Page images
PDF
EPUB

Museum and Public Library. This request also was favourably received, and a small committee was appointed to visit a number of existing museums and public libraries in other provinces. The Committee's report has recently been published for criticism, and will shortly be taken into consideration. I cannot yet say exactly what the result will be, but you may take it for granted that a Museum will be established, and that, pending the construction of a suitable building, several rooms in the new Secretariat, which will not be needed by Government for some time to come, will be finished off and made available as a temporary home for the Museum and for the Research Society's library. A Provincial Coin Cabinet has already been formed, and the Government of India have agreed to place it on the list of institutions which are supplied with Treasure Trove coins. It will bave precedence over all other institutions in respect of specimens from any part of Bihār and Orissa. Coins of the latter category are of special interest, as they show that, at the periods to which they belong, the people inhabiting the places where they were found had direct or indirect communication with the countries in which they were minted. Thus a gold coin of Huvisbka, which was dug up recently in the Khunti subdivision and purchased for the Cabinet by our energetic General Secretary, shows that that tract, which in Muhammadan times was regarded as remote and inaccessible, probably bad relations with North-West India about the second century of the Christian era. The Hon'ble Mr. Oldham has most generously presented no less than 129 coins to the Cabinet including five ancient silver punch-marked coins and one punch-marked copper coin found at Rājgir in this district. He has brought these coins with him to-day and members will no doubt be glad to take this opportunity to examine them.

We have already begun in a small way the collection of materials for the Museum. Apart from the various finds mentioned further on in this paper, Babu Saurindra Mohan Sinha of Bhagalpur bas promised through the Hon'ble Mr. Walsh to

[ocr errors]

present two inscribed cannon in his possession. One of these has an inscription in Sanskrit to the effect that it was taken by the Ahom King Javadavaja Singh, from the Muhammadans in battle in the year 1657 A. D. ; it has also two Persian inscriptions one of which, however, is said to be wholly undecipherable while the other is decipherable only in part. Nothing has as yet been made of the inscription on the other gun. Mr. Cobden-Ramsay, Political Agent of the Orissa Fendatory States, is engaged in making a collection for the Museum of weapons, musical instruments and other articles of ethnographic interest in use amongst the primitive tribes still found in some of those States, and our Secretary is making a similar collection of articles used by the Mundās and other tribes in Chotā Nāgpur.

I hope it will soon be possible to take steps to remove to the Museum some of the ancient carvings which lie scattered throughout the province, but this is a matter in which we must proceed warily, and only in accordance with the advice of experts. Very great barm was done many years ago by an amateur enthusiast who made a large collection of these remains without keeping any record of the places from which they were taken.

Many of our most interesting remains have already left the province. Enquiries will be made to ascertain whether it will be not possible at a reasonable cost to obtain for our Museum plaster casts of some of these, such as have already been made for other Museums.

I now turn to the Journal. I hope you will approve of the type and general get-up as settled by the Council at its meetings held on the 6th April and 18th August last, including the illustration on the cover, which is reproduced from a terracotta plaque found in the Kumrāhar excavations. Dr. Spooner tells us that this is unquestionably the oldest drawing of the famous temple at Bodh Gāya now in existence. Dr. Spooner's account of this plaque fitly forms the first article in the first number of our Journal. The said number is, I venture to I may

