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The Toda Landscape: Explorations in Cultural Ecology

Tarun Chhabra (Author) Anthony R. Walker (Foroward)

The Toda people of the Nilgiris District in south India are one of the oldest indigenous groups in South Asia; they are also reportedly among the most studied and written-about in the region. While the field was dominated by Western scholars in the beginning, Indian researchers and writers began contributing to Toda studies from the early twentieth century.

The Toda Landscape: Explorations in Cultural Ecology represents a major breakthrough in Toda studies. From his interactions with the Todas from 1990 onwards, the author, Tarun Chhabra, has collected and analysed ethnographic data that had eluded even the greatest of Western ethnographers. Through his first-hand narrative accounts of important Toda rituals, ceremonies and routines, all accompanied by visual documentation in the form of photographs and maps, he provides new data that will significantly aid the preservation of Toda traditional culture.

The Toda Landscape highlights previously unknown aspects of Toda cultural heritage:

Their sacred geography-sacred waters, sacred hills, and sacred trees and rocks.

Some sacred institutions, which have their own distinct, hitherto undocumented, rituals and the intricacies of their traditional attire and embroidery motifs.

The entire domain of Toda ethnobotany.

The complex interweaving of myth and reality in Toda lives, evidenced in the routes Toda spirits are said to follow to their afterworld.

With its detailed descriptions of sparsely documented aspects of Toda life, all complemented with stunning photographs, The Toda Landscape is an invaluable addition to the field of social anthropology and cultural studies. Its focus on ethnobotany and the flora and fauna of the Nilgiris region will also greatly help students and scholars of environmental studies and botany.

Contents: Preface. 1. Introducing the Toda people and their homeland. 2. The Toda landscape. 3. The Toda clans: their hamlets and other sacred places. 4. Toda dress and embroidery. 5. Journey to Nhyoollnn. 6. The traditional Toda relationship with honey. 7. Konawsh: structure and occupancy. 8. Sacred peaks. 9. Sacred waters. 10. A journey to the afterworld. 11. Flowers in my Toda garden. 12. Cornerstone plants of the Todas. 13. Balsams of the Nilgiris. Epilogue. Appendices. Index.

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About the author

Anthony R. Walker

Anthony Walker, a social anthropologist, was educated at Tobridge School, Kent (1954-9), Osmania University, Hyderabad (B.A. 1961) and Oxford University (Dip. In Anthropology 1964, M. Litt. 1965, D. Phil. (1972). He has worked as research officer at the Tribal Research Institute, Chiang Mai, Thailand (1966-70) and taught socio-cultural anthropology, with special reference to India and Southeast Asia, at the Science University of Malaysia, Penang (1972-79), the National University of Singapore (1979-86) and the Ohio State University (1986-96). He was Fellow in charge of ethnographic research at the University of the South Pacific’s Institute of Pacific Studies in Suva, Ffiji (1996-99) before moving to his present post in the anthropology and sociology unit at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Walker has conducted fieldwork among the Toda (since 1961) and among the Lahu (in North Thailand since 1966 and in Yunnan, China, since 1990). Among the books he has authored or edited are Farmers in the Hills: Upland North Thailand (1975), The Toda of South India: A New Look (1986), The Highland (1992), New Place Old Ways: Indian Society & Culture in Modern Sigapore (1994), Mvuh Hpa Mi Hpa: An Epic Myth of the Lahu People in Yunnan (1995), My Village, My World: Everyday Life in Nadoriam Fiji (2001) (with Solomoni Biturogoiwasa) and Merit and the Millennium: Routine and Crisis in the Ritual Lives of the Lahu Peoples (2003). Anthony Walker is married to Pauline Hetland, his ever reliable and vigilant editor. Their son, Michael Arun, has a degree in Fie Arts; his illustrations grace several of his father’s books, including the cover of this volume.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Toda Landscape: Explorations in Cultural Ecology
Format Hardcover
Date published: 27.10.2015
Edition 1st. ed.
Language: English
isbn 9788125060017
length 624p.,