Special Memorandum of the Land System of the Munda Country (I)

By Father J. Hoffman and Mr. E. Lister
Introductory:
The social or political organization of all primitive or semi-savage races (Please note- these are not my words but word of authors named above) is so intimately interwoven with their religious beliefs that it is impossible fully to understand the former without some knowledge of the latter. Hence the references to this or that religious belief or practice in what they follow:
The Mundaris:
The Mundaris belong to the rather widely scattered aboriginal tribes who speak Kolarian languages. They are akin to the Sonthals (Santhal) of the Sonthal (Santhal) Parganas, the Hos or Larka Kols of Singhbhum, and some other numerically insignificant tribes, such as the Korwas, Azurs, Birhors, Birjas, Turis, etc. In the Ranchi district they number about 300,000 according to the Census of 1901, and are mainly found in the eastern and south-eastern thanas: but they are found too in the Northern parts of Singhbhum and in the South-west of Manbhum.
In their own language they call themselves Horoko (plural form of Horo-man), or Horo-honko (children of men), or Horo-Mundako. In Mundari, the word Munda, when used substantively, means a chief or headman; when used adjectively or as a verb, it means a rich, influential or to be rich. Whereas the Mundaris of the northern parts of Singhbhum adhere to the name Horoko, Horo-honko or Horo-Mundako, those in Manbhum are called Bhumij. That formerly the Mundaris occupied the whole of the Ranchi district and more is shown by the Mundari village names and the characteristically Kolarian tombstones which are found throughout the country.
In addition, in parts of Sarguja and of Palamau, as well as in the extreme west of Ranchi, the debris of Mundari settlements still survives in Uraon (Oraon) villages. Though these people no longer speak Mundari, they still call themselves either Mundas or Bhuinhars, and their customs and social separation from the Uraon show them to be real Mundaris. Moreover, the fact that the Uraons in and around Ranchi speak Mundari would naturally indicate that the Mundari element was at one time sufficiently strong to impose its own language on the alien immigrants. Again in many villages of Mandar Thana the village headman is even now called Munda, and not Mahto, as one would expect in these purely Uraon villages. Throughout nearly the whole district the Uraons keep as sacrifices (or Pahanrs) men of the Mundari race, because in their opinion the Mundaris alone know the particular local deities and how to propitiate them. By this practice the Uraons very plainly show that they entered into villages which had been already occupied by the Mundaris and were under the protection of the local Mundari deities.

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