Human Safari: Observing the Jarawa

vice May 20 2013

The Jarawa (also JärawaJarwa) are one of the adivasi indigenous peoples of the Andaman Islands in India. Their present numbers are estimated at between 250–400 individuals. Since they have largely shunned interactions with outsiders, many particulars of their society, culture and traditions are poorly understood. Their name means "people of the earth" or "hostile people" in Aka-Bea.

Along with other indigenous Andamanese peoples, they have inhabited the islands for at least several thousand years, and most likely a great deal longer. The Andaman Islands have been known to outsiders since antiquity; however, until quite recent times they were infrequently visited, and such contacts were predominantly sporadic and temporary. For the greater portion of their history their only significant contact has been with other Andamanese groups; the experience of such a lengthy period of isolation almost completely lacking in external cultural influences is equalled by few other groups in the world, if at all[citation needed].

There is some indication that the Jarawa regarded the now-extinct Jangil tribe as a parent tribe from which they split centuries or millennia ago, even though the Jarawa outnumbered (and eventually out-survived) the Jangil.[1] The Jangil (also called the Rutland Island Aka Bea) were presumed extinct by 1931, sixteen years prior to Indian independence.[2]