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a hollow in which the refuse of an artificers' settlement was deposited, shows how unsafe it would be to assume that tools which have not been found yet have never existed. All later types of axes found in Ceylon are removed by centuries from this primitive form. If, therefore, of the immense number of iron or steel axes that were used in clearing away the forests throughout all the civilised districts of Ceylon for probably more than five hundred years, only two examples have been met with, it may easily have occurred that the dwellers in the forests had axes, either of stone or iron or some other metal, of which no specimen has yet been seen by us.
A few Wanniyas and Village Vaeddas who can afford to buy guns now use them in the dry season, when the rustling of the crisp leaves that cover the ground at this time renders it difficult to approach game without being observed.
Some of the Coast Vaeddas, but no others, have an ironheaded spear or harpoon for catching fish, but I have not examined one, though I have seen them using it while wading in the brackish or salt water of the lagoons near the sea. As no other form of spear is employed by Vaeddas, they may have learnt its use from their Tamil neighbours in comparatively recent times.
Bathing. Many of the Forest and Village Vaeddas do not bathe. One man stated that he caught cold after the only bath he ever took, and therefore he had abandoned the practice as too dangerous. It will easily be understood that many of them are not very cleanly in their persons. A gentleman in the Survey Department who had occasion to make use of some of them as guides in the forest informed me that they appeared to spend most of their spare time in pursuit of their insect comrades; these appear to have been unfavourable specimens of their race. It is also a common recreation of Sinhalese villagers, especially females, and is looked upon as an exhibition of disinterested friendship, to institute a searching examination of the heads of their friends for this purpose.
Hunting. It is especially as hunters in thick forest that the Forest and Village Vaeddas and Wanniyas are distinguished, and in this respect they are exceedingly skilful, if not
altogether unrivalled. Lazy and inexpert as they seem when idling about their houses, the rapidity with which they can. pass like shadows through thick jungle, without making the least sound, is astonishing. They have assured me that when the leaves lying on the ground are not too dry they can steal up to any animal in the forests without rousing it, and kill it while asleep, or at the least give it a mortal wound, with the sole exception of the Peafowl, which is too wakeful to be caught in this manner. Living in woods frequented by Elephants, Bears, Buffaloes, and Leopards, they state that they have no fear of any beast that the forest contains; and judging by my own experiences when in the forest with some of them, I should suppose that in any ordinary circumstances they could escape from any of the three first-mentioned animals with ease; the Leopard does not attack them. Occasionally, however, a savage Sloth-bear (Ursus labiatus) mauls them when met face to face at a sudden turn in a narrow jungle track.1
A Vaedda once related to me a story of an incident of this kind, which cost him the loss of half a finger. On rounding a corner in such a path he found himself close to a Bear which immediately attacked him, knocking him down and endeavouring to seize his face. He described vividly how he felt its hot breath on his face as he caught its open jaw with both hands while he lay on his back, with the Bear standing over him. He succeeded in holding it thus for some minutes, in the meantime getting half his finger bitten off; and at last by a great effort he threw it backward and sprang to his feet. Luckily for him, the Bear thought the adventure not worth pursuing, and did not renew the attack, but disappeared in the jungle.
On another occasion a Village Vaedda was assaulted in the same manner by a Bear, and came out of the encounter much more seriously injured, being badly bitten on the arms and head. He told those who found him lying on the path and carried him home, how he heard a loud report while the Bear
1 I have seen Kandian villagers who have been frightfully injured by these Bears. In one case the whole side of the face was bitten away.
was worrying his head; this was caused by the fracture of his own skull by the animal's teeth. He was seriously ill when the account was given to me, and I did not learn whether he succumbed to his injuries or not. The way in which these jungle-dwellers recuperate after extremely severe injuries is sometimes surprising. I have known a Kandian recover under home treatment by a village practitioner or ' Vedarāla when his thigh was half cut through in the middle and the bone exposed, by his falling backwards across a razor-edged piece of newly-blasted granite.
