InGaroL

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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Eva Brandl; Hugh Bennett; Dennis Spencer ♥ DS contributed the general description.

♠ Original name ♣ Late Garo ♥ ‘The Garos constitute one of the most important tribal communities in East and West Garo Hills. The Garos call themselves A’chik (Hill man), Mande (Man) or A’chik Mande. Ethnically, the Garos belong the the Tibeto-Burman race, whose cradle is said to have been North-West China, between the upper waters of Yang-tse Kiang and Hoang-Ho. The Garos have a close affinity with the Bodos, Kacharis, Kochs and such allied tribes of Assam valley.’ [1] ‘As stated earlier, the Garos prefer to call themselves as “A’chik or A’chik manderang” and as such, the appropriate term for their land will be “A’chik A’song” or “A’chik Land”.’ [2] ‘The word ‘Mande’ generally indicated ‘human being’ to differentiate from other beings as ‘Mande or Matburung’ (man or animal) and “Mande or Me’mang” (man or ghost). It is exceptionally used in rare cases to indicate the whole community from others like ‘Mandema ba Rori’ ‘Mandema Nepali’ that is whether hill man or plain people and Nepali. But it is not commonly used for the whole community. A’chik is suffixed by the word Mande as “A’chik manderang”, and in short form as “A’chikrang”.’ [3] The term 'Garo' is not used as an ethnonym by the people themselves: ‘There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word 'Garo.' They are known as 'Garos' to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as 'Achik' ('hill man').’ [4] ‘The word ‘Garo’ is not a Garo word and hence it has no meaning in their language. In fact, they never utter the word among themselves nor do they like to be called by that name.’ [5] The etymological history of the term 'Garo' is unclear, but the word might be of Boro origin: ‘P.C. Bhattacharya in his ‘Notes on Boro, Garo and Shans’ pointed out the possibility of the word ‘Garo’ to be of Boro origin. The word ‘Garo’ has two morphemes, Gar + o and meaning ‘one who has left’ or ‘separated’. The Lexico Statistical Dating Analysis conducted by Robbins Burling and P.C. Bhattacharya evidently showed that the Boros and the Garos spoke the same language and that their linguistic separation took place in about the first millennium B.C.’ [6] 'Garo' is nevertheless the most commonly used term in the ethnographic literature and was therefore chosen as the code. The ethnonyms are listed below.

♠ Alternative names ♣ Achik; Mande ♥ ‘The Garos constitute one of the most important tribal communities in East and West Garo Hills. The Garos call themselves A’chik (Hill man), Mande (Man) or A’chik Mande. Ethnically, the Garos belong the the Tibeto-Burman race, whose cradle is said to have been North-West China, between the upper waters of Yang-tse Kiang and Hoang-Ho. The Garos have a close affinity with the Bodos, Kacharis, Kochs and such allied tribes of Assam valley.’ [7] ‘As stated earlier, the Garos prefer to call themselves as “A’chik or A’chik manderang” and as such, the appropriate term for their land will be “A’chik A’song” or “A’chik Land”.’ [8] ‘The word ‘Mande’ generally indicated ‘human being’ to differentiate from other beings as ‘Mande or Matburung’ (man or animal) and “Mande or Me’mang” (man or ghost). It is exceptionally used in rare cases to indicate the whole community from others like ‘Mandema ba Rori’ ‘Mandema Nepali’ that is whether hill man or plain people and Nepali. But it is not commonly used for the whole community. A’chik is suffixed by the word Mande as “A’chik manderang”, and in short form as “A’chikrang”.’ [9] The term 'Garo' is not used as an ethnonym by the people themselves: ‘There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word 'Garo.' They are known as 'Garos' to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as 'Achik' ('hill man').’ [10] ‘The word ‘Garo’ is not a Garo word and hence it has no meaning in their language. In fact, they never utter the word among themselves nor do they like to be called by that name.’ [11] The etymological history of the term 'Garo' is unclear, but the word might be of Boro origin: ‘P.C. Bhattacharya in his ‘Notes on Boro, Garo and Shans’ pointed out the possibility of the word ‘Garo’ to be of Boro origin. The word ‘Garo’ has two morphemes, Gar + o and meaning ‘one who has left’ or ‘separated’. The Lexico Statistical Dating Analysis conducted by Robbins Burling and P.C. Bhattacharya evidently showed that the Boros and the Garos spoke the same language and that their linguistic separation took place in about the first millennium B.C.’ [12] 'Garo' is nevertheless the most commonly used term in the ethnographic literature.

♠ Peak Date ♣ 1867-1900 CE ♥ A peak date is hard to identify for the Garo population itself. The Empire peaked in the 19th century, in the last quarter of which the Garo Hills were incorporated into the British colonial structure. The British sent punitive campaigns into the hills in order to suppress resistance as well as infighting. Administrative control was established around 1873. Most authors consider the area 'pacified' for the remainder of the colonial period. 'The 19th century marked the full flower of the British Empire. Administration and policy changed during the century from the haphazard arrangements of the 17th and 18th centuries to the sophisticated system characteristic of Joseph Chamberlain’s tenure (1895-1900) in the Colonial Office. That office, which began in 1801, was first an appendage of the Home Office and the Board of Trade, but by the 1850s it had become a separate department with a growing staff and a continuing policy; it was the means by which discipline and pressure were exerted on the colonial governments when such action was considered necessary. [...] In the wake of the Indian Mutiny (1857), the British crown assumed the East India Company’s governmental authority in India. Britain’s acquisition of Burma (Myanmar) was completed in 1886, while its conquest of the Punjab (1849) and of Balochistān (1854-76) provided substantial new territory in the Indian subcontinent itself. The French completion of the Suez Canal (1869) provided Britain with a much shorter sea route to India. Britain responded to this opportunity by expanding its port at Aden, establishing a protectorate in Somaliland (now Somalia), and extending its influence in the sheikhdoms of southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Cyprus, which was, like Gibraltar and Malta, a link in the chain of communication with India through the Mediterranean, was occupied in 1878. Elsewhere, British influence in the Far East expanded with the development of the Straits Settlements and the federated Malay states, and in the 1880s protectorates were formed over Brunei and Sarawak.' [13]


Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 1867-1956 CE ♥ ‘After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [14] During the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was subject to increasing colonial influence, ‘a process that culminated in the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and absorption of the subcontinent within the British Empire. Direct administration by the British, which began in 1858, effected a political and economic unification of the subcontinent. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the subcontinent was partitioned along religious lines into two separate countries-India, with a majority of Hindus, and Pakistan, with a majority of Muslims; the eastern portion of Pakistan later split off to form Bangladesh. Many British institutions stayed in place (such as the parliamentary system of government)’ [15] The British sent punitive campaigns into the hills in order to suppress resistance as well as infighting. Full administrative control was established around 1873. Most authors consider the area 'pacified' for the remainder of the colonial period.


♠ Degree of centralization ♣ loose ♥ Prior to British imperial rule, the Garo tribal population was not organized around a common political or administrative centre, with clans and lineages being the only supra-local social institutions: ‘The Garos are divided into nine subtribes: the Awe, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Matabeng, Ambeng, Ruga-Chibox, Gara-Ganching, Atong, and the Megam. These are geographic subtribes, but are also dialectal and subcultural groups. According to their beliefs and religion, the Garos are divided into the SONGSAREK (following their indigenous beliefs and practices) and the Christians.’ [16] During the colonial period, a British administrative structure was superimposed on the native population, but the latter largely continued to regulate local matters according to Garo laws and institutions: ‘Garo tribe inhabit the Garo Hills district in the state of Meghalaya. The district used to be administered as a ‘partially excluded area’ by the Deputy Commissioner under the executive orders of the British Government during the British rule. The tribal ways of life, community ownership and use of land and the administration of the society according to the traditional laws and customs were least interfered with overtly under the British Administration.’ [17] The Garo retained some autonomy under Indian rule as well: ‘The history of Khasi, and Jaintia hills and its people can be found from the early part of the sixteenth century, as prior to this neither the records nor traditions reveal any substantial information. Moderately large changes were brought forth through development of the settlements and the formation of the Khasi and the Jaintia Hill district in the year 1835 and the Garo district in the year 1866. The capital of these provinces was Cherrapunji in 1827 which later on was shifted to Shillong in 1864. The prevailing groups in the State are the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo. In an amendment made recently in the provision of Scheduled Tribe in the Constitution of India, the Rabha, the Bodo-Kachari and the Koch have been given the status of Scheduled Tribe in the State.’ [18]

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ vassalage ♥ SCCS variable 84 'Higher Political Organization' is coded 'International organization', not 'Absent', 'Peace group', 'Alliances', or 'Confederation'. During the 19th century, the Indian subcontinent was subject to increasing colonial influence, ‘a process that culminated in the decline of the ruling Muslim elite and absorption of the subcontinent within the British Empire. Direct administration by the British, which began in 1858, effected a political and economic unification of the subcontinent. When British rule came to an end in 1947, the subcontinent was partitioned along religious lines into two separate countries-India, with a majority of Hindus, and Pakistan, with a majority of Muslims; the eastern portion of Pakistan later split off to form Bangladesh. Many British institutions stayed in place (such as the parliamentary system of government)’ [19]

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Mechpara and Karaibari Zamindars ♥ ‘The denomination of these linguistic speakers was subsequently driven away by the Tibeto-Burman hordes into Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills. This is the only part of the North East India in which this sub-family exists now. The three groups of the Tibeto-Burman family like Kuki-Chin and Naga were driven to the North-Eastern Hills. The Bodo dominated in the plains of Garo Hills and the North Cachar Hills. They were later subdivided into Garo, Kachari, Mech, Dimasa, Tippera, Lalung, Chutiya and Rabha groups (Barkakati 1969). Playfair ( c.f. Barkakati, 1969) writes that the Garo and the Kachari originally belonged to one group before splitting into two groups-one group over the Southern bank of Brahmaputra and the other Kachar, spreading over the North Garo Hills.’ [20] ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills.’ [21] ‘In pre-British days the areas adjacent to the present habitat of the Garo were under the Zeminders of Karaibari, Kalumalupara, Habraghat, Mechpara and Sherpore. Garos of the adjoining areas had to struggle constantly with these Zeminders. Whenever the employees of the Zeminders tried to collect taxes or to oppress the Garo in some way or other, they retaliated by coming down to the plains and murdering ryots of the Zeminders. In 1775-76 the Zeminders of Mechpara and Karaibari led expeditions to the hills near about their Zeminderies and subjugated a portion of what is at present the Garo Hills district. The Zeminder of Karaibari appointed Rengtha or Pagla, a Garo as his subordinate.’ [22]
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ elite migration ♥ ‘There remains no record of when the Garos migrated and settled in their present habitat. Their traditional lore as recorded by Major Playfair points out that they migrated to the area from Tibet. There is evidence that the area was inhabited by the stone-using peoples-Palaeolithic and Neolithic groups-in the past. After settling in the hills, Garos initially had no close and constant contact with the inhabitants of the adjoining plains. In 1775-76 the Zamindars of Mechpara and Karaibari (at present in the Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam) led expeditions onto the Garo hills. The first contact with British colonialists was in 1788, and the area was brought under administrative control in the year 1873.’ [23]
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Republic of India ♥ ‘Even after the Britishers left India, the administration of justice was carried on in the same pattern till the Autonomous District Council came into existence in 1952. Acting under Paragraph 4(4) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council framed the Garo Hills Autonomous District (Administration of Justice) Rules, 1953. This contains provisions for the constitution of village councils, District Council Courts, Subordinate District Council Courts and Village Courts with powers and jurisdiction to try suits and cases.’ [24] Garo Hills district was initially administered as part of the state of Assam: ‘Till 1969, the Garo Hills District was part of state of Assam but in that year an autonomous State of Meghalaya was formed within the State of Assam as provided by section 3(1) of Assam Reorganization (Meghalaya) Act, 1969 (55 of 1969). In pursuance of that Act, the Rules of 1937 and 1953 were adopted by the Meghalaya Adaptation of Laws (whole paragraph no. 1) of 1973 issued under section 79 of that Act. The Government of Assam acting under paragraph 4(3) of Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India, issued the Assam High Court (Jurisdiction over District Council Courts) Order, 1954. The order is material for ascertaining the position as to the appellate and revisional jurisdiction of the High Court of Gauhati, as regards to the Garo Hills district. This order is still in force (Sangma, J. 1973, p. 160-65).’ [25] ‘The state of Meghalaya comprises the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills. It is a table land which is an extension of the massive block of Indian peninsular shield separated due to denudational and tectonic forces. Goalpara and Kamrup districts of Assam on the west borders the state on the north, whereas Bangladesh international border lies in the south and the Karbi Anglong borders in the East. There is no integrated historical account of the state as the inhabitants live in different tribal groups and have varied cultural and linguistic patterns. They till recently lived in physical isolation. […] The Garo Hills became a part of Meghalaya State after the formation of Meghalaya as a state of Union of India in early 1970s.’ [26] ‘The prevailing groups in the State are the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo. In an amendment made recently in the provision of Scheduled Tribe in the Constitution of India, the Rabha, the Bodo-Kachari and the Koch have been given the status of Scheduled Tribe in the State.’ [27]
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ South Asia ♥ The Garo are usually classed with the Bodo Peoples: ‘According to Sir George Grierson's classification in the LINGUISTIC SURVEY OF INDIA, Garo belongs to the Bodo subsection of the Bodo-Naga Section, under the Assam-Burma Group of the Sino-Tibetan or Tibeto-Burman Language Family.’ [28] ‘The Garos living in the East and West Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya in northeastern India speak the Garo dialect. They are one of the best known matrilineal groups in India. Here the Garos are not the only aboriginal tribe--they are the MAJOR aboriginal tribe. Others are the Hajong, the Koch, the Rabha, the Dalau, and the Banais who reside on the adjacent plains of the neighboring district. There remains an obscurity about the origin of the word 'Garo.' They are known as 'Garos' to outsiders; but the Garos always designate themselves as 'Achik' ('hill man'). The Garos are divided into nine subtribes: the Awe, Chisak, Matchi-Dual, Matabeng, Ambeng, Ruga-Chibox, Gara-Ganching, Atong, and the Megam. These are geographic subtribes, but are also dialectal and subcultural groups.’ [29] ‘Linguistic affinities and personal traits clearly show that the Garos are only a division of the great Bodo race of Assam. The Bodos were spread, as at present, throughout the whole of the Brahmaputra valley as well as in North Bengal. Aryans are now generally believed to have entered into Assam by two routes, one leading from the west through the Gangetic valley and the other through the Himalayas along the courses of the rivers entering Assam. The Bodos who were the earlier inhabitants of the province also came here in different hordes and following different routes from the north-west as well as from the north-east. It may be supposed that the Bodos, before entering into Assam and North Bengal which might have been then a part of Assam (Kamrupa of Old), divided themselves into groups somewhere in the Himalayan kingdom of Tibet. I think the ancestors of the Garos of Assam came down from Tibet to Bhutan and thence by following the course of the river Sonkos and her tributaries to Dhubri (now headquarters of the district of Goalpara) and this might be the latest migration of the people of the Bodo race into Assam and North Bengal. These people then crossed the Brahmaputra at different points and populated the southern parts of Goalpara, the northern and the western parts of the Garo Hills and then gradually they spread in the entire Garo Hills and some parts of the Kamrup district.’ [30] ’Linguistically and ethnologically, the Garos belong to the Bodo family, who were one-time occupants of a large part of the Brahmaputra valley but were probably pushed into the hills by later invaders. The Garos strongly believe that their ancestors came from Tibet and settled in Cooch Behar for about 400 years.’ [31] ‘The denomination of these linguistic speakers was subsequently driven away by the Tibeto- Burman hordes into Khasi Hills and the Jaintia Hills. This is the only part of the North East India in which this sub-family exists now. The three groups of the Tibeto-Burman family like Kuki-Chin and Naga were driven to the North-Eastern Hills. The Bodo dominated in the plains of Garo Hills and the North Cachar Hills. They were later subdivided into Garo, Kachari, Mech, Dimasa, Tippera, Lalung, Chutiya and Rabha groups (Barkakati 1969). Playfair ( c.f. Barkakati, 1969) writes that the Garo and the Kachari originally belonged to one group before splitting into two groups-one group over the Southern bank of Brahmaputra and the other Kachar, spreading over the North Garo Hills. The latter was occupied by the British in the year 1872. Prior to this the area was administered as a part of Bengal. The area became a part of Assam in 1874, when it was carved out as a separate province.’ [32] ‘The non-Garo settled population of the district consists of the Hajong, Koch, Dalu and Rabha (All excepting the Hajong are Bodo speaking tribes). The Hajong have adopted the Jharua dialect of Assamese and have been greatly Hinduized. The Dalu are closely akin to the Hajong but they are recent migrants from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). These people inhabit the outer fringes of the district extending to the adjacent areas of the neighbouring plains districts. They are in occupation of the fertile agricultural lands suitable for wet paddy cultivation. There is also a small number of settled Muslim population (nearly 5% of the total population of the district according to 1961 census) in the north-eastern tip of the district adjacent to the Dhubri subdivision of the Goalpara district and to the district of Rongpur of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).’ [33] We have followed eHRAF in the grouping of Bodo Peoples with South Asia [34]. We have used the figures provided in this non-academic source [35].
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ 4,771,577 ♥ km squared. The Garo are usually classed with the Bodo Peoples: ‘The Garo are a Tibeto-Burman-speaking matrilineal people, the bulk of whose population - some 240,000 - is to be found in the Garo Hills in the western part of India’s Meghalaya state. But there is also a much smaller Garo population - about 80,000 - living in Bangladesh territory, most of it in the far north of Mymensingh district on the Indo-Bangladesh border.’ [36] Since the inception of colonial rule, the Bodo populations of Northern India (see above) haven been subject to intensified cross-cultural interactions with newcomers of various origin: ‘It is again to be noted that hordes of outsiders have been pouring into the province of Assam since the coming of the English; many undesirable elements entered into her soil during the last great war and after independence of the country the current of the outsiders has become wider and it is still continuing unchecked. Some of these people have identified with the settlers of the soil and have even contributed much to the prosperity of the province but the only purpose of many of these outsiders is to create differences and mistrusts among her own people and thus exploit them fully. For the best interest of this small and backward state with many complicated problems, the entry of outsiders requires some regulation.’ [37] The state of Meghalaya covers an area of roughly '8,660 square miles (22,429 square km)' [38], whereas Assam, which Meghalaya was formerly part of, now covers an area of '30,285 square miles (78,438 square km).' [39] We have followed eHRAF in the grouping of Bodo Peoples with South Asia [40]. We have used the figures provided in this non-academic source [41].

