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  TRIBALZONE Editors Choice


Dimension of Religion, Magic and Festivals of Indian Tribe : The Munda

Karma Oraon. New Delhi, Kanishka Pub., 2002, xii, 140 p., ISBN 81-7391-486-9.

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Munda religion and pantheon. 3. Religious officers. 4. Cosmology and eschatology. 5. Totemism and clan myths. 6. Munda life style. 7. Magical beliefs and practices. 8. Witchcraft and its social context. 9. Festivals. 10. Modern developments. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

"The Munda hold a significant position among the Indian tribes. The socio-cultural and religious aspects of the Munda have been discussed in the book, keeping in view of the present day researches and academic interests in the faculty of social science.

"Based on intensive field study, the present volume deals with the different dimensions of religion, magic and festivals. After S.C. Roy, who studied the Munda community about half a century ago, author of present book tries to give an excellent presentation and analysis of changing scenario and continuity in socio-cultural and religious life of the Munda tribes.
"This is beyond doubt that the present contribution of the author is a valuable addition to the knowledge of tribal studies."


Folklore of Tribal Communities : Oral Literature of the Santals, Kharias, Oraons and the Mundas of Orissa

Nityananda Patnaik. New Delhi, Gyan, 2002, x, 200 p., ISBN 81-212-0776-2.

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. The Santals. 3. The hill Kharias. 4. The Oraons. 5. The Mundas. Conclusion. Glossary. Bibliography. Index.

"The Unwritten Literary World of Tribal Communities is nothing but the Oral Literature or Folklore. It covers stories, legends, myths, songs, dances, riddles, proverbs, metaphors and such other aspects of their culture which are in their memory and handed down from generation to generation. These sources of their literary world speak of their happiness and their sorrows, their spiritual world and the eco-system. The older persons are the store house of their oral literature and from these sources the literary world of theirs is disseminated among the youngsters.

"This book gives the folklore of four tribal communities namely, the Kharias, the Oraons, the Santals and the Mundas of Orissa. The Kharias are a hunting and food gathering community, the Oraons are noted for the dance and music and the Santals are well known as hard working cultivators and skilled in wall painting, and noted for their sense of beauty. The cultural patterns of these

 tribal communities and their life-ways and thought-ways are different from one another as revealed in the analysis of their oral literature. Even though they lead a life full of wants and difficulties, they are very labourious and joyful by virtue of which they forget their sorrows and miseries."


Hahn's Oraon Folk-Lore : In the Original/A Critical Text with Translations and Notes

A. Grignard. 1997, 177 p.,

Contents: 1. The simpleton. 2. The lazy boy. 3. The recovered carcanet. 4. The protean oli man. 5. The drumming sportsman. 6. The faithful wife. 7. The three cakes. 8. Locust the Pandit. 9. The Prince and the barber. 10. Aghnu the potter. 11. The dead man who turned a murderer. 12. The two critics. 13. The sharpwitted boy. 14. Vermilion and marriage. 15. A boy and his monkey. 16. Hide and seek. 17. The boy and the unicorn. 18. Small belts the Pandit. 19. Little Tomo' my thumb. 20. Three marvellous cures. 21. The enchanted mandoline. 22. The ogre. 23. The beggar woman's cockerel. 24. The enchanted land. 25. The Jogi's Mandoline. 26. A comedy of errors. 27. The young hunter. 28. Why Jackals are no farmers. 29. Curry-roller and broom. 30. The lady doctor. 31. The little girl and the witch. 32. The widow and Prince Saru. 33. The horoscope. 34. The jackal and the tortoise. 35. The two little seamps. 36. The seven brothers. 37. The water-carrier and the tiger. 38. The tailles jackal. 39. A cautious fellow. 40. The man-eater. 41. The dragon. I. Religious Myths: 1. The rain of fire. 2. Karmas and Dharmas. 3. The Lodhas and assurs. II. Tribal Traditions: 1. The oraon King of Rohtas. 2. Evacuation of Rohtas by the oraons. III. Domestic Events and Tribal Festivals: 1. Oraon marriage customs. 2. Oremation and burial. 3. Ghosts of ancestors. 4. The Khaddi feast. 5. The Karam feast. 6. Jatra fairs. Riddles. Poetry. The Banchi mutiny of 1857.

