The Toda Tribe of a remote high region of Southern India have puzzled anthropologists since their first contact with Europeans in the 19th century,
some suggesting they could be a Lost Tribe of Israel or Sumerians, modern geneticists even in our times suggesting they appear to relate to Greek
Cypriots, which is interesting as when i first looked at them i considered their motifs in weaving most closely related to Anatolia in the early
Neolithic period, i'll do an overview then more closely explain that.
According to Insertions/Deletions Polymorphism in Tribal Populations of Southern India and their possible Evolutionary Implications, Human
Biology. Vol 75. No. 6 December 2003 by Vishwanathan, H., et al., the Toda & Kota have shared genes which separate them from the other Nilgiri Hill
Tribes and share their closest affinity to the Greek Cypriots.
The Todas are a small pastoral community living on the 7,000 Nilgiri Hills in South India. They believe in 1600 or 1800 superior godlike beings,
the two most important being On and Teikirzi. On is the male god of Amnodr, the realm of the dead, and he created the Todas and their buffaloes. He
was himself a dairyman.
Teikirzi is a female deity and more important with the people, whom she once ruled when she lived in the Nilgiris and established Toda social and
ceremonial laws. Most other deities are hill-gods, each associated with a particular hill. There are also two river-gods belonging to the two main
rivers. Toda religion is based on the buffaloes and their milk. The temples are the dairies
The Toda language belongs to the Dravidian family; it separated from Tamil-Malayalam circa 3rd century B.C. Todas' linguistic affiliations are with
South India and even their much-remarked physical characteristics - tall, with fairish skins, aquiline noses and so on - are neither true of all Todas
nor absent in the wider South Indian community
Central to Toda religion are sacred places associated with the community's dairy-temples, their related buffalo herds, appurtenances and priesthood.
These are not simply places where gods reside, but are themselves divine, the "gods of the places", the Todas say. Entry into a Toda dairy is
prohibited to all but Toda males of appropriate ritual status. But the dairy-temples are not "secret"; many are located within the munds
Toda dairies, buffaloes and dairymen are graded within a complex hierarchy according to relative sanctity, with different rules and
rituals pertaining to each grade. The higher the grade of a dairy, the greater the sanctity of its buffalo herds and the dairyman-priest who operates
it. And the more sacred a dairy, the more elaborate are the rituals that accompany the milking, churning and other daily activities of the
Apart from the "gods of the places", the Todas recognise another category of divine entities, the "gods of the mountains", because most of them
are associated with one or another Nilgiri peak.
Unlike the "gods of the places", these are anthropomorphic deities, some of whom, the Todas say, once lived on earth as humans, or, better, as
On was the son of Pithi. He created the buffaloes and the Todas in that order. In the Toda tradition we find instances where buffaloes are credited
with almost human intelligence. Many of the Todas maintain that they worship the buffalo as a deity. On created 1600 buffaloes, behind the last
buffalo came man, the first Toda.
On took one of the man’s ribs from the right side of his body and made a woman, the first Toda woman. On is now the ruler of the dead souls, after
he went there to visit his son Puv and stayed back in his son’s company.
The Dualistic tradition of the Toda with regards to the Divine brother and sister of the mountains is interesting, in that the male is concerned with
the spiritual aspects and the female with the Earthly nurtring, the buffalo cult suggests itself of similar importance as the bull was in the early
Neolithic period in Anatolia
Pinarkurs was On’s wife. She created some buffaloes too. On’s buffaloes were the special ones that the Todas possess, the Nilgiri buffalo.
Pinarkurs’ buffaloes were ordinary. This must be a system devised by the Todas to distinguish their breed of long-horned buffaloes and exalt their
status. The Toda traditions do account for the creation of other buffaloes, but do not account for the creation of other humans. On created only the
Todas. The other human beings are unaccounted for.
In making a comparison then with Anatolian motifs of the Neolithic from places such as Catal Hoyuk and Hacilar i noted that there the bull was an
important symbol of a tripartite belief system involving a symbolic colour scheme were Black indicated the Underworld, Red the intermediate realm of
Earth, and White the Celestial, these of course the the colours of the Toda.
Teikirzi was On's sister. She became in charge of affairs after On left for the realm of the dead. By some accounts the magnificent breed of long
horned buffaloes were created by this great female deity. It is possible that On was the creator, but after he left, Teikirzi was credited with
creation in hymns of exaggerated praise. Teikirzi dwells everywhere. She defined the rules by which the Toda is to live by. She divided the Todas into
14 clans and gave the various Toda settlements their sacred names.
This was the sacred colour scheme of the Neolithic as seen in their artwork, and the generative power of the horned bull, symbol of first creation
according to the Toda, would have been seen as a dynamic force proggresive through the levels.
The bull of Heaven did remain an important feature in religion even into the rise of civilizations such as Sumer and Egypt.
Looking at other Anatolian motifs one finds very direct comparison with those of the Toda in terms or the crosses and rosettes, and thus one needs to
consider how this could have arisen.
If the genetic evidence suggests a connection to Greek Cypriots that of course takes one close to Anatolia, and the first emigrations of the Neolithic
were from the core region into the Eastern Mediterannean, but that doesn't begin to explain how part of that migration found it's way to India!
There was certainly the spread of Neolithic technologies and motifs into Dravidian regions such as Northern India and Iran at an early
period, but that fails to explain how they arrived and survived in such pristine Anatolian form
Cypriote Greeks were part of the Persian armies 'Greek' mercenaries that were in some cases taken into the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great,
after Darius was defeated. It is possible that some of them journeyed on into India when Alexander was forced to turn back or they ended up in Bactria
and later made their way into India.
That seems unlikely, and the Toda themselves have no origin mythos other than having been created were they currently reside, and it fails to explain
why their cultural motifs appears so closely related to Neolithic Anatolian!
From Neolithic Anatolia to a remote region of Southern India with no stylistic variation...?
This is an interesting subject and since you have obviously done your homework on the topic, you must have an opinion as to how the Anatolia motifs
found their way into the Toba culture in southern India. I'm most interested in your speculation....
In a region torn apart by sectarian violence, it is truly a wonderful thing to witness the persistence of this beautiful, gentle culture. There are a
few other practices which set them apart, and are difficult to account for. They are polyandrous-- truly a rarity in this age or any other. A married
woman is considered wed to all her husband's brothers, which seems like a great way to ensure the line on the male's side without resorting to mate
Also, their sacred herds have been subject to attack by tigers recently. Tigers are scarce, pushed to look for prey in populated regions due to the
destruction of their habitat. Unlike their neighbors, however, the Toda abstain from hunting or harming the tigers.
It has often struck me that domestication is a two-way process: the animals we mold to our uses change us in turn. The Toda seem to have a strong grip
on that fact, and to have embraced it to their advantage.
The Sumerians did have the whole cattle and huts thing as well, and the curious fetish poles they placed on top can be sourced in origin to Anatolia,
as well as the symbol for Inanna also being seen, they still make them in the marsh region of Southern Iraq.
They do seem to have a good relationship with their cattle that just seem to wander around the village as a member of the community, perhaps the cows
sleep in the huts and the people outside, i'm not sure.
Well as i mentioned they insist that is their place of origin and i didn't take issue with that, but as for geometric tribal art all looking the same
to you i'm afraid that just seems like ignorance to me, for example try finding an example from elsewhere of the cross seen in the first picture.
I think the cattle enclosure structures he concerns himself with are much more recent than his astronomy based datings suggest, and there is no
associated cultural evidence or artifacts supporting his case, which just comes across as a commercial venture.
edit on 15-10-2013 by
Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)
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