With the Raj Gonds, the Thotis form an association tribal community. The traditional occupation of the Thotis was singing ‘Gond Gatha’, keeping the history of the Gondwana kingdom alive in the form of oral history. Thotis were dependent on Gond patrons for their income. The traditional tattoo maker is the Thoti women. Traditional tattoo-making among Gond women was performed by the Thoti ladies as part of traditional healing and remedies. The traditional practices of the Thotis have been slowly declining. Few families continue to carry on the tradition and preserve it by maintaining them.
Thotis are one of the tribal communities that is declining in population. According to census 2021 the thotis’ population was 4811. Only a handful of community members still practice traditional occupations and their lives are at risk. It is a critical task to document and preserve their traditions.
Department of Design, Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad, has taken the initiative to research, document and preserve the traditional practices of the Thoti community residing in the Adilabad district of Telangana. Under the guidance and principal investigation of Professor Deepak John Mathew, the research team conducted a field visit to the Thoti Guda at Tosham Village at Gudihatnur Mandal, Adilabad district. Advanced technologies have been used to record the Thoti traditional music in order to protect the community’s cultural heritage.
“I am delighted to see the work from our Design department. We define IITH as Inventing & Innovating in Technology for Humanity. Preserving Traditions & Cultural Heritage using the Design Concept & encouraging future generations to sustain them fulfils our motto. IITH also offers a Rural Development Centre, which uses technology to enhance rural livelihoods. We also have a Department of Heritage Science and Technology, which has similar objectives.”, added Prof B S Murty, Director, IIT Hyderabad.
Speaking about the project, Prof Deepak John Mathew, Head, Department of Design, said, “This documentary beautifully describes the age-old traditions & science behind it. We want to show these incredible techniques to help communities preserve their cultural heritage. It also a step towards connecting our today’s city generation to rich cultural & social heritage of these communities”.