♠ Capital ♣ Tura ♥ ‘As the power of the British government of India increased in Assam, the problem of unadministered hill areas became ever more acute. There were periodic raids from the hills that could not be effectively controlled. For many years administration of the Garo Hills was delayed by the extremely serious malaria which was, and still is, characteristic of the district. Finally, however, in 1867, the district was occupied, permanent headquarters were established at Tura, and peace was rapidly achieved. The American Baptist Missionary Society sent missionaries to the Garo Hills almost immediately after the government was established, and these were followed, in this century, by Catholic missionaries, with the result that today between one-quarter and one-third of the Garos are Christians, the largest number of them Baptist.’ [42] ‘Tura is the only town in the district. It is the administrative headquarters of the Garo Hills district. According to 1961 Census, it had a population of 8,888 out of which 4,370 were Garo. Tura is linked with the plains of Assam by three major roads; one enters the district near its north-eastern corner and traverses the district almost diagonally half-way; the other two roads enter the district through the north-western corner and one traverses the district south-eastwardly diagonally half-way, and the other follows the western border of the district, but from the middle of the western border line enters Tura from an westerly direction. All these three roads are all-weather roads meant for all types of vehicular traffic.’ [43] Important provincial capitals include Cherrapunji and Shillong: ‘The history of Khasi, and Jaintia hills and its people can be found from the early part of the sixteenth century, as prior to this neither the records nor traditions reveal any substantial information. Moderately large changes were brought forth through development of the settlements and the formation of the Khasi and the Jaintia Hill district in the year 1835 and the Garo district in the year 1866. The capital of these provinces was Cherrapunji in 1827 which later on was shifted to Shillong in 1864. The prevailing groups in the State are the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo. In an amendment made recently in the provision of Scheduled Tribe in the Constitution of India, the Rabha, the Bodo-Kachari and the Koch have been given the status of Scheduled Tribe in the State.’ [44]


♠ Language ♣ Garo ♥ ‘The Garos living in the East and West Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya in northeastern India speak the Garo dialect. They are one of the best known matrilineal groups in India.’ [45] ‘Garo is the language of the Garo people. But due to the presence of divisions among them into sub-tribes, the language spoken by them are different from one another, from region to region. However, the educated Garos have maintained the language into one single dialect which they use in literature. The early Baptist Missionaries had translated Garo language in Roman script. This modified form of language used in literature is understood by all and is easier for communication among the different subtribes.’ [46]

General Description

The Garo Hills, located in Meghalaya in northeast India, have long been inhabited by the Garos. The term 'Garo' is of unclear origin, but is believed to have originated with the neighbouring Boro people.[47] The Garo people refer to themselves as the A'chik ('hill') or A'chik Manderang ('hill people').[48]
It is unknown precisely when the Garos settled in their present location, but it is believed that they migrated to the hills from Tibet.[49] The Garos had little contact with their neighbours before 1775, when local zamindars (Indian land-owning nobility) led expeditions into the Garo Hills.[50]
1788 saw the first contact with the British, who began to occupy the district in 1867.[51] Despite their initial resistance, the Garos were overmatched by British firearms, and the British established full administrative control of the region around 1873.[52] The region remained a part of British India until Indian independence in 1947.

Population and political organization

During the precolonial period, the Garos lacked elaborate political organization. The most important social unit was the matrilineal clan, the machong.[53] The chief (nokma) had relatively little power beyond religious functions and resolving minor disputes under the guidance of the village elders.[54]
Once the region was under British control, executive offices were simply superimposed onto Garo structures. The British created the office of laskar, with limited power over about ten villages.[55] The Garos were still left to settle their own disputes through the nokma, but they gained the right to appeal the nokma's decisions to the court of laskars.[56]
Population estimates are unavailable for the precolonial period. The British colonial official and statistician W. W. Hunter estimated that the population of the Garo Hills was 80,000 in 1872.[57]

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Eva Brandl ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ 8,000 ♥ in squared kilometers Regional integration was an artefact of colonial rule and the superimposition of a colonial administration upon a native system: ‘The two Garo Hills districts are situated between 25 degrees, 9 minutes and 26 degrees, 1 minute north latitude and 89 degrees, 49 minutes and 91 degrees, 2 minutes east longitude, covering an area of 8,000 square kilometers. The districts border Bangladesh on the south and west and Assam on the north. Hills cover most of the district, with plains along the fringes. There are a number of hilly streams and rivers; excepting for the Simsang River which forms a wide flood plain none is navigable. The monsoon area produces a thick vegetation on the hills.’ [58] Given how colonial authorities introduced an administrative system in which Garos participated through the office of Laskar (see below), we have chosen to code for the district rather than for the village level.

♠ Polity Population ♣ 138,000: 1900 CE ♥ People. 1872 CE: 80,000; 1901 CE: 138,274; 1951 CE: 242,075 Regional integration was an artefact of colonial rule and the superimposition of a colonial administration upon a native system: ‘The Garo Hills were sparsely populated at the time the British came. According to Hunter, population of the Garo Hills was 80,000 in 1872; there was hardly any immigration and the hills were mostly populated by the Garos. Population went on increasing rapidly after that. In 1901 Garos were 74% of total population. It became 78% in 1951 and 85% in 1961 and 78.81% in 1971. High rate of growth of population is mainly due to population influx. What is of interest is, considerable influx of Garo population which is evident from the increasing proportion of the Garos in the total population.’ [59] ‘We find an increase of the population of the Garo between 1901 and 1951, 84% and between 1951 and 1961, 39%; while the percentages of general population increase for the periods were 61 and 26 respectively. Thus it is clear that the Garo population of the district is increasing at a faster rate as compared to the general population. This is due probably to the reason that many Garo families have migrated to the district from the adjoining Garo areas in the plains, while there was no such influx of non-Garo families, rather a number of their families have moved out of the district for various reasons. We can expect a greater percentage of increase during the period 1961-1971, because there was an influx of a large number of Garo families from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) during the first half of this decade.’ [60] ‘The population of the district according to the 1951 census was 242,075, of which 190,901 gave Garo as their mother tongue. Most of the non-Garo-speaking population of the district is concentrated around the edges, leaving most of the interior almost ethnically pure. In fact, the only people other than Garos who are at all dispersed throughout the district are a few Nepalis living in widely scattered settlements. They are recent immigrants who maintain large herds of cattle and sell milk or manufacture ghee. Another 50,000 Garos were listed by the census in other parts of Assam, mostly in the districts immediately bordering the Garo Hills, and about 40,000 live in the adjacent districts of East Pakistan. Except for a few recent emigrants, then, the Garos form a geographically compact population. If they are distributed through a number of districts, this is largely because the borders of the district do not coincide perfectly with the area occupied by the tribe, though the borders were intended to do this as well as possible. The census reports of the district have shown an increase in every ten-year period since 1901, when the population was returned as only 138,274, just over half that shown by the most recent census. Part of the increase is probably due to immigration from other districts, but most is surely the result of natural expansion which-in spite of an appalling death rate, especially among children-seems to be keeping pace with the rest of India.’ [61] We can therefore speak of a shared polity population in this case.

♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ [7,000-9,000]: 1956 CE ♥ Inhabitants. The Garo population was mostly rural: ‘The population in a village ranges from 20 to 1,000 persons. The population density tends to decrease as one moves towards the interior areas from the urban areas of the districts. Villages are scattered and distant from one another in the interior areas. These villages are generally situated on the top of hillocks. The houses are built together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pig sties. The houses are built, together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pigsties, on piles around the slope of the hillock, using locally available bamboo, wood, grass, etc. The approach to the rectangular house is always built facing the leveled surface of the top, while the rear part of the house remains horizontal to the slope. Nowadays new pile-type buildings using wood and iron as major components are being made in some traditional villages also. In addition, buildings similar to those of the neighboring plains are also constructed. The villages may remain distant from agricultural fields (JHUM). In order to guard a crop (during agricultural seasons) from damage by wild animals, the people build temporary watchtowers (BORANQ) in trees in the field. Bachelor dormitories exist in some villages for meetings and recreation.’ [62] Tura, the district capital, was the only urban centre of the British colonial and independent Indian administrations, but members of the Garo community formed about half the population of the town: ‘Tura is the only town in the district. It is the administrative headquarters of the Garo Hills district. According to 1961 Census, it had a population of 8,888 out of which 4,370 were Garo. Tura is linked with the plains of Assam by three major roads; one enters the district near its north-eastern corner and traverses the district almost diagonally half-way; the other two roads enter the district through the north-western corner and one traverses the district south-eastwardly diagonally half-way, and the other follows the western border of the district, but from the middle of the western border line enters Tura from an westerly direction. All these three roads are all-weather roads meant for all types of vehicular traffic.’ [63]

Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ 3 ♥ levels.

The British sent punitive campaigns into the hills in order to suppress resistance as well as infighting. Full administrative control was established around 1873. Most authors consider the area 'pacified' for the remainder of the colonial period. The 'military' codes refer to armed groups of Garo villagers rather than the British colonial troops.

According to Ethnographic Atlas variable 31 'Mean Size of Local Communities', the Garo possess groups of '100-199', smaller than 200-399, 400-1000, any town of more than 5,000, Towns of 5,000-50,000 (one or more), and Cities of more than 50,000 (one or more). SCCS variable 157 'Scale 9-Political Integration' is coded as '2 levels above community'. (1) Village and (2) Hamlet.

(3) Town; (2) Village; (1) Hamlet

The Garo population was mostly rural, but with some urban migration to the administrative capital of the district occurring during the colonial period: ‘Tura is the only town in the district. It is the administrative headquarters of the Garo Hills district. According to 1961 Census, it had a population of 8,888 out of which 4,370 were Garo. Tura is linked with the plains of Assam by three major roads; one enters the district near its north-eastern corner and traverses the district almost diagonally half-way; the other two roads enter the district through the north-western corner and one traverses the district south-eastwardly diagonally half-way, and the other follows the western border of the district, but from the middle of the western border line enters Tura from an westerly direction. All these three roads are all-weather roads meant for all types of vehicular traffic.’ [64] Residential villages vary in size: ‘The population in a village ranges from 20 to 1,000 persons. The population density tends to decrease as one moves towards the interior areas from the urban areas of the districts. Villages are scattered and distant from one another in the interior areas. These villages are generally situated on the top of hillocks. The houses are built together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pig sties. The houses are built, together with granaries, firewood sheds, and pigsties, on piles around the slope of the hillock, using locally available bamboo, wood, grass, etc. The approach to the rectangular house is always built facing the leveled surface of the top, while the rear part of the house remains horizontal to the slope. Nowadays new pile-type buildings using wood and iron as major components are being made in some traditional villages also. In addition, buildings similar to those of the neighboring plains are also constructed. The villages may remain distant from agricultural fields (JHUM). In order to guard a crop (during agricultural seasons) from damage by wild animals, the people build temporary watchtowers (BORANQ) in trees in the field. Bachelor dormitories exist in some villages for meetings and recreation.’ [65] The mean size of villages may have decreased during the colonial period: ‘In former days, Garo villages were of considerable size and used to contain as many as two or three hundred houses. Liability to attack by a neighbouring village made this necessary, and the danger was further guarded against by sowing the approaches with sharp-pointed bamboo stakes called wamisi in Garo, but better known as panjis. These presented a very formidable obstacle to an enemy, and effectually prevented a sudden attack. Nowadays, when every man is at peace with his neighbour, the necessity no longer exists for large collections of houses, and the difficulty of finding sufficient land close to big villages for the support of their inhabitants, has resulted in their being broken up into small hamlets situated perhaps as much as four or five miles apart, which, however, in most cases, retain the name of the parent village. In order to distinguish them there is added to the name of each hamlet the name of its nokma, or headman.’ [66] ‘In Garo society the village is the largest group of which all the members regularly join in cooperative activities, but more extensive organizations are also recognized. First, several neighboring villages may be considered to be related. One of these is usually believed to have been the original village from which the founders of the other “daughter” villages moved. [...] The peace which the British imposed on the hills may have made it possible to live in smaller and more scattered villages than the people had formerly done. Perhaps most of the groups of linked villages that are now to be found have resulted from the splitting of larger villages during the period of British rule. The difficulty of access to the fields would make more dispersed settlement desirable so long as enemies did not threaten. Nowadays villages only rarely move, split up, or die out. I saw just one village in the process of being moved. This was an undertaking that was destined to last for three years, since the villagers could not muster sufficient labor to rebuild more than a third of their houses in a single year. The move was being made solely for the sake of the water supply, which was failing at the old site.’ [67] New villages grow out of small pioneer hamlets: ‘There are different sizes of village in the Garo Hills. I have seen small villages consisting of two or three huts, practically isolated from all the advantages of a big village. On the other hand, in a big village there may be as many as fifty or more huts. The size of the big village entirely depends on the space that is available for the house building and also the facilities the inhabitants of the village may derive for cultivation and other purposes from the surroundings of the locality. The largest village, I visited, was situated on the slopes of the hills, as is the usual practice, facing long strip of valley, nearly about a mile and a half long and about half a mile broad. It is easily understandable that people living in such villages take to plough and utilise the valley for agricultural purposes. It has, therefore, the advantage of accommodating larger people than it is possible for the village which is situated on the hill slopes and which is to depend primarily on jhum cultivation as described hereafter. Usually, an average sized village contains ten to fifteen houses. The economic factor is one of the main guiding principles regarding the expansion of a village. Availability of arrable land or hillocks for jhum cultivation, good drinking water, facilities of conveyance and also facilities of market places are some of the main factors, which the Garos consider before they fix up a place to start a new village. The common practice is to have one house for one family consisting of husband, wife, and children. Occasionally, the old mother or the mother-in-law also stays in the family.’ [68] As indicated above, we have provisionally assumed that migration to Tura was fairly insignificant in the early colonial period.

♠ Administrative levels ♣ 2 ♥ levels. According to the Ethnographic Atlas' variable 33 'Jurisdictional Hierarchy Beyond Local Community' there are 'One levels (e.g., petty chiefdoms)' of administrative control-petty chiefs and local leaders. SCCS variable 76 'Community Leadership' is coded as 'Single local leader and council' SCCS variable 237 'Jurisdictional Hierarchy Beyond Local Community' is coded as 'One level (e.g., petty chiefdoms)'. (3) Petty chief, (2) Local leader, (1) Local Councillors.

