More than two centuries ago, over 200 Malaiyali tribes people built traditional clay huts on the flat peak of the picturesque Yelagiri hill in what is now northern Tamil Nadu.
About Yelagiri hut shelters:
- The Malaiyali tribes people were foragers who settled in the upper Nillavur region of Yelagiri and began cultivating its tabletop peak for food.
- Initially living in makeshift huts, they found a permanent solution in the red loam clay abundant in the hills and constructed simple one-room structures that measured 16 by 22 feet.
- These shelters are made of dry bamboo leaves; the thatched roof is waxed with cow dung to prevent it from leaking during the monsoon season.
- This covering tends to make the house appear deceivingly small from the outside, but it has enough space to house eight people and a paran (attic) that was used to store pots and other household items.
- The hut was meant for people to live in but eventually turned into a storage space for the seeds we collected before the sowing period began.
- A unique feature of the munn veedu (mud house) or andara kotai (storage facility) is that it stands on a stilt-like structure also made of teak wood.
Key facts about Malaiyali tribe
- The Malaiyali tribe – malai meaning “hill” and yali meaning “people” – is strewn across Tamil Nadu’s hilly regions.
- The Malayalis have not any claim to be considered as an ancient hill tribe, but are Tamil speaking people who migrated from the plains to the hills in comparatively recent times, probably during the middle of eighteenth century.
Q1) What are the characteristics of tribes?
Tribes are groups of people who share common cultural, social, and often ancestral ties, and who often inhabit a specific geographic area. Tribes have distinct cultural practices, languages, traditions, and social structures that set them apart from other groups.