[Home]  

Traditional Costume of Tribal India

A Selective Bibliography

Click on images for a larger version
The Seven Sisters of India

The Seven Sisters of India: Tribal Worlds between Tibet and Burma.Aglaja Stirn, Peter Van Ham. Prestel. 2000. This Survey of the remote far northeast of India bordering on Burma and Tibet, is, as far as I am aware, the first modern good quality publication of its kind exclusively on this region. It introduces the reader to such almost unknown peoples as the Aka, Nishi and Apa Tani of Arunachal Pradesh, as well as the various Adi tribes and the better known Naga groups. A much welcome overview with chapters on ritual, Buddhist influence, textile arts and the unique Apa Tani valley. Lavishly illustrated with both historical and recent photographs. (Much recommended)

The Hidden World of the Naga

The Hidden World of the Naga: Living Traditions in Northeast India and Burma. Aglaja Stirn and Peter Van Ham. Prestel.2003. This fine volume documents the culture of the Naga tribes across their entire geographic range in the mountains and forests of remote India and Burma, an area long closed to outsiders. The outstanding colour photographs depict the traditional ceremonial clothing of the various tribes, which still appears intact today. The book also includes an overview of Naga tribes in both countries with a detailed tribal map. Such peoples as the Ao, Konyak, Phom, Wancho and Tangsa are among the groups included together with a number of little known tribes not mentioned in other publications. There are further chapters on house form and decoration, headhunting, animal shapeshifting, and textile production. Altogether a much welcome addition to the study of the Naga peoples, the great value of which lies in its comprehensive approach and high quality presentation and photography. (much recommended)

Hidden Tribes of India

Hidden Tribes of India.Tiziana and Gianni Baldizzone. Local Colour. 1999. A collection of fine photographs with accompanying text, of tribal people from the northwestern deserts, central India and the remote northeast. Major highlights include the Apa Tani people who live in a "hidden" valley in Arunachal Pradesh, and their striking ceremonial textiles, together with the Rabari tribes of the desert in their magnificent tribal dress, and the Bondos of Orissa who are "clothed" in jewellery of beads and metal.

Desert Eves: An Indian Paradise

Desert Eves: An Indian Paradise.Hans Silvester. Abrams. 2001. The primary attraction of this volume is its fine photographs of Rajasthani desert women dressed in bright traditional fabrics, portraits and daily activities forming the bulk of the illustrations. The author is clearly fascinated with this desert region in the remote northwest of India and the vibrant and colourful culture found here. A somewhat romantic view of India, as suggested by the title, but nevertheless a wonderful introduction to a people apparently never photographed before.

Tribal Art of Middle India

Tribal Art of Middle India.Verrier Elwin. Oxford University Press. 1951. This volume, on the various art works of the tribes of central India covers textiles, wood working, decorative combs, the use of the cowrie shell and the interesting ceremonial headresses found in this region. It covers such tribes as the Muria, Maria (Gonds), Konds and others among whom the author conducted extensive fieldwork. Includes black and white field photographs of tribes and artifacts interspersed with line drawings and a few colour plates

Art of the North East Frontier of India

Art of the North East Frontier of India.Verrier Elwin. Northeast Frontier Agency. Shillong. 1959. This informative work is full of fascinating details about a little known tribal world: that of the Northeast frontier of India lying in the eastern Himalayan foothills bordering Tibet and Burma. This is the area known now as Aurnachal Pradesh and it is home to some of the least known tribal peoples in Asia. The book covers the Buddhist worlds bordering on Bhutan, Tibet and Burma, including such groups as the Monpa and Khampti together with the extensive central region inhabited by the Apa Tanis, Daflas, Akas, Tagins, Gallongs, Mishmis and lastly the Naga related minorities bordering on Burma. There is also some coverage of Nagas living further south. Art works include textiles, woodworking, headresses, jewellery and masks. Contains many black and white field photographs of tribespeople, line drawings, photographs of artefacts and some colour plates. This book, although hard to find, remains a major source of information on the material culture of these peoples.

Primitive India

Primitive India.V De Golish. George G Harrap & Co. London.1954. A photographic account of the Author's expedition to the remote forests and highlands of central and southern India, where he visited tribes hardly known in the west. The result is a book copiously illustrated mostly with black and white photographs of the Bondos, Gadabas, Todas and other tribal groups of India which have been much neglected by photographers since. An invaluable visual record.

Earth and Sky

Earth and Sky. July 29 - August 16 1988 Yura Kucho Art Forum (Festival of India) Seibu Museum of Art. Tokyo.1988 This slim volume concentrates mainly on Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, tribal lands in the northeast of India. It is packed with high quality photographs of such tribes as the Apa Tanis, Wanchos, Hill Miris, Adis and the various Naga groups, showing details of textiles and dress, house forms and jewellery. There is a concluding section showing textiles and other artefacts in a museum context. (In Japanese with a short introduction in English) A fine supplement to any collection of books on remote northeast India.

Tribal Asia

Tribal Asia: Ceremonies Rituals and Dress. Robert Schmid, Fritz Trupp Thames and Hudson 2004 The the main focus of this beautiful volume is the great variety of dress and ornamentation traditionaly worn by minority ethnic groups from Southern Arabia to Indonesia. Many of south Asia's remote peoples are included, ranging from the Bondos and Gadabas of eastern India to the Nagas, Adis and Mru in the Northeast of the subcontinent. The numerous mountain peoples of Southeast Asia, Southern China and the Himalayan region are also included with photographs of such peoples as the Karenic groups (Burma) Golog (Tibet) and Kalish (Pakistan) to name a few. A photographic documentation of Indonesia's outer islands completes this vivid survey of Asian tribal dress. (Much Recommended)

The Daflas

The Daflas.B K Shukla. Northeast Frontier Agency. Shillong. 1959 This small book is an ethnographic account of the Dafla people of the Subansiri region of Aurnachal Pradesh. It covers such topics as economy, religious practices and material culture and is illustrated with line drawings and a few fairly good quality black and white plates.

The Akas

The Akas.Raghuvir Sinha. The People of NEFA. Research Department Adviser's Secretariat. Shillong. 1962. In the same format as the above volume, this small book focuses on the Aka tribe who inhabit the Kameng division of Arunachal Pradesh, and is the first and only of its kind on these little known people. A useful overview of their cultural traditions, illustrated with line drawing and some good black and white photographs showing the interesting dress and jewellery worn on a daily basis by the Akas.

The Gallongs

The Gallongs.L R N Srivastava. The people of NEFA. Research Department Adviser's Secretariat. Shillong.1962. In the same series as above, this volume concentrates on the Gallong people. Living to the east of both the Daflas and Akas, they appear to be related to the Adi tribes, and this book gives a concise account of their culture. Illustrations include line drawings and black and white plates.

The Idu MishmisThe Idu Mishmis.Tapan Kumar M Baruah. The People of NEFA. Research Department Adviser's Secretariat. Shillong.1960. The Mishmi peoples occupy the far northeast of Arunachal Pradesh, and the culture of the Idu group is documented in detail in this small volume. Illustrated with line drawings and black and white plates.
The SherdukpensThe Sherdukpens.R R P Sharma. The People of NEFA. Shillong.1961. The small Sherdukpen tribe inhabits the kameng area in western Arunachal Pradesh. Their culture has some similarities with the Akas (see above) and they have also adopted Buddhist elements from the Monpa people who are in turn in close proximity to Bhutan. This volume is the first to survey this people and their traditions and is illustrated with line drawings and back and white plates.
[Back to Top]