Page images




stratum of the population, and has ever since remained in their hands. If cloth was first woven from the tree-cotton plant growing wild, the business of picking and weaving it would naturally have fallen to the non-Aryan jungle tribes, who afterwards became the impure menial and labouring castes of the villages.

The weaver is the proverbial butt of Hindu ridicule, like the tailor in England. One Gadaria will account for ten weavers’; 'Four weavers will spoil any business. The following story also illustrates their stupidity: Twenty weavers got into a field of kāns grass. They thought it was a tank and began swimming. When they got out they said, “Let us all count and see how many we are, in case anybody has been left in the tank.” They counted and each left out himself, so that they all made out nineteen. Just then a Sowār came by, and they cried to him, 'Oh, Sir, we were twenty, and one of us has been drowned in this tank.' The Sowār seeing that there was only a field of grass, counted them and found there were twenty; so he said, “What will you give me if I find the twentieth ?' They promised him a piece of cloth, on which the Sowār, taking his whip, lashed each of the weavers across the shoulders, counting as he did so. When he had counted twenty he took the cloth and rode away. Another story is that a weaver bought a buffalo for twenty rupees. His brother then came to him and wanted a share in the buffalo. They did not know how he should be given a share until at last the weaver said, “You go and pay the man who sold me the buffalo twenty rupees; and then you will have given as much as I have and will be half-owner of the buffalo.” Which was done. The ridicule attaching to the weaver's occupation is due to its being considered proper for a woman rather than a man, and similar jests were current at the tailor's expense in England. In India the weaver probably takes the tailor's place because woven and not sewn clothes have hitherto been generally worn, as explained in the article on Darzi.



1. Distribution and origin.
2. Tribal legends.
3. Tribal subdivisions.
4. Marriage. Betrothal.
5. The marriage ceremony.
6. Religion.
7. The Bhumka.

8. Magical practices.

9. Funeral rites. 10. Appearance and social customs. II. Character. 12. Inheritance. 13. Occupation. 14. Language.

1. Distribu

Korku.? _A Munda or a Kolarian tribe akin to the tion and Korwas, with whom they have been identified in the India origin.

Census of 1901. They number about 150,000 persons in the Central Provinces and Berār, and belong to the west of the Satpūra plateau, residing only in the Hoshangābād, Nimār, Betül and Chhindwara Districts.

About 30,000 Korkus dwell in the Berār plain adjoining the Satpūras, and a few thousand belong to Bhopāl. The word Korku means simply 'men' or tribesmen,' koru being their term for a man and a plural termination. The tribe have a language of their own, which resembles that of the Kols of Chota Nāgpur. The language of the Korwas, another Munda tribe found in Chota Nāgpur, is also known as Korakū or Korkū, and one of their subcastes has the same name.? Some Korkus or Mowāsis are found in Chota Nāgpur, and Colonel Dalton considered them a branch of the Korwas.

Another argument may be adduced from the sept names of the Korkus

1 This article is largely based on a of the Korkus given by Mr. (Sir monograph contributed by Mr. H. R. Charles) Elliott in the Hoshangābād Crosthwaite, Assistant Commissioner, Settlement Report (1867), and by Major Hoshangabad, and contains also Forsyth in the Nimār Settlement Report extracts from a monograph by Mr. (1868–69). Ganga Prasād Khatri, Forest Divisional 2 Risley's Tribes and Castes of Officer, Betül, and from the description Bengal, Appendix V. : Korwā.


Bemrose, Collo., Derby. KORKUS OF THE MELGHĀT HILLS.

[ocr errors]




which are in many cases identical with those of the Kols and Korwas. There is little reason to doubt then that the Korkus are the same tribe as the Korwas, and both of these may be taken to be offshoots of the great Kol or Munda tribe. The Korkus have come much further west than their kinsmen, and between their residence on the Mahādeo or western Satpūra hills and the Korwas and Kols, there lies a large expanse mainly peopled by the Gonds and other Dravidian tribes, though with a considerable sprinkling of Kols in Mandla, Jubbulpore and Bilāspur. These latter may have immigrated in comparatively recent times, but the Kolis of Bombay may not improbably be another offshoot of the Kols, who with the Korkus came west at a period before the commencement of authentic history. One of the largest subdivisions of the Korkus is termed Mowāsi, and this name is sometimes applied to the whole tribe, while the tract of country where they dwell was formerly known as the Mowās. Numerous derivations of this term have been given, and the one commonly accepted is that it signifies 'The troubled country, and was applied to the hills at the time when bands of Koli or Korku freebooters, often led by dispossessed Rājpūt chieftains, harried the rich lowlands of Berār from their hill forts on the Satpūras, exacting from the Marāthas, with poetical justice, the payments known as

Tankha Mowāsi' for the ransom of the settled and peaceful villages of the plains. The fact, however, that the Korkus found in Chota Nāgpur are also known as Mowāsi militates against this supposition, for if the name was applied only to the Korkus of the Satpūra plateau it would hardly have travelled as far east as Chota Nagpur. Mr. Hislop derived it from the mahua tree. But at any rate Mowāsi meant a robber to Marātha ears, and the forests of Kalībhīt and Melghāt are known as the Mowās.

According to their own traditions the Korkus like so 2. Tribal many other early people were born from the soil. They legends. state that Rāwan, the demon king of Ceylon, observed that the Vindhyan and Satpūra ranges were uninhabited and besought Mahādeo 2 to populate them. Mahādeo despatched his messenger, the crow Kāgeshwar, to find for him an ant1 See also art. Kol.

2 The local term for the god Siva.

« PreviousContinue »