44 THE NON-ARYANS. Non-Aryans of the Central Provinces. — In the Central Provinces, the non-Aryan races form a large part of the popu- lation. In certain localities they -amount to one-half of the inhabitants. Their most important race, the Gonds, have made advances in civilization ; but the wilder tribes still cling to the forest, and live by the chase. Some of them used, within the present generation, flint points for their arrows. They wield bows of great strength, which they hold with their feet, while they draw the string with both hands. They can send an arrow right through the body of a deer. The Maris fly from their grass-built huts on the approach of a stranger. Once a year a messenger comes to them from the local Raja, to take their tribute, which consists chiefly of jungle products. He does not, however, enter their hamlets, but beats a drum outside, and then hides himself. The shy Maris creep forth from their huts, place what they have to give in an appointed spot, and run back again into their retreats. The ' Leaf- wearers ' of Orissa. — Farther to the north-east, in the Tributary States of Orissa, there is a poor tribe, about io.ooo in number, of Juangs or Patuas, literally the 'leaf- wearers.' Until twenty years ago, their women wore no clothes, but only a few strings of beads around the waist, with a bunch of leaves before and behind. In 1871, the English officer called together the clan, and, after a speech, handed out strips of cotton for the women to put on. They then passed in single file before him in their new clothes, and made obeisance. Finally, they gathered the bunches of leaves, which had formed their sole clothing, into a great heap, and solemnly set fire to it. Himalayan Tribes. — Proceeding to the northern boundary of India, we find the slopes and spurs of the Himalayas peopled by a great variety of rude non-Aryan tribes. Some of the Assam hillmen have no word for expressing distance by miles or by any land-measure, but reckon the length of a journey by the number of plugs of tobacco or betel-leaf which they chew upon the way. They hate work ; and, as a rule, they are fierce, black, undersized, and ill-fed. In old times they earned a scanty livelihood by plundering the hamlets of the Assam valley. We now use them as a sort of police, to keep the
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/48
This page needs to be proofread.