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Indian Heritage & Culture

Nilgiri Tribals Tensed Over Destruction of Rock Art

  • 03 Jun 2019
  • 3 min read

40% of the rock paintings in Karikiyoor at Kil Kotagiri in the Nilgiri forests have been destroyed by trekkers, tourists, and vandals.

  • Irula tribal community, who have an ancestral link to the Nilgiri forest’s rock art site, are extremely angered at the damage by illegal trekkers.
  • Scripts on the rock paintings in Karikiyoor resemble the script found in Indus civilization sites of northern India.

About Irula Tribe

  • Irula people reside in northern districts of Tamil Nadu and in some parts of Kerala.
  • Tribes have their origin from ethnic groups of Southeast Asia and Australia.
  • They speak Irula language that is closely related to Dravidian language like Kannada and Tamil.
  • Irulas are among the Particularly vulnerable tribal group.
    • The PVTGs are the marginalized section of the Scheduled tribes of India and are relatively isolated, educationally and socio-economically backward, living in a habitat far away from amenities.
    • PVTG is not a constitutional category, nor are these constitutionally recognized communities.
    • It is a Government of India’s classification created with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of certain communities with particularly low development.

Rock Art: Rock art is human-made markings placed on natural stone.

  • Rock art is often divided into three forms: petroglyphs, which are carved into the rock surface, pictographs, which are painted onto the surface, and earth figures, formed on the ground.
  • Rock art in India is extensively found in the caves of:
    • Bhimbetka caves: located between Hoshangabad and Bhopal, in the foothills of the Vindhya Mountains.
    • Bagh caves: located on the bank of Baghani river in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.
    • Jogimara caves: paintings were created before the Ajanta and Bagh Caves and belong to Pre-Buddha caves.
      • Situated at Amarnath near the origin of Narmada, in Surguja in Chhattisgarh.
    • Armamalai caves: Armamalai cave paintings located in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, are known for a Jain temple with ancient paintings, petroglyphs and rock art.
  • Significance:
    • The rock paintings serve, as a “historical record”, detailing the hunting habits and ways of life of the local communities.
    • Rock arts are used for ritualistic purpose by local residents.
    • Tribal communities rely on the rock arts for deriving their cultural connections by following the customs engraved in the rock art.
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