Kota - Settlements



Six villages of the Kotas host 100-300 people in roughly twenty-five to sixty-five houses; while only a few families still inhabit the seventh village, Kala-c (or Gudalur Kokal). The houses are arranged in rows, called ke-rs, which correspond to exogamous social units. Kota villages are called ko-ka-l, literally "Kota leg," or the place where Kotas planted their feet. The pattern of settlement is believed to have been determined by a cow who led the Kotas through the Nilgiris and stopped in various places to indicate various sites for the Villages. The following are the seven Kota villages listed in the order some Kotas believe they came into existence (Anglo-Badaga names as commonly rendered are given in parentheses): Me-na-r (Kunda Kotagiri), Kolme-1 (Kollimalai), Kurgo-j (Sholur Kokal), Ticga-r (Trichigadi), Porga-r (Kotagiri), Kina-r (Kil Kotagiri), and Kala-c (Gudalur Kokal). In earlier times Kota houses were wattle and daub with thatched roofs, but these have been gradually replaced with modern houses identical to those of their Nilgiri neighbors. These newer houses are of whitewashed cement and brick with gabled roofs, made of corrugated zinc and/or baked clay tiles, or flat cement roofs such as those found on the plains. The number and arrangement of rooms has also changed in recent times. An old-fashioned Kota house consists of a front room, containing a raised platform on the left for sitting and sleeping and a hole in the floor for pounding, a kitchen, located to the right of the front room and containing a wood stove along the wall opposite the arched entrance, and a back room for bathing. Each room and parts of each room have particular names and functions. The walls have special crevices for oil lamps and wood, and other articles are often stored in rafters above the kitchen. In the past Kotas had no toilets and special huts were built for women to stay in while menstruating. Some of the earlier modern Kota houses are also built according to a relatively uniform pattern. These houses contain an entrance hall where shoes and other articles are kept, a small room on the right for entertaining guests, a main living room beyond the front room with a bedroom attached to that, and finally a kitchen with a bathing area in the rear. Some of these houses represent remodeled houses of the older type.


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