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6. The Kūnchband Kanjars.
women is that they are confirmed snuff-takers and consume great quantities of the weed in this form.
The women go into the towns and villages and give exhibitions of singing and dancing; and picking up any information they can acquire about the location of property, impart this to the
Sometimes they take service, and a case was known in Jubbulpore of Kanjar women hiring themselves out as pankha-pullers, with the result that the houses in which they were employed were subsequently robbed. It is said, however, that they do not regularly break into houses, but confine themselves to lurking theft. I have thought it desirable to record here the above particulars of the criminal Kanjars, taken from Major Gunthorpe's account; for, though the caste is, as already stated, identical with the Sānsias, their customs in Berār differ considerably from those of the Sānsias of Central India, who are treated of in the article on that caste.
We come, finally, to the Kūnchband Kanjars, the most representative section of the caste, who as a body are not criminals, or at any rate less so than the others.
The naine Kūnchband or Küchband, by which they are sometimes known, is derived from their trade of making brushes (kūnch) of the roots of khas-khas grass, which are used by weavers for cleaning the threads entangled on the looms. This has given rise to the proverb ‘Kori ka bigāri Kūnchbandhia' or 'The Kūnchbandhia must look to the Kori (weaver) as his patron’; the point being that the Kori is himself no better than a casual labourer, and a man who is dependent on him must be in a poor way indeed. The Kūnchbandhias are also known in northern India as Sankat or Patharkat, because they make and sharpen the household grinding-stones, this being the calling of the Tākankār Pārdhis in the Marātha Districts, and as Goher because they catch and eat the goh, the large lizard or iguana.? Other divisions are the Dhobibans or washerman's race, the Lakarhār or wood-cutters, and the Untwār or camelmen.
In the Central Provinces there are other divisions, as the Jāt and Multāni Kanjars. They say they have two exogamous divisions, Kalkha and Malha, and a member of either of these must take a wife from the other division. 1 Gayer, l.c. p. 61.
2 Crooke, loc. para. 3.
Both the Kalkhas and Malhas are further divided into kuls or sections, but the influence of these on marriage is not clear. At a Kanjar marriage, Mr. Crooke states, the gadela or spade with which they dig out the khas-khas grass and kill wolves or vermin, is placed in the marriage pavilion during the ceremony. The bridegroom swears that he will not drive away nor divorce his wife, and sometimes a mehar or dowry is also fixed for the bride. The father-in-law usually, however, remits a part or the whole of this subsequently, when the bridegroom goes to take food at his house on festival occasions. Mr. Nesfield states that the principal deity of the Kanjars is the man-god Māna, who was not only the teacher and guide, but also the founder and ancestor of the tribe. He is buried, as some Kanjars relate, at Kara in the Allahābād District, not far from the Ganges and facing the old city of Mānikpur on the opposite bank. Māna is worshipped with special ceremony in the rainy season, when the tribe is less migratory than in the dry months of the year. On such occasions, if sufficient notice is circulated, several encampments unite temporarily to pay honour to their common ancestor. The worshippers collect near a tree under which they sacrifice a pig, a goat, a sheep, or a fowl, and make an offering of roasted flesh and spirituous liquor. Formerly, it is said, they used to sacrifice a child, having first made it insensible with fermented palm-juice or toddy. They dance round the tree in honour of Māna, and sing the customary songs in commemoration of his wisdom and deeds of valour.
The dead are usually buried, both male and female 8. Social corpses being laid on their faces with the feet pointing to the south. Kanjars who become Muhammadans may be readmitted to the community after the following ceremony. A pit is dug and the convert sits in it and each Kanjar throws a little curds on. to his body. He then goes and bathes in a river, his tongue is touched or branded with heated gold and he gives a feast to the community. A Kanjar woman who has lived in concubinage with a Brāhman, Rājpūt, Agarwāl Bania, Kurmi, Ahir or Lodhi may be taken back
1 In a footnote Mr. Nesfield states: “ The Kanjar who communicated these facts said that the child used to open
out its neck to the knife as if it desired
into the caste after the same ceremony; but not
The following account of the industries of the vagrant Kanjars was written by Mr. Nesfield in 1883. In the Central Provinces many of them are now more civilised, and some are employed in Government service. Their women also make and retail string-net purses, balls and other articles.
