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Indian Art & Culture - Tribes
                                                                                                    October 26, 2017


  • They are the most populous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh numbering around 3 lakhs.
  • The Nyishi support themselves with a slash-and-burn agriculture and with hunting and fishing.
  • The most unique feature of the Nyishis is the cane helmet with the beak of the Great Indian Hornbilll worn by the males.
  • Rice is their staple food crop supported by fish.
  • They worship Aabhu Thanyi as their mythical forefather.
  • Traditionally they were hunters, but now with increasing awareness, they have become conservators of forests and wildlife due to their proximity to nature.


Spread:  isolated Nilgiri plateau of Southern India.

Small pastoral community with population range 700 to 900 during the last century.

The Toda have attracted a disproportionate amount of attention because of their unlikeness to their neighbours in appearance, manners, and customs.

The Toda lands are now a part of The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO-designated International Biosphere Reserve and is declared UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Their sole occupation is cattle-herding and dairy-work.

Religion: Centres on the buffalo

Threat:  Some Toda pasture land was lost due to agriculture by outsidersor afforestation by the State Government of Tamil Nadu.

  • The members of the tribe live in Jharkhand, pockets of Bihar, West Bengal and a few other states. 
  • The 2011 Census put the number of Asurs at 22,459 in Jharkhand and 4,129 in Bihar.
  • The Asurs claim to be descendants of Mahishasur, the buffalo-demon whom Goddess Durga kills after a fight lasting nine nights. 
  • This mythology celebrated as Durga Puja in mainstream Hinduism, but observed as ‘Mahishasur Dasain’ among the Asurs, who hold a period of mourning during which they largely stay indoors.
  • Traditionally, they have been iron-smelters and slash burn cultivators. Thus, they have been nomadic.
  • According to one of the theories, the Magadh Empire benefited a lot from the weapons the Asurs made.
  • The Unesco has listed the Asur language as “definitely endangered” with only 7,000 speakers left.

  • The tribe lives in isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of southwestern Odisha, near the junction of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh. Their current population is 12,000.
  • They have almost no connection to the outside world. Only 6% are literate.
  • In Bonda society, the women enjoy a privileged position.
  • Girls largely marry boys who are at least five to ten years younger than them.
  • Thus the girl looks after her husband as he grows up and in turn he cares for his older wife.
  • The number of women among the Bonda greatly exceeds the number of men.

  • The Siddi also known as Sheedi,Habshi or Makrani, are an ethnic group inhabiting India and Pakistan.
  • They are descendants of Africans from North-East and East Africa who were brought to India as slaves, soldiers or servants.
  • The Siddi are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa. Some were merchants, sailors, indentured servants and mercenaries.
  • Spread: Karnataka, Gujarat and Hyderabad in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan as the main population centres
  • Religion: Siddis are primarily Sufi Muslims, although some are Hindus and Roman Catholic Christians.
  • The Siddis of Gujarat live around Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary.

  • The tribes of the Andaman Islands – the Jarawa, Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese – are believed to have lived there for up to 55,000 years. 
  • Considered one of the most isolated people on earth, the Jarawa are a hunter-gatherer tribe that has lived in the dense forests of Andaman Islands completely cut off from the outside world.  
  • However, with the increasing flow of outsiders, the Jarawas are facing the threat of extinction. Today, approximately 400 members of the tribe live in groups of 40-50 in chaddhas – as they call their homes.
  •  Contraceptive methods: contraceptive leaves known as Vachahi and Hatho are used.

  • They have recently been included in the Scheduled Tribe category by the union government. 
  • There is gradual change seen as they got the first engineer from their community recently.
  • Narikurava is an indigenous community from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. 
  • It is one of the most socially and educationally backward communities in India.

  • Megalithic stone structures and iron implements dating back to pre-historic period have been found in the ridge spread over 1.5 km inRi-Bhoi district, Meghalaya. 
  • Radiocarbon dating of the megalithic structures and tools indicates that Khasis made Meghalaya their home way back in 1200 BC. 
  • This excavation at Lummawbuh is the first Neolithic site in Meghalaya.

About Khasi
  • The Khasis are an indigenous tribe, majority of who live in the state of Meghalaya.
  • What sets this tribe apart from other tribes is that the descendants are recognized from the mother and not from the father i.e it follows the matrilineal system of society. 
  • They practice shifting cultivation (JHUM) for their survival. 

  • Death of 19 Juang children in 3 months atop the Nagada hills in Odisha’s Jajpur district has woken up the government to the problem of malnutrition in the tribe. Juang Tribe
  • Juangs are a tribal (Adivasi) group of people from the Munda Ethnic group.
  • They mainly reside in Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Angul and Jajpur districts of Odisha.
  • They speak the Juang language which is accepted as a branch of Austroasiatic languages.
  •  The tribe has been identified as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)


Why in news?

Karnataka govt. decided to permanently rehabilitate the members of Hakki-Pikki community.

About Hakki-Pikki community
  • This tribe is mainly found in the southern part of India and is semi nomadic in nature.
  •  It is said that the tribal community has relations with the king Rana Pratap and are from the Kshatriya clan.
  • These tribes follow rules of Matriarchy and Endogamy is strictly prohibited.
  •  Their main occupation is hunting but they are showing more interest in agriculture and floral decoration.
  • They are well conversant in their local dialect Vahgri, Kannada, Tamil and Hindi and some also speak Malayalam and Telugu. 
  • They celebrate various festivals like Diwali, shivaratri, Ugadi, Ganesh chaturthi and practice animal sacrifice