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Baigas are always selected. There were in existence within the last twenty years, as highland chiefs and holders of manors, four Korwa notables, two in Sargūja and two in Jashpur ; all four estates were valuable, as they comprised substantial villages in the fertile plains held by industrious cultivators, and great tracts of hill country on which were scattered the hamlets of their more savage followers. The Sargūja Korwa chiefs were, however, continually at strife with the Sargūja Rāja, and for various acts of rebellion against the Lord Paramount lost manor after manor till to each but one or two villages remained. The two Jashpur thanes conducted themselves right loyally at the crucial period of the Mutiny and they are now prosperous gentlemen in full enjoyment of their estates, the only Korwa families left that keep up any appearance of respectability. One of them is the hereditary Diwān of Jashpur, lord of the mountain tract of Khūria and Maini, and chief of perhaps two-thirds of the whole tribe of Korwas. The other holds
an estate called Kakia comprising twenty-two villages. 2. Physi “The hill Korwas are the most savage-looking of all cal appear- the Kolarian tribes. They are frightfully wild and uncouth
in their appearance, and have good-humouredly accepted the following singular tradition to account for it.
They say that the first human beings that settled in Sargūja, being very much troubled by the depredations of wild beasts on their crops, put up scarecrows in their fields, figures made of bamboos dangling in the air, the most hideous caricatures of humanity that they could devise to frighten the animals. When the great spirit saw the scarecrow he hit on expedient to save his votaries the trouble of reconstructing them.
He animated the dangling figures, thus bringing into existence creatures ugly enough to frighten all the birds and beasts in creation, and they were the ancestors of the wild Korwas."
This legend is not peculiar to the Korwas' but is also told by the Halbas, Lodhis and other castes, and is a favourite Brāhmanical device for accounting for the existence of the autochthonous tribes.
“The Korwas,” Dalton continues, "are short of stature and dark brown in complexion, strongly built and active,
with good muscular development, but, as appeared to me, disproportionately short-legged. The average height of twenty Sargūja Korwas that I measured was 5 feet 3 inches and of their women 4 feet 9 inches only. Notwithstanding the scarecrow tradition the Korwas are, as a rule, better-looking than the Gonds and Oraons. The males, I noticed, were more hirsute than the generality of their cognates, many of them cultivating beards or rather not interfering with their spontaneous growth, for in truth in their toilets there is nothing like cultivation. They are as utterly ungroomed as the wildest animals. The neglected back hair grows in matted tails which fall behind like badly-frayed ropes, or is massed in a chignon of gigantic proportions, as preposterous as any that the present tasteless period has produced ; sticking out behind sometimes a foot from the back of the head.
"The women appear ground down by the hard work imposed on them, stunted in growth, black, ugly, and wretchedly clad, some having only a few dirty rags tied round their persons, and in other respects untidy and unclean."
It is noticeable that the Korwas have a subtribe called Korāku, and like the Korkus of the Satpūra range they are called Muāsi, a term having the meaning of raider or robber. Mr. Crooke thinks that the Korwas and Korkus are probably branches of the same tribe, but Sir G. Grierson dissents from this opinion. He states that the Korwa dialect is most closely related to Asuri and resembles Mundāri and Santāli. The Korwas have the honorific title of Manjhi, also used by the Santāls. The Korba zamindāri in Bilaspur is probably named after the Korwas.
The principal subdivisions of the tribe are the Diharia 3. Subor Kisān Korwas, those who live in villages (dih) and divisions.
. cultivate, and the Pahāria Korwas of the hills, who are also called Benwaria from their practising bewar or shifting cultivation. Two minor groups are the Korāku or young men, from kora, a young man, and the Birjias, who are probably the descendants of mixed marriages between Korwas and the tribe of that name, themselves an offshoot of the Baigas. The tribe is also divided into totemistic exogamous septs.
Marriage within the sept is forbidden, but this appears to be the only restriction. In Korba the Pahāria Korwas are said to marry their own sisters on occasion. The ordinary bride-price is Rs. 12. In Bilaspur there is reported to be no regular marriage feast, but the people dance together round a big earthen drum, called māndhar, which is played in the centre. This is bound with strips of leather along the sides and leather faces at the ends to be played on by the hands. They dance in a circle taking hands, men and women being placed alternately. Among the Pahāria Korwas of Sargūja, Mr. Kunte states, the consent of the parents is not required, and boys and girls arrange their own weddings. Men who can afford the bride-price have a number of wives, sometimes as many as eight or ten. After she has had a child each wife lives and cooks her food separately, but gives a part of it to her husband. The women bring roots and herbs from the forest and feed their husbands, so that the man with several wives enjoys a larger share of creature comforts. Among these people adultery is said to be very rare, but if a woman is detected in adultery she is at once made over to the partner of her act and becomes his wife. Divorce and the remarriage of widows are permitted, and a widow usually marries her late husband's younger brother, though she is not obliged to do so. A husband divorcing his wife is obliged to feed the caste for five days.
