2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam

16. śūdravargaḥ

(Über Śūdras)

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Zitierweise | cite as: Amarasiṃha <6./8. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Nāmaliṅgānuśāsana (Amarakośa) / übersetzt von Alois Payer <1944 - >. -- 2. Dvitīyaṃ kāṇḍam. -- 16. śūdravargaḥ  (Über Śūdras). -- 2. Vers 5 - 15: Handwerker.  -- Beispiele zu: Schuster. -- Fassung vom 2017-12-18. --  URL:                                                        

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Prof. Dr. Heinrich von Stietencron

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Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] (Tamil)

"Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்].

The Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்],” Mr. H. A. Stuart writes (Manual of the North Arcot district.),  “are the leather-workers of the Tamil [தமிழ்] districts, corresponding to the Mādigas [మాదిగ] of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country. The Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] appear to be immigrants from the Telugu [తెలుగు] or Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] districts, for no mention is made of this caste either in the early Tamil [தமிழ்] inscriptions, or in early Tamil [தமிழ்] literature. Moreover, a very large proportion of the Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] speak Telugu [తెలుగు] and Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ]. In social position the Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] occupy the lowest rank, though there is much dispute on this point between them and the Paraiyans [பறையர்]. Nominally they are Saivites [சைவ], but in reality devil-worshippers. The āvaram [ஆவாரை] plant (Cassia auriculata Senna auriculata (L.) Roxb.]) is held in much veneration by them (The bark of the āvaram [ஆவாரை] plant is one of the most valuable Indian tanning agents), and the tāli [தாளி] is tied to a branch of it as a preliminary to marriage. Girls are not usually married before puberty. The bridegroom may be younger than the bride. Their widows may remarry. Divorce can be obtained at the pleasure of either party on payment of Rs. 12-12-0 to the other in the presence of the local head of the caste. Their women are considered to be very beautiful, and it is a woman of this caste who is generally selected for the coarser form of Sakti [சக்தி] worship. They indulge very freely in intoxicating liquors, and will eat any flesh, including beef, pork, etc. Hence they are called, par excellence, the flesh-eaters (Sanskrit shatkuli [சாட்குலி ]).”

It was noted by [Pierre] Sonnerat [1748 - 1814], in the eighteenth century (Voyage to the East Indies, 1774 and 1781), that the Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] are in more contempt than the Pariahs  [பறையர்], because they use cow leather in making shoes.

“The Chucklers or cobblers,” the Abbé [Jean Antoine] Dubois writes [1766 - 1848] (Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies), “are considered inferiors to the Pariahs  [பறையர்] all over the peninsula. They are more addicted to drunkenness and debauchery. Their orgies take place principally in the evening, and their villages resound, far into the night, with the yells and quarrels which result from their intoxication. The very Pariahs  [பறையர்] refuse to have anything to do with the Chucklers, and do not admit them to any of their feasts.” 

In the Madura [மதுரை] Manual, 1868, the Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] are summed up as

“dressers of leather, and makers of slippers, harness, and other leather articles. They are men of drunken and filthy habits, and their morals are very bad. Curiously enough, their women are held to be of the Padmani [பத்மினி] kind, i.e., of peculiar beauty of face and form, and are also said to be very virtuous. It is well known, however, that zamindars and other rich men are very fond of intriguing with them, particularly in the neighbourhood of Paramagudi [பரமக்குடி], where they live in great numbers.”

There is a Tamil [தமிழ்] proverb that even a Chakkili girl and the ears of the millet are beautiful when mature. In the Tanjore [தஞ்சாவூர்] district, the Chakkiliyars [சக்கிலியர்] are said (Manual of the Tanjore district, 1883) to be

“considered to be of the very lowest status. In some parts of the district they speak Telugu [తెలుగు] and wear the nāmam [நாமம் ] (Vaishnavite [வைணவ] sect mark) and are apparently immigrants from the Telugu [తెలుగు] country.” 

Though they are Tamil-speaking [தமிழ்] people, the Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்], like the Telugu [తెలుగు] Mādigas [మాదిగ], have exogamous septs called gōtra [கோத்திரம்] in the north, and kīlai in the south. Unlike the Mādigas [మాదిగ], they do not carry out the practice of making Basavis (dedicated prostitutes).

The correlation of the most important measurements of the Mādigas [మాదిగ] of the Telugu [తెలుగు] country, and so-called Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] of the city of Madras [மதராஸ்], is clearly brought out by the following figures :—

Thirty Mādigas [మాదిగ]
Fifty Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்]
Stature ...    ...    ... 1631 1622
Cephalic length    ... 186 186
Cephalic breadth    ... 13’9 13’9
Cephalic index...    ... 75 75'
Nasal height ...... 4’5 4'6
Cephalic breadth ...    ... 3’7 3'6
Cephalic index ...    ... 808 789

The Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] men in Madras [மதராஸ்] are tattooed not only on the forehead, but also with their name, conventional devices, dancing-girls, etc., on the chest and upper extremities.

It has been noticed as a curious fact that, in the Madura [மதுரை] district,

“while the men belong to the righthand faction, the women belong to and are most energetic supporters of the left. It is even said that, during the entire period of a faction riot, the Chakkili women keep aloof from their husbands and deny them their marital rights." (Manual of the Madura district.)

In a very interesting note on the leather industry of the Madras [மதராஸ்] Presidency, Mr. A. Chatterton writes as follows (Monograph of Tanning and Working in Leather, 1904.).

“The position of the Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] in the south differs greatly from that of the Mādiga [మాదిగ] of the north, and many of his privileges are enjoyed by a ‘sub-sect’ of the Pariahs  [பறையர்] called Vettiyans. These people possess the right of removing dead cattle from villages, and in return have to supply leather for agricultural purposes. The majority of Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] are not tanners, but leather-workers, and, instead of getting the hides or skins direct from the Vettiyan, they prefer to purchase them ready-tanned from traders, who bring them from the large tanning centres. When the Chuckler starts making shoes or sandals, he purchases the leather and skin which he requires in the bazar, and, taking it home, first proceeds with a preliminary currying operation. The leather is damped and well stretched, and dyed with aniline, the usual colour being scarlet R.R. of the Badische Anilin Soda Fabrik [Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik]. This is purchased in the bazar in packets, and is dissolved in water, to which a little oxalic acid has been added. The dye is applied with a piece of rag on the grain side, and allowed to dry. After drying, tamarind paste is applied to the flesh side of the skin, and the latter is then rolled between the hands, so as to produce a coarse graining on the outer side. In making the shoes, the leather is usually wetted, and moulded into shape on wooden moulds or lasts. As a rule, nothing but cotton is used for sewing, and the waxed ends of the English cobler are entirely unknown. The largest consumption of leather in this Presidency is for water-bags or kavalais [கவலை], which are used for raising water from wells, and for oil and ghee [நெய்] (clarified butter) pots, in which the liquids are transported from one place to another. Of irrigation wells there are in the Presidency more than 600,000, and, though some of them are fitted with iron buckets, nearly all of them have leather bags with leather discharging trunks. The buckets hold from ten to fifty gallons of water, and are generally made from fairly well tanned cow hides, though for very large buckets buffalo hides are sometimes used. The number of oil and ghee pots in use in the country is very large. The use of leather vessels for this purpose is on the decline, as it is found much cheaper and more convenient to store oil in the ubiquitous kerosine-oil tin, and it is not improbable that eventually the industry will die out, as it has done in other countries. The range of work of the country Chuckler is not very extensive. Besides leather straps for wooden sandals, he makes crude harness for the ryot’s cattle, including leather collars from which numerous bells are frequently suspended, leather whips for the cattle drivers, ornamental fringes for the bull’s forehead, bellows for the smith, and small boxes for the barber, in which to carry his razors. In some places, leather ropes are used for various purposes, and it is customary to attach big coir (cocoanut fibre) ropes to the bodies of the larger temple cars by leather harness, when they are drawn in procession through the streets. Drum-heads and tom-toms are made from raw hides by Vettiyans and Chucklers. The drums are often very large, and are transported upon the back of elephants, horses, bulls and camels. For them raw hides are required, but for the smaller instruments sheep-skins are sufficient. The raw hides are shaved on the flesh side, and are then dried. The hair is removed by rubbing with wood-ashes. The use of lime in unhairing is not permissible, as it materially decreases the elasticity of the parchment.”

The Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] beat the tom-tom for Kammālans, Pallis [பள்ளி] and Kaikōlans, and for other castes if desired to do so.

The Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] do not worship Mātangi [மாதங்கி], who is the special deity of the Mādigas [మాదిగ]. Their gods include Madurai Vīran [மதுரை வீரன்], Māriamma [மாரியம்மன்], Mūneswara [முனீஸ்வரன்], Draupadi [திரௌபதி] and Gangamma [கங்கம்மா]. Of these, the last is the most important, and her festival is celebrated annually, if possible. To cover the expenses thereof, a few Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] dress up so as to represent men and women of the Marāthi [मराठी] bird-catching caste, and go about begging in the streets for nine days. On the tenth day the festival terminates. Throughout it, Gangamma [கங்கம்மா], represented by three decorated pots under a small pandal [பந்தல் ] (booth) set up on the bank of a river or tank beneath a margosa (Melia azadirachta [Azadirachta indica A.Juss.]), or pipal (Ficus religiosa) tree, is worshipped. On the last day, goats and fowls are sacrificed, and limes cut.

During the first menstrual period, the Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] girl is kept under pollution in a hut made of fresh green boughs, which is erected by her husband or maternal uncle. Meat, curds, and milk are forbidden. On the last day, the hut is burnt down. At marriages a Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] usually officiates as priest, or the services of a Valluvan [வள்ளுவர்] priest may be enlisted. The consent of the girl’s maternal uncle to the marriage is essential. The marriage ceremony closely resembles that of the Paraiyans [பறையர்]. And, at the final death ceremonies of a Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்], as of a Paraiyan [பறையர்], two bricks are worshipped, and thrown into a tank or stream.

Lean children, especially of the Māla, Mādiga [మాదిగ], and Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்] classes, are made to wear a leather strap, specially made for them by a Chakkiliyan [சக்கிலியர்], which is believed to help their growth.

At times of census, some Chakkiliyans [சக்கிலியர்] have returned themselves as Pagadaiyar, Madāri (conceit or arrogance), and Ranavīran (brave warrior)."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 2 - 7]

"5. THE SHOEMAKER (Chuckler [சக்கிலியர்]).

One of the lowest and most despised classes is that of the poor and ignorant shoemakers. These people are found in almost every big village of the country, and they are classified as a sub-division of the Naidu [నాయుడు] caste. Their settlements are separate from the villages, as they are out-of-caste people. They live in filthy and miserable huts, surrounded with ditches and stagnant waters. They are half naked, ill-clothed, and often emaciated. There is hardly anyone of them who can either read or write. Those, however, who have embraced Christianity are gradually making a step upwards, and are securing some education. The very hut in which they live is the birthplace of cholera and other epidemics. To add to their insanitary condition, there are holes round the huts which they utilize as tanneries. They eat the dead animals which they receive from the villagers as a part of their wages.

The shoemakers make shoes for men and women and children; they also make skin robes for the cultivators, and they are employed by the villagers as messengers and sweepers. In some places they are required to watch the cremation-grounds and the cornfields.

In the form of wages the shoemakers receive a scanty fixed annual allowance from each villager, that is, from those who are unable to pay a nominal fee for the work done for them by the shoemaker. Those who have mercy on these poor creatures give them some food, and make them cut firewood, and attend to their kitchen-gardens.

The marriage ceremonies of the shoemaker class are unusually interesting. When a young man wishes to be married his party take a bottle of arrack to the intended bride’s house and give it to the father to drink. If he consents to the proposed marriage, he gives another bottle of arrack in return for the bridegroom’s father to drink, and then an astrologer is consulted to secure his opinion as to an auspicious day for the intended marriage.

A parisam of six and a quarter rupees, one kotta of cholem, five measures of rice, and some oil, with saffron and cocoanuts, should be taken to the bride’s house, together with a string of beads and an olai [ஓலை]. The bridegroom’s sister should carry some of these on her head. The string of beads is then tied by the bridegroom’s sister on the bride’s neck. This is the thali [தாலி]. From this day she is considered a wife. Then for five panams taken out of the parisam arrack and other spirits are bought. Both parties drink freely of these spirits.

On the muhurtha day a vessel full of milk is brought, and all the relations of the bridegroom take handfuls of it and pour it on the bridegroom’s head, and his friend rubs it well in. After he has bathed in cold water, he is taken outside the village to a place where there is an auverei-plant [ஆவாரை] (Cassia auriculata [Cassia auriculata (L.) Roxb.]). Three little sticks are placed so as to form a triangle, and a potful of rice is cooked between the three sticks, which are supposed to represent a little hut. The bridegroom and his relations partake of the food.

The bridegroom then starts for the residence of the bride, but stays somewhere outside the village while the bride bathes in the same way as he has done. The bride is then taken outside the village, where the bridegroom is waiting, and there at the side of an auverei [ஆவாரை] they place two sets of three sticks as a hut for each of them, and there they cook food. Their respective uncles take a handful of rice, wave it round their heads, and throw it behind them, to avert the evil eye. The remaining rice is eaten by the entire company, with the bride and the bridegroom.

The bride is taken round the huts three times by her uncle, who also places her right hand in the bridegroom’s left.

Then both the bridegroom and the bride are taken to the house of the bride. While going there the bridegroom’s sisters wave a lighted camphor before the bride, and receive money from her father or brothers.

Then in the front of the house the bridegroom sits on a stool with a cloth on it, and the bride pours water on him. The bride then puts on the same cloth and sits down, and the bridegroom pours water on her, and thus both bathe.

In the same place the bridegroom makes a plough of two sticks and ploughs the ground, which is wetted with the water in which they have bathed, and the bride takes conjee [గంజి] to him in a pot. She also takes a little child with her, which she gives to the bridegroom, who kisses it and returns it.

After this two or three rings are cast into a pot of water, and they both are made to take them out with a view to ascertain which of them will in future have power over the other.

Then they both are taken into the house. When entering they dip their hands near the doorposts inside into a salt-pot by way of amusement, and the bridegroom’s relations beat the bride by way of a joke.

The marriages of this caste are conducted with brawling and noise, owing to the quantity of spirits consumed on the occasion, and they do not hesitate to divorce each other even for trifles. I have known a man of this caste to be married three times to different women during a single year."

[Quelle: Pandian, T. B. (Thomas B.) [பாண்டியன், தாமஸ் பி] <1863 - >: Indian village folk: their works and ways. -- London : Stock, 1898. -- 212 S. : Ill. ; 21 cm. -- S. 44 - 47]

Chamār [चमार], Chambhār [चांभार] (Central Provinces)

"Chamār [चमार], Chambhār [चांभार].1

1 This article is based on the Rev. E. M. Gordon’s Indian Folk-Tales (London, Elliott & Stock, 1908), and the Central Provinces Monograph on the Leather Industry, by Mr. C. G. Chenevix Trench, C.S. ; with extracts from Sir H. H. Risley’s and Mr. Crooke’s descriptions of the caste, and from the Berār Census Report (1881) ; on information collected for the D;strict Gazetteers ; and papers by Messrs. Durga Prasād Pānde, Tahsīldār, Raipur; Rām Lāl, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Saugor ; Govind Vithal Kāne, Naib-Tahsīldār, Wardha; Bālkrishna Rāmchandra Bakhle, Tahsīldār, Mandla ; Sītarām, schoolmaster, Bālāghāt ; and Kanhya Lāl of the Gazetteer office. Some of the material found in Mr. Gordon’s book was obtained independently by the writer in Bilāspur before its publication and is therefore not specially acknowledged.

1. General notice of the caste.

The caste of tanners and menial labourers of northern India. In the Central Provinces the Chamārs [चमार] numbered about 900,000 persons in 1911. They are the third caste in the Province in numerical strength, being exceeded by the Gonds [गोंड] and Kunbis [कुणबी]. About 600,000 persons, or two-thirds of the total strength of the caste in the Province, belong to the Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] Division and adjacent Feudatory States. Here the Chamārs [चमार] have to some extent emancipated themselves from their servile status and have become cultivators, and occasionally  even mālguzārs [मालगुजार ]or landed proprietors; and between them and the Hindus a bitter and long-standing feud is in progress. Outside Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the Chamārs [चमार] are found in most of the Hindi-speaking Districts whose population has been recruited from northern and central India, and here they are perhaps the most debased class of the community, consigned to the lowest of menial tasks, and their spirit broken by generations of servitude. In the Marātha [मराठा] country the place of the Chamārs [चमार] is taken by the Mehras [मेहरा] or Mahārs [महार]. In the whole of India the Chamārs [चमार] are about eleven millions strong, and are the largest caste with the exception of the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]. The name is derived from the Sanskrit Charmakāra [चर्मकार], a worker in leather; and, according to classical tradition, the Chamār [चमार] is the offspring of a Chandāl [चंडाल] or sweeper woman by a man of the fisher caste. The superior physical type of the Chamār [चमार] has been noticed in several localities. Thus in the Kanara District of Bombay the Chamār [चमार] women are said to be famed for their beauty of face and figure, and there it is stated that the Padminis [पद्मिनी]  or perfect type of women, middle-sized with fine features, black lustrous hair and eyes, full breasts and slim waists, are all Chamārins [चमारिन]. Sir D. Ibbetson writes4 that their women are celebrated for beauty, and loss of caste is often attributed to too great a partiality for a Chamārin [चमारिन]. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the Chamārs [चमार] are generally of fine stature and fair complexion ; some of them are lighter in colour than the Chhattisgarhi Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], and it is on record that a European officer mistook a Chamār [चमार] for a Eurasian and addressed him in English. This, however, is by no means universally the case, and Sir H. Risley considers5 that

4 Punjab Census Report (1881), p. 320.
Tribes and Castes of Bengal,
art. Chamār.

“ The average Chamār [चमार] is hardly distinguishable in point of features, stature or complexion from the members of those non-Aryan races from whose ranks we should primarily expect the profession of leather-dressers to be recruited.”

