Dash, Dr. Rabi Nayayan

    Art can be seen in almost all aspects of human activity. But art objects mean articles made with designs. If all articles prepared are considered as objects of art then it may be with or without designs, relevant or irrelevant, and attractive or not attractive to the person or persons who see or use them and to the individual or individuals who prepare them. But craft is a device applied by a person or persons to convert certain materials into finished products. As such, the Kondh art and craft objects may incorporate all the articles of daily, occasional rituals and other uses. On various occasions these articles were mentioned or on them notes were written by different people in Orissa, India and abroad. But so far one does not find any systematic history on their study to have been recorded anywhere. This paper aims at presenting a brief history of Kondh art and craft with the available materials and access to information.

    The study of this subject was hardly undertaken by the natives in Orissa or in India. However, stray and indirect depictions have been made here and there in the classical and such literatures and to trace them is an up-hill task. But occasional or systematic information on the Kondh art and craft started gradually only on the advent of the British. The English administrators collected and studied materials on this subject when they came in contact with the Kondhs to suppress their practice of human sacrifice. Later on the missionaries, amateurs and others perused such materials from their respective point of views. We may, as far as possible, chronologically survey their findings here.

    The Kondhs reside in Orissa as well as in Andhra, Chattisgarh, and due to migration, in Assam and West Bengal. It is believed by some that they are known after the Telugu word “Konda” meaning hill, as they reside in hilly areas. They are subdivided into groups known as Desia, Kuttia, Penga, Dongaria, etc. As per our information Rough Sedge (1821) was the first to note about the Kondhs but we have almost no information as to his treatment of their art and crafts, although the English conquered Orissa in 1803 A.D. So if there is any other reference about the Kondhs in between 1803 - 1821 A.D., it has not come to our knowledge, which may be due to lack of search for it or awareness about it. The same year Stirling (1821) in his work on the history of Orissa noted about the Kondhs but nothing about their art and craft objects.

    Macpherson's reports, which appeared in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (JRAS), Vol.XIII, Pt.ll provides us the craft of sacrificing, the meria, in which the neck of the victim is pressed inside the reft of the branch of a tree from one side and cords are then twisted round the open extremity. The priest and his assistants strive with their whole force and wounds the victim slightly followed by the crowd who strip the flesh from its bones. Though we find the art of sacrificing, the meria in the description part of this report, we do not know with what instrument the priest first strikes the victim and the artifact that makes the crowd strip him, their make and specialty, etc. Macpherson has also reported about the Kondhs in 1842, 1843 and 1846 but we have not come across much of their art and craft objects; these reports deal with matters of meria sacrifice and its suppression by the administration. In 1852 and 1862,  Macpherson sent two other reports to the government about the Kondhs but without any mention of the art and craft of this tribe.

           After a lapse of about fifteen years since 1821, we find Russel, Macpherson, Stevnson and Carey in 1836 A.D to have shown some interest laying stress on the meria sacrifice. In course of suppression of this practice they assiduously mentioned about their art and craft objects, which were used in the execution of sacrifices. The report of J.E. Russel, of the Madras civil service, was probably submitted on the 30th of May 1836 and subsequently in August 1837 about Kandistan and Kond in which it is stated that these tribes are mentioned as residing in the Mali jungle tracts of Ghoomsur (now Bhanjanagar).

    Thadha Pennoo (the earth goddess) is annually offered with sacrifices. This is made under the effigy of a bird intended to represent a peacock. Thus the goddess must be either symbolic or an icon made by the Kondhs. Further, the effigy of the peacock is also an artistic craft used in this sacrifice. But he has elaborated it saying that this effigy is set on a post, which again is an art object. Again, describing about meria he has noted that the person to be sacrificed is purchased in exchange of brass utensils, cattle and corn. So the brass utensils are the craft objects used by them but we were not provided anything about their make etc. A sensible meria, who could foresee his fate is likely to make attempts for escape, and as such kept under fetters which is again a device either made by them or purchased from out side. He has also noted that before the sacrifice the meria is led in a procession and a pole accompanies him hang at its top peacock feathers attached. Three stones represented zakaree pennoo (village deity) set up in the village from the time of the establishment of it is the place where the pole is placed and near it the brass peacock effigy is buried. We are neither provided, in this report, the knowledge about the make and other designs nor about the maker of the same. So Mussel's report although provides us some knowledge about the meria post, fetters, brass peacock effigy, pole with peacock feathers at its top, yet we remain in dark about other art and craft objects of the Kondhs and the workmanship of the objects used in meria sacrifice.

