William Wilson Hunter.

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author of sickness or calamity, but he may be invoked to avert it ; and
this appeal is often made, when the sacrifices to the minor deities have
been unproductive. The other deities are all considered subordinate
to Sing Bonga, and though they possess supernatural powers, there are
cases beyond their authority ; but when they are invoked in such cases,
it is their duty to intercede with Sing Bonga, and so obtain for their
votaries the solicited relief. This notion of the intercessional power
of the minor spirits is remarkable. Chanala Desum Bonga and his
wife Pangora have been included among the minor deities of the Hos,
but these are the styles under which Sing Bonga and his wife Chandra
Omol desire to be worshipped by female votaries. Chanala is to
women what Sing Bonga is to men.

1 The next in order among the gods after Sing Bonga is Marang-
Biini or Bura Bonga, the mountain god. The highest or most remark-
able hill or rock in the neighbourhood is the shrine of this deity or
spirit. The Kols evidently recognise the importance of wooded hills

KOL. ,„

in securing the needful supply of rain ; and trusting entirely to rain for
irrigation, and regarding Burri Bonga as the head of the heavenly water
department, they naturally pay him special attention. Every third
year, in most places, buffaloes are sacrificed in his honour, and fowls
and goats every year. He is also invoked in sickness. In Chutia
Nagpur a remarkable bluff, near the village of Lodhma, is the Marang-
Btiru or Maha-Buru for a wide expanse of country. Here people of all
castes assemble and sacrifice — Hindus, and even Muhammadans, as
well as Kols. There is no visible object of worship ; the sacrifices are
offered on the top of the hill, a bare semi-globular mass of rock. If
animals are killed, the heads are left there, and afterwards appropri-
ated by the palm, or village priest. Hindus say that the Marang-Burii,
as a deity, is the same as Mahadeo. They aver, however, that they
cannot exist in Chutia Nagpur without propitiating the local deities.
Every village has in its vicinity a grove reputed to be a remnant of the
primeval forest, left intact for the local gods when the clearing was
originally made. Here Desauli, the tutelary deity of the village, and
his wife, Jhar-Era or Maburu, are supposed to sojourn when attending
to the wants of their votaries. There is a Desauli for every village,
whose authority does not extend beyond the boundary of the village to
which his grove belongs ; if a man cultivates land in another village
than the one in which his home is, he must pay his devotions to the
Desauli of both. The grove deities are held responsible for the crops,
and are especially honoured at all the great agricultural festivals. They
are also appealed to in sickness. The next in order are Naga-Era or
Naiads, who preside over tanks, wells, and any bodies of stagnant
water (called Ekhir-Bonga by the Mundas) ; and Garha-Era, the
river goddess. They, too, are frequently, and no doubt very truly,
denounced as the cause of sickness, and propitiated by sacrifices to
spare the sufferers. The remaining spirits are the ancestral shades,
who are supposed to hover about, doing good or evil to their
descendants. They are often denounced as the cause of calamitous
visitations, and propitiatory offerings are made to them ; but besides,
a small portion of the food prepared in every house is daily set apart f< r
them. The ancestors are the Penates, and are called Ham-ho. The
ancestors of the wife have also to be considered; they are called
Horatan-ho, because sacrifices to them are always offered on the path
hora, by which the old woman came as a bride to the house.

1 The Munda Marriages, as solemnized in most parts of Chutia
Nagpur, have many ceremonies, some of which appear to have been
taken from the Hindus ; at all events the ceremonies I allude to are
common to Hindus and aborigines, but it is not always easy to d<
by whom they were originated. We may, however, safely assert that
practices common to both, which are not in accord.ince with the ritual
vol. VIII. R

258 KOL.

prescribed in the Vedas, are derived from the aborigines. Among
Miradas having any pretensions to respectability, the young people are
not allowed to arrange these affairs for themselves. Their parents
settle it all for them. The pan, or purchase money paid for the bride,
varies from Rs. 4 to Rs. 20 (8s. to £2) ; but the marriage feast is very
liberally provided, and as it takes place at the bride's house, the
expense chiefly falls on her father.

' Iron - Smelting. — The Kols generally understand the smelting of
iron. Their country is rich in that mineral j but it is the wilder clans,
the mountain Kharrias, the Birhors, and in Lohardaga, the Asiirs and
Agarias, that chiefly utilize it. Those who devote themselves to it
regularly pay no attention to the cultivation of the soil. The Mundas
have also acquired the art of washing for gold in the streams and rivers
that drain the plateau of Chutia Nagpur, or rise in the bordering hills,
which are all auriferous ; but the average quantity obtained is not more
than suffices to give a bare subsistence to the persons employed,
including men, women, and children. The richest field, Sonapet, is
the valley of the Sonai river below the plateau opening on Kharsawan.
The population are all Mundas, enjoying a rich soil, a most romantic
and sequestered situation, and low fixed rents. This last advantage
was secured to them after the insurrection of 1831, in which they
heartily joined.

