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Photographer's Note

The Irulas are a tribal community found in the Southern Parts of India. According to anthropologists, these people belong to the Negrito stock, the ancestors of these people are supposed to have come from, to India from Africa. The ethnic relatives of these people are now found in small pockets in the Indian mainland and in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Until recently, the Irulas used to live in the forest and had minimal contact with the neighbouting villages. They sold forest products like honey, beeswax and firewood.

The principal languages of the Irulas are Tamil and Telugu. The name Irula is believed to have been derived from 'Irul', Tamil for darkness. Some believe this word was applied to this tribe due to their dark complexion, while, others are of the opinion that it was used as the Irulas appeared as dark silhouettes in the forests in the past to other people.

The original occupation of these people was rat and snake catching. They traded the skins of the snake for money. however with the government of India enacting laws to prevent trade in snakeskins. The fragile Irula economy received a jolt. Many of the Irulas quit their ancestral profession and took to modern means of employment like working in rice mills and in fields.

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Additional Photos by Francine Aubry (faubry) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3073 W: 341 N: 4531] (35405)
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