Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Gond are a populous tribe of central India, concentrated primarily in eastern Madhya Pradesh. About half the Gond speak Gondi, while southern groups speak Parsi; both of the Dravidian language family. In northern regions, Gonds commonly speak local dialects of Hindi or Marathi. Originally hunters and gatherers, they became primarily agriculturalists in the twentieth century, first shifting horticulturalists and then mostly intensive agriculturalists. The basic political unit is the village community, in which leaders and officials are chosen by the inhabitants.


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


Asia --South Asia



OWC Code


Number of Documents


Note: Select the Collection Documents tab above to browse documents.

Number of Pages


Collection Overview

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

The Gond (AW32) collection covers a broad range of ethnographic topics dating from approximately 1854 to 2006, with an emphasis on the Gond tribes of Bastar State. The primary document in this collection is Grigson (1949, no. 1) dealing with the general ethnography of the Maria Gond, particularly the Hill and Bison Horn Maria tribal groups. Grigson's data are further supplemented by the ethnographic description of Gond cultural life in Fuchs (1960, no. 7), and in Elwin (1947, no. 2). The Grigson's, Elwin's, and Fuchs' studies, however, are limited in time depth to the early and mid-twentieth century. Other topics of ethnographic interest are: the description and analysis of the ghotul, a communal dwelling where the young people of the Gond villages live (Elwin, 1947, no. 2); murder and suicide among the Bison Horn Maria (Elwin, 1943, no. 3); genealogical studies of the Gond people in Bastar State (Sundar, 2007, no. 5); and sociocultural changes in Orcha village introduced by the Indian government (Jay, 1971, no. 6).

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

Adhkari –tax collectors– Use TAXATION AND PUBLIC INCOME ( 651)

Ahir –village herdsman or shepherd– Use PASTORAL ACTIVITIES ( 233)

Begar –forced labor– Use LABOR RELATIONS ( 466)

Belosa –female leader of the – Use STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554) with ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883)

Bewar –slash and burn cultivation– Use TILLAGE ( 241)

Bhagat –reform and revival movements in India– Use POLITICAL MOVEMENTS ( 668) with CULTURAL REVITALIZATION AND ETHNOGENESIS ( 1710)

Bhum –clan territory– Use SIBS ( 614) with REAL PROPERTY ( 423)

Chelik –male dormitory members– Use ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883)

Dewar –priest– Use PRIESTHOOD ( 793)

Diwan –an older married man who exercised general supervision over the – Use STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554) with ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883)

Dussehra –festivals– Use ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL ( 796)

Gaita –priest and religious headman– Use PRIESTHOOD ( 793)

Ghotul –the adolescents' and bachelors' dormitory– Use ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883) with STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554)

Gotra –the Gond kinship system– Use KINSHIP ( 600)

Gunia –soothsayer– Use MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS ( 791)

Hanal –spirits of the dead– Use ESCHATOLOGY ( 775)

Jatras –village festivals– Use ORGANIZED CEREMONIAL ( 796) and/or REST DAYS AND HOLIDAYS ( 527)

Kanyang –spirits– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776)

Kotwar –village watchman– Use POLICE ( 625)

Majhis –traditional headmen– Use COMMUNITY HEADS ( 622)

Menhirs –monuments for the dead– Use MNEMONIC DEVICES ( 211) with CULT OF THE DEAD ( 769) and/or BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS ( 764)

Motiari –female dormitory member– Use ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883)

Panchayats –village councils– Use COUNCILS ( 623)

Pangan –black magic– Use SORCERY ( 754)

Para –hamlets– Use COMMUNITY STRUCTURE ( 621)

Pargana –a subdivision of a district or state– Use TOWNS ( 632)

Paring –bride price– Use MODE OF MARRIAGE ( 583)

Pattis –clan units of the Hill Maria– Use SIBS ( 614)

Pen –clan god– Use SPIRITS AND GODS ( 776) with SIBS ( 614)

Penda –shifting agriculture– Use TILLAGE ( 241)

Polo –taboo– Use AVOIDANCE AND TABOO ( 784)

Siraha –medicine man; diviner– Use MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS ( 791) and/or SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS ( 756)

Sirdar –male leader of the – Use STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554) with ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES ( 883)

Taghali –a bark cloak used by the Hill Maria for warmth or protection against heavy dew or rain– Use SPECIAL GARMENTS ( 292)

Tahsil –a large subdivision of a district or state.– Use DISTRICTS ( 634) and/or TOWNS ( 632)

Thanedar –head of the police– Use POLICE ( 625)

Vans –phratries– Use PHRATRIES ( 615)

Wadde –a medium or priest– Use MAGICIANS AND DIVINERS ( 791) and/or PRIESTHOOD ( 793)

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

Close Box