Again, Sir Henry Elliot, writing of the Chamārs [चमार] of the North-Western Provinces, says :

“Chamārs [चमार] are reputed to be a dark race, and a fair Chamār [चमार] is said to be as rare an object as a black Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] :

Karia Brāhman, gor Chamār,
Inke sāth na utariye pār.

that is, ‘Do not cross a river in the same boat with a black Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] or a fair Chamār [चमार],’ both being of evil omen.”

The latter description would certainly apply to the Chamārs [चमार] of the Central Provinces outside the Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] Districts, but hardly to the caste as a whole within that area. No satisfactory explanation has been offered of this distinction of appearance of some groups of Chamārs [चमार]. It is possible that the Chamārs [चमार] of certain localities may be the descendants of a race from the north-west, conquered and enslaved by a later wave of immigrants ; or that their physical development may owe something to adult marriage and a flesh diet, even though consisting largely of carrion. It may be noticed that the sweepers, who eat the broken food from the tables of the Europeans and wealthy natives, are sometimes stronger and better built than the average Hindu. Similarly, the Kasais [قصائی] or Muhammadan butchers are proverbially strong and lusty. But no evidence is forthcoming in support of such conjectures, and the problem is likely to remain insoluble.

“ The Chamārs [चमार],” Sir H. Risley states, “trace their own pedigree to Ravi or Rai Dās [रविदास, 16. Jhdt.], the famous disciple of Rāmānand [रामानन्द, 14. Jhdt.] at the end of the fourteenth century, and whenever a Chamār [चमार] is asked what he is, he replies a Ravi Dās [रविदास]. Another tradition current among them alleges that their original ancestor was the youngest of four Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] brethren who went to bathe in a river and found a cow struggling in a quicksand. They sent the youngest brother in to rescue the animal, but before he could get to the spot it had been drowned. He was compelled, therefore, by his brothers to remove the carcase, and after he had done this they turned him out of their caste and gave him the name of Chamār [चमार].”

Other legends are related by Mr. Crooke in his article on the caste.

2. Endogamous divisions.

The Chamārs [चमार] are broken up into a number of endogamous subcastes. Of these the largest now consists of the members of the Satnāmi [सतनामी] sect in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], who do not intermarry with other Chamārs [चमार]. They are described in the article on that sect. The other Chamārs [चमार] call the Satnāmis [सतनामी] Jharia [झाडिया] or ‘jungly,’ which implies that they are the oldest residents in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़]. The Satnāmis [सतनामी] are all cultivators, and have given up working in leather. The Chungias (from chungi, a leaf-pipe) are a branch of the Satnāmis [सतनामी] who have taken to smoking, a practice which is forbidden by the rules of the sect. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] those Chamārs [चमार] who still cure hides and work in leather belong either to the Kanaujia [कन्नौजिया] or Ahirwār [अहिरवार] subcastes, the former of whom take their name from the well-known classical town of Kanauj [कन्नौज] in northern India, while the latter are said to be the descendants of unions between Chamār [चमार] fathers and Ahīr [अहीर] mothers. The Kanaujias [कन्नौजिया] are much addicted to drink, and though they eat pork they do not rear pigs. The Ahirwārs [अहिरवार], or Erwārs [एरवार] as they are called outside Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], occupy a somewhat higher position than the Kanaujias [कन्नौजिया]. They consider themselves to be the direct descendants of the prophet Raidas or Rohidās [रविदास, 15. Jhdt.], who, they say, had seven wives of different castes; one of them was an Ahīr [अहीर] woman, and her offspring were the ancestors of the Ahirwār [अहिरवार] subcaste. Both the Kanaujias [कन्नौजिया] and Ahirwārs [अहिरवार] of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] are generally known to outsiders as Paikaha, a term which indicates that they still follow their ancestral calling of curing hides, as opposed to the Satnāmis [सतनामी], who have generally eschewed it. Those Chamārs [चमार] who are curriers have, as a rule, the right to receive the hides of the village cattle in return for removing the carcases, each family of Chamārs [चमार] having allotted to them a certain number of tenants whose dead cattle they take, while their women are the hereditary midwives of the village. Such Chamārs [चमार] have the designation of Meher [मेहेर]. The Kanaujias [कन्नौजिया] make shoes out of a single piece of leather, while the Ahirwārs [अहिरवार] cut the front separately. The latter also ornament their shoes with fancy work consisting of patterns of silver thread on red cloth. No Ahirwār [अहिरवार] girl is married until she has shown herself proficient in this kind of needlework. Another well-known group, found both in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] and elsewhere, are the Jaiswāras [जैसवार], who take their name from the old town of Jais [जैस] in the United Provinces. Many of them serve as grooms, and are accustomed to state their caste as Jaiswāra [जैसवार], considering it a more respectable designation than Chamār [चमार]. The Jaiswāras [जैसवार] must carry burdens on their heads only and not on their shoulders, and they must not tie up a dog with a halter or neck-rope, this article being venerated by them as an implement of their calling. A breach of cither of these rules entails temporary excommunication from caste and a fine for readmission. Among a number of territorial groups may be mentioned the Bundelkhandi [बुंदेलखंडी] or immigrants from Bundelkhand [बुंदेलखंड]; the Bhadoria [भदौरिया] from the Bhadāwar [भदावर] State ; the Antarvedi [अंतरवेदी] from Antarved [अंतरवेद] or the Doāb [दोआब], the country lying between the Ganges [गंगा] and Jumna [जमुना] ; the Gangāpāri or those from the north of the Ganges [गंगा] ; and the Pardeshi [परदेशी]  (foreigners) and Desha [देशा] or Deswār [देशवार] (belonging to the country), both of which groups come from Hindustān [हिन्दुस्तान]. The Deswār Chamārs [देशवार चमार] of Narsinghpur [नरसिंहपुर] are now all agriculturists and have totally abjured the business of working in leather. The Mahobia [महोबिया] and Khaijraha take their names from the towns of Mahoba [महोबा] and Khaijra in Central India. The Lādse or Lādvi come from south Gujarāt [ગુજરાત], which in classical times was known as Lāt ; while the Marātha [मराठा], Berāria [वर्हाडिया] and Dakhini [दक्खिनी] subdivisions belong to southern India. There are a number of other territorial groups of less importance.

3. Subcastes continued.

Certain subcastes are of an occupational nature, and among these may be mentioned the Budalgirs of Chhindwāra [छिंदवाडा], who derive their name from the budla, or leather bag made for the transport and storage of oil and ghī [घी]. The budla, Mr. Trench remarks,1 has been ousted by the kerosene oil tin, and the industry of the Budalgirs has consequently almost disappeared ; but the budlas are still used by barbers to hold oil for the torches which they carry in wedding processions. The Daijanya subcaste are so named because their women act as midwives (dai [दाई]) but this business is by no means confined to one particular group, being undertaken generally by Chamār [चमार] women. The Kataua or Katwa are leather-cutters, the name being derived from kātna [काटना], to cut. And the Gobardhua (from gobar [गोबर], cowdung) collect the droppings of cattle on the threshing-floors and wash out and eat the undigested grain. The Mochis [मोची] or shoemakers and Jīngars [जीनगर] or saddlemakers and bookbinders have obtained a better position than the ordinary Chamārs [चमार], and have now practically become separate castes ; while, on the other hand, the Dohar subcaste of Narsinghpur [नरसिंहपुर] have sunk to the very lowest stage of casual labour, grass-cutting and the like, and are looked down on by the rest of the caste.The Korchamārs are said to be the descendants of alliances between Chamārs [चमार] and Koris [कोरी] or weavers, and the Turkanyas probably have Turk or Musalman blood in their veins. In Berār [बेरार] the Romya or Haralya subcaste claim the highest rank and say that their ancestor Harlya was the primeval Chamār [चमार] who stripped off a piece of his own skin to make a pair of shoes for Mahādeo [महादेओ / महादेव].3 The Māngya4 Chamārs [चमार] of Chanda [चंद्रपूर] and the Nona Chamārs [चमार] of Damoh [दमोह] are groups of beggars, who are the lowest of the caste and will take food from the hands of any other Chamār [चमार].

1 Monograph on Leather Industries, p. 9.
Monograph on Leather Industries,
p. 3.
Berār Census ṛeport
(1881), p. 149.
māngna [मांगना],
to beg.

The Nona group take their name from Nona or Lona Chamārin [नोन /लोना चमारिन], a well-known witch about whom Mr. Crooke relates the following story :5

5 Tribes and Castes, art. Chamār.

“Her legend tells how Dhanwantari [धन्वंतरी], the physician of the gods, was bitten by Takshaka [तक्षक] , the king of the snakes, and knowing that death approached he ordered his sons to cook and eat his body after his death, so that they might thereby inherit his skill in medicine. They accordingly cooked his body in a cauldron, and were about to eat it when Takshaka [तक्षक] appeared to them in the form of a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] and warned them against this act of cannibalism. So they let the cauldron float down the Ganges [गंगा], and as it floated down, Lona the Chamārin [नोन चमारिन], who was washing on the bank of the river, took the vessel out in ignorance of its contents, and partook of the ghastly food. She at once obtained power to cure diseases, and especially snake-bite. One day all the women were transplanting rice, and it was found that Lona [नोन] could do as much work as all her companions put together. So they watched her, and when she thought she was alone she stripped off her clothes (nudity being an essential element in magic), muttered some spells, and threw the plants into the air, when they all settled down in their proper places. Finding she was observed, she tried to escape, and as she ran the earth opened, and all the water of the rice-fields followed her and thus was formed the channel of the Loni [लीनी] River in the Unao [उन्नाव] District.”

This Lona or Nona [नोन /लोन] has obtained the position of a nursery bogey, and throughout Hindustān [हिन्दुस्तान], Sir H. Risley states, parents frighten naughty children by telling them that Nona Chamārin [नोन  चमारिन] will carry them off. The Chamārs [चमार] say that she was the mother or grandmother of the prophet Ravi Dās [रविदास], or Rai Dās already referred to.

4. Exogamous divisions.

The caste is also divided into a large number of exogamous groups or sections, whose names, as might be expected, present a great diversity of character. Some are borrowed from Rājpūt [राजपूत] clans, as Sūrajvansi, Gaharwār and Rāthor [राठौड़]; while others, as Marai, are taken from the Gonds [गोंड]. Instances of sections named after other castes are Banjar (Banjāra [बंजारा]), Jogi [जोगी], Chhipia (Chhīpi [छीपी], a tailor) and Khairwār (a forest tribe). The Chhipia section preserve the memory of their comparatively illustrious descent by refusing to eat pork. Instances of sections called after a title or nickname of the reputed founder are Mālādhāri [मालाधारी], one who wears a garland ; Māchhi-Mundia or fly-headed, perhaps the equivalent of featherbrained ; Hathīla [हठीला], obstinate ; Bāghmār [बाघमार], a tiger-killer ; Māngaya, a beggar ; Dhuliya, a drummer; Jadkodiha, one who digs for roots, and so on. There are numerous territorial groups named after the town or village where the ancestor of the clan may be supposed to have lived ; and many names also are of a totemistic nature, being taken from plants, animals or natural objects. Among these are Khunti [खूंटी], a peg; Chandaniha [चन्दनिहा], sandalwood; Tarwaria, a sword; Borbans, plums ; Miri, chillies ; Chauria, a whisk ; Baraiya, a wasp ; Khalaria, a hide or skin; Kosni, kosa or tasar [तसर] silk; and Purain, the lotus plant. Totemistic observances survive only in one or two isolated instances.

5. Marriage.

A man must not take a wife from his own section, nor in some localities from that of his mother or either of his grandmothers. Generally the union of first cousins is prohibited. Adult marriage is the rule, but those who wish to improve their social position have taken to disposing of their daughters at an early age. Matches are always arranged by the parents, and it is the business of the boy’s father to find a bride for his son. A bride-price is paid which may vary from two pice (farthings) to a hundred rupees, but usually averages about twenty rupees. In Chanda [चंद्रपूर] the amount is fixed at Rs. 13 and it is known as hunda [हुंडा], but if the bride’s grandmother is alive it is increased to Rs. 15-8, and the extra money is given to her. The marriage ceremony follows the standard type prevalent in the locality. On his journey to the girl’s house the boy rides on a bullock and is wrapped up in a blanket. In Bilāspur [बिलासपुर] a kind of sham fight takes place between the parties, which is a reminiscence of the former practice of marriage by capture and is thus described as an eye-witness by the Rev. E. M. Gordon of Mungeli [मुंगेली]:1

1 Indian Folk- Tales.

“As the bridegroom’s party approached the home of the bride the boy’s friends lifted him up on their shoulders, and, surrounding him on every side, they made their way to the bride’s house, swinging round their sticks in a threatening manner. On coming near the house they crossed sticks with the bride’s friends, who gradually fell back and allowed the bridegroom’s friends to advance in their direction. The women of the house gathered with baskets and fans and some threw about rice in pretence of self-defence. When the sticks of the bridegroom’s party struck the roof of the bride’s house or of the marriage-shed her friends considered themselves defeated and the sham fight was at an end.” 

Among the Marātha [मराठा] Chamārs [चमार] of Betūl [बैतूल] two earthen pots full of water are half buried in the ground and worship is paid to them. The bride and bridegroom then stand together and their relatives take out water from the pots and pour it on to their heads from above. The idea is that the pouring of the sacred water on to them will make them grow, and if the bride is much smaller than the bridegroom more water is poured on to her in order that she may grow faster. The practice may symbolise the fertilising influence of rain. Among the Dohar Chamārs [चमार] of Narsinghpur  [नरसिंहपुर] the bride and bridegroom are seated on a plough-yoke while the marriage ceremony is performed. Before the wedding the bride’s party take a goat’s leg in a basket with other articles to the janwasa [जनवास] or bridegroom’s lodging and present it to his father. The bride and bridegroom take the goat’s leg and beat each other with it alternately. Another ceremony, known as Pendpūja, consists in placing pieces of stick with cotton stuck to the ends in an oven and burning them in the name of the deceased ancestors ; but the significance, if there be any, of this rite is obscure. Some time after the wedding the bride is taken to her husband’s house to live with him, and on this occasion a simple ceremony known as Chauk [चौक] or Pathoni is performed.

6. Widow-marriage and divorce.

Widows commonly remarry, and may take for their second husband anybody they please, except their own relatives and their late husband’s elder brother and ascendant relations. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] widows are known either as barandi or randi [रांडी], the randi [रांडी] being a widow in the ordinary sense of the term and the barandi a girl who has been married but has not lived with her husband. Such a girl is not required to break her bangles on her husband’s death, and, being more in demand as a second wife, her father naturally obtains a good price for her. To marry a woman whose husband is alive is known as chhandwe banāna, the term chhandwe implying that the woman has discarded, or has been discarded by, her husband. The second husband must in this case repay to the first husband the expenses incurred by him on his wedding. The marriage ceremony for a widow is of the simplest character, and consists generally of the presentation to her by her new husband of those articles which a married woman may use, but which should be forsworn by a widow, as representing the useless vanities of the world. Thus in Saugor [सागर] the bridegroom presents his bride with new clothes, vermilion for the parting of her hair, a spangle for her forehead, lac dye for her feet, antimony for the eyes, a comb, glass bangles and betel-leaves. In Mandla [मन्द्ला] and Seoni [सिवनी] the bridegroom gives a ring, according to the English custom, instead of bangles. When a widow marries a second time her first husband’s property remains with his family and also the children, unless they are very young, when the mother may keep them for a few years and subsequently send them back to their father’s relatives. Divorce is permitted for a variety of causes, and is usually effected in the presence of the caste panchāyat [पंचायत] or committee by the husband and wife breaking a straw as a symbol of the rupture of the union. In Chanda [चंद्रपूर] an image of the divorced wife is made of grass and burnt to indicate that to her husband she is as good as dead ; if she has children their heads and faces are shaved in token of mourning, and in the absence of children the husband’s younger brother has this rite performed ; while the husband gives a funeral feast known as Marti Jīti kā Bhāt or ‘The feast of the living dead woman.’ In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] marriage ties are of the loosest description, and adultery is scarcely recognised as an offence. A woman may go and live openly with other men and her husband will take her back afterwards. Sometimes, when two men are in the relation of Mahāprasād [महाप्रसाद] or nearest friend to each other, that is, when they have vowed friendship on rice from the temple of Jagannāth [ଜଗନ୍ନାଥ], they will each place his wife at the other’s disposal. The Chamārs [चमार] justify this carelessness of the fidelity of their wives by the saying, ‘If my cow wanders and comes home again, shall I not let her into her stall?’ In Seoni [सिवनी], if a Chamār [चमार] woman is detected in a misdemeanour with a man of the caste, both parties are taken to the bank of a tank or river, where their heads are shaved in the presence of the caste panchāyat [पंचायत] or committee. They are then made to bathe, and the shoes of all the assembled Chamārs [चमार] made up into two bundles and placed on their heads, while they are required to promise that they will not repeat the offence.

