Language: Gond
Source: Lord Egerton of Tatton

Description

Pharetri is used by Lord Egerton to describe a type of axe that is mostly associated with the Khond people of central, eastern and southern India. The Hindi word given by Egerton is Tonngya.1

Stone omits pharetri in his Glossary and lists them as bullova instead.He does list a tongia which he describes as the axe of the Bygas, who obtain their axes from a hill people called Agurias, "who seem to be a section of the Gonds".3

 

Bullova

A bullova from the George Cameron Stone collection.
Now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Accession number 36.25.1813

A number of these axes were presented to King Edward VII, when Prince of Wales, during his tour of India in 1875-76. See among others Royal Collection Trust, accession number: RCIN 37658

Also see, Royal Armories, Leeds, accession number: XVIC.20

Notes
1. See: Lord Egerton of Tatton; Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour. Dover Publications; Revised edition, 2002. Page 78.
2. See: Stone, George C.; A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. (Reprint) Jack Brussel, New York, 1961. Page 155.
3. Ibid. Page 622.

In period sources

"Every man carries an axe, and the far greater part of them a bow and arrow also. They have never adopted the matchlock, sword, or shield, which their Ooryah chiefs or Bissoi always carry; this is the more singular, as these weapons are very superior to those used by the Khonds." 1

-Major General Sir John Campbell, 1864.

 

"The Khond usually carries a long staff, but when armed he wears a turban ornamented with a showy crest of feathers, and a strong cloth encircling his loins; he carries a bow and arrows, and a battle-axe with the blade in two divisions. He marches to battle singing, shouting, and brandishing his battle axe, most commonly under the influence of strong potations. The matchlock and shield are the favourite weapons of the people inhabiting the Southern district; but the curious and formidable battle-axe seems most relied on by the heroes of Boad and Goomsur." 2

-Major General Sir John Campbell, 1864.

 

"The following instance occurred to Lieut. McNeill when out bear shooting, accompanied by some Khonds, who had been rescued from sacrifice. He had posted himself in a favourable position one moonlight night, when a bear came up, but owing to the uncertain light, for the moon was not very bright, he only wounded the beast slightly; it made off at once right across the rice fields in the open plain, with the intention of seeking shelter in the neighbouring hills, without allowing time for the adjustment of the sight for a second shot.

The Khonds had started at full speed in pursuit, to cut off the animal's retreat to the hills; they soon placed themselves between the bear and the hills, and then with axe in hand they resolutely attacked him, and literally hacked him to pieces in less time than it has taken to narrate this adventure. The axes used were certainly formidable weapons, but it requires more than ordinary courage to attack a savage bear with such instruments as these, by moonlight, and on broken ground." 3

-Major General Sir John Campbell, 1864.

 

Khond chief

 

A survey through the standard literature gives various names for these axes, possibly reflecting various dialects in use. Lord Egerton of Tatton, writing in 1880 calls them pharetri and gives the Hindi name tonngya while George Cameron Stone, well aware of Egerton’s work from which he quotes extensively, insisted to call them bullova instead in his 1934 "Glossary". It was this name that mostly stuck with collectors until today.4



Notes to period sources
1. Major General Sir John Campbell; A Personal Narrative of Thirteen Years Service Amongst the Wild Tribes of Khondistan for the Suppression of Human Sacrifice, Volume 1. Hurst and Blackett, 1864.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

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