« PreviousContinue »
man or other. They have also many interpreters of dreams among them, whom they call. “ Damauns,” and believe to be possessed by a familiar spirit. When any of these die, they expose his body, without burial, in the jungle. They also suppose certain diseases to be inflicted by evil spirits, to whom they expose the bodies of such as die of them, those who die of small-pox are cast out into the woods, those who die of dropsy into the water.
They have no idols or images of any kind; a black stone found in the hills, is by some ceremonies consecrated and used as an altar. They have several festivals which are held in high reverence. The Chitturia is the greatest, but seldom celebrated on account of its expense. It lasts five days, during which buffaloes, hogs, fruits, fowls, grains, and spirits are offered up to the gods, and afterwards feasted on. This is the only festival in which females are permitted to join. During its continuance they salute nobody, all honour being then appropriated to the gods. Polygamy is not forbidden, but seldom practised. The bridegroom gives a feast on occasion of the marriage; the bride's father addresses a speech. to him, exhorting him to use his daughter well; the bridegroom then marks her forehead with red paint, links his little finger in hers, and leads her to his house. The usual mode of making oath is to plant two arrows in the ground thus,
the person swearing taking the blade of one and the feather of the other between his finger and thumb.· On solemn occasions, however, salt is put on the blade of a sabre, and after the words of the oath are repeated, the blade being placed on the under lip of the person sworn, the salbis washed into his mouth by him who administers it.
Thus far I have learnt from Captain Graham; Mr. Corrie tells me that further particulars of this interesting race are given in the Calcutta Annual Register for 1821; what follows I learnt from different persons in the course of the day.
The Hill country is very beautiful, and naturally fertile,
but in many parts of it there is a great scarcity of water, a want which the people urge as an excuse for their neglect of bathing , As so much rain falls, this might and would by a civilized people be remedied, but the Puharrees neither make tanks, nor have any instrument proper for digging wells. The thick jungle makes the hills unwholesome to Europeans during the rains, but at other times the climate is extremely agreeable, and in winter more than agreeably cold. Mr. Chalmers one night had a jug of water completely frozen over to a considerable thickness in his tent, and close to his bed. The Puharrees are a healthy race, but the small-pox used to make dreadful ravages among them. Vaccination has now been generally introduced; they were very thankful for it, bringing their children from thirty to fifty miles off to Boglipoor to obtain it. Wild animals of all kinds are extremely abundant, from the jackall to the tiger, and from the deer to the elephant and rhinoceros. Their way of destroying the large animals is, generally, by poisoned arrows. The poison is a gum which they purchase from the Garrows, a people who inhabit the mountains to the north of Silhet, at Peer-pointee fair.
No attempt has yet been made to introduce them to the knowledge of Christianity. The school at Boglipoor has scarcely been in activity for more than eighteen months, and being supported by Government, it cannot, in conformity with the policy which they pursue, be made a means of conversion. Mr. Corrie is strongly disposed to recommend the establishment of a Missionary at Boglipoor; but I am myself inclined to prefer sending him immediately, (or as soon as he may have gained some knowledge of the Puharree language,) into one of the mountain villages. I also would wish to employ some person to accompany the Missionary or Schoolmaster, who may instruct the natives in weaving or pottery; and to choose, in either of these capacities, some one who had himself a little knowledge of gardening. Civilization and instruction will thus go hand in hand, or rather, the one will lead the way to the other, and they will think the better of a religion whose professors are seriously active in promoting their temporal interests. The Puharrees seem to have no prejudices hostile to Christianity, any other than those which men will always have against a system of religion which requires a greater degree of holiness than they find it convenient to practise. The discreet exertions of Missionaries among them will give no offence either to Hindoos or Mussulmans, and a beginning may thus be made to the introduction both of Christianity and civilization, through all the kindred tribes of Gundwana and the Western Bheels, who are, at this mo
ment, in the same habits of rapine and savage anarchy which the Puharrees were in before the time of Cleveland.
Boligpoor is a pretty situation, and said to be one of the healthiest stations in India. It is, however, much infested by snakes, particularly the cobra di capello. It stands nearly half way between the Rajmahal and Curruckpoor hills, and commands a distant view of Mount Mandar, an insulated conical mountain, apparently about as large as the Wrekin, renowned as a place of Hindoo pilgrimage, and as having been employed by the gods to churn the ocean with, in order to procure the - amreeta,” or drink of immortality. It is, Colonel Franklin assures me, remarkable as being a mass of granite, whereas all these nearer hills are of limestone. He also
told me that he had been to the end of the cave of Puttergotta, which has been used as a temple to Siva. It is pretty, and very accessible, but by no means deep. The hills to the south of Boglipoor, beyond Mandar, towards Deogur, are very wild, and now almost entirely uninhabited, but are full of vestiges, not of Brahminical but Buddhist worship. Colonel Franklin has himself a curious collection of idols of this latter kind, dug up in this part of India, and is employed in a dissertation on the subject. I forgot to mention that all these hills are full of wild poultry, exactly in crow, figure, and plumage, resembling bantams. Their "flavour is superior to the domestic fowl, and resembles that of the partridge. They might, no doubt, be easily domesticated, The Rajmahal hills stand in a detached cluster, containing, perhaps, as much ground as Merionethshire and Carnarvonshire. They are bounded on all sides by a plain, or nearly plain country; after which, on the east, are the Curruck poor hills, and on the south the very impracticable districts of Be: iboom, Dranghur, &e.