7. Funeral customs.

The caste usually bury the dead with the feet to the north, like the Gonds [गोंड] and other aboriginal tribes. They say that heaven is situated towards the north, and the dead man should be placed in a position to start for that direction. Another explanation is that the head of the earth lies towards the north, and yet another that in the Satyug [सत्ययुग] or beginning of time the sun rose in the north ; and in each succeeding Yug [युग] or era it has veered round the compass until now in the Kali Yug [कलियुग] or Iron Age it rises in the east. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], before burying a corpse, they often make a mark on the body with butter, oil or soot; and when a child is subsequently born into the same family they look for any kind of mark on the corresponding place on its body. If any such be found they consider the child as a reincarnation of the deceased person. Still-born children, and those who die before the Chathi [छठी] or sixth-day ceremony of purification, are not taken to the burial-ground, but their bodies are placed in an earthen pot and interred below the doorway or in the courtyard of the house. In such cases no funeral feast is demanded from the family, and some people believe that the custom tends in favour of the mother bearing another child ; others say, however, that its object is to prevent the tonhi [टोनही] or witch from getting hold of the body of the child and rousing its spirit to life to do her bidding as Matia Deo.1 In Seoni [सिवनी] a curious rule obtains to the effect that the bodies of those who eat carrion or the flesh of animals dying a natural death should be cremated. In the northern Districts a bier painted white is used for a man and a red one for a woman.

1 Indian Folk-Tales, pp. 49, 50.

8. Childbirth.

Among the better-class Chamārs [चमार] it is customary to place a newborn child in a winnowing-fan on a bed of rice. The nurse receives the rice and she also goes round to the houses of the headman of the village and the relatives of the family and makes a mark with cowdung on their doors as an announcement of the birth, for which she receives a small present. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] a woman is given nothing to eat or drink on the day that a child is born and for two days afterwards. On the fourth day she receives a liquid decoction of ginger, the roots of the orai or khaskhas grass, areca-nut, coriander and turmeric and other hot substances, and in some places a cake of linseed or sesamum. She sometimes goes on drinking this mixture for as long as a month, and usually receives solid food for the first time on the sixth day after the birth, when she bathes and her impurity is removed. The child is not permitted to suckle its mother until the third day after it is born, but before this it receives a small quantity of a mixture made by boiling the urine of a calf with some medicinal root. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] it is a common practice to brand a child on the stomach on the name-day or sixth day after its birth ; twenty or more small burns may be made with the point of a hansia [हँसिया] or sickle on the stomach, and it is supposed that this operation will prevent it from catching cold. Another preventive for convulsions and diseases of the lungs is the rubbing of the limbs and body with castor-oil ; the nurse wets her hands with the oil and then warms them before a fire and rubs the child. It is also held in the smoke of burning ajwāin [अजवायन]plants (Carum copticum [Trachyspermum ammi (L.) Sprague]). Infants are named on the Chathi [छठी] or sixth day, or sometimes on the twelfth day after birth. The child’s head is shaved, and the hair, known as Jhālar, thrown away, the mother and child are washed and the males of the family are shaved. The mother is given her first regular meal of grain and pulse cooked with pumpkins. A pregnant woman who is afraid that her child will die will sometimes sell it to a neighbour before its birth for five or six cowries. The baby will then be named Pachkouri or Chhekouri, and it is thought that the gods, who are jealous of the lives of children, will overlook one whose name shows it to be valueless. Children are often nicknamed after some peculiarity as Kānwa (one-eyed), Behra [बहरा] (deaf), Konda (dumb), Khurwa (lame), Kāri [कारी] (black), Bhūri (fair). It does not follow that a child called Konda is actually dumb, but it may simply have been late in learning to speak. Parents are jealous of exposing their children to the gaze of strangers and especially of a crowd, in which there will almost certainly be some malignant person to cast the evil eye upon them. Young children are therefore not infrequently secluded in the house and deprived of light and air to an extent which is highly injurious to them.

9. Religion.

The caste worship the ordinary Hindu and village deities of the localities in which they reside, and observe the principal festivals. In Saugor [सागर] the Chamārs [चमार] have a family god, known as Marri, who is represented by a lump of clay kept in the cooking-room of the house. He is supposed to represent the ancestors of the family. The Seoni Chamārs [सिवनी चमार] especially worship the castor-oil plant. Generally the caste revere the rāmpi [रांपी] or skinning-knife with offerings of flour-cakes and cocoanuts on festival days. In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] more than half the Chamārs [चमार] belong to the reformed Satnāmi [सतनामी] sect, by which the worship of images is at least nominally abolished. This is separately treated. Mr. Gordon states 1 that it is impossible to form a clear conception of the beliefs of the village Chamārs [चमार] as to the hereafter :

1 Indian Folk-Tales, pp. 49, 50.

“That they have the idea of hell as a place of punishment may be gathered from the belief that if salt is spilt the one who does this will in Patāl—or the infernal region—have to gather up each grain of salt with his eyelids. Salt is for this reason handed round with great care, and it is considered unlucky to receive it in the palm of the hand ; it is therefore invariably taken in a cloth or in a vessel. There is a belief that the spirit of the deceased hovers round familiar scenes and places, and on this account, whenever it is possible, it is customary to destroy or desert the house in which any one has died. If a house is deserted the custom is to sweep and plaster the place, and then, after lighting a lamp, to leave it in the house and withdraw altogether. After the spirit of the dead has wandered around restlessly for a certain time it is said that it will again become incarnate and take the form of man or of one of the lower animals.”

10. Occupation.

The curing and tanning of hides is the primary occupation of the Chamār [चमार], but in 1911 only 80,000 persons, or about a seventh of the actual workers of the caste, were engaged in it, and by Satnāmis [सतनामी] the trade has been entirely eschewed. The majority of the Chhattisgarhi [छत्तीसगढ़] Chamārs [चमार] are cultivators with tenant right, and a number of them have obtained villages. In the northern Districts, however, the caste are as a rule miserably poor, and none of them own villages. A very few are tenants, and the vast majority despised and bullied helots. The condition of the leatherworking Chamārs [चमार] is described by Mr. Trench as lamentable.Chief among the causes of their ruin has been the recently established trade in raw hides. Formerly the bodies of all cattle dying within the precincts of the village necessarily became the property of the Chamārs [चमार], as the Hindu owners could not touch them without loss of caste. But since the rise of the cattle-slaughtering industry the cultivator has put his religious scruples in his pocket, and sells his old and worn-out animals to the butchers for a respectable sum.

2 Monograph, p. 3.

“ For a mere walking skeleton of a cow or bullock from two to four rupees may be had for the asking, and so long as he does not actually see or stipulate for the slaughter of the sacred animal, the cultivator’s scruples remain dormant. No one laments this lapse from orthodoxy more sincerely than the outcaste Chamār [चमार]. His situation may be compared with that of the Cornish pilchard-fishers, for whom the growing laxity on the part of continental Roman Catholic countries in the observance of Lent is already more than an omen of coming disaster.” 1

1 Monograph on Leather Industries, p. 5.

11. The tanning process.

Abb.: Chamārs [चमार] tanning and working in leather

When a hide is to be cured the inside is first cleaned with the rāmpi [रांपी], a chisel-like implement with a short-'blade four inches broad and a thick short handle. It is then soaked in a mixture of water and lime for ten or twelve days, and at intervals scraped clean of flesh and hair with the rāmpi [रांपी].

“The skill of a good tanner appears in the absence of superfluous inner skin, fat or flesh, remaining to be removed after the hide is finally taken out of the lime-pit. Next the hard berries of the ghont (Zizyphus xylopera [Ziziphus xylopyra]) tree are poured into a large earthen vessel sunk in the ground, and water added till the mixture is so thick as to become barely liquid. In this the folded hide is dipped three or four times a day, undergoing meanwhile a vigorous rubbing and kneading. The average duration of this process is eight days, and it is followed by what is according to European ideas the real tanning. Using as thread the roots of the ubiquitous palās [पलाश] (Butea frondosa [Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub.]) tree, the Chamār [चमार] sews the hide up into a mussack-shaped bag open at the neck. The sewing is admirably executed, and when drawn tight the seams are nearly, but purposely not quite, water-tight. The hide is then hung on low stout scaffolding over a pit and filled with a decoction of the dried and semi-powdered leaves of the dhaura (Anogeissus latifolia) tree mixed with water. As the decoction trickles slowly through the seams below, more is poured on from above, and from time to time the position of the hide is reversed in such a way that the tanning permeates each part in turn. Sometimes only one reversal of the hide takes place half-way through the process, which occupies as a rule some eight days. But energetic Chamārs [चमार] continually turn and refill the skin until satisfied that it is thoroughly saturated with the tanning. After a washing in clean water the hide is now considered to be tanned.” 1

1 The above is an abridgment of description in Mr. Trench's Monograph to which reference may be made for the further details,

12. Shoes.

Abb.: Chamārs [चमार] cutting leather and making shoes.

In return for receiving the hides of the village cattle the  Chamār [चमार] had to supply the village proprietor and his family with a pair of shoes each free of payment once a year, and sometimes also the village accountant and watchman ; but the cultivators had usually to pay for them, though nowadays they also often insist on shoes in exchange for their hides. Shoes are usually worn in the wheat and cotton growing areas, but are less common in the rice country, where they would continually stick in the mud of the fields. The Saugor [सागर] or Bundelkhandi [बुंदेलखंडी] shoe is a striking specimen of footgear. The sole is formed of as many as three layers of stout hide, and may be nearly an inch thick. The uppers in a typical shoe are of black soft leather, inlaid with a simple pattern in silver thread. These are covered by flaps of stamped yellow goat-skin cut in triangular and half-moon patterns, the interstices between the flaps being filled with red cloth. The heel-piece is continued more than half-way up the calf behind. The toe is pointed, curled tightly over backwards and surmounted by a brass knob. The high frontal shield protects the instep from mud and spear-grass, and the heel-piece ensures the retention of the shoe in the deepest quagmire. Such shoes cost one or two rupees a pair.2 In the rice Districts sandals are often worn on the road, and laid aside when the cultivator enters his fields. Women go bare-footed as a rule, but sometimes have sandals. Up till recently only prostitutes wore shoes in public, and no respectable woman would dare to do so. In towns boots and shoes made in the English fashion at Cawnpore [कानपुर] and other centres have now been generally adopted, and with these socks are worn. The Mochis [मोची] and Jīngars [जीनगर], who are offshoots from the Chamār [चमार] caste, have adopted the distinctive occupations of making shoes and horse furniture with prepared leather, and no longer cure hides. They have

2 Monograph on the Leather Industries, pp. 10, 11.

13. Other articles made of leather.

Other articles made of leather are the thongs and nose-strings for bullocks, the buckets for irrigation wells, rude country saddlery, and mussacks and pakhāls for carrying water. These last are simply hides sewn into a bag and provided with an orifice. To make a pair of bellows a goat-skin is taken with all four legs attached, and wetted and filled with sand. It is then dried in the sun, the sand shaken out, the sticks fitted at the hind-quarters for blowing, and the pair of bellows is complete.

14. Customs connected with shoes.

The shoe, as everybody in India knows, is a symbol of the greatest degradation and impurity. This is partly on account of its manufacture from the impure leather or hide, and also perhaps because it is worn and trodden under foot. All the hides of tame animals are polluted and impure, but those of certain wild animals, such as the deer and tiger, are not so, being on the contrary to some extent sacred. This last feeling may be due to the fact that the old anchorites of the forests were accustomed to cover themselves with the skins of wild animals, and to use them for sitting and kneeling to pray. A Bairāgi [बैरागी] or Vaishnava [वैष्णव] religious mendicant much likes to carry a tiger-skin on his body if he can afford one ; and a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] will have the skin of a black-buck spread in the room where he performs his devotions. Possibly the sin involved in killing tame animals has been partly responsible for the impurity attaching to their hides, to the obtaining of which the death of the animal must be a preliminary. Every Hindu removes his shoes before entering a house, though with the adoption of English boots a breach is being made in this custom. So far as the houses of Europeans are concerned, the retention of shoes is not, as might be imagined, of recent origin, but was noticed by Buchanan a hundred years ago:

“Men of rank and their attendants continue to wear their shoes loose for the purpose of throwing them off whenever they enter a room, which they still continue to do everywhere except in the houses of Europeans, in which all natives of rank now imitate our example.”

In this connection it must be remembered that a Hindu house is always sacred as the shrine of the household god, and shoes are removed before stepping across the threshold on to the hallowed ground. This consideration does not apply to European houses, and affords ground for dispensing with the removal of laced shoes and boots.

To be beaten or sometimes even touched with a shoe by a man of low caste entails temporary social excommunication to most Hindus, and must be expiated by a formal purification and caste feast. The outcaste Mahārs [महार] punish a member of their community in the same manner even if somebody should throw a shoe on to the roof of his house, and the Pharasaical absurdities of the caste system surely find their culminating point in this rule. Similarly if a man touches his shoe with his hand and says ‘I have beaten you,’ to a member of any of the lower castes in Seoni [सिवनी], the person so addressed is considered as temporarily out of caste. If he then immediately goes and informs his caste-fellows he is reinstated with a nominal fine of grain worth one or two pice. But if he goes back to his house and takes food, and the incident is subsequently discovered, a penalty of a goat is levied. A curious exception recognised is that of the Sirkāri jūta [सरकारी जूता], or shoe belonging to a Government servant, and to be beaten with this shoe does not entail social punishment.

15.The Chamār [चमार] as general village drudge.

In return for his perquisite of the hides of cattle the Chamār [चमार] has to act as the general village drudge in the northern Districts and is always selected for the performance village of bigār or forced labour. When a Government officer visits the village the Chamār [चमार] must look after him, fetch what grass or fuel he requires, and accompany him as far as the next village to point out the road. He is also the bearer of official letters and messages sent to the village. The special Chamār [चमार] on whom these duties are imposed usually receives a plot of land rent-free from the village proprietor. Another of the functions of the Chamār [चमार] is the castration of the young bullocks, which task the cultivators will not do for themselves. His method is most primitive, the scrotum being held in a cleft bamboo or a pair of iron pincers, while the testicles are bruised and rubbed to pulp with a stone. The animal remains ill for a week or a fortnight and is not worked for two months, but the operation is rarely or never fatal. In the northern Districts the Chamārs [चमार] are said to be very strong and to make the best farm-servants and coolies for earthwork. It is a proverb that ‘The Chamār [चमार] has half a rib more than other men.’ Notwithstanding his strength, however, he is a great coward, this characteristic having probably been acquired through centuries of oppression. Many Chamār [चमार] women act as midwives. In Raipur [रायपुर] the cultivators give her five annas at the birth of a boy and four annas for a girl, while well-to-do people pay a rupee. When the first child of a rich man is born, the midwife, barber and washerman go round to all his friends and relations to announce the event and obtain presents. It is a regular function of the Chamārs [चमार] to remove the carcases of dead cattle, which they eat without regard to the disease from which the animal may have died. But a Chamār [चमार] will not touch the corpse of a pony, camel, cat, dog, squirrel or monkey, and to remove the bodies of such animals a Mehtar [मेहतर] (sweeper) or a Gond [गोंड] must be requisitioned. In Raipur [रायपुर] it is said that the Chamārs [चमार] will eat only the flesh of four-legged animals, avoiding presumably birds and fish. When acting as a porter the Chamār [चमार] usually carries a load on his head, whereas the Kahār [कहार] bears it on his shoulders, and this distinction is proverbial. In Raipur [रायपुर] the Chamārs [चमार] have become retail cattle-dealers and are known as Kochias. They purchase cattle at the large central markets of Baloda [बलोडा] and Bamnidih and retail them at the small village bazars. It is said that this trade could, only flourish in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़], where the cultivators are too lazy to go and buy their cattle for themselves. Many Chamārs [चमार] have emigrated from Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] to the Assam [অসম] tea-gardens, and others have gone to Calcutta [কলকাতা] and to the railway workshops at Kharagpur [খড়্গপুর] and Chakardharpur [चक्रधरपुर]. Many of them work as porters on the railway. It is probable that their taste for emigration is due to the resentment felt at their despised position in Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़].