    In 1836, S.P. Carey wrote ‘Dawn on the Kondh hills' which was brought out from the Carey press, London. It contained a lot of materials on the Kondhs.

    In 1837, Lt John Campbell conducted meteorological experiments on the Ghumsoor mountains but no reference of art and craft of Kondhs figured in it.

    Between 1838-76, the weekly journal "Friend of India' published from Serampore was publishing matters relating to Kondhs in which some aspects of Kondh art and craft have featured. The volumes from 1836-44 of Calcutta Christian Observer (CCO) published in Calcutta by the Baptist Mission Press, contain references to Kondh and their art and craft figures albeit sporadically.

    J.A.R. Stevenson writing in the Madras Journal of Literary Science (MJLS), Vol. VI. 1837, has given some descriptions about the ornaments used by the bride soon after her being captured for marriage. As soon as she enters the bridegroom’s house "two enormous bracelets, or rather handcuffs of brass, each weighing 20 to 30 pounds attached to each wrist”. How these bracelets are prepared is not known nor it is known whether the Kondhs prepare these objects themselves or they purchase the articles from outside. However, the general impression is that the Kondhs purchase these items from outside. About the art pattern carved on these articles, according to Stevenson, "these marriage bangles are made on tie hills, and are curiously carved in fluted and zigzag lines, and kept as heirlooms in the family, to be used at the next marriage in the house." He has further mentioned that "the Kondhs of Gumsur (Bhanjanaqar) represent their deities Jara pennu, the Linga Devta, or Petri Devta, kept in their houses by brass figures of elephant, peacock, dolls and fish." Thus not only in marriage but in their religious life the brass craft object has a role and these are carefully kept in the house to be brought out at times of calamity to be propitiated as per set rules. The elephants, peacocks, dolls and fish are molded and are not solid objects. So the craft takes a device to be prepared and probably the Kondhs are quite capable in the art. Stevenson has assiduously brought to light the interrelation of Kondh social life, belief, religion, environment and craft and noted the art depictions on the craft for the first time in his study. Stevenson has mentioned the process of naming a child in which a haft and a sickle are required. These articles indicate their agriculture implement and we get an idea about their craft of cultivation. In describing the death ceremony in Bhanjanagar area he has noted about clothes, brass eating-dish, and brass drinking-vessel, ornaments, etc. as the accompanying objects with the corpse. But we do not have any idea about the specialty of those articles fitting into the occasion nor the art depictions on them. However, Stevenson has elaborated the object lists of the Kondh art and crafts and identified various uses of the same in different contexts causing subsequent reporters to go into more details on the matter.

    In the year 1837, Mr. Arbuthnot, the Collector of Visakhapatanam, in course of presenting a note on the meria sacrifice has recorded about forty articles in which "a piece of cloth, a silk cloth, a brass pot, a large plate, etc." were mentioned among other articles. For the first time we come to know about two kinds of cloth, a cotton or yarn and silk cloth, used in the meria sacrifice. But we have no idea about the preparation of these clothes nor the designs or symbols made on them. Even we are ignorant about the thread used in the preparation of these clothes and the persons involved in preparing them.

    In 1837, W. Brown wrote about the ‘description of the Khund's or Khundas', which appeared in the April and July issues of Calcutta Christian Observer, wherein he has given some aspects of the Kondhs which also refers assiduously to their art and craft.

    In 1837, also appeared some reports like the ones by Reverend Brown, superintendent of Garjat estates, Mr. Rickets - commissioner of Cuttack Division, and Revenue Board. dealing with Kondhs. But these reports have basically dealt with the administration and suppression of meria sacrifice and one hardly finds anything on their art and craft materials.