August 11.-I had a drive with Mr. Corrie this morning, and got a pretty good distant view of Mandar and the Curruckpoor hills. Colonel Franklin supposes the ancient Palibothra-a celebrated city and metropolis of Gangetic India, in the time of the ancient Greeks, to have stood in this neighbourhood, and has published several learned essays to prove it, which I remember looking at many years ago, when I had little curiosity about the question. He is a very agreeable and communicative old man, and his collection curious and interesting. His opinions are opposed to the alleged antiquity of the Brahminical worship, and he coincides in ge. neral with the late Mr. Bently.
BOGLIPOOR TO MONGHYR.
WIDTH OF THE GANGES-CHARITY OF DANDEES-SEETA COOM
_MONGHYR-FORT-ZEMINDARS--PENSIONERS-BAPTIST MISSION DESERTION OF DANDEES-CHEAPNESS OF FIREARMS.
At noon I again set off, with Mr. Corrie's budgerow in company. This part of the Ganges, has undergone great alterations since Rennell's map was made. Boglipoor is laid down by him as standing on a separate nullah; but now nothing remains of the separation except a few marshy islands, immediately opposite the town. 'I find that instead of exaggerating, as I feared to do, I have, in my previous descriptions, underrated the width of this noble river. Last year, at the height of the inundation, a little below Boglipoor, it was nine measured miles across ; and this year, though far less ground is covered, it is supposed to be full seven; and here we are perhaps, six hundred miles, reckoning the windings of the river, from the sea.
During this night I was completely wakened by the uproar which the jackalls made. On asking if any reason could be given for such an unusual concourse, I was told that there was a field of Indian corn adjoining, of which they are very fond, and that the clamour which I heard was partly from the animals themselves, partly from the watchmen who were endeavouring to scare them away. The noise was quite equal to that of an immense pack, of hounds, with half the rabble of a county at their heels, except that the cry was wilder and more dismal. If his excellency Count Falkenstein, 66 the wild huntsman,” still keeps up his aerial chase in Germany, it is exactly such a cry as I should expect from his hounds.
August 12.-We passed this morning another encampment of gipsies, only differing from the former in having no boats. The name by which they go in this country is “ Kunja.” The men, many of them, wore large pink turbans ; three of the women, and the children, followed us begging. These did not conceal their faces, and indeed had no clothes at all, except a coarse kind of veil thrown back from the shoulders, and a wretched ragged cloth wrapped round their waists like a petticoat. They are decidedly a taller, handsomer race than the Bengalee. One of the women was very pretty, and
the forms of all three were such as a sculptor would have been glad to take as his model. Their arms were tattoed with many blue lines, and one of them had her forehead slightly marked in a similar manner. They had no bangles on their wrists and ankles, but the children, though perfectly naked, were not without these ornaments. As we could not stop our boat, I rolled up some pice in paper,
it to one of the dandees to throw ashore. Unfortunately, the paper burst, and the little treasure fell into the river, while the wind freshening at the moment, it was quite out of my power to give more. The dandees expressed great concern ; indeed they are, to their narrow means, really charitable ; they club a small portion of each mess every day to give to the beggars, who come to the ghâts, and if none appear, they always throw it to some dog or bird. A more touching instance of this nature was told me by a lady, which she herself witnessed in a voyage last year. The Serang of the boat by an accident lost his son, a fine young man. Every evening afterwards, he set apart a portion, as if the young man were yet alive, and gave it in charity, saying, “ Í have not given it, my son has given it!"
I forgot to mention, that just as Mr. Corrie was setting out yesterday, he received a letter in very bad English, addressed to 16 The Abbot,” from a person signing himself “Gopee Mohun Doss, a brahmin, and a true friend of the Honourable Company.” The writer requested an interview with him, that he might receive instruction in Christianity. Mr. Corrie returned for answer, that he would see the writer on his return down the river. He says this is not the only indication he has met with of persons in this neighbourhood, who seem not unwilling to inquire into religious subjects. One of the Hill-people at the school has declared, of his own accord, his intention of giving up Sunday to the worship of God ; and there are several Hindoos and Mussulmans, who make no objection to eat victuals prepared by Christians, saying, that “they think the Christians are as pure as themselves, and they are sure they are wiser." This letter was brought by a very well dressed servant, who spoke of his master as a baboo, so that there seemed no interested motive for the request which it contained.
As we advanced, we passed at Janghera two very pretty rocks projecting into the river, with a mosque on the one, and a pagoda on the other; while, in the distance, were the Curruckpoor hills, not so tall or striking as the Rahmahal, but not inferior to the Halkin mountains, and the range above Flint and Holywell. Such as they are, they are very refreshing to the eye in these vast regions of level ground.