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THE

ANDAMAN ISLANDERS

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS

C. F. CLAY, Manager

LONDON : FETTER LANE, E.C. 4

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN CO.

BOMBAY \ CALCUTTA I MACMILLAN AMD CO., Liu MADRAS J TORONTO : THE MACMILLAN CO. OF

CANADA, Ltd. TOKYO : MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI.KAISHA

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

An Andaman Islander shooting fish with bow and arrow

on the reefs at Port Blair

THE

ANDAMAN ISLANDERS

A STUDY IN SOCIAL ANTHROPOLOGY

(ANTHONY WI1KIN STUDENTSHIP RESEARCH, I906)

BY

A. R. BROWN, M.A.

FORMERLY FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

CAMBRIDGE

AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS

1922.

vt**-

H\TL

M&^^

TO

Dr A. C. HADDON, F.R.S.

AND

Dr W. H". R. RIVERS, F.R.S.

TO JVHOSE INSTRUCTION AND KIND ENCOURAGEMENT

IS DUE WHATEVER VALUE IT MAY POSSESS, THIS

WORK OF APPRENTICESHIP IS DEDICATED.

PREFACE

THIS book contains some part of the results of anthropo- logical research carried out in the Andaman Islands in the

years 1906 to 1908, under the terms of the Anthony Wilkin

Studentship in Ethnology of the University of Cambridge. The

funds supplied by the studentship were supplemented by grant

from the Royal Society and from the government of India. In

its original form the monograph was presented as a fellowship

thesis at Trinity College, The work of rewriting it was interrupted

by absence from England and was only completed in 1914.

There has since been a long delay in publication as a result of the war.

The book deals with the social institutions of the tribes of

the Great Andaman.

These had previously been studied by

Mr E. H. Man to whose work I have been obliged to make many

references in order that my account may be as complete as possible. I should have preferred to devote my attention almost

exclusively to the natives of the Little Andaman, about whom

very little is known. I found, however, that it was not possible

in the time at my disposal to do any satisfactory work amongst

these people owing to the difficulty of language. The natives of

the Little Andaman know no language but their own, and that

is so little related to the languages of the Great Andaman that

even a thorough knowledge of the latter is of almost no use in

an attempt to learn the former. I spent nearly three months

camped with natives of the Little Andaman, giving most of the

time to learning their language. No one who has not actually

made the attempt to learn the language of a savage people with- out the help of an interpreter, can form an adequate idea of the

difficulties of the task. At the end of three months I found that

at the same rate of progress it would take me two or three years

to learn to speak the language sufficiently well to begin to

viii

PREFACE

question the natives about their customs and beliefs and under-

stand their answers. I was therefore regretfully compelled to give

up the idea of making a study of the people of the Little Anda-

man, and devoted the remainder of my time to the study of the

tribes of the Great Andaman, particularly those of the North

Andaman among whom Mr Man had not worked. I kept one

boy from the Little Andaman with me for some months in the

hope that he would learn sufficient Hindustani to act as an inter-

"t and so enable any future investigator to begin work with

the t :at advantage that I had lacked.

In my work amongst the natives of the Great Andaman I at first made use of Hindustani, which the younger men and women

all speak, more or less imperfectly, and gradually acquired a

knowledge of the dialects of the North Andaman. Towards the

end of my stay in the islands I was able to obtain the services

as interpreter of a man of the Akar-Bale tribe who spoke English

well and was of considerable intelligence. He is shown in the

photographs of Plates v and XIH. With his help I was able to

do some work with the Akar-Bale and A-Pucikwar tribes, and I

found that with such an interpreter I was able to obtain much

fuller and more reliable results than I could by using my own

knowledge of the native language supplemented by Hindustani.

If 1 had had his services from the outset my work would have '

been much easier and more thorough.