“ Among the arts of the Kanjar are making mats of the sirki reed, baskets of wattled cane, fans of palm-leaves and rattles of plaited straw: these last are now sold to Hindu children as toys, though originally they may have been used by the Kanjars themselves (if we are to trust to the analogy of other backward races) as sacred and mysterious implements. From the stalks of the munj grass and from the roots of the palās? tree they make ropes which are sold or bartered to villagers in exchange for grain and milk. They prepare the skins of which drums are made and sell them to Hindu musicians; though, probably, as in the case of the rattle, the drum was originally used by the Kanjars themselves and worshipped as a fetish; for even the Aryan tribes, who are said to have been far more advanced than the indigenous races, sang hymns in honour of the drum or dundubhi as if it were something sacred. They make plates of broad leaves which are ingeniously stitched together by their stalks ; and plates of this kind are very widely used by the inferior Indian castes and by confectioners and sellers of sweetmeats. The mats of sirki reed with which they cover their own movable leaf huts are models of neatness and simplicity and many of these are sold to cart-drivers. The toddy or juice of the palm tree, which they extract and ferment by methods of their own and partly for their own use, finds a ready sale among low-caste Hindus in villages and market towns. They are among the chief stone-cutters in Upper India, especially in the manufacture of the grinding
1 Butea frondosa.
mill which is very widely used. This consists of two circular stones of equal diameter ; the upper one, which is the thicker and heavier, revolves on a wooden pivot fixed in the centre of the lower one and is propelled by two women, each holding the same handle. But it is also not less frequent for one woman to grind alone.” It is perhaps not realised what this business of grinding her own grain instead of buying flour means to the Indian woman. She rises before daybreak to commence the work, and it takes her perhaps two or three hours to complete the day's provision. Grain-grinding for hire is an occupation pursued by poor women. The pisanhāri, as she is called, receives an anna (penny) for grinding 16 lbs. of grain, and can get through 30 lbs. a day. In several localities temples are shown supposed to have been built by some pious pisanhāri from her earnings. “The Kanjars,” Mr. Nesfield continues, “also gather the white wool-like fibre which grows in the pods of the semal or Indian cotton tree and twist it into thread for the use of weavers. In the manufacture of brushes for the cleaning of cotton-yarn the Kanjars enjoy almost a complete monopoly. In these brushes a stiff mass of horsehair is attached to a wooden handle by sinews and strips of hide ; and the workmanship is remarkably neat and durable. Another complete or almost complete monopoly enjoyed by Kanjars is the collection and sale of sweetscented roots of the khas-khas grass, which are afterward made up by the Chhaparbands and others into door-screens, and through being continually watered cool the hot air which passes through them.
The roots of this wild grass, which grows in most abundance on the outskirts of forests or near the banks of rivers, are dug out of the earth by an instrument called khunti. This has a handle three feet long, and a blade about a foot long resembling that of a knife. The same implement serves as a dagger or short spear for killing wolves or jackals, as a tool for carving a secret entrance through the clay wall of a villager's hut in which a burglary is meditated, as a spade or hoe for digging
1 It is not, I think, used for weaving that the brushes are made from the now, but only for stuffing quilts and khas-khas grass, and this is, I think, the cushions.
case in the Central Provinces. 2 But elsewhere Mr. Nesfield says
snakes, field-rats, and lizards out of their holes, and edible roots out of the earth, and as a hatchet for chopping wood.”
Kāpewār, Munurwār.—A great cultivating caste of the Telugu country, where they are known as Kāpu or Reddi, and correspond to the Kurmi in Hindustān and the Kunbi in the Marātha Districts. In the Central Provinces about 18,000 persons of the caste were enumerated in the Chānda District and Berār in 1911. The term Kāpu means watchman, and Reddi is considered to be a corruption of Rāthor or Rāshtrakūta, meaning a king, or more properly the headman of a village. Kāpewār is simply the plural form of Kāpu, and Munurwār, in reality the name of a subcaste of Kāpewārs, is used as a synonym for the main caste in Chānda. They are divided into various occupational subcastes, as the Upparwars or earth-diggers, from uppar, earth; the Gone, who make gonas or hemp gunny-bags; the Elmas, who are household servants; the Gollewārs, who sell milk; and the Gamadis or masons. The Kunte or lame Kāpewārs, the lowest group, say that their ancestor was born lame; they are also called Bhiksha Kunte or lame beggars and
the bards of the caste besides begging from them. They are considered to be of illegitimate origin. No detailed account of the caste need be given here, but one or two interesting customs reported from Chānda may be noted. Girls must be married before they are ten years old, and in default of this the parents are temporarily put out of caste and have to pay a penalty for readmission.
But if they take the girl to some sacred place on the Godāvari river and marry her there the penalty is avoided. Contrary to the usual custom the bride goes to the bridegroom's house to be married. On the fourth night of the marriage ceremony the bridegroom takes with him all the parts of a plough as if he was going out to the field, and walks up the marriage-shed to the further end followed by the bride, who carries on her head some cooked food tied up in a cloth. The skirts of the couple are knotted together. On reaching the end of the shed the
1 This article is compiled principally from a note by Mr. Paiku, Inspector of Police, Chānda.