Malabar Series. Wynad : Its Peoples and Traditions. By C. Gopalan Nair, Rao Bahadur. Madras : Higginbotham & Co., 191 1. 8vo, pp. xvi+i6o + iv.
A BOOK about Wynad, — the hill plateau of Malabar, some two to three thousand feet above the sea, interspersed with hills running up to 7500 ft., those to the westward offering the first resistance to the sweep of the monsoon as it reaches over the arid plains of India from the Arabian Sea, where nature is lovely and vegetation prodigal beyond description, inhabited by forest tribes, some of them doubtless autochthonous and others which, in the generations since they left their neighbouring plains, have been imbued by their change of habitat, — a book of this fascinating title may well be taken up eagerly by the student of folklore, especially as its author is a native of Malabar. " Sorrento without the sea," — "A botanical debauch," — have been said of Wynad by one who had a keen eye for the picturesque, a keen botanist, one time governor of the Madras Presidency, to which it belongs. It might indeed be called a folklore debauch, teeming as it is with peoples in varying stages of development, some of them unable to subtract three from five, or even to count five, and so diverse. Unfor- tunately this little book tells very little about them which will interest the folklorist, — the description of eighteen tribes divided into " Chettis," " Hill tribes," " Aborigines — predial slaves," "Aborigines — forest dwellers," being confined within sixty-two small pages of large print. Slight and sketchy as the matter set forth is it would be more acceptable were one able to feel that it had been acquired at first hand by the author himself: somehow it does not convince. Little is said of religious beliefs and practices, or customs, and nothing at all of easily observed facts, — e.g. that the Kurichchiyans are hunters, genuine hunters, slaying even the tiger with their arrows ; or that they shoot fish in the big river, using long light arrows similar in principle to the Greenlanders' spear. The Greenlanders' spear is, by the way, paralleled by the weapon used by fishers on the Malabar coast when their quarry is the shark, an esteemed article of diet, as well as by those who kill fish in the rivers, using a small steel spear- head, to which is fastened cunningly a long string with a float at