    In 1837, Reverend W. Taylor wrote on the language, manners and rites of the Khoonds or Koijati of the Goomsoor Mountains, from descriptions furnished by JAR Stevenson, commissioner in Goomsoor and W.G. Maxwell, with illustrative and connecting observations, which was published in MJLS Vol -VI. There are references relating to Kondh art and craft, so also he has written in 1838 some additional notes on the hill inhabitants of the Goomsoor Mountains with a translation of a Telugu paper, containing a historical narrative of the B'hanga (Bhanja) family (vide MJLS Vol-VII).

    In 1838, W. G. Maxwell wrote about Wodhiaghur (Udayagiri) and the adjacent part of Ghumsur and the people of that country in MJLS, Vol-VII in which passing references on Kondh art and craft objects figure.

    In 1838, S.C MacPherson brought out a report in the MJLS in which he has touched upon Daspullah and Boud Zamindaris and on the configuration and superficial characteristics of the country in the plain; in 1842, he brought out elsewhere a report upon the Khonds of the districts of Ganjam and Cuttack and in 1843, an account of the religious opinions and observances of the Khonds of Goomsur and Boud appeared in JRAS Vol-VII. These articles and reports contain elements of Kondh art and craft relating to their religious affairs.

    In 1842, Mr. Brown, in 1844, Mr. Hicks and Mr. Mills submitted their reports to the government about the Kondhs. In 1845, Mr. Mills submitted another report followed by Mr. Caderhead’s report to the government about the Kondhs on which President in Council took a decision but it has not dealt with the art and craft object of the Kondhs. In 1846, Caderhead submitted another report in the same manner.

    In 1842, Alexander Duff wrote ‘An analysis of the Lt. MacPherson’s report on the Khonds of Ganjam and Cuttack’, which appeared in the Calcutta Christian Observer of the year. His other articles viz., , ‘Female infanticide', ‘Goomsur: the late war there – the Khond- or Hill Tribes', ‘The first service of Government measures for the abolition of human sacrifice among the Khonds’, ‘Capt. MacPherson and the Khonds of Orissa’ and ‘The Khonds - abolition of human sacrifice’ were published respectively in Calcutta Review (CR) Vol-ll, 1844,Calcutta Review (CR) Vol-ll, 1846. CR Vol-VI, 1846; CR Vol-VIII, 1847and 1848 in CR Vol-X, 1848, which contain rare references on the Kondh art and craft.

    In the year 1848, Mr. Huttmann had sent a report to the Government but we have little idea about the art and craft of the Kondhs in it.

    Colonel Campbell has reported on 17th March 1849 about the meria sacrifice in China (sana or small) Kimedy (Sanakhemandi) in which he has noted about the Kondhs cutting the flesh of the victims piece-meal. The body of the meria is ripped apart with knives by the Kondhs but he has not hinted about their make and makers. In another report he has mentioned about the meria sacrifice at Jeypore in the Koraput district. He has written that 'a stout wooden post almost but long is firmly fixed in the ground to which the victim is tied. The officiating priest or Junna after repeating, the evocations at intervals hacks with his sacrificial knife the back part of the shrieking victims neck. But we do not know about the wood that makes the post and any decoration made on it. Similarly we have no idea about the priest's knife such as its shape, material and make as well as the person who prepares it for the Kondhs. Though Mr. Campbell had sent two reports to the government earlier in 1848 and later in 1859 relating to the human sacrifice, the art and craft objects have rarely figured in the same. Campbell has written that in the meria sacrifice an elephant represented the earth goddess herself: i.e. in the elephant form. He has further noted that the earth goddess is represented in the peacock form in Bharnjnagar (Goomsur) and the post to which the meria is tied bore the effigy of a peacock. Thus variation is in respect of the form of the earth-goddess or Dharani that exist among the Kondhs in different regions. Usually peacock images are provided in the meria posts. Thus Campbell indicates the preparation of representative idols or effigies such as elephant and peacock, without however, describing the medium or material of these objects.

    In 1849, an article on Khond Agency and the Calcutta Review, being a reply in refutation of the misrepresentations and distortions of facts contained in several articles on Khond affairs in the Calcutta Review, Madras appeared. The authorship is not known, but it was published in the Athenaeun press. We find stray references on the craft objects used by the Kondhs.

