Ornaments worn by Dongria Kondh tribe of Odisha, A report
Ornaments are largely worn by the Dongria Kondhs. The design and style for adornment of Dongria Kondhs reflect their ethnic identity.
The Rayagada district of Odisha is naturally gifted. Besides, the picturesque Nagabali River and Niyamgiri Hill the district also houses the popular Majhighariani temple. And apart from that another unique feature that makes this district special from others is the rich tribal presence. The ancient Dongria Kondh tribal people live in the Kalyansinghpur, Bisamkatak and Muniguda blocks of this district. These tribal people have their own lifestyle, culture, attire and wearing which are unique as well as different from other tribal people. Kalinga TV Digital comes up with a detailed report here.
The Dongria Kondhs live in villages located in the Niyamgiri hill ranges of Eastern Ghats, particularly in the Rayagada district in Odisha. The primitive Dongria Kondh tribe lives on this hill.
Ornaments are largely worn by the Dongria Kondhs. The design and style for the adornment of Dongria Kondhs reflect their ethnic identity. Both male and female members of this tribe wear abundant ornaments. And hence often it is difficult to differentiate between men and women. The only difference in the Ornaments worn by Dongria Kondh is the ‘Morma’, a nose-wearing. Men wear 2 and women wear 3 such as ‘Mormas’ or nose wearing. Besides, the male members do not wear ‘Andu’ (ankle) in the leg and ‘Sipana’, a hair clip.
When a child takes birth in a Dongria Kondh family, all the relatives present him/her ornaments as per their capacity. Sometimes it is seen that wealthier women wear more ornaments. Mainly the paternal and maternal aunts present ornaments.
Dongria tribal girls wear ornaments from Jhuntia on the feet to Mathamani on the forehead. Besides, the girls wear Antasuta at the waist, Khagala at the neck, Paja or Kankana in the hands and Mila Katri at the head. A knife is also a part of the ornaments for these ladies that are solely for self-defence.
With the birth of a girl child, people from other communities or classes choose her to make their daughter-in-law. And to make this choice reserved they present ornaments to her.
Within 21 days of birth, the girl child is given a nose and ear piercing. These days following modern trends, some girls who live out of home for studies are seen avoiding this tradition. Yet, this tradition is common, as rules play a vital role in these tribal people’s social life. And the ornaments of these tribal people are an attractive feature even for the foreigners who are seen visiting these tribal pockets to have a glimpse of these ornaments.
Another speciality of the ornaments of Dongria Kondhs is that only a certain caste of people makes it hereditarily. They are called ‘ghasi’. People of this community live in the Jhigidi and Dumbaruneli villages in the Bisamkatak block.
Yet another tradition of these tribal people is — all the things that a tribal man or woman uses are thrown away with his/her death. The pot in which he used to take meals and other things are thrown away. Nothing is hoarded. Earlier, the ghasi community people used to take these things to make ornaments out of it.
Afterwards, the Dongaria tribal people started to wear ornaments made of gold and silver. To show their family status, the women wear precious ornaments on their whole bodies. With time the rule was relaxed a bit and apart from the ghasi community, the Muli, Thatari and Banias also started making these ornaments.
The tradition of wearing ornaments to attract members of the opposite gender has been prevalent in the society of Dongaria Kondhs. Men and women of all age groups wear ornaments.
A Dongria youth can present an ornament to a Dongria girl if they choose each other. The status of a Dongria can be assessed by the ornaments he/ she wears.
After giving birth to a baby, these tribal women wear less number of ornaments. And thus in comparison to married women, bachelor girls wear more ornaments.
The Dongria Kondh community is a section of the Kondh community. About 17 types of ornaments are worn by the Dongria tribe. These ornaments are made of gold, silver, copper, Aluminium, iron and wood. During social functions, festivals and when going to the markets both males and females love to wear ornaments.
The women wear Sipna or Chipna (hair clip/hairpin), Aska (a small knife), Morma (nose or ear wearing), Nanguli (ear outerwear), Kagudika or Mekadika (necklace), Takamokadia, Ata Suta, Andu etc. Similarly, male members wear Sierien, Murma, Kagukadi etc.
Of course, these days it has been observed that the educated youngsters of this tribe have started to avoid wearing such ornaments after being motivated by modern trends.