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chiefs could suppose that they would allow their sons to marry wives selected from the Vaedda clans if these were thought to be of much lower social status than themselves; and still more rigorously would they be debarred from marriage with them if they had been, as Professor R. Virchow said, mere primitive savages of a lower type than the Australians and Andamanese. It would be an insult to them to even suggest that they would ever, in a single instance under any circumstances, consent to such unions.
It is also impossible that a race of savages would be selected as the special guardians of the important Hindu temple of Skanda, the War God, at Kataragama, in South-eastern Ceylon.
Evidence of Former Civilisation.-Professor R. Virchow has written of the Vaedda race that 'One may call it among the smallest [in stature] of the living human tribes'; and after stating that he thought it just conceivable that some remains indicating their former higher culture might yet be discovered, he proceeded to remark, 'But what will be gained even by this? At best the possibility of placing the Vaeddas on a level with the Andamanese and the Australians, whilst, according to present facts, they must be placed decidedly lower. people who do not even possess clay vessels, who have no knowledge of domestic animals beyond the dog, who are unacquainted with the simplest forms of gardening and agriculture, who lack almost every kind of social institution, who are not even counted among the outcasts by their civilized neighbours, cannot possibly ever have had the means which make a higher culture of any kind possible. The hypothesis of a return to barbarism must hence be definitely given up.'
Had the learned Professor been in possession of the information which I have given in the last few pages, he might perhaps have modified this sweeping condemnation of the race to the lowest place among the lowest savages. But even the early Sinhalese annalists furnished particulars which, if they are to be credited, disprove the Professor's conclusions.
The references to the Vaeddas in the Sinhalese histories and 1 Monograph on the Vaeddas (Translation), p. 108.
the Valāhassa Jātaka story show clearly that in pre-Christian times, when it must necessarily be admitted that they were numerous and well known in the country, part of them at least were believed to have held a far higher position in the scale of civilisation than their direct representatives of the present day. It must not be forgotten that the accounts which we possess were compiled from annals that were almost certainly as the accuracy of the details in other respects shows-committed to writing by the second if not the third century B.C. The more our knowledge of the early history of the country progresses the more evident does the general truthfulness of the early accounts become. The careful Sinhalese chroniclers of that time would be most unlikely to attribute to the aborigines more advanced customs than those which they saw for themselves among them, or to place them in a higher social position than they occupied in their day or in the traditions of their forefathers.
In describing the uncivilised natives of a conquered or newly acquired territory, the general tendency among writers down to comparatively recent times, and not among the early authors only, has been in the opposite direction. They have represented people with a certain amount of culture as mere savages, and savages have been even described as no better than the wild beasts, and as using no human form of speech. On this account, any evidence of the civilisation of the ancestors of the Vaeddas which occurs in the early histories may be accepted with much confidence.
What is this evidence? Assuming it to be trustworthy, let us see what deductions may be legitimately drawn from it. We are told that the country was politically organised, that is, that in the fifth century B.C. it was ruled over by chiefs who lived at settled towns or villages which had a considerable population. Eighty years after the first Sinhalese king began his reign, we find a supreme sovereign of the Vaeddas, whose name is given as Citta, residing at Anuradhapura almost on an equality with the Sinhalese king, and sitting on a similar throne to his when the royal party were present at public 1 It will be found in detail in the preceding pages.
festivals and sports. It is specially added, in order to mark the position held by the Vaedda chief, that both the thrones were of the same height. According to eastern custom, and even western also, this proves that the Vaedda ruler took precedence of all persons in the country except the Sinhalese king himself, who thus publicly acknowledged their equality of rank. Had the annalist been a Vaedda, we might suspect that he had invented such a description of his sovereign's status at the court; we may feel sure that no Sinhalese chronicler would have deliberately perpetuated a story which placed the ruler of the aborigines in such a prominent position unless he and his compatriots believed that the Vaedda chief had actually occupied it.
In addition to the sovereign of the Vaeddas, another Vaedda chieftain, Kālavēla, who held a post of almost equal importance in the country, is mentioned as residing at the Sinhalese capital. It is explicitly stated that it was with the assistance of these two chiefs that the Sinhalese king ruled over the country. It may be said, therefore, that this account completely supports the more doubtful one which is given of the social position of the local chiefs in the time of Wijaya. They were persons with whom the Sinhalese rulers could associate on terms of practical equality. I suggest also that it is difficult to account for the devotion of the Vaeddas to Paṇḍukābhaya, before he became king, unless he was connected with their race through his grandmother.
