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The World's News Saturday, April 2, 1904

 

This article is titled: THE TIGER-PEOPLE OF SOUTHERN INDIA.

 

A strange tribe, some few of whom are still said to exist, at one time inhabited the high range of Travancore, Southern India, and Cherrington, their chief, told the Baroness Rosenberg, of Devicolum, Madras Presidency, India, the story of his queer adventure with certain "tiger people" who captured him. It was during a honey-hunting expedition that this occurred, and Chirringan and another youth, having been left alone, started to search for that commodity. They found what looked like a large honeycomb a good way up a tree. Chirringan's companion climbed for it.  He remained below watching.  Suddenly his arm was grasped tightly, from behind.  He swung around in alarm, only to find that he was firmly held by what he first took to be two large monkeys.   These hideous creatures began dragging him away.   He shouted and yell'ed frantically, and attracted the attention of his companion, who, looking down, cried out in great terror.

 

"It is the dreadful pillai-mansen (tiger-men), they are taking, you away to eat you. Ah, woe is me!"

There flashed across Chirringan's" mind all that his father had told him about the horrible hairy dwarfs who lived in nests built in the branches of tall trees."' If ever they, caught a bill-man they killed and ate him. "The thought that his companion would find his father and give the alarm kept up the young man's courage.  But as his captors dragged him deeper and deeper into the almost impenetrable jungle this hope failed him.

 

After a two hours journey, captors and captive reached a group of tall straight trees.  Here the dwarfs took some twisted cane, and having tied Chirringan's hands firmly behind him, fastened him to a tree. Looking up, he saw bundles of thatch in the branches of various trees, out of which peered rough hairy faces. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presently his captors gave a curious bird-like call, and from all the nests he had noticed dark forms began to descend.  Soon he was surrounded by a curious group of men and women —all hairy and repulsive—who peered at him with hungry, gleaming eyes through shaggy, overhanging hair, matted with mud. Shortly afterward a group of four or five "tiger men" arrived, dragging with them a slain jungle sheep.   At sight of this the 12 or 15 people surrounding Chirringan, made a wild rush at the kill and began to devour it raw. The men who had brought it came and examined the captive with grimaces of joy and pleasure.  One prodded him in the rib's with a twig, while another suddenly swung a strange weapon round and round his head. It was formed by a large stone, fastened by long strips of twisted hide to a stout stick.

With closed eyes, Chirringan shrank back as close to the tree as possible, expecting every moment to be his last.  Then a strange thing happened, There came a queer barking from the jungle, and as the "tiger men" scampered hurriedly up the trees a couple of dogs rushed into the open. They, bounded up to the captive man, who expected, to be attacked by them.  So frightened was he, that he did not notice the approach, of two white men, whose shrill whistle and short word of command quietened the dogs. Here was wonder upon wonder. Two men, strangely garbed, and carrying what the chief learned afterward were rifles, came up to the tree. They set him free, and when they left Chirringan followed them to their camp where by the aid of their Madrassi servant he was able, to tell his story.

These men proved to be a couple of hunters from the low country, whose "load coolies" had bolted, and left them in the lurch. They were quite at a loss to remove their equipment, but Chirringan guided them to his father's camp, where help was obtained, and the camp and equipment removed to the village.  Thence they were guided to the plains below by the Mude-vars, and in accordance with a sacred legend, so Baroness Rosenberg explains in the story in the "Wide World Magazine," Chirringan subsequently became chief of his tribe, "to see that the white men's dealing with us were always friendly, and so guard our tribe from arousing their anger, so that we might continue to live as heretofore, free to come and go in these great jungles, and free to take the wild beasts thereof for our use."

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