"Mainly inhabiting the Chhotanagpur area of Bihar, the Oraon people have been in the limelight for some time now. Firstly, for their long-standing agitation for a separate Jharkhand state and again because of ongoing investigations into their leaders' alleged involvement in receiving bribes for supporting the then government at the centre in New Delhi during a Lok Sabha no confidence motion. There is however much more to the Oraon people than their political plight and misdemeanours. Their colourful history is chequered with myth and legend, custom and folklore. The rich accounts of tribal traditions and festivals appearing in this book though coming direct from the pen of true-born Oraons, ought to be more readable and understandable. Hence Girgnard of the Catholic Mission of Chhota Nagpur while maintaining the authenticity added his translations and notes to Hahn's original work (published in 1905). Thus a jumbled analogy "interwoven with afterthoughts and belated additions or restrictions" has with much editing and perseverance been transformed by Girgnard into these fascinating tales and stories of the Oraons' now before you."


History and Culture of the Oraon Tribe : Some Aspects of Their Social Life

Abhik Ghosh. New Delhi, Mohit Pub., 2003, xii, 237 p., tables, figs., $25. ISBN 81-7445-196-X.

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Theory: the individual in the world of every day. 3. Data collection and field work methods. 4. A brief, historical background to the ethnography of Karmadih. 5. The ethnography of the Oraons at Karmadih: a background to everyday life. 6. Analysis: symbols and the everyday life of the Oraons of Karmadih. 7. Conclusions: beyond the individual and the everyday. Bibliography.

"This work is a comprehensive study of some aspects of the Oraon life and is one of the major publications after the scholarly and definitive ethnographies of Oraons by Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Roy in the early 1900s.

"The work explores aspects of symbols and the philosophy behind the use of particular theoretical approaches. The symbols used are grounded in everyday life and the daily practices of the Oraons. Using such a perspective as a key symbol, the ethnography of the Oraons is then perceived through such a lens with their idea of giving it a fresh out-look."


A Mundari-English Dictionary

Manindra Bhusan Bhaduri. New Delhi, Gyan Pub., 2002, xii, 232 p., $10. ISBN 81-212-0795-9.

"Mundari-English Dictionary is a byproduct of the master-researchers and scintillating scholarship of Sarat Chandra Roy, whose anthropological work on the Mundas of Chotanagpur and Santal Parganas remains unsurpassed even till today. His compilation of about six hundred words of Mundari language in a note book contained the seed out of which this dictionary has flourished. On the eve of its compilation about fifty years ago, Mundari language was spoken by over 60,000 Mundas and other akin tribals. The dialects of the Mundari family of speech, to which Santali, Birhar and other tongues belong, are, besides Chotanagpur, also spoken in the Santal Parganas which adjoin some of the Bengal districts. It is on account of this geographical spread-over of the Mundari family of speech that a large number of words from Bengali, Hindi and Sanskrit have crept into the fabric of the Mundari language. A lot of painstaking efforts have gone in coming the English equivalents of the tribal Mundari language. Despite a lot of transformation in the tribal world of the Mundas, there appears to be no depreciation in the value and relevance of his master dictionary for the anthropologists, linguists and administrators engaged in the onerous task of tribal studies."


Birsa Munda and His Movement 1872-1901 : A Study of a Millenarian Movement in Chotanagpur

K.S. Singh. Reprint. Calcutta, Seagull, 2002, xxxii, 324 p., ISBN 81-7046-205-3.

Contents: Foreword. Preface. 1. The background of the movement. 2. Birsa’s early years. 3. The making of a prophet. 4. The beginning of the political movement. 5. The interlude. 6. The uprising. 7. The end. 8. The religious movement of Birsa and the Birsaites. 9. Consequences of the movement. 10. Nature and significance of the movement. Conclusion. Glossary. Bibliography. Appendices.

