Baiga - Settlements



The Baiga build villages either in the form of a large square or with houses aligned on the sides of a broad street (approximately 10 meters in width). Villages are located in areas convenient for cultivation with consideration also being given to the aesthetic value and degree of isolation of the intended site. Village locations vary (jungles, high hills, and valleys), but, whenever possible, a location atop a steep hill (with Limited access by footpath) is preferred. The village boundary ( mero ) is marked by a large expanse of land (approximately 30 meters wide) and is delimited by intermittently placed piles of stones. The boundary is reinforced by a magic wall intended to protect against wild animals and disease. The Village burial place ( marqhat ) is located within this boundary. The fourth side of the village (which is open) is protected by either a bamboo or cactus hedge. Individual residence units within the village are detached structures connected by narrow roads. Surrounding the village one finds bari (land set aside for the cultivation of tobacco, maize, and sweet potatoes). Pig houses ( guda ) are attached to each house within the village square. Cattle sheds ( sar ) are similar in structure to and barely distinguishable from human habitations. Platforms ( macha ) for drying and storing maize are found in the center or at the side of the village square. Granaries, corporate houses, temples, and shrines are absent from Baiga Villages. A small compound ( chatti ) for use by travelers and Officials is located outside the village square. Often these squares are dominated by a single family and its relatives; members of other families build their houses in small groups at some distance from the main area of habitation. A typical Baiga house is rectangular in shape. It usually has a small veranda and a single entrance. The interior is divided into two parts by grain bins or a bamboo wall. The first room contains stands for water pots and a fire kept burning for warmth. The inner room has a hearth for cooking, behind which is a place for the gods ( deosthan ). Access to the inner room by outsiders is prohibited. The veranda of the house contains the rice husker, pestle, and grindstone.


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