    In 1850 an article 'Reasons for not supporting the BMS by a Baptist' was published in Norwich, Charles Muskett.

    On 6th April 1851, Capt. MacVicar reporting on the mode of meria sacrifice in the region midway (maji Deso) between Boud and Bolangir Patna wrote that the Kondhs surround the meria wearing heavy metal bangles, which they purchase at the fair and wear on these occasions to beat meria’s head with it. If the victim is not dead by this then by means of a slit bamboo he is strangulated to death. Then strips of flesh are cut off from his back by the Kondhs. Here we got another method of meria sacrifice and assiduously we know about an ornament used for the purpose. The report neither tells about the shape and workmanship of the metal ornament nor about the method of cutting off the flesh and the weapon used for the purpose. But it is certain that the ornament was bought from the market. The recipient of the piece of flesh takes it to the nearest stream of his field where it is left suspended from the pole. But we are not provided with the description of the pole, its decoration, etc.

    In 1852, Lt. Gen. Briggs delivered two lectures on the aboriginal mass of India, which appeared in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol.XIII in which passing reference on Kondh are found but nothing about their art and craft.

    In 1853, Sir J. W, Kaye wrote on "the administration of the EIC (East India Company) of Indian progress' in which Kondh art and craft has not been treated.

    In 1854, F. Carberry edited the History of the rise and progress of the operations for the suppression of human sacrifice and female infanticide in the hill tracts of Orissa based on the selections from the records of the GOI (Home Deptt.) No. V, Calcutta, which was published by Bengal Military Orphan Press. But one finds little reference on Kondh art and craft in it.

    On 1st May of 1855, Captain A. C. McNeile submitted a report to the Government, which was included in the Madras selection report of Capt. Smith, Assistant Agent. On 12th May 1857, he submitted another report to the Madras Government recorded in No. LXXXI. It records that Jani or Desauri draws the horoscope and "consults a palm leaf manuscript called Punj (Panji) in which are written sentences interspersed with rude pictures of gods and goddesses. After certain ceremonies ‘the stylus’ of bone or ivory used to write on palm leaf thrust into the book, and the fate of the child is decided according to the image or sentence, which it strikes. If the test predicts that rearing the child will bring misfortune to the family then as per the direction indicated by the compass the child is taken in a new earthen pot and buried alive. Here we get reference to writing on palm leaf through a bone or ivory stylus. How the palm leaf is sized we do not know from the report, so also language of writing on palm leaf was not made known to us. This contradicts the general conception that these tribals have no script. Again, the report indicates drawing of the images of deities and gods although no nomenclatures of these being are provided. Even the makers of the bone or ivory stylus are not known. Whether the Kondhs prepare these or they are purchased from the market are also not known. The new earthen pot in which the child is buried also remains unknown in respect of its make, colour and decoration made on it. We are not told if the Kondhs prepare it specifically for the occasion or it is purchased from the market.

    There is a government declaration on 15.02.1855 about the suppression of meria but it does not reflect anything about art and craft of the Kondhs.

    In 1856, G. E. Russell reported on the disturbances in Purla Kimedy (Paralakhemundi), Vizagpatnam and Goomsur in 1832-1836, which constituted the selection from the records of the Madras Government no. XXIV but the Kondh art and craft are rarely featured.

    Lieutenant J.P. Frye made a report in 1857 on the Dialogues and sentences in the Kondh language- with an Oriya translation which is, however, not available for discussion. But he wrote in 1857 about the dress of the Kondhs. He says that 'the use of dress is confined, amongst all, to the narrowest bounds admitted by decency'. But he has not elaborated this in respect of its shape, make and preparation. But he has given a description of the Patro (the head-man of the community of a region). He says “the Patro is distinguished by a species of robe of office, consisting of a red blanket with variously coloured fringe". But describing the festival dress of ordinary Kondh, he says that it "consists of a long narrow slip of cloth with fringed ends worn so that the end hangs down like a tail." Further describing the head dress he says that on his head the Kondh is "delighted to wear a piece of red cloth and insert the feathers of favorite birds, as also his pipe, comb, etc." The women also have limited clothing and it is 'a single cloth round the loins". Although he has given some idea about the clothing and the favorite red colour of the Kondhs, he has not given any idea as to how it is woven, the material, such as cotton or yarn used, other colours used in it, the preparation of the colours and the process of their application on the yarn, the preparation of the thread, etc. In 1860 he wrote "on the Uriyah and Kondh population of Orissa" but very little is given on the art and craft of the Kondhs in it. Further, he wrote an article captioned "on the Kondh population of Orissa" in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol. XVII in which he has dealt with the Kondhs.

