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61. Clothes and ornaments.
of the sāj tree, and ties a bundle of thatching-grass round it, and buries a pice (d.) and a bhilawa nut beneath it. They feed two or three friends and scatter a little of the food over the post. The post is called Khirkhut Deo, and protects the house from harm.
A brass or pewter dish and lota or drinking-vessel of the same material, a few earthen cooking-pots, a hatchet and a clay chilam or pipe-bowl comprise the furniture of a Gond.
In Sir R. Jenkins' time, a century ago, the Gonds were represented as naked savages, living on roots and fruits, and hunting for strangers to sacrifice. About fifty years later, when Mr. Hislop wrote, the Māria women of the wilder tracts were said only to have a bundle of leafy twigs fastened with a string round their waist to cover them before and behind. Now men have a narrow strip of cloth round the waist and women a broader one, but in the south of Bastar they still leave their breasts uncovered. Here a woman covers her breasts for the first time when she becomes pregnant, and if a young woman did it, she would be thought to be big with child. In other localities men and women clothe themselves more like Hindus, but the women leave the greater part of the thighs bare, and men often have only one cloth round the loins and another small rag on the head. They have bangles of glass, brass and zinc, and large circlets of brass round the legs, though these are now being discarded. In Bastar both men and women have ten to twenty iron and brass hoops round their necks, and on to these rings of the same metal are strung. Rai Bahādur Panda Baijnāth counted 181 rings on one hoop round an old woman's neck. In the Māria country the boys have small separate plots of land, which they cultivate themselves and use the proceeds as their pocket-money, and this enables them to indulge in a profusion of ornaments sometimes exceeding those worn by the girls. In Mandla women wear a number of strings of yellow and bluish-white beads. A married woman has both colours, and several cowries tied to the end of the necklace. Widows and girls may only wear the bluish-white beads without cowries, and a remarried widow may not have any yellow beads, but she can have one cowrie on her necklace. Yellow beads are thus confined to married
women, yellow being the common wedding-colour. A Gond woman is not allowed to wear a choli or little jacket over the breasts. If she does she is put out of caste. This rule may arise from opposition to the adoption of Hindu customs and desire to retain a distinctive feature of dress, or it may be thought that the adoption of the choli might make Gond women weaker and unfitted for hard manual labour, like Hindu women. A Gond woman must not keep her cloth tucked up behind into her waist when she meets an elderly man of her own family, but must let it down so as to cover the upper part of her legs. If she omits to do this, on the occasion of the next wedding the Bhumka or caste priest will send some men to catch her, and when she is brought the man to whom she was disrespectful will put his right hand on the ground and she must make obeisance to it seven times, then to his left hand, then to a broom and pestle, and so on till she is tired out. When they have a sprain or swelling of the arm they make a ring of tree-fibre and wear this on the arm, and think that it will cure the sprain or swelling:
The ears of girls are pierced by a thorn, and the hole is 62. Earenlarged by putting in small pieces of wood or peacock's piercing. feathers. Gond women wear in their ears the tarkhi or a little slab in shape like a palm-leaf, covered with coloured glass and fixed on to a stalk of hemp-fibre nearly an inch thick, which goes through the ear; or they wear the silver shield-shaped ornament called dhāra, which is described in the article on Sunār. In Bastar the women have their ears pierced in a dozen or more places, and have a small ring in each hole. If a woman gets her ear torn through she is simply put out of caste and has to give a feast for readmission, and is not kept out of caste till it heals, like a Hindu woman. Gond men now cut their hair.
Before scissors were 63. Hair. obtainable it is said that they used to tie it up on their heads and chop off the ends with an axe, or burn them off. But the wilder Gonds often wear their hair long, and as it is seldom combed it gets tangled and matted. The Pandas or priests do not cut their hair. Women wear braids of false hair, of goats or other animals, twisted into their own to improve their appearance. In Mandla a Gond girl should not have her hair
parted in the middle till she is married. When she is married this is done for the first time by the Baiga, who subsequently
tattoos on her forehead the image of Chandi Māta. 64. Bath
Gonds, both men and women, do not bathe daily, but ing and
only wash their arms and legs. They think a complete bath washing
once a month is sufficient. If a man gets ill he may think the god is angry with him for not bathing, and when he recovers he goes and has a good bath, and sometimes gives a feast. Hindus say that a Gond is only clean in the rains, when he gets a compulsory bath every day. In Bastar they seldom wash their clothes, as they think this impious, or else that the cloth would wear out too quickly if it were often washed. Here they set great store by their piece of cloth, and a woman will take it off before she cleans up her house, and do her work naked. It is probable that these wild Gonds, who could not weave, regarded the cloth as something miraculous and sacred, and, as already seen, the god
Pālo is a piece of cloth. 65. Tattoo Both men and women were formerly much tattooed ing.
among the Gonds, though the custom is now going out among men.
Women are tattooed over a large part of the body, but not on the hips or above them to the waist. Sorcerers are tattooed with some image or symbol of their god on their chest or right shoulder, and think that the god will thus always remain with them and that any magic directed against them by an enemy will fail. A woman should be tattooed at her father's house, if possible before marriage, and if it is done after marriage her parents should
The tattooing is done with indigo in black or blue, and is sometimes a very painful process, the girl being held down by her friends while it is carried out. Loud shrieks, Forsyth says, would sometimes be heard by the
pay for it.
traveller issuing from a village, which proclaimed that some young Gondin was being operated upon with the tattooing1 See para. 65, Tattooing.
2 See para. 41, Religion.