From Indpaedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Hindi English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

This article is an extract from


Ethnographic Glossary.

Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press.
1891. .

NOTE 1: Indpaedia neither agrees nor disagrees with the contents of this article. Readers who wish to add fresh information can create a Part II of this article. The general rule is that if we have nothing nice to say about communities other than our own it is best to say nothing at all.

NOTE 2: While reading please keep in mind that all articles in this series have been scanned from a very old book. Therefore, footnotes have got inserted into the main text of the article, interrupting the flow. Readers who spot scanning errors are requested to report the correct spelling to the Facebook page, All information used will be duly acknowledged.



The number and distribution of the Bhumij tnbe in 1872 and 1881

A non-Aryan tribe of Manbhum, Singbhum, and Western Bengal, classed by Dalton and others, mainly on linguistic grounds, as Rolarian. There can be no doubt that the Bhumij are closely allied to, if not identical with, the Mundas; but thero is little to show that they ever had a distinct language of their own. In 1850 Hodgson published a short vocabularyl prepared by Captain Haughton, then in political charge of Singbhum; but most or the words in this appear to be merely ITo. The most recent observer, lIerr N ottrott, of Gossner's Mission, says'.l that the Bhumij resemble the Mundas most olosely in speech and manuel'S, but givos no specimens of their language, and does not say whether it differs sufficiently from Mundari to be regm:ded as a separate dialect.


I am inclined myself to believe that the Bhumij are nothing more than a branch of the Mundas, who have spread to the eastward, mingled with the Hindus, and thus for the most part severed their connexion with the parent trioe. This hypothesis seems on the whole to be borne out by the facts observable at the present day. The Bhumij of Western Manbhum are beyond doubt pure Mundas. They inhabit the tract of the country which lies on both sides of the SubarnarekM river, bounded on the west by the edge of the Chota Nagpur plateau, on the east by the hill range of which A.iodhya is the crowning peak, on the south by the Singbhum hills, and on the north by the hills forming the boundary between Lohar¬daga, Bazaribagh, and Manbhum districts. This region contains an enormous number of Mundari graveyards, and may fairly be considered one of the very earliest settlements of the Mundo. rac0.

The present inhabitants use the Mundari l::mguage, call themselves Mundas, 01', as the name is usually pronounced in Manbhum, Muras, and observe all the customs current among their brethren on the plateau of Chota N agpur proper. Thus, like all the Rolarians, they build no temples, but worship Burn in the form of a stone smeared with vermilion, whioh is set up in a sanla 01' saored grove neal' the village. A 8(l1"na is invariably composed of purely jungle trees, such as sal and others, and oan therefore be recognised with certainty as a fragment of the primeval forest, left standing to . form an abiding place for the aboriginal deities. They observe the sarltld festival at the same time and in the same way as their kindred in L ohardaga and Singbhum, and the ldya or priest is a l'ecognised village official. Marriages take place when both parties are of mature age, and the betrothal of cbilchen is unknown. Like the Mundas of the plateau, they first burn their dead and then bury the remains under gravestones, some of which are of enormous size. On certain feast days small supplies of food and money are placed under these big stones to regale the dead, and are abstracted early the next morning by low-caste Hindus.

On the eastern side of the Ajodhya range, which forms a complete barrier to ordinary oommunication, all is changed. Both the Mundari language and the title of Mundo. have dropped out of use, and the aborigines of this eastorn tract call themselves

1 Bengal Jou?'nal, vol. xviii, part II, p. 967; Essays, vol. ii. p. 97. 2 Grammatilc der Kolh.8pmclte, p. 4. Bhumij or SaJ'dtLt, aud talk Bengali. The physical characleri8tica of the race, however, remain the samo; and although they have adopted Hindu customs and are fast becoming Hindus, there can be no doubt that they are the descendants of the Mundas who first settled in the country, and were given the name of Bhumij (autochthon) by the Hindu immigrants who found them in possession of the soil.

