« PreviousContinue »
Several similar plates are already known, and the present one does not add much to our previous knowledge. It has however enabled several misreadings in other plates to be corrected.
An account of the Janibigha inscription is contributed by Mr. Panday to the September number. The stone containing this inscription was found in the village of Jānibighā, six miles east of Bodh Gaya, and has been presented to the Patna Museum by the Mahant of that place. It records the grant of a village to a Singhalese monk for the maintenance of a monastery by king Jaya Sena, ruler of Pithi (Magadha) and son of Buddha Sena, in the 83rd (expired) year of the reign of Lakshmaņa Sena. In a separate note Mr. Jayaswal argues that, as the date given in this inscription is expressly stated to refer to the reign of Lakshmana Sena, there is no possibility of the era known after him having started with the reign of some predecessor; and the ruler of the same name who fled from Navadip must, therefore, have been a descendant (probably grandson) of the original Lakshmana. The expression used in connection with this date is identical with that in two inscriptions (II and III) discussed in the J. A. S. B. for 1913, page 271, by Mr. R. D. Banarji, who, taking the word atita to refer to raiya, regards it as showing that Lakshmana Sena's reign had ceased before the inscription was made. Muhammad, son of Bakhtyar, conquered the town of Bihar in 1199 A.D., but as the date on the Janibigha inscription corresponds to 1202 A.D., it is clear that the country a few miles to the south remained for some time longer under the rule of a scion of the Sena family. The grant was no doubt made through a regular Śasana or copper-plate charter, and the inscription on the stone was merely intended as a local notification of the fact. The representation of a donkey and a sow below the inscription, as indicating that anyone violating the grant will be reborn of such an unnatural and discreditable parentage, is, I believe, the first instance that has come to notice in Bihar of a form of imprecation which is already known to be fairly common in Orissa and the adjacent part of Chota Nagpur.
Mr. Panday has also published a revised translation of the inscription on a stone recently brought to the Patna Museum from the sculpture shed at Bodh Gaya. The palæographical evidence indicates that this inscription was incised in the fifth century A.D. It records that certain arrangements for worship were made by the monk Prakhyāta Kirtti, who belonged to the royal family of Ceylon, in the hope of thereby acquiring merit and eventually attaining Buddhahood.
Mr. Jayaswal, whose important papers on the Hathigumpha inscription of the emperor Kharavela in the Journal for 1917 have attracted widespread interest, has published in the December issue of the current year a fresh recension of certain passages based on a close personal examination of the rock itself in the varying conditions of light and shade at different hours of the day. He has thus inter alia fixed more definitely the site of the capital of the Mushikas, ascertained the name of Khāravela's queen, found that Kharavela's army crossed the Ganges on elephants, and proved that the Jains already had images as far back as 460 B.C. Finally he has shown the well-known Ranigumpha, or rock-cut palace, a short distance from the site of the inscription was constructed by Khāravela as a temporary habitation for his queen.
Mr. Jayaswal has also two papers on certain expressions used in the Aśoka inscriptions. He shows, for instance, that "anusamyāna means "going out of office" and not, as previously rendered, "assembly " or "tour of inspection ".
Mr. C. W. Anderson, who in 1917 contributed a valuable Prehistoric paper on the stone implements found in the Antiquities. Singhbhum district, has given us an account of some prehistoric rock paintings discovered by him in and near two caves, not far from the small village of Singanpur in the Raigarh State. All the paintings but one (in black) are in a red colour, the pigment used being the red oxide of iron which occurs in veins throughout the rock. The drawings include human beings, a stag and other animals, several hunting scenes, and, among the more ambiguous symbols, some marks which are
possibly a primitive script. They have their counterpart in the wall paintings of the prehistoric troglodytes of France and other European countries. The author has, however, failed to find in the caves any direct evidence of human habitation, with the single exception of an agate flake, which Dr. Hayden thinks was undoubtedly chipped artificially.