The reference to the wedding festivities of even the local rulers of the Vaeddas indicates that they were elaborate festivals which lasted some days, and that the etiquette of the country rendered it necessary for the princess who was to be married to be escorted by her mother to the town or settlement at which the ruler dwelt to whom she was to be united.
The Vaeddas are described as being well dressed. The kings had a special ceremonial costume which even a prince from the court of one of the sovereigns of the Ganges valley was not ashamed to wear when he assumed the sovereignty over them. The costumes or ornaments of the royal retinue were also found suitable for the followers of the Indian prince. It
is clear that the dresses of such people were no mere waistcloths of Riți bark, or girdles of leafy twigs. They must have consisted of imported cotton cloth of an ornamental pattern, brought into the country either by Magadhese or South-Indian traders.
These statements are supported by modern Sinhalese traditions, and the accounts of the Vaeddas which were collected by Mr. Nevill. These name even the clan, the Baṇḍāra warige the 'Chief's Clan,' which still exists, and to which some of the wildest Forest Vaeddas belong 1-from which the kings and chiefs were chosen in former times; and they mention the coloured dresses and jewels, and the golden household utensils which their more settled representatives still possessed in the last century. Among the names of modern Village Vaeddas given below it will be seen that one is called Randunu Wanniya, 'the Wanniya of the Golden Bows.' 2
If the Vaeddas were in the state of civilisation which these facts indicate, it would be unjustifiable to suppose that they could be ignorant of all knowledge of numbers.
The Sinhalese annalists and the writer of the Valāhassa Jātaka agree that trading vessels were often wrecked on the shores of Ceylon before the advent of Wijaya, that is, in or before the fifth century B.C. The tradition of the Vaeddas is also quite definite as to the arrival of their supreme deity in a ship from Southern India, 'in the olden time,' which we know by the reference to him in the reign of Paṇḍukābhaya must have been prior to the fourth century B.C.
These were not local ships; it is practically certain that they were vessels which came from ports on the Indian coasts. In the Sankha Jātaka (No. 442) there is a reference to a ship built of planks, with three masts; and voyages were certainly made at an early date from the Ganges valley to Suvannabhūmi, the Land of Gold,' that is, Burma. In the Indian Antiquary for 1876, vol. v, p. 340, Dr. J. Muir published translations of some maxims from the Maha-Bhārata, one of which
1 I have stated that I met some who belonged to it.
2 This is strong evidence that the Wanniyas are really Vaeddas; another Vaedda is also called 'Wanniya.'
runs, 'On seas, in forests wild, the bold will risk their precious lives for gold'; and even in Vedic times sea-voyages, some of which occupied several days, are often mentioned. It must have been such vessels as these which brought the first Gangetic travellers, and at a much later date Wijaya and his relatives, and their followers.
With what object did the first Magadhese traders venture upon the dangerous voyage to Ceylon from their distant country on the Ganges, a journey of more than 1,600 miles? This long voyage cannot have been undertaken for any other purpose than to obtain the articles produced in the country, ivory, wax, incense, and probably also pearls and gems,1 being part of them. We know also that these were not paid for with money, which would have been useless to the natives; the traders must have brought with them cargoes of other goods, like those taken to Burma according to the Jātaka stories (in which whole shiploads of merchandise are mentioned)—to be disposed of in exchange for the local commodities. We shall probably be correct in assuming that these cargoes consisted largely of cotton materials, beads and other ornaments, axes and arrow-heads of steel, and cooking and other vessels of earthenware, copper, or brass, all of which would be readily taken by the natives in exchange for the produce of the country. This at once presupposes an internal trade in these articles, like that of prehistoric people in Europe. All would not be retained in the hands of the dwellers on the coast; a part of them would be distributed throughout the whole country by some form of barter, or possibly by local traders established at settlements far inland, in the forests wild' of the MahāBharata, where the produce of the district would be collected in exchange for them, exactly as at present.
1 The Mahāvansa states that Wijaya sent to his father-in-law the King of Madura, gems, pearls, and chanks (i, pp. 34, 35).
2 So also it is stated of the natives of Central Australia, 'The trading propensities of the Australian natives have led long ago to the disposal far and wide over the continent of the iron tomahawk of the white man. ... One group barters what it makes for the products of another living, it may be, a hundred miles away.' (Dr. Howitt, The Native Tribes of Central Australia, p. 575.) There was a similar prehistoric trade among the American Indians, and in Europe in Neolithic times.