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of khed-khukris or foot-scrapers and, when I asked the inmates of these dormitories and other Orãons of the villages what they were meant for, the only information they could give me was that they were scrapers with which the younger boys scrape the soles of the elder boys' feet to remove dried up bits of scarf skin. And that is how I described this instrument in my monograph on the Oraons of Chōṭā Nagpur (p. 244) published in 1915. In some Orāon dhūmkūrias, valves of the seed-pod of the semar (Bombax malabaricum) tree, perforated at one end, are used for the purpose instead of slats of wood or bamboo. When whirled round, these bull-roarers made of semar-pods produce the same roaring noise as other bull-roarers. But these semar-pod bull-roarers can by no means serve the purpose of foot-scrapers. Nor are they known to be ever used as children's toys. If twirled about for any length of time, the dry valves get cracked and unfit for use. So their only object would appear to have been a ceremonial one.
From later inquiries I learnt that the actual instruments used as foot-scrapers in some Oraon dormitories were similar but broader slats of wood most of which had no perforations to pass a string through, and in one dormitory I found such scrapers kept in a small basket over a beam of the building, and they are not much thought of, whereas the strings of thin slats of bamboo hanging from the beams are carefully preserved. As for these rows of small bamboo slats suspended in rows from the beams of the Oraon bachelors' dormitories, my attention was first drawn to the identity of these objects with bullroarers by my esteemed friend Mr. J. P. Mills, 1.C.s., author of the interesting monographs on the Lhota Nāgās and the Ao Nāgās, whom I took to see one or two of these Oraon bachelors' dormitories in the Ranchi district. Dr. J. H. Hutton informs me that the original nature and use of similar slats of wood hung up in rows in Naga changs or dormitories in Assam was also not perceived until recently when Mr. Henry Balfour visited them and pointed out that these slats were in reality bull-roarere. By the courtesy of my esteemed friend
Dr. Hutton I have now secured specimens of different forms of the bull-roarer in use in Assam. These are shown in Figure 7.
Once my attention was drawn to it, I saw that the identity was unmistakable, and I wondered how it had been overlooked not only by myself but by so ne other anthropologists, European and Indian, whom I had shown these objects. Later I found out that the use of similar slats of wood or bamboo as children's toys, too, was not altogether unknown to the Oraon, though rather rare. When used as a toy, the Oraon calls the bullroarer by the name of Bhurka, the Mūṇḍa calls it by the onomatopoetic name of Hui-hui and the Ho calls it Biur-biur.
Although the Oraons have now practically forgotten the magical and religious uses of the bull-roarer, its intimate connection with their bachelors' dormitories and men's clubhouses known as dhümküriās and its apparently decorative but actually ceremonial use at the periodical dancing festivals of the Oraon youth at the village akhra which adjoins and practically forms part of the dhūmkūriā, appear to point unmistakably to the former magical and religious uses made of the instrument. These uses, of which vestiges still linger, would appear to have been more or less analogous to the purposes which the bull-roarer still subserves among the Australian Blacks and some other tribes.
The young Oraon inmates of the dhumkuriā club-houses have still to go through certain initiation ceremonies, but many of the ancient rites and ceremonies connected therewith appear to have fallen into disuse and the rites and ceremonies in which these bull-roarers might have been employed would appear to be among them. In Australian initiation ceremonies, the use of the bull-roarer and the practice of daubing the bodies of men with clay are associated together. In certain secret ceremonies and dancing festivals, the Orãon initiates, toɔ, bedaub their bodies with a kind of whitish clay (Fig. 3), but the bullroarer does not now play the same rôle in these Oraon oere nonies and festivals as it does in Australia.
