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plements found in the Ranchi District.
By Sarat Chandra Roy, M.A.
The first recorded discovery of stone implements in the Ranchi District appears to have been that of a beautifully-made solitary stone celt found by Professor Valentine Ball, F.R.s., at the foot of a small hill near the village of Burhādi in thana Tamār, and described by him in the Proceedings of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for the year 1870 (page 268). The only other find hitherto recorded was that of a few small stone arrowheads, both of the leaf-shaped and of the chisel-edged patterns, a few polished celts, besides two stone polishers, some worked cores and flakes and a number of stone beads, discovered by Mr. W. H. P. Driver at Rănchi and described by Professor J. Wood-Mason in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal for the year 1888 (Vol. LXII, pages 387-396).
About a year and a half ago my attention was drawn to the occurrence in the Ranchi District of these stone implements by a triangular stone axe-head (Plate I, fig. 21) presented to me by a Mundā client who believed it to have been a thunder-bolt and had kept it in his house for its supposed curative virtues. It was a splendid specimen of a stone celt almost wholly chipped, the edge alone having been ground to a high polish partly due to its having been rubbed by its finder against another piece of stone as often as it was required for medicinal purpose. I then set about collecting ancient stone implements in the Ranchi District, and within the last eighteen months my collection has reached up to nearly a hundred celts and fragments of celts besides certain other relics of the Stone Age. A few of these were picked up by me and the rest collected mostly from Mundās and Orãons who either ploughed or dug them up in their fields or picked them up while grazing their cattle. Besides these I have secured two beautiful polished quartzite celts from the Hāzāribāgh District of Chotā Nāgpur.
In my paper on “Some Remains of the Ancient Asuras in the Rānchi District” published in the last issue of this Journal, reference was made to a few stone implements found in or near some of the reputed Asura sites. The bulk of the stone implements collected by me in the Ranchi District are, however, unconnected with Asura sites, and would seem to belong to an antiquity more remote than that of the Asura period of Chotā Nāgpur history.
Whereas traditions about the ancient Asuras are still widespread in the Ranchi District and implements and ornaments of copper dug up now and then in the district are invariably attributed to those pre-Mundā inhabitants of the district, no traditions have survived of the earlier race of men who made these stone celts for use as common implements of every-day life. In fact, these are no longer considered by the people of Chotā Nagpur as the work of man's hands at all, but are invariably believed to have been “ thunder-bolts”, and are commonly known as “ther-pāthhal” or “ther-diri” (thunder-stone). The finders of a few of the stone-celts in my collection assured me in perfect good faith that they were actual thunder-bolts picked up by themselves on or near the spots where lightning had struck shortly before their discovery. Some Orāons further told me that these “lightning stones” fall from the sky to strike down bhuts or evil spirits residing in particular trees. It is believed that although these “thunder-bolts” penetrate the ground to some depth, they gradually return to the surface after a time.
Owing to this supposed celestial origin of these stonecelts, medicinal virtues are generally attributed to them by many people in the Ranchi District as elsewhere in India and in many other parts of the globe. In cases of headache, difficult urination, rheumatic or other pain in any part of the body, and in affections of the lungs, water with which one of these "lightningstones” has been rubbed over another flat stone, is applied to the
affected part. Perforated rock-crystal beads occasionally dug out in the fields or found in ancient cinerary urns are valued as a cure for certain kinds of fever. They are popularly called
rāti-järā” (lit., night-fever ') stones and are believed to be particularly effective in fevers in which the attacks begin at night-time.
Besides being valued for their supposed curative virtues mentioned above, stone-celts are in some villages regarded as preservatives against lightning. But, in a few Mundā villages, on the other hand, I found quite the opposite belief,-people finding a stone-celt having been known to have thrown it away for fear of its attracting lightning strokes to the house in which it may be kept. In some other villages again, I have found the people indifferent about these stone-celts which are either thrown away as useless or given to the children to be used as playthings, one or two suitable ones being sometimes kept for use as hones or whet-stones for knives and razors. Finally, the use of stone implements for symbolio or religious purposes, though rare, is not altogether unknown. In at least one Hindu village near Ranchi a few stone-celts have been known to bave been kept along with a number of stones of different fantastic shapes all placed in a heap and collectively venerated as Mahādeo ("); and in a Mundā village near Khūnti I found a highly polished hammer made of compact silicate, probably jade, being painted with vermilion and worshipped as a Mahadeo(). In one or two Orkon villages, I found a peculiar belief in the protective virtue of stone-celts which are carried during night journeys as charms against attacks by ghosts or spirits.
The materials of which the stone implements hitherto found by me in the Rānchi District are formed are mostly quartzite and various kinds of schistose and gneissose rocks.
() Unfortunately these stone-celts and other stones have recently disappeared having been taken away by different people on the erection of a brick built temple and a grooved stone siva-lingam of the orthodox type on the spot.
() This has been described in my paper on “ Some Remains of the Ancient Asyras in the Ranchi District "
; in J.B.O.R.S., Vol. 1, Part II, pages 229-253,
Except a few in my collection which have no particular shape, the others have more or less geometrically perfect shapes. The prevailing forms of these implements are chisels and adzes, triangular axe-heads of various sizes with either flat or convex faces and either broad or pointed butt-ends, and thick rounded axes apparently used unmounted in the hand. The sides are mostly rounded to meet the faces and are almost straight from butt to corner of the blade. The faces are generally conver and thickest near the middle, converging both ways towards the butt and the edge.
In some cases the edges are formed by the gradual slope of the faces, and in others they are bevelled near the edge so as to form a sharp slope in one or both faces. Some of the larger celts have the peculiarity of having one of the faces concave or plain and the other convex; and a few have depressions on the sides probably meant for the grip. With the exception of one ovoid 'turtle-back ’implement (figure 23) which bas an edge all round, or, rather, of which the sides, edge, and butt all together form one continuous band,—the other celts have all single edges mostly crescentic in form. Perforated implements are rarely found in the district. I have hitherto succeeded in finding one complete hammer-head with a shaft-hole, and the half of another, besides a fragment of what appears to have been a perforated axe-head. (1) Two hammers or pounding stones each with a knob at one end, besides a few grindstones or polishers and low stone-stools have also been discovered. (') I have also found beads of quartz crystal and other stones in large quantities, particularly in association with ancient interments (1).
Most of the stone-celts in my collection were found either in or near the surface of the soil, two only having been found in river-beds. The majority of the celts again are polished over the whole surface, a few are chipped and not ground except at the edge, and still fewer are merely chipped into shape and not
(1) This has been described in my paper on “ Some Remains of the Ancient Asuras in the Ranchi District”, in the J.B.O.R.S., Volume I, Pt. II, pages 229-253.