16. Social status.

The Chamār [चमार] ranks at the very bottom of the social scale, and contact with his person is considered to be a defilement to high-caste Hindus. He cannot draw water from the common well and usually lives in a hamlet somewhat removed from the main village. But in several localities the rule is not so strict, and in Saugor [सागर] a Chamār [चमार] may go into all parts of the house except the cooking and eating rooms. This is almost necessary when lie is so commonly employed as a farm-servant. Here the village barber will shave Chamārs [चमार] and the washerman will wash their clothes. And the Chamār [चमार] himself will not touch the corpse of a horse, a dog or any animal whose feet are uncloven ; and he will not kill a cow though he eats its flesh. It is stated indeed that a Chamār [चमार] who once killed a calf accidentally had to go to the Ganges [गंगा] to purify himself. The crime of cattle-poisoning is thus rare in Saugor [सागर] and the other northern Districts, but in the east of the Provinces it is a common practice of the Chamārs [चमार]. As is usual with the low castes, many Chamārs [चमार] are in some repute as Gunias [गुणिया] or sorcerers, and in this capacity they are frequently invited to enter the houses of Hindus to heal persons possessed of evil spirits. When children fall ill one of them is called in and he waves a branch of the nīm (Melia indica [Azadirachta indica A. Juss.]) tree over the child and taking ashes in his hand blows them at it ; he is also consulted for hysterical women. When a Chamār [चमार] has had something stolen and wishes to detect the thief, he takes the wooden-handled needle used for stitching leather and sticks the spike into the sole of a shoe. Then two persons standing in the relation of maternal uncle and nephew hold the needle and shoe up by placing their forefingers under the wooden handle. The names of all suspected persons are pronounced, and he at whose name the shoe turns on the needle is taken to be the thief.

The caste do not employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] for their ceremonies, but consult them for the selection of auspicious days, as this business can be performed by the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] at home and he need not enter the Chamār’s [चमार] house. But poor and despised as the Chamārs [चमार] are they have a pride of their own. When the Dohar and Marātha [मराठा] Chamārs [चमार] sell shoes to a Mahār [महार] they will only allow him to try on one of them and not both, and this, too, he must do in a sitting posture, as an indication of humility. The Harale or Marātha [मराठा] Chamārs [चमार] of Berār do not eat beef nor work with untanned leather, and they will not work for the lowest castes, as Mahārs [महार], Māngs, Basors and Kolis [कोली]. If one of these buys a pair of shoes from the Chamār [चमार] the seller asks no indiscreet questions ; but he will not mend the pair as he would for a man of higher caste. The Satnāmis [सतनामी] of Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] have openly revolted against the degraded position to which they are relegated by Hinduism and are at permanent feud with the Hindus ; some of them have even adopted the sacred thread. But this interesting movement is separately discussed in the article on Satnāmi [सतनामी].

17. Character.

In Chhattisgarh [छत्तीसगढ़] the Chamārs [चमार] are the most criminal class of the population, and have made a regular practice of poisoning cattle with arsenic in order to obtain the hides and flesh. They either mix the poison with mahua [
महुआ, Madhuca longifolia (J.Konig) J.F.Macbr.] flowers strewn on the grazing-ground, or make it into a ball with butter and insert it into the anus of the animal when the herdsman is absent. They also commit cattle-theft and frequently appear at the whipping-post before the court-house. The estimation in which they are held by their neighbours is reflected in the proverb, ‘ Hemp, rice and a Chamār [चमार] ; the more they are pounded the better they are.’

“The caste,” Mr. Trench writes, “are illiterate to a man, and their intellectual development is reflected in their style of living. A visit to a hamlet of tanning Chamārs [चमार] induces doubt as to whence the appalling smells of the place proceed—from the hides or from the tanners. Were this squalor invariably, as it is occasionally, accompanied by a sufficiency of the necessaries of life, victuals and clothing, the Chamār [चमार] would not be badly off, but the truth is that in the northern Districts at all events the Chamār [चमार], except in years of good harvest, does not get enough to eat. This fact is sufficiently indicated by a glance at the perquisites of the village Chamār [चमार], who is almost invariably the shoemaker and leather-worker for his little community. In one District the undigested grain left by the gorged bullocks on the threshing-floor is his portion, and a portion for which he will sometimes fight. Everywhere he is a carrion-eater, paying little or no regard to the disease from which the animal may have died.”

The custom above mentioned of washing grain from the dung of cattle is not so repugnant to the Hindus, owing to the sacred character of the cow, as it is to us. It is even sometimes considered holy food :—

“The zamindar of Idar [ઇડર], who is named Naron Dās, lives with such austerity that his only food is grain which has passed through oxen and has been separated from their dung ; and this kind of aliment the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] consider pure in the highest degree.” 1

1 Rasmala, i. 395, quoting from the Ain-i-Akbari.

Old-fashioned cultivators do not muzzle the bullocks treading out the corn, and the animals eat it the whole time, so that much passes through their bodies undigested. The Chamār [चमार] will make several maunds (80 lbs.) of grain in this way, and to a cultivator who does not muzzle his bullocks he will give a pair of shoes and a plough-rein and yoke-string. Another duty of the Chamār [चमार] is to look after the banda [बंदा] or large underground masonry chamber in which grain is kept. After the grain has been stored, a conical roof is built and plastered over with mud to keep out water. The Chamār [चमार] looks after the repairs of the mud plaster and in return receives a small quantity of grain, which usually goes bad on the floor of the store-chamber. They prepare the threshing-floors for the cultivators, making the surface of the soil level and beating it down to a smooth and hard surface. In return for this they receive the grain mixed with earth which remains on the threshing-floor after the crop is removed.

Like all other village artisans the Chamār [चमार] is considered by the cultivators to be faithless and dilatory in his dealings with them ; and they vent their spleen in sayings such as the following :—

“The Kori [कोरी], the Chamār [चमार] and the Ahīr [अहीर], these are the three biggest liars that ever were known. For if you ask the Chamār [चमार] whether he has mended your shoes he says, ‘I am at the last stitch,’ when he has not begun them ; if you ask the Ahīr [अहीर] whether he has brought back your cow from the jungle he says, ‘It has come, it has come,’ without knowing or caring whether it has come or not ; and if you ask the Kori [कोरी] whether he has made your cloth he says, ‘It is on the loom,’ when he has not so much as bought the thread.”

Another proverb conveying the same sense is, 'The Mochi’s [मोची] to-morrow never comes.’ But no doubt the uncertainty and delay in payment account for much of this conduct."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 403 - 423]

Chamār [चमार] (NW Provinves und Oudh)

"Chamār [चमार].1The caste of curriers, tanners, and day-labourers found throughout Upper India. Their name is derived from the Sanskrit charma-kāra [चर्मकार], a “worker in leather.’' Traditionally the Chamār [चमार] is the offspring of a Chandāla [चण्डाल] woman by a man of the fisherman caste. The Kārāvara of Manu [मनु],2 “ who cuts leather," is descended from a Nishāda [निषाद] father and Vaideha [वैदेह] mother. The Nishāda [निषाद], again, is said to be the child of a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] and a Sūdra [शूद्र] woman, and the Vaideha [वैदेह] of a Vaisya [वैश्य] father and a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] mother.

1 Principally based on enquiries at Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] ; an elaborate note by Bābu Vindhyeswari Prasād, Deputy Collector, Ballia [बल्लिया], and notes by the Deputy Inspectors of Schools, Agra [आगरा], Bareilly [बरेली], Budāun [बदायूँ], Bijnor [बिजनौर] ; Pandit [पंडित] Rāmavatār Pānrē, Karwi [कार्वी], and the Deputy Commissioner, Sultānpur [सुल्तानपुर].
Institutes, X, 36.

On this Mr. Sherring3 remarks :—

3 Hindu Tribes and Castes, I, 392.

“If the workers in leather of the present day are lineal descendants of the workers in leather in Manu [मनु]’s time, the Chamārs [चमार] may fairly consider themselves as of no mean degree and may hold up their heads boldly in the presence of the higher castes.”

Mr. Sherring appears to have been impressed with the high-bred appearance of some Chamārs [चमार]. This may, perhaps, be to some extent accounted for by liaisons with some of the higher castes; but most observers will agree that Mr. Risley4 is right in his opinion, that

4 Tribes and Castes, I, 176.

“the average Chamār [चमार] is hardly distinguishable in point of features, stature, or complexion from the members of those non-Aryan races from whose ranks we should prima facie expect the profession of leather-dressers to be recruited.”

Mr. Nesfield believes the Chamār [चमार] to have sprung out of several different tribes, like the Dom [डोम], Kanjar [कंजर], Hābūra, Chero, etc., the last remains of which are still outside the pale of Hindu society.

“Originally he seems to have been an impressed labourer (begār [बेगार]) who was made to hold the plough for his master, and received in return space to build his mud hut near the village, a fixed allowance of grain for every working day, the free use of wood and grass on the village lands, and the skins and bodies of the animals that died. This is very much the status of the Chamār [चमार] at the present day. He is still the field slave, the grass-cutter, and the carrion-eater of the Indian village.”

But it is, perhaps at present, until the existing evidence from anthropometry is largely increased, premature to express a decided opinion of their origin further than this, that the tribe is in all probability occupational, and largely recruited from non-Aryan elements. Among all the Indo-Aryan races the use of hides for clothing prevailed in primitive times. The Vishnu [विष्णु] Purāna [विष्णुपुराण] (II, 21) enjoins all who wish to protect their persons never to be without leather shoes ; and Manu [मनु] [IV, 66] warns the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] never to use shoes that have been worn by another. In the Rāmāyana [रामायण] Bharata [भरत] places on the vacant throne of Ajudhya [अयोध्या] a pair of Rāma's [राम] slippers, and worships them during his exile. The Charmae of Pliny’s list have been identified with the inhabitants of Charma Mandala, a district of the West, mentioned in the Mahābhārat [महाभारत], and also in the Vishnu [विष्णु] Purāna [विष्णुपुराण] under the title of Charma- Khanda.

2. Traditions of origin.

One curious legend of the origin of the tribe has been referred to in connection with the Agarwala Banyas [अग्रवाला बनिया] : — Once upon a time a certain Rāja [राजा] had two daughters, Chamu and Bamu. These married, and each gave birth to a son who was a prodigy of strength (pahlwān [पहलवान]). An elephant happened to die in the Rāja’s [राजा] palace, and being unwilling that it should be cut up, he searched for a man strong enough to take it out whole and bury it. Chamu undertook and performed the task. Bamu pronounced him an outcast; so the Banyas [बनिया] are sprung from Bamu, and the Chamārs [चमार] from Chamu. Another legend tells how five Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] brothers were passing along together. They saw a carcass of a cow lying on the way. Pour of them turned aside ; but the fifth removed the dead body. His brethren excommunicated him, and since then it has been the business of his descendants to remove the carcasses of cattle. Another tradition makes them out to be the descendants of Nona [नोना] [नोना] or Lona [लोना] Chamārin [चमारिन], who is a deified witch much dreaded in the eastern part of the Province, Her legend tells how Dhanwantari [धन्वंतरी], the physician of the gods, was bitten by Takshaka [तक्षक], the king of the snakes, and knowing that death approached he ordered his son to cook and eat his body after his death, so that they might thereby inherit his skill in medicine. They accordingly cooked his body in a cauldron, and were about to eat it, when Takshaka [तक्षक] appeared to them in the form of a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण], and warned them against this act of cannibalism. So they let the cauldron float down the Ganges [गंगा], and as it floated down, Lona [लोन], the Chamārin [चमारिन], who was washing on the bank of the river, not knowing that the vessel contained human flesh, took it out and partook of the ghastly food. She at once obtained power to cure diseases, and especially snake-bite. One day all the women were transplanting rice, and it Was found that Lona [लोन], could do as much work as all her companions put together. So they watched her, and when she thought she was alone she stripped off all her clothes (nudity being an essential element in all magic), muttered some spells, and throwing the plants into the air they all settled down in their proper places. Finding she was observed she tried to escape, and as she ran the earth opened, and all the water of the rice fields followed her, and thus was formed the channel of the Loni river in the Unāo [उन्नाव] District.

3. Internal structure.

The Census Returns show eleven hundred and fifty-six subdivisions of Chamārs [चमार]  : of these the most important locally are—

  • Sahāranpur [सहारनपुर]—
    • Ajmar,
    • Baliyān [बलियान],
    • Dharaun,
    • Mochi [मोची],
    • Sagahiya,
    • Sirswāl.
  • Bulandshahr [बुलन्दशहर]—
    • Bharwariya,
    • Chandauliya [चंदौलिया] or Chandauriya,
    • Lālman.
  • Aligarh [अलीगढ़]—
    • Chandauliya [चंदौलिया],
    • Harphor,
    • Kathiyāra [कठियार],
    • Mochi [मोची],
    • Ojha [ओझा].
    Mathura [मथुरा]—
    • Chaurasiya [चौरसिया],
    • Kadam [कदम],
    • Tingar [टिंगर].
  • Mainpuri [मैनपुरी]—
    • Loniyān [लोनियान],
    • Pajhasiya,
    • Suji.
  • Etāwah [इटावा]—
    • Amrutiya [अमृतिया],
    • Bisaili [बिसैली] [बिसैली],
    • Nakchhikna.
  • Etah [एटा]—
    • Nagar [नगर],
    • Nunera [नुनेरा].
  • Bareilly [बरेली]—
    • Bardwāri [बरद्वारी],
    • Bhusiya [भुसिया],
    • Chandauliya [चंदौलिया],
    • Nona [नोना].
  • Bijnor [बिजनौर]—
    • Sakt.
  • Budāun [बदायूँ]—
    • Baharwār [बहरवार],
    • Chauhān [चौहान],
    • Kokapāsi,
    • Uriya [उरिया].
  • Morādābād [मुरादाबाद]—
    • Bhayār [भयार],
    • Rāmanandi [रामानंदी].
  • Cawnpur [कानपुर]—
    • Gangapāri [गंगापारी],
    • Rangiya [रंगिया].
  • Fatehpur [फ़तेहपुर]—
    • Desi [देशी],
    • Dhuman [धुमन],
    • Domar [दोमर],
    • Panwār [پنھوار],
    • Rangiya [रंगिया],
    • Turkatwa.
  • Bānda [बांदा]—
    • Barjatwa,
    • Dhaman [धामन],
    • Dhūndhiya,
    • Dhindhor,
    • Janwār [जनवार],
    • Rangiya [रंगिया],
    • Seth [सेठ],
    • Sorahiya,
    • Ujjain [उज्जैन].
  • Hamīrpur [हमीरपुर]—
    • Dhindhor,
    • Rangiya [रंगिया],
    • Umrē.
  • Allahābād [इलाहाबाद]—
    • Autarbedi,
    • Chand Rāē,
    • Ghatiya,
    • Kahār [कहार],
    • Turkiya [तुर्किया].
  • Lalitpur [ललितपुर]—
    • Bhadauriya [भडौरिया].
  • Benares [वाराणसी]—
    • Dhuriya.
  • Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर]—
    • Turkiya [तुर्किया].
  • Jaunpur [जौनपुर]—
    • Banaudhiya [बनौधिया],
    • Turkiya [तुर्किया].
  • Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर]—
    • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया].
  • Ballia [बल्लिया]—
    • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया].
  • Gorakhpur [गोरखपुर]—
    • Bamhaniya,
    • Belbhariya,
    • Birhariya,
    • Dakkhināha [दक्खिनाहा],
    • Desi [देशी],
    • Ghorcharha,
    • Ghosiya,
    • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया],
    • Mohahar,
    • Rājkumāri [राजकुमारी],
    • Sarwariya [सरवाडिया],
    • Siudas,
    • Tatwa [ततवा],
    • Uttarāha [उत्तराहा].
  • Basti [बस्ती]—
    • Birhariya,
    • Chhagoriya,
    • Chamarmangta,
    • Dakkhināha [दक्खिनाहा],
    • Desi [देशी],
    • Mohahar,
    • Sarwariya [सरवाडिया],
    • Tanbuna,
    • Uttarāha [उत्तराहा].
  • Azamgarh [आज़ामगढ़]—
    • Guāl [ग्वाल],
    • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया].
  • Lucknow [लखनऊ]—
    • Chauhān [चौहान],
    • Dusādh [दुसाध].
  • Unāo [उन्नाव]—
    • Chauhān [चौहान].
  • Rāē Bareli [रायबरेली]—
    • Chandel [चंदेल],
    • Dhaman [धामन],
    • Dhundhar,
    • Dhuriya,
    • Ghorcharha,
    • Gorait,
    • Harphor,
    • Khalkatiya,
    • Kulha,
    • Nona [नोना],
    • Tanbuna.
  • Sītapur [सीतापुर]—
    • Chauhān [चौहान],
    • Pachhwāhān.
  • Sultānpur [सुल्तानपुर]—
    • Banaudhiya [बनौधिया],
    • Dhaman [धामन],
    • Nona [नोना],
    • Tanbuna.
  • Partābgarh [प्रतापगढ़]—
    • Banaudhiya [बनौधिया],    
    • Chandel [चंदेल],
    • Dhaman [धामन],
    • Dhingariya,
    • Jogeya [जोगेया],
    • Nona [नोना],
    • Surahiya,
    • Tanbuna,
    • Turkiya [तुर्किया].
  • Bārabanki [बाराबंकी]—
    • Jogiya [जोगिया],
    • Pachhwāhān.

