Toda men and woman
Photographer: Unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of two Toda men and a woman 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 III 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. The Todas live in communities in the Nilgiri Hills and their livelihood revolves around the local grasslands called 'sholas' and the herds of buffalo which they tend there. They have a rich tradition of crafts and are famous for their jewellery and elegantly draped cloaks and shawls that are decorated with traditional black and red embroidery. The garments worn by both the men and women in this tribe are made of a thick coarse cotton cloth that has a red stripe or border and is hung over the left shoulder, brought across the back and forward under the right arm. The point is then flung backwards over the left shoulder again, leaving the right arm free, which allows the folds to fall down to the knees.