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

By Father J. Hoffman and Mr. E. Lister 

B.  Constitution and Administration of the Pati

Existing Patis:
Patis, as described above, are now found as a working unit only in the east of the Khunti Thana, which is consequently known as the Manki Pati.
There is, however, ample evidence to show that the Manki is an essential factor in the original political organisation of the Kolarian races, and as such has existed everywhere among them. The name and office still survive in Porhat and its dependant tenures, among the Singhbhum Hos, and among the Sonthals. Whilst in the Tamar Thana, though the offices has changed its character, by the degradation of the Khuntkatti villages so as to approximate to that of an ordinary Jagir, the name and the Pati still survive in, for example, Tarai, Barhadih and Sonahatu. In Sonpur the Chalom Pati was destroyed within the last few years and further west the name survives in the Bamhni Pati. One Pati that of Tubil in south-west Tamar is an artificial creation of the superior landlord, the Thakur of Sargamdih; many of the villages in that neighbourhood are of recent foundation and are not arranged in Patis.
The Parhas:
In west Sonpur are found the Parhas, consisting of groups of 8 or more villages, the Khuntkattidars of which (also known as Bhuinhars) are all members of the same Kili, and, in some cases at least, have the tradition of common Sasandiris. They have adopted fantastic titles from Hindu sources (the Bhuinhars of one village calling themselves Rajas, of another Panres, of a third Lals, etc.); but these are merely superficial and restricted to holiday use.
No trace of the title of Manki is found; but this is probably due to the length of time that has elapsed since the Hindu landlords destroyed their independence, it is being very necessary to the new-comers to eradicate all traces of the Manki’s prerogatives, which they were arrogating to themselves.
C.  Description of the present condition of the broken Khuntkatti village
Decay of the Khuntkatti village:
It has been shown above that the Mundaris formerly occupied a much larger portion of the district than that to which they are now confined; and in the same way there is ample proof that the extent of the pure Khuntkatti village system has been rapidly contracted in recent times. From the nature of the system it is clear that it had no power of recovery, and that, once the principle of joint ownership and equality of membership breaks down, it cannot be restored.
The causes of its decay may be thus stated:
  • The Parjas do not usually at first cultivate lowlands, and generally their companionship in the lonely jungles is considered an adequate acknowledgement for the uplands which they receive. But, with the development of the village, they make lowlands and become able to pay rents. In a pure village all such rents go to make up the total sum paid to the superior landlord, usually serving to reduce the Chandas, which the Munda and Pahanr have hitherto paid and are vaguely explained away as having been spent on village charges.

Read Part-XI

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