Todas - Encyclopedia




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TODAS, a small pastoral tribe of Southern India, found only on the Nilgiri hills. They are distinguished by their tall, wellproportioned figures, aquiline noses, long, black, wavy hair and full beards. Their colour is a light brown. Their dress consists of. a single cloth, which they wear like the plaid of a Scotch highlander. The women cover the whole body with this mantle. Their sole occupation is cattle-herding and dairy-work. They practise polyandry, a woman marrying all the brothers of a family. T'he proportion of females to males is about three to five. Their language is a mixture of Tamil and Kanarese, and is classified by Bishop Caldwell as a separate language of the Dravidian family. The Todas worship their dairy-buffaloes, but they have a whole pantheon of other gods. The only purely religious ceremony. they have is Kona Shastra, the annual sacrifice of a male buffalo calf. Toda villages, called mands, usually consist of five buildings or huts, three of which are used as dwellings, one as a dairy and the other for sheltering the calves at night. These huts are of an oval, pent-shaped construction usually Io ft. high, 18 ft. long and 9 ft. broad. They are built of bamboo fastened with rattan and thatched. Each hut is enclosed within a wall of loose stones. The inhabitants of a mand are generally related and consider themselves one family. The Todas numbered 807 in 1901.

See W. H. R. Rivers, The Todas (1906).

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