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India: An Illustrated Atlas of Tribal World

India: An Illustrated Atlas of Tribal World
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About The Book This “illustrated Atlas of Tribal World” provides a comprehensive picture on the distribution of 418 tribal communities all over India. In addition, a brief account of major tribes of the states of union territories has been discussed highlighting their major concentration, language spoken by them, social organization, traditional primary occupation, religion and education. The atlas contains 31 Plates. Out of those, 4 Plates comprise the map of India. P...
About The Book

This “illustrated Atlas of Tribal World” provides a comprehensive picture on the distribution of 418 tribal communities all over India.

In addition, a brief account of major tribes of the states of union territories has been discussed highlighting their major concentration, language spoken by them, social organization, traditional primary occupation, religion and education.

The atlas contains 31 Plates. Out of those, 4 Plates comprise the map of India. Plate No. 1 contains growth and variation of the Scheduled Tribe Population, 1961-1991. This is shown through bar graph in each state/union territory. Plate No. 2 projects concentration of the Scheduled Tribe population, 1981. Plate No. 3 shows physiography and forest; and Plate No. 4 depicts distribution of major scheduled tribes, 1991. The remaining 27 plates of states/union territories have shown districtwise distribution of the Scheduled Tribes with ranking on population strength. Besides, Plate of each state comprises two inset maps viz., relief and forest along with a habitat profile.

The appendix of the atlas has included list of the Scheduled Tribes and their languages, primitive tribal groups, growth and variation of the Scheduled Tribes from 1961-1991. The atlas has also been enriched by a comprehensive list of glossary.


About The Author

Dr. Hrishikesh Mandal (b. 1944) professionally as Human Ecologist of the Anthropological Survey of India undertook different regional and national projects of the survey during last 25 years. His main area of interest in research work is Human Adaptation under different ecological conditions for which he was awarded Ph. D. degree by the University of Calcutta. Among his published works and edited book, writings on environmental issues and its management are noteworthy.

Only published map of this survey, India : Scheduled Tribes was thematically modified and reprinted under his coordination. Besides, another atlas on “the Scheduled Castes of India” is in progress for publication under his supervision.

Sumit Mukherjee (b. 1957) obtained Masters Degree in geography with specialization in cartography from the University of Calcutta. Since 1983 as Cartographer of the Anthropological Survey of India, he worked on the different tribal communities of the Himalayan region, viz., the Gaddis, Lahulas, Garos and the Khasis. He also undertook project on ‘the Onges of Little Andaman Island.’

Shri Mukherjee earned proficiency in mapping technology when he was in the Census of India for 1992-95. He published a good number of scientific papers and popular writings in reputed books and journals.

Dr. (Mrs.) Archana Datta (b. 1946), Research Associate of Anthropological Survey of India, obtained Masters and Ph. D. degree in Geography from the University of Calcutta. Her area of research work for Ph. D. was “Changing agro-economy – a case study in Serampore Subdivision”. She has carried out extensive field work in West Bengal, Bihar and Sikkim under different projects of the Survey. She has also credited a good number of published papers in the reputed journals and edited books.



The Anthropological Survey of India is not only a premier research institution studying Indian population, but also the only government organization in the world population established with a singular objective of surveying the human as a whole. Since its inception the Survey has undertaken a number of projects pertaining to the studies of bio-cultural aspects of Indian population, which are wide ranging and of immense interest. A number of its publications bears a hallmark as a records of insights into and exploration of human behavior and culture. It is felt that there is no single way to capture the totality of human society, its evolution, process of development and contemporary situation excepting through research monographs and papers. An attempt was made to prepare an ethnological atlas on a limited area of study and the project was approved in 1984 but was kept pending in order to complete some other national projects on priority basis.

