Interesting Facts About Indian Tribes

Tribal women are strong, independent and are extremely hard working. They go on with their daily chores without any inhibitions or fear and one of the most important facts is they are not financially dependent on men.

Tribal women have distinctive look, they also wear various colours and beautiful jewellery.

Any tribal woman has the capacity to choose and build her own life on her own terms; she doesn’t need a man’s help to survive.

Many tribal communities have acquired the skill of making combs of different shapes and sizes. They are generally made of wood, bamboo, horn or metal. The tribes such as Santhalis, Koyas etc. found in Orissa specialise in comb making. Tribes in Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Nagaland also make distinctive combs.

Patterns and designs vary according to communities. In the tribal communities combs are not only used for setting hair but also as necklaces, gifts, sacred objects, magical rituals.

Patterns and designs vary according to communities. In the tribal communities combs are not only used for setting hair but also as necklaces, gifts, sacred objects, magical rituals.

The peculiarity in the Juang combs lie in their drawing of human figures, symbolic human beings. Alternate hatching patterns are also found in the shape of combs accompanied by animals, such as elephant,horse, circular and wavy zigzag lines, surrounding them. Combs made by Kondh tribe are also attractive while the Saoras tribe prepares and uses wooden combs similar to that of the Gond community.

Facial expressions are the soul of the Chhau Dance performed across the tribal communities in Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal. The dancers wear special masks during their performance. The interesting fact is that this dance was first performed in a new way as a War dance at Kolkatta to welcome British Emperor George V and Queen Mary in 1912.

Head decorations are considered as the essential part of ceremonial and other festive dances in Orissa. The Koyas, Kondhs and Gonds are the tribes known to have been using such head decorations. Particularly the bison horn and the peacock feathers are used to make these head dress. At times feathers of cocks and other forest birds decorate the same.

The Saoras, Dongaria Kondhs and Kuttia Kondhs use different types of hairpins with simple workmanship. Usually these pins are made with concentric circular patterns, having differently finished tops.Kuttia Kondh youths knot their hair behind and decorating with chained silver hairpins.

The most notable social institution that distinguishes the Muria Gonds of Narainpur Tahsil from the other is Gottul, a village dormitory. The unmarried youth and older children of the village gather each night to sing, listen to stories, play games, dance and discuss matters that concern them. Men and women have separate Gottuls. The major functions of Gottuls appear to be religious as well as educational. The preparation of young for adulthood, including sex education is interwoven with the routine life at the Gottul.

The maiden’s dormitory, which is present in each Dongaria settlement, also adds to the specialties of Dongaria tribe’s social structure and culture. In the dormitory, senior women who are the leader of the dormitory train little girls about the norms, values and symbolic tattoos.

The dormitory is the source of cultural education,orally transmitted for learning folklore, riddles, proverbs, legends, myths and songs amidst singing and dancing between boysand girls take place every night.

The girls live in the dormitory till they attain marriageable age. By the time they acquire all the skills and knowledge that is expected from a good ideal wife or woman in their tribe.

Mud and cow-dung is mostly used for plastering the tribal homes.

  • Dongaria Tribe

    The houses are generally mud - built and straw- thatched although now a days; some brick-built straw-thatched houses are made by the Dongaria’s.

  • Houses of Ho Tribe (Jharkhand ) –

    The houses are built of mud and other locally available resources such wood, straws (of paddy or other wild grass) and khappra (semi cylindrical burnt clay tiles). They decorate their houses with cow dung, mud plasters, soil and ochre colour.

  • Houses of Gond –

    Most of the Gonds live in a village with headman known as Mahjior Patel. A village council is also there which divides Gonds into casts called Ahir (Cowherds), Agaria (Blacksmith), Dhuli (Drummers) and Pradhan (bard and Singers)

    A Gond village has typicalhamlets. Houses made of hatch and mud has a veranda (outer space), a living room, kitchen, special room for women, shrine room for Gods and a guest room.Gonds welcome visitors with tobacco leaves, fruits or other small gifts.

Tribal songs too have melody of the wind and the rain, the rippling brooks, the cries of wild animals and of the vast silence. They sing about their joys and sorrows and even of rebellions – always with a slow, gentle and sensual rhythm and often with melancholy of humour.

Tribal Textiles significantly demonstrate the identity of the tribal communities. Bold border designs and colours used for sarongs or shawls reflect the village of the tribe.

Motifs in the north-east symbolise mountains,streams,houses,snakes, birds or temples. Specific colours are worn bypriests designed especially for specialoccasions. The shawls woven by a hill tribe and plains tribe can be easily differentiated. The chieftain’s shawl is always distinct. Sometimes, the shawls that are woven by one tribe areembroidered by women belonging to another tribe, as among the Dongrias and Damas in Orissa. The use of different colours symbolise forest, unity and peace, gods and sacrifices of animals.

The Lanjia Saora textile designs of Orissa also indicate interesting types. The Dongaria Kondhs prepare designs on the textiles with row of triangles intertwined with knitted dots.

Prehistoric paintings on the rocks, walls are found in Saora tribe. The tribe believes that they are connected with the spirit of the dead.

The rural Orissa wall and door paintings are found particularly in Puri and Ganjan districts. The Oran paintings of elephants, and drawings on the wall using white, red and black are intended to decorate the walls as well as to protect themselves from the evil eye.

The Saora paintings on the walls have designs and symbols similar to those found in the Harappan,the pre-historical paintings of middle India. The triangles, lozenges, chevrons,loops, rows of hatching, parallel lines, floral presentation, line of dots, wavy lines etc. remind us of the designs depicted in the painted pottery from Iran to that of the Indus culture. Even the human figures and the conventionalised human figures shown in Harappan seals and paintings are reflected in the Saora paintings.

Even in the traditional modern clothes prepared in Sambalpur, Nuapatna, Berhampur similar designs in an altered condition are found. The floral designs and styles on these Saora paintings also reflect that of the Malwa, Jhukar, Kuti and Harappa cultures.

The tribal patterns have also infiltrated to the folk textiles of Orissa and Saora, Gadaba and Kotia Kondh textiles.The wide red borders in Saora cloth was a household pattern appreciated by the folk in the coastal area of Orissa. The Brahmapuri textiles are also good examples of this though their colour changes. Nowadays, even the modern fabrics are imitating these designs which are much in public demand.

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