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Odisha archive

Say Hello to the Tribal’s of Odisha at Tribal Museum, BhubaneswarSanjay Patra

Being a native of Bhubaneswar, I am offered with many beautiful tourist spots. More I venture into the various attractions of the city, the more knowledge I gain from it. One morning I got up to witness a bright sun in the sky and cool winds in the air. This weather is a perfect combination to awake the instinct of a traveler. With a big question in my mind, “Which place should I visit today”? A name popped into my mind – Tribal Museum.

Every time my visit to the Museum is met with new treasures of tribal information. This was my third visit to the Museum but the ambience of the place is still attractive for me. I could spot a new security guard sitting near the entrance gate and busy playing with his cell phone. I could feel the fresh air, hustle bustle of the visitors, routine movement of the staff for work, freshness of a beautiful garden and the village like atmosphere.


Tribal Museum or Museum of Tribal Art and Artifacts were formed in the year 1953. It was bestowed with five new tribal huts: Saora, Juang, Santal , Gadada and Kandha ; in the year 1987. The main objective of the museum is to highlight the tribal culture; artifacts and help people gain more information about tribes of Odisha. A new building was opened for the tourists in the year 2001.

Green and Serene Garden-

My eyes were stuck in the green and serene beauty of the huge garden spreading across the Museum. To see a green garden inside the city is an amazing experience. My eyes were pondering every nook and corner of the garden. Apart from the ornamental plants, the garden is also shared by a medicinal garden. A separate part is allotted for the medicinal plants under section Medicinal Garden. An array of tall coconut trees aroused the monkey in me and I wanted to climb up the tall trees. The Gardener of the Museum appeared to be endowed by God.

Visitors were gathered outside the food court and Souvenir shop, lying adjacent to each other. The group of tourists was busy discussing among themselves. After completely soaking up the exteriors of the Museum, I went into the new building of the Museum established in 2001.

New Building (established in 2001)

As I entered the building, I received a warm smile from the receptionist. With a long sofa, ready to provide you with a comfortable sit. While, I rested on the sofa, I could see a safe locker to keep the belongings of the visitors. When, I turned back being seated, photographs of smiling tribals of Odisha and a chart paper showing the influx of Indian and foreign tourist were visible. This building consists of five big halls displaying cultures, artifacts, paintings, household items, weapons and musical instruments of various tribal groups of Odisha.

Hall No1-Personal Adornments

Life size statues of couples belonging to different tribes of Bonda, Dongria, Kandha, Juang and Kutia Kandha will be facing you at the entrance of the hall. It reminded me of the wax statues in Madam Taussad Museum. A look at these dummy will give you an in depth idea about the clothes they wear, ornaments used by them, and body piercing etc. They are waiting for the permission from God to become alive and share their stories with you.

This section exhibits Silver jewelry, necklaces made of coins and beads, and anklets. It would tempt you to try it once. Audio-visual system will further enhance the exploration of tribes of India by describing the design of different jewelry and about Particularly vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTG). One interesting fact that I came to know by using this system is that, tribal women wear metallic bangles with spikes. These spikes acted as self defense weapons. The statues and exhibits are locked inside big glasses.

Hall No2- Tribal photographs and paintings

I was surprised to see again life size statues of Man Kirdia, Saora, Paudi Bhuinya and Chukutia Bhunjia tribes welcoming me into hall no-2. I could feel the tribes are so creative after having a glimpse of bamboo crafts made by Lodha tribe. It consisted of jewelry box, hangers, flower vase, pencil stand and many other made of bamboo. Other display in the hall comprised of embroidered shawls, saree and combs of various sizes. Paintings of the tribes were themed on the wild animals, nature, and faces of other tribes.

Hall No3- Hunting, Fishing, Implements and Weapons of offense and defense

By the time I come out of this hall, I presumed myself to be a well equipped warrior. The display in the hall showed different types of swords, bows and arrows, fishing instruments, knives, guns. According to Bonda tribes, if the umbilical cord of the new born baby is cut with knife or arrow, it could convert them as great hunters in future. For new born girls sickle is used, in belief, it will transform them into good homemakers in future.

Hall No4- Household objects

I was astonished to see the various household items used by tribes like cooking utensils, agricultural equipments, winnowing fan and different types of containers. The most interesting thing in this hall is the story of wine making present in the audio-visual display system. In short, Mahua flowers are fermented and distilled in earthen pot. Even various flavors like ripe mango, black berries can be added to the wine for good taste.

Hall No5- Dance & Musical Instruments

Music was used by them for recreation and solace, to celebrate different festivals and also to worship their God. Some of the major musical instruments that can be seen here are blow instruments, big drums and circular drums. Tambourine, a traditional musical instrument is made of goat skin and is supported by a wooden frame. I just wanted to close my eyes and wished the instruments became alive.

Souvenir & Tribal Food Court-

After spending hours in the new building my stomach started aching due to hunger. I was lucky to have the last set of chicken meal at the Tribal Food Court. Other delicacies served here are Patra poda fish (fish baked in Sal leaves) so also mutton, mushroom or chicken. To my dismay the Tribal cake was out of stock. The restaurant is famous for various tribal foods.

The souvenir shop is just located adjacent to the kitchen and offers varieties of tribal artifacts, handicrafts, paintings, and honey and turmeric powder. A foreigner (from Australia) was busy shopping and the caretaker was happy to entertain her.

PTG or Particularly vulnerable Tribal Group World (Modern building)-

In this section of the Museum a deer statue was waiting for me at the reception. It stood still even if I gazed at it for five minutes. When I opened the door my eyes remained stuck by seeing the models of tribal huts. One interesting fact that I came to know is Birhor tribes live in dome shaped house made of leaves. It took me into another world full of model tribal huts.

Thus, if the Tribal Museum is so fascinating, then I think the tribal world will be so beautiful. It recites in silence many unique stories to each and every visitor. More stories will be unfolded when you visit the Museum.