After a long period of sixteen years when the idea of preparing an illustrated atlas of the Scheduled Tribes in India was evolved as a specific proposal of the new millennium, Dr. R.K. Bhattacharya, the Director of the Survey, was kind enough to encourage the idea with an understanding of the need and importance of an atlas on tribal communities, which can provide a visual impact about the spatial distribution pattern in relation to the ecological condition of their respective habitats. It was indeed a stupendous task to find the cultural traits of an individual tribe in a country like India with its complex physical and cultural characteristics and powerful traditional heritage. So, an attempt has been made to draw a districtwise distribution pattern of the tribal communities with a view to projecting the numerical ranking status of the communities in each state and union territory. Lastly, we have tried to depict regional profiles of tribal situation in this atlas so as to assess the sense of regional commonness and diversity in respect of physical type, language, occupational character, food habit, dress, etc. in different physical landscapes. However, the overall objectives in the preparation of the atlas has been to draw the attention of social scientists and administrators for planning and welfare in favour of tribal communities living in different ecological niches. The atlas comprises maps, charts and photographs with brief textual descriptions.

The preparation of this atlas has been made possible only because of the interest of Dr. R.K. Bhattacharya, Director of the Anthropological Survey of India, who had always extended his full support, cooperation, guidance and continuous inspiration from the day this project started. In fact, he had steered the entire work to give it a final shape of a publication within the stipulated period of one and half years. We are thankful to the Director, Survey of India, Map Publication, for certification of maps. Our sincere thanks are also extended to Dr. Swaran Singh, Deputy Director and Shri R.S. Rayappa, Human Ecologist of the Survey, who helped us in getting certification an clearance of these maps from the Survey of India.

The members of the Human Ecology Section namely, Smt. Sanchita Ghatak, Dr. Sudhanshu Gangopadhyay, Dr. P.K. Guha, Shri Swapan Saha and Shri Swapan Dutta were always beside us in extending all possible help and cooperation in collection of data and preparation of the base maps for this atlas.

In this connection it may be mentioned that as desired by the Director, the Ecology Section of the Survey was entrusted to update the map on Scheduled Tribes published in 1971. This year the Map of India : Scheduled Tribes was brought out in revised an modified form under his supervision and guidance. He had also expressed his willingness to prepare an atlas of the Scheduled Caste population in India as a separate volume. All the members of the Ecology Section have already started the base work and it is expected to be in a final shape by the end of this year.

In accomplishing this illustrated atlas, we were helped by various persons and organizations, specially the Survey of India, the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation; Language Division under the Registrar General of India; Director of Census Operations, West Bengal; Forest Survey of India; etc.

We are grateful to our Joint Director, Shri Deepak Tyagi who had given his valuable suggestions as and when required. We are deeply indebted to Dr. J.K. Sarkar, Deputy Director of the Survey, who had always encouraged and provided us with his official support and cooperation.

Our senior colleagues, specially Dr. A.K. Singh, Senior Ecologist and Dr. S.B. Chakrabarti, Deputy Director of our Survey had always offered their valuable suggestions and inspired us with their support.

Many friends and colleagues helped us at various junctures. Dr. R.K. Saha, Shri S. Sengupta, Shri A. Justin, Dr. S.K. Patil, Dr. B. FrancisKulirani, Dr. Amitabha Sarkar, Dr. (Smt.) Bharati Devi, Shri A.P. Nandan, Dr. Jyotirmoy Chakraborty, Dr. Sibir Ranjan Das, Shri Biplab Das, Shri Rabiranjan Biswas, Shri Gautam Bera, Shri Gautam Mallik and Dr. (Smt) Samira Das Gupta of the Cultual Anthropology Section helped us with their comments and valuable suggestions. Sarbashri Abhik De, Ashok Sarkar, Manoj Dutta, Sreedam Kundu and Gautam Bose, members of the Photography Section, helped us in providing relevant photographs necessary for illustration of the atlas.

We are grateful to the members of the Linguistic Section of this Survey, specially Dr. A.R. Das and Smt. Sakuntala De, who helped us in identifying the language groups and regional languages of the tribes.

Thanks are also due to Shri Julfikar Ostagar and Smt. Anima Pal for typing the manuscript. We are specially grateful to Smt. Pal for her promptness and sincerity in accepting and completing the work on time.

We express our gratitude to the members of the Printing and Publication Section of our Survey, specially Shri Pijush Mukherjee and Shri Biswarup Goswami, who extended their co-operation and suggestions regarding printing.

We take the opportunity to express our gratitude to M/s. Caps Micrographics, specially to Amitabha Ghosh, Manas Jana, Subhojit Banerjee, Prabir Mondal, Nitai Das, Gautam Das, Ujjwal Halder and other members of the organization who were directly involved in printing the atlas. In this connection we are also grateful to Shri Aftab Uddin Ahmed and Subhajit Banerjee who coordinated very sincerely and promptly with us in printing and publication.

