Andamanese - Settlements

Andamanese settlement patterns are based on seasonal changes. During the relatively dry season (from October to February) simple thatched lean-to huts are set up in a circular formation close to the coastal area by four families or more. All huts face the central campground created by the surrounding huts. Usually the separate huts for the unmarried men and newly married couples do not form a part of the huts surrounding the campground. During the months of May to September, the Andamanese move from the coast to the forest where pigs are hunted and honey, fruit, and tubers are collected. Violent rainstorms, which occur from May to September, make it impossible for the Andamanese to hunt turtles, dugongs, or fish from their canoes. The move from the coast to the forest is marked by a change in settlement pattern: though camps are set up in the forest as they are at the coast, only four or five families stay in one camp. As the wet season ends, each family moves to its clan's traditional hut, which is circular and houses from fifteen to twenty sleeping platforms. A clan's hut is stationary and is maintained throughout the year by the men of the clan. With the exception of a clan's hut, all housing is temporary. A clan's hut, usually 5 to 7 meters in diameter, has a woven thatched roof and side walls. Permanently installed sleeping platforms for each nuclear family are arranged circularly within each hut. Housing, in the forest and at the coast, is usually dismantled before leaving a campsite. At each new campsite—selected for its proximity to fresh water and firewood—a new sleeping platform, about 70 centimeters above the ground, is constructed for each hut. Each family retains its sleeping mats and log head-rests and moves them to each new campsite. The government of India has constructed wooden houses situated on 2-meter stilts for the Great Andamanese and the Ongees. Some families use these, but among the Ongees they are not very popular and the structures are used primarily for storage.

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