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Printed by the Superintendent, Government Printing, Bihar and Orissa.

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List of Officers and Members of Council



For the year 1916,


His Honour Sir Edward Albert Gait, K.C.S.I., C.I.E., I.C.S.

The Hon'ble Sir Edward Vere Levinge, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., I.C.S.

The Hon'ble Sir William Henry Hoare Vincent, Kt., I.C.S.'

The Hon'ble Maharaja Bahadur Sir Rameswar Singh, G.C.I.E., of Darbhanga.

The Hon'ble Maharaja Bahadur Sir Ravaneswar Prasad Singh, K.C.I.E., of Gidhaur.

Maharaja Bir Mitradaya Singh Deo of Sonepur State.


His Honour Sir Edward Albert Gait, K.C.S.I., C.I.E., I.C.S.

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Secretaries for History Section-K. P.Jayaswal, Esq., M.A., Bar.-atLaw, and Professor J. N. Samaddar, B.A.

Secretary for Archæology and Numismatics-D. B. Spooner, Esq., B.A., Ph.D.

Secretary for Anthropology and Folk-lore-Babu S. C. Roy, M.A., B.L. Secretaries for Philology-Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Hara Prasad Shastri, M.A., C.I.E., and Nawab Shams-ul-'Ulama Saiyid Imdad Imam.

(Continued on page 3 of cover.)

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I.-Some Remarks on the Position of Women among the Santals.

By Rev. P. O. Bodding.

My old friend the Hon'ble Dr. A. Campbell in the first part of the Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society publish ed an interesting paper on the laws of inheritance and partition among the Santāls.

I have no doubt as to his statements being correct so far as the Santals of Manbhum are concerned. On one or two points there is, however, apparently some difference in the customary laws as practised in the Santal Parganas (where the bulk of the Santal population at present lives) and in Manbhum, as will appear from the following

The Santals in the Santal Parganas are apparently a little more advanced than their Manbhum brethren, especially with regard to the treatment of their women.

The original and, I might say, even now often theoretically accepted idea of woman among the Santāls seems to be, that she

is a kind of irresponsible and untrustworthy being, a necessary and useful, but somewhat inferior member of human society.

Women are thus kept away from direct participation in religious worship; they have no "political" rights (the word taken in its original meaning); they are, of course, debarred from sitting in the village councils, although they appear in person before such, and are permitted to speak.

They have folk-tales setting forth the foolishness, the depraved character and the untrustworthiness of women; they have proverbs saying the same. They also have stories of the ability of women to outwit the unsuspecting man, and even of women having outwitted Maran buru himself (the Santal principal national deity or spirit). They suspect a woman of being capable of making even bon gas captives to their charms, and consequently of being able to make the bongas do their nefarious bidding. As a matter of course, every woman is suspected of being a witch.


Much more might be said of the supposed disabilities of women; and it is not infrequent to hear the superior men, specially when among themselves, speak of the low estate of women. mother of only girls may be heard called a mother of dogs! But whatever the theories may be, and howsoever the men may talk, in the daily social life of the people, the Santal woman has a very independent and strong position, both in the home and in the village. Not infrequently she is the virtual ruler.

The existence of a woman among the Santals turns on marriage; marriage is the aim of her existence; a woman is a wife in spe, an actual wife or a widow. A grown-up unmarried woman is altogether anomalous; a Santal woman of such a state would be thought to be either a harlot or suffering from some very serious defect of body or mind which makes marriage impossible.

It should be added that the Santal social laws regulating the contracting of marriage among them must make marriage very much of a lottery for them, and marriage often turns out badly (their remedy out of the difficulties being divorce and a new

attempt at marriage for both parties). But whilst this is so, it must on the other hand be acknowledged, that the relations between husband and wife, when they have once settled down to life are generally good, and often very good; it is a mistake to think that true conjugal love is not found among them. There is often a genuine mutual respect between husband and wife, and the men have a great regard for their sisters and daughters (and vice versa) and feel themselves the natural protectors of these.

The human feelings among the Santal men assert themselves, and this must yield results in practical life.

The Santals are developing from an unsettled, semi-hunting stage of life to that of settled agriculturists. There are signs that the Santāls were formerly a communistic society; the village seems to have been the "owner" of any "cultivated" land with a yearly redistribution of the personal tenures. Now this is entirely altered; all cultivated land is owned by, or (here in the Santal Parganās) more correctly speaking, held by individuals and their offspring as tenants.

Whatever their attainments as cultivators, the Santāls now know the value of land; they know what it means to reclaim jungle; they are conscious of all the work they have put into the cultivation of their fields. However strong the family feeling may be, the acquisition of property with its ensuing labour and toil has a tendency among them to foster the wish to let their own offspring enjoy its fruits, even if they happen to be girls.

As remarked above, the existence of a woman turns on her marriage; but to be married a woman must first be sold. The business side of the transaction should perhaps not be pressed too hard; but undoubtedly the legal basis of marriage among the Santāls, as among very many other people both nowadays and formerly, is the ownership of the husband (or of the family of the husband) in a woman.

A woman is sold into marriage. If the marriage proves unsuitable and is in consequence dissolved, as it very frequently is (which may naturally be expected when a marriage is arranged

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