Early History

The early history of the tribe and its general characteristics are sketched by Colonel Daltonl in the following passages:¬"The Bhumij of the Jungle Mahals were. once, under the nickname of c1mar (1'obbers}1 the terror of the surrounding districts, and their various out¬breaks were called ohu{wis. On several occasio::J.s since they came under the British rule they have shown how readily fl. ohuari may be improvised on very slight provocation. I do not know that on any occasion they rose, like the Mundaris, simply to redress their own wrongs. It was sometimes in support of a turbulent chief ambitious of obtaining power to which, according to the courts of law, he was not entitled; and it was sometimes to oppose the Government in a policy which they did not approve, though they may have had very little personal interest in the matter.

Thus, in the year A.D. 1798, when the Panchet estate was sold for arrears of revenue, they rose and ,iolently disturbed the peace of the country till the sale was oancelled. After hostilities had continued for some time, in reply to a very pacific message sent to them by the officer commanding the troops, they asked if the Government were going to sell any more' estates. I do not think that the settlement of anyone of the BhUmij Jungle Mahals was effected without a fight. In Dhalbhum the R ajaresisted the interference of the Bl'itish power, and the Government set up a rival; but after various failures to establish his authority they set him aside and made terms with the rebel. In Barabhum there was at one time a disputed succession.

The courts decided that the eldest born of Raja Vivika Narayan, though the son of the second wife, suoulel succeed in preference to tue son of the first wife, the Pat Ram. The BhUmij did not approve of the decision, and it was found necessary to send a military force to carry it out. This was the origin of the last disturbance, known as Ganga Narayan's rebel¬lion, which broke out in 1832. Lakshman, the son of the Pat Rani allu'ded to above, continuing to oppose his brother, was arrested, and died in jail, leaving a son, Ganga Narayan. On the death of Raja Haghunath Sinh he also was succeeded by the son of his second Rani, who was declared by the Supreme-Court to be heir, in opposi¬tion to a claim again set up by Madhab Sinh, the younger son, but the son of the Pat Rani; but failing in his suit, Madhab Sinh resigned himself to his fate, and was consoled by being appointed diu'an, or prime minister, to his brother.

In this capaoity he made himself thoroughly unpopular, more especially by becomicg an usurious money~lenc1or and extortionate grain-dealer, and soon Ganga Narayan found that, in opposing a man so detested, a majority of the people would side with him. Accordingly, in the month of April 1832 he;at t he head of a large force of g1t6.twdls, made an attack on Madhab Sinh and slew him. This foul crime was committed with great deliberation, 'Cunning, and cruelty. Madhab was seized and carried off to the hills to be sacrificed. Ganga Narayan himself first smote him with his battle• axe, then each sarda1• gMtwal was compelled to discharge an arrow at him, and thus all the leading gluitwdts became implicated in the plot. A system of plundering was then commenced, which

oon drew to his standard all the clmcl1's-that is, all the Bhumij of BarabhUm and adjoining estates. He attacked BaraMzar, where the Raja liv'ed, burned the Munsif'-s ka.chal•'; and the police station, from which the police had fled, but three unfortunate peons (runners) of ihe M u'rl.sif's court were caught and killed. The officials and the police fell back on Bardwan, and for some time Ganga Narayan had the country at his mercy. He sauked every place worth plundering; hut in November following a force was collected, consisting of three regiments of Native Infant.ry and eight guns, and milita.ry operations against the insurgents commenced. They were soon driven to take refuge in the hills, but being pressed there also Ganga Narayan fled into I:lingbhum, and elJdeavoured to enlist in his fa,oUl' the reputed invincible and irrepressible LarHs. They were just then at issue with one'Oi the chiefs, who claimed supremacy over a portion of them) the Thakur of Kharsawan; o.l1'd though they were not uDwilling to join in the row, they wished, before they committed themselves to Ganga Narayan's leadership, to test his capacity to lead. They therefore demanded that be should in the first place make an flttack on the fort of the 'l'l,akur of Kharsawan. In complying with this 'l.'equest he was killed, and the Thakur had the pleasure of sending his head to Captain Wilkinson with a letter quite in the style of Falstaff.

