Mukkurti Tiriari and Palals
Photographer: Unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Mukkurti Tiriari and Palals from the Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu, taken by an unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts in c. 1871-72. This photograph forms Plate XII 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 influences. He recorded five types of priest among the Toda, one of which, the Palal, is pictured here. The Palal is a mixture of an ascetic and a herdsman and lives in an isolated Mund (village) called a Tiriani. He holds a powerful position, having great influence on the members of the tribe who approach him for counselling. Breeks wrote: "There are about nineteen Tiriani's occupied at certain periods of the year by five Palals; two whose headquarters are near Mukkurti Peak..."[this image].