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Burmese influence from the east appears to affect them but little ;
and all the information that I succeeded in obtaining from the late
Political Agent at Mandalay, Major Strover, regarding the wild
tribes who lay to the west of the Irrawaddy below Mandalay, was
that they were merely known by the general name of " Ayaings,"
which simply means in Burmese " wild men." Such information
as has been gleaned regarding them from this side, scanty as it is,
will be found in another chapter. In addition to the commodity
of salt supplied to the Shandoo clans from our bazaars, or in the
absence of it (for often they are unable to pass through the country
lying between them and our frontier, owing perhaps to an esta-
blished feud with intervening tribes) they, as a substitute, flavour
their rice and other food with water boiled with earth obtained
from some of their numerous salt licks. Beads, brass bangles
about an inch in diameter, copper pots, and tin cooking utensils
are also obtained by them at bazaars in exchange for ivory, wax,
cloths, sporrans, and havresacks, the latter articles being worked up
from cccton grown by themselves. The designs and patterns of
some of their body-cloths and plaids are both neat and pretty ;
lately they have also brought down some India-rubber. While
endeavours have been made thus to open out trade with the trans-
frontier tribes, whose prejudices, diffidence, and mistrust as to our
intentions and policy are gradually disappearing before a strong,
just, and consistent policy, a great stimulus has been given to the



development of trade within the hills, particularly as regards the
two important products tobacco and cotton. The increase of later
years in both of these valuable products has been already noted to
have been considerable, and of the 4,000 maunds of tobacco
exported from the hills, all but an extremely small portion was
consumed in Arakan, being sold at an average rate of £1 5s. to
£1 15s. a maund, according to quality, length of leaf, &c. The
cultivation of cotton has not increased with equal rapidity, princi-
pally because there has not been the same demand. The current
price per maund for last year was Qs. to 8s. The late Chief Com-
missioner, Mr. Eden, forwarded some Havanna and Manilla seed
for experiment in these hills in 1873, from which some very fine
leaf has been grown, and the tobacco produced, on analysis, was
thus reported on by Mr. Broughton, the Government Quinologist
of Madras, in 1874 : —

" The tobacco yielded 23*45 per cent, ash : this ash contained
8" 59 per cent, of potassic carbonate. By determination, the tobacco
was found to contain 1*95 per cent, of nicotine : these results show
that the tobacco contains these important constituents in amount
closely resembling those which are the most favourite tobaccos of
European smokers, or the Havanna and Manilla tobaccos of the
English market.

" The kind of tobacco of which the sample consists is not
stated, but I should believe it to be one of the American varieties ;
it is well cured and good smoking, but has a peculiar flavour,
far less perceptible when made into cheroots than when smoked
in a pipe. A slightly more continued fermentationwould, I believe,
preserv the flavour. Like all the tobaccos I have received from
British Burma, its qualities are most encouragmg and show
that its site of growth will produce tobacco quite worthy of export.
The sample sent is worth sending to the home market."

The indigenous hill cotton is also well reported on by the
Secretary to the Chamber of Commerce, Bombay, who describes a
sample sent to him by me as "being superior to ordinary Bengal
" cotton." By far the greater portion of the cloths worn by hill
men and women are worked up by them from home-spun cotton.

Teak plantations, started in 1872, have also been formed in
difl'erent portions of the hills, and these, if found to coma up to
the standard anticipated, can, with the immense tracts of unculti-
vated land at our disposal, be extended, and will eventually prove a
source of great wealth to the State. The comparatively quiet s^ate
of the frontier has thus allowed of an important development in
trade, which admits of the tribes supplying themselves with articl 3S
of food and ornament which heretofore they looked upon as luxurieri;