    In 1860 the Baptist Mission Society brought out its archives and reports in which Kondhs of Orissa were studied.

    In 1860, Lt J. P. Frye wrote on the 'Uriya and Kondh population of Orissa in JAAB. Vol-XVII. But there were a few references on their art and craft objects. The General Baptist Mission Society reports 1860-66, London, 1860-62, and Derby 1863-66 contain a few elements of Kondh art and craft objects.

    In 1861, Major General John Campbell wrote the 'Narrative of the operations in the hill tracts of Orissa for the suppression of human sacrifice and infanticide’. It was printed at London and was available for private circulation. But it was more related to war than art and craft. So also in 1864, he wrote 'A personal narrative of 13 years' service among the wild tribes of Kandistan, for the suppression of human sacrifice, which was published from London. It contained some reference to Kondh art and craft. In 1866 George Campell delivered certain speeches, which found place in the Asiatic Society of Bengal’s proceedings of that year. There was rare reference to Kondh art and craft.

    In 1864, a selected and précis of papers about Jeypore, selections from the records of the Madras Government No. LXXXI was published from Madras wherein references of Kondh art and craft are found to be thinly presented.

    In 1865, W. MacPherson, brother of S. C. MacPherson edited the memorials of service in India from the correspondences of late S. C. MacPherson, C. B. Political Agent of Gwalior during the mutiny and formerly employed in the suppression of human sacrifice in Orissa, Some elements of Kondh art and craft have assiduously found place in the correspondences.

    In 1869, 'A manual of the district of Vizagapatnam in the presidency of Madras’ was written by D. F. Carmichall and was published by Madras Asylum Press. The Kondh art and craft was assiduously dealt there.

    In 1871, A. M Forsyth wrote on the highlands of central India: Notes on their forests and wild tribes, natural history and sports but did not deal with Kondh art and craft exclusively.

    In 1871 Mr. Ravenshaw writing about the possessions of the Kondh boys mentioned that they rarely possessed a red cloth and a brass plate. But we are not enlightened about the art and craft of these articles.

    E.T Dalton wrote, in 1872, about the Kondhs in his book 'Castes and Tribes of Bengal', which was reprinted in 1973 under the title ‘Tribal History of Eastern India’. The art and craft of the Kondhs are assiduously mentioned in the same. The meria is given a hair cut which might have required an instrument, but nothing of this instrument was mentioned in his book. So also the meria grove, a patch of the old forest, is kept sacred from the axe. The raw material, make and the maker of the axe are not given in it. The meria is bound which would be requiring a rope. He is given a new garment and led in a procession with music and dancing, which would be requiring musical instruments. Even there would be some dancing pattern. The meria tied in a post and it must be having some specialty in the form of engraving and shape. But all these above facts are not explained by Dalton to know clearly about the art and craft of the Kondhs connected to the meria sacrifice festival. He states that the meria is anointed with ghee, oil, turmeric, and flowers before being worshipped. The ghee and oil must be extracted that must have required some devices and so also in the preparation of turmeric paste some artifacts must have been used. But we are not provided with the information about them by Dalton in his book, as he was not dealing exclusively with the art and craft of the Kondhs.

    In 1876, J. M MacDonald Smith wrote ‘a practical handbook of the Khond language,' which was published from the Cuttack Mission Press. But it does not contain anything on the Kondh art and craft matters.

    In 1876, J. M Smith wrote a practical handbook of the Khond language. But no reference to art and craft of the Kondhs are found in it.

    In 1877, W. W Hunter wrote the work in district of Puri and the Orissa tributary states. Vol-XIX. In the same though he mentioned about Kondhs he did not deal exclusively on their art and craft.