[(3) Executive Officials and Courts associated with District Governance at Tura;] (2) Executive Officials (Laskar, Sordar etc.) associated with village clusters; (1) Village Headmen (Nokma) and Councils;

During colonial rule, supralocal executive offices were superimposed onto village- and lineage-based Garo structures: ‘When the Britishers took over the administration of this district, one witnessed an imposition of hierarchy of new political and administrative units in the district over the traditional democratic village set-up. The British Government, being actuated with the desire to have effective control over the villages and to facilitate the collection of revenues and house tax introduced the office of laskar with limited police, civil and criminal powers. Accordingly there was a laskar over a circle of villages; each having jurisdiction covering ten or twelve of villages. Although, the villagers were left to settle all disputes through the nokma and the village courts, they had right to appeal to the court of laskars against the decisions of the village councils.’ [69] ’In the same way the introduction of offices of sardar, hill mandal and hill mauzadar curtailed the powers and authorities of the nokmas and their village councils. The new offices were created for the effective administration over the Garo with the idea of village self-government under the direct control of Deputy Commissioner at the centre.’ [70] Clans and lineages associated with village clusters nevertheless continued to exercise social control on the local level: ‘In Garo society the most important social group is the clan known as MACHONG. A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A CHATCHI (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter--or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother--to be heiress (NAKNA DONQIPIKA MECHIK) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the NOKROM of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents' house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.’ [71] Local authority is exercised by lineage elders: ‘The authority within a lineage is exercised according to age, the older member always being allowed to direct and punish the younger members. The age differences are otherwise symbolized in only one way-the order in which rice beer is served. When beer is first passed out at a gathering, the people should be served in order of formal seniority. A maternal uncle should be served before his nephew, and an older brother before a younger one. Even an older sister may precede a younger brother, though generally men and women do not drink together. [...] In spite of this formal deference, older people do not monopolize positions of power, and an old person cannot exercise authority outside his lineage simply because of his age. One defers to one’s lineage seniors, but not to old people in general.’ [72] Village headmen act as intermediaries in local disputes: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [73] ‘Traditionally, the nokma’s position was connected with the indigeneous customary rites. His temporal and ritual powers in a traditional society were linked with his position. The conversion of a nokma to Christianity automatically led to the loss of his ritualistic role. When the nokma’s were endowed with real temporal power, the resistance was great as Nokmas were non-Christians. But when the Nokma accepted Christianity, nokmaship passed to another person who could act as a nokma in performing rites and rituals. However, the Government still recognized the converted persons as nokmas. This created dislocation in the traditional system, one looking after the customary right and other ritual responsibilities. As the author has tried to show that in the traditional system the two roles cannot be separated, the two roles are enmeshed into each other.’ [74] Nokmas also formally hold titles to land: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man. In recent days they have started to acquire landed property, because in areas where permanent cultivation is practised individual ownership of land has gradually come to be recognized. Among the Chisak and the Matchi, however, a wealthy man can perform a status giving ceremony, called jaksil gana, in which along with a set of religious rites the aspirant is to give a liberal feast to all the villagers, and in return he is entitled to wear an armlet called jaksil, which is considered as a status symbol and the wearer is designated as nokma though he may not have to do anything with an a’king.’ [75] While village headmen were acknowledged by the British administration, the imposition of the above-mentioned administrative structure led to a loss of political power among Nokmas: ‘There was a move for retention of the old institution of nokmaship which could not function with authority since the British administration had appointed the laskars and sardars for the smooth running of their administration from 1824 onwards. The nokmas became only the clan chief and custodian of the clan land a’king. The nokma could not administer effectively as he used to do prior to the British administration in the district. The nokmas were supposed to be well versed with their functions and duties in the villages. The British administration enforced the Rules of Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills both Civil and Police in 1937. These rules have been renewed again and again. They are in use till the present day. The head of the district administration was the Deputy Commissioner and his Assistants and it has never been changed.’ [76]

♠ Religious levels ♣ 1 ♥ levels.

(1) Village Priest (Kamal)

‘A Garo religious practitioner is known as KAMAL. The word is used to mean 'specialist'; thus a midwife may be a kamal. A kamal has neither special privilege nor prestige from his service to the society.’ [77] The village priest or healer deals with misfortune caused by malicious sprites: ‘These mite live in many places. Some dwell in the village, others in the jungle, near a tree, or by a stream or waterfall. A fork in a road is a favorite place, and powerful mite are said to live on mountain tops. All are dealt with in the same general fashion, though the details of the sacrifices differ. Several men usually spend about two hours building an altar. Most altars are built of bamboo and leaves, but the precise form depends upon the particular spirit to whom the sacrifice is to be directed. Once the altar is built, a ritually skilled man must offer an egg, a chicken, a pig, or even a cow, depending upon the seriousness of the disease and the demands of the mite. This priest kills the animal in a ritually prescribed manner, and smears the blood on to the altar. He recites a number of chants while standing or squatting before the altar, and usually pours a bit of rice beer on to the ground as an additional offering. At a sacrifice to cure disease, as on other occasions when animals are ceremoniously killed, the priest inspects their viscera for omens. If the proper portion of a chicken’s intestines prove to be filled, for instance, the prognosis is good; otherwise it is bad. While the priest is performing the ritual, the men who have helped build the altar sit around, chatting and joking, with no outward signs of respect or attention. There is no ecstasy and no sleight of hand, and the sick person is not even necessarily present. When the formalities are completed, the helpers prepare the animal and cook it into a curry. Rice is boiled, and all of the helpers share in the ensuing meal. Typically, the entire sacrifice, from the time the participants first assemble to the time they finish the feast, takes three or four hours. Afterward the participants go to their own houses. They are not supposed to go to their fields for the whole day, though they may do chores about the house. Sacrifices of this sort are the commonest kind of ceremony performed by the people of Rengsanggri. They involve only a half dozen or so neighbors and relatives, and they are held whenever the need arises. Occasionally two or three may even be held on the same day if several people in the village are sick. Altogether several hundred sacrifices are likely to be performed in the village of Rengsanggri in a single year.’ [78] They also officiate at village festivals: ‘Wangala is one of the three festivals at which group dancing takes place. This occurs in the courtyards in front of the houses, where people like to keep a sizable cleared space for this very purpose. Both married and unmarried people take part, though dancing is generally felt to be most appropriate for the young, especially those who are unmarried. Group dancing is almost exclusively a night pastime, and may continue intermittently until dawn.’ [79] During the colonial period, the Garo population became the target of missionary activities: ‘The third major influence on the Garos, and in some ways the most important, has been that of Christianity. American Baptist missionaries began to have a few peripheral contacts with the Garos even before their hills were occupied by the British. Missionaries were stationed in Goalpara, a town on the Brahmaputra just north of the Garo Hills, and some of their work was with Garos. However, intensive Christianization began only after the occupation of the hills. American missionaries followed the government officers into the hills and like them set up their headquarters in the town of Tura, which remains the center of Garo Christian activities today. The missionaries not only evangelized, but from the beginning carried out extensive medical and educational work.’ [80] But the process of Christianization was initially slow and statistically insignificant for most of the colonial period, the majority of the population remaining Songsarek (i.e., attached to indigenous beliefs and rituals), although the subsequent decades experienced a rapid growth of the Christian population: ‘As per the census report, prior to 1941 in the Garo Hills none claimed as Christians. The presence of Buddhists in the Garo Hills was first reported in the 1941 census report and the presence of Muslim in the 1961 census report. Islam in the Garo Hills was spread by traders much before 1961, and Christianity by the British as early as 1847. By 1911, there were 5314 people enrolled as Christians. There was steady rise in the Christian population after independence. The rise in the Christian population was very high. After 1961 there was rise in the Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist population but, their increase has not been significant as compared with the rise in Christian population.’ [81]

♠ Military levels ♣ 2 ♥ levels.

(2) Village Headman (Nokma) and Lineage Elders or temporary leaders of village clusters; (1) 'Citizen-soldiers';

The British colonial structure did not organize an indigenous armed corps for the Garo population: ‘When the Britishers took over the administration of this district, one witnessed an imposition of hierarchy of new political and administrative units in the district over the traditional democratic village set-up. The British Government, being actuated with the desire to have effective control over the villages and to facilitate the collection of revenues and house tax introduced the office of laskar with limited police, civil and criminal powers. Accordingly there was a laskar over a circle of villages; each having jurisdiction covering ten or twelve of villages. Although, the villagers were left to settle all disputes through the nokma and the village courts, they had right to appeal to the court of laskars against the decisions of the village councils.’ [82] Given the absence of a standing Garo army, the village headmanship should be taken as the primary institution for ad-hoc, improvised military organization: ‘There was a move for retention of the old institution of nokmaship which could not function with authority since the British administration had appointed the laskars and sardars for the smooth running of their administration from 1824 onwards. The nokmas became only the clan chief and custodian of the clan land a’king. The nokma could not administer effectively as he used to do prior to the British administration in the district. The nokmas were supposed to be well versed with their functions and duties in the villages. The British administration enforced the Rules of Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills both Civil and Police in 1937. These rules have been renewed again and again. They are in use till the present day. The head of the district administration was the Deputy Commissioner and his Assistants and it has never been changed.’ [83] During the early colonial period, male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [84] The code is provisional and does not reflect the presence of British colonial forces, as more information on their organizaton is still needed.

Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ absent ♥ Full-time specialists Wage labour is mostly unskilled and temporary, supplementing subsistence agriculture rather than replacing it: ‘Opportunities for wage labor, though not plentiful, are available by the day for a few men. A few can work as porters for fellow villagers, or for men of neighboring villages who have a large amount of cotton to carry into market. Occasionally the ‘owner’ of the market, or a Bengali merchant, hires a few Garos to build a tea stall or other kind of market shed. In 1956 a new motor road was being cut through the hills in the neighborhood of Rengsanggri. It was divided into lengths of one-eighth to one-half mile, which were assigned to contractors, each of whom had to hire laborers to do the actual digging and carrying of earth. Some of the labor was paid for by the day, while some was subcontracted in small amounts, so that a worker would be paid a fixed sum for digging or filling a stretch of road no more than fifteen feet long; and a few of these subcontractors even hired a neighbor to help them dig. Wage labor most often brought a rupee per day, but heavy labor might be paid at one rupee eight annas or even two rupees per day.’ [85] During the colonial period, the Garo had no standing armies or professionalized armed corps. The offices of laskar and sardar are not connected to the military: ‘As stated earlier the institution of laskar was first introduced by David Scott in his Draft Regulation of 1819, for the effective administration of the Garos. The main duty was to report on killings and serious offences within their jurisdiction. The Act of 1874 gave this office a legal status. Laskar was assisted by sardar in his duties and acted on behalf of laskar in his absence. The Commissioner tried the Garo cases, where he had to consult laskars and sardars connected with the traditional customs and manners of the tribe and also their opinions as to the guilt or innocence had to be taken into consideration.’ [86] During the early colonial period, male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [87] The code is provisional and does not reflect the presence of British colonial forces, as more information on their organizaton is still needed.

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ absent ♥ Full-time specialists Wage labour is mostly unskilled and temporary, supplementing subsistence agriculture rather than replacing it: ‘Opportunities for wage labor, though not plentiful, are available by the day for a few men. A few can work as porters for fellow villagers, or for men of neighboring villages who have a large amount of cotton to carry into market. Occasionally the ‘owner’ of the market, or a Bengali merchant, hires a few Garos to build a tea stall or other kind of market shed. In 1956 a new motor road was being cut through the hills in the neighborhood of Rengsanggri. It was divided into lengths of one-eighth to one-half mile, which were assigned to contractors, each of whom had to hire laborers to do the actual digging and carrying of earth. Some of the labor was paid for by the day, while some was subcontracted in small amounts, so that a worker would be paid a fixed sum for digging or filling a stretch of road no more than fifteen feet long; and a few of these subcontractors even hired a neighbor to help them dig. Wage labor most often brought a rupee per day, but heavy labor might be paid at one rupee eight annas or even two rupees per day.’ [88] During the colonial period, the Garo had no standing armies or professionalized armed corps. The offices of laskar and sardar are not connected to the military: ‘As stated earlier the institution of laskar was first introduced by David Scott in his Draft Regulation of 1819, for the effective administration of the Garos. The main duty was to report on killings and serious offences within their jurisdiction. The Act of 1874 gave this office a legal status. Laskar was assisted by sardar in his duties and acted on behalf of laskar in his absence. The Commissioner tried the Garo cases, where he had to consult laskars and sardars connected with the traditional customs and manners of the tribe and also their opinions as to the guilt or innocence had to be taken into consideration.’ [89] During the early colonial period, male villagers probably acted as war parties under the leadership of a nokma: ‘In the early days, the Garos used to wage many wars. Such an occasion arose once (perhaps the first of such warfare) when people of one village living under a certain Nokma went to work for their hadang (field for cultivation) beyond their area and entered another Nokma’s jurisdiction. This was a cause of conflict, and they started fighting. There were heavy casualties on both sides. Finally, both the parties ran away to their own area. Thus neither party gained or lost any land.’ [90] The code is provisional and does not reflect the presence of British colonial forces, as more information on their organizaton is still needed.

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ absent ♥ Full-time specialists ‘A Garo religious practitioner is known as KAMAL. The word is used to mean 'specialist'; thus a midwife may be a kamal. A kamal has neither special privilege nor prestige from his service to the society.’ [91] ‘It is the duty of the Kamal to perform certain rites and the ceremonies of naming a child, marriage, funeral and the investiture of chiefs.’ [92] The Kamal is not a full-time specialist: ‘Professional shamans, or any other kind of professional intermediaries between human beings and supernaturals are absent among the Garo. Any person who is conversant with the technicalities of magico-religious rites can perform them. However, magico-religious rites performed for the well-being of the community in general are performed by the village priest ( kamal) who is supposed to be well acquainted with the procedure of such rites. There may be several such specialists in the village. Usually after the death of the seniormost the next senior man steps in. The office of the kamal is in no way hereditary. He does not enjoy any special privilege in the village community.’ [93] ‘There may be more than one kamal in a village, but the major rites are performed by the oldest and the most experienced kamal. The office of kamal is not hereditary. Anybody who is able to master the rites can be engaged as a kamal. The word kamal implies the sense of a specialist-a midwife is also known as a kamal. Often rites of propitiation for minor ailments in the household are performed by the head of the family himself. The kamal does not enjoy any privilege because of his services to the villagers. He has to cultivate his plot of shifting land just like any other villager. He also does not get any remuneration for performing the rites.’ [94] ‘The kamal’s life has certain drawbacks, for his duties are often both onerous and unpleasant; for instance, when he has to watch by the side of the dead for long hours together, reciting tedious funeral dirges. Very little remuneration is given him, and in no way does the priest enjoy privileges which his fellow-villagers do not share. He must work in the fields and grow his crops like the rest, and the only way in which his lot is different from that of his neighbours, is that he must devote his attention to the requirements of others, even at personal inconvenience. In such circumstances it would be imagined that the post was a difficult one to fill, yet every village has its kamal and he never seems to shirk his duties.’ [95]

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ absent ♥ Full-time specialists The village headman and elders are not bureaucrats, but a colonial bureaucratic structure was superimposed onto the Garo system of informal village and lineage leadership. ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos were decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [96] The degree of professionalization differs according to administrative level, with full-time bureaucrats restricted to the higher ones: ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [97] To these less professionalized regional officers recruited from the general population were added British executive and judicial officials: ‘During the first few years of the British rule in Assam the district of Garo Hills was treated as a part of the Goalpara district. The whole tract was placed under a Civil Commissioner. This officer took into his hands the collection of rents claimed by the Zaminders from the Garos, and abolished the duties levied by them on the hill producers. For some years a policy of non-interference was followed but without the desired success; so it was decided to appoint an officer-in-charge of the hills and in 1869 a.d. the Garo Hills were formed into a separate district with Tura as its headquarters. It is said in some parts of the district even now that the British administrators had to get away with many of the influential chiefs and other men of the tribe by killing them for, they could not easily bow down to the foreigners. Once this hills area was completely brouht undegr the control of the government, the Garos lived peacefully.’ [98] This new structure curtailed the powers of village headmen: ’In the same way the introduction of offices of sardar, hill mandal and hill mauzadar curtailed the powers and authorities of the nokmas and their village councils. The new offices were created for the effective administration over the Garo with the idea of village self-government under the direct control of Deputy Commissioner at the centre.’ [99] Judges employed at government courts functioned on a higher administrative level than the native village councils and were solely dependent on the colonial or independent Indian district executive: ‘The judicial officers (who preside over those courts) are appointed by, or with the approval of the Governor. The rules as to administration of justice do not contain specific provisions as to their tenure and salary, or as to their full time or part time character. But most of these matters will be regulated as rules or orders issued under Rule 15 of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951. It may be of interest to note that there is a specific prohibition against a member of the Executive Committee being appointed to these courts. To this extent, their independence is protected. A legal practitioner can appear before these courts. But in cases where an accused is not arrested, the legal practitioner takes the permission of the District Council Court for such appearance.’ [100] The material seems to indicate that native officials performed their duties on a part-time basis only.