in fact, the power of obtaining money easily, without much
labour and with little or no risk, has enabled the hill men to buy
articles which in former times were quite unknown to them, a result
which has exercised a marked effect on the import trade of the dis-
trict. Fertile valleys which formerly lay waste, and from which
the hill cultivators were excluded through fear of attack by parties of
raiders, are slowly but surely being transformed into luxuriant
gardens under tobacco or cotton cultivation, and if peace and order
are preserved, and the tribes are dealt with honestly by the sharp
Native traders from the plains, the area under cultivation of both
these valuable products wiU, as a natural sequence, increase. In
promoting this result and assisting the extension of cultivation
into the interior, and so providing for the wants of an increasing
population, the contemplated location of a post on the Kyouk-pan-
doung range will be highly beneficial. Situated as this post will
be, in the centre of the country, it will be in a position of great
strength, and indeed will form the key to the Hill district.

While the material happiness and prosperity of the tribes have
thus increased, Government has also afforded them the means of
freely obtaining medical aid for the many disorders and diseases
incidental to the rough hfe led by them by establishing a civil
dispensary at head-quarters: this institution is becoming very
popular with the tribes, and has effected much good since its
estabhshment in 1872, as will be seen from the following figures :—

















Men, women, and children from remote distances freely resort
to the dispensary. Before its estabhshment under an efficient
medical staff, Arakanese quacks from the plains freely practised
their chicaneries and charms on the simple hill men, who fell easy
victims to superior cunning and plausibility, and invariably suffered
in purse without deriving any corresponding benefit in body.
An old report printed in 1873 furnishes rather an amusing
anecdote, which I quote in illustration of the manner in which
these quacks carried on their operations : —

" The hill men have not the slightest knowledge of medicine,
and if offerings to the spirits fail in curing their disease they
resort to quacks. A few days back I was much amused with an
old chief who had been to the plains to cure what appeared from
the symptoms to be simply indigestion. He said his medico was
a female, and she successfully managed to clear from his stomach
sundry skins of sambur and bullocks which some enemy had


bewitched into him. On remarking what a fortunate man he was
to survive the operation, he rei^lied that was not all, but that
the same good lady had managed to cure one of his friends from
deafness by taking stones out of his ear, though, when the oper-
ation was being performed, it was a sine qud non that the patient
should not be allowed to look up, and was simply cured by being
blown on the region of the ear, when lo ! out of the mouth '^of the
performer came three pebbles!! The old man related this with
gravity, and said he had paid Rs. 5 for being rid of this miscel-
laneous assortment of leather, and had further traveUed 100
miles to be thus taken in. Times will change when our dispen-
sary is in full swing." Since then indeed times have greatly
changed, and the marked good done, and the amount of suffering
alleviated, by the dispensary alone, is one of the many good results
of Enghsh rule over races such as the hill tribes, which, fettered
by no caste or prejudice, freely avail themselves of institutions or
innovations of the practical good of which they have ocular demons-
tration. The advantages conferred must, however, be visible and
unmistakeable, for with so conservative race as the hill men results
are everything.

Epidemics of small-pox and cholera commit at times great
havoc, but the area attacked is generally restricted owing to the
strict system of quarantine observed by the people on the appear-
ance of either of these malignant diseases. Before the introduction
of our rule, the mere fact of a person in a tabooed village breaking
the quarantine led, if followed by a death at the place visited by
him, to a heavy demand in money or, in default, to an attack on
the village breaking the quarantine : this system of quarantine
leads to httle inconvenience in a country so sparsely populated as
the hills of Arakan, and, even if this were not so, the end generally
justifies the means.

That loathsome and dreadful disease leprosy is also some-
what prevalent on the Mee and Lemroo rivers, though, among the
Chins of the Lemroo, the hereditary nature of the malady is so far
understood that lepers are compelled to live in villages inhabited
only by that unfortunate class and to marry only among themselves.

The more marked characteristics of our tributary tribes of
Arakan have been given in a previous part of this narrative, and
their life and pursuits, as far as the men are concerned, may be
briefly summarised thus : a httle cultivation, pursued, thanks to
a prolific soil, with but little of the sweat of the brow, a great deal
of feasting and drinking, combined with an average modicum of
sleeping, a fortunate combination of circumstances tending to
make them hapi)y and contented with their lot in life to a degree
which makes one almost envious of them.



