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Written by
Superintendent, Madras Government Museum



Superintendent, Madras Government Museum; Correspondant E’tranger,

Société d'Anthropologie de Paris ; Socio Corrispondante,

Societa Romana di Anthropologia.



In 1894, equipped with a set of anthropometric Instruments obtained on loan from the Asiatic Society of Bengal, I commenced an investigation of the tribes of the Nilgiri hills, the Todas, Kotas, and Badagas, bringing down on myself the unofficial criticism that "anthropological research at high altitudes is eminently indicated when the thermometer registers 1000 in Madras."

From this modest beginning have resulted :-( 1) investigation of various classes which inhabit the city of Madras; ( 2) periodical tours to various parts of the Madras Presidency, with a view to the study of the more important tribes and classes; (3) the publication of Bulletins, wherein the results of my work are embodied; (4) the establishment of an anthropological laboratory ; (5) a collection of photographs of Native types ; (6) a series of lantern slides for lecture purposes ; (7) a collection of phonograph records of tribal songs and music.

The scheme for a systematic and detailed ethnographic survey of the whole of India received the formal sanction of the Government of India in I90I. A Superintendent of Ethnography was appointed for each Presidency or Province, to carry out the work of the survey in addition to his other duties. The other duty, in my particular case-the direction of a large local museum-happily made an excellent blend with the survey operations, as the work of collection for the ethnological section went on simultaneously with that of investigation. The survey was financed for a period of five (afterwards extended to eight) years, and an annual allotment of Rs. 5000 provided for each Presidency and Province. This included Rs. 2,000 for approved notes on monographs, and replies to the stereotyped series of questions.

The replies to these questions were not, I am bound to admit, always entirely satisfactory, as they broke down both in accuracy and detail. I may, as an illustration, cite the following description of making fire by friction. "They know how to make fire, i.e., by friction of wood as well as stone, etc. They take a triangular cut of stone, and one flat oblong size flat. They hit one another with the maintenance of cocoanut fibre or copper, then fire sets immediately, and also by rubbing the two barks frequently with each other they make fire."

I gladly place on record my hearty appreciation of the services rendered by Mr. K. Rangachari in the preparation of the present volumes. During my temporary absence in Europe, he was placed in charge of the survey, and he has been throughout invaluable in obtaining information concerning manners and customs, as interpreter and photographer, and in taking phonograph records.

For information relating to the tribes and castes of Cochin and Travancore, I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to Messrs. L. K. Anantha Krishna Aiyer and N. Subramani Aiyer, the Superintendents of Ethnography for their respective States. The notes relating to the Cochin State have been independently published at the Ernakulam Press, Cochin.

In the scheme for the Ethnographic Survey, it was laid down that the Superintendents should supplement the information obtained from representative men and by their own enquiries by "researches into the considerable mass of information which lies buried in official reports, in the journals of learned Societies, and in various books." Of this injunction full advantage has been taken, as will be evident fron1 the abundant crop of references in foot-notes.

It s impossible to express my thanks individually to the very large number of correspondents, European and Indian, who have generously assisted me in my work. I may, however, refer to the immense aid which I have received from the District Manuals edited by Mr. (now Sir) H. A. Stuart, I.C.S., and the District Gazetteers, which have been quite recently issued under the editorship of Mr. W. Francis, I.C.S., Mr. F. R. Hemingway, I.C.S., and Mr. F. B. Evans, I.C.S.

My thanks are further due to Mr. C. Hayavadana Rao, to whom I am indebted for much information acquired when he was engaged in the preparation of the District Gazetteers, and for revising the proof sheets.

For some of the photographs of Badagas, Kurumbas, and Todas, I am indebted to Mr. A T W. Penn of Ootacamund.

I may add that the anthropometric data are all the result of measurements taken by myself, in order to eliminate the varying error resulting from the employment of a plurality of observers.

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