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SONAR. (186) This is a most useful and ingenious class of artizans all over India. Where there are no savings banks, or modes of local investments, and where if there are any, the people do not trust them, or are as yet ignorant of their use, they invest their gains or savings in gold and silver ornaments, which can be converted into money, or pledged at low interest, as occasion may require. This may be considered a rude condition of society; but it is the fact, nevertheless, and the enormous amount of precious metals which India has absorbed during the last few years, and which is still there, hidden among the people in the form of ornaments, is a proof of the great prosperity and wealth to which the country in general has attained. It was stated of Berar, one of the great cotton provinces, that there were not Sonars enough to make up the gold and silver which flowed in a continuous stream into it during the English cotton famine; and it is very certain none has flowed out again. Nor has this wealth been unproductive; for most of it has been applied to the land, and every acre of culturable soil in that province is now under tillage. The Sonar is, therefore, an indispensable member of the Indian social condition of life; and he is to be found in every village, almost in every hamlet, as well as in all towns and cities. In the Deccan, where original national institutions are preserved in village communes, and wherever they are at present existent throughout India - the Sonar is a member of the hereditary village council, which includes the carpenter and blacksmith, the potter, and other useful and indispensable mechanics, and is twelve in number, presided over by the patell, the hereditary magistrate or head manager. For his services to the village and its people, the Sonar receives a share of established collections of grain and other produce at harvest, which is afterwards divided. He is also, in some cases, entitled to a new pair of shoes, a new turban, and scarf, from village funds; and all these hereditary rights, which often include free land, are guarded with great jealousy. A Sonar's occupation is hereditary, and is esteemed a most respectable calling. No son of a Sonar would turn to any other, except perhaps that of a
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