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Fifty-four. Both of these accounts furnish us with
what may be relied upon as authentic
information ; and the extent to which they agree
with one another shows that the Santals,
though revolutionary as regards British rule,
are a strictly conservative people among
themselves. They are said to have entered Orissa
from the northat what period is unknown
and to have dispersed themselves through
the tributary mehals lying west of Balasore,
Jellassore, Midnapore, Baukura, Suri, and
Râj-mahal ; thence westward, through
Bhaugofpore and Monghyr, in Beharthe whole
including a territory of some four hundred
miles in extent. They seem to be of one
race, and it is certain that they speak one
language. In Orissa they are described as a
hardy and industrious people ; generally
short, stout, robust, of broad features, with
very dark complexion, and hair somewhat
curly. Those who had held intercourse
with them found them to be mild and
placable, and of a particularly social turn.
They are more dignified and proud than the
Hindus, whom we now find them massacring
without mercy, and are at the same time more
hospitable and courteous to strangers.
Women, too, exercise considerable influence over
their manners and habits, and in this respect
they afford a striking contrast to most other
Indian nations. Santal wives are of course
not allowed to eat with their husbands ; but
they may order the dinner, and take a
considerable interest in domestic arrangements ;
and their freedom and frankness to strangers
is so agreeable, that it would be held in horror
in polite Hindu or Mahommedan society. It is
probably this characteristic which has caused
the railway people, who are generally wifeless
to a hopeless extent, to be guilty of the
domestic depredations alluded to. Polygamy,
it seems, is allowed ; but is little practised,
except when the younger brother takes the
widow of the elder, to whom, according to
law, he has a right. The Santals are generally
believed to be aborigines of the country ; but
there can be no doubt that they are a distinct
race from the Hindus, with whom they have
little in common. Their religion has small
resemblance to that of the Hindu ; their
castes are not so binding, and a Santal may
lose his caste altogether without incurring
much disgrace, as far as the men are
concerned. Then they are great drunkards,
which the Hindus never are ; forwith the
exception of the pariahs or outcasts, who are
employed only in the most menial officesthe
Hindu, however ignorant and brutal, will
very rarely deviate from the rule of total
abstinence, which your Mussulman very
often regards no more, than the majority of
Christians keep the commandments of their
own church.

According to the Santal traditions, the first
man and woman came from ducks' eggs, and
were married in due form under the auspices
of Sita, or Maraug Buru, one of their gods ;
whom it is conjectured may be identical with
the Siva of the Hindus. Such points as the
original nakedness of our first parents, and
the dispersion of mankind, with some allusions
to a deluge, show traces of Mosaic history.
The Santals are also divided into
tribes, something like the Israelites,
but they all live together upon terms of
perfect equality ; and the only restriction
seems to be, that a man must not marry
in his own tribe, but must go elsewhere,—
a wise provision having, no doubt for its
object, the prevention of alliances with near

The love of strong drink, which I have
noticed, is a part of their religion. Their
god, they say, was under its influence when
he brought together the original Santals
from the ducks' eggs; and its use is
declared to be enjoined by divine authority.
The spirit seems to be of only one kind, it is
called Handia, and is a fermented preparation
of rice. It is not intoxicating taken in small
quantities, but that objection is
provided for by taking it in large quantities
a gallon or two at a timeand they will
sit over it half the day, or all the day.  At
all religious, and other solemn ceremonies, it
is a sine quâ non. But the Santals are not
prejudiced, and will drink the strong
waters of the Giaur whenever they can
beg, borrow, or steal them ; but they
generally find them too high in price to
pay for, and debt is an institution which
civilisation has not yet introduced among

From intoxication to religion is but one
step, according to the Santals. Their creed is
described by Mr. Phillips as a strange
mixture of Hindu superstition, demon-worship,
and a belief in, and dread of, demons, ghosts,
and hobgoblins. Hinduism is making some
inroads into it, as is proved by the introduction
of the Charak-puja, or swinging festival,
which has been among the phenomena of late
years ; backs scarred by iron hooks are
now frequently to be seen among this primitive
people. For the rest, the sun is said
to be their supreme god ; but they have
smaller gods whose light is less dazzling,
and who are invoked with offerings of meat,
rice, and similar refreshments. A sanguinary
Hindu goddess, it is alleged, is also
worshipped by the Santals in some localities. To
her, human sacrifices are made ; and it is
possible that the mutilation of the two
European ladies, already alluded to, had for its
object the propitiation of this deity. The
Santals swear by the skin of the tiger, or by
a tiger's head, sketched on a mango leaf ;
and they believe that a false oath will be
punished by the living animal. They also
swear by their gods, and by the heads of
their children.

The Santals are agricultural in their
pursuits, and would be prosperous, but for the
exactions of their petty Hindu rulers. They