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Kotas Tribe Essay

2202 words - 9 pages

Kotas or Kothar or Kov by self-designation are an ethnic group who are indigenous to the Nilgiris mountain range in Tamil Nadu, India. They are one of the many tribal or ethnic groups indigenous to the region. Others include Todas, Irulas and Kurumbas. Although all groups lived closely by and had intimate interactions, elaborate taboos were developed to maintain social distance and prestige. Todas and Kotas have been subject to intense anthropological, linguistic and genetic analysis since the early 19th century. Study of Todas and Kotas has also been influential in the development of the field of anthropology. Numerically Kotas have always been a small group not exceeding 1,500 individuals ...view middle of the document...

They’ve had specialized groups of priests to propitiate their deities on behalf of the group.

|Contents |
|  [hide]  |
|1 Identity |
|2 History |
|3 Society |
|3.1 Women’s position |
|3.2 Food |
|3.3 Governance |
|4 Religion |
|5 Language |
|5.1 Kota kinship terms |
|6 See also |
|7 Notes |
|8 Cited literature |
|9 Further reading |
|10 External links |


The Indian government considers them to be a scheduled tribe (ST), a designation reserved for indigenous tribal communities throughout India that are usually at a lower socio-economic status than mainstream society.[1] They also have a special status as a Primitive Tribal Group (PTG) based on certain socio economic and demographic indicators.[2] But Kotas are relatively successful group that makes its living as agriculturalist, doctors, post masters and availing themselves of any government and private sector employment.[1] Few anthropologists and local community members consider them to be a service caste placed in Nilgiris to service others but Kotas consider themselves to be original inhabitants of the region and do not accept the servile status.[1] The name Kota is a term applied to the group by outsiders; Kotas refer to themselves as 'Kov'. There are number of meanings attributed to the term, but according to Emeneau,[3] ko-v meant a male potter and ko-ty a female potter.[2] Since the 1930s through the efforts of a Kota school teacher, social reformer and activist named Sulli Kota and his followers, Kotas have transformed their previous traditional relationships away from serving other so called high prestige ethnic groups and upgraded their socio-economic status.[4] They no longer practice any of their traditional service functions.[1]


Foothills of the Nilgiris, lower elevation was occupied by Kurumbar and Irulas whereas Kotas occupied the higher elevations.

Although many theories have been put forth as to the origins of Kotas and Todas, none have been confirmed as factual. What linguists and anthropologists agree is that ancestors of both Kotas and Todas may have entered the Nilgiris massif from what is today Kerala or Karnataka in centuries BCE and developed in isolation from the rest of the society.[5] According to F. Metz,[6] a missionary, Kotas had a tradition that alluded to them coming over from a place called Kollimale in Karnatakas. They seem to have displaced the previous Kurumba inhabitants from the higher altitudes to lower altitude infested with malarial mosquitoes.[7] The Kota tribe shows M haplogroup frequency of...

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