Kota men, with forge
Photographer: Unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Kota men, from the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, with a forge, taken by an unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts in c. 1871-72. This photograph forms Plate XVI of James Wilkinson Breeks 'An Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilgiris' (India Museum, London, 1873). Breeks was the Commissioner of the Nilgiris and wished to make a record of the indigenous hill-tribes of the region before their way of life, customs and legends died out due to increasing western influence. The Kotas live in large communities, each village containing anywhere from 30 to 60 huts that are built with mud walls and covered with thatch grass. Of the Kotas he wrote, "Every village has three or four forges, where they work with the usual...bellows, pincers and hammers. In one village I saw a European anvil. There is iron ore in small quantity in the plateau, but no attempt is made to smelt it. The metal used by the Kotas is brought up from Coimbatore in a semi-fused mass, full of impurity."