By Clare Anderson
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Additional resources for Legible Bodies: Race, Criminality and Colonialism in South Asia
In Bengal, decorative tattooing was also – 42 – Inscribing the Criminal Body 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. G. Gait, ICS, at the time of the last census (henceforth Tattooing in Bengal). Pathak, Bhargava’s Standard Illustrated Dictionary, 300; Platts, Dictionary, 923. Regulation IV, Section xi (1797): A regulation for making sundry alterations in and additions to Regulation IX 1793, 13 Mar. 1797, cited in IOR V/8/17: Regulations Passed by the Governor-General in Council, 1796–1803, vol.
124 In contrast, convicts appear to have made every effort to deface or hide their godna inscriptions. 125 Unlike chains, which performed a dual role in both sustaining and confounding the goals of prison management, penal tattoos were not desirable as a means to evade labour. A. L. ’127 Though subalterns do not speak to this point, official descriptions of their marks (or their erasure) do. It is difficult to say precisely how convicts spoiled their tattoos, but we know that they did. 128 The absence of penal marks assisted convicts in escape bids, though of course it did not completely preclude their recapture.
When the penal settlement at Mauritius began to receive Bombay convicts after 1830, there was an explosion in convict desertion on the island, for the Bombay Presidency never adopted the practice of godna. 107 As indentured labour migration to the island accelerated during the 1830s and 1840s, convict absconders found it easier to pass themselves off as free. One notorious maroon called Sheik Adam was found living on a sugar plantation, where a M. Béchard employed him as a servant. The Mauritian Chief of Police, J.