Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

Although the Kol people in general once were described as widespread and prominent throughout the central uplands of India, by the late twentieth century the Kol tribe proper could be found largely in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh states. The ancient language of the Kol has been replaced by Hindi and the Devanagari script. Once centered on agriculture, in the twentieth century subsistence came to be based on paid day labor and the collection of forest products, including firewood for sale. The Kol are divided into endogamous subunits known as [n]baenk[/n]. Governance at the community level is provided by councils of three elders, along with a headman chosen by villagers.


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Asia --South Asia



OWC Code


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author and date of publication.

The AW37 Kol collection deals with the Kol tribe of India living in Madhya Pradesh (formerly a major portion of the colonial era Central Provinces), and in Uttar Pradesh states. The major document for this collection is Griffiths (1946), written by a Methodist minister who spent fifteen years in Jubbulpore in the Central Provinces. Most of the material he collected refers to the Hinduized Kol, rather than those in the interior of the Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh whose customs differ somewhat in form and extent. Data include information on nearly all aspects of Kol ethnography such as the life cycle, social structure, marriage, religion, the family, magic and witchcraft, folklore, fine arts, and economics. Joshi (2003) presents a study of the distribution of land to Kol tribals in Chitrakoot district, Uttar Pradesh. Much of the emphasis in this work concentrates on the role of a civil society organization called the Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan (ABSSS) in implementing the government’s program in providing land to the poor and disadvantaged individuals in the society. Singh and Tripathi (2010) describe the case of the Kol people working as bonded laborers in the stone quarries and silica sand mines near Allahbad, India. The authors analyze the various conditions and factors that have been responsible for keeping the workers in this bonded condition for many generations.

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

Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan -- a local civil society organization -- Use Private Welfare Agencies ( 747 )

bawa -- spirit possession -- Use Revelation And Divination ( 787 )

bhut -- an evil spirit; ghost -- Use Spirits And Gods ( 776 ) and/or Eschatology ( 775 )

biris -- country cigarettes -- Use Recreational And Non-Therapeutic Drugs ( 276 )

chita -- See ghat

chharibardar -- assistant to the headman -- Use Local Officials ( 624 )

dadus -- feudal landowners -- Use Real Property ( 423 ) with Serfdom And Peonage ( 566 )

dai -- midwife -- Use Childbirth ( 844 ) and/or Medical Personnel ( 759 )

devi -- family goddess -- Use Spirits And Gods ( 776 )

dewahar -- shrine -- Use Sacred Objects And Places ( 778 )

ghat -- cremation place -- Use Burial Practices And Funerals ( 764 )

ghi -- clarified butter -- Use Dairying ( 234 )

gotar -- See gotra

gotra -- clan -- Use Clans ( 614 )

kathas -- sacred stories -- Use Verbal Arts ( 5310 )

kurhis -- castes -- Use Castes ( 564 )

mahata -- community headman -- Use Community Heads ( 622 )

malguzar -- landlords -- Use Renting And Leasing ( 427 )

marghat -- See masan

masan -- burial place -- Use Burial Practices And Funerals ( 764 )

nai -- barbers -- Use Beauty Specialists ( 305 )

panch -- community council -- Use Councils ( 623 )

panchayat -- See panch

panda -- Kol priest -- Use Priesthood ( 793 )

pandit -- wise man -- Use Status Role And Prestige ( 554 )

pattas -- land titles -- Use Real Property ( 423 )

sadi -- wedding ceremony -- Use Nuptials ( 585 )

SHG -- self-help group -- Use Social Relationships And Groups ( 571 )

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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