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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/222

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214
Obeah Worship in East and West Indies.

and made frequent excursions amidst their ridges and valleys in search of game, but always with an eye to any prehistoric remains I might meet with.

When at the delightful station of Coonoor, near the southern range of the plateau, and inquiring after cairns and the like, I was told by a Toda that something of the kind existed near his mand or village. So setting forth one morning, crossing a great ravine, and ascending the other side, I reached a cleft between two peaks, where the Toda met and guided me by an extremely steep and difficult track for fully 1,000 feet down to a secluded hollow, where on three sides the slopes descended precipitously, enclosing a small platform in front of which the mountain-side fell steeply to the low country. On the middle of the platform stood a large cromlech, or rather row of cromlechs, forming five compartments: three large ones in the centre, of equal height, covered with overlapping capstones, closed in with upright slabs at the back, with the front or southern side open, and a much smaller cromlech at each end. A man could easily have sat inside the central compartments, on the supporting slabs of which some indistinct figures were rudely carved, and in the middle partition lay a polished piece of the leg-bone of the large deer known as the elk or sambur, apparently much hacked with a knife.

I had some of the hill-people with me, and whilst examining this curious structure I noticed they all stood aloof, and on telling them to bring me out the leg-bone, all shrank back, looking aghast. I then found out that the hollow and cromlech were the haunt and abode of the most dreaded and malignant of the hill-deities, who was believed to be represented by that bone, which carried her power, and any meddling with it would be resented.

The bone had been laid there by the Kurumbars, a half-savage dwarfish race, few in number and seldom to be seen, inhabiting the thick, feverish jungles on the sides of the range, where only they can live. They seem to be a