GUWAHATI, Sept 11 - The controversy over the colour of the Rangghar and other Ahom era historical structures of the State is yet to die down. The controversy arose with the ongoing exercise of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to use lime tanning (chunpani) to conserve the interior of the 18th century AD amphitheatre.
A majority of the people and experts are of the opinion that the Ahom era structures were painted brick-red with the application of the chemical produced by mixing chun-churki (lime and brick powder) with hengul-haital, a natural colour obtained from the hengul-haital plant�s extracts.
Septuagenarian conservationist Manik Bora, who was involved in making a film on the Ahom era structures of Sivasagar, has contradicted the ASI version on the evidences of white colour found in the Rangghar, saying that since his childhood, he saw the Ahom era structures wearing a reddish chun-churki colour. These structures are brick-red in colour since their initial days, he claimed.
The State�s former Deputy Director of Archaeology Dr Pradip Sarma, however, maintains that the fact that lime tanning was applied on the Ahom era structures cannot be dismissed instantaneously.
For, he said in the AD 1035 Barganga copper plate of Ratna Pal, the then king of Kamarupa, it is written that the city of Durjjaya, the then capital of Kamarupa, had �thousands of mansions as white as the smiles of the intoxicated beautiful dames.� This information is available in the Inscriptions of Ancient Assam written by renowned Sanskrit scholar Prof Mukunda Madhab Sarma.
Academician and historian Dilip Bargohain, who has authored ten books on the Ahom era institutions and is the president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha�s Sivasagar district unit, maintained that on September 6, 2018 he had opposed the ASI move at a meeting organised by the Sivasagar Deputy Commissioner on the issue.
The ASI should have consulted the people before taking this step of changing the original colour of the Rangghar. White colour cannot represent the colour of the structures built during the Ahom era. The brick-red colour prepared with the mixture of chun-churki and hengul-haital gives sobriety to these structures, says Bargohain.
A senior teacher of the Gauhati University�s History Department Dr IS Mumtaza maintained that she had not seen white colour in any of the Ahom-era structures. There should be a thorough discussion on the issue, involving the experts. If the ASI stand on the issue is not found to be correct, the brick-red colour of the structure should be restored to it, she said.
Aswini Chetia, advisor to the All Tai-Ahom Students� Union (ATASU) said that he also had opposed the move of the ASI at the September 6 meeting. The argument of the ASI NE head at the meeting that the original brick-red colour of the interior of the Rangghar would reappear after one year of the application of �lime tanning� failed to convince the other participants of the meeting. The ATASU is for restoration of the original colour of the historic structure, he said.
Sarat Hazarika, Education Secretary of All Assam Students� Union (AASU) says he too opposed the ASI move at the September 6 meeting. The ASI version that only lime tanning has been done in the Rangghar interior is far from being true. Because, in the name of lime tanning they have white washed the interior of the structure, he said.