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centuries, with some gradual slight intermixture of foreign blood as the intercourse with Nāgadīpa and Southern India led to an intermittent influx of Dravidians, culminating in occasional invasions of the island by South Indian armies. In some cases, in what are now thought to be pure Sinhalese districts, many of the people were still distinguished from the other inhabitants by the name of Vaeddas down to the seventeenth century, after which they appear to have abandoned this title to the wilder residents of the eastern districts.
Although declaring themselves Buddhists and attending the services at the temples, many of these Sinhalese-Vaeddas still adhered to the worship of the ancient Hill-God of their ancestors, the Vyāda Dēva of the old annalists. The philosophical reasoning of the new faith might appeal to their minds, but it did not afford the practical protection which they received from their old religion. They still felt the need of the kindly supreme deity to whom they could appeal in time of trouble, for which the new faith provided no remedy, but only taught resignation to the inevitable. The ancient god could still, it was thought, assist them out of their physical difficulties, without interfering with their general belief in the truth of the Buddhist doctrines. In some parts of the Kandian districts the two religions have therefore settled down side by side to the present day.
Dr. R. Virchow, as the result of an examination of a series of Vaedda and Sinhalese skulls, expressed the following opinion regarding the affinity of the Vaeddas and Sinhalese: The Vaeddas would appear rather as representatives of the aboriginal race; the Sinhalese, on the other hand, as hybrids produced by a union of immigrant Indians with Vaeddas, and therefore varying according to the measure of their participation of either of these elements. This indeed strikes me as being the solution of the anthropological problem before us, so far, at least, as the material at present reaches. The linguistic difficulty, that also the unmixed 1 natives adopted the Aryan language of the conqueror, without, so far as we can
1 It is extremely doubtful if there are any groups of Vaeddas of unmixed blood in these days.
judge, having been forced to do so, appears to me no longer insurmountable, since from personal experience I have established the fact that in the Baltic provinces of Russia one part of the Finnish population after the other, through imperceptible but steady progress, has become letticized to such an extent that the Courland language has wholly, the Livonian almost wholly, disappeared, and only the Esthonian still offers any resistance.' 1
His final conclusions on the subject are: (1) That manifold resemblances exist between the Vaeddas and the Sinhalese, and that the origin of the Sinhalese race from a mixture of Vaeddas and immigrants from India possesses great probability, as well upon historical as also upon anthropological grounds.
(2) That the Vaeddas as well as the Sinhalese in the main features are distinguished from the Ceylon Tamils, and equally from those of Tanjore (Sōla).
'(3) That, on the other hand, among the remnants of the old Dravidian or perhaps pre-Dravidian tribes of Hindustan we find even to-day evidence of analogies with the Vaeddas' (p. 136).
1 Monograph on the Vaeddas, published in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Science of Berlin, in 1881, and translated for the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1888, p. 110.
visits to their districts, largely supplemented by quotations from articles on the Vaeddas by the late Mr. Hugh Nevill of the Ceylon Civil Service, which he published in 1886, in his magazine, The Taprobanian. I have endeavoured to credit him with all information taken from his papers. He had the advantage of being stationed in the Eastern Province for a considerable time, first as Assistant Government Agent of the Trincomalee district, and afterwards as District Judge of Batticaloa; and being an indefatigable student and an accurate observer, and well acquainted with the native languages, he was able, owing to his official position, to collect a large amount of valuable information regarding the Vaeddas, as well as other subjects, which would not be readily available to others. It is greatly to be regretted that the part of it relating to the ceremonies used in their demon worship was never made public by him. I have also quoted some remarks on the Vaeddas by Professor R. Virchow, together with the sizes of their skulls as noted in the valuable monograph on them already referred to. Throughout this account of them I have instituted comparisons between them and the present Kandian Sinhalese. I am well aware of the defective nature of this account; but as it contains some information which is not elsewhere available, I have thought it advisable to publish it.