"This work is a complete account of probably the best known millenarian movement in tribal India. The movement of the Mundas led by Birsa was typical of the resistance and revitalization movements in the latter half of the nineteenth century. A combination of a religious and a political movement, it represented the struggle and aspirations of his people, sowing the first stirrings of nationalism among them and featuring an urge to recreate the old world which had disappeared under the onslaught of colonialism.
"Since the second revised edition of Birsa Munda and His Movement was published in 1983, the Birsa cult has developed further, and Birsa Munda has emerged as the icon of the tribal people all over India. His movement Ulgulan (the upheaval) has been appropriated by all sorts of people, and by all political parties in Chotanagpur to further their agenda. The legend of the lad from Chalkad has travelled far and wide; and his portrait hangs in the Central Hall of Parliament, the only tribal leader to have been so honoured.

"Acclaimed as the first of its kind, this study is based on anthropological data and archival material. It traces Birsa’s early life and his transformation into a ‘black Christ’ against the background of the processes of transformation of the tribal society of Chotanagpur. His political movement and his religion are closely studied in the context of their impact on the course of history. The book was translated into various languages of the country and inspired various forms of creative adaptation in contemporary folk and regional literature, including Mahasweta Devi’s major novel Aranyer Adhikar."


Munda : Sub-Stratum of Tibeto-Himalayan Languages

D.D. Sharma. New Delhi, Mittal, 2003, xii, 102 p., $13. ISBN 81-7099-860-3. (Studies in Tibeto-Himalayan Languages—VII).

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Phonological affinities. 3. Morphological affinities. 4. Pronominalization. 5. Modifiers. 6. Counting system. 7. Verbal system. 8. Temporal & aspectual affinities. References & select bibliography. Index.

"The present volume seven of the series, ‘Studies in Tibeto-Himalayan Languages’, presents a detailed account of strikingly conversing phonological, morphological and syntactic features of Munda and Himalayan languages belonging to two ethnically and linguistically heterogeneous groups of people of the Indian sub-continent, presently inhabiting distant lands, thousands of miles away from one another and intervened by people of different ethnic and linguistic stocks.

"The linguistic details, with plethora of examples from both the linguistic groups, presented here, may not only be of special interest to linguist, but to historians and anthropologists as well, interested in the study of the people, inhabiting Himalayan regions of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.

"As such, it is hoped that these undisputable linguistic evidences presented here will inspire scholars of relevant disciplines to undertake the task of unearthing of the pre-historic mystery of the inhabitation of these Himalayan regions by the speakers of the Austro-Asiatic languages, who have left an everlasting deep impact on these Himalayan languages and of the circumstances which coupled them to leave their this Himalayan home."

Mundari Grammar and ExercisesMundari Grammar and Exercises/John Baptist Hoffmann.

John Baptist Hoffmann. New Delhi, Gyan, 2001, 387 p., ISBN 81-212-0763-0.

"A pioneering work in the area, by a great scholar, this is the most authentic, exhaustive comprehensive and tested book of grammar of the Mundari Languages. Compiling grammar of any language is not an easy task. It becomes an uphill task, when the chosen language is in feet a dialect without much sources of information in to support one’s academic efforts. In such difficult circumstances, a great work like the present one is really a miracle, It’s a book for all scholars, in any discipline, related to Mundari language and literature."


Ethnobotany of Santhal Pargana

S.K. Varma, D.K. Sriwastawa and A.K. Pandey. 1999, viii, 124 p., colour photographs,

Contents: Preface. 1. Santhal Pargana. 2. Historical account. 3. Tribals and their cultural traits. 4. Tribals and forest. 5. Ethnobotanical spectrum of Santhal Pargana. 6. Resume. Bibliography. Index of Scientific names.

"A large number of ethnic group of diverse culture inhabits India, a majority of whom could be found in Bihar - especially Chhotanagpur and Santhal Pargana regions. Santhal Pargana region is inhabited by Santhal and Paharia tribes. Their lifestyle and livelihood revolves around the forest they live in, and derive their needs from the trees and plants in the jungles, the keen knowledge of which has been handed down from father to son since ages.

