Koya - Settlements



Koya settlements are located near sources of dependable water supply such as ponds, streams, or a common well. Villages vary in size from three to more than sixty houses, but most often they consist of between thirty and forty houses with populations of approximately 200 persons. Larger Villages are usually characteristic of the riverine plain, and smaller ones of the hills and jungle. Villages are sometimes nucleated, especially in the plains, but they are more often composed of scattered hamlets containing two or more houses occupied by members of a minimal lineage and/or by in-marrying affines. Koya houses are constructed of wood, thatch, clay, and wattle. Houses of wealthy families are larger, have several rooms, thick mud walls, and deep, well-maintained thatch roofs. Poorer families live in small, one-room houses with wattle walls and roofs thinly thatched with palm fronds rather than thatching grass. The average house has two rooms, a loft and a veranda. One room contains the hearth where the family cooking is done, and is strictly Reserved to members of the family and minimal lineage. The ancestor pot, in which offerings are made to the ancestors, is kept near the hearth. Grain is stored in large baskets lined with mud and cow dung and kept in the loft. Houses are Usually windowless and are ventilated only by an opening under the eaves and by open doors. Scattered about the rooms and hanging from the rafters are the Koya family's few material possessions—clay pots for storing water, brass pots for carrying water, woven baskets, winnowing fans, brooms, a drum, bow and arrows, a spear, a small metal box for valuables, wooden stringed cots, mortar and pestles, grinding stone, hoe, sickles, and an axe. Bags of seed grain, drying gourds, tobacco, chilies, garlic, balls of twine, and bits of cloth dangle from the rafters and roof beams. Night light is provided by a small kerosene lamp or by a shallow saucer containing an oil-soaked wick. Adjacent to the house is a bathroom constructed from four unroofed thatch walls. A pigsty, goat shed, and open-air sheds used for sleeping in the hot weather stand near the house. Kitchen gardens for growing herbs, gourds, squash, beans, tomatoes, corn, tobacco, greens, and root vegetables are planted next to the houses and are sometimes fenced to protect them from chickens, which run free, and from other wild and domestic marauders. Culturally, houses are divided into two areas: the inner rooms where only family and close kin are allowed entry, and the veranda where strangers and guests may gather.


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