, 
Who always beats me. 

In Assam the bridegroom, as a rule, has to make presents to the 
bride's parents before marriage, so that in this proverb the order 
of things is reversed. 



206. Husband. 

&tfct*& 
*tf%nft 



Khaba janilei chawolei chira, 

Bahiba janilei matiyei pira, 

Buliba janilei mojiyai der prahar bat. 

If eaten knowingly (contentedly), common rice is " chira " 

(washed rice). 

To one who knows how to sit the ground is the stool. 
To her who knows how to walk the dining-room is one 

and a half prahar's journey. 

If you know how to eat, cooked rice is as good as " chira". " If 
you know how to sit, the ground is as good as a chair. And if you 



HUSBAND. 69 



only know how to walk, it takes as long as a prahar and a half to 
cover the floor in your house. Slowness of gait in a woman is 
considered lady-like, as well as graceful. sjf^^-^tW ^Ttfa (maj 
kathdli), the middle room, of the house, where the meals are served 
and eaten. 



207. Husband. 



CTtOT 
CtfOT 3<3l 



Girjyeke bole bhok bhok, 
Ghoiniyeke bole pud gadhuli, 
Dui shaj eke lage hok. 

The husband cries out " I am hungry," " I am hungry." 
The wife replies " Let the morning meal and evening meal 

be taken together. 

This is a case where the wife is too thrifty and half-starves 
her husband. The Assamese has, as a rule, three meals a day, i.e., in 
the early morning, midday, and evening. In the early morning 
he eats cooked rice, either hot or cold, according to his fancy or his 
means. In the middle of the day he takes what is called sf^ffa 
(jalpan) or lunch, which often consists of f*frteft (pithaguri) or 
cakes made from rice flour. In the evening is the large meal of 
the day ; it consists of cooked rice, fish, or vegetables. (See No. 55.) 



208- Husband. 



Jalake bulile jakai, 

Andhare mudhare chiniba noari 

Poiyekak bulile kakai. 

The net was mistaken for a jakai, 

And she called her husband " kakai " (elder brother) 

in the dark. 



70 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



(jal) is a fishing net, of which there are several kinds. The 
nets are made from a fibre called "riha," which is very strong. 
<sf^t^ (jakai) is a scoop with a handle, which is pushed along in the 
mud by women to catch small fish. The jakdi is made of split 
bamboo, with a whole bamboo for a handle, and is very light. 



209. Learned. 



Jandr bhat mach najanar sheiye kalagrah. 

What is cooked rice and fish to the learned, 

is an insurmountable difficulty to the unlearned. 



210. Low birth. 



Tor janam jati moi jano. 

Kathiya talit ghar ache 

Eshar cherek dirai maribi lar. 
I know your lineage. 
Your home is in the paddy nursery. 
If I were to say a little more, you would run away. 

(eshdr) literally ^fg^stt (etikatbi) one word ; f^rtt (dirai) 
literally to boast. __ 

211. Lover. 



i khabaloi dhi bdndhat paril. 
He came only to have a look, but he got tied up. 
The saying refers to the case of a man who has been carrying on 
an intrigue, but has been found out. 



212. Maternal uncle. 



Momal marak, bhutak pche pa'm. 
Let the uncle die, I will find the devil (&S) afterwards. 



MARRIAGE MOTHER-IN-LAW. - 71 

This is rather an amusing instance of " Shutting the stable-door 
after the steed has been stolen." The usual exorcism of the evil 
spirit is here dispensed with until after the man's death. 



213. Marriage. 



c^n^tsl 

Etai bor khorochatkoi 
Biyar khorocha sliakat. 

The slip-knot of marriage is the strongest slip-knot of all. 



214, Mother-in-law. 



Chal pai biyani nito tini beli. 

If the mother-in-law gets a chance, 

she comes to the house three times a day. 

These words are put into the mouth of the daughter-in-law, 
who has to put up with a great deal of interference from 
her husband's mother. 

(biyani) =*rt$ (shahu), mother-in-law. 



Mother-in-law. 



Shahu bowarir ghar, 
Kone khai gakhirar shar. 

The mother-in-law is at her daughter-in-law's house, 
Who is going to drink the cream ? 

This means that there will be a fight over it. 
*R (shar) =5t 5 lfr (chdmani), cream. *re (shar) is the same word 
really as the Bengali Jjtsr (shar) very probably. 



72 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



216. Oil. 



Eanat pari kaliya halo, 
Tel naikiyat phapariya halo. 

I have become black through having fallen (wounded) in battle, 
And I have become scurfy through having no oil. 

A cooly whose skin has been tanned through exposure to the 
sun, says he has become black owing to being wounded on the 
field of battle. Having no oil to rub on the body is given as an 
excuse for his skin being scurfy. The Assamese rub their hair and 
body with ^TtfwT C$*\ (narikal tel), cocoanut oil. 



217. Old wan. 



Dekhichahe bura agni kurd. 
He looks an old man, but in reality he is a flame of fire. 



