INDIAN AND HIMALAYAN
FOLK AND TRIBAL ARTS
2008 – 2016
PEOPLE OF INDIA.
A SERIES OF
WITH DESCRIPTIVE LETTERPRESS,
THE RACES AND TRIBES OF HINDUSTAN,
ORIGINALLY PREPARED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF
THE GOVERNAMENT OF INDIA,
REPRODUCED BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR
INDIA IN COUNCIL.
J. FORBES WATSON AND JOHN WILLIAM KATE
THE HIMALAYAN TRIBES
The term LIMBOO is a corruption of Ekthoomba, and is generally used to
designate the whole population of the mountainous country lying between
the Dood-Koosi and the Kanki rivers, in Nepal.
Their original country is Chung, in Tibet.
The Limboos are found in smaller numbers eastwards to the Mechi
river, which forms the boundary of Nepal and Sikhim.
In still fewer numbers they exist within the Sikhim territory, as far east as the Teesta river, beyond
which they very rarely settle.
In Bhootan they are unknown, except as strangers.
They doubtless belong to the great Mongolian family of the human race.
This is clearly evidenced in their form of features, absence of beard, and yellow colour of
the skin; but to which of the numerous divisions of this family, to be found
between the Himalaya mountains and the Yellow Sea, they especially belong,
or of which they are an offshoot, remains to be decided by further comparison of
their language and their religion, with those of other Mongols. Their language
has no written character, nor does it impress the hearer as having any resemblance
to the Lepcha or Mech dialects.
There is, however, reason to suppose that it once
had a written character peculiar to itself (Journal As. Soc. Bengal., ii., 4.)
Although they have been long in close contact with the Hindoos, there is not
any perceptible mixture of the blood to be observed, whether in more regular
features, or in the absence of the small low nose of the Mongolian races, and
presence of the beard.
In religion they are neither Hindoos nor Buddhists ;
though they outwardly conform, as their locality requires, to the practices of either
They believe in one great god, called SHAM-MUNG, and worship many
Their marriage ceremonies are simple, involving little but a sacrifice
and a feast.
Their funeral proceedings are thus described:—Just as the vital
spark has taken its leave of the mortal tenement, it is usual among the Limboos,
for one who can procure a little powder, to fire a gun.
The report is supposed to give intimation of the event to the gods, and to speed the
soul of the deceased to their keeping.
They burn the dead, selecting the summits of mountains for
the purpose, and afterwards collect and bury the ashes, over which they raise a
square tomb of stone, about four feet high, placing upon it an upright stone.
On this is engraved a record of the quantity of largess distributed at the funeral of the
This inscription is either in the Dev-Nagri or Lepcha character,
according to the comparative facility of procuring an engraver in either.
It is an act of virtue in the relatives to give largess, but it does not appear to be considered
of any efficacy to the soul of the departed.
The Limboos do not make offerings, or sacrifices for the dead, nor have they any belief in the transmigration of souls.
They mourn the dead by weeping and lamentations at the time, and by avoiding
merry-makings, and adorning the hair with flowers for a month or two.
They are a warlike race, and occasionally enlist in the British native army.