The women are by far the hardest workers and, though well
and kindly treated, are not respected, and, as'a natural result of the
arduous life led by them, their number is considerably smaller than
that of the male population. A detailed census has not as yet been
made of the tribes.

In 1875 a Code of Civil Procedure was specially sanctioned
by the Legislature for the administration of civil justice among the
tribes, the chief features of which are —

simplification of procedure ;
admission of verbal complaints ;
dispensing with stamps ;

dispensing with pleaders or vakeels should the
Superintendent deem it advisable.

The importance of the above points will be recognized when it
is considered that we have to administer the law among people with
no written language, many of whom have but lately emerged from
a state of barbarism. It is my ardent wish and hope that,
for years to come, nothing further than the above in the way
of legislation may be attempted if we wish to have a happy and
contented people. Native pleaders or vakeels among the hill tribes
would tend to subvert justice, set them by the ears, foster intertribal
disputes, and alienate the affections of the people from us.

Prior to my departure for England, the Superintendent was
not bound by the Criminal Procedure Code, though he was to
follow it as far as possible, but it has since been extended, together
with numerous other Ads, to the Hill tracts. The experience of
several years among these wild races most strongly assures me of
the necessity of introducing elaborate systems of law and proce-
dure cautiously and slowly, otherwise the application of codes at
variance and irreconcileable with their desire for swift and ready
justice will be productive of evil and will estrange the people.
When civil cases connected with marriage portion, debt, or divorce
could be disposed of by the chiefs of tribes, I invariably referred
the cases to their arbitration and watched the awards to satisfy
myself that the same were not inconsistent with equity or
morality : this practice contributes towards interesting the chiefs
in their own government, and affords important aid to the Super-
intendent in the general administration of the country.

The revenue of the Hill tracts is extremely small, and it is
constantly impressed upon the Superintendent by Government
" that the amount of revenue is a small matter in comparison
" with the work of preventing raids, suppressing slavery, and con-
" ciHatiug the petty chiefs on the border." The whole amount is



only a little over .£600, and is made up of an annual tribute of two
rupees, or four shillings, a house from each village throughout
the district.

The total cost of the administration is nearly .£7,000 per annum.
A large quantity of building material in the shape of timber, bam-
boos, and canes is annually exported from the forests to the plains,
but on all the above there is no duty. Should the incidence of
taxation be considered too light, the revenue may be increased
without arousing discontent among the tribes, for some fifteen
years ago, when the people were in not nearly such a prosperous
state as they now are, each house used to pay on an average Rs. 3
to Government. Again, on reference to a royal order emanating
from the Arakanese Court, we find that at a still more remote
period, prior to Arakan becoming a British province, each man of
the Chouugtha tribe in the Hill tracts was called upon to pay as
revenue over Rs. 3-0-8, in addition to which he was liable to sundry
and arbitrary calls for tribute in the form of salt-fish or forced

This chapter would be incomplete without a brief reference to
the arms of warfare and implements of agriculture in use amongst
the tribes and a passing notice of their language. The weapons
common to all the clans are the spear, bow, and arrow, and da or
knife. Among the more remote Chins the bow and poisoned arrow
are the general weapons of offence and defence, though of late
years flint-guns have become common among them : these find
their way down the hill passes leading from Upper Burma into the
eastern portion of the Hill district, and are generally given as
ransom for Burmese slaves carried oft' by the Chins in their numerous
raids on Upper Burma in the proportion of four or five muskets for
a slave. In the use of the bow and arrow the Chins are very expert,
and to their unerring aim with a poisoned iron-tipped arrow elephants
even fall. The spear and shield, though common to all, are more
especially the national weapons of the Kamees, Mros, and Slian-
doos. The spear is a handsome weapon, with a shaft of about two
feet and a full length of about six feet, while shields of difterent
patterns prevail. Some of these, belonging to chiefs of high stand-
ing, are unique, consisting of the hide of the wild bison or buffalo
well prepared and worked up into a square of about three feet by
two-and-a-half feet, with a double handle to grasp, and handsome
rows of circular, ornamented brass to which are fastened pendants
of goat and horse-liair of different colours. The more ordinary
shield in use resembles precisely the sliape of the Roman scidum ;
it has no ornamentation, and only one liandle to grasp. The
manufacture of saltpetre is understood by all the tribes of Arakan,