    W W Hunter while writing about Ganjam in the Imperial Gazetteer of India, Vol.-V, and the History of Orissa (1872) dealt with the Kondhs in which art and craft objects of the Kondhs figured. In 1885 the second edition of this Gazetteer was published from London.

    In 1880, V. Ball wrote his book 'Jungle life in India' or the Journeys and Journals of an Indian Geologist wherein he did deal elaborately about Kondh crafts.

    In 1881 Mr. C F Mac Cartie while writing in the Madras Census report about the cultivation of turmeric mentioned, "the young plants are sheltered from the sun by artificial shed." The preparation of the shed, one does not find to have been explained by him. It would certainly be requiring cutting of branches and binding by rope; but it is not stated in this report as to how these things were done. He had noted the processing of the turmeric roots soon after it was dug out from the ground; that it was boiled and burnished before being sent to the market. But the method of boiling and burnishing and the artifact required for processing one does not find to have been stated in the census report. Moreover, the census report notes that the Kondhs are inveterate smokers and they grow tobacco for the purpose. But the processing of the tobacco to be used in the pipe is not stated nor anything about the pipe or its use is given in the report. He noted that the Kondhs collect forest produces like tassar silk, cocoons and dammar. The methods of their collection and processing are not described in the report.

    In 1882, T. J. Maltley compiled 'the Ganjam district manual edited by G. D. Lenman. It contained reference to Kondh art and craft objects.

    Mr. A.B. Jayaram Moodalier, (1882) writing on the legendary account of the origin of the Kondhs, noted that the mother of the Kondh asked him to cut away the flesh of her back, to dig several holes in the ground, to bury the flesh and to cover the holes with stones. Thus according to this legend, in sacrifice Kondhs should cut the flesh from the back of the victim. Though no instrument for this work is noted and its make explained, yet we find the use of it in ceremonial occasions. Again burying the flesh and covering several holes made on the ground with stores indicate their megalithic practices in the very early days of their taking into an agricultural life. Thus the religion and tradition have incorporated the artifacts, which are the product of the craft. Further, in 1909, Moodalier writing about the death customs of the Kondhs states that on the death of the husband the wife "removes the beads from her neck, the metal finger rings, ankle and wrist ornaments, and the ornament worn in the lobe of one ear, that worn in the lob of the other ear being retained. These are thrown on the chest of the corpse before it is cremated. The widow does not remove the ornaments worn in the helices of the ears, and in the alac and septum of the nose". On the death of a boy at Baliguda “his earrings and silver bracelets were not removed but burnt. His clothes were thrown in the pyre." From his statements we come to know that the Kondhs, particularly the women, were decorating their ankles, wrists and the lobes of the ear, in the helices of the ears, in the alac and septum of the nose and rings on the finger The boys wear ring made of gold and silver bracelets. Even the women wear beads in the neck, but we are not provided with any information about their types, make and the materials. Although we know about the gold and silver ornaments from Moodalier’s description, we are not able to conceive about their designs, preparation and the people making them.

    In 1885, E. Keys edited the Reports of the Meria Agents (Ganjam) from 1837 to 1861, which was published by the Madras Government Press. Some references on the Kondh art and craft were found in it.

    In 1887 Mr. Metcalf reported about the Kondhs to the Government the purport of which is not available for discussion.

In 1889, ‘The young soldier in India his life and prospects’ authored by H.S. London had printed some occasional papers but we do not have access to the same and as such do not know if it has dealt with the art and craft objects of the Kondhs.

    In 1890, J. G. Frazer wrote the Golden laugh: a study in magic and religion, which was reprinted in 1941 in an abridged form, which contains some of the Kondh art and craft objects relating to magic and religion.

    In 1891, Sir H. H Risley wrote on the tribes and castes of Bengal, ethnographic glossary, vol-l (A-K) in which he has seated the Kondh art and craft in course of his description on the tribe.