The tribe bury the dead, placing the corpse in the grave with the head to the south. A little rice is buried with the corpse. In Bilāspur the dead are buried in the forest, and the
graves of old men are covered with branches of the sāli tree. Then they go to a little distance and make a fire, and pour ghi and incense on it as an offering to the ancestors, and when they hear a noise in the forest they take it to be the voice of the dead man. When a man dies his hut is broken down and they do not live in it again. The bodies of children under five are buried either in the house or under the shade of a banyan tree, probably with the idea that the spirit will come back and be born again. They say that a banyan tree is chosen because it
1 Shorea robusta.
5. Funeral rites.
lives longest of all trees and is evergreen, and hence it is supposed that the child's spirit will also live out its proper span instead of being untimely cut off in its next birth.
The Korwas worship Dūlha Deo, the bridegroom god 6. Reliof the Gonds, and in Sargūja their principal deity is Khuria gion. Rāni, the tutelary goddess of the Khuria plateau. She is a bloodthirsty goddess and requires animal sacrifices; formerly at special sacrifices 30 or 40 buffaloes were slaughtered as well as an unlimited number of goats.? Thākur Deo, who is usually considered a corn-god, dwells in a sacred grove, of which no tree or branch may be cut or broken. The penalty for breach of the rules is a goat, but an exception is allowed if an animal has to be pursued and killed in the grove. Thākur Deo protects the village from epidemic disease such as cholera and smallpox. The Korwas have three festivals: the Deothān is observed on the full moon day of Pūs (December), and all their gods are worshipped ; the Nawanna or harvest festival falls in Kunwār (September), when the new grain is eaten ; and the Faguwa or Holi is the common celebration of the spring and the new vegetation.
The Korwas do not admit outsiders into the tribe. 7. Social They will take food from a Gond or Kawar, but not from a Brāhman. A man is permanently expelled from caste for a liaison with a woman of the impure Gānda and Ghasia castes, and a woman for adultery with any person other than a Korwa. Women are tattooed with patterns of dots on the arms, breasts and feet, and a girl must have this operation done before she can be married. Neither men nor women ever cut their hair.
Of their appearance at a dance Colonel Dalton states : “Forming a huge circle, or rather coil, they hooked on ing. to each other and wildly danced. In their hands they sternly grasped their weapons, the long stiff bow and arrows with bright, broad, barbed heads and spirally-feathered reed shafts in the left hand, and the gleaming battle-axe in the right. Some of the men accompanied the singing on deep-toned drums and all sang. A few scantily-clad females formed the inner curl of the coil, but in the centre 1 Dalton, loc. cit. p. 229.
2 Ethnology of Bengal, p. 228.
was the Choragus who played on a stringed instrument, promoting by his grotesque motions unbounded hilarity, and keeping up the spirit of the dancers by his unflagging energy. Their matted back hair was either massed into a chignon, sticking out from the back of the head like a handle, from which spare arrows depended hanging by the bands, or was divided into clusters of long matted tails, each supporting a spare arrow, which, flinging about as they sprang to the lively movements of the dance, added greatly to the dramatic effect and the wildness of their appearance. The women were very diminutive creatures, on the average a foot shorter than their lords, clothed in scanty rags, and with no ornaments except a few tufts of cotton dyed red taking the place of flowers in the hair, a common practice also with the Santāl girls. Both tribes are fond of the flower of the cockscomb for this purpose, and when that is not procurable, use the red cotton."
They dance the karma dance in the autumn, thinking that it will procure them good crops, the dance being a kind of ritual or service and accompanied by songs in praise of the gods. If the rains fail they dance every night in the
belief that the gods will be propitiated and send rain. 9. Occupa Of their occupation Colonel Dalton states :
" The tion.
Korwas cultivate newly cleared ground, changing their homesteads every two or three years to have command of virgin soil.
They sow rice that ripens in the summer, vetches, millets, pumpkins, cucumbers— some of gigantic size-sweet potatoes, yams and chillies. They also grow and prepare arrowroot and have a wild kind which they use and sell. They have as keen a knowledge of what is edible among the spontaneous products of the jungle as have monkeys, and have often to use this knowledge for selfpreservation, as they are frequently subjected to failure of crops, while even in favourable seasons some of them do not raise sufficient for the year's consumption ; but the best of this description of food is neither palatable nor wholesome. They brought to me nine different kinds of edible roots, and descanted so earnestly on the delicate flavour and nutritive qualities of some of them, that I was induced to have two or three varieties cooked under their instructions