Bondo - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Bondos engage in most of the major subsistence activities. Wild birds are caught, rats and hares are hunted, fish and crabs are netted or trapped, pigs, cattle, goats, and chickens are domesticated, and crops are grown. Roots, tubers, wild vegetation, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, fruit, red ants, date-palm grubs, dung beetles, and silkworms (for medicinal purposes) are collected for consumption. However, the most important part of the Bondo subsistence cycle is agriculture. Three types of cultivation are practiced: dry cultivation of plowed fields on a level grade; shifting (slash-and-burn) cultivation on steep hills; and wet cultivation (of rice) on terraced and irrigated fields. The following crops are planted in the hill tracts: pulses, cucumbers, castor-oil bush, and millet. Dry rice, ragi, and Niger seed ( Guizotia abyssinica, a native of Africa that yields cooking oil) are grown in level ground. Axes (to cut trees and brush), hoes (for turning soil after the sowing of seeds), and dibbles (for drilling holes to plant various seeds) are used in the cultivation of hillsides. The plow is the major implement used in dry cultivation. Canals, gutters, plows, and levelers are the implements for wet cultivation. A few necessities and luxuries are obtained by the Bondo from outside sources (e.g., a small number of cooking vessels, iron implements, personal ornaments made of beads, and a small quantity of colored cloth).

Industrial Arts. The Bondo community is almost wholly self-sufficient. The following are manufactured internally: cloth, personal ornaments (made of bark and leaves), gourds, alcoholic beverages, pipes (for tobacco smoking), coats (of bark or leaves), and umbrellas (of bark or leaves).

Trade. The following are procured through trade: pots and cooking vessels (in limited number), brass and bead ornaments, iron implements (from local blacksmiths), and Colored cotton.

Division of Labor. Men and women share various tasks. According to Elwin women assume a disproportionate share of this commonly shared labor. The clearing of fields, carrying of water, care of children, weaving of cloth, husking, grinding, preparation of household floors, bearing of wood (during the Hindu month of Jeth), extraction of fiber from kereng ( Calotropis gigantea ) bark for yarn, and the cutting of hair (of adult women) are among the duties assumed by women. Women are also allowed to divine the causes of sickness, but they are not permitted to prescribe treatment for specific maladies. There are ritual restrictions that prevent men from performing some of these duties. Men plow, bear burdens requiring the use of a carrying pole, make mats, hunt, offer sacrifice, divine and treat sickness, cut trees, and play drums and the majority of other musical instruments during festival observances. Correspondingly, there are ritual prohibitions that prevent many of these tasks from being performed by women.

Land Tenure. Individual families are considered by other Bondo to "own" several tracts of land on the hillsides, which they cultivate in rotation. They have no real legal title to this land, even though they sometimes mortgage it or sell it to others. In the recent past poor people sometimes rented such hillside clearings by paying meat and liquor to the supposed owner.

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