"I have not been able to discover that the BhUmij possess any independent traditions of mip'ations. Those who live in proximity to Chuti•a, N agpur recognise 110 distinction between themselves and the Mundas. rrhey intermarry and associate and coalesce in all matters indicating identity of race; for, though it may be said that they are not much troubled with caste prejudices, there is no portion of the old Indian population which is qui.te free from it. The BhUmij farther east have become too Hinduised to acknowledge the relationship. The DhalbhUm BhUmij consider themselves autoch¬thones, and will not admit that they are in any way connected witl1 the Mundas, Has, or Santals. It is pretty certain that the zamindcws of all these estates are of the same race as their people, though the only man among them whom I found sensible enough to acknowledge this was the Raja of Baghmundi; the others all call themselves Kshattl'iyas or R'Ijputs. but they are not acknowledged as such by any true scion of that illustrious stock. In claiming to b~ Rajputs they do not attempt to connect themselves with any of the recog• nised families of the tribe, but each family has its own special legend of miraculous production. the family legend of the Raja of Bnrabhum may be gi,on as a specimen of their skill in mfLking p€digrees ;-'

Nath Varaha and Kes Varaha, two broiLers, quarrelletl with their father, the Raja. of Virat, and settled at the Court of Vikramaditya. (This has some connection with the tradition of the adjoining estate of Patkum, the Raja of which claims descent from Vikramaditya.) Kes, the younger brother, was sawn into two pieces; and with bis blood Vikram gave a tikli or mark on the forehead to the elder brother, and a pair of umbrellas, and told him that all the country he could ride round in a day and night should be his. Nath mounted his steed and accomplished a circuit of eight yojanas within the time specified in what is now Barabhu.m; and this must be all true, as the prints of his horse's hoofs are still visible on the southern slopes of the hills.' With one or two exceptions all the gltdtwtils (captains of the border and their men) of the BhUmij part of ManbhUm and Singbhu.m districts are BhUmij, which is a SUTe indication of their being the earliest settlers. They were the people (like the Mundari BhUinMrs in Chutia Nagpur, the Bhuiyas in Bonai, Gangpur, Kennjbar, etc., and Gonds in Sarguja and Udaipur) to whom the defence of the country was entrusted. The BhUmij gMtwals in ManbbUm have now, after all their escapades, settled down steadily to work as guardians of the peace. The Raja of the extensive zaminddri of DhalbhUm is no doubt of BhUmij extraction, but for him the Heralds' College of the period failed to manipulate a Rajput descent. His ancestor was a washerman, who afforded refuge to the goddess Kali when, as Rankini, she fled from a demon in Panchet.

The goddess, in gratitude, gave the washerman a young Brahman}, a ward of her own, to wife, and the Rajas of DhalbhlUn are the descendants of this union. The origin of the story appears to be that a BhUmij chief of Dhalbhu.m, probably at the instigation of a Brahman, stole from its shrine in Panchet an image of Ranldni and set it up as his own tutelary deity. 'rhe shrine from which the image was abstracted is shown at the village of Para, near Purulia in Man¬bhUm, and it became the popular object of worship in DhalbhUm for all classes of people there. Rankini espeoially rejoiced in human sacrifices. It is freely admitted that in fOJ:mer years children were frequently kidnapped and sacrificed at her shrine ; and it cannot be very positively asserted that the practice of offering such victims has long been discontinued. At the shrine of this goddess a very cruel scene was enacted every year till 1865, when, with the concur¬rence of the samincldl', it was put a stop to. It was called the Bindctpamb; and Ganga N arayan probably had it in his mind when he so cruelly disposed of Madhab Sinh. At this pamb two male buffaloes are m'iven into a small enclosure, and on a raised stage adjoining and overlooking it the Raja and suite take up their posi¬tion. After some ceremonies the B.aj 1:1. and his purolut or family priest discharge arrows at the buffaloes, others follow their example, and the tormented and enraged beasts fall to and gore each other, whilst arrow after arrow is discharged. When the animals are past doing very much mischief, the people rush in and hack at them with battle-axes till they are dead. The Santals and wild Kharrias, it is said, took delight in this festival; but I have not heard a murmur at its discontinuance, and this shows it had no great hold on the minds of the people. Many of the BhUmij tribe are well off.

