Viewing page 3 of 119

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

snakes.  To propitiate their invisible deity, they sacrifice buffaloes, pigs, goats, and poultry, sprinkling the blood of the victim over the offerings of the worshippers.  The flesh is eaten by the persons invited to the feast, which generally terminates in debauchery, stimulated by a wild dance.  (For an amusing description of the dance, consult Asiatic Journal, vol. xx, p. 553, and of the sacrifice, p. 570*).  The marriages mostly take place once a year, in January: for six days all the candidates for matrimony live in promiscuous concubinage, "after which the whole party are supposed to have paired off as man and wife; feasting and drinking according to the ability of each couple, closes the ceremony."  The families are large, "averaging, perhaps, eight children to each couple."

The Sonthals, though armed with no more formidable weapons than bows and arrows, are excellent shots; "so expert that nothing with life is to be found near their villages when of any standing;" the bear falls an easy prey, and Captain Sherwill mentioned having seen running hares and even birds on the wing, brought down by them; these latter with blunted or knobbed arrows.

The country now inhabited by the Sonthals (the capital of which is Burhait) is situated south of the Ganges, in lat. 26° N., and long. 87° W.

[footnote] * Implements of agriculture, p. 579; Mineral produce of country, p. 570, &c.