♠ Examination system ♣ absent ♥ Village-level leaders such as headmen or elders were not subject to examination by the district executives, but chosen locally: ‘After Playfair, we get some accounts on the institution of nokma by Robbins Burling (1963), D.N. Majumdar (1966), C. Nakane (1967). Burling mentioned about the mode of succession to the office of a nokma who looks for a nephew, a young man from his own lineage and preferably from his own village, who will become his son-in-law and an official heir. Burling also pointed out, the lands of the nokma is identifiable in terms of his possession of title to village land (a’King). When a nokma owns such a piece of land, he is referred to as a’King nokma. The nokmas were not supposed to sell a’King land without consulting the villagers and that too never to an outsider. Burling also mentioned about the laskar who is selected by the nokmas. The laskar collects the house tax and tries to settle disputes within the jurisdiction of his operation following the customary rules of the community. Majumdar (1966) mentioned that about 60 laskarships were found in the whole area of his study. He mentioned that the nokmas and the sirdars were under the laskars. A’King nokma is the man who identifies the woman for inheriting the land. This land belongs to a particular clan ( machong). According to Majumdar, a nokma was also expected to report about the unnatural death to a laskar in addition to his role for deciding minor disputes within his a’King.’ [101] Regional officials such as laskars and sordars were not formally examined either: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [102] ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [103] Judges employed at government courts functioned on a higher administrative level than the native village councils and were solely dependent on the colonial or independent Indian district executive. The provisions for judges and other higher-ups are unclear from the sources, but a state salary with appropriate formal examination seems most likely: ‘The judicial officers (who preside over those courts) are appointed by, or with the approval of the Governor. The rules as to administration of justice do not contain specific provisions as to their tenure and salary, or as to their full time or part time character. But most of these matters will be regulated as rules or orders issued under Rule 15 of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951. It may be of interest to note that there is a specific prohibition against a member of the Executive Committee being appointed to these courts. To this extent, their independence is protected. A legal practitioner can appear before these courts. But in cases where an accused is not arrested, the legal practitioner takes the permission of the District Council Court for such appearance.’ [104]

♠ Merit promotion ♣ absent ♥ Formalization was largely absent from village councils and trials: ‘The Rules require the village court to “try all suits and cases in accordance with the customary laws of the village.” Village courts are supposed to be non-professional bodies and decide [minor, village-level] cases in an informal atmosphere without procedural technicalities and formalities.’ [105] Most local and lower regional offices were staffed by appointment rather than a formal system of merit promotion: ‘After Playfair, we get some accounts on the institution of nokma by Robbins Burling (1963), D.N. Majumdar (1966), C. Nakane (1967). Burling mentioned about the mode of succession to the office of a nokma who looks for a nephew, a young man from his own lineage and preferably from his own village, who will become his son-in-law and an official heir. Burling also pointed out, the lands of the nokma is identifiable in terms of his possession of title to village land (a’King). When a nokma owns such a piece of land, he is referred to as a’King nokma. The nokmas were not supposed to sell a’King land without consulting the villagers and that too never to an outsider. Burling also mentioned about the laskar who is selected by the nokmas. The laskar collects the house tax and tries to settle disputes within the jurisdiction of his operation following the customary rules of the community. Majumdar (1966) mentioned that about 60 laskarships were found in the whole area of his study. He mentioned that the nokmas and the sirdars were under the laskars. A’King nokma is the man who identifies the woman for inheriting the land. This land belongs to a particular clan ( machong). According to Majumdar, a nokma was also expected to report about the unnatural death to a laskar in addition to his role for deciding minor disputes within his a’King.’ [106] The same is true for regional officials: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [107] ‘The loskor has several duties. He collects the house tax within his district, keeping a fixed portion of this as his own payment, and he organizes work parties to keep the roads open. His most important duty, however, is to supervise and try to settle legal disputes. The loskor sometimes appoints one or more assistants called sordars, to whom the District Council pays an annual stipend of 100 Rupees, together with a shirt and a pair of short pants. Saljing, who lived in Rengsanggri, was a sordar; but not every village had one, and a sordar does not have jurisdiction over a particular village. As a general assistant to the loskor he may assist in collecting information about a dispute, and in petty matters a sordar may sit as representative of the loskor and preside at a trial. The loskorship demands a large part of a man’s time, but a sordar spends most of his time working in his fields like his neighbors.’ [108] Judges employed at government courts functioned on a higher administrative level than the native village councils and were solely dependent on the colonial or independent Indian district executive. The provisions for judges and other higher-ups are unclear from the sources, but a state salary with appropriate formal examination and a standardized system of merit promotion seems most likely: ‘The judicial officers (who preside over those courts) are appointed by, or with the approval of the Governor. The rules as to administration of justice do not contain specific provisions as to their tenure and salary, or as to their full time or part time character. But most of these matters will be regulated as rules or orders issued under Rule 15 of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951. It may be of interest to note that there is a specific prohibition against a member of the Executive Committee being appointed to these courts. To this extent, their independence is protected. A legal practitioner can appear before these courts. But in cases where an accused is not arrested, the legal practitioner takes the permission of the District Council Court for such appearance.’ [109] The British colonial administration probably relied on some formally trained and promoted core officials in the district capital: ‘There was a move for retention of the old institution of nokmaship which could not function with authority since the British administration had appointed the laskars and sardars for the smooth running of their administration from 1824 onwards. The nokmas became only the clan chief and custodian of the clan land a’king. The nokma could not administer effectively as he used to do prior to the British administration in the district. The nokmas were supposed to be well versed with their functions and duties in the villages. The British administration enforced the Rules of Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills both Civil and Police in 1937. These rules have been renewed again and again. They are in use till the present day. The head of the district administration was the Deputy Commissioner and his Assistants and it has never been changed.’ [110] Lineage elders may be appointed temporarily, but only as advisers: ‘The District Council may, whenever it deems necessary, also nominate two or more local elders well conversant with the tribal usages and customary laws, to sit with the judicial officer of the court as a bench and may, by order, invest such bench with any of the powers conferred or conferrable by or under the rules for the trial of suits and cases based on the tribal usages and the tribal customary laws only.’ [111] We have assumed that personal merit was factored into appointment decisions, but without a formal system in the case of native officials.

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ ♥ Formalization was largely absent from village councils and trials: ‘The Rules require the village court to “try all suits and cases in accordance with the customary laws of the village.” Village courts are supposed to be non-professional bodies and decide [minor, village-level] cases in an informal atmosphere without procedural technicalities and formalities.’ [112] ‘The Garo system of trial of cases begins with earth-taking. The complainant and the accused both swear by taking a lump of soil in their hands in front of the gathering with a promise that they will state the truth and nothing but the truth. It is believed by some Garos that this is the origin of the word “A’chik”, others believed that they have been called the A’chiks as they inhabited the high undulating land.’ [113] No specialized government buildings were associated with villages: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [114] ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [115] ‘The laskar had his jurisdiction over many villages and was the agent of the British Administration. This system still continues at the district level. The laskar used to bring the cases to the subordinate District Council Court from the Village Court. From the District Council Court the appeals could be preferred to the High Court at Gauhati.’ [116] But formal courts were established in the district capital during the colonial period: ‘The cases which are brought to the courts are serious and quite entangled ones, otherwise these could be decided amicably at the mahari or chra level in the village. When one does have a dispute involving an alien village, one does not get any support from any member of that village since they do not belong to the same clan. The village authority decides the case and gives judgement according to the customary law.’ [117] ‘When the Britishers took over the administration of this district, one witnessed an imposition of hierarchy of new political and administrative units in the district over the traditional democratic village set-up. The British Government, being actuated with the desire to have effective control over the villages and to facilitate the collection of revenues and house tax introduced the office of laskar with limited police, civil and criminal powers. Accordingly there was a laskar over a circle of villages; each having jurisdiction covering ten or twelve of villages. Although, the villagers were left to settle all disputes through the nokma and the village courts, they had right to appeal to the court of laskars against the decisions of the village councils.’ [118] ‘The judicial officers (who preside over those courts) are appointed by, or with the approval of the Governor. The rules as to administration of justice do not contain specific provisions as to their tenure and salary, or as to their full time or part time character. But most of these matters will be regulated as rules or orders issued under Rule 15 of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951. It may be of interest to note that there is a specific prohibition against a member of the Executive Committee being appointed to these courts. To this extent, their independence is protected. A legal practitioner can appear before these courts. But in cases where an accused is not arrested, the legal practitioner takes the permission of the District Council Court for such appearance.’ [119] [There were some government buildings, in Tura, the headquarter's town of the Garo Hills, but precious few anywhere else, as far as I know.] Native villagers accessed town courts for cases that could not be resolved on the local level.

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ ♥ There is little legal formalization on village level. Villagers turned to colonial courts when a case could not be resolved on the local level: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [120] But the colonial authorities introduced formal legal codes that apply to different administrative levels: ‘The application of the Rules for the Administration of Justice vested in the village headman and laskars with judicial authority created some formal stereotypes for the administration which affected the traditional set-up, based on unwritten customary laws. The Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure were not applied but only the spirit of the Penal Code was followed. A villager can no longer avenge a death by killing. The sanction of tribal law does not lie in custom alone but in the principles on which their society is based. ‘ [121] ‘At present, there are atleast three major sets of statutory instruments relevant to the judicial administration which are applicable in the Garo Hills District. They are: (a) Rules for the Administration of Justice and Police in the Garo Hills, 1937, issued on the 29th March, 1937 to the extent to which some portions of these Rules still survive. (This is a matter of considerable obscurity), (b) Rules for the Administration of Justice in the Garo Hills Autonomous District, 1953, issued on the 18th December, 1953 and (c) The Assam High Court Order, 1954 dealing with the jurisdiction of the High Court in relation to various District Council Courts in the tribal area in question.’ [122] Prior to enforcement of colonial regulations, disputes were decided by ordeal: ‘Since the annexation of the Garo Hills by the British Government, a body of men called laskars has been formed, who act as a kind of rural police and also as honorary magistrates. They are empowered to deal with all minor matters and settle unimportant disputes. They do this by calling together meetings of villagers, in which they sit as presidents and give final decisions. Their powers do not exceed those of inflicting fines and awarding compensation to injured parties. This is but an adaptation of the ancient usages of the people, for in former times, the village met in conference to decide any matter in dispute between its members. When in these meetings evidence could not be adduced, recourse was, and is yet had to trial by ordeal. This is of two kinds, the s˘il-s[unknown]o °a, or ordeal of hot iron, and the ch[unknown]okéla-s[unknown]o °a, or ordeal of boiling water.’ [123]

♠ Judges ♣ absent ♥ No specialist judges, as illage headmen and lineage elders exercise judicial authority. SCCS variable 89 'Judiciary' is coded as 'Appointed by executive'. Village headmen and lineage elders exercise judicial authority on the local level: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [124] ‘The judicial authority of the Garo is based on the institution of Nokma. Nokma looks after the village land as well as members of the village. The village judiciary system started with the a’king Nokma or Songni Nokma and the clan elders of that village. Nokma took the leadership in all village activities and since he was supposed to be a warrior, he was not expected to hesitate to punish the guilty if he suspected a foul play. In the past the Garo principle was ‘blood for blood, head for head’.’ [125] If a dispute cannot be resolved on village level, the case is transferred to higher-level courts an authorities: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [126] The highest judicial authorities operate as judges on the district level: ‘The Judicial Officer appointed to preside over the District Council Court, exercises original jurisdiction to try cases and suits and exercises such powers as defined in Chapter III of the Code of the Criminal Procedure, 1898, and such other powers conferred by or under these rules, as he is invested with by the Executive Member of the District Council with the approval of the Governor for the disposal of the case and suits arising within the territorial jurisdiction of the said court.’ [127] They may be assited by appointed elders: ‘The District Council may, whenever it deems necessary, also nominate two or more local elders well conversant with the tribal usages and customary laws, to sit with the judicial officer of the court as a bench and may, by order, invest such bench with any of the powers conferred or conferrable by or under the rules for the trial of suits and cases based on the tribal usages and the tribal customary laws only.’ [128]

♠ Courts ♣ absent♥ Local disputes are settled in informal village councils: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [129] ‘The Garo system of trial of cases beings with earth-taking. The complainant and the accused both swear by taking a lump of soil in their hands in front of the gathering with a promise that they will state the truth and nothing but the truth. It is believed by some Garos that this is the origin of the word “A’chik”, others believed that they have been called the A’chiks as they inhabited the high undulating land.’ [130] More serious cases are handled by regional and district-level courts: ‘Many of the disputes of the Garos decided in their village Panchayats. When a man has some complaints against another he reports them to the Nokma or the village-head. If the nature of the complaints is simple, the Nokma in a meeting of the few leading persons of the village, decides the dispute; but if the nature of the complaints is complicated and not easy of solution the Nokma reports the matter to the Laskar. The Laskar is a very important and influential man in the Garo Hills District. The hills areas are divided into some elekas and each of such elekas is placed under a Laskar for convenient collection of the house tax as well as for deciding the disputes of small nature locally. The Laskar need not essentially be a literate man, worldly prudence is enough for the management of his eleka. In practice a Laskar wields immense influence in his eleka.’ [131] ‘The cases which are brought to the courts are serious and quite entangled ones, otherwise these could be decided amicably at the mahari or chra level in the village. When one does have a dispute involving an alien village, one does not get any support from any member of that village since they do not belong to the same clan. The village authority decides the case and gives judgement according to the customary law.’ [132] The laskars act as intermediaries between different courts: ‘The laskar had his jurisdiction over many villages and was the agent of the British Administration. This system still continues at the district level. The laskar used to bring the cases to the subordinate District Council Court from the Village Court. From the District Council Court the appeals could be preferred to the High Court at Gauhati.’ [133] Groups of laskars may also fulfill judicial functions on the intermediate level: ‘When the Britishers took over the administration of this district, one witnessed an imposition of hierarchy of new political and administrative units in the district over the traditional democratic village set-up. The British Government, being actuated with the desire to have effective control over the villages and to facilitate the collection of revenues and house tax introduced the office of laskar with limited police, civil and criminal powers. Accordingly there was a laskar over a circle of villages; each having jurisdiction covering ten or twelve of villages. Although, the villagers were left to settle all disputes through the nokma and the village courts, they had right to appeal to the court of laskars against the decisions of the village councils.’ [134]

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ absent ♥ There are no professional lawyers in village-level disputes, given their relatively informal character (see above). Cases were formerly settled by ordeal: ‘Since the annexation of the Garo Hills by the British Government, a body of men called laskars has been formed, who act as a kind of rural police and also as honorary magistrates. They are empowered to deal with all minor matters and settle unimportant disputes. They do this by calling together meetings of villagers, in which they sit as presidents and give final decisions. Their powers do not exceed those of inflicting fines and awarding compensation to injured parties. This is but an adaptation of the ancient usages of the people, for in former times, the village met in conference to decide any matter in dispute between its members. When in these meetings evidence could not be adduced, recourse was, and is yet had to trial by ordeal. This is of two kinds, the [...] ordeal of hot iron, and the [...] ordeal of boiling water.’ [135] ‘Before the advent of the British, Garos settled all the criminal offences through killing. It was the only way of resolving any dispute of criminal nature. The Britishers could not stop this practice of killing of each other for any slightest dispute. It took a long time and ultimately with the demonstration of gun and bullet, they could succeed to put a stop to it after the Garo Hills became a district in 1869. The laskar was appointed to look into the disputes of both civil and criminal nature in the village. If it is of purely criminal nature, the matter is reported to the Deputy Commissioner at Tura and disposed there. The cases which are not serious are settled by the village Nokma and Laskar with fines upto the amount not exceeding Rs. 50 for injury to property, injury to persons not endangering life or limb, house trespass, affronts of whatever kind; gambling and drunken or disorderly brawling (Milton Sangma, 1981, p. 187).’ [136] Serious cases are handled by district-level courts: ‘The cases which are brought to the courts are serious and quite entangled ones, otherwise these could be decided amicably at the mahari or chra level in the village. When one does have a dispute involving an alien village, one does not get any support from any member of that village since they do not belong to the same clan. The village authority decides the case and gives judgement according to the customary law.’ [137] Legal practicioners may appear before those higher courts: ‘The judicial officers (who preside over those courts) are appointed by, or with the approval of the Governor. The rules as to administration of justice do not contain specific provisions as to their tenure and salary, or as to their full time or part time character. But most of these matters will be regulated as rules or orders issued under Rule 15 of the Assam Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951. It may be of interest to note that there is a specific prohibition against a member of the Executive Committee being appointed to these courts. To this extent, their independence is protected. A legal practitioner can appear before these courts. But in cases where an accused is not arrested, the legal practitioner takes the permission of the District Council Court for such appearance.’ [138] It is assumed here (provisionally) that by 'legal praciticioners' advocates are meant.

