ADILABAD: The research works of anthropologists Christoph Von Furer Haimendorf and his student Michael Yorke on Telangana's adivasis have become more relevant now in the context of the award of Padma Shri to Kanaka Raju of Marlavai. This is specially important to understand the culture and traditions of Gond adivasis, say activists.
Adivasi activists note that the research also threw light into the rituals and philosophy behind the Gussadi dance and its importance vis-à-vis the Dandari festival held by adivasis in Adilabad district during the Diwali season every year.
Over time, Michael Yorke has settled down as an internationally reputed documentary filmmaker.
The activists urged the tribal welfare department of Telangana to try and bring from London the copies of the research work on Telangana adivasis by these anthropologists and the photographs they had captured during those days. These two social scientists had studied the Raj Gonds’ culture and lifestyle from the early 1940 to the 1980s.
The Centre according the Padma Shri honour to Kanaka Raju is seen as the government’s recognition of the importance of adivasi culture.
Michael Yorke’s two-essays on Raj Gonds have been translated into Telugu by Lalitha and turned into book form with the title, Velitha Pata, under the editorship of Sumanaspati Reddy in 2019.
Michael Yorke with his wife Valerie Yorke had visited Adilabad in February 2019 after a long gap of 40 years, from their base in London. The documentary titled ‘Raj Gonds: Reflection in a Peacock Crown’ by BBC was shot in Ginnedhari in 1979.
Michael Yorke worked as an anthropologist for the documentary which later got many international awards.
Christoph Von Furer had stayed a long time at Marlvai for his research on Gond Adivasis of the erstwhile Adilabad while his student Michael Yorke had stayed at Ginnedhari village in Tiryani mandal in what is now the Komaram Bheem Asifabad district.
Adivasi leaders feels that it would be better if tribal welfare department officials went through the BBC documentary as also the research works of the two scientists and, based on these, took steps to preserve the Adivasi culture in the state for the good of future generations and for framing policies for empowerment of the adivasis via education and healthcare.
“We must read ‘The Gonds of Andhra Pradesh’ written by Christoph Von Furer Haimendorf and the ‘Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival’ (written by both Haimen Dorf and Michael Yorke) books in the light of the changing times,” adivasi activists say....