    In 1891 Mr. F. Fawcett has described in J.A.S.B. Vol.-II a death ceremony in which "the ground under a tree was cleared in the form of a square, within which were circles of saffron (turmeric), charcoal, rice, and some yellow powder, as well as figure of an egg or a small chicken drawn." It is meant to relieve a man from the possession of an evil spirit who goes inside this square and comes out of it. Though we come to know about various circles prepared in different colours inside a square we do not have any idea about the preparation of the colours and the nature of colouring inside the square and circles a well as the designs made inside it. In March 1902 Mr, F. Fawcett wrote about Kondhs in 'Man' in which he has assiduously dealt with the art and craft of these people.

    In 1891 census report of Madras there is an elaborate report about the Kondhs in which their art and craft have been dealt with.

    In 1891 J.H. Taylor reported about the Kondhs in which more about meria is noted than about their art and craft objects.

    In 1892 H.H. Risley wrote his book 'The Tribes and Castes of Bengal'. In the Vol.-I of this book is added an ethnographic glossary in which he has stated about the Kondhs. He has noted that they live in scattered villages in the malias (forest). It gives their attitude and plan of housing establishments. Then he says that the Kondhs live by hunting and rude agriculture clearing patches of land in the forest. These activities must be requiring weapons and agricultural artifacts about which Risley has not told anything. Further, writing about the payment of bride price he says that it is paid in pots and lives meaning liquor pots and livestocks. Thus, there must be the preparation or purchase of pots, the making process of which is not made known to us. Going into detail, he further tells that brass plates and cooking vessels and ornaments are also given as bride price. The preparation of brass plates, cooking vessels and ornaments are also not noted in it. The types of ornaments are not given and the metals used in it and their makers are also not denoted. On the betrothal ceremony "the bridegroom puts a necklace round the girl's neck, while she pours oil over his head". The nature and make of the necklace is not known although it is expected to be a piece of art object, specially prepared for the occasion. Similarly the container which is used to pour oil might be a typical one with workmanship over it. But we have not been enlightened about the acumen of their art and craft devices. Reporting about the forthcoming birth of the child, Risley says that the couple visit the father-in-laws house of the groom where they receive some toys for the child, a small bow and arrow, a winnowing fan, and a small basket. So there is mention of articles, which would be in use by the child in future when he or she grows up as a boy or girl of say about seven to eight years. The craft of preparing the bow and arrow for the boy; in case of male child, and basket and winnowing fan for the girl, in case of an expected girl child are given to the couple during their visit. But we do not know the method of preparation of these articles and the raw materials used in making them.

    E.B Havell (1892) wrote on "the art industries of the Madras Presidency" in the Journal of Indian Art', Vol- IV in which he has said about the art of the Kondhs.

    In 1892, Edgar Thurston wrote on "Brass manufacture in the Madras Presidency" which appeared in the Journal of Indian Art. In this paper he mentions about the Kondh brass objects, which are mainly prepared for dowry objects.

    In 1894 the journal 'Madras Mail' has given an elaborate description on the Kondhs residing in the Ganjam jungle tracts in which hairstyle, dresses, weapons, house building, etc. have been depicted. The Kondh "tends, combs and oils", his hair with infinite care, and twists into a large loose knot, which is caught with curiously shaped pins of sambur bone, gaily coloured combs and bronze hairpins which curiously ornamented designs, and it is then gracefully pinned over the left eyebrow. This knot he decorates according to his fancy with the blue feathers of the jay (Indian roller, coracias indica), or the white feather of the crane and stork, or the feathers of the more gorgeous peacock. Two feathers generally wave in front while many more float behind. This knot also does duty as a pocket or pincushion, for into it he stuffs his knife, his half-smoked cigarette of homegrown tobacco rolled in a sal (shorea rcbusta) leaf, or even his snuff wrapped in another leaf pinned together with a thorn". The art of hairdo of Kondhs has been well explained although we do not know what type of oil he uses, and how it's extracted, in what material the comb is made, etc. Moreover, the curiously ornamented designs of the bronze hairpin that he mentions appear meaningless as the designs are not properly explained.