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ absent ♥ 'The Garos may be roughly divided into Hill Garos and Plains Garos, and both classes inhabit the district which owes its name to the tribe.' [139] The primary subsistence strategy of the hill country is slash-and-burn/dry cultivation, whereas wet cultivation is practiced in the plains. Wet cultivation was expanded in the post-independence period: ‘There would appear to be somewhat less mutuality in labor exchange in areas of intensive wet rice agriculture. Not only can land be loaned to others on a sharecropping basis, but agricultural labor can sometimes be hired, especially at transplanting and harvest, when the demands of labor are particularly heavy. Labor is also sometimes hired for house-building, a practice unknown in Rengsanggri. Even when labor is given without payment, it is more often calculated and paid back in closely equivalent amounts, and less often given freely, than in the more traditional areas. In some plains areas, unlike Rengsanggri, money is also loaned at interest. Perhaps the relatively diverse origins of the people of wet rice areas makes traditional free labor exchange more difficult. One cannot so easily rely on the ancient bonds of kinship to supply the help that may be needed.’ [140] ‘Hill farmers seem to have had little opposition to the clearing of some land for wet rice, even though this has meant that it could no longer be used for dry cultivation. In most villages the areas in which wet cultivation is possible are more or less limited, it never yet having occurred to a Garo that hillsides might be terraced; and the threat of alienation of the land has not yet seemed particularly serious. Strangers, and sometimes even non-Garos, have been allowed to settle and clear new land. At the present time the laws passed by the Garo Hills District Council in an effort to encourage wet rice cultivation provide that if local villagers do not take advantage of suitable land, others will have the right to convert it to paddy fields. In some cases new settlers have probably paid the nokma or even the a’king owners (title-holders) a fee to permit its use and alienation. Some might interpret this as a’wil, the fee that is traditionally paid to the a’king owner by non-villagers who wish to use dry fields, though ordinarily a’wil confers only a temporary right. Others might interpret it as purchase price for the land; or, finally, it might be considered a bribe, since no such purchase is recognized as legal by the government. However regarded, such a fee might help to smooth over any antagonism toward the new arrival, though in practice it appears that the villagers have often failed to appreciate the value of potential paddy land and have let it go with little or no opposition.’ [141] The code reflects dry rather than wet cultivation.
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ absent ♥ Villages relied on natural water sources: ‘Unlike other hill tribes, such as the Nagas and the Lushais, who build their villages high up on the slopes of hills, the Garos construct theirs in valleys or in depressions on the hillsides, close to running water. They attach great importance to pure water, and it is quite the exception for them to live at any distance from a good stream. The sites chosen for the houses are nevertheless generally steep, and the villages are rarely on flat ground.’ [142] Access to rivers was an important factor when choosing a site for a new village: ‘There are different sizes of village in the Garo Hills. I have seen small villages consisting of two or three huts, practically isolated from all the advantages of a big village. On the other hand, in a big village there may be as many as fifty or more huts. The size of the big village entirely depends on the space that is available for the house building and also the facilities the inhabitants of the village may derive for cultivation and other purposes from the surroundings of the locality. The largest village, I visited, was situated on the slopes of the hills, as is the usual practice, facing long strip of valley, nearly about a mile and a half long and about half a mile broad. It is easily understandable that people living in such villages take to plough and utilise the valley for agricultural purposes. It has, therefore, the advantage of accommodating larger people than it is possible for the village which is situated on the hill slopes and which is to depend primarily on jhum cultivation as described hereafter. Usually, an average sized village contains ten to fifteen houses. The economic factor is one of the main guiding principles regarding the expansion of a village. Availability of arrable land or hillocks for jhum cultivation, good drinking water, facilities of conveyance and also facilities of market places are some of the main factors, which the Garos consider before they fix up a place to start a new village. The common practice is to have one house for one family consisting of husband, wife, and children. Occasionally, the old mother or the mother-in-law also stays in the family.’ [143]
♠ markets ♣ inferred absent ♥ Were these markets permanent structures or open fields where stalls could be set up, ad hoc? If the Garos built permanent structures to function as a place for an exchange of goods then code as present, otherwise absent. ‘They visited markets at bordering plains with their produce from the hills like raw cotton, chillies, ginger, wax, rubber, lac and other things to barter for essential items such as salt, dried fish and jewellery of all kinds and most important metal implements and weapons which they needed so desperately. In other words, to generate surplus they needed slaves. To get slaves they had to attack the plains or neighbouring villages. To win and capture slaves they needed to be strong and alert. Obviously in a situation like this economic strength promoted the physical strength.’ [144] ‘Each of the markets in the Garo Hills is held on a particular day in the seven-day week. They are staggered to allow the traders to make the rounds of several markets, staying just one day at each before moving on. The traders are plains men, mostly Bengalis. The Rengsanggri people deal primarily with two markets. The most important is the Friday market at Rongram, which is on the road about three miles from the village; but a few villagers always attend the Saturday market which is held in Tura, another nine miles along the road to the south. More rarely one or two men from Rengsanggri visit the market which is held at Garobadha, to the west of Tura. The Rongram market has been opened only since the partition of India, following which a new road was put through to Tura to avoid the threat of disrupted communications raised by the partition. Formerly most marketing was done in Tura, but the one at Rongram is more convenient and has become one of the most important markets of the Garo Hills. It draws people from all sides-particularly from the north and east, since in those directions there are no markets for many miles, while it has competition from Tura and Garobadha in the south and west. People are already streaming into the market area by Thursday afternoon, since the Friday market really begins then. Those who come from a great distance camp for the night in the market area and cook their supper at open fires from food that they bring with them. On Friday morning they are joined by many more people from the villages closer by. Garos walk in over the footpaths that crisscross the hills, and almost everybody carries a basket hung by a tump line from his forehead. Some carry goods to sell, others need the space to carry home their purchases, and everyone brings along a few personal possessions. Traders come by truck or by bus, bringing large burlapwrapped bundles of their wares. Activity in Rongram reaches a peak early Friday morning, when as many as three thousand people may be milling around the market; by noon, people are leaving again. Many go back to their villages, but most of the traders, and a few of the Garos, move up to Tura for the market the next day.’ [145]
♠ food storage sites ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 20 'Food Storage' 'Individual households', not 'Communal facilities', 'Political agent controlled repositories', or 'Economic agent controlled repositories' were present. Village granaries are built in one place, but individual granaries are owned by households rather than the community: ‘In one corner of the village, or if it is a very large one, in two or three places outside the ring of living-houses, there is always a collection of smaller huts, which, from their size and appearance, are clearly not intended for human habitation. These are the village granaries, of which each family possesses one or more. The custom of building all the granaries in one place no doubt has its origin in the fact that the grain is thus in less danger of fire than if it were stored in the living houses. In many parts of the hills the grain is protected from the inroads of rats and other vermin by laying the floors of the granaries on posts, the tops of which are carved in the shape of a mushroom, so as to give the animals the least possible foothold. The practice of placing these granaries at a distance from other houses has, however, its drawbacks, for it is no rare thing for an elephant to come round at night, and finding unguarded houses full of his favourite food, to pull one down and help himself to the contents. In these granaries the paddy is placed in a large basket made of strips of bamboo, which takes up nearly the whole of the floor space. Bunches of Indian corn and millet are often suspended from the roof, and various roots occupy the remaining space on the floor.’ [146] [I cannot imagine a "government granary". I believe that people occasionally bought or sold a bit of unhusked rice, but not much. People grew and ate their own rice for the most part. Gvt. never had a hand in it. There may have been more buying and selling in wet rice areas. There was zero wet rice in the Rengsanggri area in the 50's.]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 14 'Routes of Land Transport' only 'unimproved trails' were used for land transport, not roads. The Garo initially used trails only. Sinha and Majumdar report roads, but at a later field date than the time period covered here: ‘There is but one cart road running from Bagmara to Damra via Tura, the headquarters of the district. It is a fair-weather road for vehicular traffic. In the rains, however, most of the temporary bridges become unsuitable for traffic. The other short roads run from Tura on to Phulbari and the other to Mankachar, the border region on the north and west of the district. There is a camel track running very close to the central ridge connecting Damra with Tura being linked with Siju. The Assam Trunk Road runs on the north of the district. The inhabitants of the place usually have to walk over the hills following the foot tracks to go from one place to another. Where the rivers or rivulets are sufficiently deep, people use dugout boats to cover the distance when necessary. Towards the centre of the district, boats as a means of conveyance are very risky. The slopes are too steep, and the boulders under the surface of the water are too big for safe plying of boats.’ [147] ‘The village is connected by a road maintained by the Garo Hills District Council, to the district highway passing along the western border of the district. By this road the districthighway is 11 miles from the village. An extension of the same road connects the village to another highway which connects Tura with Phulbari, passing almost diagonally half-way through the district in north-westerly direction ( see Map 3). Regular passenger buses ply through both of these highways and the distance from the village to the district headquarters by either is 31 miles. The headquarters of the Selsela Development Block under the Community Development Programme were established in a place about 4 miles away from the village, in 1958, and at present the headquarters of the Development Block are taking the shape of a small township.’ [148] [There was precious little such infrastructure in the mid 50's, so I suppose there was not much earlier. There was a one lane gravel/dirt road up to Tura when I was there.]
♠ Bridges ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 14 'Routes of Land Transport' only 'unimproved trails' were used for land transport, not roads. The Garo initially used trails only. Sinha reports temporary bridges, but at a later field date than the time period covered here: ‘There is but one cart road running from Bagmara to Damra via Tura, the headquarters of the district. It is a fair-weather road for vehicular traffic. In the rains, however, most of the temporary bridges become unsuitable for traffic. The other short roads run from Tura on to Phulbari and the other to Mankachar, the border region on the north and west of the district. There is a camel track running very close to the central ridge connecting Damra with Tura being linked with Siju. The Assam Trunk Road runs on the north of the district. The inhabitants of the place usually have to walk over the hills following the foot tracks to go from one place to another. Where the rivers or rivulets are sufficiently deep, people use dugout boats to cover the distance when necessary. Towards the centre of the district, boats as a means of conveyance are very risky. The slopes are too steep, and the boulders under the surface of the water are too big for safe plying of boats.’ [149] [There was precious little such infrastructure in the mid 50's, so I suppose there was not much earlier. There was a one lane gravel/dirt road up to Tura when I was there.]
♠ Canals ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 14 'Routes of Land Transport' only 'unimproved trails' were used for land transport, not roads.
♠ Ports ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 14 'Routes of Land Transport' only 'unimproved trails' were used for land transport, not roads.

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ absent ♥

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' Memorial posts were erected for the dead: 'A suggestion made to me of a further link between the Kacharis and the Garos is the resemblance which exists in form between the monoliths of Dimapur, the former capital of the Kacharis, and the k˘imas or memorial posts which the Garos erect in memory of their dead. The comparison is of great with small, for the Dimapur stones are of immense size, while the k˘imas are but wooden posts. Still, the resemblance certainly exists, and the fact that k˘imas are always carved to the same pattern (except when they represent a human face) tends to prove that the carving is done on some definite principle, handed down perhaps from one generation to another, the origin of which has long been lost. When we consider further the small number of the monoliths, it is not improbable that they were erected to commemorate a chief or person [Page 17] of high degree, while the ordinary person had nothing better erected in his memory than the k˘imas which are set up in every Garo village.' [150] Ceremonial gifts served to 'record' obligations between families: 'Kokam is a payment given to those who slaughter a cow in honor of the deceased. Slaughtering may be done by a son, but also by a more distant relative, whether a member of the same lineage or not, and it is frequently done by the man who leads a party from another village to attend a funeral. Killing a cow brings honor both to the deceased and to the man who organizes the killing, and the occasion provides a fine meal to the friends and relatives who help. The organizer receives the kokam from the household of the dead man, and like magual this is most appropriately a brass heirloom gong, though something else may be substituted if no gongs are available. The gong is carried back to the organizer’s village, where the cow is killed and a slender wooden post erected to advertise the event. The gong thus acquired can be used for nothing other than to be returned to the original family when somebody in the acquiring family dies. At that time the original family must sacrifice a cow in return. In other words, the kokam gifts form a symbolic record of the obligations that are set up for returning the honor of killing a [Page 200] cow, and in this way households bestow honor upon one another. One man may be followed in death by several cows.' [151]
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ present ♥ ‘THE fact that the Garos migrated from Tibet to India is recorded in their own traditional literature; the memory of their leaders Jappa Jalimpa, Sukpa Bonggepa and the manner of their journey awakened again each time their history is narrated by the bards. Research into their origin and language during the British rule confirmed their tradition though the exact place of their former home could not be located. Scholars differ on the routes they followed; Playfair holds the view that the present settlers in Garo hills came in separate batches along the river Brahmaputra. D.S. Rongmuthu, who has done research in traditional Garo literature is of the opinion that they came through Garhwal. According to some scholars their migration dates back to the Vedic period. In the course of their migration over the years they became scattered all over North-East India and Bangladesh. The bulk of the tribe eventually settled down in Garo Hills and gave the place its name.’ [152] ‘The oral literature thus evolved has been tenaciously handed down from one generation to another, which thus assumes the character of an indispensable link between the past and a particular generation. Through it any generation can trace back its own origin and history.’ [153] ‘The oral literature has also been indispensable in another sense to the life of the Garos, it has permeated the very fabric of the life of the community. Though the primary object of the bards in narrating the history, legends and myths is undeniably to entertain, the desire to inform and to create awareness, too, might be another. The literature is not merely to entertain, it is part and parcel of festival, various ceremonies, rites and rituals and important occasions. Without it, they cannot be complete, just as the various ceremonies, religious and otherwise, is incomplete without the rice beer and the Wangala without the dance. Literature, thus, in the traditional society, by which I mean the community practising traditional religion, customs and ways of life, pervades a great deal of the activities of life. Its role is comparable to that of the written literature which has emerged recently.’ [154]
♠ Written records ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' A Latinized script was introduced by Christian missionaries: ‘Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. Before the district of the Garo Hills was taken over by the British, the people living in the areas bordering Goalpara and Kamrup used to write in Assamese character while those living in the borders of the Mymensing and the Sylhet districts used to write in Bengali character; the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language.’ [155] 'In the Garo Hills the percentage of literacy was only 0.85 percent in 1901. It went upto 2.65 percent in 1931. Prior to Independence, the literacy was only 7.31 percent (1951 census). Between 1951 and 1961 there was a spectacular increase. In 1991 the literacy percentage in the Garo Hills was recorded as 37.04 percent, much below the national average as well as the overall state average of 48.26 percent. In the Garo Hills there is a positive cor-relation between the level of literacy and the extent of participation in the active economic life.’ [156] ‘Before Independence, the growth rate of literacy was low. In the post Independence period, the growth rate is high, though Garo Hills is lagging behind other districts of Meghalaya and the national literacy. People are living in nearly 2,400 villages which are mostly small and scattered. The traditional system of shifting cultivation is still in vogue in many villages. Hence, there is serious problem of availability of school facilities, dearth of qualified teachers, motivation of parents and pupils and poor socio-economic conditions that stand in the way of spreading literacy.’ [157] ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [158]
♠ Script ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' See above.
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' See above.

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Prior to the colonial period, the Achik were illiterate. Were any of the Laskars literate and did they use lists and tables? 'Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. ... the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach Christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language'.[159]
♠ Calendar ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' Garo farmers were somewhat familiar with the Christian and Benghali calendars: ‘The agricultural tasks which follow assignment of the plots to households are precisely defined, and are followed with considerable regularity. The Rengsanggri people have a nodding acquaintance with the European calendar and are sometimes able to arrange government business according to its terms; but in describing their own agricultural cycle they more often use the Bengali calendar, though even this is imperfectly understood. They are acquainted with the names of the twelve Bengali months, though the Garo pronunciation of them might surprise a Bengali. They know that a new moon marks the beginning of a new month, and they are usually able to assign a particular agricultural task or festival to a particular month; but they do not understand how the lunar calendar is kept in step with the solar year, and they cannot usually tell the name of the present month with confidence. Beyond any formal calendar, however, they also note natural signs: they know, for instance, that when the bright red blossoms of the mandal tree burst forth the time has come to plant rice.’ [160]
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' Christian missionaries introduced a Latinized script and translated the Bible into Garo: ‘Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. Before the district of the Garo Hills was taken over by the British, the people living in the areas bordering Goalpara and Kamrup used to write in Assamese character while those living in the borders of the Mymensing and the Sylhet districts used to write in Bengali character; the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language.’ [161] The missionaries also published religious newspapers: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [162]
♠ Religious literature ♣ present ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' The Christian missionaries published religious newspapers: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [163]
♠ Practical literature ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Prior to the colonial period, the Achik were illiterate. Were any of the Laskars literate and did they use lists and tables? 'Some of the Garos are of the opinion that they had their own alphabetic system of writing their language in some hoary past but this is not proved till now; it is really doubtful if the Garos had their own alphabet ever. ... the Garos of the interior hills were mostly illiterate who are even now mostly illiterate. After the district came under the administration of the British the foreign missionaries introduced Roman characters of writing and this facilitated them to translate the holy Bible into Garo and preach Christianity there. The Garos now write in Roman characters but even then all the letters of the English alphabet are not necessary to write the language'.[164]
♠ History ♣ absent ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' We need to ascertain what Shira means by 'secular literature'.
♠ Philosophy ♣ absent ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' We need to ascertain what Shira means by 'secular literature'.
♠ Scientific literature ♣ absent ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' We need to ascertain what Shira means by 'secular literature'.
♠ Fiction ♣ absent ♥ SCCS variable 149 'Writing and Records' lists no mnemonic devices or nonwritten records or 'True writing, no writing' We need to ascertain what Shira means by 'secular literature'.


