Dear prof./dear all,
Just before that thousands people sand me protests against the use of "Tribal"
from the Oxford dictionary (on-line): Tribe = A social division in a traditional society consisting
of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or
blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a
do not find nothing negative in the noun "tribe" neither in the adj
"Tribal" that I'm used to write with capital letter as Hindu.
find more appropriate to speak of Tribal than to use the generic
"local/atochthonous"---that do not imply any cultural or religios tradition---or the negative NON-describers as
"non-Aryan/non-Sanskrit/non-Hindu/non-literary".The Tribal groups ARE, and in my opinion is more denigratory describe their culture as non-SOMETHING. I prefer to be a Tribal than a non-Aryan, I prefer to have an oral tradition than to have a non-written tradition, and so on. They are, their culture existed and still exists; and they influenced so deeply the mainstream Hinduism (and not only the Tantric phnemoena) that I'm wondering how it is possible to associate the word "Tribal" with negative connotations.
Going back to the problem.
J.C. Harle [(1963) "Durga Goddess of Victory" Artibus Asiae 26 (3/4): 237-46] wrote:
On the worshipping figures in the DurgA images, those at Pullamangai are carved in the greates detail, and a good deal can be discerned of their physiognomies and costume (fig. 4). Each has a curious mask-like face in which the eyes appear as narrow slits, and wears his hair in a kind of top-knot; the figure on the right has, in addition, a mustache and a close-cropped beard. Both wear scabbards hanging from the waist on the right side, and a garment which (where it can be seen) comes to a point in front between the legs. They are both naked above the waists and wear suvarna vaikakshakas (or channa viras), not sacred cords. It is worth nothing that in the ShilapaddikAram the Marvar, or at least the elders, are said to wear moustaches while in another work a beared "Marravan" leader is mentioned. Wheater or not, however, the beared man in the Pullamangai image may represent forest or desert people like Maravar, or else a member of some particular caste or comunity, too little is known about costume and physical types in Pallava and Cola times to be able to say. (pp. 245-6)
Thus even if it is uncertain the identification with Tribals, in my opinion (and I would like to have the right to guess, as most will guess that the two worshippers are not-Tribals) they are Tribals.
Furthermore, M. Tartakov and V. Dehejia (1984) "Sharing, Intrusion, and Influences: The Mahishasuramardini Imagery of the Calukyas and the Pallavas" Artibus Asiae 45 (4) 287-345, particularly see pp.329-30 and 340.
They seems to share the original idea of Harle that the devotees were not Hindus (and I'm not speaking of Indo-Aryan or Aryan).
I wish I clarify my position on the use of "Tribal" and explained better what I means when I used "somatic traits".