4. In the detailed lists we find the Chamārs [चमार] of the Province classified into sixteen main sub-castes.

  • Aharwār [अहारवार] (principally found in the Allahābād [इलाहाबाद] Division),
  • Chamār [चमार] (chiefly in Meerut [मेरठ]) ;
  • Chamkatiyas [चमकटिया] (mostly in Bareilly [बरेली]) ;
  • Dhusiyas [धुसिया] (in Meerut [मेरठ] and Benares [वाराणसी] );
  • Dohars [दोहर] (in Agra [आगरा], Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड], Allahābād [इलाहाबाद], Lucknow [लखनऊ]);
  • Golē [गोळे] (in Etāwah [इटावा]); 
  • Jaiswāras [जैसवार]] (strongest in Benares [वाराणसी], Allahābād [इलाहाबाद], Gorakhpur [गोरखपुर], and Faizābād [फ़ैज़ाबाद]) ;
  • Jatwas [जटवा / जाटव] (in Meerut [मेरठ], Agra [आगरा] and Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड]);
  • Koris [कोरी] (in Faizābād [फ़ैज़ाबाद], and Gorakhpur [गोरखपुर]);
  • Korchamras (in Lucknow [लखनऊ]);
  • Kurils [कुरील] (in Lucknow [लखनऊ] and Allahābād [इलाहाबाद]);
  • Nigoti [निगोती] (a small sub-caste chiefly in Mainpuri [मैनपुरी]) ; 
  • Patthargotis (in Agra [आगरा]) ;
  • Purabiyas (in Lucknow [लखनऊ] and Faizābād [फ़ैज़ाबाद]); 
  • Rāēdāsis (tolerably evenly distributed throughout the Province), and
  • Sakarwārs [साकरवार] (in Agra [आगरा] and Allahābād [इलाहाबाद]).

But there is hardly a District which does not possess, or pretend to possess, the sevenfold division which is so characteristic of castes of this social standing. 

Thus, in Ballia [बल्लिया], we find

  • Dhusiyas [धुसिया],
  • Jaiswāras [जैसवार],
  • Kanaujiyas [कन्नौजिया],
  • Jhojhiyas, 
  • Jatuas [जाटवा],
  • Chamartantos, and
  • Nonas [नोना];

in Agra [आगरा],

  • Mathuriya [मथुरिया],
  • Jadua, 
  • Domara,
  • Sakarwār [साकरवार],
  • Batariya,
  • Guliya, and
  • Chandauriya.

Some of these sub-castes are of local origin, some are occupational, and some take their name from their eponymous founder.


  • the Aharwār [अहारवार] are connected with the old town of Ahār [अहार], in the Bulandshahr [बुलन्दशहर] [बुलन्दशहर] District, or with the Ahār [अहार] tribe;
  • the Chamkatiyas [चमकटिया] take their name from their trade of cutting hides (chām kātna [चाम काटना]). This sub-caste claims to have produced the saints Rāē Dās [રૈદાસ - 15. Jhdt] and Lona Chamārin [लोना चमारिन].
  • The Jatua [जाटवा] or Jatiya [जाटिया] have, it is said, some unexplained connection with the tribe of Jāts [जाट].
  • The Kaiyān is also a sub-caste of the Bohras [वोहरा], and is said to be derived from their habit of always saying kahē , “ what ? ” “ when ? ”
  • The Jaiswāras [जैसवार] trace their origin to the old town of Jais [जइस], though some have a ridiculous story that it is a corruption of Jinswar [जिंसवार], in the sense that they are agriculturists and grow various crops (jins [जिंस]).
  • The Koli [कोली] or Kori [कोरी], a term usually applied to the Hindu weaver, as contrasted with the Julāha [جولاہا] or Muhammadan weaver, are connected by some with the Kols [कोल] ; by others with the Sanskrit Kaulika [कौलिक],  in the sense of ‘“ancestral” or a “weaver.” They say themselves that they take their name from their custom of wearing unbleached (kora [कोरा]) clothes.
  • The Jhusiya [झूसिया], and also perhaps the Dhusiyas [धुसिया], have traditions connecting them with the old town of Jhūsi [झूँसी], near Allahābād [इलाहाबाद].
  • There are again the Azamgarhiya [आजमगढिया] of Azamgarh [आज़ामगढ़];
  • the Jatlot of Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड], who like the Jatiya [जाटिया] say they are kinsfolk of the Jāts [जाट];
  • the Sakarwār [साकरवार] connect themselves with Fatehpur Sikri [फ़तेहपुर सीकरी];
  • in the Central Duāb [दोआब] are the Saksena [सक्सेना], who say they come from Sankisa [संकिसा], and
  • the Chanderiya [चन्देरिया] from Chanderi [चन्देरी].

In Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] we find

  • the Jaiswāra [जैसवार],
  • Jhusiya [झूसिया],
  • Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया],
  • Kurla,
  • Dusādhu [दुसाधु], kinsmen of the Dusādhs [दुसाध],
  • the Kori [कोरी],
  • the Mangta [मंगता] or “beggars,”
  • the Dolidhauwa or “palanquin carriers,”
  • the Azamgarhiya [आजमगढिया], and
  • the Banaudhiya [बनौधिया], who are residents of Banaudha [बनौधा],—a term which includes the western parts of Jaunpur [जौनपुर], Azamgarh [आज़ामगढ़] and Benares [वाराणसी] , and the south of Oudh [अवध].

To these Mr. Sherring adds :—

  • In Benares [वाराणसी] 
    • the Rangua [रंगवा] (rang [रंग], “ colour”) who are dyers ;
    • the Katua [काटवा] or “cutters,” (kātna [काटना]) of leather;
    • and the Tantua [तांतवा], who manufacture strips or strings of leather known as nt [तांत].

 According to the same authority some of these sub-castes are differentiated by function. Thus,

  • many of the Jaiswāra [जैसवार] are servants;
  • the Dhusiya [धुसिया] or Jhusiya [झूसिया], who trace their origin to Sayyidpur, in Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर], are shoe-makers and harness makers;
  • the Kori [कोरी], weavers, grooms, and field labourers;
  • the Kuril [कुरील], workers in leather;
  • and the Jatua [जाटवा] or Jatiya [जाटिया], labourers.
  • The Jaiswāras [जैसवार] will not carry burdens on their shoulders, but on their heads, and are liable to excommunication if they violate this rule. They supply most of our syces, and are liable to be expelled if they tie up a dog with a halter, which they worship. Any one who offends in this way is fined five rupees and a dinner to the brethren. 
  • The Mangatiyas [मंगतिया] or Mangtas [मंगता] live on alms, which they take only from the Jaiswārs [जइसवार].

In Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] they describe these functions somewhat differently. There

  • the Jaiswāras [जैसवार] make shoes and work as day labourers;
  • the Jhusiyas [झूसिया] are labourers and keep pigs, which is also the occupation of the Dusādhu [दुसाधु] ;
  • the Koris [कोरी] make shoes and weave cloth;
  • the Dolidhauwas carry palanquins,
  • the Azamgarhiyas [आजमगढिया] are menial servants of Europeans, and tend swine.
  • The Banaudhiyas [बनौधिया] tend swine and are day labourers.

There is again another local division of the Eastern Chamārs [चमार] into

  • Uttarāhas [उत्तराहा] or “ Northerners,” and
  • Dakkinaha [दक्खिनाहा] or “ Southerners,”

who live respectively north and south of the River Sarju [सरयू], and do not intermarry.

The Chandaur or Chandauriya, of the Central Duāb [दोआब], claim to be descended from Chānūra [चानूर], the famous wrestler of Kansa [कंस], who was killed by Krishna [कृष्ण].

5. Rules of exogamy.

These sub-castes are now all, or practically all, endogamous; but there seems reason for believing that this fissure into endogamous groups may be comparatively recent. Thus there seems no reason to doubt that in the east of the Province the Dhusiya [धुसिया] and Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया] intermarry. The rule of exogamy within the sub-caste seems to vary. Those who are more advanced say that marriage is prohibited within seven degrees in the descending line. Others say that they do not intermarry as long as any previous relationship between the parties is known or ascertainable. In Ballia [बल्लिया], a careful observer states that they do not many in a family from which their mother, grandmother, or great grandmother has come; nor do they marry in the family of their parent's sister. A man may marry two sisters, but not a daughter of a brother-in-law. The descendants of one common stock are called Dayād [दायाद], and among them marriage is prohibited. Besides, this occupation plays a very important part in marriage alliances: thus, those who remove manure or night-soil cannot intermarry with those who practise the cleanlier duty of horse-keeping. As a rule they marry locally within their own neighbourhood, if a suitable match can be so arranged. If a Chamār [चमार] entice away the wife of a clansman, in addition to the punishment inflicted by the tribal council, he is obliged to repay her marriage expenses. If a girl is detected in an intrigue with a caste-fellow, her parents are fined one and-a-quarter rupees, and in Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] the same is the punishment inflicted on a man who marries again while his first wife is alive. In fact, polygamy is discouraged unless the first wife be barren, when a second marriage will usually be sanctioned by the council. Among Chamārs [चमार] in particular it seems to be believed that rival wives do not get on together; and this sort of quarreling has the special name santya dāh—“the ill-will between the co-wives.” Other sayings to the same purport are Kāth ki sant bhi buri hoti hai, "—Even a co-wife of wood is an evil;” and when one wife is being carried to the burning ground, the other says :— Mor jiya na patiāve; sant ka pair hilta jāwe,—“I cannot believe that she is dead ; I am sure her legs are shaking still." In Ballia [बल्लिया] it is said that if a Chamār [चमार] marries a second time, the first wife usually leaves him, and that her desertion for this reason is recognised as according to tribal custom.

6. Tribal council.

Chamārs [चमार] have a particularly well organised and influential tribal council or panchāyat [पंचायत]. The head of every family is supposed to be a member of the panchāyat [पंचायत], and nearly every village has a headman (pradhān [प्रधान], jamadār [जमादार]). In large towns there is often more than one headman. In small matters the village council is competent to decide ; but for the settlement of weightier questions the councils of several villages assemble under their own headman, and then a general meeting is formed. Custom varies as to whether the headman is a permanent official or not. The most usual rule is that, if the son of the late headman is competent, he is generally appointed; if he be found guilty of misconduct, the headman is as liable as any of the members to fine and excommunication. The cases which come before the council may be classified as

  1. cases of illicit sexual relations or violation of tribal rules concerning food, etc. ,·
  2. matrimonial disputes ;
  3. petty quarrels, which would not come under the cognizance of a Court;
  4. disputes about small money transactions ,·
  5. cases in connection with Jajmāni [जजमानी] : this last is very common. 

Every Chamār [चमार] family has assigned to it a certain number of families of higher caste, which are known as its Jajmān [जजमान] (Sans. Yajamāna [यजमान]) : for which its members perform the duties of cutting the cord at births, playing the drum at marriages and other festive occasions, removing and disposing of the carcasses of dead cattle, and in return for these services they receive money fees, cooked food, and sometimes grain, flour, etc. In return they sometimes supply shoes at marriages, a certain number of shoes annually in proportion to the hides they receive, and also do repairs to leather articles, such as well buckets used in cultivation. These rights are very jealously watched, and any interference with the recognised constituents of a family is strongly resented and brought before the tribal council. These orders of the council in the way of fine or entertainment of the clansmen are enforced under penalty of excommunication, of which the most serious result is that, until the ban is removed, all marriage alliances with the family of the offender are barred, and if any one marries a member of such a family, he at once becomes liable to the same punishment as that which they are undergoing. Every council has a mace-bearer (chharidār [छडीदार]), who goes round and calls the members to the meetings, and he is allowed a small money fee for this service. The amount of fine varies from one to five rupees, and it is very seldom that the process of excommunication has to be used to enforce payment. If a person think fit to lay a charge before the council he has to pay a fee of one and-a-quarter rupees to the chairman, who will not take up the case until the fee is paid. This money, which to the east of the Province is known as nālbandi [नालबंदी] or lehri, is spent in purchasing spirits for the refreshment of the members.

7. Marriage.

Chamārs [चमार] show an increasing tendency to the adoption of infant marriage. The usual age to the east of the Province is between four and eight, and it is not uncommon in Ballia [बल्लिया] for little girls of three to be married. It is very seldom that a girl remains unmarried after the age of eight. There are no regular marriage brokers employed ; the negotiations are conducted by a member of the family who is known as agua. As among other Hindu castes marriage is looked upon as a sacrament, and not based on contract. It is complete and binding once the prescribed ceremonies are gone through, and its validity does not depend on the express or implied consent of the parties. But no marriage is carried out without the consent of all the relations, even those who are distant, and the descent and family connections of both bride and bridegroom are carefully enquired into before the engagement is made. In Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] the bride-price payable to her relations is two rupees and five sers [सेर] of coarse sugar. In Ballia [बल्लिया] they deny that there is a bride-price ,· but it is admitted that, if the parents of the bride are very poor, the father of the bridegroom may give as much as four rupees to defray the marriage expenses. As has been said, both bride and bridegroom are carefully examined as to whether they are free from any physical defect, and, as a general rule, if such be subsequently ascertained, it would not be a valid ground for annulling the marriage. If the husband become a lunatic after marriage, the wife in Ballia [बल्लिया] would not be entitled to leave him, provided his relations continued to support her; and in the same way the husband of a mad wife is held bound, to support her. Impotence or such mutilation as renders sexual intercourse impossible is valid grounds for dissolving the marriage. But, as a matter of fact, impotency, proved to the satisfaction of the council, is the only valid reason for a wife abandoning her husband. Divorce in the strict sense of the term is unknown ; but a husband may turn his wife out of the house for proved infidelity, while she cannot leave him even if he be unfaithful to her, provided he gives her food and clothes. A woman, whose expulsion has been recognised by the council, can remarry by the sagāi [सगाई] or karāo [कराव] form. The offspring of such informal marriages rank equally for purposes of inheritance with those of regularly-married virgin brides. As regards the offspring of illicit connections they follow" the caste and tribe of the father unless the mother was a Musalmān, or of some tribe lower than a Chamār [चमार] in the social scale. Such people are known by the name of Suratwāl [सुरतवाल] or Suratwāla [सुरतवाला]. When a Chamār [चमार] cakes a woman from a caste superior to his own, their children will be recognised as members of the caste; but if she be inferior to him, their children are considered illegitimate, and will not inherit. This is always the case when the woman is a Bhangi [भंगी], Dom [डोम], Dhobi [धोबी], Kūnchbandhua, or Musahar [मुसहर].

The child of a Chamār [चमार] at Ballia [बल्लिया] by a Dusādh [दुसाध] woman is known as Chamār Dusādha [चमार दुसाधा], and this is the only case in which a similar fusion of castes is known to have been recognised. The importance of such facts in connection with the problem of the origin of the mixed castes is obvious.

8. Widow-marriage and the levirate.

Widow marriage is, as has been said, fully recognised; but among Chamārs [चमार], who have, like those at Cawnpur [कानपुर], risen in the world, there seems a tendency to prohibit it. The levirate is recognised, but the widow can live only with the younger brother of her late husband. If the widow be young, and her younger brother-in-law of a suitable age, they usually arrange to live together; if this cannot be arranged, she usually marries some widower of the tribe by the sagāi [सगाई] or karāo [कराव] form. In this case the brother and father of her late husband have a right to the custody of the children of the first marriage : this rule is relaxed in the case of a baby, which accompanies its mother. In some cases the widow is allowed to take with her to her new home all the children of the first marriage. Any dispute as to matters of this sort is settled by the tribal council. If a widow marry an outsider she loses all claim to the estate of her first husband, and so do any children she takes with her to the house of her new husband.

In such cases the property passes to the brothers of her first husband. If, on the contrary, she marry her husband’s brother, she or her husband will inherit only if there was no male heir by the first marriage. At the same time, though Chamārs [चमार] are quite ready to lay down definite rules on this subject, the tribal custom does not appear to be quite settled, and when there are in the case of the levirate or widow-marriage two families, the matter is usually left to the council, who make a partition.

9. Birth ceremonies.

Among some branches of the tribe, as, for instance, at Sultānpur [सुल्तानपुर], when the first pregnancy of a wife is announced, a ceremony known as sathāi is performed, which consists of the distribution of cakes (pūri [पूरी]) to the clansmen at their houses. But as Chamārs [चमार] are particularly exposed to fear of witchcraft and diabolical agency generally, careful precautions are taken to guard the woman from evil. To the east of the Province promises of offerings are made to Vindhybāsini Devi [विंध्यवासिनी देवी] of Bindhāchal [विंध्याचल], Bānru Bīr, Birtiya [बिरतिया], and to the sainted dead of the family if they vouchsafe an easy delivery. Thorny branches of the bel [बेल] tree (Aegle marmelos) are hung at the door of the delivery room to intercept evil spirits, who are also scared away by the smoke from an old shoe, which is burnt for that purpose. The woman sits on her heels during accouchment, and is supported by her female relatives. She is attended by a woman of the caste for six or twelve days, which is the period for impurity. When it is announced that the child is a boy, the women sing the sohar [सोहर] or song of rejoicing. Much of this consists of the invocation of Māta [माता], the goddess of small-pox. After the cord is cut, if the child be a boy, the mother is bathed in warm water; if a girl, she gets a cold bath. After the mother and baby are bathed, she gets a meal consisting of molasses, turmeric, and oil, and after twelve hours she is given some halwa [हलवा] sweetmeat. Next day she gets her ordinary food. All through the period of impurity the singing of the sohar [सोहर] is repeated. At the door of the delivery room (sauri  [सौरी] ; Sans : sutaka [सूतक]) a fire is kept constantly burning, and into it some ajwain (lingnsticum ajowan [Trachyspermum ammi Sprague]) is occasionally thrown. At least for the first six days a light is kept constantly burning. On the night of the sixth day the women sit up all night and worship Shashti [शष्ठी] or Chhathi [ठी], the goddess of the sixth, with an offering of cakes made of barley-flour and rice boiled with sugar. These are presented in a leaf platter (danna), and then eaten by the members of the household. An iron cutting instrument is also kept near the mother and child during the period of pollution. If the child be a boy the father is expected to entertain his friends which is usually done on the twelfth day.