While engaged on a hunting expedition, these huntersand Kandians likewise-glide along in single file, avoiding every leafy twig the rustling of which might betray their presence, or if game be near holding it until the next man can take charge of it, and hand it over in the same manner to the man behind him. At such times all tread in the footprints of the first man, who when putting his foot on the ground first glides his toes along it in order to push aside any twigs or leaves that might emit a noise if crushed. Their eyes and ears are fully alert to catch the slightest sound or movement among the thick jungle around them. With a lifetime's experience and hereditary perceptive faculties to assist them, the secrets of the deepest forest appear to them as an open book which they read as they pass. They hear sounds and see objects that to a person whose perception is dulled by civilisation might as well be altogether absent, so far as his power of observation is concerned. Their trained ears detect the footfall of the wild forest animals walking through the jungle at considerable distances away, and can distinguish even the species by means of the sound, which is quite inaudible to less experienced observers. If any uncertainty exists regarding it they crouch down, or kneel down with one ear on the ground, and soon clear up their doubts. When they are in search of Deer or other animals with keen sight, they hide their cloth by hanging leafy twigs round their waist-string. This certainly gives them a very wild appearance, but there is no trustworthy evidence to show that it was the primitive dress of the aborigines of Ceylon.
Wild honey being one of their favourite foods, their vision and hearing are trained to an astonishing quickness in detecting every Bee that flies across their path, and noting its species, and whether it is flying laden or is only in quest of food. When it is carrying a load of honey and flying straight through the trees, they at once move off in the same direction, if it be the season in which the hives contain honey, that is, August and September, knowing of course that the laden insect makes a direct flight to its hive-the proverbial bee-line. As the nest is approached other Bees are seen converging towards it, and in a few minutes it is certain to be discovered.
Four species of Bees are found in the forests of Ceylon. The greatest one, a giant among Honey-bees and as large as a Hornet, is called the Bambarā, its hive being a Bambaraya. It hangs an immense white comb longitudinally under a substantial branch of a tall tree, or high up in the face of a cliff, sheltered by overhanging rock. The Wanniyas have a belief that the next species of Bee does not permit the Bambara to make any part of its comb on the upper side of the branch. If it did so, the Daṇḍuwaella would carry off the honey in that portion, the right to place any above the branch belonging to it alone.
The largest of these combs is about five feet deep, but somewhat less in length. The comb is without any cover excepting that provided by the bodies of the Bees, which usually cluster thickly over it, and completely hide it, thus protecting it from both sun and rain. The honey is chiefly used medicinally by the Sinhalese, but for the Vaeddas it is an important addition to the dietary. An old Wanniya once told me, as a good joke, that when moral pressure was put upon him by a Rațēmahatmaya, or principal district chief, in order to make him supply some honey, he took care that it should be of this kind, and after receiving the thanks of the chief, who anticipated some pleasant eating, decamped before it was tasted. "I was never ordered to bring honey again," he said, with a chuckle.
Mr. Nevill noted that to get this honey when the hives are attached to rocks, the Vaeddas sometimes descend from above by long frail ladders made of cane. These swing about in an
alarming manner, rendering the task a very dangerous one, especially at night. In order to appease the Spirit of the rock, called Kande Yakā, 'the Demon of the Rock,' and induce him not to cause or permit the climber to fall, they sing songs loudly [I presume in his honour] while engaged in the work. Before undertaking the task a song is also sung, and a little honey sprinkled, to propitiate the Spirit.
The next Bee in size, called Daṇḍuwaellā, its hive being the Daṇḍuwaellaya, also hangs a single uncovered small white comb vertically under a branch, but never under a very high one; it is commonly found in a low bush. A very small portion of the comb is always constructed on and round the upper side of the branch also. No larvae are placed in this part, which is reserved for storing honey. This Bee protects the comb in the same manner as the large species. The honey is clear, rather pale-coloured, and sweet; and is eaten by all who find it. As in the Bambara's comb, the cells are on both sides of the comb, the more advanced larvae being in the outermost cells; these are often separated from the rest by one or two rows of short empty cells. In the middle portion of the comb the largest larvae are found round the centre. The largest combs I have seen were from twelve to fourteen inches wide and deep.
The third kind of Bee makes its hive in hollows in trees. It is termed the Mi-maessa, the 'Bee-fly,' the hive being the Miya, and it bears a close resemblance to the common Honeybee of Europe. The honey is darker coloured but perhaps sweeter than that of the last species. This is the kind that is specially searched for by the hunters; as there are many combs in the hive, of course much more honey is obtained from it than from the single comb of the Daṇḍuwaellā, and eight or even ten quarts of honey are taken from a very good hive. The Forest Vaeddas are said to still occasionally preserve surplus meat in this honey, placing it in the hollows of trees, which they fill up with honey, and afterwards closing the orifice with clay or wax.
The last Bee is an interesting one called the Kuḍā-Mimaessā, the 'Small Bee-fly,' no bigger than a small House-fly,