(agnik urd)=^^1 (jui kura), a torch, vffi (agni), 
= Ignis {Dowson). To quote further from the same authority " Fire 
is one of the most ancient and most sacred objects of Hindu worship. 
Agni is one of the chief deities of the Yedas. He is one of the 
three great deities Agni, V^yu (Indra), and Surya who 
respectively preside over earth, air, and sky." (Dowson.) 



218. Pohdri. 



Poharir poiek shakhi. 
The Pohari's witness is her husband. 

This means that the only witness a Pohdri can get, is her own 
husband owing to her poverty. Other people being able to pay for 
witnesses, have thus an advantage over her. 

(pohdri) are petty traders. 



PORTEES STEP-MOTHER. 73 



219. Porters. 



Bharik nere bhare, jabarak nere pachala khare. 

The burden does not leave the porter's back, 

and potash (salt) does not leave the vegetables. 

The above means that a porter cannot earn his livelihood with- 
out carrying loads, and vegetables cannot be eaten without salt. 

t5*Tl *tta (pachala kha"r) = potash obtained by burning plantain 
trees. In olden days potash, so obtained, was eaten in place of salt, 
which was not readily procurable. %R$] (jabara) = greens boiled 
without salt. 

220. Religion. 



Dharmar jay adharmar khyay. 
The victory of religion is the decline of wickedness. 

q$ (dharma) is moral and religious duty. Dharma was an an- 
cient sage, sometimes classed among the Prajapatis, the fathers of 
the human race, who were produced by Manu. Dharma married 
thirteen (or ten) of the daughters of Daksha, and had a numerous 
progeny, but all his children " are mainfestly allegorical, being 
personifications of intelligences and virtues and religious rites, and 
being, therefore, appropriately wedded to the probable authors of 
the Hindu code of religion and morals, or the equally allegorical 
representation of that code, Dharma." (Wilson.) 



221. Step-mother. 

f * 



Ki kam mahr air gun, 
Ehate kharali ehate Ion ! 

What shall I say of my step-mother's character f 
In one hand she has chutney and in the other salt ! 

In former days salt was a luxury, and " kharali " is much 
appreciated as a relish to eat with boiled rice. For note on 
<' kharali, " see No. 103. 



74 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

222. Step-son. 

^f=TC Ctl, 



3*tt, trfr 5jt 

Mor po nahoy shatinir po, 
Dhari nai, pati nai matite sho. 

You are not my son, but a son of my fellow wife, 
I have no "dhari " (rug) and no " pati" (mat) for you, 
you must sleep on the ground. 



223. Stolen cattle. 



Chore niya garur bate bate ghah. 
The stolen bullock finds grass along the road. 

All roads in Assam have grass growing on the sides upon which 
the cattle graze as they go along. 



224- Teacher. 



Kelehua oja chapaniyd, pali, 
Ore rati nam gay kher jui jali. 

You uninvited teacher ! you have found another 

uninvited one (chapaniya), 
And have lit a fire and have sung hymns all night. 

Ojd is also an exorcist, cw^fl WfsRd (kelehua and chapaniyd) 
are contemptuous terms applied to one who wishes to associate with 
others without being asked. The term ''chapaniyd" is usually 
applied to a bachelor living at the house of a man who has 
daughters, on the understanding that he is to get one of the 
daughters in marriage. _ 

225. Urbashi. 



Eke Urbashi duware path. 
Ihe temple of Urbashi has but one door, and path leading up to it. 



VILLAGE CONVERSATION. 75 

Urbashi, or Urvasi, was one of the Apsarases, the nymphs 
of Indra's heaven. The name " which signifies moving in the 
water, has some analogy to that of Aphrodite." (Dowson.) The 
Kamdyana and the Puranas attribute the origin of these nymphs 
to the churning of the ocean. 

There is a love story told in the Mahabhdrata, which need not 
be reproduced here, concerning Urbashi and Puru-ravas, a my- 
thical person, mentioned in the Vedas, connected with the sun 
and the dawn, and existing in the middle region of the universe. 
This story Maxmiiller considers " one of the myths of the Vedas 
which expresses the correlation of the dawn and the sun. The 
love between the mortal and the immortal, and the identity of 
the morning dawn and the evening twilight, is the story of Urvasi 
and Puru-ravas." The word " Urvasi," Maxmiiller says, " was 
originally an appellation and meant dawn." Dowson writes "Dr. 
Goldstiicker's explanation differs, but seems more apposite. 
According to this Puru-ravas is the sun and Urvasi is the morning 
mist ; when Puru-ravas is visible, Urvasi vanishes, as the mist is 
absorbed when the sun shines forth." I am indebted to Mr. Abdul 
Majid, Extra Assistant Commissioner of Gauh&ti, for the following 
note: "It is believed that certain stones which stand between the 

Umanand rocks (Peacock island) and the Koromonasa rocks, are 
Urbashi herself transformed into a stone [near these stones are at 

present a white column, called the ' Light House ']." Mr. 