The results of my researches on the physical anthropology

of the Andaman Islanders have not been published. I hoped to

be able to obtain the services of some one more competent in

such matters than myself to assist or direct me in the measure-

ment and study of the collection of skulls and skeletons that I

brought to England and that is now in the Anthropological

Museum at Cambridge. In this I was disappointed, and absence

from England has prevented me from completing my work in

this branch of research.

The languages of the Andaman Islands are chiefly of interest

as affording material for the study of comparative grammar and

PREFACE

IX

the psychology of language. , I had hoped to be able to make

some use of the large mass of linguistic material collected by

Mr E. H. Man and arranged by Sir Richard Temple, which the

latter was so kind as to permit me to examine. Mr Man, how-

ever, expressed the intention of publishing that material himself. Therefore, rather than delay longer, I began the publication of

my own linguistic studies in a series of papers in the journal

Antkropos, of which, however, only the first had appeared when

the outbreak of war interrupted them 1 . I cannot say when '-.'JH

publication of these notes will be resumed.

'

-'

Chapters V and VI of the present work contain an attempt

at an interpretation of the Andamanese customs and beliefs,

which I regard as the most important and hope will be the

most valuable par^of the book. It is some years since they were

written and although they have undergone some revision they now seem to me so inadequately to express my thought that I could wish to rewrite them entirely. At the time they were written (1910) they exhibited an attempt to develop a new

method in the interpretation of the institutions of a primitive

people. That method will not perhaps seem so novel now as it

would have done then. However, I hope that the two chapters

will still have value as an example of the method which I believe

to be fundamental in the science that has lately come to be known as social anthropology 2

.

Of the man^ imperfections of the book I am, I think, only too well aware. It is indeed an apprentice work, for it was through my work in the Andamans that I really learnt anthro- pology. However good may be his preliminary training (and

mine under Drs Haddon, Rivers and Duckworth at Cambridge

1 " Notes on tbe Languages of the Andaman Islands," by A. R. Brown, Antkropos,

Vol. ix, 1914, pp. 36 51 with map. This paper contains notes on I, The Relations

of the Andamanese Languages, and II, The Formation of Words in the Language of

the Little Andaman.

3 I hope to be able to publish shortly the first volume of a work in which the same

method is applied to the interpretation of the social institutions of the natives of

Australia. ""'

•.'•''.

X

PREFACE

was, I think, as thorough as possible) it is only by actually living with and working amongst a primitive people that the social

anthropologist can acquire his real training. Naturally, work done while learning how to do it must necessarily be faulty.

It is very late now to place on record my obligations to the officers of the settlement of Port Blair, particularly to Colonel

Herbert and Colonel Browning, the successive chief commis-

sioners, for their kindness and help during my stay in the islands.

To Dr Haddon and Dr Rivers I am obliged for reading the

proofs and for many helpful suggestions.

University of Cape Town, January 1922.

A. R. BROWN.

CONTENTS

CHAP.

PAGK.

, Introduction

i

I.

The Social Organisation

22

II.

Ceremonial Customs

88

III.

Religious and Magical Beliefs

136

IV.

Myths and Legends

186

V.

The Interpretation of Andamanese Customs and

Beliefs: Ceremonial

229

VI. The Interpretation of Andamanese Customs and

Beliefs : Myths and Legends

.

.

.

.

.

330

Appendix A. The Technical Culture of the Anda-

man Islanders

Appendix B. The Spelling of Andamanese Words .

Index

407

495

499

,

LIST OF PLATES' AND MAPS

Frontispiece. An Andaman Islander shooting fish with bow and arrow on

the reefs at Port Blair

PLATE

I. A young man of the North

Andaman

.

III

III.

A young married woman

A man of the North Andaman and his son. (The

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

man's height is 1438 mm., 4 feet 8 inches)

.

A married woman of the Great Andaman wearing

belts of Pandanus leaf and ornaments of Dentalium

shell

A man of the Akar-Bale tribe with South Andaman

bow and arrows, wearing belt and necklace of netting and Dentalium. shell. (Height 1494 mm.,

4 feet g inches)

Portion of the village of Moi-lepto, Akar-Bale tribe.