Last but not least we express our thanks to Shri Umesh Kumar, the young and energetic officer attached to the Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, An. S. I., who took great pains in comparing and editing the first draft of the atlas.

It is our, maiden attempt in preparing this illustrated and thematic atlas which was designed and processed within a very limited time. Some errors and discrepancies might have crept in, for which we may be excused.



The Anthropological Survey of India (An. S.I.), a research centre of advanced study in the field of social science, is in constant endeavour to explore ideas and knowledge of human behavior and culture. Study on Scheduled Tribes in India under different ecological conditions has always been given special attention by the Survey and the reports have been published either as monographs or as articles. The preparation of this illustrated atlas has given a new dimension to the projection of tribal cultures in relation to their immediate physical environment. The atlas through thematic mapping is an answer to the need for understanding of cultural ecology.

In a country like India with its complex geo-physical and cultural characteristics and traditions, the distributional pattern of Scheduled Tribes is varied in nature. The aim of this atlas is to illustrate the distribution of these communities with their respective social structures in different ecological niches. The atlas will help social scientists, specially ethnographers, to obtain a quick and approximate answer to specific question about the content of culture of the Scheduled Tribes in different geographical region. The atlas will also help to explore the pattern of resource utilization by these tribes with the help of their traditional wisdom highlighting their role in regional set-up at diverse levels.

An ethnological atlas was prepared by the European Ethnological Atlas Commission sometimes in 1970, but in India this kind of atlas has not been available till date. George Peter Murdock illustrate an ethnographic atlas through indexing, but not through mapping (1967). In his atlas he had concisely tabulated the descriptive information on the peoples of the world on the basis of their economy, technology, marriage rules, social and political organization and some other cultural aspects. It is practically an ethnographic dictionary, more than an atlas.

N.K. Bose, a former director of the An. S. I., had interpreted some traits of material culture of peasant life in rural India through maps and sketches in his book, Peasant Life in India : A study in Indian Unity and Diversity (1961). In his book he depicted maps of zones and sub-zones and sub-zones for selected material traits which appeared to have persisted over long historical periods. His work, in the book, is restricted only to the peasant life of rural India. Munis Raja and A. Ahmed prepared An Atlas of Tribal India (1990) based only on the census data showing distribution of tribal population with demographic characteristics in maps, but communitywise distributions were not shown.

The present illustrated atlas deals with the study of tribal cultures in relation to their respective habitats. The content of the atlas is founded on data gathered through field investigation as well as from available material on the cultural elements of Scheduled Tribes in various geographical regions. The illustration of relationship between these tribes and their physical environment through habitat profiles, maps and photographs is unique and is a significant contribution to the discipline of Human Ecology in the Indian context, where similar works are conspicuously absent.

I am indeed honoured to present this atlas and am sure that this will be valued highly. I take this opportunity to congratulate the team of scientists who have worked on this atlas.



This is a maiden attempt in preparing an illustrated atlas, containing the distribution of the Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Republic. The tribes of India comprise about eight percent of the total population of the country having probably the largest number of tribal communities in the world (Topal et al, 2001). India, as a country of very diversified physiographic characters, has accommodated a number of these communities inhabiting different physical and cultural set-ups that act as controlling factors in determining their traditional occupation, food habit, dress, material culture, etc.

The main objective of the atlas is to reveal the districtwise distribution of the Scheduled Tribes of each state and union territory, where they are concentrated. It will help planners and researchers in formulating welfare programmes based on the distribution pattern of these tribes at district levels in relation to the physical and cultural background of their habitats.

It is important to understand the concept and definition of the term tribe. The concept of a ‘tribe’ differs from one scholar to another. The Administrator of the Census Operation, 1891 first realized the difficulty in determining the boundary line between tribe and caste. The Imperial Gazetteer of India in 1891 first defined a tribe as a collection of families bearing a common name, speaking a common dialect, occupying or professing to occupy a common territory. According to Majumdar (1961) “a tribe is a social group with territorial affiliation, endogamous, with no specialization of function, united in language or dialect.” According to Das (1945) “a tribe does not have any economic specialization.