Majid then adds that the people of Gauhati call the Umanand 
rocks " Urpokhi," which is said to be a corruption of Urbasi. The 
name " Urpokhi," i.e,, one flying hither and thither, as applied to 
the courtezan, Urbashi would seem to be a fitting one. 



226. Village conversation. 



Dhekiya lata pata, 
Bhat kaote pani khai, 
Shio eta katha. 



76 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

Bits of fern, creepers, and leaves. 
He drinks water whilst eating rice. 
These are the subjects of conversation. 

This is a description of village talk. 



227- Water Sprite. 



Khal khani jashini chapai lale. 
By digging a drain (near your house) 

you have brought the evil spirit closer. 

The jashini is one of the du minores of the Assamese. 
Although the "jashini " is supposed to be evilly disposed, 
apparently it does not require to be propitiated by offerings. The 
"jashini " presides over tanks and drains. Stories are told by the 
villagers of men who had been pulled down into the depths of deep 
pools by " jashinis," and so drowned whilst bathing. 



228. Water Sprite, 



Thalat thai raja pota pukhurir bakeye raja. 
A king reigns on land, in half-filled-up tanks reigns the water sprite. 

P*l (thai) :z Sanskrit ^ (sthal), land, place. Ctt1 *t^ (potd 
pukhuri), literally buried tank. What is meant generally by the 
expression, however, is a tank in process of being filled up. ?fF 
[ba(n)k] is an evil spirit said to haunt swamps and marshes. The 
ba(n)k, like the will o'the whisp, leads people astray at night. 



229. Widower. 



Jor pori baralar hat pale hi. 
The torch burnt down to the hand of the widower that held it. 

Mr. Abdul Majid notes on this "When a man loses his wife and 
becomes a widower (barala), he is so immersed in grief that, when 
he lights a torch he lets it burned his hand in his absence of mind." 



WIDOWER WIVES : THE CONTRARY WIFE. 77 



230. Widower. 



Than than Madan Gopal, eketa baralar nakhan chotal. 
He is alone by himself a "Madan Gopal" (a widower), 

he possesses nine courtyards (and houses to correspond). 

1?^ C^ttTt^r (Madan Gopal) is either a bachelor or a widower. 
spR (Madan) is one of the names of ^1 (Kama), the Indian cupid. 

(Gopal), cowkeeper, a name of the youthful Krishna whilst 
living amongst the cowherds in Brindaban. 



231. Widower. 



Parbatat kachakani bhoyamat ban, 
Barala bichariche shukan dhan. 

To look for turtle's eggs in the hills, to put up a weir 
(c.cross a stream) in the plains, 
Are as difficult things to do as for a widower (to obtain) dry paddy. 

In the proverb just above, we have some of the advantages of 
widow'erhood. In this proverb we have one of the disadvantages. 
Tfl (ban) is a weir thrown across a stream to prevent the fish 
finding their way out to the Brahmaputra. Such weirs are difficult 
to put up, and still more difficult to keep in place, as the streams 
are liable to rise suddenly and wash them away. Turtle's eo-o-s 
are found on the sandhills alongside rivers. They are difficult 
to find unless the turtle is seen making its way off from the place 
where the eggs have been deposited. 



232. Wives : The contrary wife. 



Khojo kharali diye Ion, 
Ene ubhatit thakiba kon. 



78 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

I ask for chutney and she gives me salt ! 
Who can stand a wife who is so contrary ? 

For note on rfaf% (kharali), see No. 103. 



233. The wife wlio is a hasty cook. 



Khar randhani khar barani poiek laghone jai, 
Oda randhani oda barani poiek tini shaji khai. 

A hasty cook and a hasty broom, and the husband goes fasting, 

A slow cook and a slow broom, and the husband eats three meals a day. 

A hasty cook often spoils what she is cooking. A hasty broom 
makes a lot of dust. A cook who takes time and trouble, prepares 
a satisfactory meal. A broom that does its work in a systematic 
manner, makes little dust. *ft (khar) = literally quick, dry, parched. 
^1 (odd) soft, not over-roasted. 



234. The wife supreme in her own house. 

^ rf% brfr, rfe*r ffa ^frfr i 

Ghare pati ghoini, khale pati jashini. 
In the home the wife is supreme, in the ditch reigns the water sprite, 



235. A wife who, though wsll-meaning, is without tact. 



Tini gadhulit tariche tat, 

Ujutit chingile poiekar da(n)t. 

For three evenings she has been spreading her loom, 
But by mistake she has broken her husband's tooth. 

(tt) is the wooden hand-loom used by Assamese women 
for weaving cotton or silk. 



THE SHREW THE WIFE ALWAYS BEAUTIFUL. 79 



236. The shrew. 



Par kar jubala gay nathaware. 
Cross me over (the stream), stupid. I am so tired. 



237, The spoilt wife. 

<tfrcr 



Betiye bhangile katarS,, Grargao palehi batar, 
Ghoiniye bhangile ka(n)hi, thale muchukai ha(n)hi. 