The saored mystery of the bull-roarer is no longer remembered by the Oraon, nor preserved in his folklore. It is now neither employed, as in Australia, to scare away women and children by its thunderous booming, nor is it employed, as among the Zuni Indians and certain South African tribes, as a call to the ceremonial observance of the tribal ritual. The function of scaring away women and children from an Orǎou dhumkuria is partially performed by a wooden post in the interior of the hall facing the doorway. This post is in some dhūmkūria houses roughly carved into the similitude of a human female. Eveu where the post is not carved into a human shape, it is always provided with a slit meant to represent the female organ. (Fig. 4) In some dhumkurias one or more planks of wood with female breasts carved on them in relief are placed upon the beam which is supported on this post. Saucy children who dare intrude or peep into the dhumkuria building are visited for their impudence with the indecent punishment of having their private parts pressed against or inserted into the slit on the post. It is not unlikely, however, that this rudely carved post was once meant to represent the spirit or deity of fertility among men. Certain other practices connected with the dhümküriä institution would appear to strengthen this inference. At the present day, however, it is the corie· sponding symbol of the male phallus represented by a high conical mound of earth and rarely a high conical stone, known as Mandar-salu, as well as the hole (representing probably the female organ) underneath the Mutri-Chanḍi stone into which the dhumkuriā boys ceremonially misturate for increase of male progeny, that are connected with the fertility rites of the dhūmkūria young men. (Fig. 5.)
To return to the bull-roarer. If the bull-roarer is no longer used by the Oraon inmates of the bachelors' club to scare away women and children from its sacred and inviolable precincts, as among some Australian Blacks, it would seem that there is a certain Orãon practice still connected with these bullroarers which would appear to have been originally meant to
scare away evil spirits. The practice I refer to is that of taking out these threaded slats of bamboo which are nothing else but bull-roarers from the dhumkurā house to the adjoining ākhrā or dancing ground on occasions of certain dancing festivals of the Oraon youth and hanging them in long rows upon rows over the heads of the dancers. On inquiry as to the object of hanging these so-called khukris in long strings over the dancing ground, the Oraons of the village can only tell the inquisitive inquirer that they are meant for decoration (sōbhā) and for the rattling sound they make when shaken by the wind. But the anthropologist has good reasons to infer that the object of this exhibition of bull-roarers is a more serious and indeed a magical one. It is not an unusual phenomenon at these dances for one or more of the dancers- particularly young femalesto show signs of spirit possession. The Orãon believes that disembodied human spirits are always eager to take part in these dances and other merriments to which they were accustomed during their earthly existence, and this they can only do by entering the bodies of some dancer or other. But as such spirit-possession is harmful to the person possessed, it is necessary to keep off such spirits. And the sight of the bull-roarers and the sound made by them when shaken by the bre ze were probably supposed to have the effect of scaring away spirits, just as the cracking of a whip by the spirit-doctor, the brandishing of sticks at the Oraon ceremony of driving away disease-spirits, and the brandishing of swords at Oraon weddings, are also supposed to scare away evil spirits. In the Banks Islands in Melanesia and in parts of North America, the bull-roarer is avowedly employed to frighten away spirits.
From all these circumstances and the association in which the instrument occurs, there appears to me to be no reasonable doubt that the bull-rearer among the Oraons was once held sacred as an object of religious or magical significance. The very fact that the Oraon, like the Australian Black to whom the bull-roarer is still an object of religious awe and ritual, still carefully treasures up this mysterious instrument in his
dhumkuria building which is taboo to women and children, raises a strong presumption of its former religious and magicoreligious use among the Orãons as among the Australians. This presumption is further strengthened by the fact that the only other objects that are so treasured up in the Oraon dhumkürias, namely, their jātra flags and the wooden representations of animals and other tribal emblems (Fig. 6) are still of magicoreligious significance to the tribe and to which offerings and sacrifices are still made. Finally, the presumption ripens almost into proof when we find that these bull-roarers are assigned a part, probably that of spirit-scaring, on occasions of dancing festivals of the Oraon youth of the dhumkūriās.
Such is the existing fragmentary evidence of the magicoreligious uses of this simple and seemingly insignificant instrument which, has been called the most ancient, widely spread and sacred religious symbol in the world. In the course of ethnological investigations in the Panjab among the Chuhrās, I came to know that until five or six years ago bull-roarers made of wood and known as Ghunknis were frequently used as toys by children in Panjab villages and even now they have not altogether gone out of use. In South India and in Bengal, too, bull-roarers are known to be used in places as children's toys. But unfortunately no specimens appear in any public collection, much less does any attempt appear to have been yet made to trace their past uses. I need hardly urge that it behoves all students of Indian Ethnology to search assiduously for any survivals or vestiges of the existence, and of the religious, magical and other uses, past and present, of the bull-roarer in different parts of India,