The Jarawa ,Indigenous tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands


The Jarawas Tribe of Andaman and Nicobar Islands


Table of Contents

1. The Jarawas Territory

2. The Jarawas Population and Marriage

3. The Jarawas Village and Huts

4. Hunt Style of Jarawa

5. Food of Jarawa

6. Divisions of labour in Jarawas

7. Jarawa Bow and arrow

8. Adolescent ceremony in Jarawa

9. Contraceptive methods used by Jarawa

10. Pregnancy rituals in Jarawa

11. Jarawa Langauge

12. Medicinal Plants/Herbs used by Jarawa


The Jarawas Territory

The Jarawas inhabit today the west portion of south Andamans and Middle Andamans. It has three social discernible territorial divisions viz, Northern group, Central and Southern Group. The northern group inhabit the Kadamtala adjacent areas called 'Tanmad', the southern group inhabit tirur area called 'Boiab' and the central group inhabit the RK Nallah adjacent areas along with the ATR(Andaman Truck Road) area called 'Thidong'.

The Jarawas Population and Marriage

The present Jarawa community bears a large portion in the population as reproductive active population of teenagers and young members. The marriage generally occurs between the adolescents. A widow/widower can get marry in the Jarawa community. Though the jarwa are strictly monogamous, subsequent marriages are common. The children after six or seven years do not share the sleeping place with their parents but live with other children and move from one place to another independently till they get married.

The Jarawas Village and Huts

The village consisted of 10 huts inhabited by 20 to 30 Jarawas. Each hut was about 3 feet high and 6 feet square. The diameter of the village was about 20 yards. There was thick jungle on all sides, a small nallah running down one side.
The Jarawas call their hut or settlement as chadda, residence of a family as Tutime chadda and residence of unmarried boys with or without widower inmates as Thorkalang chadda and a maiden's residence with/without widow inmates as Thorkongo chadda.
A community hut wherein more than 20 jarawas at a time live, can be easily seen on Andaman Trunk Road side near R.K. Nallah in South Andaman. This hit is bee-hive shaped constructed with thatched roof and has few supported poles inside the hut. The semi-permanent huts can be seen at Foul Bay, Yadita area, Chhotalingbang Bay, Jullan Pather and Goal Tekrey etc.
A Jarawa hut or settlement is natively called 'Chadda'. A lean-to-type temporary hut used by a couple with unmarried children is called 'Tutime chadda' . A semi-permanent shelter is known as Chadda de. Thuma or chadda de uttu. The hut where a widow resides is called Thorkalong Chadda and maiden's or widow's dormitory is called Thokotongo Chadda. The roof of hut is called Wilpo which is thatched with cane leaves and palm leaves.
A permanent space is demarcated in the community hut for each family which is called Thule in Jarawa language. A hearth can be seen at a centre of the community hut above of which a platform to hang or keep pig fat and meat is made. There can be seen a number of pig and turtle skull in bunches hanging from the roof tied with cane strips.

Hunt Style of Jarawa

When they hunt any pig in the forest immediately they bring out its intestinal parts through whole made by arrow on its stomach. Then they insert palm leaves inside the stomach. When it is ready to put on fire they remove the leaves out. The toes are detached from the body and the pig is made to sit on fire and after a while it is rolled on fire. The jarawas of other areas usually come and join them in eating pork. After eating pork they use a tooth pick called "Mahu' by them.