Beteille (1960) explains that a tribe is in an ideal state, a self-contained unit. It constitutes a society in itself and its boundaries demarcate certain limits of interaction in the legal, political, economic and other spheres. However, the tribes are also termed by different names, such as, adivasi (the first settlers), bhumi-putra (son of the soil), janjati (folk people), adimjati (original community), vanyavasi or vanyajati (inhabitants of forests), girijan (hill dwellers), etc.

In fact, the definition of tribe is nebulous in character. But in general, tribe may be defined as a self-contained society adorned with specific culture of its own, confined absolutely to its own geographical boundary living in a separate world of isolation. He societies of the tribes are tied by common dialect, common resources for sustenance and traditional belief.

The President of India by his special power declared some indigenous groups in various pockets of our country as “Scheduled Tribes” on 26.1.1950 under Article 342 of the Constitution of India. Accordingly the 1981 Census recorded that 7.76 per cent of the total population of India was under Scheduled Tribes including 75 Primitive Tribal Groups (PTG). The list of PTG is given in “The Report of the working group on Development and Welfare of the Scheduled Tribes” -8th Five Year Plan 1989 (p.105), Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi.

The atlas has evolved 31 plates which comprise 26 states and four union territories. Only three states, viz. Delhi, Punjab and Haryana and two union territories, namely, Chandigarh and Pondicherry (Puduchcheri), are excluded, because Scheduled Tribes are not available there (see the Census record of 1981).

The data used for showing the distribution pattern of the Scheduled Tribes in the states/union territories as well as in the districts are taken from the 1981 Census. District boundaries of all states and union territories are shown as per the Census, 1981, but for Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand states the districts are shown as per the record of the 1991 Census. The three states are shown separately in this atlas due to dominance of tribal population. The population figures of individual communities for each district of the respective states are obtained from the Language Division, Under the Office of the Registrar General of India. For the Assam State the Census figures of 1961 and 1971 are used, as the census operation was not conducted there in 1981. The Scheduled Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir were notified in 1989. So, the population figures of the tribes in Jammu & Kashmir are obtained from the volume of Jammu and Kashmir under People of India series published by the Anthropological Survey of India. The 1981 Census has generally been used except when data not available; other Census reports have been followed in those cases.

The Census records provide a list of 427 tribes, but in this atlas some sub-groups of these tribes are merged with the main groups, such as, the Palleyans are merged with the Palliyans, the Kanikkarans with the Kanikkars, the Dubla Syns with the Dublas. The Bondos are merged with the Bondo Poraja. The Bhunias are considered as the Bhumias, the Idus are the sub-group of the Mishmis and the Kohimas are not included in the list. The syntengs are merged with the Khasis/Jaintias. In the Census report the Mrus are recorded only in West Bengal, but they could not be traced out by the Anthropological Survey of India during field investigation. As a result, a list of 418 communities has been included instead of 427. Each plate contains a state map showing the districtwise distribution available in the state listed in a box as per the rank of their population strength. The same rank numbers are again plotted in each district of the state map in a sequence showing the position of each community in that district by population strength.

Two inset maps, viz. Relief and Forest are also included along with a habitat profile in each plate. In the Relief map a generalized topographical character is shown by major contour lines, representing the variations of altitude by means of conventional colour scheme. A few spot heights and important drainages are highlighted. The Relief maps explain the nature of topography of the tribal habitat. The Relief maps are prepared on the basis of the physical map of India.

The forest inset map, given in each state plate depicts the extent and type of both dense and open forest cover. In total there are nineteen forest types shown in such maps which conform mostly to Champian’s classification scheme as modified by Puri. Additional category like Scrub, denotes areas with poor tree growth having a canopy cover of below 10 per cent. The extensive patches of different plantation crops viz., tea, coffee, rubber, cardamom, etc. are included under plantation while tree farm lands and groves are shown as a separate category. Snow covered areas in the inset Forest maps are shown in grey colour, which is also to be treated as no forest zone. The forest maps are based on the maps and reports of the Forest Survey of India (1999) and the Forest Atlas of the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO).

The habitat profile in each plate is prepared through a transect chart to project the geographical condition of tribal habitats. It includes the major physical parameters such as, relief, rainfall, temperature and forest type which are portrayed in composite form through the tier method. The distribution of major tribes has been profiled on the top of the corresponding tiers with a view to projecting the composite picture of the tribal habitat.