The maid-servant broke a cocoanut shell, and the news spread to Gargao. 
The wife broke a brass plate, and the result was only a smile 

(from her husband). 

<T.i?<ri (katara) is a half cocoanut shell used as a cup by the poor, 
or as a lid for a vessel, sfsffts [Gargao (n)], Nazira, was at one 
time the capital of the Ahom rajds. 



238. The old wife and the young wife. 

^^ *Tfa fasfa sfft, mi fftt t?t% ^ft i 
Sarur day pichali jai, barar day khuchari khai. 
^Through the young wife's mistake he slips down, 
But when the old wife makes a mistake, he stirs up the mud. 

The case of a man who has two wives, an old one and a young 
one, is meant. 

239. The stingy wife. 



Bidhatay dileo tirutal nidiye. 
Although Bidhatd gave, the wife does not ! 

(Bidhata) is Brahma, the law-giver. 



240. The wife always beautiful. 



Maj murat nai chuli, poiyek mate rupahi buli. 
She has no hair on the middle of her head, but her husband 

calls her rupahi " (the beautiful one). 



80 SOME ASSAMESE PJIOVERBS. 



241. A paragon of a wife. 



Sharba shulakhyani tdi, patito mute churuto khai. 

A paragon of a wife, she spoils the bed and eats from the cooking pot. 
The proverb is of course ironical. 



242. Women. 



Tirir chuti baranir buti. 
Women that are short in stature, are like brooms that are worn out. 

The Assamese think a great deal of a tall woman. 



243. Women. 



Tirir, Miri, bhato, kowa, 
Ei tini chari ash no powa. 

Of women, Miris, the parot and the crow, 

The minds of these four you cannot know. 



Assamese never trust women. In this they do not differ from 
the people of the rest of India, who have a very low idea of the sex. 
Miris are always supposed to be very deceitful. t To me personally 
they have always appeared very simple, but perhaps I have been 
taken in. The words "bhato" and "kowa" have been inserted 
for purposes of rhyme. 



244. Women. 



Thuparir poi, maje phutd choi, kati khai katand, 
Ei tini chari jamar jatana. 

To be the husband of a worthless woman, a cart-covering 

with a hole in the middle of it, a hired weaver, 
These three are the agony of death. 



THE BRINJAL OUT OF SEASON. 81 

In Assam, the bullock carts are covered with hoods made of 
matting, with bamboo hoops to support it. Any one who has 
travelled in a bullock cart with a hole in its hood on a wet 
night in the rains, will endorse the truth of this saying. A hired 
weaver is very troublesome on account of her bad work, qfafl 
(katana) = c^&br C*Tt r -R ^1 ^1 Tl vt'ft C^t*M itSI I (Branson}. 
(Bechaloi lokar shutd kata ba kapar bowd manush). One who spins 
or weaves for others for hire. For note on ^ (jam ), see No. 24. 



Class V. 



245. The brinjal out of season. 



Abatariya' bengend mok tol mok tol kare. 

The egg plant that is out of season, cries out 

" pluck me," "pluck me." 

This saying is expressive of contempt towards men who are 
too pushing. 

246. The " bagari " plum. 

Ulur lagat bagari paril. 
The wild plum is found in the ' ulu ' grass. 

Ifar (literally) fell. In "ulu" grass jungle the "bagari," or 
wild plum, is frequently found. 

247- "Dhdn" and" pan." 



Ek Ahine dh^in, 
Tini Sh^wone pdn. 



82 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

In one Ahin dhan, 
In three Shawons pan. 

The transplanted rice begins to come into ear in Ahin, about 
15th September to 15th October. The paddy is not ripe, however, 
till well on in December or beginning of January. The pan, 
however, takes three years to mature. (According to the proverb, 
the month of Shdwon is from about 15th July to 15th August.) 



248. 



Eke gachar pan shi ki haba dn. 

It is " pan " from the same tree, how will it be different. 
The saying means he is a " chip of the old block, " how will 
he be different to his father ? 



249. Paddy. 



Kumaliya bharit dhan, 

Shunge phutiloi phure atdh pdri. 

If the man who treads out the paddy has soft feet, 

The sharp beard of the ear pierces his foot and he jumps with pain. 

The paddy is generally trodden out by oxen, but sometimes 
by men and women as well. If a person has soft feet, i.e., a 
man not accustomed to such work, the sharp beard of the paddy runs 
into his foot. _ 

250. Paddy seedlings. 



Khathiya he chuti Jethate para. 
The paddy seedlings are small, but they were sown in Jeth. 

The seedlings referred to are those which are required for 
transplanting to the "rua" or paddy-field. The month Jeth 
corresponds to 15th May to 15th June, which is about the time when 
the " kathiya thalis " (seedling beds) are prepared and the seed sown. 



PLOUGHS JACK FRUIT. 83 



251. Ploughs. 



Gadhuli hale shat shal bai, 
Pua hale e halo nai. 

In the evening he has seven ploughs going, 
In the early morning he has not one. 