' Food. — The Hinduized Munda abstains from most meats which
Hindus consider impure, but it is not safe to place a fat capon in his
way. Other Mundas, and all the Hos, eat beef, mutton, goats' flesh,
fowls, fish, hares, and deer. Pigs are not much relished except by the
poorer classes ; and the flesh of bears, monkeys, snakes, field mice,
and other small game that the Uraons and Santals affect, the Mundas
and Hos do not approve of. They will take from our hands cakes,
bread and the like, but not cooked rice. In regard to cooked rice,
these tribes are exceedingly particular. They will leave off eating if a
man's shadow passes across their food.

' Very few of this people have been known to take to trade as a
pursuit, but the Kols of one small section of Chutia Nagpur, Tamarh,
known as Tamarias, form an exception. They are employed chiefly as
brokers for the purchase of the produce of the wilder parts of the
Kolhan ; but owing to extension of the market system, and a
growing predilection on the part of the Kols for more direct dealings
with the traders, the Tamarias' occupation as brokers is on the wane.

' Property. — An equal division of property amongst the sons is the
prevailing custom of inheritance ; but they live together as an undivided
family until the youngest boy attains his majority, when the division
is made. The sisters are regarded as live stock, and allotted to the
brothers just as are the cattle. Thus, if a man dies, leaving three sons


and three daughters and thirty head of cattle, on a dr.
would pet ten head of cattle and one sister; but should there be only
one sister, they wait till she marries, and divide the pan. The pan is
the price of a wife, paid by her husband -to her father's family, and
usually consists of about six head of cattle. In Singbhiim the pan is
higher than in Chutia Xagpur, and the question of its amount is there
found to affect seriously the number of marriages.

1 Character, etc. — The Mundas are not so truthful and open as the
Hos of Singbhiim, nor so manly and honest ; but the Mundas have
lived for ages under conditions ill calculated to develop the good
qualities for which the Hos take credit. There has been a continual
struggle to maintain what they consider their rights in the land, ag
the adverse interest of the landlord or his assigns. The very conditions
under which most of them hold their lands place them in a position ot
dependence and inferiority, as they have to labour for their landlord
as well as pay rent to him. Moreover, they live among a people who
look down on them as a degraded race, and one of whose favourite
theories is, that the Kols were created to serve them. This, no doubt,
must be as demoralizing as it is aggravating ; and in many places the
Mundas and Uraons have listened to it so long that they begin to
accept the doctrine, and calmly subside into the position of serfdom
allotted to them. The licentiousness indulged in by Mundas and
Hos at their great festival is, of course, incompatible with purity and
chastity, and there is no doubt that the majority of the elders are
terrible sots ; but in Singbhiim the rising generation show a disposi-
tion to abandon licentious habits, and it is satisfactory to know-
that they can be entirely weaned from them. About seven thousand
Mundas have now (1872) embraced Christianity, and recen:
movement has extended to the Hos of Singbhiim. One of the m
with all his family and a considerable number of his villagers, has been
baptized; and, generally speaking, all those who have embraced our
religion have entirely withdrawn from participation in the wild :
of their pagan brethren. Their pastors have made this a test of their
sincerity, and it is no doubt a very severe one. The women must lay
aside all their trinkets, and should not be seen, even as spectal
dances. The race generally are duller of comprehension and more
difficult to teach than^Hindus or Muhammadans. With the
of those who embrace Christianity, the Mundas are usually unwill
learn ; but the Hos have of late years evinced considerable
education, and the progress they make is satisfactory, their anv
learn and wonderful dili-ence making up for sluggishness in Intel

Kol Population.— Owing to the loose use of the term Kol, whl
stated above, is in many cases applied to the whole group of tribes
speaking Kolarian dialects, it was found impossible tor the Census

2 6o KOLABA.