On that day the parents or brothers of the mother—if they can afford it—send her a coat and cap made of red cloth for the baby, and a yellow loin-cloth for the mother. This present is sometimes accompanied by a special sort of sweetmeat known as suthaura (sonth [सोंठ], dry ginger) made of sugar, ginger, and other spices ; sometimes with the suthaura is sent some caudle (achhwāni [अछवानी]). There is no distinct trace of the couvade, except that the husband has to take the first sup of the cleansing draught given to the mother, and that he does not shave for six days after his wife's delivery. There are no special ceremonies in connection with twins, but they are considered inauspicious. If during the pregnancy of a woman an eclipse happen to occur, she is made to sit quiet while it lasts with a stone pestle in her hand, and is not allowed to move or touch any cutting instrument. If she move, it is believed that her child will be deformed, and if she touch a cutting implement that it will be born mutilated. The child is named by the senior member of the family. On the fourth or fifth day after the mother rejoins her family, the child's head is shaved (mūnran [मूंडन]), and when about six months old, it is fed for the first time on grain (annprāsan [अन्नप्राशन]) ; it is at this time that it is usually named. At the age of five or seven its ears are bored (kanchhedan [कानचेदन]), and this constitutes the initiation : after this the child must conform to the rules of the tribe regarding food.

10. Adoption.

When it is proposed to adopt a boy, the clansmen are invited and in their presence the parents make over the boy to the adopter with these words,—

“You were my son by a deed of evil (pāp [पाप]); now you are the son of so-and-so by a virtuous act (dharm [धर्म]).”

As the boy is accepted, the members of the caste sprinkle rice over him, and the adopter gives a feast.

11. Betrothal.

The customs of betrothal vary somewhat in different places. Thus, in Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर], when a marriage is proposed, the bridegroom's father with his uncle and other near relations visit the bride. She is carefully examined to make sure that she has no physical defect, and, if approved, the boy's father gives her a rupee, and some coarse sugar is distributed. Then her father entertains the party. Nest follows the regular betrothal (barrekhi). This generally takes place at the village liquor shop, where the two fathers exchange platters (danna) full of liquor five times, and at the last turn the bride’s father puts a rupee into the cup of his relation-to-be. Liquor is served round, two-thirds of the cost of which is paid by the father of the boy, and one-third by the father of the girl. On this day the date of the wedding is fixed by the Pandit [पंडित]. In Ballia [बल्लिया], on the contrary, the parents and relations of the girl go to the boy’s house and present him with a rupee and loin-cloth. This is known as panpūja [पांवपूजा], or “ the worshipping of the feet ” of the bridegroom.

When these presents are received in the presence of the members of the caste the engagement is complete.

12. Marriage ritual.

Marriage is of two kinds—the shādi [शादी], charh, or charhana, which is the respectable form, and the dola [दोला]used by poor people. In Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर]r the wedding invitation is distributed by the father’s sister’s husband of the boy. The marriage pavilion (māuro) is then erected. In the Gangetic valley it consists of four bamboos; Chamārs [चमार] above the hills make it of nine poles of the siddh tree (Harduickia binata [Hardwickia binata Roxb.]) in obvious imitation of the Dravidian races by whom they are surrounded. On this day the Pandit [पंडित] ties round the wrist of the bride an amulet formed of mango leaves and thread. The next day is devoted to feeding the clansmen, and cakes of various kinds are offered to the sainted dead. Then follows the matmangara ceremony, which is done, as already described in the case of the Bhuiyas [भुइया]. Then as the procession starts, the bridegroom’s mother does the wave ceremony (parachhan [परछन]) to keep off evil spirits. With the same object the bride’s mother puts some lamp-black on the bride’s eyelids, and hangs a necklace of beads round her neck. At the same time, as an assertion or acknowledgment of maternity, she offers the girl her breast. The bridegroom’s father is expected to take with the procession five ankle rings (mathiya) for the bride. The marriage is then performed by making the pair revolve five times round the ploughbeam (haris [हरिस]), which is fixed in the centre of the pavilion. There also is erected a rough wooden representation of a flock of parrots (suga [सुग्गा]) sitting on a tree. When the marriage is over all present scramble for the wooden parrots; but the pole on which they were hung is carefully kept for a year. During the marriage, a special dance, known as the natna nāch [नटना नाच], is performed by members of the tribe, some of whom dress in women's clothes. Chamārs [चमार] can give no explanation of this practice, which may possibly be a symbolical ceremony done with the hope that the first child may be a boy, as the Argive brides used to wear false beards when they slept with their husbands. It is specially to be noticed that Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] are not employed in the marriage ceremony. The whole business is done by the uncle and brother-in-law (phūpha [फूफा]bahnoi [बहनोई]) of the bridegroom. Before they leave the pavilion a goat or ram is sacrificed to Paramesari Devi [परमेशरी देवी], and the flesh is cooked at the marriage feast. The marriage ends with a general carouse at the nearest liquor shop.

13. The dola [दोला] marriage is done in quite a different way. The following is the ritual at Ballia [बल्लिया]. The friends and relations are invited to attend at the bridegroom's house, and they are supplied with a meal known as kalewa [कलेवा], which ordinarily consists of rice and pulse or parched grain (satin) or wheat cakes. The men then proceed to the bride’s house and halt about a mile off to take refreshment. The boy’s father subscribes twelve pice and the others two pice each with which liquor is purchased. The sum given by the boy’s father is known as batsāri or nisāri [निसारी], and that contributed by his friends behri [बेहरी]. After drinking they go to the bride’s house, which they reach usually about sunset. There the guardian of the boy pays twenty-four pice, known as neg [नेग], to the father of the bride, who supplements it with sufficient to provide another drink for the party. Then they are all fed, and next morning they go away with the bride. The boy’s guardian presents two sheets (sāri [साड़ी]), one for the bride and one for her mother, and gives a couple of rupees to her father, who in return gives a loin cloth (dhoti [धोटी]) and a sort of handkerchief worn over the shoulder (kandhāwar [कंधावर]) to the boy, as well as a sheet for his mother. The barber, washerman and village watchman receive a present of two annas each on this occasion. Sometimes the owner of the village charges a rupee as marmachh or marwāna, (mānro, the nuptial shed), which is paid by the father of the bridegroom, and may perhaps be a survival of a commutation of the jus primae noctis, but is more probably one of the ordinary village dues levied from tenants by the landlord. This, however, is not invariably taken, and in return he usually supplies some wood, etc., for the wedding. The bride is supplied by her guardian with a sheet (sāri [साड़ी]), brass bracelets (māthi), and anklets (pairi [पैरी]), made of bell metal. Her brother or some other person as her representative accompanies her to the house of the bridegroom. It is a peculiar custom that on this occasion he always walks behind the bride. In the dola [दोला] form of marriage the bridegroomor his father very seldom goes to the house of the bride. The duty of escorting the bride home is left to some relation or clansman.

14. After the bride has arrived that very day or very soon after the date of the wedding (lagan [लगन]) is fixed. The family barber takes ten pieces of turmeric, of which he gives five to the bride and five to the bridegroom. With this he brings one and-a-quarter sers [सेर] of paddy, which he divides equally between them. The turmeric is ground into a paste, which is rubbed on the foreheads of the pair, and the paddy is parched and made into lawa for use in the ceremony of lawa parachhana [परछना]. This part of the ritual is called haldi [हल्दी] or haldidhān [हल्दीधान]The next day or a day after comes the ceremony of matkor or “the digging of the earth.'” This commences by the bridegroom’s mother worshipping a drum (dhol [ढोल]). If his mother be dead, this is done by his aunt or some other elderly female relation.

Turmeric and rice are ground into a paste (aipan). The woman smears her hand in this and applies it to the drum. This is known as thappa lagāna [ठप्पा लगाना]. A leaf of betel, a betel nut, and two pice are also placed on the drum, which are the perquisite of the owner. Five marks (tīka [टीका]) are then made on the drum with vermilion, and the women form a procession and go into a field, led by the drummer playing away vigorously. The senior woman then worships Dharti Māta [धरती माता] or Mother Earth, and digs five spadesful of earth, which are brought home and placed in the courtyard. In the middle of the yard are placed an earthen pot full of water with its top covered with a mango leaf and an earthen lid. Near it is a ploughbeam (haris [हरिस]) and a green bamboo fixed in the earth. The earthen pot is known as kalsa [कलसा]. In the evening there is a feast known as matkora. It may be noticed here that there are in all five marriage feasts—the haldidhān [हल्दीधान] and matkora already described and the byāh [ब्याह], marjād and kankan or bidāi [बिदाई]. From the commencement of the haldi [हल्दी] ceremony up to the end of the marriage ceremonies the women sing songs both morning and evening.

15.    The actual marriage always takes place at night. No Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] is called in, but the village Pandit [पंडित] is consulted as to the auspicious time, and he receives two pice for his trouble. For the marriage a square (chauk [चौक]) is marked out in the courtyard with barley-flour, and the bride and bridegroom are seated within it, the bridegroom on a stool (pīrha [पीढा]) or on a mat made of leaves (patal [पटल]). The service is done by some one in the caste who knows the ritual. He begins by the gotra uchchāra [गोत्र उच्चार] or recital of the names of the couple, their fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Then the marriage jar (kalsa [कलसा]is worshipped, and an offering of butter, rice, and barley is made to the fire which is lighted close beside the jar, and a similar offering is made to a fire which is lighted in the oratory (deokuri [देवकुडी]) sacred to the household god. The bride’s father then gives her away to the bridegroom (kanyādān [कन्यादान]). He accepts the gift and marks her forehead with a line of vermilion, which is the binding part of the ceremony. The ceremonies in the dola [दोला] and charhana marriage are practically identical, The only difference is that in the former the ceremony is performed at the house of the bridegroom ; in the latter at that of the bride.

16. Death ceremonies.

Those who have been initiated into the Siva  Nārāyani [शिवनारायणी] or Sri Nārāyani [श्रीनारायणी], Kabīrpanthi [कबीरपंथी] or Rāmanandi [रामानंदी] sects are buried, unless before death they have expressed a wish to be cremated. Their corpses are removed to the burial-ground on a gaily decorated bier without any marks of mourning and accompanied with shouts of Rām! Rām ! Sat hai [राम! राम! सत है]“The Lord is the Lord of Truth,” Ordinary Chamārs [चमार] are burnt in the usual way. Those who are poor only scorch the face of the corpse (mukhāg [मुखाग्नि]), The ashes, when the body is properly cremated, are thrown into some neighbouring stream. The chief mourner who has fired the pyre on the day after the cremation places outside the house an earthen pot full of milk and rice gruel (mānr [मांड]) with a pitcher of water for the use of the disembodied spirit. On the third day after death comes the tirātri  [तिरात्री] ceremony which consists of the offering of oblations and cakes of barley-flour (pinda [पिंड]) to the departed soul. On the tenth day (daswān [दसवां]), this ceremony is repeated, and the castemen are fed. On that day the person who fired the pyre (dasiha [?]) is purified by being shaved. On the eleventh the utensils and private property of the dead man are made over to his sister’s husband (bahnoi [बहनोई]), who acts as the officiant priest—perhaps a survival of the matriarchate. In some places, however, and particularly where Chamārs [चमार] are becoming rich and influential, the Mahābrāhman [महाब्राह्मण] offers the sacred balls (pinda [पिंड]). When the service is done by member of the tribe he says,—

Ār Ganga, pār Ganga ; Bihāri ka beta, Rāmbakhsh ka nāti, pinda det; Ganga Māi bujbnji det— 

“Ganges [गंगा] on this side, Ganges [गंगा] on that side; the son of Bihāri [बिहारी] (or whatever his name may be) the grandson of Rāmbakhsh [रामभक्ष] offers the cakes, but mother Ganges [गंगा] gives only bubbles in return."

Some plant a few stalks of grass near a tank as an abode for the spirit which wanders about until the funeral ceremonies are complete. On this water is poured daily for ten days. Some again give a tribal feast on the twelfth, some on the sixteenth day after death. On the anniversary of a death twelve balls are offered, and, if the family can afford it, the clansmen are fed. Some, again, after the usual balls and oblations during the fortnight (pitrapakshā [पितृपक्ष]) sacred to the dead, join in removing the corpse, and each of the five touches his mouth with a burning brand. By this procedure none of the five incurs any personal defilement.

17. Religion.

Chamārs [चमार] in the main conform to the popular type of village Hinduism. To the east of the Province all, except the richer and more advanced members of the caste, dispense with the services of Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], except in so far as they usually consult them about the marriage auspices. To the west their marriage ceremonies are performed under the guidance of the low Gurra [गुर्रा] or Chamarwa Brāhmans [चमरवा ब्राह्मण]. To the east, as they become rich and influential, they employ Sarwariya [सरवाडिया] or Kanaujiya [कन्नौजिया] Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] of a degraded type. To the west the mourners accompanying the corpse address the Creator in the words—

Tūhi hai; tain ne paida kiya, aur tain ne mār liya.

 “Thou art He ; Thou hast created and then destroyed.’’

In Rohilkhand [रोहिलखंड] their clan deities are Bhawāni [भवानी], Jagiswār [जगीश्वार] or “the lord of the world," Kāla Deo [कालदेव], Gaja Dewat [गजदेवत], Zāhir Pīr [ظاہر پیر], and Nagarsen [नगरसेन]. In Agra [आगरा] they call themselves of the Gorakhi [गोरखी] sect, and worship Devi [देवी], Chamara, and Kuānwāla [कुआंवाला], “he of the well." In Ballia [बल्लिया] they usually worship a deity whom they call Parameswar [परमेश्वर] or “the Supreme Being." The godling is supposed to dwell in a mound of earth erected in a room of the house. On the day of the Dasahra [दशहरा] festival seven wheaten cakes and some halwa [हलवा] are offered, and some cloves and cardamoms are ground up and mixed in water, which is poured on the ground. This is known as chhāk [छाक]. Sometimes the offering consists of a young pig and some spirits. When a person is absent from home, he does not erect any mound or oratory (deokur [देवकुड]) until he returns. In Mirzapur [मिर्ज़ापुर] they have a special deity known as Terha Deva [टेढा देवा] or “ the crooked one ; ” they also worship the Vindhyabasini Devi [विंध्यवासिनी देवी], of Bindhāchal [बिन्धाचल]; Bānru Bīr, a demon of whom they know nothing but the name; Sairi Devi [सायरी देवी], Birtiya, and the sainted dead (purkha log [पुरखा लोग]). All these deities are worshipped in times of trouble with the sacrifice of a young pig, the meat of which is eaten by the worshippers and with a libation of spirits. On the Pachainyān festival milk and parched grain are offered at the hole occupied by the domestic snake. Those who have no children fast and worship the sun godling, Sūraj Nārāyan [सूरज नारायण], in the hope of offspring. Dire and the moon are also occasionally worshipped. To the east their chief festivals are the snake feast at the Pachainyan ; the Kajari, which is a sort of saturnalia held in the rainy season, when women drink and the rules of modesty are held in abeyance; the Tīj [तीज], on which women fast for the welfare of their husbands and sons, and next day eat cakes (ri [पूरी]) the Phagua [फगुआ] or Holi [होली]. A second wife wears an image representing the deceased, known as sirajna, round the neck, and when she puts on fresh clothes or jewelry she touches them first with the image as a sign that they have been offered to the spirit of her predecessor. If this be not done, it is believed that the offended spirit of the first wife will bring disease or death.

