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II

HUNTING: TRAPS FOR ANIMALS

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After three years of cropping it must be given an equal or longer period of fallow before it will again yield any return. The Gonds say it is nārang or exhausted. In the new ryotwāri villages formed within the last twenty years the Gonds form a large section, and in Mandla the great majority, of the tenantry, and have good black-soil fields which grow wheat and other valuable crops. Here, perhaps, their condition is happier than anywhere else, as they are secured in the possession of their lands subject to the payment of revenue, liberally assisted with Government loans at low interest, and protected as far as possible from the petty extortion and peculation of Hindu subordinate officials and moneylenders. The opening of a substantial number of primary schools to serve these villages will, it may be hoped, have the effect of making the Gond a more intelligent and provident cultivator, and counteract the excessive addiction to liquor which is the great drawback to his prosperity. The fondness of the Gond for his bāri or garden plot adjoining his hut has been described in the section on villages and houses.

The primary occupation of the Gonds in former times 81. Huntwas hunting and fishing, but their opportunities in this ing: traps respect have been greatly circumscribed by the conservation animals. of the game in Government forests, which was essential if it was not to become extinct, when the native shikāris had obtained firearms. Their weapons were until recently bows and arrows, but now Gond hunters usually have an old matchlock gun.

They have several ingenious devices for trapping animals.

It is essential for them to make a stockade round their patch cultivation fields in the forests, or the grain would be devoured by pig and deer. point in this they leave a narrow opening, and in front of it dig a deep pit and cover it with brushwood and grass ; then at the main entrance they spread some sand. Coming in the middle of the night they see from the footprints in the sand what animals have entered the enclosure ; if these are worth catching they close the main gate, and make as much noise as they can. The frightened animals dash round the enclosure and, seeing the opening, run through it and fall into the pit, where they are easily despatched with

At one

clubs and axes. They also set traps across the forest paths frequented by animals. The method is to take a strong raw-hide rope and secure one end of it to a stout sapling, which is bent down like a spring. The other end is made into a noose and laid open on the ground, often over a small hole. It is secured by a stone or log of wood, and this is so arranged by means of some kind of fall-trap that on pressure in the centre of the hole it is displaced and releases the noose. The animal comes and puts his foot in the hole, thus removing the trap which secured the noose. This Aies up and takes the animal's foot with it, being drawn tight in mid-air by the rebound of the sapling. The animal is thus suspended with one foot in the air, which it cannot free, and the Gonds come and kill it. Tigers are sometimes caught in this manner. A third very cruel kind of trap is made by putting up a hedge of thorns and grass across a forest-path, on the farther side of which they plant a few strong and sharply-pointed bamboo stakes. A deer coming up will jump the hedge, and on landing will be impaled on one of the stakes. The wound is very severe and often festers immediately, so that the victim dies in a few hours. Or they suspend a heavy beam over a forest path held erect by a loose prop which stands on the path. The deer comes along and knocks aside the prop, and the beam falls on him and pins him down. Mr. Montgomerie writes as follows on Gond methods of hunting :1 “The use of the bow and arrow is being forgotten owing to the restrictions placed by Government on hunting. The Gonds can still throw an axe fairly straight, but a running hare is a difficult mark and has a good chance of escaping. The hare, however, falls a victim to the fascination of fire. The Gond takes an earthen pot, knocks a large hole in the side of it, and slings it on a pole with a counterbalancing stone at the other end. Then at night he slings the pole over one shoulder, with the earthen pot in front containing fire, and sallies out hare-hunting. He is accompanied by a man who bears a bamboo. The hare, attracted and fascinated by the light, comes close and watches it stupidly till the bamboo descends on the animal's head, and the Gonds have hare for

1 Chhindwāra Settlement Report.

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GOND-GOWĀRI supper.” Sometimes a bell is rung as well, and this is said to attract the animals. They also catch fish by holding a lamp over the water on a dark night and spearing them with a trident.

Gond-Gowāri. -A small hybrid caste formed from alliances between Gonds and Gowāris or herdsmen of the Marātha country. Though they must now be considered as a distinct caste, being impure and thus ranking lower than either the Gonds or Gowāris, they are still often identified with either of them. In 1901 only 3000 were returned, principally from the Nāgpur and Chānda Districts. In 1911 they were amalgamated with the Gowāris, and this view may be accepted as their origin is the same. The Gowāris say that the Gond-Gowāris are the descendants of one of two brothers who accidentally ate the flesh of a cow. Both the Gonds and Gowāris frequent the jungles for long periods together, and it is natural that intimacies should spring up between the youth of either sex.

And the progeny of these irregular connections has formed a separate caste, looked down upon by both its progenitors. The GondGowāris have no subcastes, and for purposes of marriages are divided into exogamous septs, all bearing Gond names. Like the Gonds, the caste is also split into two divisions, worshipping six and seven gods respectively, and members of septs worshipping the same number of gods must not marry with each other. The deities of the six and seven god-worshippers are identical, except that the latter have one extra called Durga or Devi, who is represented by a copper coin of the old Nāgpur dynasty. Of the other deities Būra Deo is a piece of iron, Khoda and Khodāvan are both pieces of the kadamb tree (Nauclea parvifolia), Supāri is the areca-nut, and Kaipen consists of two iron rings and counts as two deities. It seems probable, therefore, from the double set of identical deities that two of the original ones have been forgotten. The gods are kept on a small piece of red cloth in a closed bamboo basket, which must not be opened except on days of worship, lest they should work some mischief; on these special days they are rendered harmless

1 This article is based on a paper by Pandit Pyāre Lāl Misra.

for the time being by the homage which is rendered to them. Marriage is adult, and a bride-price of nine rupees and some grain is commonly paid by the boy's family. The ceremony is a mixture of Gond and Marātha forms; the couple walk seven times round a bohla or mound of earth and the guests clap their hands. At a widow-marriage they walk three and a half times round a burning lamp, as this is considered to be only a kind of half-marriage. The morality of the caste is very loose, and a wife will commonly be pardoned any transgression except an intrigue with a man of very low caste. Women of other castes, such as Kunbis or Barhais, may be admitted to the community on forming a connection with a Gond-Gowāri. The caste have no prescribed obseryance of mourning for the dead. The Gond-Gowāris are cultivators and labourers, and dress like the Kunbis. They are considered to be impure and must live outside the village, while other castes refuse to touch them. The bodies of the women are disfigured by excessive tattooing, the legs being covered with a pattern of dots and lines reaching up to the thighs. In this matter they simply follow their Gond ancestors, but they say that a woman who is not tattooed is impure and cannot worship the deities.

Gondhali. -A caste or order of wandering beggars and musicians found in the Marātha Districts of the Central Provinces and in Berār. The name is derived from the Marāthi word gondharne, to make a noise. In 1911 the Gondhalis numbered about 3000 persons in Berār and 500 in the Central Provinces, and they are also found in Bombay. The origin of the caste is obscure, but it appears to have been recruited in recent times from the offspring of Wāghyas and Murlis or male and female children devoted to temples by their parents in fulfilment of a vow. Mr. Kitts states in the Berār Census Report 1 of 1881 that the Gondhalis are there attached either to the temple of Tukai at Tuljāpur or the temple of Renuka at Māhur, and in consequence

form two

1 This article is compiled from papers by Mr. Kesho Rao Joshi, Headmaster, City School, Nāgpur,

and Pyāre Lāl Misra, Ethnographic Clerk.

2 Page 67.

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