Some of them, who are sa1ylar gMtwats, are in viI,tue of their office proprietors of estates, comprising each from one to twenty manors ; but as the most substantial tenants under them are also hereditary gluitwals rendering service and paying besides but a very low fixed rent, these glultwat£ estates are not so valuable to the proprietor as villages on the ordinary tenure would be. The Bhtlmij live in commodious, well-built houses, and have all about them the comforts to which the better class of cultivators in Bengal are accustomed. Those who live quite amongst the Bengalis have retained few of their ancient customs; .none, perhaps, except the great national amusement, the gaJ:' meetmgs for dance and song both at their villages and at y'atrcts, which are characteristic of all Kols. In appearance they are inferior to the Hos of Singbhum and to the best of the Mundas of Ohutia N agpur. They are short of stature, but strongly built, and, like the Sant,l,ls, rather inclined to fleshiness. In complexion they are variable, like the MUlldas, ranging from a dark chocolate to a light brown colour ; they observe many of the Hindu festivals, but retain their sacred groves, in which they still sacrifice to the old gods. They have generally left off eating cow's flesh, in which their unreformed brethren in SingbhUm and Ohutia Nagpur indulge, but eat fowls. The BhUmij have in a great degree lost the simplicity and truthfulness of character for which their cognates are generally distinguished. They have acquired from the Bengali Hindus the propensity to lie, but they bave not the same assurance or powers of invention, and their lies are so transparent that they are easily detected."

Internal Structure

The internal structure of the Bhumij tribe is shown in Appendix 1. The sub-tribes are numerous, and vary greatly in different districts. With the possible exception of the iron-smelting Shelo in Manbhum, the names of these groups seem to have reference to their supposed original settlements. It deserves notice that the tendency to form endog¬amous divisions seems to be stronger in outlying districts than it is at the recognised head-quarters of the tribe. Thus in Man¬bhum and Sino-bhum we find only one sub-tribe Shelo, which obviously got detached from the parent group by reason of its members adopting, or perhaps declining to abandon, the compa¬ratively degraded occupation of il:on-srnelting. In Midnapur, on the other hand, where the Bhumij settlements are of comparatively recent date, we find five territorial sub-tribes in addition to the functional group of She1o. The reason seems to be that when the stream of emigration is not absolutely continuous, successi,:e sections of immigrants into distant parts of the country are affected lD vanous deo-rees by the novel social influences to which they are exposed. Some groups become more rapid~y Hinduised than other~, and ~hus thel:e arise divergences of usag.e ill mattel:s of. food and drmk, which ~onstl¬tute a bar to intermarrmge, and lU hme lead to the formation of sub-tribes. These divisious often outlast the differences of custom and ritual from which they took their origin, and in some cases the prohibition of intermarriage comes to be withdrawn, and the names alone remain to show that such a prohibition was once in force. The exogamous divisions of the tribe are totemistic, and closely resemble those met with among the Mundas. The rule of exogamy is simple.


A man may not marry a woman of 4is own sept, nor a woman who comes withiu the standard formula for reckoning prohibited degrees, calculated as a rule to three generations in the descending line, but sometimes extended to five where bhaiyadi or mutual recognition of kinship has been maintained between the families.

