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Locating a cultural identity in the use of metaphorical proverbs among the Tai Ahoms of Assam: a study through oral literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2022

Khammoun Phukan
English and Foreign Languages Department, Tezpur University, Napam, India *Email: **
Arup K. Nath
English and Foreign Languages Department, Tezpur University, Napam, India *Email: **


This article is an attempt to explore the role of Tai Ahom proverbs as a marker of cultural identity in the realm of postmodern society. Using or choosing culturally driven speech in communication is a linguistic behaviour which reflects the character of the people, their worldview, and thus their uniqueness or difference from the ‘other’. In another way, this might be a conscious way of projecting self. This qualitative study on proverbs of Tai Ahom language and culture adopts the methods of ethnography and textual analysis. A cultural hermeneutic model, along with the participant observation method, was used to collect the data. Finally, the Tai Ahom community of Sivasagar district of Assam, India was chosen as the locus for the research. The findings show that the proverbs are deeply woven by the Ahom community's cultural heritage, history, pride, advice, and satire. Hence, this article provides an insight into Tai Ahoms’ way of living and their worldview. In locating the Tai Ahom's cultural identity within the homogenised bigger community of ‘Assamese’ or akhomiya, this study could help in understanding the differences or uniqueness of the Tai Ahom and thereby the Assamese identity in the present context.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Royal Asiatic Society

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