Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Santal are the largest of the tribal populations in South Asia. They live in India in the adjoining provinces of Bihar, West Bengal, and Orissa. Originally the Santal were probably hunter-gatherers who switched largely to farming and animal husbandry. Migratory labor is very important, with many Santals working in plantations, mines, industries and professional occupations, such as nursing. Santali is an Austro-Asiatic language


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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 Santal file consists of 10 English language documents. The most comprehensive of these are the works of Skrefsrud (1942, no. 2), Mukherjea (1962, no. 3), Biswas (1956, no. 4), Culshaw (1949, no. 5), Archer (1974, no. 6), Carrin-Bouez (1991, no. 9), and Kochar (1970, no. 10). These works, in conjunction with other documents in the file, cover a wide range of topics in the field of general ethnography with particular emphasis on culture history, regional differences within the culture, life cycle events, poetry and songs, ceremonies and festivals, sex, love, tribal law, cultural change, and folk-tales. The time coverage for this file extends from approximately 1820 to 1989, with heavy reliance on data coming from the Santal Parganas district.

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

This culture summary is based on the article "Santal" by Marine Carrin-Bouez, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol.3. 1992. Paul Hockings, ed. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. Population figures were updated by John Beierle in December 1996. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in December, 1996.

Overview by

John Beierle

BARE ITAT -- "brother's due" -- categories 583, 431

BHANDAN -- the final feast of mourning -- category 765

BITLAHA -- a mass punishment for major tribal offenses -- categories 681, 684, 796, 626

BONGAS -- spirits; also Santal ancestors -- categories 776, 769

BUNGLOW -- the grouping together of several villages under the leadership of the PARGANAIT -- category 634

CACO CHATIAR -- a puberty or initiation ceremony -- category 881

CHOWKIDAR -- a village policeman appointed by the government -- category 625

DAI BUDHI -- midwife -- categories 844, 759

DIHIRI -- the hunt priest -- categories 224, 793

DIKU -- foreigner or outsider -- categories 648, 609

DOL BAPLA -- the standard form of wedding -- category 585

GHARDI JAWAE (GHAR JAWAE) -- son-in-law -- category 606

GODET (GORET) -- bailiff and messenger of the headman -- category 624

GONON PON -- bride price -- category 583

HANDI -- rice beer -- category 273

JIVI -- the soul -- category 774

JOGMANJHI -- the censor of morals -- category 624

KHUT (KHUNT) -- sub-clans -- category 614

KUDAN NAEKE -- a co-priest -- category 793

KUTUM -- kindred -- category 612

MANJHITHAN -- a shrine -- categories 778, 346

NABHGU -- the village headman -- category 622

NAEKE -- the village priest -- category 793

OJHA -- a magician or shaman -- category 756

PARANIK -- the deputy headman -- category 624

PARGANA -- a loose organization of villages in a region -- category 634

PARGANAIT (PARGANATH) -- leader or chief of the PARGANA village organization -- categories 634, sometimes with 692; as a government appointed revenue and police officer -- categories 625, 651, 634

PARIS -- clans -- category 614

RUM -- the process by means of which the spirits make known their wishes --category 787

SENDRA DURUP (LOBIR DURUP) -- native high court -- category 692

TAKA CAL -- bride price payment -- category 583

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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