Page images
PDF
EPUB

the first half of the north-east monsoon-or fine season, the people of Kar Nicobar live a busy life.

At first they are engaged in husking the coconuts which are to be exported to Calcutta and Moulmein. The wages they obtain for this work are the value of 100 nuts for husking 1000 nuts. They are generally paid in cloth, or two-anna bits, which are utilised by manufacture into head-or neck-ornaments.

Next they are employed in landing the goods of the Burmese kopra - makers, and in carrying the same to their villages, for as no ships can anchor on the north-east coast during the season, everything has to be transported by the natives. The people of Mūs carry the things of those traders who own stores in their villages; in like manner the villagers of Malacca go to Sáwi Bay, and carry the goods of those Burmans who dwell amongst them. They are remunerated according to the following scale :-For carrying a 3-maund bag of rice

China tobacco.

Rice. (a) From Hog Point (N.-W. of Sáwi Bay)

. Elpanam at Mūs. 2 packets and 2 lbs. (6) . . . Kenmai . . 3 2 2 2 2 (C) . . .

Lapáti . . 4 »

Tapoeming )
(d) . . . 3 Chokchuacha? .5 „ 4,

Kenyúaka )
Tamálu . . 6 ,
Perka

„ 4 . Malacca . . 8 „ „ 4 , It costs a trader about 30 rupees to transport one cartload of goods from Mūs to Malacca.

When this work is done, the Nicobarese are employed in erecting huts, to serve the traders as bazaars. Each hut is built by contract by one man with the help of friends, and on its completion the owner has to give the contractor 14 to 20 yards of red cloth, a Burmese betel-box and a dáo, and besides this, has to supply the men with food until the work is finished.

After the hut has been built, the natives proceed to make a fence round a small compound, in order to prevent pigs from

to.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

OS

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

EN

destroying the stores of kopra. For this they are remunerated separately.

While some are thus engaged, others take passages in such of the trading vessels as go to Kamorta and other islands, in order to assist in husking coconuts and making kopra, work for which they receive one nut in ten. These opportunities are much desired by the natives, since they are at liberty to take home with them any number of Chaura pots, rattans, bamboos, paddles, and canoes; and masters of trading boats are glad to employ the Kar Nicobarese, for the people of the other islands are too indolent to collect and prepare the nuts, but sell them on the trees.

While the men are so occupied, the women and children are busy helping the traders to make kopra, and for this service they are fed twice daily, and receive presents at the termination of the work.

Careful accounts are kept by the Nicobarese of their transactions in coconuts, by means of a tally-stick (kenrāta kuk, Kar Nicobar), on which all the nuts that pass from them to the traders are registered by various kinds of notches.

A regular account is kept of the months, so that festivals may be held in proper season, and a daily account is kept of a child's age until the time arrives for piercing its ears, an operation taking place soon after the first year.

Note. Since this chapter was printed, I have learned that the Anthropological Society has made use of V. Solomon's diaries in a paper appearing in their Journal for July 1902. It is perhaps well to say here that neither the Society nor myself was aware that the same material was about to be a subject for publication elsewhere.-C. B. K.

CHAPTER VII

FAUNA OF THE ANDAMANS AND NICOBARS

PREVIOUS to entering into any details of the fauna of the Andamans and Nicobars, a glance at the depths of the surrounding ocean is interesting, and to a great extent explanatory of the peculiarities occurring in both groups : it is well known that the soundings of the adjacent seas clearly indicate the extent of time during which masses of land have been isolated, and the facts of this case seem to fully explain the variation and numerous peculiarities of the local fauna.

Preparis Island is situated at the tail of a 100-fathom (to be more particular, 50-fathom) bank projecting from the Arakan Yoma Peninsula. It is continental in its fauna, and possesses monkeys and squirrels.

Between it and the Cocos Islands is a depth of 150 fathoms.

The Andaman group, from Cocos to Little Andaman (except the South Sentinel, which is isolated), all stand on a 100-fathom bank (actually 50 fathoms).

All these are connected by a 200-fathom line with the Arakan Yoma Peninsula.

Narkondam and Barren Island both rise from a sea approaching 1000 fathoms in depth.

The Andamans and Nicobars are separated by a channel with depths of 600 fathoms. Soundings about the Nicobars are at present very incomplete, SOUNDINGS OF ADJACENT SEAS

321

but the Archipelago seems capable of division into two groups, each standing on a 100-fathom bank.

The northern of these consists of the compactly-situated central islands, and possibly Kar Nicobar, and is separated from the southern (Great and Little Nicobar and the adjacent islets, all perhaps surrounded by a 50-fathom line) by a channel with approximate depths of 200 fathoms.

The Nicobars stand at the termination of a 1000-fathom bank, projecting from the Arakan Yoma Peninsula, and from thence also curving east and south towards Sumatra, thus enclosing a long tongue of deep sea, over 1000 fathoms deep, that is connected with the Indian Ocean by the channel separating them from Sumatra.

This deep sea that surrounds the islands everywhere but on the north, shows that, so far as need be taken into account for present purposes, they have never been connected with the Malay Peninsula or Sumatra---a condition that is further shown by the almost total absence of any members of the Malayan fauna--although they may at one time have been a prolongation of the Arakan Hills.

“It cannot, however, be asserted that this latter theory of connection derives, primâ facie, much support from a consideration of their fauna ; and if they ever were in uninterrupted communication with the Arakan Hills it must apparently have been at an immensely distant period, for not only are all the most characteristic species of the Arakan Hills, as we now find them, absent from the islands, but the latter exhibit a great number of distinct and peculiar forms, constituting, where the ornis is concerned, considerably more than one-third the number known.” – Hume, Stray Feathers, vol. ii.

From the above details, it is to be inferred that not only have the Nicobars—if ever in connection with the mainlandbeen longest separated, but that they have also been disconnected among themselves for a great extent of time. At a later period the Andamans were cut off from the continent, and the process by which they have been broken up into islands isexcept in the cases of Narkondam and Barren Island-comparatively recent. This theory is fully borne out by the greatly localised nature of the fauna, nearly every island possessing its own peculiar species of terrestrial mammals.

MAMMALS.

The mammalian fauna of the Andamans and Nicobars is now known to consist of 35 positively identified species, I sub-species, and 4 others whose status is still doubtful.

Of this total of 40 animals, 19 are found in the former (if we leave out a dugong, which, though at present reported from the Andamans, will certainly be found to occur in the Nicobars), 22 in the latter. Only two species are common to both groups, and both these are bats—Pteropus nicobaricus, a wide-flying species found also in the Malay Peninsula and Java, and P. vampyrusof which further knowledge will doubtless show that each group possesses its own variety.

To the Andamans 12 species are peculiar, the others being Mus musculus; Felis chaus, whose identification is doubtful; 4 bats; and a monkey, Macacus coininus, in all probability introduced.

The Nicobars possess 14 peculiar species and I sub-species, and the remaining members are Mus alexandrinus, and 6 bats.

Not only is the peculiarity marked among the terrestrial, but among the winged animals, which form so large a part of the fauna; also, of the 7 bats occurring in the Andamans, 3 are endemic, while the same is the case with 5 of the il in the Nicobars.

Thus it is to be noted that in the Andamans all the II terrestrial mammals-except M. musculus, M. coininus (introduced ?) and the doubtful F. chausare peculiar, and also 3 out of 7 bats; while in the Nicobars, only I species-M. alexandrinus

-of 10 terrestrial is other than endemic, and of the ii bats 5 (nearly half) are peculiar. Remarkable as is the state of things

« EelmineJätka »