On the right is an unfinished mat of palm leaves

for the roof of a new hut

A hut in the village of Moi-lepto, showing the mode of construction

A village of the Middle Andaman

Woman decorated with odu clay Woman decorated with odu clay

Three men and a young woman decorated with odu

.

.

.

.

XII.

XIII.

XIV.

XV.

XVI.

XVII.

clay

A young man decorated with white clay in readiness

for a dance

A man with a pattern of white clay on his face

A woman with her child

A young married woman, showing pattern scarified

on body and arms

A girl during the ceremony at puberty, decorated

with strips of Pandanus leaf

A woman wearing clay on her forehead as a sign

.

of mourning

XVIII. A girl wearing her sister's skull

XIX. The peace-making dance of the North Andaman .

To /ace p.

>i

»

»

20

2 7

28

*9

32

34

36

120

121

122

124

125

j2g

13 -

128

129

132

134

Map 1. South-eastemAsia,showingthepresentdistribution

of the Negrito

Race

Map 2. The Andaman Islands, showing the distribution of tribes

LIST OF FIGURES IN THE TEXT

Plan of Andamanese Village

Fig. 1. Section of Little Andaman bow, in the middle and near the

end

2. Shoulder of Little Andaman bow

3. Bow-string of twisted fibre, Little Andaman

.

.

.

4.

5-

6.

7.

8.

9.

Diagram showing the method of making the loop in the end

of the Little Andaman bow-string

Section of bow from North Sentinel Island

Section

of Jarawa bow

Upper end of South Andaman bow

Section across the blade of a South Andaman bow

.

.

Loop of bow-sjring, South Andaman .

.

.

.

.

10. Ornament on South Andaman bow

.

.

.

,, 11. Section across the blade of a North Andaman

.

12. North Andaman bow seen from the front

;

.

.

13. North Andaman bow ; A, in the half-strung or reversed

PAGE

34

420

4.20

421

421

422

422

423

424

. 425

426

427

429

>

position ; B, in the fully strung position

.

.'

14. Tojf bow of the North Andaman

.

.

' 429

432

1 5.

Section across the middle of four Semang bows .

.

.

434

16.

Fish-arrow of the Great Andaman

437

17. Head of pig-arrow, Great Andaman

 

437

18.

Pig-arrow with detachable head, Great Andaman

.

.

437.

,,19. Method of making the cord of the Great Andaman pig-arrow

437

20. Pig-arrow, Little Andaman

 

44°

21. Head of Jarawa pig-arrow

44°

22.

Arrow with head of Areca wood, Great Andaman

.

.

440

23.

Harpoon, Great Andaman

.44°

24.

Turtle net, South Andaman

44?

25. Knot used in making the North Andaman turtle net .

 

.

443

26. North Andaman fish-gig

 

' 444

27. Boar's tusk, used as a spokeshave

448

28. Adze and knife

449

29. Method of making bamboo mat, Little Andaman

.

.

456

3a Diagram showing the technique used in making mats of

 

thatch

457

31. Diagram showing the technique used in Great Andaman

 

'

mats

.

.

-.••

'

457

w. 3»*» 3 2 * Pot i ticd U P fo' cansyingj North Andaman

.

459» 4&>

XIV

LIST OF FIGURES IN THE TEXT

,

Fig. 33. Basket for carrying pot, South Andaman

 

34. Portion of basket of

Little Andaman

 

35. Portion of basket of South Andaman

 

36. Pig's skull with basket-work, Jarawa

,,37. Diagram showing netting needle, and method of netting

 

.

38.

Shape of North Andaman pot

39.

Shape of South Andaman pot

40.

Necklaces of mangrove seed-tops, Great Andaman

.

.

41.

Diagram showing method of making ornamental cord, Little

 

Andaman

42. Designs incised or painted on belts of Pandanus leaf, Great

 

Andaman

43. Designs on bamboo necklace from the North Andaman

.