officers to present any satisfactory return of the Kol population in the
more restricted ethnical sense in which the word is used as referring to
the Mundas, Hos, and Bhiimij, who make up the tribe commonly
known as Kol. In the ethnical sense the Kol tribe is confined mainly
to the Chutia Nagpur Districts and States, and to certain Districts in
the Central Provinces. In Bengal, the Census statements for 1881
show a total number of 871,666 Kols, of whom 613,863 were returned
as professing aboriginal religions, and 257,803 as Hindus. In the
Central Provinces, out of a total of 78,000 Kols, 35,804 were returned
as aborigines by religion, and 42,196 as Hindus. These figures show
a total of 949,666 persons returned as Kols. The Bengal Census Report
of 1 88 1 states—' On the one hand they [the returns for the Kols] include
members of various tribes which have separate names, but belong to
the great Kolarian family ; and on the other hand they do not include
all the persons to whom the term is properly applicable, and who may
have been entered with closer specification as Mundas, Hos, Bhiimij,
or Kharias. ... All that can be said is, not that all the Kols are
entered under that name, but only that all those who are entered as
Kols are Kolarians.' In the language returns of the Census Report, the
total number of persons returned as speaking Kolarian languages is

Kolaba.— A British District in the Konkan or Southern Division of
the Bombay Presidency. Lies between 17 52' and 18 50' N. lat., and
73 7' and 73° 42' e. long. Bounded on the north and north-east by
the Bombay harbour, the Panwel and Karjat Sub-divisions of Thana
District, and the Amba river ; on the east by the Sahyadri Hills, the
Bhor State, the territory of Pant Sachiv, and the Districts of Poona and
Satara ; on the south and south-west by Ratnagiri ; and on the west by
the Janjira State and (for 18 miles) by the Arabian Sea. Area, 1496
square miles. Population (1881) 3 8l > 6 49 5 density of population, 255
persons per square mile. Land revenue (1882-83), ;£79> 8 9 6 - Chief
town, Alibagh.

Physical Aspect, etc.— Kolaba District is a rugged belt of country from
15 to 30 miles broad, stretching from the south of Bombay harbour
to the foot of the Mahabaleshwar hills, 75 miles south-east. Situated
between the Sahyadri Hills and the sea, the District contains spurs
of considerable regularity and height, running westwards at right angles
to the main range, as well as isolated peaks or lofty detached ridges.
A series of minor ranges also run north and south between the main
range and the sea. The great wall of the Sahyadris forms the chief
natural feature. Apparently bare of vegetation, a near approach
discovers well-wooded ravines and glades of evergreen forest. The
sea frontage of the District, of 18 miles, is throughout the greater part
of its length fringed by a belt of cocoa-nut and areca-nut palms. Behind


this belt is situated a stretch of flat country devote 1 to I

In many places, along the banks of the salt-wa:

extensive tracts of salt marsh land, some of them i

subject to tidal inundation, and others set apart for the m.u, u

salt. A few small streams, rising in the hills to the east of the 1 H

pass through it to the sea. Tidal inlets, of which the print i|

Amba or Nagothna in the north, the Kundalika, Roha or Chaul

west, the Mandad in the south-west, and the Savitri or Bankofl

in the south, run inland for 25 or 30 miles, forming high*

trade in rice, salt, firewood, and dried fish. The creek oi the Pen river

is navigable to Antora, 4 miles from Pen, for boats of seven ton

khandis) during ordinary tides, and to boats of thirty-five ton^

khandis) during spring tides. Near the coast especially, the 1».

is well supplied with reservoirs. Some of these are handsomely built

of cut stone; but none are very large, and only a few hold

throughout the year. The Alibagh reservoir, built in 1876, ha

of 7 acres and a depth of 20 feet. The well water of the coast \..

is somewhat brackish, and the supply near the Sahyadri Hills 1

defective. Hot springs are found at Unheri, Son, and Kondivti.

On spurs of the Sahyadri range are two remarkable peaks, — R.
(Rdygad), in the Mahad Sub-division, where Sivaji built his capital :
and Miradongar, a station of the Trigonometrical Survey. Two \
in the range are suitable for wheeled traffic, the Fitzgerald pass a:.
Varandha pass, the roads of which unite in the trading town of Mahad.
There are several minor passes adapted for foot passengers.

The teak and blackwood forests of Kolaba are very valual
Kolaba teak (Tectona grandis) has by competent judges been
nounced the best grown in the Konkan, and inferior only to ti
Calicut. The value of the forests is increased by their pr
Bombay, for they may be said to lie around the mouth of the hai
The curved knees are particularly adapted for the building
vessels. The timber trade of the District has two mam brai
an inland trade in wood for building purposes, and a
firewood and crooks for shipbuilding. The area under
Department in 1881 was about 153 square miles. 1'.
years ending 1878, the forest revenue has increase
(1871-72) to ^9194 (1877-78). averaging a little 1 -■<>.

the augmentation of the forest staff in 1878, the
greater than the revenue. In 1880-81, the gross fores! rei
District amounted to £ S iS^ The only mineral known :
iron. Road-metalling is abundant, and sand is found in

Tigers and leopards are found all over the Distri<
Sahyadri Hills. Hyaenas and jackals abound. Bi
cheetah have been shot, but are very rare. S


goats are numerous. In the coast villages, the fishermen cure large
quantities of fish for export to Bombay by the inland creeks. The sea
fisheries, especially of the Ah'bagh villages, are of considerable import-
ance, and afford a livelihood to 6800 fishermen in the District. The
chief species caught, mostly by means of stake -nets, are pomphlet,
bamelo or bombil, halwa, and others. A row of stakes with its accom-
panying net costs about ^30.

