NGI NGAO KHAM- The Legendary Figure of Winged Lion, the Tai-Ahom'S Royal Insignia ණ Chao Puspa Gogoi, Dhemaji

The Ahoms had used a dragon like figure of winged lion as their royal insignia. Beside being their royal insignia, it is also a religious symbol. It could be seen in their copper plates sculprures, coins, painting, handicrafts.
In Assam, motif of winged lion is seen in Ahom king's copper plates of Chaofaa Chandrakanta Singha, Chaofaa Suhetpongpha, Chaofaa Suramfaa. A page of Hastividyarnava, a treatise on elephant with paintings contains the motif of winged lion depicted with significant colours. Different Ahom manuscripts and even Assamese manuscripts executed under Ahom Chaofaa's patronization contain its motif. Different Satras, the Vaishnative religious institutions of Assam contain the motif of winged lion in the form of sculptor, relief and painting. Dihingia Satra of North Guwahati, Barpeta Satra, Sundaridiya Satra, Bordua Satra consists of numerous winged lion figures. The curving of its motif is seen in some Satras such ad Barpeta, Bordua etc. The Ahom coins of Chaofaa Su Khrongfaa seem to contain winged lion-dragon. The Singhassana or the seat of lion possesses vsrious winged lion sculptures, generally one in every corner of seven stepped rectangle seat. Assam State Museum possesses a terracotta relief of this winged lion with a pose of running or flying. The Talatal Ghar and Kareng Ghar situated in Che Run, and Che Hung or Gargaon espectivly posses many low reliefs of winged lion on their wall. Rong Ghar and some other temples possess its motif on its wall.
The motif of winged lion is a popular figure among Ahoms and it could be seen anywhere among them.
The maneless lion motif is very popular in India from olden time. The maneless lion seen in Pre-Ahom sculpture of Assam. This lion motif certainly dissimilar to that of winged lion of Ahom. In Assam, through the pre- Ahom sculptures show a lion with suggestions of reduced decortated wings, it is merged with the idealism of Hindu iconography, in which the distinctive features of winged lion of Ahom could not be seen.
The motif of winged lion is the general motif of Mongoloid people of south east Asia, China, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia and of Far eastern countries like Japan, korea etc. China's national flag possessed thid motif of winged lion or snake like creature dragon until thr modern date of 1912 A.D.
The winged lion in its usual shape of body with a pair of wings is now a days very popular living motif of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, Malayasia, Thailand, Singapur, Hongkong, Taiwan etc. In Tibet, North Eastern region of India and among Ahoms of India, it is a living motif used in different sphere of ritual . Among some tribes of North-East India the figure of dragon are seen in folk ritualistics temporary or permanent craft.The winged lion or lion like creature is generally found in different sizes and shapes. It is sometimes elongated and sometimes as usual. Sometimes it id like a snake. It has snake like scales. In some there are no scales. Though its body is elongated as long as snake, it has legs and tail. As the motif of snake us popular among the Mongoloids and even other human groups, the snake is mingled with the face of this lion dragon. Thus we see snake like winged lion or snake's body with dragon liond haed with flame like head gears over its head known as laka etc.
The shape and style of this motif varied from time to time and from nationality to nationality. Still among all it retains the general characteristics. This type of creature is generally known to modern world as ' Dragon 'in English after the Greek word ' Drakon '. Acording to our general feelings dragon is a legendary monster usually as a huge bat winged, fire breathing sealy lizard or snake with a a barbed tail. This legendary monster is only a common belief. This belief in such creatures apparently arose without the slighest knowledge on the part of the ancients of gigantics, pre-historic, dragon like reptiles. Nobody knows actually whether such types of creatures were in actual existence in the past world. Chiness mythology informs us about the casual meetings of such creatures by the king in pre-christians eras.
( continous to next issue)