The aboriginal usage of adult-marriage still holds its ground among the Bhumij, though the wealthier members of the tribe prefer to marry their daughters as infants. The extreme view of the urgent neoessity of early marriage is unknown among them, and it is thought no shame for a man to have a grown-up daughter unmarried in his house. Sexual intercourse before marriage is more or less recognised, it being understood that if a girl becomes pregnant arrangements will at once be made to marry her to the father of her child. Brides are bought for a price ranging uEmally from Rs. 3 to Rs. 12, and the wedding may take plaoe, acoording to arrangement, at the house of either party. When, as is more usual, it is celebrated at the bride's house, a square space (manoa) is prepared in the OOUl't¬yard (angan) by daubing the ground with rioe-water. In the centre of this spaoe branches of mahua and sidha trees are planted, bound together with five cowrie shells (Oy)J?'rEa moneta) and five pieces of turmerio, and at the corners are set four earthen water-vessels connected by a cotton thread, which marks the boundary of the square. Each vessel is half filled with pulse, and covered with a ooncave lid, in whioh a small lamp burns. On the arrival of the bridegroom with his following of friends, he is lei at once to the mr11'WCt and made to sit on a bit of board (pita). The bride is then brought in and given a similar seat on his left hand. A sort of mimic resistance to the introduction of the bride is often offered by her more distant female relatives and friends, who receive trilling presents for allowing her to pass.

After the bride has taken her seat and certain mal1tms or mystic formulre have been pronounced by the priest, usually a Bengal Brahman, the bridegroom proceeds to light the lamps at the corners of the square. As fast as each lamp is lighted the bride blows it out, and this is repeated three, five, or seven times, as the case may be. The couple then return to their seats, and the bride is formally given to the .bri?egroom, app.ropr~a~e mantras being recited ::t the time, and theIr nght hands belllg JOIned together by the offiCIating priest. Last of all, the bridegroom smears vermilion on the bride's forehead, and his clothes are knotted to hers, the knot being kept intact for three, four, five, seven, or ten days, according to the custom of the family. At the end of that time they must rub themselves with turmeric and bathe, and the knot is solemnly untied in tho presence of the bridegroom's relations. No priest is present 011 this occasion.

The Bhumij l'ecogniso polygamy, and in theory at lcast impose no limitation on" the number of wives a man may have. The tribe, however, are for the most part poor, and their meagre standard of living proves an effectual bar to excessive indulgence in the luxury of polygamy. ~en ~ D?-an has no children by his first wife, he usually marrIes agam If he can afford to do so; and it frequently happens that the .second w~fe is a young widow, whom he marries by the ~anga ntual, paymg a nominal bride-price and incurring . far les~ expen~t~re th~n would be necessary in the event of hIS marrymg a vlrgm.


WIdow-marriage is freely pennitted by the sal1ga ritual, ill which Widow•man~age. a widow smears on the bride's forehead verIni~ lion which the bridegroom has previously touched with his gteat toe. lt is deemed right for a widow to marry her late husband's younger brother or cousin, if such an arrangement be feasible ; and in the event of her marrying an outsider, she forfeits all claim to a share in her late husband's property and to the custody of any children she may have had by him. Traces of the growth of a sentiment adverse to the practice of widow-marriages may perhaps be discerned

in the fact that the children of widows by their second husbands experience some difficulty in getting married, and tend rather to form a class by themselves.


The Bhumij of Manbbum allow divorce only when a woman has been guilty of adultery. A council of relations is called, wbo hear the evidenoe and determine whether the cbarge has been proved. If their finding is against the woman, her husband solemnly draws from her wrist the iron ring, which is the visible sign of wedlock. Water is then poured on a sedleM, and the husband tears the wet leaf in two to symbolise separation. This ceremony is oalled pdt pdni chin;', 'the wet leaf rent,' and besides making the divorce absolute, relieves the husband from any claim by the wife for maiutenance. He is himself socially impure after the ceremony until he has shaved and performed certain expiatory rites, the most important of which appears to be gi ving a feast to the relatives . who ca~e together to adj udicate on the case. A woman has no nght to divorce her husband, and if neglected or ill-treated her only remedy is to run away with another man. Divorced wives may marry again by the 8(tnga ritual, but their offspring by their second husbands are at the same social disadvantage in respect of marriage as has been noticed above in referring to the children of widows. In both cases the sentiment is unquestionably due to the influence of Hinduism in modifying the original usages of the tribe.


