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at a much earlier date; * or, again, they are of the same race as the Battaksit
They are described as offshoots of the Malay race, being a people which, while possessing much in common with the IndoChinese stock, nevertheless, in their physical characteristics, hold a place midway between the Malays and the Burmese. I
It has also been said of them that they are “descended from a mongrel Malay stock, the crosses being probably in the majority of cases with the Burmese, and occasionally with natives of the opposite coast of Siam, and perchance also in remote times with such of the Shom Pen as may have settled in their midst.”
The natives of Teressa are probably not greatly wrong when they say that the inhabitants of Nankauri are Malays, who when out fishing lost their boats and settled there, and the Kar Nicobarese are descendants of the Burmese who, in a revolution that took place in their country, were obliged to leave the Tenasserim coast. ||
In the first case, it is not difficult to admit that fishing-boats belonging to Sumatra (90 miles distant), or to the Malay Peninsula (260 miles away), should be blown off-shore in a storm, and safely reaching Nankauri yet not care to face the voyage back.
Pegu is about 400 miles from the islands, and Tenasserim a little less. About 1000 A.D. the first historical conquest of the Lower Irrawadi was effected by the Burmese, and its inhabitants, the Mous, became known as “Talaings," or slaves. Their final defeat took place in 1757.
* Dr Stoliczka, Jour. Asiatic Soc., Bengal.
1 In 1897, a Malay vessel, on a voyage from Olehleh to Pulo Wai, was blown to sea and sunk. Her crew took to their boat and reached Trinkat, whence they were returned by the agent to Acheen in a Chinese junk. In earlier times these men would probably have settled amongst the natives, and so have been instrumental in the further diversifications of the race.
Nothing is more possible than that, after one of their disasters, a small section of the Talaings fled from their home and established themselves in the Nicobars, which they had probably become cognisant of in the way of trade.* At present the only sea-going craft are a few score “kallu,” small junks of 20-60 tons, built in Tavoy, which, manned by five or six Talaings, venture as far as the Nicobars, where they ship coconuts in the fine monsoon.t.
Nor are these all, for the islanders are doubtless leavened by stray immigrants from India, I-which would account for the not infrequent occurrence of Caucasian features among them,-by Arabs, and even by Chinese.
Malays and Burmese—or rather Talaings--formed, however, the greater part of the intrusive element.
Although colonisation was very local—the reason possibly for so many distinct languages in the group—the islands now exhibit a state of transition, due to intercrossing. Individuals occur at the extremes of the Archipelago who bear a striking resemblance to each other, but nevertheless there is a marked, though vague, difference to be seen when the natives of several of the islands, or groups of islands, are compared with each other as a body.
“All things considered, it may be inferred that the Archi
* “The Nicobar Islands were peopled from the opposite main and the coast of Pegu, in proof of which the Nicobar and Pegu languages are said, by those (Nicobarese ?) acquainted with the latter, to have much resem. blance.”—Hamilton, Asiatic Researches, vol. ii.
+ Burmah, M. and B. Ferrars.
(a) In 1899, thirty-five men from the Maldives arrived at Kar Nicobar in a ferry-boat, which resembled a lighter in appearance, and was built of coconut wood. They had gone to Maldive from Addo Atel to buy rice, and encountering a storm on the return journey, had missed their island, and after a two months' voyage (more than 1000 miles) reached Kar Nicobar, having thrown overboard most of their rice to keep their vessel afloat. As they feared to go back in their own boat, they were forwarded to Calcutta in various trading-vessels.
(6) "In almost all the villages (central group), Malabars or Bengalese are to be found. The natives encourage them to stay by grants of land, and after a certain number of years they are permitted to make choice of a female companion.”—Nicholas Fontana, Asiatic Researches, vol. iii.