    The 'Madras Mail' of 1896 has written on the hairdo of the Kuttia Kondh women in an elegant manner. It stated that, "these are enormous quantities of frizzly hair tied in huge chignons over the right brow, and decorated with feathers of every hue-the jay, the parrot, the peacock and white quills of the paddy bind predominating". Describing on the death ceremony of a chief it further notes that after a wash and decoration of head and hair with either the orthodox feathers, or prettier still, with wreaths of wild flowers', they repair the dead chief's house. Speaking about the hair treatment of the dancing girl, the 'Madras Mail' says, ‘The polished jet black hair, neatly tied in a knot' at the back, and decorated with pretty lacquered and silver combs, or with forest flowers; added yet more to their picturesque appearance. The lacquered and silver combs might be prepared by the kondhs, about which we do not get any information. The dress noted by Thurston says, 'Round his waist he wraps a white cloth, bordered with a curious design in blue and red, of excellent home manufacture". Here again the curious design on the border of the cloth remains unexplained. But he has noted that these are prepared at home meaning that they weave the clothes themselves with beautiful or peculiar designs of blue and red indigenously contrived. The preparation of the colours for the cloth is not given in this write-up. The ‘Mdras Mail' of 1896 writing about the dresses of the dancers says that, round their waists was twisted the strip of national Kondh cloth of blue, red and white. The most loving colour of fheKondhs are blue, red and white but the preparation of these colours are not known. On the eve of "dancing each girl took a long strip of white cloth, and winding it round her waist, allowed one end to trail at the back in the fashion of a liberty sash."

    Again, the tangi of many curious shapes, consisting of an iron blade with a long wooden handle ornamented with brass wire is mentioned as the companion of the Kondh. Further, it is stated that 'he very frequently carries a bow and arrows, the former made of bent bamboo, the sting of a long strip of bark, and the handle ornamented with stripes of the white quills of the peacock. It explains the raw material, the device and the different types of iron blade in the handle, which explains the art of hunting and war and the craft of preparing the bow. He has further explained about the light battle-axe, which is otherwise known as tangi. The houses of the Kondhs mentioned by Thurston are 'constructed of broad sal (shorea robusta) logs hewn out with the axe, and thatched with jungle grass, which is impervious to white ants. In bamboo jungles bamboo is substituted for sal. The houses are very low with pitch of the roof about 8 ft. from the ground and the eves only 4 ft. above the ground, so made to prevent it from storms. Thus Thurston has elaborately and meticulously dealt with many aspects of the Kondh art and craft. The "Madras Mail" of 1896 referring to the Kuttia Kondhs has said about their ornaments in these words. "Their sturdy limbs are hung in every direction beads and cut agates, said to be dug out of ancient burial places and cromlechs in central India. The decoration of the dancers has been started as follows.

    Their pretty necklaces of coloured grass, silver coins, and curious beads, and to count the numberof small sticks (generally about 12 to 15) of broom that were arranged in the shape of a crescent round the outer edges of the pierced ears of each unmarried village belle and to observe at close quarter s the strange, tattooed patterns in blue of zigzag and curves' have decorated their persons. This expression exposes the artistic skill of the Kondhs as observed by the Madras Mail. On the funeral of a chief the musical instruments are blown. These are made of buffalo horns. Drums are also beaten out we do not know how that is prepared.

    The distillation of spirituous liquor by the Kondhs must be made through a device about which the Mail does not inform us although it remains content with its extract from iluppai (Bassin). The journal further writes that they reap crops in a straight edged knife. But its preparation or purchase from outside in not given.

    J.E. Friend Pereira translated and wrote some Kondh songs respectively in 1898 and 1899 in the Journal of the Asiatic society of Bengal. But only passing references of Kondh art and craft are found in then.


ISSN: 2249 3433


The word tribe is variously used in literature to denote a community on the basis of homogeneity. Originally many autochthonous communities who were identified by similar culture, social organisation and governance, living away from the main stream life of a country, were mentioned as tribe by their colonial rulers and Western scholars. Many such communities have moved towards the mainstream lifestyle so that they may no longer be identified as secluded, underdeveloped people with queer customs. This has happened to all areas of the world where tribal communities live. Still, many tribal communities lead their lives in very primitive ways devoid of the techno-economic glamour of contemporary civilization. These communities are labeled as "Primitive Tribal Groups". Indian Government has identified such tribal groups to give special attention to their development, whereas in the Indian Constitution all the tribal groups are recognized as "scheduled tribes".


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