The Birhor are traditionally a forest-dwelling society from central and eastern India that practice nomadic hunting and gathering. In particular, they are known for their monkey hunting prowess and rope and net making skills. The Birhor extract local creeper vines from forests and use the fibers to weave their rope and nets. These nets are used for hunting by the Birhor, but both the nets and ropes are sold at market. Birhor peacefulness is seen in their ability to adapt to circumstances with little conflict and maintain a peaceful relationship with their Hindu neighbors who often look down on the Birhor for their hunting and consumption of monkeys.
The Birhor consider themselves the people of the forest, and their name reflects this, meaning “men of the forest.” Their families and their forests are the two things they hold dearest. Unfortunately, the deforestation of land inhabited by the Birhor has left many in this society without access to the resources on which they depend. In addition, many Birhor have been relocated into government housing which is less than ideal for their way of life and their relationship with the spirit world. The Birhor video included here depicts this particular situation. For more information on the Birhor please see their encyclopedia entry and the news and reviews on this society.
“The Birhor: A Tribal Community” (3:00): This nonprofit video provides us with a glimpse into the lives of one particular group of Birhor that have been relocated to government housing. It depicts everyday life under these circumstances as well as traditional subsistence practices such as rope making and a hunter returning with his catch.