"Besides the ability to use the plants and its by-product for making agricultural and musical equipments, mats, baskets etc. and food, their uncanny knowledge of selective plants claimed to treat effectively chronic diseases like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis as well as common ailments is something which should be tested scientifically and clinical trials arranged. These tests and trials should be made NOW before this knowledge is lost for ever as these tribes face extinction.

"Ethnobotany is a field where relationship between plants and humans are studied. Ideal for ethnobiologists, conservation ecologists, anthropologists, herbal drug industry, tribal development boards and NGOs, this book gives an exhaustive detail on 514 plant species that the tribals use with special emphasis on the medicinal plants. It follows a path of location, physiography and climatic description; historical account and review of literature; tribals and their cultural traits; and their association with the forest and ethnobotanical spectrum of Santhal Pargana.

"This book has been suitably illustrated with maps, coloured photographs and exhaustive bibliography and plant index which will be of tremendous aid to the student of ethnobotany." 

The Santhal Women : A Social Profile

Chaturbhuj Sahu. 1996, v, 184 p., tables,

Contents: Preface. Introduction. I. Land and the people: 1. Historical analysis of the Santhal. 2. The Santhal myth. 3. Tarajori panchayat under Nuniad estate. 4. Location and demarcation of the area. 5. Population and vital statistics. 6. Loan and other government facility. 7. Health condition. II. Ethnographic study of the Santhal women : 1. Life cycle-conception. 2. Birth. 3. Infancy. 4. Initiation ceremony. 5. Adolescence. 6. Marriage and its ritual. 7. Welcome to bride. 8. Position of women in the in-laws house. 9. Mother-hood. 10. Divorce. 11. Old age death. 11. Women's position. III. The Santhal women : Their role and responsibility : 1. Women's contribution in building a house, contribution in family income, agriculture, administrative structure and the Santhal women. 2. Present status of the Santhal panchayat system, Santhal laws of inheritance. 3. Festival and religion. IV. Tribal movements and the Santhal women : 1. Tribal movement in Santhal pargana and Chotanagpur. 2. Birsa movement. 3. Tebhaga movement. 4. Jharkhand movement. 5. Movement for language and script. 6. Movement and the Santhal women. V. Women's liberation movement and the Santhal women : 1. History of women's liberation movement pre-independence period. 2. Emergence of freedom movement. 3. Women's issue movement. 4. Feminist movement. 5. Jharkhand Mahila Sammelan. VI. Awareness among the Santhal: 1. Women through tribal development tribals during British period. 2. Government approach for tribal development. 3. Five year plan. 4. Law and legislation. 5. Development status in Tarajori panchayat. 6. Institute of rural management. 7. Prerna Bharti. 8. Barriers for women's development in Tarajori panchayat. VII. Summary and conclusion. Appendices. Selected bibliography.

"The present volume is the outcome of the author's extensive and intensive field work on the Santhal women. The author has tried to assess the women's understanding, feelings and attitude towards the changing situations. An attempt has also been made to assess the development of social consciousness among ever changing and ever smiling working women in the field, in the forest, on the road side, in the movement and in the house through this study."

Santhal Worldview

edited by Nita Mathur. New Delhi, Concept, 2001, xiii, 182 p., ISBN 81-7022-866-2.Santhal Worldview/edited by Nita Mathur.

Contents: Introduction/Nita Mathur. 1. Nature as culture : the vision of a tradition/Baidyanath Saraswati. 2. Santhal concept of womb and seed/Nita Mathur. 3. Man and animal relationship/Subhra Bhattacharyya. 4. Tribal life in association with animals/Ajit Kumar Aditya and Prasanta Chatterjee. 5. Santhal concept of food/Indrani Bhattacharyya. 6. Sounds from a Santhal village/Peter Pannke. 7. Santhal approach to sounds/Onkar Prasad. 8. Basic sounds : a study in sound symbolism of Santhals/Khageswar Mahapatra. 9. Formation of Ol Chiki script and process of its transmission/Shyam Sundar Mohapatra. 10. Santhal language and culture/Chaitanya Prasad Majhi. 11. Jadupata in the context of Santhal culture/Nilanjana Das. 12. Living in the kingdom of Bongas : the contingencies of happy life/Sitakant Mahapatra. 13. Santhal worldview : mixing of pleasure and pain/P.C. Hembram. 14. Santhal world of supernatural beings/N. Patnaik. 15. Santhal worldview woven around rice and banana cultivation/S.K. Chakraborty. 16. Change and continuity in Santhal worldview/Sachchidananda. Index.