The proverb illustrates the case of a man ,who, although 
ignorant of agriculture altogether, pretends that he is doing a great 
deal of it. The Assamese never ploughs in the evening, at least not 
unless he can possibly help it. A ploughman's day is generally 
from dawn till about 11 or 12 o'clock. After that he lets his 
bullocks loose, and does no more that day. 



252. Eadish. 

flf -yft ^ff^J $ 

Ji mula bdriba dupatate chin. 

The radish that will grow large, you will know when it has 

spread but two leaves. 



253. Jack fruit. 



Dhan puriya kathal patar talate lukal. 

The biggest jack fruit of all, i.e., that one worth a purd of dhan, 

lay hidden underneath the leaves. 

This proverb is applied to those who hide their light under a 
bushel. This proverb should more properly have come under 
Class I or Class II. 



254. Ndhar. 



Naharat koio shukathi. 
There is better wood than the Nahar even. 



84 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



255. Choit. 



Pale hi Chat dhan tham kat. 
The month of Choit has arrived, 

when am I going to store the paddy ? 

Here F3=tos (Choit). The month of Chat or Choit is from 
about the 15th March to the 15th April, or about a full month 
before the commencement of the ploughing season. This is a case 
of a man counting his chickens before they are hatched. Paddy is 
not carried, and certainly not- garnered, until well on in Decem- 
ber. 



256. Mangces. 



Pakd amar belika kihar kuja moha. 
Now is the time for ripe mangoes, 
How can you be bent double with care any longer, uncle ? 

The time for mangos to ripen is about June ; but as mangoes are 
always full of worms in Assam, it is difficult to understand the 
enthusiastic tone of the proverb. 



257. " Mdh" or " MdMeldi." 



Phal katatei mahar batar gal. 
Whilst he was cutting the plough-share 

the time for man-sowing passed away. 

Mah"ormatikelai" is a kind of black ddl, much eaten 
by the Assamese. Mali is sown at the end of the rains and is 
reaped in the cold weather. The t*T (phal) is the plough-share 
which is very often made of wood hardened with fire, sometimes 
even it is only a bamboo. 



SELTJK THE KEBElA. 85 



253. Seluk. 



Bure pati sheluk ne. 

Do you find a " seluk " each time you dive ? 

The "seluk " is the edible root of ffoT> (bhet), a kind of lotus, 
which grows in bils. The C*TJ (bhet) is something similar to 
the " singhara. " 

259. The Bor tree. 



Ear gach katile ghitingai karile, 
Chitiki parile etha. 
Lokak dekhuwai keterai matib^,, 
Bhitari neriba beth^,. 

When the " bor " tree was cut down, it fell with a crash, 

And its juice poured out like rain. 

Before people speak to him sharply, 

In private you should make much of him. 

The first part of the proverb is irrelevant to the second, which, 
as being a piece of advice to some one, should more properly have 
been detailed in Class II. TOPft? (ghitingai ) = an onomatopoeic 
word, signifying any sudden sound, as a clap of thunder 
(Bronson). fofsfV (fH?nF) " chitiki," literally, driving in like 
heavy rain through an open window. ^ ^ (Bar gach) =^f> ^ 
the Indian fig (Ficus indica). These trees grow to an enormous 
size in Assam, notably the " Feseng Bor gach " near Difflu in 
Goldghat. _ 

260. The kereld. 



Bdre hat kerelar tere hat guti. 
The kerel& is 12 cubits long, but the seeds are thirteen ! 

The " kerela " is the " Momordica carantia, " a well-known 
vegetable. (Bengali ^Tl, karla). The saying is applied to a man 



86 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

who draws the long bow. The proverb should more properly find 
place under Class I. 

261. On buying land 



Mati kiniba maj khal. 

Chowali nib& mk bhal. 
Buy land which slopes towards the centre, 
And marry a girl whose mother is good. 

cf. " Take a vine of a good soil and a daughter of a good 
mother." 

262. Paddy cultivation. 



CFfatfa Ffal Cffr 
Garu chb& gadhuli rowa chd,bd puwd. 
Jakai baote chowali chdbd dekhi kene kuwa. 
Look for your bullocks in the evening, 

look at your paddy-field in the morning. 
Have a peep at the girl who is fishing with the "jakai," 

and see what she is like. 

The Assamese lets his bullocks roam about after midday, when 
he has finished ploughing. In the evening he ties them up, so as 
to be ready to commence ploughing as soon as it is light. The 
second part of the proverb is irrelevant, although amusing. 



263. On making seedling-beds. 

fwfafo <&*\ Wfr ^ i 
Shichatkoi cherd, dharar tan. 

The plot that has been abandoned is harder to prepare 

than that which has been sprinkled (with water). 

The Assamese ryot always has a small plot of land near his 
house, where he makes his paddy nursery. The ground is first of 
all well ploughed, and then water is sprinkled all over the surface 
with a " lahani " (bamboo scoop) until the earth becomes liquid 
mud. Then the "kathiya" is sown. Naturally, a plot which has 



A FENCE ON CULTIVATING SALI DHAN. 



thus been prepared, is easier to work than the C5TI <TCl (cherd dhard), 
the plot which has been allowed to lie fallow. 