and the following rough method is adopted. The goats, gyalls, and
cattle belonging to a village are kept in one shed, and after the
ground is well saturated with urine a large bamboo is partly filled
with the earth ; into this is poured water, which, percolating through
the earth, is received into a pan below through small holes like a
sieve at the bottom of the bamboo. The water thus obtained is
boiled until evaporation takes place, and the sediment left consists
of saltpetre of a fair quality. Sulphur is obtained by the hill men
much in the same manner as their muskets from Upper Burma.
Among the Shandoos or Pools muskets are very numerous, and
several villages are known to have upwards of 100 : these found
their way up the Kooladan river into the Shaudoo country many
years back, when trade in muskets was carried on briskly from
Akyab without let or hindrance and was a source of great profit.
Many of the clans have gained a fair knowledge of smithery from
Bengali and Burmese captives carried off in raids, and their fire-
arms are generally in fair order. The only other weapon to be
noted is the da or knife, with a sharp blade of about a foot in
length, which is carried in a sheath of basket-work ornamented
with cowries ; it is a different weapon altogether from the " dao"
used for agricultural purposes, being thin, light, with a sharp
blade, and pointed like a dagger.

The only agricultural implements in common use are a chop-
per about twelve inches long by three broad, with the end fitted to
a bamboo handle, and a small axe of a triangular celt of iron, with
the small end run through a bamboo or a handle. A dao, or broad,
heavy knife, is likewise extensively used by the tribes who cultivate
jooms. The primitive state in which cultivation is carried on
throughout the hills would render any modern implements of httle
use in this wild upland tract.

From what has been previously written, it will be observed
that none of the tribes of Arakan have any written language, a
want which is common to almost all tribes on the eastern border :
as a consequence, we find that the dialects of the country are split
up into nearly as many divisions as the tribes themselves ; and
though from several years' close observation it seems to me that these
dialects rest on one common language, yet on further acquamt-
ance the distinctions appeared marked. In some instances, as
between the dialect of the Mros and Kamee tribe, this distinction,
however, does not exceed that discernible between the patois of a
Somersetshire and a Yorkshire man. The difference existing may,
I think, be attributed more often to the isolated and conservative
attitude, dating from time immemorial, wliich one tribe often
assumes towards another through old and sanguinary feuds, than



to any distinct or real discrepancy of tongue. There are few gram-
matical rules beyond those for determining the gender of nouns and
future of verbs together with the negative and interrogative. The
gender is denoted by an affix, which is generally a word expressing
the visible sign forming the gender, as " suzzouk."



The trans-frontier tribes, whom the Superintendent is enjoined
to *' administer politically, at the same time taking care not to con-
" trol them in the management of their own people, or to interfere
" in their intertribal disputes," may be classified as —

The approximate position of the above tribes is indicated on
the map attached ; their exact position cannot be shown, as a large
tract of country to the east and north-east of our frontier remains

The Looshais, in consequence of the great distance at which
tliey reside from the British frontier, are hardly to any appreciable
degree amenable to our influence from this side, and, since the puni-
tive expedition against them in 1872 under Generals Brownlow
and BouRCHiER, have given no trouble by raids on our territory.
To the east and south-east of the Looshais lie the Shandoos
or Pools, who may be divided into the
eleven septs noted in the margin in the
order of their reputed numerical strength.
Each sept either resides in one strong
yillage, or else is separated into several
communities, which range in the num-
ber of their houses from 80 to 120. The
Sayboung clan musters as many as 700