In matters of inheritance and succession the tribe usually . affect to follow the school of Hindu law in vogue 1D eIT n81g our 00 ,and ardly any vestiges of special tribal custom can now be traced. Almost all Bhumij, however, give the eldest son an extra share (/ethangs or bm•o. angs) when the property is divided; and the ghatwali members of the tribe follow the local custom of primogeniture, the younger sons being provided for by small maintenance grants.

If a man leaves no children, his widow takes a life-interest on the property.


The religion of the Bhumij varies, within certain limits, accord¬ing to the social position and territ6rial status or the individuals ooncerned. Zamindars and well-to-do tenure-holders employ Brahmans as their family priests, and offer sacrifices to Kali or Mahamaya. The mass of the people revere the sun under the names or Siug-Bonga and Dhru:m, as the giver of harvests to men and the cause of all changes of seasons affeoting their agrioultural fortunes. They also worship a hoet of minor gods, among whom the following deserve speoial mention: -(1) J ah i r-Buru, worehipped in the sacred grove of the village (Jtihi?•-thfm) with offerings of goats, fowls, rioe, and ghee at the Sarhul festival in the months of Baisakh (April-May) and Phalgun (January-February). the lay a presides at the saorifioe, and the offerings are divided between him and the worshippers. Hhir-Buru is supposed to be capable of blasting the crops if not duly pro-pitiated, and her worship is a neoessary preliminary to the com-menoement of the agricultural operations of the year. (2) Karakata, (Ka1•ti = ' buffalo,' and Kata = 'to out ') another agricultural deity, to whom buffaloes and goats are offered towards the commencement of the rains. The skin of the buffalo is taken by the worshippers; the horns form the perquisite of the laya ; while the Doms, who make music at the sacrifioe, are allowed to carry off the flesh. In the case of goats, the laya's share is one-third of the flesh. If Karakata is neglected, it is believed there will be a failure of the rains.

The cult of this deity, however, is not so universal as that of J ahir-BuTU. (3) Baghut or Bagh-Bhut, who protects his votaries from tigers, is wor¬shipped in Kartick (October-Novembel') on the night of the Amabasya or the day preceding it. The offerings are goats, fowls, gheo, rice, etc., which may be presented either in the homestead or on the high land (tan/') close to the village. In the rormer case the head of the family officiates as priest; in the latter the laya's services are enlist¬ed, and he can claim a share of the of\'erings. (4) Gram-Deota and Deoshal i, gods of village life, who ward of\' sickness and watch over the supply of water for drinking and irrigation of the crops. They are propitiated in .Nshar (July-August) with offerings or goats, fowls, and rice, at which layas preside. (5) Buru, a mountain deity associated with many different hills throughout the Bhumij country, and worshipped for recovery from sickness and general prosperity on the first or second Magh. The head of the family or alaya serves as priest. (6) Kudra and Bisaychandi are malignant ghosts of canni-balistic propensities, whom the layas propitiate in the interests of the community. Private individuals do not worship them. (7) Panch¬bah i n i and Baradela are local deities worshipped by the Bankura Bhumij in much the same fashion as J ahir-Buru, the chief difference being that the offerings to Panchbahini she-goats and a kind of scent caned rllIitluighaslui, while only fowls are presented to Baradola.


With the Rhumij, as with other non-Aryan tribes of Chota Nagpur, the Karam festival, Colonel Dalton's description of whioh is quoted in the articls Oraon, seems to be espeoially popular. The Bhurrilj of Bankura distriot celebrate this feast in the latter half of the month Bhadm, corresponding roughly to the first half of September. A branch of the karam-tree (Nauclect parvi/olia) is planted by the lay a in the centre of the village dancing ground (aklmz) . At the foot of this branoh is u vessel partly fill ed with earth, into which, on the first day of the festival, the unmarried girls of the village throw various kinds of seed grain. These are carefully tended and watered from time to time so as to germinate by the Sankranti, or last day of the month, when the girls give the sprouting blades to each other, and wear them in their hair at the dance, which usually lasts the whole of that night.


