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  Tribal Arts  



Only women partake in this primitive dance of the Kaadar tribes of the forests of Kochi area. The performers arrange themselves in a semicircle. They hold the tip of their clothes in their hands to the level of the waist and wave it to various rhythms of the dance. It is a very simple but elegant tribal dance in slow steps.


This is a group dance of the Kanikkar tribes. The dance is performed as a rural offering. The steps of the dancers perfectly synchronise with the waving of the hands and the beating of the drums.


Koorankali is another tribal dance which is similar to Mankali. Here one man enacts the role of a wild boar while another enacts the role of a hunting dog. The movements are perfectly timed to the rhythmic beats of primitive drums. While this is going on, the large number of onlookers who form a circle round the two dancers, shout wild cries of joy with occasional clapping of hands and jerky dances.


Edaya nritham is the dance of the tribal shepherds. Both men and women participate with One of the shepherds acting as the lead singer. This is repeated in chorus by all the rest. As the singing is in progress, one from the group imitates the special sounds of shepherds driving their sheep.


This is particularly popular among the tribes in Wynad and Malappuram districts. It is more ritualistic oriented than pure entertainment. This is usually performed as a pooja to please family deities and also during marriage ceremonies.
When the instruments,Thappu and Kuzhal are being played the naikars begin their performance. With jingling anklets round their legs, they dance in clock-wise and anti-clockwise directions to the accompaniment of the musical instruments.

Architectural skills

Local Paniya tribesmen, whose traditional erumadam tree-platforms inspired the modern day tree houses, now help build and maintain these treehouses. Paniyan literally means one who works in the field, and these were supposed to work for others mainly the nontribals. This group forms the dominant tribals of the State. About 72% of the total Paniya population of the State are found in Wayanad district.Their traditional costumes are attractive. Women of older generation wear ear rings, nose rings, coloured bangles and rolled palm leaves with beads inside from a plant called Abrus precatorius in their dilated earlobes. Their language is of primitive Malayalam dialect with an admixture of Tamil and Tulu words. They normally have a head man called kuttan. They worship trees and the banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis)especially is important for them. They normally will not cut such trees and believe that if any one attempts to cut down these trees theywill face serious problems or will fall sick. They consume wild roots, edible and medicinal herbs, fish, prawns and crabs which are usually found in the wilderness and in the rivers flowing through the jungles.

Traditionally skilled bowmen and hunters

Kurichias are the "high class" among the hill tribes occuping the highest social and economic status. They are basically agriculturists having their own lands and besides they are all skilled bowmen and hunters. They played a heroic role in Pazhassi revolt against the British. They are believed to have been brought to Wayanad by Pazhassi Raja from the plains during his war against the British.These Kurichias have a good tradition of respecting nature in every way. They preserve their habitats in almost pristine conditions even now and have conserved many of the traditional varieties of different crops. They are a very hygienic lot with clean food habits.

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