(Investigator 26, 1992 September)

Reprinted from: THE WORLD'S NEWS 1910, October 15

Detective Devices Extraordinary.
Curious Trials By Ordeal In India.

In the "Calcutta Review" for July Mr. S. Chandra Mitra, M.A., B.L., writes on some Bihari modes of trial by ordeal. Some extraordinary statements are made.

Ordeal by the Teapot.

Margaret Cotter Morison, sojourning in Kashmir, had several of her belongings stolen. The police official, when informed, resorted to the ordeal by the teapot, which she thus describes:-

"Placing one of the scrolls in the spout of the teapot, the man now explained to me that if the paper had written on it the name of the thief the vessel would give a sign; and so amid the breathless suspense of the whole throng he proceeded to reel off rich sounding incantations. We watched with all our eyes while two papers passed through the ordeal. Then when it came to the third teapot with calm deliberation made a complete semi-revolution, and almost fell from their hands. An exclamation of intense interest burst from the onlookers, the inspector put the paper on one side, remarking that was the thief; and the fourth was tried; with this one also the teapot swerved pointedly; at the fifth it remained immovable. Apparently two of my servants were thieves the policeman now told me; and their names were written on those papers. I appeared profoundly impressed, but to make the conviction more absolute I said I would like to shuffle the papers and see if the teapot would a second time give the same results; he consented, and that sagacious little article jibbed at exactly the same two names as before."

The Bamboo Rod Ordeal.
The writer quotes a European gentleman who thus describes the detection of a thief who had stolen money from a grocer. The nulwallahs, three dark-complexioned Hindus, arrived, with a brass pot and two long well-oiled bamboos. All the ryots and servants were assembled before them. The nulwallahs first dipped themselves in the river, then, wet as they were, stood on either side of the brass pot, on which they crossed the two bamboo rods. Then two men were picked out from the retainers to hold the bamboo rods or nuls, one in each hand:-

"Then the leading Hindu commenced to repeat some Sanskrit verses. In about ten minutes he asked, 'Are you there? If so stand up.' To the horror of us all, the two rods rose as if an unseen power was in the centre, lifting them, until they formed an arch, drawing the two Sikhs closer together. Then the bamboos lengthened out again putting the Sikhs back with main force into their former positions. 'If you obey the power with me, move,' was the order of the presiding nulwallah. Instantly the rods twisted and turned several times violently; then moved forward at a brisk rate, the Sikhs having to keep up at a trot. The nuls, in the shape of an arch, passed over the heads of all the seated tenantry, then, over the Sikhs and Afghans, without stopping; then, when at the end of the line of seated ryots, passed off towards the south, dragging the two Sikhs who held the rods, at a smart pace. In five minutes we entered a small collection of huts. The nuls stopped in front of the door of a house, and refused to move, although ordered by the nulwallah to do so. The call from the naib to come out remained unanswered, so the door was opened, and a young Hindu found in a corner. The nuls at once moved forward and caught him round the throat. 'This,' explained the nulwallah, 'is the culprit. He stole the money.' "