think, an excellent one. On the Anthropological side there are six papers of which four are by our Secretary Babu Sarat Chandra Roy, whose reputation as a writer on ethnographic subjects is now well established. I trust that his contributions will stir up others to make similar studies in different parts of the province and the reby not only furnish us with interesting and useful information regarding our primitive tribes, but also provide material for the wider generalizations of pro• fessional anthropologists. Amongst the other papers mention an interesting contribution to early Indian chronology by Mr. Jayaswal and a suggestive essay on the search for Sanskrit manuscripts by Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Hara Prasad Shastri. This article is of special importance, as one of the great aims of a Society like ours should be the systematic and sustained collection of information and materials on a large scale, utilizing for the purpose the services of as many of its members as possible. The latter are for the most part amateurs and it is therefore necessary that their efforts should be guided by experts. This is, I hope, only the first of a series of papers in which hints will be given to the rank and file which will enable them to take their part in the researches which we hope to prosecute. Several well-known experts have been asked to help us in this way, and I hope that they will respond to our appeal. One thing which we very much need, as the Hon'ble Mr. Walsh has pointed out to me, is a map showing the places mentioned in the List of Ancient Monuments, the different classes of monuments, e.g., Prehistoric, Buddhist, Jain, Ancient Hindu, Medieval Hindu and Muhammadan, being distinguished by conventional marks. The map should be supplemented by a classified index which would refer briefly to the corresponding entry in the List of Ancient Monuments or other work in which information about the monument is available. It would be of great assistance if our members who have cameras would tike photographs of all such monuments and send them, mounted on cards, to the Secretary. These would be very useful for the comparison of styles of architecture and similar purposes.

.

As an instance of the way in which sustained enquiries may lead to the discovery of facts which would otherwise remain hidden, 1 may mention the relics of the copper age which have already been brought to light. In the observations which I offered at our inaugural meeting I said that accident had thrown into my hands a copper axe-head from the Palāmau district, and said it was only reasonable to suppose that, if systematic search were made,

were made, similar implements might be discovered elsewhere. We have now unearthed those from various other places. In the Bassiã thānā of Rānchi no less than 21 copper celts were dug up in one place, while my friend the Hon'ble and Rev. Dr. Campbell, on learning of this enquiry, said that for years past he has known of these celts, which are quite common in the Dhanbad subdivision of the Mānbhum district, but being ignorant of their true nature he had previously attached no importance to them. He says that in all 27 specimens have, to his knowledge, been found in the stretch of country between the Barākar river and the eastern spurs of the Paresnath range. Dr. Campbell sent us several of these specimens ; they have been examined by Mr. Coggin-Brown who reports that they belong to the same series as those found in Palāmau and at Bassiā. Mr. CogginBrown's notes on the Palamau and Bassiā celts have been printed amongst the Miscellaneous Contributions in the first number our Journal, and a note by Dr. Campbell on his Mānbhum finds will appear in the third number. Babu Sarat Chandra Roy has recently found copper axe-heads in two different places in the Khunti subdivision of the Rănchi district, and a third in a collection of mineral samples belonging to Mr. P. N. Bose, late of the Geological Survey, who picked it up some time ago near an old copper quarry at Kera in the Singhbhum district.

As you will no doubt be interested in these ancient relics I have brought a few specimens for your inspection. They will eventually find a place in the Patna Museum. The search for them will be continued ; and I have no doubt that further finds in other parts of the province will sooner or later come to light.

Another very interesting discovery, presumably of the same period, for which we are again indebted to Dr. Campbell, is the rough copper casting of a figure, apparently a monkey, which was found in the same place as several of the above celts. This also has been examined by Mr. Coggin-Brown who says :

" In workmanship and material it recalls what I have called the Hazaribagh celt type as exemplified by those rough unfinished copper celts which come from Pachamba. But I am not convinced that these things are really prehistoric, for they may be rough copies of true copper celts made at some later period.”

I hoped to have been able to exhibit this quaint figure, but unfortunately it has not yet been received back from Mr. Coggin-Brown,

Some copper ornaments, which may possibly belong to the same period, have been discovered in the prehistoric burial grounds which I shall now proceed to mention, but before doing so I may say that Mr. Coggin-Brown has promised to give us a paper on the remains of the copper age in India. He has been obliged to put off writing it for a time owing to his services being required in Burma in connection with matters which, though perhaps less interesting to our Society, are at this juncture of the greatest practical importance, and meanwhile perhaps we may be able to make further additions to the local finds dating from that age.

The attention of our energetic Secretary Babu Sarat Chandra Roy has been drawn to the occurrence in the Rānchi district of remains of the prehistoric people known to the Mundās as " Asurs". You are all aware of the remarkable conclusions arrived at by Dr. Spooner on the basis of his discoveries at Kumrābar, and of the mass of evidence which he has adduced to show, not only that the architects of the buildings at that place were Persians but also that Chandra

« PreviousContinue »