The sacerdotal arrangements of the tribe have already been incidentally referred to. The upper classes employ Brahmans of their own, and ignore the cult of the earlier gods; while the mass of the tribe are guided in their regular observances by the teachings of the layas or priests of the forest gods, and only call in the assistance of Brahmans on the comparatively rare occasions when it is deemed necessary to propitiate one of the standard Hindu deities. But the Brahman who serves the Bhumij zamindar or tenure-holder as a family priest takes a higher place in the looal community of Brahmans than the casual Brahman who ministers to the spiritual needs of the ordinary cultivator. The former will call himself a Rarhi Kulin, and will be reoeived on equal terms by all other members of the sacred order; while the latter belongs to a much lower class, and assooiates with the comparatively degraded Brahmans who work for Kurmis and Dhobas.

Disposal of the dead

The funeral rites of the Bhumij are characteristic, and lend strong support to the opinion that the tribe

Disposal of the dead. is merely a branch of the Mundas. On the death of a Bhumij his body is laid with the head to the south on a funeral pyre, which is kindled by his male relatives. When the pYTe is well alight, the males go home, and the wife, sister, or other female relative of the deceased comes to the burning-place, carrying an earthen vessel of water. There she waits till the fire has burned down, quenches the ashes with water, and picks out and places in the vessel the fragments of bone left unconsumed. Somo of these fragments are interred at the foot of a tttlsi plant (Oc.l/rmtm sal/ctwn) in the courtyard of the dead man's house, others are taken in the vessel to the original oemetery of his family. 1 There a hole is dug and the vessel of bones placed

(1) The theory is that the bones should be taken to the village in which the ancestors of the deceased had the status of b/tuinluil's or fu'st clearers of tho soil; but this i not invariably acted up to, and the rule is held to be sufficiently eomplied with if a man's bones are buried in a village where he or his ancestors have been settled for a tolerably long time. It deserves notice that tho 'l'amarhia Bhumij or ~i[idnapur transport the bones of their dead to the great Munda cemetery at Chokahatu, the place or mourning in pargana Tamarh of Lohal'daga. No stronger proof could well be given of the idenLityof the Bhumij with the MlLUdas. The Desi Bhumij of M:idnapur ~o to Kuchong, in Sillgbhum. and some of tho Singbhum Blmmij to Suisa. ill Bagmnndi of Manbhum. inside, supported by three .stones. The owth is then filled in, and a large flat stone laid over all, on whioh a fowl is saorifioed to ensure the reposo of the dead. The spirits of those whose bones rest in the same plaoe are solemnly informed that another has been added to their number, and are enjoined not to quarrel, but to abide peaoefully in the land of the dead. The survi vors then partake of a feast of rice, ddt, and other vegetables prepared by the more distant relatives of the deceased.

This striotly lion-Aryan ritual has of late years been to some extent overlaid by observances borrowed from the regular Hindu s?'Melk On the tenth day the mourners are shaved, and on the eleventh balls (pillda) of rice, sesamum, molasses, and plantain are offered to anoestors under the supervision of a Brahman, who receives such presents as the means of the family permit them to give. A more primitive mode of appeasing the departed spirit is met with among the Shelo Bhumij. On the eleventh day after death the ohief mourner beats a bell-metal chinking-vessel with a stick, while another relation, standing by his side, calls loudly on the name of the dead. After a while a third man, unconnected with the family, and often a laya, comes forward to personate the deceased, by whose name he is addressed, and asked what he wants to eat. Acting thus as the elead man's proxy, he mentions various articles of food, which are put before him. After making a regular meal he goes away, and the spirit of the deceased is believed to go with him. The relatives then finish the food prepared for the occasion.

Mention is made in the article on the Mundas of the oustom by whioh the graves of the MuinMrs, or representatives of those who first cleared the soil and founded the village, are marked by an upright stone pillar in addition to the horizontal slab whioh covors the bones of an ordinary raiyat not descended with one of these pioneer families. Preoisely the same distinotion is made among the Bhumij ghatUJats of Manbhum between village sW'dal"s, or holder of entire gliatUJdli tenures, and the talJida1's, or rural oonstables, who make up the rank and file of the gludlcdli force . the graves of the former are invariably distinguished by an upright monolith, sometImes bearing traces of rude attempt at ornamental shaping, while the torn bs of the latter consist merely of a slab laid flush with tho ground.