Money

♠ Articles ♣ present ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency' After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable: ‘Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.’ [165]
♠ Tokens ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency'
♠ Precious metals ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency' After the introduction of foreign currency, barter was increasingly displaced by monetized exchange, but did not die out completely. Brass objects were particularly valuable: ‘Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.’ [166] No precious metals are mentioned.
♠ Foreign coins ♣ present ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency' ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [167] Cash crops, such as cotton, are sold at local markets. During the colonial and early independence periods, barter trade was gradually displaced by monetized exchange. The coins and bank notes used were of Koch, colonial and national origin. ‘This shows how due to the adoption of permanent cultivation the cash income position from crop sales in Wajadagiri has improved.’ [168]
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ absent ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency' ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [169] Cash crops, such as cotton, are sold at local markets. During the colonial and early independence periods, barter trade was gradually displaced by monetized exchange. The coins and bank notes used were of Koch, colonial and national origin.
♠ Paper currency ♣ present ♥ According to SCCS variable 17 'Money (Media of Exchange) and Credit' is coded as 'Foreign coinage or paper currency' ‘One of the significant economic transition brought about by the development of markets in Garo Hills is the gradual change over from barter to money economy.’ [170] Cash crops, such as cotton, are sold at local markets. During the colonial and early independence periods, barter trade was gradually displaced by monetized exchange. The coins and bank notes used were of Koch, colonial and national origin. ‘This shows how due to the adoption of permanent cultivation the cash income position from crop sales in Wajadagiri has improved.’ [171]

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ present ♥ Journals and newspapers were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [172] We have assumed that some form of postal or courier service was present in the town.
♠ Postal stations ♣ present ♥ Journals and newspapers were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [173] We have assumed that some form of postal or courier service was present in the town.
♠ General postal service ♣ absent ♥ Journals were distributed among small educated neo-elites, but not to the general population: ‘Most of the writings before 1940 had religious intonation though secular form of literature began in 1924. Before this, there were only two journals in Garo language-one was the A’chikni Ripeng or “Friend of the Garos”, a powerful organ of the American Baptist Mission started in 1879. Since the journal was meant for propagation of plans and policies of the American Baptist Mission, articles dealing with one’s freedom of thought and expression were not accepted and published in it. The other journal, which was brought out in October, 1912 by three local leaders, namely Jobang D. Marak, Modhunath G. Momin and Alexander Macdonald Bassamoit, was Phringphrang or “Morning Star”. This journal, which was supposed to be secular in nature, was not very much different from the A’chikni Ripeng as most of the articles there, were connected with religion. The journal had its last publication in December, 1914 after which there were no more secular journals.’ [174]

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Eva Brandl ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ absent ♥
♠ Bronze ♣ absent ♥
♠ Iron ♣ present ♥ ‘Implements which are mainly used by the Garos are very few in number. Mongreng is a variety of axe, and banuk or oaiseng is another variety. Besides these, they have spears with very big iron heads. They also have mellam, i.e., a short sword, about three feet long. It is made of iron and is straight in shape with sharpened end on both sides. It has a horizontal narrow crossbar from two ends of which they usually tie the taft tail hair of bulls or of yak if they can manage to purchase it from upper districts of Assam. Yaks’ tail is very much in demand by the Garos, and they consider it as a precious possession. The lowermost portion of the sword serves as the grip which is pointed at the end. This, they say, helps them to stick the sword on the ground when necessary.’ [175] ‘The only property which has acquired prestige value after the contact of the Garo with the outside world is the gun (Garos did not have firearms before British occupation). It is not only a useful device to protect the household from enemies, for hunting (in fact, it is the only weapon of hunting of the present day Garos or for killing and warding off wild animals. Besides, a household possessing a gun enjoys a special prestige.’ [176]
♠ Steel ♣ inferred present ♥ Inferred from possession of firearms.[177]

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ absent ♥
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥
♠ Slings ♣ absent ♥
♠ Self bow ♣ unknown ♥ ‘Bows and arrows are well known to the Garos, but they are very seldom used; in fact, I have never seen a bow in the Garo Hills. Garo atés, or choppers, vary in shape according to locality and the source from which they are obtained, for they are not made in the hills. In the south, the pattern is that which the Bengali ryot makes use of; in the north, the implements are purchased from, and are of the pattern used by the inhabitants of the western Khasi Hills.’ [178] ‘Bows and arrows are not used by them now. They say they used them formerly. In folktales, mention of bows and arrows is found. Spear is very rarely used for killing animals. They are rather used for self protection. Very few people have guns. Others remain satisfied with spear, mongreng, banuk, dao (all three are different forms of axe), etc., for their self protection and also for occasional huntings. Those who live near a river or a stream pass many hours of the day and at times of night as well in fishing. They use various methods in catching fish. For the purpose of this paper, it is not necessary to describe them here.’ [179]
♠ Composite bow ♣ unknown ♥ ‘Bows and arrows are well known to the Garos, but they are very seldom used; in fact, I have never seen a bow in the Garo Hills. Garo atés, or choppers, vary in shape according to locality and the source from which they are obtained, for they are not made in the hills. In the south, the pattern is that which the Bengali ryot makes use of; in the north, the implements are purchased from, and are of the pattern used by the inhabitants of the western Khasi Hills.’ [180] ‘Bows and arrows are not used by them now. They say they used them formerly. In folktales, mention of bows and arrows is found. Spear is very rarely used for killing animals. They are rather used for self protection. Very few people have guns. Others remain satisfied with spear, mongreng, banuk, dao (all three are different forms of axe), etc., for their self protection and also for occasional huntings. Those who live near a river or a stream pass many hours of the day and at times of night as well in fishing. They use various methods in catching fish. For the purpose of this paper, it is not necessary to describe them here.’ [181]
♠ Crossbow ♣ absent ♥
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ present ♥ ‘Three men in Rengsanggri owned antiquated guns. They occasionally shot a jungle fowl or, rarely, a larger animal such as a deer, but hunting afforded a barely significant addition to the diet. No other hunting devices were ever used. The forests do provide many wild crops-leaves, herbs, bamboo shoots, etc.-which lend variety to the cooking though they do not add much bulk. Banana leaves from plants that have gone wild in the jungle are collected in large numbers, since Garos use them as plates to hold their food at meals, throwing them away after a single use.’ [182] ‘The only property which has acquired prestige value after the contact of the Garo with the outside world is the gun (Garos did not have firearms before British occupation). It is not only a useful device to protect the household from enemies, for hunting (in fact, it is the only weapon of hunting of the present day Garos or for killing and warding off wild animals. Besides, a household possessing a gun enjoys a special prestige.’ [183]

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ absent ♥
♠ Battle axes ♣ present ♥ ‘Implements which are mainly used by the Garos are very few in number. Mongreng is a variety of axe, and banuk or oaiseng is another variety. Besides these, they have spears with very big iron heads. They also have mellam, i.e., a short sword, about three feet long. It is made of iron and is straight in shape with sharpened end on both sides. It has a horizontal narrow crossbar from two ends of which they usually tie the taft tail hair of bulls or of yak if they can manage to purchase it from upper districts of Assam. Yaks’ tail is very much in demand by the Garos, and they consider it as a precious possession. The lowermost portion of the sword serves as the grip which is pointed at the end. This, they say, helps them to stick the sword on the ground when necessary.’ [184] ‘Bows and arrows are not used by them now. They say they used them formerly. In folktales, mention of bows and arrows is found. Spear is very rarely used for killing animals. They are rather used for self protection. Very few people have guns. Others remain satisfied with spear, mongreng, banuk, dao (all three are different forms of axe), etc., for their self protection and also for occasional huntings. Those who live near a river or a stream pass many hours of the day and at times of night as well in fishing. They use various methods in catching fish. For the purpose of this paper, it is not necessary to describe them here.’ [185]
♠ Daggers ♣ absent ♥
♠ Swords ♣ present ♥ ‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [186] ‘In the afternoon most of the villagers join in this feast, and the men then beat gongs and one by one some of them dance with a headhunting sword inside the nokma’s house.’ [187] ‘The principal weapons of the Garos are swords and spears, without one or other of which they are rarely seen. The sword is very quaintly designed, and would be found awkward to use by anybody but a Garo. It varies from 3 to 4 ft. in length; has a straight blade about 2 ins. broad, a blunt, arrow-shaped point, and from hilt to point is made of one piece of iron. The grip is very thin, and instead of being straight, is curved, and ends in a flat, sharp-edged, rounded head. This sharp hilt is supposed to enable the owner to stick his sword into the ground by his side when he halts, so as to have it always ready to his hand. At each end of the crossbar is attached a bunch of cow’s-tail hair, or what is more greatly prized, part of a yak’s tail. The sword is always carried naked, and is never placed in a sheath or fastened to the body. It is a most useful possession to the Garo on the march, for with it he can clear jungle which bars his way, split firewood and cut up his food, besides using it for the mainpurpose of defence. These swords are purchased from the Megams in the Khasi Hills district, and appear to be of Khasi origin. The ordinary weapon can be purchased for two or three rupees, but an heirloom is much prized, and cannot often be bought.’ [188]
♠ Spears ♣ present ♥ ‘A Garo spear is a formidable weapon, for it is provided with an iron head, 1 ft. or 14 ins. long and 2 or 3 ins. broad. It is very sharp, and is fitted into a bamboo shaft about 5 ft. long. The heads are first cemented into their sockets with lac, and then very neatly bound to them with thin withes of cane, which further servo the purpose of preventing the shaft from splitting. With these spears two or three men will attack a bear, and even tigers are occasionally killed with them. In the big drives for game which the Garos sometimes organize, spears are invariably used, and numbers of pig are slaughtered with these weapons. The heads are of foreign make and are brought by Bengali traders to the markets at the foot of the hills. The spears are used only for thrusting, and not for casting.’ [189]
♠ Polearms ♣ absent ♥

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ absent ♥
♠ Donkeys ♣ absent ♥
♠ Horses ♣ absent ♥
♠ Camels ♣ absent ♥
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ absent ♥
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ absent ♥
♠ Shields ♣ present ♥ ‘The walls and ceiling are hung with the family’s possessions - baskets, tools, cooking and eating utensils - and two or three bamboo poles suspended from ropes serve as racks to hold the family’s spare clothes and blankets when these are not in use. Pots containing threshed rice and other staples line one wall to the front, and pots of brewing rice beer stand at the back. Several low stools may be arranged around the wall, pushed out of the way when not in use. At least one old headhunting mil’am (sword) is stuck into the back wall of every house, and one or more shields may lean against the wall below the sword.’ [190] ‘The Garos have two kinds of shield. The sepi is made entirely of wood, or of flat lengths of wood bound together and covered with very thin strips of cane or bamboo, while the danil is made of bearskin or cowhide stretched on a wooden frame. Both kinds are of the same shape and size. They are about 3 feet long by 18 inches broad, roughly oblong, but with slightly concave sides, and with a gentle curve backwards over the hand. They are fitted with handles made of cane.’ [191]
♠ Helmets ♣ absent ♥
♠ Breastplates ♣ absent ♥
♠ Limb protection ♣ absent ♥
♠ Chainmail ♣ absent ♥
♠ Scaled armor ♣ absent ♥
♠ Laminar armor ♣ absent ♥
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ absent ♥
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ absent ♥

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ present ♥ ‘I have noticed that the Garos, particularly those living in the interior of the hills, like more to live on the slopes of the hills than in the plains of the valley. There are villages wherefrom they are to travel up and down of the hills for three days or more to go to a market place. It appears that they do not grudge it even though they cross very high hills.’ [192] ‘“The villages were irregular, hidden in hollows of the hills or on clinging spurs surrounded by jungle covered heights. They were so covered by bamboos and tall trees and as such houses could not be easily located except through the sound or clamour coming from the bottom of the gorge. The paths were zigzag across the peaks or descend through the craggy sharp hillsides. They were susceptible to regular animal depredation - wild elephants, tigers, etc.” which remain as a scourge in many Garo villages even today.’ [193] ‘Unlike other hill tribes, such as the Nagas and the Lushais, who build their villages high up on the slopes of hills, the Garos construct theirs in valleys or in depressions on the hillsides, close to running water. They attach great importance to pure water, and it is quite the exception for them to live at any distance from a good stream. The sites chosen for the houses are nevertheless generally steep, and the villages are rarely on flat ground.’ [194]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ present ♥ ‘Besides the sacrifices for individual cases of illness, there are certain ceremonies which are observed once a year by a whole community or village, and are intended to safeguard its members from dangers of the forest, and from sickness and mishap during the coming twelve months. The principal of these is the Asongtata ceremony. Close to the outskirts of every big village a number of stones may be noticed stuck into the ground, apparently without order or method. These are known by the name of asong, and on them is offered the sacrifice which the Asougtata demands. The sacrifice of a goat takes place, and a month later, that of a langur ( Entcllus monkey), or a bamboo-rat is considered necessary. The animal chosen has a rope fastened round its neck and is led by two men, one on each side of it, to every house in the village. It is taken inside each house in turn, the assembled villagers, meanwhile, beating the walls from the outside, to frighten and drive out any evil spirits which may have taken up their residence within. The round of the village having been made in this manner, the monkey or rat is led to the outskirts of the village, killed by a blow of a duo, which disembowels it, and then crucified on bamboos set up in the ground. Round the crucified animal long, sharp bamboo stakes are placed, which form chcvaux de frisc round about it. Those commemorate the days when such defences surrounded the villages on all sides to keep off human enemies, and they are now a symbol to ward off sickness and dangers to life from the wild animals of the forest. The langur required for the purpose is hunted down some days before, but should it be found impossible to catch one, a brown monkey may take its place; a hulock may not be used.’ [195] ‘In former days, Garo villages were of considerable size and used to contain as many as two or three hundred houses. Liability to attack by a neighbouring village made this necessary, and the danger was further guarded against by sowing the approaches with sharp-pointed bamboo stakes called wamisi in Garo, but better known as panjis. These presented a very formidable obstacle to an enemy, and effectually prevented a sudden attack. Nowadays, when every man is at peace with his neighbour, the necessity no longer exists for large collections of houses, and the difficulty of finding sufficient land close to big villages for the support of their inhabitants, has resulted in their being broken up into small hamlets situated perhaps as much as four or five miles apart, which, however, in most cases, retain the name of the parent village. In order to distinguish them there is added to the name of each hamlet the name of its nokma, or headman.’ [196]
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ absent ♥
♠ Ditch ♣ absent ♥
♠ Moat ♣ absent ♥
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ absent ♥
♠ Fortified camps ♣ absent ♥
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ absent ♥
♠ Long walls ♣ absent ♥ km.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥


Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ Eva Brandl ♥

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ ♥
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ ♥
♠ Impeachment ♣ ♥

Social Mobility

Status

Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ inferred absent ♥ 'Property among the Garos is inherited in the female line. One of the daughters is selected by the parents to be the heiress. If the couple have no female child, a girl belonging to the machong of the wife (preferably the daughter of her sister, whether real or classificatory) is adopted to be an heiress. She is not considered to be the absolute owner of the property. Decision about the disposal of property is taken by her husband, who is considered to be the household authority (NOKNI SKOTONG). After the death of the father-in-law responsibility transfers to the son-in-law. If a dead man is survived by a widow, she stays in the family of her daughter and is sometimes referred to as an additional wife (JIK) of her daughter's husband.'[197] Due to primogeniture conventions in the transmission of property within the matrilineage, heiresses and their husbands had a special role within the extended family (see also 'property rights' and 'inheritance' variables above): 'Besides objects and wealth, social status is also inherited by the heir and heiress. When an older member of a household dies, the Garos view his heir as stepping into the social position of the dead person-a woman into the position of her mother and a man into the position of his ‘uncle’ and father-in-law. The clearest symbolic expression of this is the assumption by the heir of kinship terms formerly appropriate to his father-in-law. After the old man’s death, other sons-in-law call the heir by the term which is more generally used for “father-in-law,” and are in turn called “son-in-law” by the heir. It has been pointed out that Garos also speak as if the son-in-law inherited his mother-in-law when her husband dies, since after this she is regarded as a ‘wife’ of the younger man. Moreover, the wife’s siblings call him by a term that otherwise means father’s younger brother.[198]