The year has not been very productive in the discovery of stone and copper implements, but there is one find which deserves special notice. When the large copper axeheads, figured opposite page 386 of our Jourual for 1916, were found in Mayurbhanj, some of the people on the spot suggested that they were intended for the record of land grants. As no instances of their use for this purpose were then known, this explanation was rejected in favour of the view that they were weapons intended for ceremonial use. I was recently, however, shown by Maulavi Abdus Samad of the Provincial Executive Service a piece of copper, shaped like an axehead, on which is inscribed the record of a grant of land made to one of his ancestors by Rājā Purushöttama Deva who ruled in Orissa towards the end of the fifteenth century. The plate in question is figured opposite page 361 of the December issue of our Journal. The records of ancient land grants are ordinarily inscribed on rectangular plates, and the question arises whether the use of a different shape for the purpose of this grant is due to the chance discovery and utilization of an old casting, or to the fact that copper axeheads continued to be manufactured for this purpose after their use as implements had ceased owing to the discovery of iron. Personally I incline to the latter view, as similar instances of the survival for ceremonial or superstitious use of superseded implements or materials are by no means rare. For instance, in the Darjeeling district stone celts are still fabricated as part of the stock-in-trade of the local medicine men.
Some months ago 363 copper coins were discovered in the property of the Cape Copper Co. at Rakha in Dhalbhum. These coins have been examined by the Hon'ble Mr. Walsh, who has written a paper regarding them which will appear in the next number. The coins
in question were found close to old copper workings and slag heaps, and their edges had not been trimmed. These facts suggest that they must have been made at a mint in the immediate neighbourhood. These coins, like those found in the Puri district a quarter of a century ago, are imitations of the coins of the Kushān king Kanishka, and they were therefore designated Puri Kushan coins in his account of the Puri find by the late Dr. Hoernle whose recent death is so deeply regretted, not only by his friends, but by all who are interested in Indian archæology. They bear on the obverse a standing figure of the king, with his right hand extended over a fire altar; and on the reverse a figure of the moon god. From the character of the letters in the word Tanka, which occurs on one (only) of these coins, Mr. Walsh concludes that they cannot be earlier than the seventh century A.D. As there would be no object in imitating an obsolete coinage, this conclusion is interesting as, if correct, it shows that the Kushan coins were current in India for several centuries after the extinction of the dynasty to which they belonged. Another interesting paper by Mr. Walsh deals with 108 silver punch-marked coins found in a ghara in the bank of the Ganges. Mr. Walsh shows that the marks on the obverse side of these coins occur in certain regular and constant groups, and although other varying symbols were added, the occurrence of these regular combinations cannot have been fortuitous; the theory that the marks were affixed haphazard by shroffs and others must therefore be abandoned, and it must be recognized that they constitute a regular coinage. Mr. Walsh thus supports the conclusion already arrived at by Dr. Spooner and Mr. W. E. M. Campbell, 1.c.s.
Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Roy has continued his account of the tribe of Birhōrs, describing in much Ethnology. detail their marriage, death and funeral customs; their birth, childhood and puberty ceremonies, and their religion. The Birhōrs are one of the most wild and primitive tribes of Chota Nagpur, and most of them still lead a nomadic life and live mainly on jungle products. They have preserved intact many ancient institutions which other tribes
have forgotten or changed almost out of recognition; and the study of their customs is therefore one of very special importance to ethnologists. On the other hand it is interesting to find that many ceremonies and beliefs of relatively advanced communities have their counterpart amongst the Birhōrs and may therefore be regarded as survivals from very ancient times. A minor point, worthy of mention as a possible relic of the copper age, is the fact that the Birhōrs' ear-boring instrument is still made of that metal.
Mr. S. C. Mitra has furnished some notes on the use of the swallow worts and Mr. Sukumar Haldar has given some further Hō folk stories. The September number of the Journal contains a paper by Mr. W. Crooke, the well-known author of "Tribes and Castes of the United Provinces, " on the headdress of Banjara women. The distinctive feature is a stick, about 6 inches long, which is worn upright like a horn on the top of the head, the hair being wound round, and the headcloth draped gracefully over, it. Similar fashions are found elsewhere, chiefly in the Himalayan region, Central Asia and Syria. The ancient Scythians wore similar headgear, and Mr. Crooke conjectures that the Banjaras may have originated from one of the tribes which joined in the invasion of India by the Ephthalites, or White Huns, during the sixth century of the Christian era. He rightly notes, however, that the use
a single article of dress is not a sufficient basis for any definite conclusion.
When our Society was inaugurated it was thought that it would be able to do a great deal in the way of commemorating former provincial worthies by means of biographical notices, but the results in this direction have been disappointing, the only paper of the kind prior to the year under review being that by Mr. S. C. Hill on Major Randfurlie Knox, who commanded the force deputed for the relief of Patna, which performed a wonderful march of 300 miles in thirteen days in the hot weather of 1760. I am glad to say, however, that this year Khan Bahadur Saiyid Zamir-ud-din Ahmad has given an interesting account of Daud