"This book deals with culture and lifestyle of the Santhal which is one of the major tribal groups in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. The sixteen essays collected here explore the Santhal concepts of body, womb and seed, sound symbolism, formation and transmission of script, man and animal relationship, food and cooking, healing practices; religious beliefs and festivals, and the notion of the ‘other’ world in a distinctive framework of interpretation and analyses. More importantly, it contains contribution from Santhal intellectuals representing the self-view of their culture."

Applied Ethnobotany : A Case Study Among the Kharias of Central India

E. Varghese. 1996, xx, 307 p., col. plates, line drawings,

Contents: Preface. 1. Introduction: ethnobotany today. 2. The Kharias and their environment. 3. Methodology. 4. Ethnobotanically important plants. 5. Discussion. 6. Conclusion. Appendices: 1. Questionnaire on medicinal plants used by the Kharias. 2. List of less-known uses. 3. Reliability rating (disease-wise). 4. Reliability rating (plant-wise). Bibliography. Glossary-cum-index. Index to local names.

"Applied Ethnobotany: A Case Study among the Kharias of Central India is a detailed and updated ethnobotanic study among the Kharias. Besides giving a comprehensive inventory of the useful plants in the Kharia habitat, this book makes a special contribution by suggesting a formula for quantifying the reliability of remedies reported by local medicinemen. An attempt is made, also, to bridge the gap between the work and publications of the scientific fraternity and their actual use among the practitioners of ethnomedicine, by carefully detailing medicinal uses of plants with ways of preparation, administration and dosage in most cases. This book deals with 280 plants of ethnobotanic importance to the Kharias."

Kharia : The Victim of Social Stigma

Chandidas Mukhopadhyay. 1998, xv, 105 p., tables, ISBN 81-7074-203-4.

Contents: 1. Introduction. 2. About the Kharias. 3. The state of stigma and its consequences. 4. Explaining the stigma. 5. Overcoming - stigma. 6. Summary and conclusion. Appendices. Bibliography. Index.

"The Hill Kharias of Purulia, popularly known as, Kharias, are possibly the most backward of all tribal communities settled in West Bengal. On the top of it, they are also categorized as 'born criminals' by the outgroup communities of the locality. Categorized this way the Hill Kharias bear a stigma - the stigma of criminality. The study is concerning this stigma of criminality as brought to bear upon them.

"This stigma has debilitating consequences for the Kharias. Because of the stigma they are marked as inferior and undeserving of the considerations that are usually given to the general people of the village society. They are subjected to unfair persecutions and discriminations by the outgroup people. In recent years efforts are being made to help uplift the Kharias. But as yet the stigma is there with all its effects on their life chances. This study is an attempt to find out the exact state of stigma, its causes and consequences, and the possibility for the Kharias to overcome it.

"What exactly is the state of stigma as brought to bear upon the Hill Kharias? Is it conferred upon them equally? Why at all are they stigmatised? What are the reasons behind origin of stigma? Does it have any legitimate basis? What are the consequences of the stigma for the Kharias in different walks of life? How do the Kharias respond to the stigma? What efforte do they make to remove it? What is done by the government and private agencies to deal with the situation? Do all these seem to be adequate?

"The study is primarily grounded on field work. Other sources include police records, census reports, the repots of tribal welfare department as well as some local magazines and newspapers, the existing Kharia-studies as well as the theoretical literature on stigma and prejudice. The field-data have been collected from ten villages under four police stations of the district on the basis of participant observation and informal but intensive interview."

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