Kond - Economy

Rice is the staple of the Kond, and both dry and wet cultivation are practiced in the foothills; maize and lentils are also important crops. Turmeric and mustard seed for oil, as well as grain and legume surpluses, represent the cash crops. Cattle are domesticated both for their milk and as draft animals; occasionally they are slaughtered for their meat. Pigs are kept both for their meat and as sacrificial animals. Chickens and goats are kept as well for all their economic benefits; jungle products such as teak hardwood (the most valuable tree in the forest) are cut, collected, and sold to the Pan wholesalers. Cooking is very plain, featuring nothing like the rich curries found elsewhere in India. Except for linseed oil, which is used to grease pots for cooking vegetables, oil is not used in cooking; instead, everybody uses it on skin and hair. Wild boars, deer, and hares are occasionally hunted and their meat is dried in the hot sun and stored in earthen pots. Distilled spirit made of the mahua blooms is a popular alcoholic beverage.

The Kond's neighbors the Pan act as middlemen in all trade between the Hill Kond and the Hindus from the plains. Exchange relations between villagers are still more prevalent than money except near market towns. Reed sleeping mats and soft grass sweeping brooms are popular crafts the men engage in, during the off-season from work in the paddies; these are in demand on the plains.

The men of a household are responsible for the hill-plot preparation, such as deforesting the land and moving large rocks, and for the leveling of the wet paddy fields. Plowing is strictly a man's business; in fact, it is taboo for a woman to touch a plowshare, the male symbol that penetrates the female earth. Threshing the paddy is a man's job and is temporarily stopped if the wife is menstruating. Women generally do all the cooking, the planting and weeding in the paddies, and the raising of the young. Young and old generally patrol the fields to protect them from birds and deer that feed on the rice seedlings.

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