Kolaba island formed in ancient times a shelter for the piratical
fleets of Western India. The island is situated just outside Alibagh
harbour, about a furlong from the shore, and was in the last century
the stronghold of the Angria family. In 1662, Sivaji rebuilt and
strengthened Kolaba fort, and converted it into a regular buccaneering
stronghold. In 1722, a combined expedition of British ships and
Portuguese troops made an unsuccessful attack upon it. Kolaba fort
continued to be an active scene of Angria's operations, and survived
the sharp measures of Give against that chief. In 1771, Forbes
describes it as still an important place, where the Angria of that day
lived in much splendour. The rise of the Indian navy during the
second half of the last century put an end to piracy on an organized
scale in Bombay waters.

History. — Hindu, Muhammadan, Maratha, and British rulers have,
as throughout most of the peninsula, in turn administered the District
of Kolaba. But it is the rise, daring, and extinction of the pirate
power of the Maratha Angria that vest the history of this part of the
Konkan with a peculiar interest.

The early rulers were most probably local chiefs. Shortly after the
beginning of the Christian era, the semi-mythical Andrabhrftya dynasty,
whose capital was Kolhapur, were the over-lords of Kolaba. About
this time (135 a.d. to 150 a.d.), the Greek geographer Ptolemy describes
the region of Kolaba under the name of Symulla or Timulla, most
likely the Chaul of later days. In Ptolemy's time the Shata Karnis or
Andrabhrityas were ruling in the Konkan as well as in the Deccan ;
and for many years the ports on the Kolaba seaboard were the
emporia of a large traffic, not only inland, over the Sahyadri passes
across the peninsula to Bengal, but by way of the Red Sea and the
Persian Gulf to Egypt, Arabia, and Abyssinia. In the sixth century
Kolaba, with all the northern Konkan, came under the sway of the
Chalukyas, whose general, Channa-danda, sweeping the Mauryas or
local rulers before him ' like a great wave,' captured the Maurya citadel
Puri, 'the goddess of the fortunes of the western ocean.' In the
thirteenth century, by which time the rule of the Chalukyas had passed
away, the District was held by the Deogiri (Daulatdbad) Yadavas.

Immediately prior to the appearance of the Muhammadans, tradition
assigns to Kolaba a dynasty of Kanara kings. Nothing, however, is


known about them. The Bahmanis, who ruled from 1347
reduced the whole Konkan to obedience, and held (Jhaul as 1
other posts in Kolaba District. The Bahmani dynasty was followed
by kings from Gujarat. A period of Portuguese ascendancy 1
at Chaul (1507-1660) preceded the rise of the Angrias, and
contemporaneous with the conquest of all the rest of the Distrii t by the
Mughals and Marathas. The Mughals, who acquired the sovei
in 1600, were in 1632 ousted by Shahji Bhonsla, father of Sivaji, the
founder of Maratha conquest. Sivaji built two small forts near Ghosale
and Raigarh, repaired the great strongholds of Suvarndrug and
Vijayadrug, which stand on the coast-line below Bombay; and in 1674
caused himself to be enthroned at Raigarh. Nine years after Sivajfs
death, in 1680, the seizure of Raigarh restored control of the country to
the Mughals. The period of the Angrias, who terrorized the coast
while the Muhammadans were powerful inland, lasted for one hundred
and fifty years — from 1690 to 1840, when Kanhoji 11. died in infancy
and the country was taken over by the British.

