Combs (Tribes in India)

Combs (Tribes in India)

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Item Code: IHL823
Author: Bharati DebiAnshu Prakash Nandan
Publisher: Anthropological Survey of India, Kolktata
Edition: 2002
ISBN: 8185579695
Pages: 30 (Illustrated Throughout In B/W & Colour)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.5 inch X 10.5 inch
Weight 240 gm

Comb is o tool, it is on artefact, it is art and it is d gift exchanged between two persons who desire to cement their relationship, if not objects on or permanent basis, but certainly distinguished from other such relationships. This innocuous object assumes many meanings and many uses in different circumstances. Today in the consumerist aeon, there is o term “beautility" meaning on object is created balancing its aesthetic and utility values, we do not need to learn of this from formal designers, we only need to open our eyes wide and allow them to room the country peering into the material culture of people who in no way constitute the consumer class. The collection of combs and the anthropological notes that accompany them is o treat for our eyes bored with plastic, our senses that arouse o longing for the lost activities of leisure and our intellects for stimulating thirst for wider knowledge. The coming of machine technology has whittled down this skill and this volume ploys o vital role in preserving this lost aspect of material culture. This volume is o compendium to the earlier publication Hairstyles. This volume also showcases the variety of our [Anthropological Survey to Indio) collection in the interest of scholars, the general public as well as for the newer generations of the tribes, helping them to be aware of their recent heritage and tradition.


A comb is for hair care, a necessary item of cosmetry, one item that is possessed by every individual. A visit to the market will reveal the variety of combs that are available and a visit to the barber will educate as to the special uses of a variety of combs of which the barber seems to be a veritable master. Almost no addressing table, No marriage in India can do without this being a part of the dowry/trousseau of both bride and the groom. The barber who symbolizes the comb and the scissors is a part of major Hindu life cycle rituals.

It is difficult to trace the origins of the comb from long ago in time. Protohistorical evidences suggest that this item had been fashioned quite early in response to man’s need for grooming.

What is it of the comp that imparts this transcendence from an ordinary implement/tool to such ritual and social importance? What has been its place from ancient to the present times? What are the materials used in its making? What does it mean to different communities?

The of the tribes offers us a glimpse into the rich heritage of the comb involving not only a host of emotions, but also aesthetic sense and artistic skill. The comb holds as yet a place of special significance in the lives of some tribes. Here the traditional and the modern combs exist side by side, one having special cultural value and the other item of utility.

The care that is imparted to its fashioning and the embellishment that adorns it is reflected on other items of personal use like knives, arrows and bows.

The uniqueness of the combs used by the tribes of India lies in the fact that the handicrafts are made by themselves, barring however, the metallic or plastic combs.

Combs are made of wood, bamboo, soft roots, bone, horn, metal and plastic. Implements used are small saw, knife, chisel, adze and hot iron wire.

The youth among certain tribes patiently work on combs to present them to their sweethearts.


Material 3-4
Shape 5-7
Size 8-9
Making 10-14
Working edge 15
Grooming 17
Delousing 18
Ornament 19
Arrangement 20-22
Societal Norm 23
Symbol of Love 24-25
Art-piece 26-27
Ritual object 28
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