« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
transient bird, called the houp, denoting that every thing in nature is undergoing a perpetual change.‘
Fig. 4 represents Isis as nature. Her head is crowned with a handsome tiara, and the whole of her ‘body, downwards from the shoulders, is covered with human breasts, indicative of her universal bounteousness and fecundity.
Fig. 5 is the bull Apis; or Osiris as Serapis.
The Bheels, Coolies, and Ramoosees.—The Rajpoots and Kattees.—The Mahrattam-The Koombies.—The Pindaries.—The Goands.
IN introducing the second part of this volume, I have to offer, with every grateful recollection of the aid, the pleasure, and the information which I have derived in the compilation of it, my warmest acknowledgments to the authorities from whose scattered sources I have drawn the collected stores of this my humble work. That these sources have been of the best description will not, I think, be questioned. That their valuable productions might have been more skilfully blended I am free to ingenuously admit; but, if the present attempt should lead to one of a bolder and more enlarged character, for which an ample scope, and, I doubt not, an abundance of materials will be found, my researches will, in one shape at least,
i have reaped a highly gratifying reward.
What the mountain and island tribes of India at present are, the following pages will shew; what some of them once were, has been lost in the lapse of ages. Numerous circumstances, however, lead to well-founded conjectures, that they were the aborigines of the countries whose mountain fastne'sses they now only inhabit. A little research might, perhaps, shew us, that these Indian “ children of the mist,” these miserable predatory, but, in many instances, highly interesting outcasts, were, in times long gone by, the legitimate lords of the soil of many parts of ancient Hindustan. Among these tribes the Bheels, of whom I shall first treat, will not be found the least worthy of notice.
17w BHEELS, COOLIES, and RAMOOSEES.
The Bheels inhabit the northern part of the chain of Ghauts running inland parallel with the coast of Malabar.- On one side they are bordered by the Coolies, and on another by the Goands of Goandwana. They are considered to have been the aborigines of Central India ; and with the Coolies, Goands, and Ramoosees, are bold, daring, and predatory marauders; occasionally mercenaries, but invariably plunderers. There are, however, many shades of difference in the extent of the depredations of these several people, in which the balance of enormity is said to be considerably on the side of the Bheels. They are, nevertheless, described as faithful, when employed and trusted; and Major Seely, in his interesting work on the wonders of Elora, has stated, that the travellers who pay them their abouts, or tribute, may leave untold treasure in their hands, and may consider themselves as safe vwith them as in the streets of London. “ Their word (says that gentleman) is sacred, their promise unimpeachable.”
I will make no apology for some lengthened extracts respecting this extraordinary race.v They are little known; and I feel assured that as full a description of them as can be collected will not fail to be acceptable. For these extracts I am ‘indebted to the Asiatic Journal, the Madras Courier, the gentleman just mentioned, and finally to Sir John Malcolm.
To enable the reader to understand the people in question properly, it will be necessary, in the first instance, to shew the nature of the country which they inhabit.
Describing, in his official report to the late Marquess of Hastings, the western side of the hither peninsular of India, the Hon. Mounstuart Elphinstone has stated‘: “ The grand geographical feature of this tract is the chain of vghauts which run along the western boundary its whole length. Between this range and the sea lies the Concan, now under Bombay. It extends from forty to fifty miles in breadth, includes many fertile places producing‘ abundance of rice, but in genearl is very rough, and much crossed by steep and rocky hills. Towards the ghauts the country is in most places extremely strong, divided by hills, intersected by ravines, and covered with thick forests. The range itself is from two to four thousand feet high, extremely abrupt, and inaccessible on the west. The passes are numerous but steep, and very seldom passable for carriages.. The table-land on the east is nearly as high as many parts of the ridge of the ghauts, but in general the hills rise above it, to the height of from a thousand to fifteen hundred feet. The table-land is for a considerable distance rendered very strong by numerous spurs issuing from the range, among which are deep winding rugged vallies, often filled with thick jungle. Further east, the branches from the ghauts become less frequent, and the country becomes more level till the neighbourhood of the Nizam’s frontier, where it is an open plain.
“ The northern part of the chain of ghauts and the country at its base is inhabited by Bheels; that part to the south of Baugland and the country at its base, as far south as Bassein, is inhabited by Coolies, a tribe somewhat resembling the former, but more civilized and less predatory. The Bheels possess the eastern part of the range, and all the branches that run out from it towards the east, as far south as Poona; they even spread over the plains to the east, especially north of the Godavery, and to the neighbourhood of the Wurda. On the north they extend beyond the Taptee and N erbudda. Both the Bheels and the Coolies are numerous in Guzerat. South of Poona the Bheels are succeeded by the Ramoosees, a more civilized and subdued tribe, but with the same thievish habits as the Bheels. They have no language of their own, are more mixed with the people, and resemble the Mahrattas in dress and manners ; whereas the Bheels differ from the rest of the people in language, manners and appearance.v Of the latter Mr. Elphinstone remarks, that although they live quietly. in thev open country, they resume their wild and predatory character whenever they are settled in a part that is strong, either from hills or jungle. The Ramoosees do not extend farther south than Colapore, or further east than the line of Bejapoor.”
“ The Bheels, the Coolies of Guzerat, and the Goands of the easternparts of the peninsula or Goandwanah, are considered to be the remains of