44. Transverse section of canoe and outrigger

 

45. Showing manner in which the boom is connected with the

 
 

float

 

46. Paddle

 

,

PAGE

461

462

464

466

471

473

474

480

481

484

485

487

488

489

INTRODUCTION

The Andaman Islands are

part

of a chain of islands

stretching from Cape Negrais in Burma to Achin Head in

This line of islands forms a single geographical

system, as it were a submarine range of mountains, the highest

points rising here atid there above the surface of the ocean.

Some 80 miles or so from Cape Negrais lies the first of the

islands in the chain, Preparis Island, between which and the

mainland the sea depth does not exceed 100 fathoms. South- wards of this the submarine ridge sinks to a depth of about

150 fathoms, rising again to form the small group of islands

known as the Cocos, some 50 miles from Preparis. Geographi-

cally the Cocos may be regarded as part of the Andaman

point of the

Andamans proper, is only distant from them some 30 miles,

and the sea depth between does not exceed 45 fathoms. The

Andaman Group itself consists of the Great and Little Andaman

with their outlying islets, and occupies a distance approximately

Eighty miles to the

north and south of about 210 miles.

south of the Andamans lie the Nicobar Islands, a scattered

archipelago occupying a distance of about 160 miles from north

to south. The sea between the Andamans and the Nicobars is

over 700 fathoms deep. Deep sea also divides the Nicobars

from Sumatra, which is about 1 10 miles distant from the most

southerly point of Great Nicobar.

Sumatra.

Group.

Landfall

Island, the most northerly

This line of islands is part of a long fold extending from

the eastern end of the Himalayas, which includes the Arakan

Yomah Range of Burma arid the Andaman and Nicobar

b. a.

>

1

2

INTRODUCTION

Islands and finds its continuation in the islands off the west

coast of Sumatra 1 .

On the west the Andamans are separated from the coast of Madras, 700 miles distant, by the Sea of Bengal. On the east

the Andaman Sea, a depression with a depth of over 1000 fathoms,

separates the Andamans and Nicobars from the Malay Isthmus

and Peninsula. Across the Andaman Sea, less than 100 miles

distant from the Andamans, there runs a line of volcanic activity,

marked by two small islands, Barren Island in Lat. 12" 15' N. and

Long. 93° 50' E., and Narkondam in Lat. 13 26' N. and Long.

95° i5'E. a

The Cocos, the Andamans and the Nicobars are now part of

The Cocos Islands are occupied by a

In the Andaman Islands there

is a penal settlement at Port Blair, to which are sent the

The Nicobars are treated as

one with the Andamans for administrative purposes. Until the nineteenth century the Cocos Islands were un-

criminals of India and Burma.

station for wireless telegraphy.

the Indian Empire.

inhabited. The Andamans and the Nicobars have for many

centuries been inhabited by two entirely different races. The

Andamanese belong to that branch of the human species known

to anthropologists as the Negrito race. They are short of

stature with black skins and frizzy hair. The Nicobarese, on

the other hand, resemble the races of Indo-China and Malaya,

and have brown skins and lank hair, and are of medium stature

The Andaman Islands consist of the Great Andaman and

the Little Andaman, and a number of smaller islands. The

Great Andaman may be regarded as one island, although it is

divided by narrow sea water creeks

spoken of as separate islands and called North Andaman,

four areas, often

into

1 The formation of the Arakan Fold (including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands), dates from the middle of the Tertiary Period, and was apparently connected

with the great movements that produced the Himalaya-Alpine mountain system and

the Circum-Pacific Fold. The Andaman Sea, in the later Tertiary period, was

prolonged much further to the north, over the region now occupied by the Pegu

Yomah.

2 This line of volcanic activity is a minor continuation of the Sunda Range of

volcanoes of Java and Sumatra. It is continued northward, parallel to the Arakan

Fold, as far as the extinct volcano of Lat. 21 .

