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Regions with significant populations
Tamil Nadu, Kerala
Tamil, Malayalam
Related ethnic groups
Dravidian people

The Kuravar is an ethnic Tamil community native to the Kurinji mountain region of southern India.[citation needed]


The Kuravar name derives from the kundru and avan word "Tamil" ("hill man" in English)[citation needed]


Kuravar is an ancient clan mentioned in the Sangam literature, along with Kallar and Maravar. Kuravar were amongst the inhabitants of Kurinji land as "the hunters and the gatherers, the people of foothills" along with Poruppan (the soldiers), Verpan (the leaders of the tribe / weaponists), Silamban (masters of martial arts / the art of fighting), and Kaanavar (the people of the mountainous forests).

The kula theivam was a clan god in Kurava and was Murugan. it was assumed[by whom?] to be one of the gods of ancient Tamil country. the clan inhabited the mountainous regions of Tamil Nadu and used bamboo grass in large quantities. During their hunting and gathering stage, they used bamboos against animals. In a later Civilized settlement stage, Kuravas also used bamboos as a self-defence weapon which, later was transformed into silambattam of Tamil country. The self-defence art with a silambattam is still considered to be a known and appreciated fighting art of Maravars, Kallars who are the other native people of Tamil country.

During the first quarter of the 12th century AD, areas of Kanyakumari district was brought under the fold several kings: Konanki Kuravar, Bommayya Kuravar and Nanchil Kuravar. A Classic Period of the Kingdom of NanjilNadu (modern day Nagercoil Region of Tamil Nadu)started with the accession of a Konanki Kuravar, who was an alchemist establishing his way over Kottar, Suchindram and other places. There are literary evidences that the Kingdom of NanjilNadu was Ruled by "Kurunji Nattan NambiRajan", also called as Naga Raja, a Kurava king. Historical evidences can be traced back from the spots of Idukki District in Kerala. Places like Ramakkalmedu, kuravanmala, Kurinjimala, Idukki arch dam (it is the largest arch dam in Asia) are the places showing the Early ages of Kuravas of South India. Among these group of people, the most disadvantaged section is Narikuravar who still live as gypsies now placed under Most Backward Community list of Tamil Nadu. They were once travelers on the high roads of freedom, crafting their own destinies as hunters, gatherers, traders, transporters and craftsmen, but exist today in the no-mans-land of the settled world. Nevertheless, they persist. People of this community are called with different names in different parts of South India. They are called as Sidhanar in Kerala. In essence, all these communities form a big community from south India. The gothras among all these communities is the same, i.e. Kavadi, Sathupadi, Maanupadi, pondarikula, Mendraguthi etc...

The main occupation of the people, who originally belong to the indigenous tribes, is hunting. But as they were prohibited entry into the forests to pursue this livelihood, they were forced to take up other alternatives.

Colonial era[edit]

During British rule in India they were placed under Criminal Tribes Act 1871, hence stigmatized for a long time, after Independence however they were denotified in 1952, though the stigma continues.[1]

The 1906 publication the Travancore State Manual, of the princely state of Travancore, contains an entry describing the Kuravar:

The Kuravars, a race bearing resemblance to the Vedars or hill-men, form a pretty large community in Travancore, numbering 53,584 according to the last Census. The names of some places and tradition show that they must have been holding sway over some small territories on this coast. They are divided into several groups some of which are the Kunta Kurava, the Pandi Kurava, and the Kakka Kurava. Like the Pulayas they form the chief field labourers in the taluqs in which they live. They are found in the greatest number in Kunnattur, Chirayinkil, and Kottarakara. The Kunta Kurava, the most important sect among the class, resemble the Nayars in several respects. They are divided into Illam, Swarupam, &c, and follow the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. They also celebrate the Kettu Kalyanam and Sambandham and observe sixteen days' death-pollution like the Nayars. They bury their dead and are considered extremely low in the social scale. Primary education has not made any progress among them. Barely four in a thousand can read and write.[2]


The whole population of Tamil Nadu knows that Narikuravar Community as Tribal Gypsies but the subsequent Governments Denied that fact and helped the reservation mechanism which systematically oppressed this group of people who were already been oppressed for ages by their own Tamil people. This has led to protests and resentment from the community.[3] However, the Narikuravas are yet to be recognized as a scheduled tribe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Meena Radhakrishna (2006-07-16). "Dishonoured by history". folio: Special issue with the Sunday Magazine. The Hindu. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  2. ^ Travancore (Princely State); Aiya, V.N. (1906). The Travancore State Manual 2. Travancore government Press. p. 402. Retrieved 2015-07-05. 
  3. ^ "Narikuravas running from pillar to post for ST status". The Hindu: Friday Review. January 14, 2005. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 


See also[edit]



  • Hobson, Will; John L. Varriano, Viramma, JosianeRacine, Jean-Luc Racine (1997). Viramma: Life of an Untouchable. Verso. ISBN 1859848176.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  • Hatch, William John (1928). The Land Pirates of India. Seeley, Service & Co. 
  • Chatty, Dawn; Marcs Colchester (2002). Conservation and Mobile Indigenous Peoples. Berghahn Books. ISBN 1571818421. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Hatch, William John (1928). The Land Pirates of India. Seeley, Service & Co. 
  • Vijayathilakan, J. P. (1977). Studies on Vaagrivala. Madras Christian College, Department of Statistics. 
  • Sathyanandan, D. Theodore (2000). The Problems of Narikorava Community in Tamilnadu. Christian Literature Society. 
  • Thurston, Edgar; K. Rangachari (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India Volume IV - K: Kuruvikkaran, Pg 181 to 187. Madras: Government Press. 

External links[edit]