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The Khasis   By: (1863-1942)

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The Khasis


Major P.R.T. Gurdon, I.A. Deputy Commissioner Eastern Bengal and Assam Commission, and Superintendent of Ethnography in Assam.

With an Introduction by Sir Charles Lyall, K.C.S.I.

(Published under the orders of the Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam)



This book is an attempt to give a systematic account of the Khasi people, their manners and customs, their ethnological affinities, their laws and institutions, their religious beliefs, their folk lore, their theories as to their origin, and their language.

This account would perhaps have assumed a more elaborate and ambitious form were it not that the author has been able to give to it only the scanty leisure of a busy district officer. He has been somewhat hampered by the fact that his work forms part of a series of official publications issued at the expense of the Government of Eastern Bengal and Assam, and that it had to be completed within a prescribed period of time.

The author gladly takes this opportunity to record his grateful thanks to many kind friends who have helped him either with actual contributions to his material, or with not less valued suggestions and criticisms. The arrangement of the subjects discussed is due to Sir Bampfylde Fuller, lately Lieutenant Governor of the Province, whose kindly interest in the Khasis will long be remembered by them with affectionate gratitude. The Introduction is from the accomplished pen of Sir Charles Lyall, to whom the author is also indebted for much other help and encouragement. It is now many years since Sir Charles Lyall served in Assam, but his continued regard for the Khasi people bears eloquent testimony to the attractiveness of their character, and to the charm which the homely beauty of their native hills exercises over the minds of all who have had the good fortune to know them.

To Mr. N. L. Hallward thanks are due for the revision of the proof sheets, and to the Revd. H. P. Knapton for the large share he took in the preparation of the index. The section dealing with folk lore could hardly have been written but for the generosity of the Revd. Doctor Roberts, of the Welsh Calvinistic Mission in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, in placing at the author's disposal his collection of the legends current among the people. Many others have helped, but the following names may be specially mentioned, viz.: Mr. J. B. Shadwell, Mr. S. E. Rita, the Revd. C. H. Jenkins, Mr. C. Shadwell, Mr. Dohory Ropmay, U Hormu Roy Diengdoh, U Rai Mohan Diengdoh, U Job Solomon, U Suttra Singh Bordoloi, U San Mawthoh, U Hajam Kishore Singh, U Nissor Singh, and U Sabor Roy.

A bibliography of the Khasis, which the author has attempted to make as complete as possible, has been added. The coloured plates, with one exception, viz., that taken from a sketch by the late Colonel Woodthorpe, have been reproduced from the pictures of Miss Eirene Scott O'Connor (Mrs. Philip Rogers). The reproductions are the work of Messrs W. Griggs and Sons, as are also the monochromes from photographs by Mrs. Muriel, Messrs. Ghosal Brothers, and the author. Lastly, the author wishes to express his thanks to Srijut Jagat Chandra Goswami, his painstaking assistant, for his care in arranging the author's somewhat voluminous records, and for his work generally in connection with this monograph.

P. R. G.


Agricultural Bulletin No. 5 of 1898. Allen, B. C. Assam Census Report, 1901. Allen, W. J. Report on the Khasi and Jaintia Hill Territory, 1868. Aymonier, Monsieur "Le Cambodge." Bivar, Colonel H. S. Administration Report on the Khasi and Jaintia Hills District of 1876. Buchanan Hamilton "Eastern India." Edited by Montgomery Martin Dalton, Colonel E. T. Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal. Gait, E. A. Human Sacrifices in Assam, vol. i., J.A.S.B. of 1898. Grierson, Doctor G. A. "Linguistic Survey of India," vol. ii. Henniker, F. C. Monograph on gold and silver wares in Assam. Hooker, Sir Joseph Himalayan Journals... Continue reading book >>

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