Toda Tribe and Toda’s Embroidery: The Definitive Guide

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Pastoral Tribal Community

Toda Tribe is a small pastoral tribal community and they live in Nilgiri plateau in the state of Tamil Nadu. Hence they are related to Tamil Nadu state.


If you see there way of living they traditionally live in a settlements called mund. Mund consist of small 3 to 7 thatched houses.

Economy of Toda Tribe

Toda’s economy is basically a pastoral economy and it is based on the buffalos and dairy products obtained from buffalos are traded with neighboring people of the Nilgiris hills.

Location of Toda’s

Todas are endemic to nilgiris and there population is quite less concentrated in present nilgiris district of tamil nadu state.


Buffalos of toda’s are rared on the grassland of Nilgiris which are called sholas. Sholas are the type of vegetation in the Indian mainland, they are made up of grasslands.


There one interesting fact about these toda tribe, they practice fraternal polyandry.

Fraternal polyandry is a practice where a woman marries all the brothers of a family, but this practice is no longer present among the Toda tribe.


Todas they practise polytheism. They believe in an indefinitely large number of spirits, gods and goddesses.

Toda Embroidery

  • Toda artisans from the Nilgiris are producing thousands of stylish, embroidered masks.
  • Toda women are known for there embroidery work, if you see their traditional garment it is made of thick white cotton cloth with red, black, or blue stripes and this is further beautified with hand embroidery.
  • Toda generally uses woolen or cotton threads that are used for this type of embroidery.

Toda Embroidery is special type of Indian tribe culture embroidery and it got a GI tag in 2013.

Now if you see toda tribes make a variety of items using toda embroidery designs to make cellphone pouch, table cloths, scarf and shawl, skirts and tops, frogs, bags, and many such items.

Now making use of this COVID-19 pandemic the mask that is being made by this toda tribes is now being sold in the market and this will provide much-needed revenue for the toda tribe.

Status of Toda Tribe in India:

  • There is a total number of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups present in 18 States and Union Territory on Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  • The state of Odisha has the highest number of tribes listed as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
  • Combined State of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana ranks second place for a number of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in the state.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group

Toda are listed as particularly vulnerable tribal group under the State of Tamil Nadu .

Criteria for identifying Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group:

  1. Pre-agricultural level of technology.
  2. Low level of literacy.
  3. Economic Backwardness.
  4. A decline or stagnant population.

List of PVTG’s in Tamil Nadu are:

  • kattu
  • Nayakans
  • Kotas
  • Kurumbas
  • Irulas
  • Paniyans
  • Toda

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