Photographer: Unknown photographer from the Madras School of Arts
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of three Toda women 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 IV 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. Toda women often wear their hair parted in the centre with long ringlets hanging down their back. Their dress consists of a robe similar to that of the man that is thrown over both shoulders and clasped in front by their hands.