264. A fence. 



Nita chrane tati. 

A fence always requires looking after. 

The Assamese fence in their " ruwd," the paddy-fields, after the 
" kathiyd " (seedlings) has been transplanted, the fences are made 
of split bamboo, and are constantly either being stolen and used 
for firewood, or broken down by stray cattle. 



265. Pepper, pan and plantains. 



Jalukat gobar panat mati. 
Kala puli rub tinibar kdti. 

Place manure round the black pepper bush 

and earth round the pdn tree. 
And cut the plantain three times before you plant it. 

The above proverb gives useful hints as to the cultivation of 
black chillies, pdn, and plantains. 



266- On cultivating sdli dhdn. 



ttf^l 

Tini parbat ruba shall ghan ghankoi diba all. 
Jadi nahay shall tene pariba jabakak gall. 

Three hills, when you (wish) to plant " sali," 

you must make the " alis" (divisions between portions of a field) 

as near to one another as possible. 
If the " sali " does not grow well, then abuse the rake. 



88 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

The " alis, " which are divisions in the field prepared before 
the "kathiya" (seedlings) is planted out, are, for the purpose 
of damming in the water, which is essential to this crop, and 
keeping it at a given level, It is a pity nothing is said about 
the number of times it is necessary to plough the " sali " 
field, although I am aware this must depend on circumstances. 
Mr. Darrah writes " The rua (i.e., the field where the seedlings 
are planted out), is usually ploughed some five to eight 
times. In Sibsagar, 8 is the figure given. In Mangaldai 3 to 8. 
In Tezpur 5. The Barpeta estimate (19) is apparently too high.'' 
These different reports from different districts in the Assam Valley 
are conflicting. Nothing is said in the proverb about using the 
" moi " or harrow. Probably, in the proverb the rake takes the 
place of the harrow. On a small piece of ground, "a rake would 
be used instead of a harrow. Even on large fields the rake is used 
at the corners and other places where the harrow cannot be used. 
The proverb means that it is necessary to well harrow or rake the 
field in addition to making " alls." 



267. Tamarind and " Owtenga. " 



Khal dale teteli pach dale 6. 
Shei gharar mamih uthilane n6. 

A house with a tamarind tree in front and an " owtenga " behind I 
Has not the owner of that house gone away from here yet ? 

C^fl (ad)=^ c^T^I "nai howa," not yet. 

This is a proverb from Gauhati. I know nothing of any such 
superstition in Sibsagar. 



268- Sesamum. 

It^f It^ C^fR t^W 

Mahar m^,r dekhi tile bet melile. 
Seeing the mdtikeldi beaten out, the sesamum opened its cane-fastening. 



THE BEST CROPS. 89 



(til) = sesamum orientale. The proverb is meant as a hit at 
people who are too officious. 

269. The best crops. 



, C11 

Shah chikan parar, po chikan gharar. 
The best crops are those growing on the fields of others. 

The best sons are those at home. 

The above means that people are never satisfied with their 
own crops, but are envious of "those of others. The last part refers 
to the predilection of the mother for the son, who has not left 
her for a wife and a home of his own. 



Class VI. 

PROVERBS RELATING TO CATTLE, ANIMALS, FISH, AND INSECTS. 



270. The paddy-bird and the fish. 



Adhik machat bagli kan. 
When fish are too plentiful, the paddy-bird is blind, 

i.e., the fish are so thick, that he does not know which to catch 
first, and so, perhaps, all escape him, hence the saying that he is blind. 

cf. ^fr^ *TtF5 ^ it? Tt^^T l 
Adhik machat jugi ad baol. 

When fish are too plentiful, a mendicant (tit. hermit) 

becomes half-mad. 

^t, literally one who carries out the tenets of yoga philosophy, 
one who cultivates the faculty of attention. Yoga meaning appli- 
cation. Hence the term yogi or jogi is applied to one who gives up 
the world a hermit. 



90 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



^T (M61) seems to be connected with <jfrc1 (baliya); the word 
(ba61i) often being used as the feminine of ^firtfl (baliyd). 



271. The jackal. 

S5jtj> Ttfrs ifr faititfrl ^1 ^ i 

Achu kathat pari shyialto ranga hal. 

The jackal has got coloured red by falling into the dye-pot. 
The above means that the jackal only by accident locked a 
better colour. Hence the proverb is- applied to upstarts, who owe 
their position to some lucky accident. 



272. The elephant. 

^STfEOT f(5OT Stfe^ ft 

Achale pichale hatir pao pichale* 

In a bad place the foot of the elephant even slips. 
The proverb is too well known to need comment. 



273. The mosquito. 



Athu'wd talar mai moh&rileye mare. 

The mosquito under the mosquito curtain is killed by being 

squeezed (this being the usual way of destroying this pest). 

The proverb applies to little people who are always subjecting 
the great to petty annoyances. 