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ Eva Brandl ♥

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ absent ♥ Village headmen acted as intermediaries in local disputes: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [199] Nokmas also formally held titles to land: 'Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; [Page 226] however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.' [200] 'Holding a title brings almost no direct benefit, for the titleholder has no more right to use the land than anyone else in the village. Nevertheless it confers great prestige, and titles like, heirlooms and jewelry, can be an important repository of savings. They can be converted into other forms of wealth and used to tide the household over poor years, as well as to give stability to its position of wealth in the village. Titles are considered even safer than ownership of heirlooms, since heirlooms can be stolen or destroyed. Moreover, title to some land is a necessary prerequisite for being considered a nokma, though land title alone is not enough. Four men in Rengsanggri had title to some land: Gajang, Jengnon, Nanggan, and Bano; but the first two of these held the most, and only they were considered nokmas. Bano was not a wealthy man, though the household he inherited had formerly been much wealthier. He performed no ceremonies appropriate to nokmaship, and people suggested that he might soon be forced to sell some of his land titles. Nanggan was much richer. He held title to more land than Bano, but still not as much as either Jengnon or Gajang. Nanggan did not perform the ceremonies of a nokma or possess any of the symbols of one; but the main obstacle to his being considered a nokma was that his household had such little genealogical depth. Nanggan purchased some of his title from one Rojang, who was from a family that had formerly been very wealthy, but who was gradually forced to sell some of his land to fellow villagers, and eventually moved away from Rengsanggri. Nanggan himself was an heir, but his father-in-law had been a non-heir who had married a girl from what is now Jengnon’s household and lived [Page 227] separately. In another generation or two, if Nanggan’s heir and his heir’s heir continue to maintain the wealth of the household, they will be obvious candidates for nokmaship, and may assume the symbols and obligations of the office.' [201] However, there was little status differentiation overall: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man.’ [202] People admire the rich men, but they do not defer to them in any formal manner, and an observer could not possibly tell from watching a group of men in ordinary daily pursuits which of them were rich and which poor. If one looked at the size of their houses or measured the size of their fields, however, the relative position of the men would become fairly clear, and the more one observed the details of personal relations, the clearer it would become. Village life is so organized that few important village-wide decisions must be made, but when problems do arise people are usually willing to go along with the decisions of [Page 208] the elite. The nokma must formally designate the day for ceremonies, but before doing so he informally samples the opinions of other wealthy men. If disagreements arise about the distribution of plots for cultivation, the wealthy men can usually carry along public opinion toward some solution. I once watched villagers buying a cow for a ceremony. Every household had contributed money toward the price of the cow, but it was four or five wealthy men who put their heads together and decided whether or not to try to make the seller come down in price. These are not profound questions; but somebody must decide them, and most villagers are happy to leave them to the wealthy men. After all, they “feed” the poorer people, and their very wealth is evidence of their ability. My own judgment of the ability of the various men in the village was close to the consensus of the villagers. I agreed with them that the wealthy people were often more able and intelligent than the others. It does take more than ordinary ability to accumulate or hold on to wealth.' [203] Headmen were typically husbands of heiresses from senior households (see also material on equity and social mobility above): 'I have referred in a number of places to ‘headmanship,’ and it is at last possible to explain the nature, duties, and privileges of a ‘headman.’ In any village at least one man-and often two, three, or occasionally even more-is referred to by the term nokma, which is generally-though badly-translated as ‘headman.’ These nokmas wear no symbol of their position which would permit a stranger to recognize them, but any villager can name and point out the individuals in his village who rate this title.' [204] 'To explain how a man becomes nokma, it is first necessary to refer once more to the lineage structure of the village. It is simplest to consider villages with a single main lineage first. Just as one household of each cooperating group is considered to be senior by virtue of the fact that all the other households have “come out” from it, one household is the most senior of the whole village, since all of the houses ultimately “came out” from it. The process may, of course, have involved many stages, but the senior household is ordinarily considered to be that of the first nokma. Normally the nokma, like any other man, looks for a ‘nephew,’ that is, a younger man from his own lineage, to come and be his son-in-law and heir. In this case, the ‘nephew’ not only becomes the heir to the house and property but also [Page 224] succeeds to the ‘headmanship’ when his father-in-law dies. Inevitably the nokmas of many villages have grown up in a different village, and belong to a different sib and to the opposite moiety from the people of the main village lineage. A nokma should, however, be a member of the same lineage and from the same village as the previous nokma, so generally a succession of ‘headmen’ are members of one village and lineage by descent but hold the status of ‘headman’ in another village by virtue of being married to the women who are successively chosen as heiress in the senior house of the village.' [205] 'The ‘headmanship’ is thought of as adhering more closely to the house than to any individual person. All the symbols of office go with the house and not with the man. The most important of the symbols is a particular kind of drum so heavily endowed with supernatural power that no one else in the village dares to keep it in his house. It is not necessarily dangerous to use, for at village festivals the drum is carried from house to house and then anybody may beat it. Funeral parties will even carry it to another village if they should go to pay condolences after a death in that village, but it can only be kept permanently in the nokma’s house. The house itself is constructed with specially carved posts which are flattened on two sides instead of being left round as in all other houses; and when a house of a nokma is thatched, special little straw animals decorate the roof. Even the term nokma is etymologically related to that for ‘house’ or ‘household’-i.e. nok; while - ma is a suffix which in some contexts means ‘big’ or ‘large’; thus nokma literally means the ‘big house,’ though it is used to refer to the man of that house.' [206] There could be more than on Nokma: 'It has already been pointed out that a single village often has more than one nokma. If so, one of them is always considered to be the “first” nokma and the others are considered to be secondary to him. The ranking of nokmas may conceivably have been encouraged by the government’s custom of recording only a single nokma’s name for certain official purposes. But while in some doubtful cases two nokmas of about equal stature may have been [Page 225] given inequality in this way, it seems more likely that the inequality of nokmas and the requirement that one be considered senior has been inherent in Garo social organization and is not simply a response to foreign rule. If two lineages are found in the same village, each always has its own nokma, the man of its senior house. Since the nokmaship is acquired by marrying into a lineage, the nokma can never belong to the lineage of which he is nokma. So in Songmagri, where there are two lineages, the first nokma is the Chambigong nokma and is himself a Manda Sangma, but like his father-in-law he comes from another village. The Manda nokma, on the other hand, is a Chambigong of the Songmagri lineage of Chambigong. Even if a nokma comes from the opposite lineage of a two-lineage village, he is nokma only because of his marriage and never simply because of his own lineage affiliation.' [207] 'Even villages with only one lineage may have two or more nokmas. In Rengsanggri the second nokma is Jengnon, who is himself an Agidok from Waramgri, as were his father-in-law and his grandfather-in-law before him. He is married to the woman who is heiress in the house that is considered the second oldest in the village. Jengnon is explicitly considered a nokma, but he is unquestionably second to Gajang, the first nokma, who is himself a Manda from Songmagri. Jengnon’s house does not happen to have all the symbols of nokmaship, such as the specially carved house posts or the special drum, though in other villages more than one house is sometimes equipped with these things.' [208] Nokmas traditionally had a number of ritual duties: 'Traditionally, the Garos were not a politically organized society, and even today there exists no clear-cut political structure. Chieftainship involves religious functions only.' [209] ‘Traditionally, the nokma’s position was connected with the indigeneous customary rites. His temporal and ritual powers in a traditional society were linked with his position. The conversion of a nokma to Christianity automatically led to the loss of his ritualistic role. When the nokma’s were endowed with real temporal power, the resistance was great as Nokmas were non-Christians. But when the Nokma accepted Christianity, nokmaship passed to another person who could act as a nokma in performing rites and rituals. However, the Government still recognized the converted persons as nokmas. This created dislocation in the traditional system, one looking after the customary right and other ritual responsibilities. As the author has tried to show that in the traditional system the two roles cannot be separated, the two roles are enmeshed into each other.’ [210] Accordingly, there was a connection between the roles of Nokma and Kamal: ‘A Garo religious practitioner is known as KAMAL. The word is used to mean 'specialist'; thus a midwife may be a kamal. A kamal has neither special privilege nor prestige from his service to the society.’ [211] The village priest or healer dealt with misfortune caused by malicious sprites: ‘These mite live in many places. Some dwell in the village, others in the jungle, near a tree, or by a stream or waterfall. A fork in a road is a favorite place, and powerful mite are said to live on mountain tops. All are dealt with in the same general fashion, though the details of the sacrifices differ. Several men usually spend about two hours building an altar. Most altars are built of bamboo and leaves, but the precise form depends upon the particular spirit to whom the sacrifice is to be directed. Once the altar is built, a ritually skilled man must offer an egg, a chicken, a pig, or even a cow, depending upon the seriousness of the disease and the demands of the mite. This priest kills the animal in a ritually prescribed manner, and smears the blood on to the altar. He recites a number of chants while standing or squatting before the altar, and usually pours a bit of rice beer on to the ground as an additional offering. At a sacrifice to cure disease, as on other occasions when animals are ceremoniously killed, the priest inspects their viscera for omens. If the proper portion of a chicken’s intestines prove to be filled, for instance, the prognosis is good; otherwise it is bad. While the priest is performing the ritual, the men who have helped build the altar sit around, chatting and joking, with no outward signs of respect or attention. There is no ecstasy and no sleight of hand, and the sick person is not even necessarily present. When the formalities are completed, the helpers prepare the animal and cook it into a curry. Rice is boiled, and all of the helpers share in the ensuing meal. Typically, the entire sacrifice, from the time the participants first assemble to the time they finish the feast, takes three or four hours. Afterward the participants go to their own houses. They are not supposed to go to their fields for the whole day, though they may do chores about the house. Sacrifices of this sort are the commonest kind of ceremony performed by the people of Rengsanggri. They involve only a half dozen or so neighbors and relatives, and they are held whenever the need arises. Occasionally two or three may even be held on the same day if several people in the village are sick. Altogether several hundred sacrifices are likely to be performed in the village of Rengsanggri in a single year.’ [212] They also officiated at village festivals: ‘Wangala is one of the three festivals at which group dancing takes place. This occurs in the courtyards in front of the houses, where people like to keep a sizable cleared space for this very purpose. Both married and unmarried people take part, though dancing is generally felt to be most appropriate for the young, especially those who are unmarried. Group dancing is almost exclusively a night pastime, and may continue intermittently until dawn.’ [213] During the pre-colonial period, some missionary contact took place, but Christianization itself only accelerated after the British occupation: ‘The third major influence on the Garos, and in some ways the most important, has been that of Christianity. American Baptist missionaries began to have a few peripheral contacts with the Garos even before their hills were occupied by the British. Missionaries were stationed in Goalpara, a town on the Brahmaputra just north of the Garo Hills, and some of their work was with Garos. However, intensive Christianization began only after the occupation of the hills. American missionaries followed the government officers into the hills and like them set up their headquarters in the town of Tura, which remains the center of Garo Christian activities today. The missionaries not only evangelized, but from the beginning carried out extensive medical and educational work.’ [214] Despite the ritual aspects of a Nokma's duties, we have found no evidence of headmen being directly legitimated by spirits. And as indicated above, Nokmas who converted to Christianity typically passed on headmanship to another man.

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ absent ♥

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ present ♥ The Garo were stratified along the lines of clan, matrilineage, and moiety membership rather than social class: 'In Garo society the most important social group is the clan known as MACHONG. A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A CHATCHI (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter--or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother--to be heiress (NAKNA DONQIPIKA MECHIK) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the NOKROM of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents' house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.' [215] 'The Garos reckon their kinship through the mother. Individuals measure the degree of their relationship to one another by the distance of their matrilineages. For men, children of their sister or sister's daughters are very important kin. For women, children of their sister's daughters are equivalent to the children of their own daughters.' [216] 'Land for shifting cultivation is owned by the clan. Each village has a traditionally demarcated area of its own termed ADOK. This area is subdivided into plots that are used for cultivation in a cyclic order. The plots are distributed to the families. Allotment of the general plots is done by common consensus of the village elders. But the flat area for permanent wet cultivation is owned by individuals.' [217] 'Property among the Garos is inherited in the female line. One of the daughters is selected by the parents to be the heiress. If the couple have no female child, a girl belonging to the machong of the wife (preferably the daughter of her sister, whether real or classificatory) is adopted to be an heiress. She is not considered to be the absolute owner of the property. Decision about the disposal of property is taken by her husband, who is considered to be the household authority (NOKNI SKOTONG). After the death of the father-in-law responsibility transfers to the son-in-law. If a dead man is survived by a widow, she stays in the family of her daughter and is sometimes referred to as an additional wife (JIK) of her daughter's husband.' [218] Lineage heiresses and their husbands played a special role: 'Besides objects and wealth, social status is also inherited by the heir and heiress. When an older member of a household dies, the Garos view his heir as stepping into the social position of the dead person-a woman into the position of her mother and a man into the position of his ‘uncle’ and father-in-law. The clearest symbolic expression of this is the assumption by the heir of kinship terms formerly appropriate to his father-in-law. After the old man’s death, other sons-in-law call the heir by the term which is more generally used for “father-in-law,” and are in turn called “son-in-law” by the heir. It has been pointed out that Garos also speak as if the son-in-law inherited his mother-in-law when her husband dies, since after this she is regarded as a ‘wife’ of the younger man. Moreover, the wife’s siblings call him by a term that otherwise means father’s younger brother. This terminology is analyzed more fully in Appendix C. Beyond this somewhat superficial terminological matter, the occupants of the family house are considered to be the living incumbents in the role of man and woman of that particular house. Households continue, though their members come and go. The most striking example of this is the title of nokma or ‘headman’ which, as will be explained in Chapter IX, adheres to the senior household of the village. The man who happens to be married to the heiress of that household is considered to be the ‘headman’ of the village.' [219] Prestige could be acquired through hospitality: 'A’jak and dena seem to be weighted in a lop-sided manner to the advantage of the rich members of the community, but the wealth they bring has only limited uses. Wealthy people can buy a few better clothes, eat a little more meat, command larger work parties, and therefore build bigger houses; but all this does not set them off in any sharp way from the poorer people. Rich people spend most of their time working in the fields like everyone else. The main use of wealth is to entertain on a comparatively lavish scale. This converts wealth into prestige and power, while materially the wealth is again distributed throughout the community, since everyone shares in the consumption of the goods that rich men accumulate. Feasts are not given in the Rengsanggri area on occasions designed specifically to validate or establish prestige, though such feasts do occur in some parts of the hills. The Rengsanggri custom is for ambitious men to seize as times for particularly lavish entertainment those numerous occasions when hospitality is appropriate. During the ceremonies, when the villagers are entertained in every house in turn, the richer houses entertain abundantly. The poorest houses seldom fail to offer something; but fewer people visit them, partly to avoid embarassing the householders and partly because there is less expectation of a bountiful spread. It is hardly reasonable for any single person to visit every one of the sixty households in the village, but most do assemble at the richer houses, where they can confidently expect to be greeted with copious amounts of rice beer and liberal quantities of rice and curry.' [220] 'Entertaining is appropriate on many other occasions. When a death occurs in the community, the wealthy villagers invite others in for a consolation drink. A few relatives may kill a cow, which they say they do to honor the dead person, but which actually brings as much honor to the man who offers the cow. At the post-funeral ceremony the dead man’s household has the opportunity to kill a cow and entertain. Beer and sometimes food are distributed by participants in legal disputes. Lunch may be served to house-builders, while thatchers in particular are supposed to be rewarded with food and beer. A few households offer feasts to others out in the fields at the Asiroka ceremony, before rice planting. Even the sacrifices to banish disease may be more liberal if the family is wealthy, and thus may provide a larger feast for the helpers. A son or a daughter who has moved away from his or her parents to marry, and who is wealthy enough, may slaughter a cow, ostensibly to honor the parents. Usually the time of one of the major village festivals is chosen for this, and most of the animal is sent to the parents’ home. One leg is retained by the son’s or daughter’s family, however, and there is meat enough for two feasts, one at each house. The feast is described as one of giving thanks to the parents for their help to the child, but honor comes not only to the parents but to the child as well. The greatest hospitality and greatest prestige derive from killing a cow, and a record of the number killed is made public by decorating the front of the killer’s house with the horns and frontal bones of the animals. Wealthy houses may be hung with two or three dozen sets.' [221] Ceremonial gongs were also important: 'One of these feasts may serve simultaneously to validate the right of a household to use its own gongs for beating at village festivals. A house must have about fifteen gongs before it is considered decent to use them, and houses which do not own enough must borrow them from a richer neighbor when they are needed. But just to accumulate and own enough gongs is not sufficient; the household must kill a cow for some occasion, such [Page 205] as to honor a parent, before the gongs can be used. After this the household will be expected to entertain regularly and on a larger than average scale, and so to maintain its prestigeful position. In Rengsanggri eight households owned enough gongs to be used in festivals: those of Gajang, Jengnon, Nanggan, Anat, Kakan, Chondu, Rongsin, and Gurang. Many other households had a few gongs but used those from one of these eight households and carried them to their houses when it was their turn to entertain during village festivals. Feasts are frequent enough for poor people to eat significantly better than they would if they relied entirely on their own gardens. Wealth differences lead to greater differences in prestige than in standards of consumption. Prestige and social standing go to the industrious and skillful.' [222] Wealthy men tended to be more influential than poor ones: 'People admire the rich men, but they do not defer to them in any formal manner, and an observer could not possibly tell from watching a group of men in ordinary daily pursuits which of them were rich and which poor. If one looked at the size of their houses or measured the size of their fields, however, the relative position of the men would become fairly clear, and the more one observed the details of personal relations, the clearer it would become. Village life is so organized that few important village-wide decisions must be made, but when problems do arise people are usually willing to go along with the decisions of [Page 208] the elite. The nokma must formally designate the day for ceremonies, but before doing so he informally samples the opinions of other wealthy men. If disagreements arise about the distribution of plots for cultivation, the wealthy men can usually carry along public opinion toward some solution. I once watched villagers buying a cow for a ceremony. Every household had contributed money toward the price of the cow, but it was four or five wealthy men who put their heads together and decided whether or not to try to make the seller come down in price. These are not profound questions; but somebody must decide them, and most villagers are happy to leave them to the wealthy men. After all, they “feed” the poorer people, and their very wealth is evidence of their ability. My own judgment of the ability of the various men in the village was close to the consensus of the villagers. I agreed with them that the wealthy people were often more able and intelligent than the others. It does take more than ordinary ability to accumulate or hold on to wealth.' [223] But overall there was little status differentiation: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man.’ [224] Accordingly, we cannot speak of social classes or an elite/commoner divide in the case of the pre-colonial Garo. We have assumed this to be true of the colonial period as well.