Food of Jarawa

The Jarawa are still at the primitive stage of life on earth. They entirely depend upon forest and sea for food. Wild boar (Susscorfa andamanensis) and monitor lizard (varanus salvator andamananesis) are happily consumed but not deer ('topiaali' in jarawa language) and bird (''noha' in jarawa language). The deers are found in plenty in 'Jarawa reserve'. Various kinds of fruit and tubers too are parts of their diet. Many other forest produces which we are not aware of are used by the Jarawas in their food. Sea is the fishing ground for them and edible molluscs are also collected by them for their consumption. Thochus(Trochus niloficus), bivalves, turbo (Turbo maramaratus), rock oyster (Saccostrea cucullata) are boiled on fire before consumption. Crab, big and small lobsters are also boiled. The varieties of animals from the Jarawa dietary menu. These can be broadly divided into Mammal, Aves, Reptilia, Pisces, Mollusca, Crustacea and Insecta groups. Some of these groups are: Wild pig (Susscorfa andamanesis), Andaman water Monitor (varanus salvator andamanesis), Dugong or sea cow (Dugond dugon), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea), Gaint Marine Cat Fish (Arius thalassinus), varities of fish, Mullets (Liza melinoptera and Crenimugil crenilabis, etc), varieties of edible mollusus, spiny Lobster (panulirus versicolor), prawns of different families and crabs of different families, etc. The skulls and shells of turtle and skulls of wild boars can be seen hanged in a Jarawa Hut.

Honey Collection by Jarawa

Honey and jackfruit are also very important foods of Jaraw. In the honey collection the Jarawa tie with the body some leaves of plant called 'Uya' to drive the bees (Onyoma).
The person who first locate a beehive in the forest gets the traditional right to collect it. If he cannot immediately when sighted a few shrubs around the tree on ground are broken to notify others that this beehive has already been located.

Cooking of Food by Jarawas

Traditionally food is cooked in pit ovens called "aalaw'. They boil the edible things in aluminium vessels called 'busu' which are obtained from AAJVS as gifts and the adjacent villages through raids.
The Jarawas consume cooked food and never raw to the extent that unripe fruits are boiled and eaten. The food items like pork or fish is put on the stone bed which is roasted by the direct fire as well as by hot stones.

Clothing / Dress /Ornaments of Jarawas

The jarawas of both sexes go complete naked. However some ornaments are worn by them but these are not in the sense to cover their nudity. A bark thick chest guard called 'Tohe' is used by the adult male members when they do out to hunt. The adorning articles used by the jaraw are head band, necklace, armlets and waist bands. These are mainly made of palm leaves and shells. The necklaces and the headbands of red thread which the administrative party gave during the contacts are also used by the jarawas. The headband is called 'Oetahe' in jarawa language. They call their waits girdle as 'wayetahe'.
With the increased contact with the outsiders the jarwa began to use cloth items (kangapo). They began to make their ornaments from the thread of cloths in place of or added to the forest materials. The temporary ornaments are mostly named after materials. The temporary ornaments are mostly named after the plants from which the materials are collected while the permanent ornaments are made of mainly shell, cotton threads and bark strips. The Jarawa of both sexes decorate their body and face with clay.
After eating pig or monitor lizard they invariably smear their face and body with clay and make designs on it in which certain designs are common. Their folk songs revolve around their material culture and hunting, fishing and gathering activities.

Divisions of labour in Jarawas

There are specific divisions of labour among the jarawas when they are on movement. Male members pick and carry their hunting implements and clean the way, the female members carry the food articles and other household belongings. On reaching the new site for camping purpose the ladies with children go to collect poles and leaves for making temporary hut/shelter . The men go for food collection. The maidens erect their own shelter and go out for food collection.

Jarawa Bow and arrow

The jarawa bow is called "aao' in their language which is made of chuiood (Sageraca elliptica) while their arrow is called 'Patho'. Their wooden head arrow is made of Arecca Wood (Arecca trianda). They use iron and areca wood or babmo to make iron head arrow called 'aetaho' in their language.
One more iron head arrow is constructed by them which is called 'ochchale tahape' in the native language and they use iron and chuiwood to construct it. Their harpoon arrow is called 'tahowai khoab' which is constructed with the use of iron, cane and areca wood. The arrow is generally called 'patho'. They have different types of arrow.
They make iron arrow with help of chisel, hammer without tempeing it on fire. So stone aged foragers, they are. Their chest guard is called 'kekad' used by the adult male members during their hunting activities. They insert their knieves called 'towa' in it.

