Collection Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Austro-Asiatic speaking Nicobarese inhabit the Nicobar Islands, an eastern Bay of Bengal archipelago that is part of the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Most settlements are on the coast and consist of small villages of extended families, with village councils headed by a chief or captain; island councils and chiefs are the highest level of political organization. The Nicobarese have a mixed subsistence strategy that includes paddy horticulture, fishing, hunting, and gathering. The main crops are rice, maize, fruits, vegetables and, as cash crops, coconut and areca (betel) nut. On December 26, 2004 the coasts of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were devastated by a tsunami that left thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.


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


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.

Documents in this collection cover the late nineteenth to the outset of the twenty-first century, with a pronounced mid-twentieth century gap; the early works cover a wide range of traits throughout the archipelago, while the late studies focus on particular islands and topics. The major ethnographies are by Man ( 1889, 1932) and Whitehead (1924). Man served as an administrator in the region for thirty years. His earlier volume focuses almost entirely on biological anthropology. Whitehead was a traveler and linguist, who had published a Car Nicobarese dictionary and article on folk tales. The latter is included in the document. Chanda (1971) is a comparative study of three communities on the island of Car Nicobar. Reddy (1999) examines the people and community on Chaura (Chowra). Reddy and Sudarsen (1986) make a comparative study of the social structure and political organization of Car Nicobar, Chowra and Teressa. Chauhan et al. (2004) is a study of Car Nicobarese ethnobotany.

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

Ian Skoggard

danduse – giant barracuda – use FAUNA (136)

elpanam – community house – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)

hancheha – pig sacrifice – use PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)

hentakoi – carved or drawn figure – use MAGICAL AND MENTAL THERAPY (755) MAGIC (789)

inyun – fish trap – use FISHING GEAR (227)

kamuanse – lineage – use LINEAGES (613)

kamunchia – clan – use CLANS (614)

kareau – human figure carved from wood – use MAGIC (789) SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)

kavee kanala – island chief – use CHIEF EXECUTIVE (643)

kavee kunyee – lineage head – use CLANS (614)

kinem – ramage – use KINDREDS AND RAMAGES (612)

kinem ma – ramage head – use KINDREDS AND RAMAGES (612) COMMUNITY HEADS (622)

Kinruaka – ossuary feast – use CULT OF THE DEAD (769)

kunyee – unilineal descent group – use CLANS (614)

menluana – doctor-priest – use SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)

ning – loincloth – use NORMAL GARB (291)

tuhet – lineage – use LINEAGES (613)

yomkanala – agnatic kin group – use LINEAGES (613)

Indexing Notes by

Ian Skoggard

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