The primitive inhabitants of kerala, the tribal people, are only about two hundered thousand now and they are scattered in the jungles and hills of Malabar, Kochi and Travancore.
There are about 35 different types of the tribals ,chief among them being the Kurichiyar Nayadi, Mullakurumbar, Uralikurumbar, paniya, Mudaga, Irula, Ernadar, Kadar, Muthuvan, Kanikkar, Uralees, Paliyan, Malavedan, Vettuvar, Eravallan, Veda and Malayan. Centuries have failed to change them completely.
They are unique examples of communities in isolated existence, still preserving their life ,customs and manners almost untarnished by advancing waves of urban civilization. Though adapted to different dialects and customs, their artistic expression evidently reflects the distinct, secluded and primitive social structure and nature of the people and it still survives as virile a state as ever in the tribal hamlets of hilly tracts.
Each of these aboriginal tribes has its own distinct dance traditions and invariably all of them are interwoven with the life of the people who dance it , so much so that it seems that some of their daily tasks are give to rhythmic pattern. In the background of mystery shrouded nature , tribal celebrations originate and the dances which work up intoxicating excitement physical expressions of their joys and grief's, hopes and fears.
Each of these aboriginal tribes has its own distinct dance traditions and invariably all of them are interwoven with the life of the people who dance it , so much so that it seems that some of their daily tasks are give to rhythmic pattern. In the background of mystery shrouded nature , tribal celebrations originate and the dances which work up intoxicating excitement physical expressions of their joys and grief’s, hopes and fears.
In some cases the dancing is extamly simple and consists of little more than meaningless shuffling of the feet or waving of the hands At other times it is mere swaying of the body to the clapping of hands or beating of primitive drumsto mark time .Yet another form shows only the monotonous movement of the ands and feet. But, generally speaking, a wide range of movement involving all parts of the body,the head, back hips, arms, fingers, and feet and even facial muscles are utilize in tribal dances
There are very complicated tribal dances as well in which dancing harmonies gesture, expressing the whole gamut of sentiment, where rhythm is kept by swaying of the body and intricate steps executed with adept foot- work. Usually the dances have a slow beginning, but gather momentum and work up to a heavy tempo of the vociferous climax to drums, and the ecstasy of the ever- mounting rhythm of spontaneous music. Many of these dances are heroic or martial in character
Some tribes have songs to accompany their dances. Either the dancers themselves sing or non-lookers sing and thus participate. Special musical instruments are sometimes used, but the drum is almost an indispensable feature. The costumes of the dancers vary from approximate nudity to full attire and ornaments which are extremely colorful and gaudy.
Like all tribal arts, kerala’s tribal dances also are unselfconscious and spontaneous. It is the most direct expression of the innermost spirit of people and the instinct of rhythm is as natural and basic as human nature
Some more well known tribal dances of kerala are Eleakkaradi, Kadarkali, Kurumbakali, paniyarkali, Edayarkali, Mudiyattom and Vedarkali,kooran kali,naikar kali,maan kali,thavala kali,paravalli kali,kaanikkar nritham,gadhika,etc