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Combs: Tribes in India

Bharati Debi (Author) Anshu Prokash Nandan (Author)
Synopsis A comb is far hair care, a necessary item of cosmetry, one item that is possessed by every individual, a visit to the market will reveal the variety of combs that are available and a visit to the barber will educate as to the special uses of a variety of combs of which the barber seems to be a veritable master. Almost no Victorian novel does not have passages devoted to the silver hair brushes and mirror laid on the new bride’s dressing table. No marriage in India can do without this being a part of the dowry/trousseau of both bride and the groom. The barber who symbolizes the comb and the scissors is a part of major Hindu life cycle rituals. It is difficult to trace the origins of the comb from long ago in time, protohistorical evidences suggest that this item had been fashioned quite early in response to man’s need for grooming. What is it of the comb that imparts this transcendence from an ordinary implement/tool to such ritual and social importance? What has been its place from ancient to the present times? What are the materials used in its making? What does it mean to different communities? The world of the tribes offers us a glimpse into the rich heritage of the comb involving not only a host of emotions, but also aesthetic sense and artistic skill, the comb holds as yet a place of special significance in the lives of some tribes. Here the traditional and the modern combs exist side by side, one having special cultural value and the other an item of utility. The care that is imparted to its fashioning and the embellishment that adorns it is reflected on other items of personal use like knives, arrows and bows. The uniqueness of the combs used by the tribes of India lies in the fact that the handicrafts are made by themselves, barring however, the metallic or plastic combs. Combs are made of wood, bamboo, soft roots, bone, horn. Metal and plastic, implements used are small saw, knife, chisel, adze and hot iron wire. The youth among certain tribes patiently work on combs to present them to their sweethearts.
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About the author

Anshu Prokash Nandan

Anshu Prokash Nandan is one of the senior scientific staff members in the Anthropological Survey of India. He is mostly associated with tribal studies having travelled extensively and carried on intensive field investigation in the tribal pockets of Bastar in Madhya Pradesh, Koraput in Orissa and Ranchi in Bihar. His valuable studies have come out in various reputed scientific journals and edited books.

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Bibliographic information

Title Combs: Tribes in India
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2002
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8185579695
length 28p., 22cm.