Kanhoji, the first of the Angrias, was in 1698 the admiral of the
Maratha fleet, having his head-quarters at Kolaba, an island-fort
close to Alibagh and within two or three miles of the present city of
Bombay. From here he had long harassed shipping on the coast from
Malabar to Bombay; in 17 13 he threw off his allegiance to the
Peshwa, and having defeated and captured his suzerain, set up an
independent rule in ten forts and sixteen minor posts along the Konkan
coasts. Having conquered the Sidis of Janjira, his rivals in buccaneering,
Kanhoji with a considerable fleet of vessels, ranging from 150 to 20;
tons burthen, swept the seas from his fort of Vijayadrug. In 17 17, h
first piracies against English trade occurred. In retaliation the 1
assaulted Vijayadrug, but the assault was beaten off. On two occas
within the next four years, Kanhoji withstood the combined at!
English and Portuguese. On his death in 1731, the Angrii chid
was weakened by division between Kanhoji's two sons,
Sambhojf Angria was the more enterprising and able. Sal
succeeded in 1748 by Tuiaji; and from now until the fall of Vijaj
before the allied forces of the Peshwa and the British Governm
Bombay, both English and Dutch commerce suffered severely fro
Angria pirates. . ,

In 1756, the fort of Vijayadrug was captured by Admiral W
Colonel (afterwards Lord) Clive, who commanded the Uui(
Fifteen hundred prisoners were taken, eight English and th:
captains were rescued from the underground dungeons in then
hood of the fortress, and treasure to the value of £1 25,000 was
among the captors. Vijayadrug was handed over to the
whom piracy flourished as vigorously as under the Angria. ••


Peshwa, Manaji and Raghoji, the descendants of an illegitimate branch
of the first Angrias, held Kolaba fort as feudatories of Poona. On the
fall of the Peshwa's rule in 1818, the allegiance of the Angrias was
transferred to the British. In 1840, the death of Kanhoji 11., the last
representative of the original Angrias, afforded an opportunity to the
Bombay Government to annex the forts of Suvarndrug, Vijayadriig, and
Kolaba. The District has since enjoyed unbroken peace.

Kolaba District, with the exception of the Sub-division of Alibagh,
formed part of the dominions of the Peshwa, annexed by the Bombay
Government in 18 18, on the overthrow of Baji Rao. Alibagh lapsed
to the Paramount Power in 1840. Kolaba island has still an evil
reputation with mariners, as the scene of many wrecks. Full nautical
details regarding it are given in Taylor's Sailing Directions. Many
houses in the town are built from the driftwood of vessels which have
gone ashore. Ships are sometimes supposed to be intentionally
wrecked here; the coast near Alibagh presents fair facilities for the
escape of the crews.

Population. — In 1872, the population of the District was returned at
35°>4°5- The Census returns of 1881 disclosed a total population of
381,649 persons, residing in 974 towns and villages, and 71,930 occupied
and 7335 unoccupied houses; density of the population, 255 persons
per square mile ; houses per square mile, 52-9 ; persons per village, 392 ;
persons per house, 5-30. The population has thus increased 31,244
since 1872, or nearly 9 per cent, in nine years. Classified according
to sex, there are 191,952 males and 189,697 females; proportion of
males, 50-29 per cent. Classified according to age, there are, under
15 years, 81,554 boys and 74,602 girls; total children, 156,156, or
40 per cent, of the population. The religious division shows 360,117
Hindus, 17,891 Musalmans, 1164 Jains, and 33 Parsis. Of the
remainder, 2139 are Jews (Beni-Israel), and 305 Christians. The
Hindus, who form 94 per cent, of the population, include — Brahmans,
13,789; Rajputs, 167; Agarias, 44,191 ; Bhandaris, 5982 ; Chamars,
6248; Darjis, 1637; Dhobis (washermen), 1566; Napits (barbers),
3153; Kunbis (cultivators), 159,335; Koll 's (gardeners), 14,869;
Kumbhars (potters), 3732; Lingayats (mostly shopkeepers), 1463;
Malis (gardeners), 11,260; Mangs and Mhars (inferior castes), 34,847 ;
Sonars (goldsmiths), 5229; Sutars (carpenters), 3670; Telis (oilmen),
S44 ; Gaulis (cowherds), 7332 ; Dhangars (shepherds), 3543 ; Jangams,
1286; Lohars, 328 ; and 'other' Hindus, 35,646. The Muhammadan
tribes are thus distributed— Pathans, 401 ; Sayyids, 162 ; Shaikhs,
17,230 ; and ' other' Muhammadans, 98.

Classified according to occupation, the males are placed in the
Census under the following six main groups : — (1) Professional class,
including State officials of every kind and the learned professions, 3166 ;


(2) domestic servants, inn and lodging-house keepers, 3945
mercial class, including bankers, merchants, carriers, etc,
agricultural class, including shepherds and gardeners, 83,052
industrial class, including all manufacturers and artisans, 13,131
(6) indefinite and non-productive class, comprising general
male children, and persons of unspecified occupation, 85,747.

Kolaba contains the following six towns, namely— Pen (population,

Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 31 of 64)