Of the clans of this extensive race, deputations from the Say-
boungs, Toungsats, Yallains, and Bokkays have been received
within the last five years ; and it may be said that the last-named
three tribes have at lengtli become completely amenable to British
iufiuence. and have clianged their former role of inveterate raiders
and marauders on villages within our frontier for that of, compara-
tively speaking, peaceful neighbours. The depredations and cruel
















raids perpetrated by bands recruited from the Yallains, Bow-
kyees, and Koons* at one time caused their names to be a
household word among our tributary tribes as associated with
deeds of bloodshed and slavery, which reduced the frontier to a state
of ferment. With the exception of one instance in 1876, the
Yallain clan have, within the last six years, only once raided
a village within our territory, killing one British subject and carry-
ing off seven as prisoners. During the year 1877, however, all of
the prisoners were restored to Government by the offending tribe,
while the Bokkay clan have kept to the oath of friendship which
their chief made with me in 1872, and have neither raided nor
given any trouble. The Tanklangs, Hakkas, Bwas, and Moungdoos
abut on Upper Burma, and are as yet unknown personally to
our Government. Perhaps a sketch of the ceremony of receiving
these trans -frontier chiefs when they visit us wih not be deemed
out of place here.

The time of year invariably selected by them for their visits
is in the dry season, between November and May, as during the
rains the country is simply untraver sable. The chief, escorted
by a few followers, conspicuous for the amount of dirty raiment
they have on them, wiU come up to pay his respects by uttering a
succession of grunts and presenting two or three pipe-bowls, cut
out of the male bamboo, with specimens of Shandoo work in cloths
and havresacks. Through the medium of an interpreter, you give
him to understand that you are glad to see him, and hope his
visits will be repeated ; he is determined not to be communica-
tive, and evidently puts faith in the proverb that speech is silvern
and silence golden. A magnifying glass or a rifle, however, has a
magical effect ; his tongue becomes loosened, and he will probably
imfold some of his ideas and wants hitherto wrapped up within
his dormant brain : these are exceedingly crude, and confined
principally to powder and salt. Should the chief be one of a clan
whose behaviour has been good a feast is given him, bullocks are
killed, and several pots of koiing or rice-beer drunk, and with a
return present of a few baskets of salt, some copper bowls, or
money, the visitor takes his leave as abruptly as he appeared, gen-
erally favourably impressed with his reception. Should it be the
first occasion of a visit by an independent chief of any importance
to British territory, a review of some of the men composing the
HiU tracts force is held, and practice with breech-loaders at long
ranges is shown him for his edification. An oath is also entered
into with him of friendship on our part for the future in return

* The Koons have lately moved within our frontier ; as also have several families of
the Bokkay clan.



for good conduct on his. In four cases out of five, a trans-frontier
chief will also, during liis visit, attempt to get to the smooth side
of one, by asking if you will not return to him any of his slaves
who may have absconded from him to British ground for protection,
or else naively ask if Government, on the strength of his past good
conduct, will not kindly guarantee his clan against forays from
other trans-frontier tribes ; but on these points the orders of Gov-
ernment are so clear and distinct as to admit of a reply being given
at once. It is ruled that "no other engagements (but those of
" friendship on behalf of Government in return for good behavi-
" our) should be contracted with independent chiefs without the
•' special orders of His Excellency in Council."

The form of oath is of a savage and barbarous nature, though
extremely solemn in its character. A cow or some other animal
is tied with two ropes, to which each of the contracting par-
ties holds on, — French and English fashion. A master of the
ceremonies then in a loud voice calls on the unknown powers to
visit on the head of any of the parties to this oath who may break
it similar pain, torture, and death as the animal now undergoes,
after which he plunges his spear into the carcase, and if he is an
expert the animal will probably die without a struggle, but if he is

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Online LibraryW. Gwynne HughesThe hill tracts of Arakan → online text (page 5 of 7)