AHOMSAssistant Head of Middle School
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The term Tai designates particular Thai peoples whose dialects have undergone the change of PT plosive [*d] to [t], as in "Tai Deng (society)," "Tai Mu'o'ng (dialect)," "the Tai Ahom (sovereigns)." The ethnonym used to name the Tai ethnic groups and languages north of the Red River is Tai (= Central Tai).
The exonym Ahom, a Shan ethnic group that ruled over Upper Assam, also derives from Shan-Siam.
Ferlus (2006c: 107-17) goes a step further in assuming that the terms Siam, Assam/ Ahom, Shan originate in a phonological truncation of Sanskrit (ko)sam(bi) > syam/syam in Old Burmese and syam in Angkorian Khmer and Old Cham.
The Shan from Upper Assam represent the westernmost extension of the Tai-Kadai peoples; those Shan are The Tai Ahom, Tai Phake, Tai Aiton, Tai Khamti, Tai Khamyang, Tai Turung, and Tai Nora.
If we may rely on the Buranji (Tai Ahom annals), a Tai Maw prince named Sukapha would have left his homeland around 1215 A.D.
Around the eighteenth century, (45) while the Tai Ahom were declining, other Thai ethnic groups arrived In Assam from Burma.
It should be noted that it is very probable that contacts never really stopped between the Tai Ahom and the other Shan ethnic groups from Southeast Asia.
The term Tai Ahom like Assam, the name of the province in Northeast India, is probably an exonym, the origin of which would be the term Shan/Siam, discussed above.
Morey (2005: 26), the autonym for the Tai Ahom as found in old manuscripts is simply Tai [[taj.sup.A2]] 'the people' or Tai Raw [[taj.sup.A2] [raw.sup.B1]] 'our people'.
Diller (1992: 6-7) assigns to the ethnic term Ahom two distinct senses.
To summarize, the ethnonym Ahom is nothing but an "assamization" of the exonym Siam, or Shan in its Burmese pronunciation, a widespread exonym among the peoples of Peninsular Southeast Asia.