18. Siunārāyani [शिवनारायणी] or Srinārāyani [श्रीनारायणी]

But the most remarkable form of worship is that of the the theistic, revivalist sect of the Srinārāyani [श्रीनारायणी] or Siunārāyani [शिवनारायणी] sect. The founder of this sect was Rāēdās [रैदास] or Ravidās [रविदास - 15. Jhdt.], who was a disciple of Rāmānand [रामानन्द - 14. Jhdt]. Curiously enough in the Dakkhin [दक्खिन] quite a different legend has been invented and the so-called Rohidās [रोहिदास] is said to have been born at Chambhargonda now Ahmadnagar [अहमदनगर], and is described as a contemporary of Kabīr [कबीर, 1440 - 1518] in the twelfth or thirteenth century. The Northern India legend, as recorded in the commentary of Priya Dās [प्रियदास] on the Bhaktmāla [भक्तमाला], tells how a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] disciple of Rāmānand [रामानन्द - 14. Jhdt] used daily to receive the necessary alms from the houses of five Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]. This was cooked by his preceptor, and offered to the Creator before being eaten. One day as it was raining and the houses of the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] were at a distance, the Brahmachāri [ब्रह्मचारी] accepted the supplies from a Banya [बनिया]. When Rāmānand [रामानन्द - 14. Jhdt] cooked it, the Divine Light refused to accept it, as it was unclean. The preceptor made enquiries and discovered that the Banya [बनिया] had money dealings with Chamārs [चमार] and that the food was hence defiled. Rāmānand [रामानन्द - 14. Jhdt], in his displeasure caused his disciple to be reborn in the womb of a Chamarin [चमारिण] ; and so it happened. When the infant was born, remembering its past life, it refused to suck from the breast of its mother because she was not initiated. Then a voice from Heaven spoke to Rāmānand [रामानन्द - 14. Jhdt] and warned him that the punishment he had inflicted on his disciple was disproportionate to his offence. He was directed to go to the hut of the Chamār [चमार] and initiate the whole family. He was compelled to obey this order. The child was named, by his parents Rāēdās [रैदास]. "When he reached the age of eighteen he began to worship a clay image of Rāma [राम] and Jānaki [जानकी]. This was displeasing to his father, who turned him out of doors. Rāēdās [रैदास] then set up business as a shoemaker and continued his mode of worship. He used to present all wandering ascetics with new shoes. One day a saint appeared before him and gave him the Philosopher's stone. Rāēdās [रैदास] took no notice of it; but the Saint touched his shoemaker's knife with it and turned it into gold. This had no effect on Rāēdās [रैदास], and the saint finally left the stone in the thatch of his hut. Returning some time after he found Rāēdās [रैदास] in poor circumstances, and learned to his surprise that he had not used the stone. The saint then promised that before morning five gold coins would appear in front of the divine image which Rāēdās [रैदास] worshipped. These he also refused to accept. But he was warned in a dream not to continue to despise wealth ; so he converted his shed into a magnificent temple and established regular worship. This enraged the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण], who appealed to the Rāja [राजा] in a Sanskrit verse which means—

“Where unholy things are worshipped and holy things are defiled, three things follow—Famine, Death, and Fear."

19. Rāēdās [रैदास] was summoned before the Rāja [राजा] and ordered to exhibit his miraculous powers. He replied that he could do only one miracle—that the Sālagrāma [शालीग्राम] or ammonite representing Vishnu [विष्णु] would at his word leave its place and come down on the palm of his hand. The Rāja [राजा] ordered the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] to perform a similar miracle. They failed and Rāēdās [रैदास] succeeded. This miracle so affected the Rāni Jhāli [राणी झाली], whom one version of the legend makes out to have been a Princess of Chithor [चित्तौड़], that she became initiated. On this the Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] refused to eat in the palace, on the ground that it had been defiled, and some raw grain was given them which they began to cook in the garden. But as they were eating they suddenly saw Rāēdās [रैदास] sitting and eating between two Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण]. So they fell at his feet, and then he cut his skin and showed them under it his Brahmanical cord; so he was proved to have been a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] in his former life.

20. The Grantha [ग्रंथा] or Scriptures of the sect are believed to have existed for eleven hundred and forty-five years, but to have been unintelligible until Sītala [शीतला], an inspired Sannyāsi [संन्यासी], translated them. The present recension is the work of the Rājput [राजपूत] Sivanārāyana [शिवनारायण], of Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर], who wrote it about 1735 A.D. The most important of these works are the Gurunyāsa [गुरुन्यास] and the Santa Virasa. The former is compiled from the Purānas [पुराण], and gives an account of the ten Avatāras [अवतार] of Vishnu [विष्णु] or Nārāyana [नारायण] in fourteen chapters, of which the first six treat of the author, of faith, of the punishment of sinners, of virtue, of a future state and of discipline. The latter is a treatise on moral sentiments. The opening fines are,—“The love of God and his knowledge are the only true understanding."

21.    Siunārāyanis [शिवनारायणी] have a meeting house known as Dhāmghar [धामघर], or “House of Paradise;"  Somaghar, or “ House of meeting," and Girja Ghar [गिरजाघर], or church, a word derived through the Portuguese igreja from the Greek ekklesia [ἐκκλησία]. It usually contains pictures of the Saints Gorakhnāth [गोरखनाथ], Rāēdās [रैदास], Kabīrdās [कबीरदास], Sūrdās [सूरदास], and others. The scriptures are kept rolled up in cloth on a table at the East. They are carefully watched and never given to any one but members of their own congregation. They meet here on Friday evenings, and any educated man among them reads and expounds passages from the Gurunyāsa [गुरुन्यास]. The only occasion when the Santavirāsa is read is at death , it is then recited from the moment of dissolution until the corpse is buried. They are not allowed to eat meat or drink spirits before going to the weekly service, but this is the only restriction. On the Basant Panchami [वसंत पंचमी], or fifth fight half of Māgh [माघ], a Halwāi [हलवाई] is called in, who cooks some halwa [हलवा] sweetmeat (which is known as manbhog [मनभोग], or “food of the mind") in a large boiler (karhāo). This is first offered to Siunārāyana [शिवनारायण] before the Scriptures of the sect, and until this is done no Chamār [चमार] is allowed to touch it. The explanation of this is that Siunārāyana [शिवनारायण] was a Chhatri [छत्री], and it would be defilement to him if any Chamār [चमार] touched it before dedication. An offering of the same kind is made to Guru [गुरु] Nānak [ਗੁਰੂ ਨਾਨਕ] by the Sikhs [ਸਿੱਖੀ].

22. The title Bhagat [भगत] which they take does not imply that they abstain from flesh and spirits, but they are monotheists (Sans : bhakta [भक्त], “devoted”). They say that their chief conventicle is at a place called Barsari, in the Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर] District, about which they repeat the verse,—

“As pās Chandrawār men, Ghāzipur Sarkār; Bindu nirauni karat sab Bāgh Rāē ke pās. ”    

“ In the neighbourhood of Chandrawār [चन्द्रवार], in the Ghāzipur [ग़ाज़ीपुर] District, all meet together and discuss the doctrine of Unity. This place is near the Rāē’s [रै] garden.”

23.    Persons of any caste may join the Siunārāyani [शिवनारायणी] sect. When a candidate wishes to affiliate himself, they first warn him of the difficulties before him and test him for a few days, when, if approved, he is directed to bring a present according to his means to the headman, known as Guru [गुरु] or Mahant [महंत. The candidate comes before the Guru [गुरु], who sits with the scriptures opposite him, and first makes a sacrifice by burning camphor and dason, or ten kinds of perfumes. These are thrown on fire, and the sweet savour which arises is their form of worship. Then some camphor is burnt before the scriptures and all present rub the smoke over their faces. The candidate then washes the big toe of the Guru [गुरु] and drinks the water (charanamrita [चरणामृत]). Next the Guru [गुरु] recites privately into his ear the formula (mantra [मन्त्र]of initiation, which is carefully concealed from outsiders. After this the initiate distributes sweets to the congregation. He is then considered Sant [सन्त] or initiate, and receives a small book which he is permitted to study, and which serves as a pass of admission to future meetings. If he loses it he has to appear at the nest Basant Panchami [वसंत पंचमी] meeting, and pay two and-a-half rupees for a new copy, as well as a fine of five rupees for his negligence. At these meetings there is music and singing, men and women sit apart, and after the Mahant [महंत] has finished his reading, he receives the contributions of the faithful. They are not allowed to drink in the Dhāmghar [धामघर], but they may smoke gānja [गाँजा], bhang [भांग], or tobacco there. They never practise exorcisms (ojhāi [ओझाई]), nor do they get into a state of religious frenzy and deliver oracles. As already stated the dead are buried with signs of rejoicing. Some camphor is burnt in the grave before the body is laid there, and then all present join in filling up the grave. All initiates, male and female, are buried in this way. Children and persons not initiated are interred without any ceremony. If the wife of an initiate die, her relatives can take away her body and cremate it. They marry like ordinary Chamārs [चमार], and get a Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] to fix a lucky time. A similar movement among the Chamārs [चमार] of Bilāspur [बिलासपुर], in the Central Provinces took place under Ghāsidās [घासीदास] between 1820 and 1830, and in Bikāner [बीकानेर] under Lālgir [लालगिर] about fifty years ago. Their sole worship is said to consist in calling on the invisible lord (Alakh, Alakh [अलख, अलख]).

24. Demonology.

The ordinary Chamār [चमार] believes that disease, death, and all troubles are due to demoniacal influence. When a person falls ill a sorcerer (Ojha [ओझा]) is called in, and he points out the particular evil spirit which is responsible for the mischief, and the appropriate sacrifice by means of which he can be appeased. In the same way barrenness in women is held to be due to her possession by some demon. A widow is very careful to worship the spirit of her deceased husband. In this case, as with a deceased wife, no image is used, but a piece of ground is plastered, and on it is placed a new loin cloth (dhoti [धोटी]) and a waist chain (kardhani [करधनी]). Sometimes a pig is sacrificed. The soul of a dead husband is called manushya deva [मनुष्यदेव] or “the man-god." Persons who die in any sudden or unusual way become malevolent spirits (bhūt [भूत]), and must be carefully propitiated. Their offering is a young pig and an oblation of spirits. Chickens are offered to Ghāzi Miyān [11. Jhdt.] [غازی سید سالار مسعود], goats to Devi [देवी], and pigs to the family godlings and evil spirits. These are offered at the house shrine, while offerings to godlings and saints are made at their temples or tombs. The regular feast in honour of the dead is the Mahālaya Amāwas [महालय अमावस्या], Pitrbisarjan [पितृविसर्जन], or Pitrasaunan. Among trees they respect the pīpal [पीपṣल - Ficus religiosa], tulasi [तुलसी - Ocimum tenuiflorum], and nīm [नीम]. The pīpal [पीपल - Ficus religiosa] is the abode of Vasudeva [वसुदेव], the tulasi [तुलसी - Ocimum tenuiflorum] of Lakshmi [लक्ष्मी], the nīm [नीम] of Sītala [शीतला]. Mother Ganges (Ganga māi  [गंगा माई]) is a special object of reverence. The favourite method oft propitiating evil spirits of those who have died by accident is to pour spirits near the place occupied by the Bhūt [भूत], and to light some gānja [गांजा] in a pipe-bowl. For ghosts of high caste persons, the proper offering is a fire sacrifice (hom [होम]). The ordinary malignant evil spirit is called bhūt [भूत] or Daitya [दैत्य]; that of a Muhammadan Shahīd Mard; the Jinn [جن] is higher and more powerful than these. To the Shahīd Mard and Jinn [جن] the sacrifice is not a pig but a fowl and flowers.

25. Social regulations.

The Chamār [चमार] from his occupation and origin ranks even below the non-Aryan tribes who have been quite recently adopted into Hinduism. He is considered impure because he eats beef, pork, and fowls, all abomination to the orthodox Hindu. He will eat cattle which die a natural death, and numerous cases have occurred where Chamārs [चमार] have poisoned cattle for the sake of the hides and flesh. He keeps herds of pigs, and the Chamrauti or Chamār [चमार] quarter in a Hindu village is generally a synonym for a place abounding in all kinds of abominable filth, where a clean living Hindu seldom, unless for urgent necessity, cares to intrude. One proverb describes a man setting up to be Gopāl [गोपाल], a respectable Krishna [कृष्ण] worshipper, while his pots and pans are as filthy as those of a Chamār [चमार] (Nem tem Gopāl aisan ; hānri charni Chamār aisan), and another says,—“The worthy are dying and the unworthy living because Chamārs [चमार] are drinking Ganges [गंगा] water"—Lajālu marē, dhithan jiyē; Ganga jal Chamārān piyē). This repugnance to him is increased by his eating the leavings of almost any caste except Dhobis [धोबी] and Doms [डोम], and by the pollution which attaches to his wife (Chamārin [चमारिन], Chamāin [चमाइन]), who acts as midwife and cuts the umbilical cord. But in spite of his degraded social position, the Chamār [चमार] is proud and punctilious and very conservative as regards the rights and privileges which he receives in the village community. Their women wear, at least in the east of the Province, no noserings; they have metal bangles (mathiya) on their wrists; arm ornaments (bāju [बाजू]and heavy bell-metal anklets (pairi [पैरी]). Chamārs [चमार] swear by Rāma [राम], the Guru [गुरु], the Ganges [गंगा], Mahādeva Bāba [महादेव बाबा], the shoemaker’s last (pharuhi [फरुही]), and their sons’ heads. They will not touch a Dom [डोम] or Dhobi [धोबी], nor the wife of a younger brother or nephew, nor will they call their wives by their names. Women eat after the men. They salute relatives and clansmen in the forms Rām ! Rām ! [राम! राम!] and pāēlagi.

26. Occupations.

The Chamār [चमार] practises a variety of occupations. His primary business is curing skins and shoemaking, and the latter business has developed what is really a separate caste, that of the Mochi [मोची] (Sans : mochika); in a village he provides all leathern articles used in husbandry, such as whips, thongs, well buckets, and the like. As a rule, he has a circle of constituents (jajmān [जजमान]) whose dead cattle he receives, and to whom he gives leather and a certain number of shoes in return. His wife has similarly a certain number of families to whom she acts as midwife and performs various menial services at marriages and festivals. The Chamār [चमार] himself is the general village drudge (begār [बेगार], pharait [फडैत]) runs messages, and does odd jobs, such as thatching when he is called Gharāmi, and the like. Sometimes he receives wages in cash or kind, but perhaps more generally an allowance of grain per plough belonging to the family he selves, or a patch of rent-free land. Another part of his duties is to beat drums and blow trumpets during a marriage or when cholera or other epidemic disease is being exorcised from the village. Large numbers of Chamārs [चमार] take to field labour, act as ploughmen, carters, grooms, or emigrate to towns, where they do various kinds of unskilled work. In Partābgarh [प्रतापगढ़] they are said to have usurped the business of carrying palanquins, the hereditary occupation of Kahārs [कहार]. The extension of the leather trade at Cawnpur [कानपुर] has made it a great Chamār [चमार] centre. Many of them have become wealthy and aim at a standard of social respectability much higher than their rural brethren, and some have begun even to seclude their women which every native does as soon as he commences to rise in the world.

27. The system of tanning pursued by the ordinary village Chamār [चमार] is of the most primitive kind. The skins are placed in a pit and covered with water, containing lime (chūna [चूना]) and impure carbonate of soda (sajji [सज्जी]) ; after ten days they are taken out and the hair removed with an iron scraper (khurpi [खुरपी]). They are again removed, sewn up in the form of a bag, which is again filled with the bark solution, and hang on a tree or stand. This process lasts five days, when the tanning is considered complete."

[Quelle: Crooke, William <1848-1923>: The tribes and castes of the North-western Provinces and Oudh. -- Calcutta : Office of the superintendent of government printing, 1896 - 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 2. -- S. 169 - 191]

Mochi [मोची], Muchi [मुची / [முச்சி], Jīngar [जीनगर], Jirayat, Jīldgar, Chitrakār [चित्रकार], Chitevari, Musabir (Central Provinces)

"Mochi [मोची], Muchi [मुची / [முச்சி], Jīngar [जीनगर], Jirayat, Jīldgar, Chitrakār [चित्रकार], Chitevari, Musabir1.—

1 This article is partly based on papers by Mr. Gopāl Parmanand, Deputy Inspector of Schools, Saugor, and Mr. Shamsuddīn, Sub-Inspector, City Police, Saugor.

1. General notice.

The occupational caste of saddlers and cobblers. In 1911 about 4000 Mochis [मोची] and 2000 Jīngars [जीनगर] were returned from the Central Provinces and Berār [बेरार], the former residing principally in the Hindustāni [हिंदुस्तानी / ہندوستانی] and the latter in the Marathi [मराठी]-speaking Districts. The name is derived from the Sanskrit mochika and the Hindustāni [हिंदुस्तानी / ہندوستانی] mojna, to fold, and the common name mojah [मोजा] for socks and stockings is from the same root (Platts). By origin the Mochis [मोची] are no doubt an offshoot of the Chamār [चमार] caste, but they now generally disclaim the connection. Mr. Nesfield observes 2 that,

2 Brief View.

“The industry of tanning is preparatory to and lower than that of cobblery, and hence the caste of Chamār [चमार] ranks decidedly below that of Mochi [मोची]. The ordinary Hindu does not consider the touch of a Mochi [मोची] so impure as that of the Chamār [चमार], and there is a Hindu proverb to the effect that ‘Dried or prepared hide is the same thing as cloth,’ whereas the touch of the raw hide before it has been tanned by the Chamār [चमार] is considered a pollution. The Mochi [मोची] does not eat carrion like the Chamār [चमार], nor does he cat swine’s flesh ; nor does his wife ever practise the much-loathed art of midwifery.”