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ present ♥ Clans and lineages exercised social control on the village and local levels: ‘In Garo society the most important social group is the clan known as MACHONG. A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A CHATCHI (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter--or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother--to be heiress (NAKNA DONQIPIKA MECHIK) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the NOKROM of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents' house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.’ [225] Local authority was exercised by lineage elders: ‘The authority within a lineage is exercised according to age, the older member always being allowed to direct and punish the younger members. The age differences are otherwise symbolized in only one way-the order in which rice beer is served. When beer is first passed out at a gathering, the people should be served in order of formal seniority. A maternal uncle should be served before his nephew, and an older brother before a younger one. Even an older sister may precede a younger brother, though generally men and women do not drink together. [...] In spite of this formal deference, older people do not monopolize positions of power, and an old person cannot exercise authority outside his lineage simply because of his age. One defers to one’s lineage seniors, but not to old people in general.’ [226] Headmanship was attached to senior households: 'The ‘headmanship’ is thought of as adhering more closely to the house than to any individual person. All the symbols of office go with the house and not with the man. The most important of the symbols is a particular kind of drum so heavily endowed with supernatural power that no one else in the village dares to keep it in his house. It is not necessarily dangerous to use, for at village festivals the drum is carried from house to house and then anybody may beat it. Funeral parties will even carry it to another village if they should go to pay condolences after a death in that village, but it can only be kept permanently in the nokma’s house. The house itself is constructed with specially carved posts which are flattened on two sides instead of being left round as in all other houses; and when a house of a nokma is thatched, special little straw animals decorate the roof. Even the term nokma is etymologically related to that for ‘house’ or ‘household’-i.e. nok; while - ma is a suffix which in some contexts means ‘big’ or ‘large’; thus nokma literally means the ‘big house,’ though it is used to refer to the man of that house.' [227] Heads of senior households, i.e. the husbands of lineage heiresses, typically acted as village headmen: 'I have referred in a number of places to ‘headmanship,’ and it is at last possible to explain the nature, duties, and privileges of a ‘headman.’ In any village at least one man-and often two, three, or occasionally even more-is referred to by the term nokma, which is generally-though badly-translated as ‘headman.’ These nokmas wear no symbol of their position which would permit a stranger to recognize them, but any villager can name and point out the individuals in his village who rate this title.' [228] 'To explain how a man becomes nokma, it is first necessary to refer once more to the lineage structure of the village. It is simplest to consider villages with a single main lineage first. Just as one household of each cooperating group is considered to be senior by virtue of the fact that all the other households have “come out” from it, one household is the most senior of the whole village, since all of the houses ultimately “came out” from it. The process may, of course, have involved many stages, but the senior household is ordinarily considered to be that of the first nokma. Normally the nokma, like any other man, looks for a ‘nephew,’ that is, a younger man from his own lineage, to come and be his son-in-law and heir. In this case, the ‘nephew’ not only becomes the heir to the house and property but also [Page 224] succeeds to the ‘headmanship’ when his father-in-law dies. Inevitably the nokmas of many villages have grown up in a different village, and belong to a different sib and to the opposite moiety from the people of the main village lineage. A nokma should, however, be a member of the same lineage and from the same village as the previous nokma, so generally a succession of ‘headmen’ are members of one village and lineage by descent but hold the status of ‘headman’ in another village by virtue of being married to the women who are successively chosen as heiress in the senior house of the village.' [229] The presence of multiple headmen within one village was fairly common: 'It has already been pointed out that a single village often has more than one nokma. If so, one of them is always considered to be the “first” nokma and the others are considered to be secondary to him. The ranking of nokmas may conceivably have been encouraged by the government’s custom of recording only a single nokma’s name for certain official purposes. But while in some doubtful cases two nokmas of about equal stature may have been [Page 225] given inequality in this way, it seems more likely that the inequality of nokmas and the requirement that one be considered senior has been inherent in Garo social organization and is not simply a response to foreign rule. If two lineages are found in the same village, each always has its own nokma, the man of its senior house. Since the nokmaship is acquired by marrying into a lineage, the nokma can never belong to the lineage of which he is nokma. So in Songmagri, where there are two lineages, the first nokma is the Chambigong nokma and is himself a Manda Sangma, but like his father-in-law he comes from another village. The Manda nokma, on the other hand, is a Chambigong of the Songmagri lineage of Chambigong. Even if a nokma comes from the opposite lineage of a two-lineage village, he is nokma only because of his marriage and never simply because of his own lineage affiliation.' [230] 'Even villages with only one lineage may have two or more nokmas. In Rengsanggri the second nokma is Jengnon, who is himself an Agidok from Waramgri, as were his father-in-law and his grandfather-in-law before him. He is married to the woman who is heiress in the house that is considered the second oldest in the village. Jengnon is explicitly considered a nokma, but he is unquestionably second to Gajang, the first nokma, who is himself a Manda from Songmagri. Jengnon’s house does not happen to have all the symbols of nokmaship, such as the specially carved house posts or the special drum, though in other villages more than one house is sometimes equipped with these things.' [231] Village headmen acted as intermediaries in local disputes: ‘Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the MAHARI (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. Under such situation the NOKMA (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go to the civil court of the district council.’ [232] ‘Traditionally, the nokma’s position was connected with the indigeneous customary rites. His temporal and ritual powers in a traditional society were linked with his position. The conversion of a nokma to Christianity automatically led to the loss of his ritualistic role. When the nokma’s were endowed with real temporal power, the resistance was great as Nokmas were non-Christians. But when the Nokma accepted Christianity, nokmaship passed to another person who could act as a nokma in performing rites and rituals. However, the Government still recognized the converted persons as nokmas. This created dislocation in the traditional system, one looking after the customary right and other ritual responsibilities. As the author has tried to show that in the traditional system the two roles cannot be separated, the two roles are enmeshed into each other.’ [233] Nokmas also formally held titles to land: 'Perhaps the most important single characteristic of a nokma is the possession of titles to land. The land which surrounds a village is divided into numerous patches, and titles to these patches are typically distributed among a few of the richest households of the village, including those of the nokmas. A plot of land to which a man holds title is known as a’king, and a nokma who holds a title is known as an a’king nokma. Titles to a’king can be bought and sold among members of the village; [Page 226] however, at the present time sale is unusual, and land titles often stay in the same family for generations, always being inherited intact by the heir and heiress of the last title-holders. Prices in the past have varied from 25 to 75 rupees for the amount of land suitable for one family’s cultivation; on the other hand, titles even today are sometimes purchased with brass gongs instead of money.' [234] 'Holding a title brings almost no direct benefit, for the titleholder has no more right to use the land than anyone else in the village. Nevertheless it confers great prestige, and titles like, heirlooms and jewelry, can be an important repository of savings. They can be converted into other forms of wealth and used to tide the household over poor years, as well as to give stability to its position of wealth in the village. Titles are considered even safer than ownership of heirlooms, since heirlooms can be stolen or destroyed. Moreover, title to some land is a necessary prerequisite for being considered a nokma, though land title alone is not enough. Four men in Rengsanggri had title to some land: Gajang, Jengnon, Nanggan, and Bano; but the first two of these held the most, and only they were considered nokmas. Bano was not a wealthy man, though the household he inherited had formerly been much wealthier. He performed no ceremonies appropriate to nokmaship, and people suggested that he might soon be forced to sell some of his land titles. Nanggan was much richer. He held title to more land than Bano, but still not as much as either Jengnon or Gajang. Nanggan did not perform the ceremonies of a nokma or possess any of the symbols of one; but the main obstacle to his being considered a nokma was that his household had such little genealogical depth. Nanggan purchased some of his title from one Rojang, who was from a family that had formerly been very wealthy, but who was gradually forced to sell some of his land to fellow villagers, and eventually moved away from Rengsanggri. Nanggan himself was an heir, but his father-in-law had been a non-heir who had married a girl from what is now Jengnon’s household and lived [Page 227] separately. In another generation or two, if Nanggan’s heir and his heir’s heir continue to maintain the wealth of the household, they will be obvious candidates for nokmaship, and may assume the symbols and obligations of the office.' [235] Wealthy men were more influential than poor ones, but overall there was little status differentiation: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man.’ [236] 'People admire the rich men, but they do not defer to them in any formal manner, and an observer could not possibly tell from watching a group of men in ordinary daily pursuits which of them were rich and which poor. If one looked at the size of their houses or measured the size of their fields, however, the relative position of the men would become fairly clear, and the more one observed the details of personal relations, the clearer it would become. Village life is so organized that few important village-wide decisions must be made, but when problems do arise people are usually willing to go along with the decisions of [Page 208] the elite. The nokma must formally designate the day for ceremonies, but before doing so he informally samples the opinions of other wealthy men. If disagreements arise about the distribution of plots for cultivation, the wealthy men can usually carry along public opinion toward some solution. I once watched villagers buying a cow for a ceremony. Every household had contributed money toward the price of the cow, but it was four or five wealthy men who put their heads together and decided whether or not to try to make the seller come down in price. These are not profound questions; but somebody must decide them, and most villagers are happy to leave them to the wealthy men. After all, they “feed” the poorer people, and their very wealth is evidence of their ability. My own judgment of the ability of the various men in the village was close to the consensus of the villagers. I agreed with them that the wealthy people were often more able and intelligent than the others. It does take more than ordinary ability to accumulate or hold on to wealth.' [237] Accordingly, we cannot speak of an elite/commoner divide in the case of the pre-colonial Garo. We have assumed this to be true of the colonial period as well.
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ present ♥ The Garo were stratified along the lines of clan, matrilineage, and moiety membership rather than social class: 'In Garo society the most important social group is the clan known as MACHONG. A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A CHATCHI (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter--or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother--to be heiress (NAKNA DONQIPIKA MECHIK) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the NOKROM of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents' house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.' [238] 'The Garos reckon their kinship through the mother. Individuals measure the degree of their relationship to one another by the distance of their matrilineages. For men, children of their sister or sister's daughters are very important kin. For women, children of their sister's daughters are equivalent to the children of their own daughters.' [239] 'Land for shifting cultivation is owned by the clan. Each village has a traditionally demarcated area of its own termed ADOK. This area is subdivided into plots that are used for cultivation in a cyclic order. The plots are distributed to the families. Allotment of the general plots is done by common consensus of the village elders. But the flat area for permanent wet cultivation is owned by individuals.' [240] 'Property among the Garos is inherited in the female line. One of the daughters is selected by the parents to be the heiress. If the couple have no female child, a girl belonging to the machong of the wife (preferably the daughter of her sister, whether real or classificatory) is adopted to be an heiress. She is not considered to be the absolute owner of the property. Decision about the disposal of property is taken by her husband, who is considered to be the household authority (NOKNI SKOTONG). After the death of the father-in-law responsibility transfers to the son-in-law. If a dead man is survived by a widow, she stays in the family of her daughter and is sometimes referred to as an additional wife (JIK) of her daughter's husband.' [241] Lineage heiresses and their husbands played a special role: 'Besides objects and wealth, social status is also inherited by the heir and heiress. When an older member of a household dies, the Garos view his heir as stepping into the social position of the dead person-a woman into the position of her mother and a man into the position of his ‘uncle’ and father-in-law. The clearest symbolic expression of this is the assumption by the heir of kinship terms formerly appropriate to his father-in-law. After the old man’s death, other sons-in-law call the heir by the term which is more generally used for “father-in-law,” and are in turn called “son-in-law” by the heir. It has been pointed out that Garos also speak as if the son-in-law inherited his mother-in-law when her husband dies, since after this she is regarded as a ‘wife’ of the younger man. Moreover, the wife’s siblings call him by a term that otherwise means father’s younger brother. This terminology is analyzed more fully in Appendix C. Beyond this somewhat superficial terminological matter, the occupants of the family house are considered to be the living incumbents in the role of man and woman of that particular house. Households continue, though their members come and go. The most striking example of this is the title of nokma or ‘headman’ which, as will be explained in Chapter IX, adheres to the senior household of the village. The man who happens to be married to the heiress of that household is considered to be the ‘headman’ of the village.' [242] Prestige could be acquired through hospitality: 'A’jak and dena seem to be weighted in a lop-sided manner to the advantage of the rich members of the community, but the wealth they bring has only limited uses. Wealthy people can buy a few better clothes, eat a little more meat, command larger work parties, and therefore build bigger houses; but all this does not set them off in any sharp way from the poorer people. Rich people spend most of their time working in the fields like everyone else. The main use of wealth is to entertain on a comparatively lavish scale. This converts wealth into prestige and power, while materially the wealth is again distributed throughout the community, since everyone shares in the consumption of the goods that rich men accumulate. Feasts are not given in the Rengsanggri area on occasions designed specifically to validate or establish prestige, though such feasts do occur in some parts of the hills. The Rengsanggri custom is for ambitious men to seize as times for particularly lavish entertainment those numerous occasions when hospitality is appropriate. During the ceremonies, when the villagers are entertained in every house in turn, the richer houses entertain abundantly. The poorest houses seldom fail to offer something; but fewer people visit them, partly to avoid embarassing the householders and partly because there is less expectation of a bountiful spread. It is hardly reasonable for any single person to visit every one of the sixty households in the village, but most do assemble at the richer houses, where they can confidently expect to be greeted with copious amounts of rice beer and liberal quantities of rice and curry.' [243] 'Entertaining is appropriate on many other occasions. When a death occurs in the community, the wealthy villagers invite others in for a consolation drink. A few relatives may kill a cow, which they say they do to honor the dead person, but which actually brings as much honor to the man who offers the cow. At the post-funeral ceremony the dead man’s household has the opportunity to kill a cow and entertain. Beer and sometimes food are distributed by participants in legal disputes. Lunch may be served to house-builders, while thatchers in particular are supposed to be rewarded with food and beer. A few households offer feasts to others out in the fields at the Asiroka ceremony, before rice planting. Even the sacrifices to banish disease may be more liberal if the family is wealthy, and thus may provide a larger feast for the helpers. A son or a daughter who has moved away from his or her parents to marry, and who is wealthy enough, may slaughter a cow, ostensibly to honor the parents. Usually the time of one of the major village festivals is chosen for this, and most of the animal is sent to the parents’ home. One leg is retained by the son’s or daughter’s family, however, and there is meat enough for two feasts, one at each house. The feast is described as one of giving thanks to the parents for their help to the child, but honor comes not only to the parents but to the child as well. The greatest hospitality and greatest prestige derive from killing a cow, and a record of the number killed is made public by decorating the front of the killer’s house with the horns and frontal bones of the animals. Wealthy houses may be hung with two or three dozen sets.' [244] Ceremonial gongs were also important: 'One of these feasts may serve simultaneously to validate the right of a household to use its own gongs for beating at village festivals. A house must have about fifteen gongs before it is considered decent to use them, and houses which do not own enough must borrow them from a richer neighbor when they are needed. But just to accumulate and own enough gongs is not sufficient; the household must kill a cow for some occasion, such [Page 205] as to honor a parent, before the gongs can be used. After this the household will be expected to entertain regularly and on a larger than average scale, and so to maintain its prestigeful position. In Rengsanggri eight households owned enough gongs to be used in festivals: those of Gajang, Jengnon, Nanggan, Anat, Kakan, Chondu, Rongsin, and Gurang. Many other households had a few gongs but used those from one of these eight households and carried them to their houses when it was their turn to entertain during village festivals. Feasts are frequent enough for poor people to eat significantly better than they would if they relied entirely on their own gardens. Wealth differences lead to greater differences in prestige than in standards of consumption. Prestige and social standing go to the industrious and skillful.' [245] Wealthy men tended to be more influential than poor ones: 'People admire the rich men, but they do not defer to them in any formal manner, and an observer could not possibly tell from watching a group of men in ordinary daily pursuits which of them were rich and which poor. If one looked at the size of their houses or measured the size of their fields, however, the relative position of the men would become fairly clear, and the more one observed the details of personal relations, the clearer it would become. Village life is so organized that few important village-wide decisions must be made, but when problems do arise people are usually willing to go along with the decisions of [Page 208] the elite. The nokma must formally designate the day for ceremonies, but before doing so he informally samples the opinions of other wealthy men. If disagreements arise about the distribution of plots for cultivation, the wealthy men can usually carry along public opinion toward some solution. I once watched villagers buying a cow for a ceremony. Every household had contributed money toward the price of the cow, but it was four or five wealthy men who put their heads together and decided whether or not to try to make the seller come down in price. These are not profound questions; but somebody must decide them, and most villagers are happy to leave them to the wealthy men. After all, they “feed” the poorer people, and their very wealth is evidence of their ability. My own judgment of the ability of the various men in the village was close to the consensus of the villagers. I agreed with them that the wealthy people were often more able and intelligent than the others. It does take more than ordinary ability to accumulate or hold on to wealth.' [246] But overall there was little status differentiation: ‘In a Garo village very little difference of status is seen. A particular clan holds right of ownership of the village homestead and shifting cultivation lands, and the title of ownership is inherited by a particular household. The head of the land-owning household is known as the nokma, and the particular area under which he holds ownership right is known as a’king. He also acts as the religious head of the village, and he is to perform the ceremonies for the general well-being of the village. He is called upon to settle disputes between villagers. But in all his decisions he is guided by the elders of the village. He is not entitled to any tribute from the villagers, and he has no special paraphernalia to indicate himself as the nokma. However, in the village a rich man gets respect, because in times of need people have to seek help from him. But in a Garo village it is usually very rare to find an extremely rich man. To a Garo wealth consists of a number of brass gongs called rang and some ornaments made of silver or some such metal. Now-a-days a gun is also regarded as the status symbol of a wealthy man.’ [247] Accordingly, we cannot speak of social classes or an elite/commoner divide in the case of the pre-colonial Garo. We have assumed this to be true of the colonial period as well.

♠ Ideology reinforces prosociality ♣ present ♥

♠ production of public goods ♣ ♥ Construction of men's houses or Christian prayer houses might qualify. More information is needed on the matter.

Moralizing Supernatural Powers

♠ Moral concern is primary ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is certain ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing norms are broad ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is targeted ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement of rulers ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by elites ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by commoners ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in afterlife ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in this life ♣absent♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is agentic ♣absent♥

For a detailed description, refer to the Seshat History of Moralizing Religion [248]

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