Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Bhil are the third largest (after the Gond and Santal) and most widely distributed tribal group in India. They live in the Vilndhya and Satpura hills region in the western portion of central India straddling the borders of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan states. Their language belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages. The traditional subsistence of the Bhil was based on hunting and gathering, and later supplemented by slash-and-burn horticulture. Descent is patrilineal.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --South Asia



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The AW25 Bhil collection of documents, all in English, deal with a population that comprises the third largest (after the Gond and Santals) and most widely distributed ethnic group in India. The user of this collection should exercise particular caution inasmuch as greater tribal diversity is likely to be present in this group than is the case with smaller and more localized cultures. Two major studies of traditional Bhil ethnography will be found in Naik (1959, no. 4) and Nath (1960, no. 6). Naik’s work deals with the Rajpipla and Western Khandesh regions of western India, while Nath’s is concerned with the Ratanmal area of northwestern India. Both of these documents however are limited in time depth covering culture history and ethnography only through the mid 1950s. More recent studies deal largely with problems of culture change and effects of acculturation on the society, as indicated in Doshi (2005, no. 10), Hooda (1996, no. 12), and Ram (2004, no. 13). Other major topics deal with marriage in conflict with the Indian Penal Code in Singh (1987, no. 9), and the status and position of women in terms of changing cultural perspectives, in Mann (1985, no. 11).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

Atak – clans - use "SIBS (614)"

Badwas - white magicians - use "MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS (791)"

Bhaibeta – members of the leading lineage group - use "LINEAGES (613)"

Bhopa – temple keepers; priests - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)" and "MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS (791)"

Da Mota – council of elders - use "COUNCILS (623)"

Dapa – bride price - use "MODE OF MARRIAGE (583)"

Gam – alternate name for village - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Ghar-Jamai relationship - use "MODE OF MARRIAGE (583)"

Gotras – clans - use "SIBS (614)"

Karhau – sublineages under bhaibeta - use "LINEAGES (613)"

Nal – clan segment or lineage - use "LINEAGES (613)"

Pal – the village - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Panch – village assembly - use "COUNCILS (623)"

Phala – hamlets - use "COMMUNITY STRUCTURE (621)"

Tad – extended family- use "EXTENDED FAMILIES (596)"

Tadvi – village headman - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Talātī – village accountant - use "ACCOUNTING (451)" and "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Waatawaala – deliberators - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)" and "LEGAL AND JUDICIAL PERSONNEL (693)"

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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