(Last Updated on : 10/04/2012)
Amongst various tribal communities who have settled down in the beautiful coastal islands of Andaman
and Nicobar, the Sentinelese is one of the important tribes . Eminent anthropologists of the Indian subcontinent
, refer them in different names like Sentineli, Senteneli, Sentenelese, North Sentinel Islanders. These Sentinelese tribes have concentrated in North Sentinel Island of Andaman and Nicobar, completely detached from the happening of the outside world of modernity. Till date these Sentinelese tribes are one of the most secluded tribal people in the whole world who have maintained their cultural and social heritage intact from the influences of the modern day trends.
Due to lack of accessibility, it has not been possible to know the exact number of the Sentinelese tribes residing in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Attempts of conducting surveys have been made in the year 2001 by the Census which concluded that within '72-km² island' there are thirty nine Sentinelese tribes, out of which there are twenty one men and eighteen women.
The Sentinelese tribal community has got distinctive physical features, which enables any one to identify a member of this community. These Sentinelese tribes have got short body stature, dark complexion and also "peppercorn" hair. These Sentinelese tribes are quite tall; on an average, a normal Sentinelese male is 1.8 m/6 ft and Sentinelese female is 1.6 m/5.4 ft.
As far as hunting is concerned, most of these Sentinelese tribes are hunters and also gatherers. Some of these Sentinelese tribes even sustain their livelihood on fishing also. However, the anthropologists have traced no instance of practicing cultivation
These Sentinelese tribes have developed unique style of making houses , which have no side walls and quite spacious. Decorative items are used for display including rectangular board, which resembles a square-chessboard, pig skulls and several red colored items etc.
Other aspects like weaponry, festivals etc too bear a mark of the cultural exuberance of this Sentinelese tribal community. The clothes of these Sentinelese tribes are scanty. However, during hunting expeditions, these Sentinelese tribes use leaves, fiber strings, fashionable belts or other materials for protection and safety.
Their weaponry comprises of javelins and also a fine flat bow, which can reach a target of near about hundred meters. There are about three kinds of arrows both for hunting and fishing. There are also 'untipped' arrows, which can be fired as warning shots also.
Although it is assumed that these Sentinelese tribes speak the language of the same name, yet, nothing much is known about it.
Food habits of these Sentinelese tribes are also unique. Coconuts are hot favorites
Wild honey and also fruit or nuts, such as sapodilla and pandanus are also gathered by these Sentinelese tribes with the help of a type of 'rake' Also eating raw meat of the animals is widely prevalent amongst these Sentinelese tribal community.
While carrying out lots of research, anthropological evidences are found out which prove the fact that Sentinelese tribes often participate in spontaneous musical, dancing and fetes signifying their joy and exhilaration.
What types of rites and rituals these Sentinelese tribes follow, are still not known. However , only it has been known that after the death of any infant , he or she is buried in grave on the top of which a 'nautilus shell' and few tiny seashells are positioned. Next to the 'embers' that are found in the Sentinelese houses, a stick more or less similar to a 'five-fingered hand' is trapped in the ground almost vertically. Although it has got some ritualistic importance, nothing more is known about it.