In transcribing this late Victorian description of various ethnic groups and tribes from Anna Harriett Leonowens’s Life and Travel in India before the Days of Railroads (c. 1884), I have used the rough transcription made available by the Internet Archive. — George P. Landow

South of the Nerbudda, and in the very heart of the Vindhyan chain, are the Gonds,* so called from their habitual nudity — a race of the lowest type, jet-black skin, stunted, thick-lipped, and with small, deep-set eyes. This race is often called by the Hindoos Angoreesi.e. cannibals. They live in miserable huts, surrounded by swine, poultry, buffaloes, and dogs, without any industries, literature, or priesthood, and with few ceremonials of any kind whatever — worshippers of serpents, demons, or anything, in fact, that inspires them with dread, to whom they sometimes sacrifice their children or captives taken in war. Such rehgious rites as prevail among them are conducted by the aged and honored members of their tribe, both male and female.

*The Gonds are supposed to be the aborigines of the Sagar and Nagpoor provinces, and have much in common with the Khandsor Khands, another tribe of North Sarkar. They have dialects peculiar to themselves, and which have no affinity whatever with the Sanskrit, but probably are akin to that of the Dravidian stock. They kept up their old religious custom of human sacrifice until 1835-45, when the strong arm of the English interfered and has almost put a stop to it. [146]


Leonowens, Anna Harriette. Life and Travel in India being Recollections of a Journey before the Days of Railroads. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates; London: Trübner, n.d. [c. 1884]. Internet Archive online version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 3 December 2018.

Last modified 5 December 2018