274 The mosquito. 



Shur ache hati nahay manuh garu khai, 
Bagh nahay, jito khai tate khai, 
Haralak ghate panir janmit. 

It has a trunk, but it is not an elephant, 
It eats men and cattle, but it is not a tiger. 



THE DOVE AND THE FISH EAGLE THE SNAKE. 91 

Whatever it eats, it eats on the spot. 

It vanishes with a blast of music. It is born from water. 

It is not difficult to guess the answer to this simple Assamese 
riddle. _ 

275. The dove and the fish eagle. 



Uri gal katiya kapo khedi nile shene, 
Eko kathi k^rere sh^t thait bhedile, 
lyo katha hoiche tene. 

The little dove has flown away being chased by a hawk, 

He has pierced it (the latter) in seven places with one arrow only. 

This story also is like that. 

The above is meant to illustrate the case of a person who tells 
a story, which primd facie appears to be false. The proverb 
should more properly have been classed under Class I. 



276. The mouse. 



Eta 1 niganir shat khan pm. 
One mouse has seven " p&ms." 

The word *ffa (pam) means a farm, or more commonly a piece 
of outlying cultivation, which is often situated in the forest or in 
the midst of thick grass jungle. These pdms are liable to the 
ravages of all sorts of animals, and have to be carefully watched. 
The proverb means that one mouse in a granary can do an infinity 
of damage. 

277- '-The snake. 

Ebar shape khle lejuto bhay. 

A man who has once been bitten by a snake 3 is afraid of every 

piece of rope. 
4< Once bitten twice shy." 



92 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

Also cf. a Bihar proverb given by Christian: 
Dudhke dahal matha phuk pihi(n). 

One scalded by (hot) milk, drinks (cold) buttermilk 

even afcer blowing into it. 

The Assamese proverb ought to have appeared under Class II. 



278. The " PutM," " Khaljhond,' 1 (l Bow, 11 and " Bardli " fishes. 



Ocliarar puthi, khalihana, nilagar, ro ; barali. 

Near us we have the " puthi " and " khalihana." 

The " r6 " and " barali " are far away. 

The " Puthi " and " Khalihana " are small and very inferior fish. 
The "E6 " and " Barali," especially the former, are large fish of 
good flavour. 

The proverb is meant to illustrate the saying "A bird in the 
hand is worth two in the bush." 



279. The duck 



Kina ha(n)har tho(n)tloike mangah. 

The duck that has been bought, has flesh on it right up to the beak. 
This means that in the buyer's estimation, such a duck has. 
As a matter of fact, the duck that is bought in the market, is often 
lean and skinny. 

280 The tiger and the deer. 



C5&K? 
Kalar kal biparit kal, 
Harinar cheleke baghar gal. 

What a time ! What a time for the opposite to happen ! 
The deer is licking the tiger's cheek. 



THE TIGER AND THE TOM CAT <; KARSOLA." 93 



The tiger and the torn cat. 



Bagh chaba nelage bondake chowa, 
Bhal manuh chaba lagile all bataloi jowa. 

You need not see a tiger, see a torn cat. 

If you want to see gentlemen go to the road. 

This is perhaps a cynical proverb. It means that a torn cat is 
quite enough to frighten you, who are talking about experiences 
with tigers. The allusion to str srfspr (bhal manush) being seen 
on the road, is ironical. _ 

282. The tiger. 



Bhal khatilo baghak, 
Pahu mari ani dila agat. 

I have laid a good bait for the tiger, 

By killing a deer and placing it in front of it. 

Tigers will sometimes eat animals that they have not killed 
themselves, but this is not usual. *f^=Beng. ^ i ^ is the 
common word for a deer in Assamese, not an animal as in Bengali. 



283. "Madoi." 

fttr, 



Kako nepai Bhadoik pale, 
Khuchari shamari khaloit thale. 

Having got nothing he found a " bhadoi." 
And managed to squeeze it into the fish basket. 



284. " Karsola." 



Khai karsala dalat uthil, 
Kathi chelekar maran milil. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



The karsala having eaten something (on the trunk) 

climbed up into the branches. 
The animal that licked the tree met its death. 

The "karsala" is said to be a kind of poisonous snake. 



285. The dog. 



Khud maganiyar kukur shatru. 

The dog is the enemy of the man who begs for scraps. 
is properly rice refuse. 



286. The ant. 



Guri paruwar alap barakhunei ban, 
Shola mukhar ek charei tan. 

To the ant a few rain drops is a flood. 

To the toothless mouth one slap even is hard to bear, 

(guri parowar) is a species of tiny ant. In the original 
Assamese, for <5Tr*f ^^^ (alap barakhunei) read 



287. The weaver bird. 



c? T ^ ^ 
Charai he shara hay kintu bar holong gachat bah. 
The bird indeed is a small one, but it builds its nest in the lofty holong. 

The bird referred to is the little weaver bird, which builds its 
hanging nest on the highest branches of tall trees. The " holong " 
is a fine tree, and grows with a long straight stem to a considerable 
height. The "holong" ^supplies many of the tea boxes of 
Assam. 



