Tribal Museums Of India: Part – I

Tribal Museums are an attempt to document, capture in film or retain some memorable artifacts of the 437 +tribes that exist in India.

They are sometimes called Adivasis, or the earliest settlers of the land. Each tribe has a separate identity, culture, folklore, lifestyle, social customs, and traditions. Slowly these tribes are being wiped out due to various including some tribesmen entering the mainstream.

Hence the need to preserve them. Tribal Museums are the best way to preserve their heritage for the present and future generation to glimpse or to hold on to for eternity. Both Public and private agencies are taking numerous steps in this direction. Some of the prominent ones are:

National Museum – New Delhi

The National Museum is one of the largest museums in India. It has more than more than 2,06,000 exhibits including various tribal artifacts.  It was established in 1949.

tribal museum india photo
Photo of Tribal blender by Kandukuru Nagarjun under CC BY 2.0

One gallery in this museum is dedicated to Tribal Lifestyles of the North East India.  The exhibits here include ornaments, dresses, headgear, basketry, smoking pipes, paintings and wood carvings used by the Tribes of this area.

Tribal Museum – Bhopal

There are seven big tribes in Madhya Pradesh – Bhil, Gond, Baiga, Kol, Korku, Bhariay, and Sahariaya.  The Tribal Museum in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh is a 3-storied building with 6 different galleries featuring representations of all these seven tribes. Here is what you can see in the museum

  • Replicas of houses made of mud, dung, bamboo, hay grass
  • Agricultural tools, earthen ware
  • Festival and wedding scenes using men and women sculptures and musical instruments
  • Representations of Games played by ancient tribes
  • Artifacts and handicrafts for sale
  • Magazine section
  • Amphitheater for musical and dance performances

State Museum Hotwar – Ranchi

This museum represents the tribes of Jharkhand such as Asurs, Mundu and Birhor.

It homes Adivasi musical instruments, weapons and other implements in chronological order inside its premises.

Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum – Hyderabad

Hyderabad also has a special museum located in Banjara Hills area. Find exhibits displaying lifestyle culture, traditions of tribes in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana here. Three immaculately planned floors are dedicated to 35 tribes that inhabit these two states.

Highlights of the museum are

  • Exteriors ornamented with red and white tribal motifs
  • Life size exhibits showing tribal dancing around their deities near the entrance
  • The section dedicated to Chenchu tribes – This includes their conical huts, hunting implements, honey gathering techniques
  • Photograph of dress and occupations
  • Household articles, fishing/hunting equipment’s, musical instruments, agricultural implements, masks, houses of – Chenchu, Savara, Lambada, Porja, Yerukala, Yonodis and Naikpod tribes
  • Library and Information Kisok for those who seek more information.

Tribal Museum – Araku

Araku is a beautiful valley amidst the Eastern Ghats in the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh.  Here is another museum, established in 1996, with artifacts of Ethnic groups  domiciled in these areas

You can view the following when you visit here…

  • Houses made with mud and metals
  • Kitchen having exhibits of mud ad iron utensils
  • Photographs of a marriage ceremony
  • Mud walls have artwork
  • One section has Mayur and Dhimsa dance displays
  • Other exhibits include jewelry, hunting tools and artifacts regularly used by tribals in the area.

tribal museum india photo
Musicians and dancers by jepoirrier under CC BY-SA 2.0

Kirtads Museum – Kozhikode

This Ethnological museum in Kerala is a part of  KIRTADAS – Kerala Institute for Research Training and Development studies.

It house exhibits of costumes, household utensils, hunting implements, ceremonial paraphernalia, musical instruments, wood carvings and other artefacts of the Tribes that are based in Kerala

Established in 1973, the collection was at first open only to researchers and scholars in this field. But now it is also open for public viewing.

Tribal Research Institute Museum – Bhubaneswar, Odisha

This Bhubaneshwar Research Institute was set up in the year 1953. It is also called as Museum of Man because of the life-sized exhibits there. There are five halls each representing life styles tribes such as Juang, Saora, Santal, Gadaba and Kandha tribes that have made Odisha their home.

On display are:

  • Tribal jewelry
  • Art and paintings
  • Implements for hunting fishing and war
  • Household and agricultural implements
  • Musical instruments and Dhokra products
  • Also, notice the trees outside covered with Adivasi paintings

This is but a small list of the many existing Adivasi Museums in India. Details of  information other Museum warrants another  post: Tribal museums of India – Part – II

Featured Photo of Khajuraho 07 – Tree of Life by juggadery under CC BY-SA 2.0

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