Puppadoung, east of Pagan, not far from

v

:•"

INTRODUCTION

3

Middle Andaman, Baratang and South Andaman.

narrow

stretch

of land with a much

a

long

surrounded by many smaller islands, of which the most im-

It

is

indented

coast,

portant are Interview

Island

off the

west

coast, Ritchie's

Archipelago on the east, Rutland Island at the extreme south,

and the outlying North Sentinel Island. The length of the Great Andaman with Rutland Island is nearly 160 miles, while

the breadth from sea to sea is

nowhere more than 20 miles.

The Little Andaman lies to the south of the Great Andaman,

about 30 miles distant from Rutland Island, from which it is

separated by a shallow strait with a maximum depth of only

21 fathoms.

south and about 16 miles wide.

Viewed from the sea the islands appear as a series of hills,

nowhere of any great height, covered from sky-line to high-

The hill-ranges run

approximately north and south, in the same direction as the islands themselves, and attain a greater elevation on the east

than on the west.

The highest point of the North Andaman is

Saddle Peak (2402 feet), that of Middle Andaman is Mt Diavolo

(1678 feet )f while the South Andaman has the Mt Harriett Range

water mark with dSnse and lofty forest.

The island is about 26 miles long from north to

(1505 feet), and in Rutland Island there is Mt Foord (1422 feet).

There are no streams of any size. The water drains from the hills into tidal creeks running through mangrove swamps, often

many miles in length.

•magnificent harbours.

coral reefs, and on these and in the creeks there is abundance

of fish and molluscs.

The islands, save for the clearings of the Penal Settlement,

are covered with dense tropical forest. There are few mammals, the only two of any size being a species of pig (Sus anda-

manensis, Blyth) and a civet-cat (Paradoxurus tytlerii, Tytler).

The other mammals are a few species of rats, a tree-shrew and

The shores are fringed with extensive

The coast is broken by a number of

some species of bats. Of birds there are many different species, some of them peculiar to the islands. The reptiles include a

considerable number of species of snakes, and a few species of

lizards, of which the most noteworthy is the large Monitqr

lizard ( Varanus salvator).

*

INTRODUCTION

The climate is warm and moist, and fairly uniform throughout

the year. The mean temperature for the year at Port Blair is about 86° F. (8o° F. on the wet bulb thermometer). The lowest

temperatures are recorded in January and February, and the

highest in March, April, or May. The average lowest tempera-

ture in the South Andaman over a period of seven years is

4

6&f F., the minimum during that period being 63

average highest temperature in the shade for the same period

F., the maximum being gf. The average diurnal

was 96

variation is io°.

The average rainfall of seven stations in the Penal Settlement

F.

The

of Port Blair, for a period of seven years, was 138 inches per annum, the averages of the different stations varying from 104

to 172 inches. For the same period the average number of rainy days in the year was 177, the minimum being 160 and the

maximum 196.

The islands are sufficiently far from the Equator to have a

single well-defined rainy season.

The greater part of the rain

falls during the south-west monsoon, which lasts from the middle

of May to the middle of November. The north-east monsoon

extends over the other six months of the year, which include

the dry and hot seasons.

The average weather can be shown most conveniently by

means of a calendar.

January.

foggy-

February.

March.

°

Cool ; little or no rain ; wind N.N.E. ; nights sometimes

Cool ; little or no rain ; wind N.N.E. ; very clear ; light airs.

Hot by day, cool nights ; little or no rain ; wind N.N.E. ; light

airs, occasional haze ; the weather gets hotter as the month passes.

April.

Very hot ;

little or no rain ;

wind variable, off-shore at night

and on-shore by day ; calm and hazy.

May. The first half of the month like April ; the south-west monsoon sets in about the 15th; the remainder of the month cooler and with wind

W.S.W.

June. Fairly cool ; heavy rains ; windoW.S.W., squally.

July.

August.

September.

October. Variable wind and weather

"J

-Do.

do.

do.

do.

; generally some calm weather

waterspouts may occur.

•/"'•'*'

INTRODUCTION

5

November. During the