Police service

This singular oorrespondence of funeral usage, coupled with the faot that many of the Manbhum g/tatlcats call themselves by the title bhuinhar or bhuinya suggests the conjeoture that the glwt1l'lili tenures in tho south of that distriot are a survival under different names and changed oonditions of the ancient tribal holdings known in Lohar~ daga as lJIiuin/ul1•i. Personal service of various kinds is one of the oldcst inoidents of the bliuillhirri temll'e, and it is not difficult to see bow in a border distriot like Manbhum the character of this service might gradually be ohanged in aocordanoe with local necessities until it came to take the form of the potty police functions whioh the gliatlcols perform, or are supposed to perform , at the pre ent day.

Their duties, it is true, aro now dischargcd uuder the orders of Government, and not at the will of the zamindar, but this chango has been brought about gradually, and is due partly to looal disturb¬ances, iu which the Bhumij took the lead, and partly to the fact that the zamindars of Bambhum, originally the heads of the Bhumij community, have within the last hundred years assumed the style of H,ajputs, aud have spared no effort to sever their connexion with their own tribe. The antagonism thus set up between the chief and bis rotainers sbowed itself on his side by constant endeavours to resume their privileged tenures, and on theirs by steady resistance to his authority and ~ssertir~n of ~heir direot su b?rdi~ation to the Magis¬trate of the distrICt. 1hus III course of hme It has come about tbat a number of very ancient tenures, representing in their inception the tribal rights of the first clearers of the soil, have been trans¬formed into police jagi1's, and have recently been surveyed and demarcated at the cost or Government in the interest of the executive administradon of the Manbhum district.


The original oocupation of the Manbhum Bhumij is believed by themselves to have been military service, and OccupatIOn. there can be liLtle doubt that the bands of Chuars or plunderers, who repeatedly overran the Midnapur district towards the end of' last century, were largely reoruited from this tribe. The circumstance, however, that they took a more or less prominent part in a series of marauding attaoks on an unarmed and unwarlike population affords no ground for a belief in the existence among them of any real military instinct; and in fact they are conspicuous for the dislike of disoipline, which is one of the prominent oharacteristics of the Kolarian races. For many years past agriculture has been the sole profession of all the sub-tribes exoept the iron-smelting .Shelo. A few have engaged in petty trade, and some have emigrated to the tea districts of Assam.

Their relations to the land are various. The zamindars of Barabhum, Dhalbhum, Manbhum, Patkum, and Bagmundi probably belong to the Bhumij tribe, though they now oall them¬selves H.ajputs. Next to them rank the sardar ghatwals of the large servioe.tenures known in Manbhum as tanifs. Three of these admit themselves to be Bhumij, while the fourth, Manmohan Singh, of Taraf SatsrakMni, now claims to be a Rajput, regardless of the faot that a few years ago his grandfather wrote himself down in public doouments as Bhumij. I mention this instance as an illustration of the facility with which brevet rank as a self¬made Rajput may be obtained. Manmohan Singh keeps a Brah¬man to support his pretensions, and professes to be very particular iu all matters of ceremonial observance. His descendants will doubtless obtain unquestioning recognition as local Rajputs, and will intermarry with families who have undergone the same process of transformation as themselves. The great bulk of the Bhumij, wh() are simple cultivators and labourers, stand on a far lower social level than the landholding members of the tribe. They rank somewhat below the Kurmi, and members of the higher castes will not take water from their hands. In their turn the Bhumij, though eating fowls and drinking spirituous liquors, look down upon Bauris, Bagdis, Dams, and Ghasis as morc unclean feeders than themselves.

A statement (graphic) on this shows the number and distribution of the Bhumij tnbe in 1872 and 1881 :¬

Personal tools