In the Central Provinces, as in northern India, the caste may be considered to have two branches, the lower one consisting of the Mochis [मोची] who make and cobble shoes and are admittedly descended from Chamārs [चमार] ; while the better-class men either make saddles and harness, when they are known as Jīngar [जीनगर] ; or bind books, when they are called Jīldgar ; or paint and make clay idols, when they are given the designation either of Chitrakār [चित्रकार], Chitevari or Murtikār [मूर्तिकार]. In Berār [बेरार] some Jīngars [जीनगर] have taken up the finer kinds of iron-work, such as mending guns, and are known as Jirayat. All these are at great pains to dissociate themselves from the Chamār [चमार] caste. They call themselves Thākur [ठाकुर] or Rājpūt [राजपूत] and have exogamous sections the names of which are identical with those of the Rājpūt [राजपूत] septs. The same people have assumed the name of Rishi [ঋষি] in Bengal [বঙ্গ], and, according to a story related by Sir H. Risley, claim to be debased Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] ; while in the United Provinces Mr. Crooke considers them to be connected with the Srivāstab Kāyasths [श्रीवास्तव कायस्थ], with whom they intermarry and agree in manners and customs. The fact that in the three Provinces these workers in leather claim descent from three separate high castes is an interesting instance of the trouble which the lower-class Hindus will take to obtain a slight increase in social consideration ; but the very diversity of the accounts given induces the belief that all Mochis [मोची] were originally sprung from the Chamārs [चमार]. In Bombay [मुंबई], again, Mr. Enthoven 1 writes that the caste prefers to style itself Arya Somavansi  Kshatriya [आर्य सोमवंशी क्षत्रिय] or Aryan Kshatriyas of the Moon division ; while they have all the regular Brāhmanical gotras [गोत्र] as Bharadwāja [भरद्वाज], Vasishtha [वसिष्ठ], Gautam [गौतम] and so on.

1 Bombay  Ethnographic Survey  Draft Monograph on Jīngar.

2. Legends of origin.

The following interesting legends as to the origin of the caste adduced by them in support of their Brāhmanical descent are related 2 by Sir H. Risley :

2 Tribes and Castes of Bengal , art. Mochi.

“ One of the Prajāpati [प्रजापति], or mind-born sons of Brahma [ब्रह्मा], was in the habit of providing the flesh of cows and clarified butter as a burnt-offering (Ahuti [आहुति]) to the gods. It was then the custom to eat a portion of the sacrifice, restore the victim to life, and drive it into the forest. On one occasion the Prajāpati [प्रजापति] failed to resuscitate the sacrificial animal, owing to his wife, who was pregnant at the time, having clandestinely made away with a portion. Alarmed at this he summoned all the other Prajāpatis [प्रजापति], and they sought by divination to discover the cause of the failure. At last they ascertained what had occurred, and as a punishment the wife was cursed and expelled from their society. The child which she bore was the first Mochi [मोची] or tanner, and from that time forth, mankind being deprived of the power of reanimating cattle slaughtered for food, the pious abandoned the practice of killing kine altogether. Another story is that Muchirām [मुचिराम], the ancestor of the caste, was born from the sweat of Brahma [ब्रह्मा] while dancing. He chanced to offend the irritable sage Durvāsa [दुर्वासा], who sent a pretty Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] widow to allure him into a breach of chastity. Muchirām [मुचिराम] accosted the widow as mother, and refused to have anything to do with her ; but Durvāsa [दुर्वासा] used the miraculous power he had acquired by penance to render the widow pregnant so that the innocent Muchirām [मुचिराम] was made an outcaste on suspicion. From her two sons are descended the two main branches of the caste in Bengal [বঙ্গ].”

3. Art among the Hindus.

In the Central Provinces the term Mochi [मोची] is often used for the whole caste in the northern Districts, and Jīngar [जीनगर] in the Marātha [मराठा] country ; while the Chitrakārs [चित्रकार] or painters form a separate group. Though the trades of cobbler and bookbinder are now widely separated in civilised countries, the connection between them is apparent since both work in leather. It is not at first sight clear why the painter should be of the same caste, but the reason is perhaps that his brushes are made of the hair of animals, and this is also regarded as impure, as being a part of the hide. If such be the case a senseless caste rule of ceremonial impurity has prevented the art of painting from being cultivated by the Hindus ; and the comparatively poor development of their music may perhaps be ascribed to the same cause, since the use of the sinews of animals for stringed instruments would also prevent the educated classes from learning to play them. Thus no stringed instruments are permitted to be used in temples, but only the gong, cymbal, horn and conch-shell. And this rule would greatly discourage the cultivation of music, which art, like all the others, has usually served in its early period as an appanage to religious services. It has been held that instruments were originally employed at temples and shrines in order to scare away evil spirits by their noise while the god was being fed or worshipped, and not for the purpose of calling the worshippers together ; since noise is a recognised means of driving away spirits, probably in consequence of its effect in frightening wild animals. It is for the same end that music is essential at weddings, especially during the night when the spirits are more potent ; and this is the primary object of the continuous discordant din which the Hindus consider a necessary accompaniment to a wedding.

Except for this ceremonial strictness Hinduism should have been favourable to the development of both painting and sculpture, as being a polytheistic religion. In the early stages of society religion and art are intimately connected, as is shown by the fact that images and paintings are at first nearly always of deities or sacred persons or animals, and it is only after a considerable period of development that secular subjects are treated. Similarly architecture is in its commencement found to be applied solely to sacred buildings, as temples and churches, and is only gradually diverted to secular buildings. The figures sculptured by the Mochis [मोची] are usually images for temples, and those who practise this art are called Murtikār [मूर्तिकार], from murti [मूर्ति], an image or idol ; and the pictures of the Chitrakārs [चित्रकार] were until recently all of deities or divine animals, though secular paintings may now occasionally be met with. And the uneducated believers in a polytheistic religion regularly take the image for the deity himself, at first scarcely conceiving of the one apart from the other. Thus some Bharewas [भरेवा] or brass-workers say that they dare not make metal images of the gods, because they are afraid that the badness of their handiwork might arouse the wrath of the gods and move them to take revenge.


4. Antagonism of Mochis [मोची] and Chamārs [चमार].


As a natural result of the pretensions to nobility made by the Mochis [मोची], there is no love lost between them and the Chamārs [चमार] ; and the latter allege that the Mochis [मोची] have stolen their rāmpi [रांपी], the knife with which they cut leather. On this account the Chamārs [चमार] will neither take water to drink from the Mochis [मोची] nor mend their shoes, and will not even permit them to try on a new pair of shoes until they have paid the price set on them ; for they say that the Mochis [मोची] are half-bred Chamārs [चमार] and therefore cannot be permitted to defile the shoes of a true Chamār [चमार] by trying them on ; but when they have been paid for, the maker has severed connection with them, and the use to which they may be put no longer affects him.

5. Exo-gamous groups.

In the Central Provinces the Mochis [मोची] are said to have forty exogamous sections or gotras [गोत्र], of which the bulk are named after all the well-known Rājpūt [राजपूत] clans, while two agree with those of the Chamārs [चमार]. And they have also an equal number of kheras [खेडा] or groups named after villages. The limits of the two groups seem to be identical ; thus members of the sept named after the Kachhwāha Rājpūts [
कछवाहा राजपूत] say that their khera [खेडा] or village name is Mungāvali in Gwālior [ग्वालियर] ; those of the Ghangere sept give Chanderi [चन्देरी] as their khera [खेडा], the Sitawat sept Dhāmoni in Saugor [सागर], the Didoria Chhatarpur [छतरपुर], the Narele Narwar [नरवर], and so on. The names of the village groups have now been generally forgotten and they are said to have no influence on marriage, which is regulated by the Rājpūt [राजपूत] sept names ; but it seems probable that the kheras [खेडा] were the original divisions and the Rājpūt [राजपूत] gotras [गोत्र] have been more recently adopted in support of the claims already noticed.

6. Social customs

The Mochis [मोची] have adopted the customs of the higher Hindu castes. A man may not take a wife from his own gotra [गोत्र], his mother’s gotra [गोत्र] or from a family into which a girl from his own family has married. They usually marry their daughters in childhood and employ Brāhmans [ब्राह्मण] in their ceremonies, and no degradation attaches to these latter for serving as their priests. In minor domestic ceremonies for which the Brāhman [ब्राह्मण] is not engaged his place is taken by a relative, who is called sawāsa, and is either the sister’s husband, daughter’s husband, or father’s sister’s husband, of the head of the family. They permit widow-remarriage and divorce, and in the southern Districts effect a divorce by laying a pestle between the wife and husband. They burn their dead and observe mourning for the usual period. After a death they will not again put on a coloured head-cloth until some relative sets it on their heads for the first time on the expiry of the period of mourning. They revere the ordinary Hindu deities, and like the Chamārs [चमार] they have a family god, known as Mair, whose representation in the shape of a lump of clay is enshrined within the house and worshipped at marriages and deaths. In Saugor [सागर] he is said to be the collective representative of the spirits of their ancestors. In some localities they eat flesh and drink liquor, but in others abstain from both. Among the Hindus the Mochis [मोची] rank considerably higher than the Chamārs [चमार] ; their touch does not defile and they are permitted to enter temples and take part in religious ceremonies. The name of a Saugor [सागर] Mochi [मोची] is remembered who became a good drawer and painter and was held in much esteem at the Peshwa’s court. In northern India about half the Mochis [मोची] are Muhammadans, but in the Central Provinces they are all Hindus.

7. Shoes.

In view of the fact that many of the Mochis [मोची] were Muhammadans and that slippers are mainly a Muhammadan article of attire Buchanan thought it probable that they were brought into India by the invaders, the Hindus having previously been content with sandals and wooden shoes. He wrote:

“Many Hindus now use leather slippers, but some adhere to the proper custom of wearing sandals, which have wooden soles, a strap of leather to pass over the instep, and a wooden or horn peg with a button on its top. The foot is passed through the strap and the peg is placed between two of the toes.”c

1 Eastern India, vol. iii. p. 105.

It is certain, however, that leather shoes and slippers were known to the Hindus from a fairly early period :

“The episode related in the Rāmāyana [रामायण] of Bhārata [भारत] placing on the vacant throne of Ajodhya [अयोध्य] a pair of Rāma’s [राम] slippers, which he worshipped during the latter’s protracted exile, shows that shoes were important articles of wear and worthy of attention. In Manu [मनु] and the Mahābhārata [महाभारत] slippers are also mentioned and the time and mode of putting them on pointed out. The Vishnu Purāna [विष्णुपुराण] enjoins all who wish to protect their persons never to be without leather shoes. Manu [मनु] in one place expresses great repugnance to stepping into another’s shoes and peremptorily forbids it, and the Purānas [पुराण] recommend the use of shoes when walking out of the house, particularly in thorny places and on hot sand.” 2

2 Rājendra Lāl Mitra, Indo-Aryans, vol. i. pp. 222, 223.

Thus shoes were certainly worn' by the Hindus before Muhammadan times, though loose slippers may have been brought into fashion by the latter. And it seems possible that the Mochis [मोची] may have adopted Islam, partly to obtain the patronage of the followers of the new religion, and also to escape from the degraded position to which their profession of leather-working was relegated by Hinduism and to dissociate themselves from the Chamārs [चमार]."

[Quelle: Russell, R. V. (Robert Vane) <1873-1915> ; Hīra Lāl <Rai Bahadur> [हीरालाल <राय बहादुर>] <1873 - 1923>: The tribes and castes of the Central Provinces of India. -- London: MacMillan, 1916. -- 4 Bde. : Ill. -- Bd. 4. -- S. 244 - 250] 

Mōchi [मोची] / Mucchi [முச்சி] (Marathi)

"Mucchi [முச்சி].The Mucchis [முச்சி] or Mōchis [मोची] are summed up, in the Madras Census Report, 1901, as being a Marāthi [मराठी] caste of painters and leather-workers. In the Mysore Census Report it is noted that

“to the leather-working caste may be added a small body of Mōchis [मोची], shoemakers and saddlers. They are immigrant Mahrātās [मराठा], who, it is said, came into Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] with Khasim Khān, the general of Aurangzib [1618 - 1707] [اورنگزیب]. They claim to be Kshatriyas [क्षत्रिय] and Rajputs [राजपुत] —pretensions which are not generally admitted. They are shoemakers and saddlers by trade, and are all Saivas [शैव] by faith.”

 “The Mucchi [முச்சி],” Mr. A. Chatterton writes, (Monograph of Tanning and Working in Leather, Madras, 1904) “is not a tanner, and as a leather-worker only engages in the higher branches of the trade. Some of them make shoes, but draw the line at sandals. A considerable number are engaged as menial servants in Government offices. Throughout the country, nearly every office has its own Mucchi [முச்சி], whose principal duty is to keep in order the supplies of stationery, and from raw materials manufacture ink, envelopes and covers, and generally make himself useful. A good many of the so-called Mucchis [முச்சி], however, do not belong to the caste, as very few have wandered south of Madras [மதராஸ்], and they are mostly to be found in Ganjam [ଗଞ୍ଜାମ] and the Ceded Districts.”

The duties of the office Mucchi [முச்சி] have further been summed up as

“ to mend pencils, prepare ink from powders, clean ink-bottles, stitch note-books, paste covers, rule forms, and affix stamps to covers and aid the despatch of tappals ” (postal correspondence).

In the Moochee’s Hand-book (G. D. lyah Pillay, Madras, 1878)  by the head Mucchi [முச்சி] in the office of the Inspector-General of Ordnance, and contractor for black ink powder, it is stated that

“the Rev. J. P. [Johann Peter] Rottler [1749 - 1836], in his Tamil [தமிழ்] and English dictionary, defines the word Mucchi [முச்சி] as signifying trunk-maker, stationer, painter. Mucchi's [முச்சி] work comprises the following duties :—

  • To make black, red, and blue writing ink, also ink of other colours as may seem requisite.
  • To mend quills, rule lines, make envelopes, mount or paste maps or plans on cloth with ribbon edges, pack parcels in wax-cloth, waterproof or common paper, seal letters, and open boxes or trunk parcels.
  • To take charge of boxes, issue stationery for current use, and supply petty articles.
  • To file printed forms, etc., and bind books.”

In the Fort St. George Gazette, 1906, applications were invited from persons who have passed the Matriculation examination of the Madras [மதராஸ்] University for the post of Mucchi [முச்சி] on Rs. 8 per mensem in the office of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

In the District Manuals, the various occupations of the Mucchis [முச்சி] are summed up as book-binding, working in leather, making saddles and trunks, painting, making toys, and pen-making. At the present day, Mucchis [முச்சி] (designers) are employed by piece-goods merchants in Madras [மதராஸ்] in devising and painting new patterns for despatch to Europe, where they are engraved on copper cylinders. When, as at the present day, the bazars of Southern India are flooded with imported piece-goods of British manufacture, it is curious to look back, and reflect that the term piece-goods was originally applied in trade to the Indian cotton fabrics exported to England.

The term Mucchi [முச்சி] is applied to two entirely different sets of people. In Mysore [ಮೈಸೂರು] and parts of the Ceded Districts, it refers to Marāthi [मराठी]-speaking workers in leather. But it is further applied to Telugu [తెలుగు]-speaking people, called Rāju, Jīnigara, or Chitrakāra [చిత్రకారుడు], who are mainly engaged in painting, making toys, etc., and not in leather-work. (See Rāchevar.)"

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 5. -- S. 82ff.]

Samagāra (Kannada, Marāthi)

"Samagāra.The Samagāras have been described (Manual of the South Canara district) as

“the principal class of leather-workers in the South Canara district. They are divided into two endogamous groups, the Canarese [ಕನ್ನಡ] Samagāras and the Ārya Samagāras. The latter speak Marāthi [मराठी]. Though the Samagāras are in the general estimation as low a caste as the Holeyas, and do not materially differ from them in their religious and other ceremonies and customs, they are, as a rule, of much fairer complexion, and the women are often very handsome. The tanning industry is chiefly carried on by the Samagāras, and their modus operands is as follows. The hides are soaked for a period of one month in large earthen vats containing water, to which chunam is added at the rate of two seers per hide. After the expiry of the above period, they are soaked in fresh water for three days, in view to the chunam being removed. They are then put into an earthen vessel filled with water and the leaves of Phyllanthus Emblica, in which they remain for twelve days. After this, they are removed and squeezed, and replaced in the same vessel, where they are allowed to remain for about a month, after which period they are again removed, washed and squeezed. They are then sewn up and stuffed with the bark of cashew, daddala, and neralē trees, and hung up for a day. After this, the stitching is removed, and the hides are washed and exposed to the sun to dry for a day, when they become fit for making sandals. Some of the hides rot in this process to such an extent as to become utterly unfit for use.”

The badge of the Ārē Samagāra at Conjeeveram [காஞ்சிபுரம] is said (Ind. Ant,, IV, 1875) to be the insignia of the Mōchis [मोची] (or Mucchis [முச்சி]), a boy’s kite."

[Quelle: Thurston, Edgar <1855-1935> ; Rangachari, K. (Kadambi) [கா. இரங்காச்சாரி] <1868 – 1934>: Castes and tribes of southern India / by Edgar Thurston ; assisted by K. Rangachari. -- Madras [மதராஸ்] : Govt. Press, 1909. -- 7 Bde. : Ill. ; 24 cm. -- Bd. 6. -- S. 279f.]