On the Osteology of the Veddahs of Ceylon

Arthur Thomson
1890 The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland  
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. ALL the information regarding, the Osteology of the Veddahs or Weddo of Ceylon has hitherto been confined to a description of the crania of that people. The
more » ... hat people. The skeleton of an adult male Veddah, aged 26, has been recently added to the ethnological collection at Oxford which already contains several specimens of Veddah skulls. It had been the intention of the late Professor Rolleston to have described the latter, and in his papers, now in the possession of the University, there are many notes relating to them; unfortunately 1 have not been able to make much use of these, as they are very fragmentary and scattered, but I have found theim of much service in identifying, the locality and sex of the several specimens, as proved by the letters of the different donors. I propose making the description of the above specimens the subject of the present inquiry. The literature of the subject is limited, with one or two exceptions, to a mere description of the appearances of this race, and very few measurements of their proportions are recorded. Percival,' Cordiner,2 Knox,3 Davy,4 Pridham,5 and Stirr6, in their respective works on Ceylon all refer to the Veddahs. A. THoMSoNT.-On the Osteology of the More recently Tennent,1 Baily,2 Rolleston,3 and Hartshorne, have described at some length the physical appearances and habits of these people. By far the most elaborate monograph on the subject is that by Professor Virchow,5 who has collectecl most of the information on the subject up to the date of publication. Further reference may be made to the standard works of Pritchard,6 Tylor,7 and Lubbock,8 wlilst for the description of measurement of numerous skulls the Catalogule of the Human Crania, in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, by Professor Flower, and tbe "Thesaurus Craniorum" of Dr. Barnard Davis may be consulted. The skeleton to be presently described was purchased froni the Anthropological Society of Bombay. It is stated to be that of a raale hock Yeddah, and was obtained by Mr. C. V. Stevens, who spent some months in 1886 among these interesting people on the eastern side of the Island of Ceylon. Mr. Stevens brought back three skeletons of pure Veddalhs, which were purchased by the Anthropological Society of Bombay, of which the present specimen is one. The age of the skeleton is said to be 26, and in many respects this is borne out by the condition of the skull. The ossification of the long bones, however, seems to have been delayed so that we have epiphyses separable at an age at which we would naturally have expected to find them fused. Skeleton. :For the sake of uniformity the measurements adopted are those employed by Sir William Turner in his monog,raph on the Humall Skeletons, published in the Challenger Reports,9 and reference is made to that work for information on the methods adopted. As considerable importance now attaches to the pelvis, it has been taken first in the series of measurements. After articulation, the greatest diameter between the iliac crests was found to be 230 mm. Its height, as measured from the highest point of iliac crest to the most dependent part of 1 "Ceylon.All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Vedd,ahs of Ceylon. 127 the ischial tuberosity, equals 188 mm. 178 mm. is the distance between the anterior superior iliac spines, that between the posterior superior iliac spines is 62 mm. The greatest width between the outer borders of the ischial tuberosities is 93 mm., and the tips of the ischial spines are distant 56 mm. from each other. The vertical and transverse diameters of the acetabulum are equal, and measure 49 mm. respectively. The obturator foramen is 48 mm. in its vertical diameter and 30 mm. in its transverse, yielding an index of 62 5. The sub-public angle is extremely narrow; it measures 55?. The anigles of a Hindoo and a Sikh, measured by Turner, are 570 and 62' degrees respectively. With regard to the dimensious of the cavity of the true pelvis, we find the greatest transverse diameter of the inlet equals 99 mm. This is exceeded by the conjugate or antero-posterior diameter, which measures 102 mm. From these measurements thepelvicindexiscomputedasfollows: Trnsurate x 10= 03 The oblique diameters, taken from the sacro-ilia, joints to the ilio-pectineal line opposite tlhe ilio-pectineal eminences, do not differ, 99 mm. being the measurement on either side. The distance from the middle of the body of the fifth sacral vertebra to the lower border of the pubic symphysis, called the inferior sagittal diameter, measures 109 mm. The coccygeopubic diameter could not be measured, as the coccyx is wanting. The width between the inner borders of the ischial tuberosities, taken from points just below the lesser sciatic notches, equals 77 mm. 32 mm. is the measurement from the upper to the lower border of the pubic symphysis. The depth of the true pelvis is gauged by measuring the distance from the brim near the pectineal eminence to the most dependent part of the ischial tuberosity; this equals 91 mm. The following are the measurements of the individual bones. The height length of the ilium equals 115 mm., its breadth, 129 mm., yielding an iliac index of 112. The breadth of the innominate bone is taken from the posterior superior iliac spine to the upper end of the pubic symphysis; this measures 158 mm. The length of the pubis is 57 mm. The pubo-innominate index obtained thus: Pubic length x OO -36 Innominate breadth -Length of ischium equals 81 mm. The innominate index is obtained by use of the following formula-Breadth of innominate x 100 =2 Height of pelvis L 2 This content downloaded from on Wed, 11 Jun 2014 09:51:16 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions A THOMSON.-On the Osteology o7 the The height of pelvis is equal to the ischio-iliac diamieter wlhen taken in a straight line. To obtain the ischioin-nominate index the formula is-Ischial length x 100 = 42 4. Pelvic height There is unfortunately much diversity in the methods of measuring the pelvis. The above have been adopted both for the sake of uniformity, and also becauise Sir William Turner's paper embodies the mnost recent results. In regard to the breadth-height index it may be well to remind the reader that wheen the index is high it inidicates that the pelvis is relatively high compared to its breadth, and conversely when the index is low it expresses a pelvis broad in relation to its height. Verneaul quoted from Turner, gives the inean measurements of 63 European pelves as 220 mm. high and 279 mm. wide, yielding an index about 79. From this it will be seen that the present specimen, with an index of 81, is relatively high compared to its width. In regard to the pelvic index, a high index shows that the pelvis possesses a conjugate diameter greater than the transverse, a low index that the transverse diameter exceeds the conjugate. To the former grouip Turner has applied the termn dolichopellic, to the latter, platypellic. Europeans generally are platypellic, and in the dolichopellic group, which inclades those with an index above 95, are to be found Australians, Bushmen, Hottentots, Kaffirs, Andamans, and Malays. The index in the present instance is 103, and naturally falls within this group. Scrum. The sacrum, anteriorly, is flat above and tilted forward below, presenting almost a feminine appearance. The deepest part of its curve, on a level with the centre of the third segment, lies 10 mm. behind a line drawn from the centre of the promontory to the centre of the lower border of the fifth vertebra. The bodies and lateral masses of the first three seg,ments are not completely fused together. It measures in length 101 mm., width 103 mm., yielding an index of 98. The term dolichohieric is applied to that group with sacral indices below 100, and includes Australians, Kaffirs, Andamans, Malays, and Chinese.
doi:10.2307/2842065 fatcat:a6xqoqd7ozcvtpglxlk7emq5ym