Thus, the habitat profile serves as a simple cartographic presentation of ecological conditions to understand the distribution pattern of the Scheduled Tribes living in a humid forest-clad plateau region or in the high altitude alpine zone. The topographic cross-profile along the line A-B on each map of the state or union territory is carefully depicted along the zone of maximum variation of physical features to highlight major physical divisions including the normal annual rainfall, normal annual temperature and forest type. The concentration of numerically dominant tribes has also been taken into consideration for this projection.

Each plate has been illustrated in the corresponding write up which contains the environmental background of tribal habitats including climate, soil and vegetation.

Distribution of tribal population along with the information on major concentration of tribes in the districts of the respective state/union territories is also explained. In addition, a brief account of major tribes of the state or union territory has been given, highlighting their major concentration, traditional and primary occupations, religions and education.

The atlas begins with a map showing the growth and variation of Scheduled Tribe population during the four census year, i.e. 1961, 1971, 1981, 1991 in India. It gives the chronological trend of Scheduled Tribe population in each state and union territory during the last thirty years. The next plate depicts the district level percentage of Scheduled Tribe population according to the 1981 Census grouped under six ranges to visualize the spatial details. The map on Physiography and Forest of India are placed in the next plate to have a comparative and correlative idea of tribal concentration in relation to major physiographic zones and the type of forest cover in the country. The last plate on India is devoted to demonstrate the latest distribution pattern of Scheduled Tribes based on the 1991 Census. The first five dominant tribes, population strengthwise are shown in the respective states and union territories along with the first rank community projected through background colours.

Arrangements of the state and union territory plates have been done on the basis of regional sequence as described in the chapter, Regional Profile of Tribal Habitat. Thus, India as a part of the sub-continent has been classified under the following regions, such as (1) North-Eastern Region (2) Eastern Region (3) Northern Region (4) Western Region (5) Central Region (6) Southern Region and (7) Bay Islands These regions are categorized considering distinctive feature of some common cultural traits. As a result, the tribal group of respective regions have some homogeneous characters which identify them as the inhabitants of a specific region through their languages, food habits, occupational characteristics and territorial distinctiveness. Lastly, the atlas has included a cartographic chart on literacy rate from 1961-1991 as one of the indicators of development.




  Preface I
  Foreword II
  Introduction III
(i) Arunachal Pradesh 8
(ii) Assam 11
(iii) Meghalaya 14
(iv) Nagaland 17
(v) Manipur 20
(vi) Mizoram 23
(vii) Tripura 25
(viii) Sikkim 28
(i) West Bengal 30
(ii) Bihar 33
(iii) Jharkhand 36
(iv) Orissa 39
(i) Uttar Pradesh 42
(ii) Uttaranchal 44
(iii) Himachal Pradesh 47
(iv) Jammu and Kashmir 50
(i) Rajasthan 52
(ii) Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli 55
(iii) Goa, Daman and Diu 58
(i) Maharashtra 61
(ii) Madhya Pradesh 64
(iii) Chhattisgarh 67
(i) Andhra Pradesh 70
(ii) Karnataka 73
(iii) Tamil Nadu 76
(iv) Kerala and Lakshadweep 79
  Andaman and Nicobar Islands 82
  Selected Bibligrophy 85
  Glossary of Terms 86
  Table No.  
i. Scheduled Tribes and their Languages in India 88
ii. Primitive Tribal Groups in India 89
iii. Growth and Variation of Scheduled Tribe population in India, 1961-1991 90
iv. Development Indicators of the Scheduled Tribes in India, 1961-1991 90
v. State/District Level Percentage of Scheduled Tribes in India, 1981 91
vi State/District Level Ranking on Scheduled Tribe Population in India, 1981 92-104
vii State Level Ranking on Scheduled Tribe Populaiton in India, 1991 105-106

Sample Pages

Item Code: NAF958 Author: Various Author Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2002 Publisher: Anthropological Survey of India Calcutta ISBN: 8185579652 Language: English Size: 13.0 inch X 10.0inch Pages: 112 (Throughout Color Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 1.155 kg
Price: $75.00
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