1 I am indebted to the courtesy of his brother, Mr. Ralph Nevill, for permission to utilise them.
The Vaeddas of the present day, or those known as such, are found only in the eastern half of the island. They are usually divided into three classes, which I shall distinguish as follows:
(1) The wild Forest Vaeddas, few in number, who live entirely by hunting, and dwell in the depths of the forests near the eastern base of the Kandian mountains. At Nilgala, where I expected to find them well known, I was surprised to learn that they are rarely seen; all of whom I could hear in that neighbourhood consisted of one small party who sometimes visited or resided on a hill about five miles away in the forest. There are more of them on the western side of the valley of the Madura-oya.
(2) The Village Vaeddas of the eastern interior and the south-eastern coast districts, who in many cases, but probably not in all, have some intermixture, recent or ancient, of Sinhalese blood, though practically forming the same race as the Forest Vaeddas. There are two villages of these Vaeddas in the North-central Province, near Hurulla tank, and several others on the eastern side of the lower part of the Mahawaeliganga, but the great majority live in the Eastern Province.
(3) The Tamil-speaking Vaeddas, who live in scattered villages on or near the central coast tract, from the north of Trincomalee to about ten miles north of Batticaloa. These have intermarried with the Tamil residents of that part of the country, and have adopted their language, and some of their customs, while still retaining some of their own.
Distributed among some eighteen small hamlets along the northern border of the North-central Province, which is the boundary between the Tamil districts of the north, the ancient Nāgadipa, and the Kandian Sinhalese, there is also a race of hunters, probably less than 500 in number, who, like the others, are termed by the Tamils Vēḍan (in English pronunciation Verdan), plural Vēḍar. They themselves repudiate this appellation, except in its ordinary meaning of hunter,' and they deny that they are in any way connected with the Vaeddas, of whom they speak in very contemptuous terms. Their own name for themselves is Wanniya, 'person of the Wanni,'
as the forest and jungle of northern Ceylon to the south of Elephant Pass is called. They all speak Sinhalese, with the exception of the inhabitants of one or two hamlets lying to the west, but all the men also know a certain amount of Tamil. As their habits when engaged in hunting do not differ from those of the Vaeddas, it will be useful to include them in dealing with the latter, especially as some consider them to be true Vaeddas, with whom, in fact, it is not unlikely that they are connected, although they have lost all tradition of it, and neither know the Vaedi dialect nor, so far as I am aware, worship quite the same deities.
Like the Vaeddas, they all claim to be of good caste (in their case the Goyiwansa, or cultivating caste), although, like them also, many have names such as elsewhere now belong only to persons of the low castes like the Tom-tom beaters; among these may be mentioned Kanda, Vēlan, Kaṭā, Kōnā, etc. Others have what are considered to be good caste names.
On examining the inscriptions and histories, however, we learn that two thousand years ago, or more, the short names that are now confined to the lower castes were borne by the chiefs, and even by the members of the royal family. In Ceylon, in early times there seem to have been no names that were specially distinctive of the high and low castes; where a distinction was made it was provided by the addition of a separate ending, of which instances occur in the names found both in the cave inscriptions and the histories, such as the
1 Vaedi is the adjectival form. In Sinhalese, the masculine noun is Vaeddā, plural Vaeddō, and the feminine noun is Vaeddi. I believe these nouns are only employed by Sinhalese. I have not heard the Vaeddas term themselves otherwise than as ‘Valdi men' (Vaedi minissu). In their own dialect this would be Vaedi minu, but a Vaedda has been represented as calling one of his race Wannikudē mină, and the word Mal occurs for Vaeddas in the invocations collected by Dr. Seligmann. The Tamil-speaking Vaeddas call themselves Vēḍan. Reasons have been given for doubting if the word Vaedda could be derived from the Pāli word Vyādha. In any case, that Vyadha, however, signified Vaedda is, I think, clear from the use of this term in the Mahāvansa to describe the many thousands' enlisted by Parākrama Bāhu I. In a footnote at the end of the chapter on the Primitive Deity of Ceylon I have given an intermediate form found in one old work.