Usage of tools and weapons by Jarawa

'Towa' is most popular tool among the Jarawas which they use in cutting pork in pieces. It has a shape of an arrow with no stick but has a wide breadth of 4-6 inches. They keep Towa in their wiast guard known as 'tohe' in jarwa Langauge. Their iron edge tied with wooden handle is called 'toub' by which they mainly make bow shape in wood. The jarawa engrave geometric designs on their bow with iron knife, make intricate designs with lines on chest guard or wooden bucket and decorate the same with strips made of orchid stems.
Jarawa hut of Punnanallah area uses two types of wapon viz. 'Thom' and 'Thosulatotoha'. 'Thom' is a jarawa word called for pointed iron arrow, which generally is found with the length of 4-5 inches. Thosulatetotoha is an iron arrow head while its supporting stick or shaft is called 'thene' or 'thenang' by the jarawa. To sharpen the edge of their weapons and implements they use stone called 'Ulli' in their language.
They use wood cane and iron to make their adze. Their digging stick of iron is called 'wohen' while bucket of taung peing wood is called 'uhuo'. They call their basket 'taj' to make which they use cane.
They collect nylon nets from the sea shore and shallow water to make their small net bag to store their collected stuffs and mainly fish. They also construct their fishsing hand net with bark, bamboo and cane and call it 'potochehut'.
Thei indigenous knife made of stone is called 'ulihe'.
Their indigenous torch (tuhu-ga), is made with 'dhup' (canarium euphyllam) and dhani leaves.

Adolescent ceremony in Jarawa

In the adolescent ceremony the boy has to hunt a wild pig and offer to his kin and others. The Opemame ceremony of girl is observed when she attains puberty. As per the custom they rename their children during /after the adolescent ceremony.
On the first menarche of life movement of the girl is restricted to a limit space bordedd by four posts and she has to keep her eyes closed. A paste of red clay called alum, pig fat and gum from a creeper is applied on her head, neck and entire face.
During this period she is restricted to speak. Certain restrictions she has to follow on food in which chiefly she cannot eat pig and honey. What she can take only are Onog ( a variety of edible mollusk) and Eeng (water).
After three days she takes bath and there after no restriction stands before her. All gather around her. She is then dressed with floral ornaments. The women and girls do sing and dance.

Contraceptive methods used by Jarawa

As contraceptive leaves known as Vachahi and Hatho are used.

Pregnancy rituals in Jarawa

During first pregnancy the lady and her husband do not use any apparel or ornament and do not decorate their bodies with white clay. The lady does not accept anything from the non-Jarawas. During parturition the lady is given a separate cornor. The umbilical cord is cut by sharp arrow head. The elderly ladies attend the child birth. On the new birth the happiness is expressed by clapping by the attending ladies while the grand mother of the new born starts crying. After a while they sing and dance to celebrate the occasion. The fat of monitor lizard is used to massage the new born babies.

Jarawa Langauge

The sun (ehey), moon (taape), sky (pange), stars (chilope) and cloud (ethibithi) have their great role in the Jarawa myths and legends. The full moon is called 'utthutaape' and small moon is called 'poniya tappe'. The high tide is called 'chakte' while low tide is called 'chigia'

Medicinal Plants/Herbs used by Jarawa

The jarawa have certain traditional medicines and heath practices such as to clean the genitals during the menustruation period abstract of Dracaena angustifolia Roxb species called 'Tidba' in the Jarawa language. Bark and leaf coagulant of Knema andamanica called 'Oro' is used.
Against cough and fever the leaf and stem of Uiyaw (Amomum aculeatum Roxb) is tied around the chest while its juice is applied on scar. The leaves of Myristica andamanica is used to stop bleeding and as garland when one is sick. The leaf wrapped around body against pain is called intoto (piper betle L.) (Piperceae). Against the throat infection the plant of Urubethe (trichosanthes bracteata (Lamk) Voigt. (Cucurbitaceous) is wrapped around the throat.


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