THE " CHITAL " HORSES. 95 

288. The "chital" 

orwrret f& fa fifes ^T> i 

Dekhotei chital pithite ka(n)it. 

Obviously, a " chital " fish ; it has thorns on its back. 
The " chital " has peculiar thorny fins, which scratch the hand 
when the fish is grasped. _ 

289. The monkey. 



Bayashat bandaro shondar. 
The monkey even looks beautiful when it is full-grown. 



290, The squirrel. 



Barir tamol kerketuwai khai, 
Amak dile jano athale jai. 

The squirrel eats the widow's betelnut. 

If she gave me the tree, I know it would grow crooked. 



291. The " sengeli" 



Burar hatat chengeli. 

In the hand of the old man is the " chengeli/' 

The " chengeli " is a kind of small fish found in bils.' The 
above means that when a man gets old, the only fish that he can 
catch is the " chengeli." 

292- Horses. 



Bhal bhal ghor^i na pai gh^,(n)h, 
Batuwa ghorai bichare msih. 

Whilst good horses are not getting grass, 
The inferior ones are looking for mdtikeldi. 



96 SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 

^11 (batuwa) is a term which is applied to horses only, as far as 
I know. An inferior country " tat " is often called a batuwa 
ghora. " Matikelai " = " mati dal," the common pulse of the country, 
which is often used for feeding cattle on. 



293. The " kaJcila." 



Mahar shingat ka(n}kila da(n)r. 

On the horn of the buffalo is the snout of the " kakila " fish. 

The "kakila" is a long thin fish with a snout, which makes it look 
ver^y peculiar. The proverb means that the buffalo by habit turns 
up the earth and mud with its horns in swampy places, where the 
"kakila" is met with. 

tfa [da(n)r] is apparently also used to denote the teeth offish 
and reptiles. 

294. The game-cock. 



Kanar ktikura ranate mare. 
A game-cock dies in battle. 

The practice of cock-fighting prevails all over Assam amongst 
those who keep fowls. The tea-garden coolies are very fond of it, 
and often bring cocks with them from long distances for the purpose, 



295. Elephants and horses. 



frfart 

Rajak chiniba danat^ 
Hsctik chiniba anat, 
Ghorak chiniba kanat. 

You will be able to recognise a king by his liberality, 
An elephant when it belongs to another, 
And a horse by its ears. 



THE HOTTSE SPARROW THE " SAL " AND THE "SINGI." 97 

The second line means that a man does not know how to appre- 
ciate a good elephant until he has sold it to some one else. 

Good horses are supposed to keep their ears erect. 

There is a proverb also in Bengali about being able to recognise 
a good horse by its ears. 



296. The house sparrow. 



Raj hangshar gati dharote, 
Ghanchiri karo khoj paharile. 

The house sparrow in trying to imitate the gait of the goose, 
Forgot its own. 



297*. The tadpole. 

Tt^fo fa ws ntffi 

Lalukaloi kitapat pani lagiche. 
Why does a tadpole require warm water ! 

cf. Christian's Bihar proverb : 

" Me(n)rhak ko bhi zok^in, 
Ya bengo ke sardi." 

A frog with a cold or cough ! 



298. The " sal " and the " singi." 



Shalak shingiye ha(n)he, 
Tayo ejani mayo ejani 
Bhalto garaki nahe. 

The sal " (fish) is laughing at the singhi " (fish). 

You are a girl and I am a girl, 

And no good husband comes for either of us. 



SOME ASSAMESE PROVERBS. 



Both the " sal " and the " singhi " are classed as unclean fish by 
Hindus, so that this is a case of " The pot calling the kettle black." 
This proverb should have been classed under Class I. 



299. Tigers and snakes. 



f% 

Shape khai baghe khai jadi mare jale, 
Jar ji haba lage nijar karjyar dale. 

Whether a man was bitten by a snake or eaten by a tiger, 

or was drowned (it is the same thing). 
He has reaped the consequences of his action. 



300. Dogs. 



Kukurak nidiba thai, lara chowalik nidiba lai. 
Don't give a dog a place and do not set a bad 

example to children. 

The dog being an unclean animal, must not be allowed 
anywhere where there is a possibility of its defiling any of the cook- 
ing or eating or drinking vessels. 



301. Dogs. 

^(.^ SftFT fV 
Kukure jane ki tarn tulsi. 

What does a dog know of the value of copper vessels or of the ei tulsi" ? 
When a Hindu worships his god, he dedicates to him leaves of 
" tulsi " in a copper vessel. The " tulsi " is the " Ocymum sanc- 
tum" or holy basil. 

c f, Bihar proverb :"Can a monkey appreciate ginger " ? also 
Telegu proverb : " What can a pig do with a rose bottle " ? 



DHUBRI, P. R. GURDON. 

The 14a March 1895. 



ASSAM SECRETARIAT PRINTING OFFICE (GENL.) NO. 47830013-4.96. 



YC 




46^206 

CD ^ 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LIBRARY