Jarawa – the survivers
In December 2004, a seaquake of tremendous proportions shook the Indian Ocean, causing a gigantic Tsunami wave to bring death and devastation to the coasts of countless islands and neighboring regions. Hundreds of thousands people lost their lives. Even the Andaman Islands were not spared. Currently, around 500 to 600 natives survived the Tsunami: the Jarawa, the Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese. They had foreseen the impending disaster and escaped to higher regions of the island. They seemed to be developed abilities that others do not have. One example might be correctly interpreting the restless and frightened behavior of the animals or the unusually strong retreat of the sea before gigantic wave hit; which they did in December 2004.
The Jarawa are some of the most enigmatic and least researched ethnic groups on this planet. Even today, they still lead a virtually prehistoric existence. Jungle nomads, they roam through the woods in groups of forty or fifty, hunting wild boar, turtles, birds, fish, shrimp, fruits, roots and honey. Short, with muscular body build, dark almost black skin and curly hair, they are highly defensive and impress you with their friendly looks, their harmonic lifestyle and their relaxation.
For over 40 years, the government has continuously made attempts to initiate communication with them through small simple presents. Yet one day some Jarawas left the forest voluntarily, strolled completely naked through the neighboring Indian villages and expressed the wish to cease former hostility and even become adorably touchy. This ultimately resulted in the increased exploitation of resources from the Jarawa forest reserve and a change in their nomadic lifestyle.
Just as unexpectedly in 2004, they disappeared, having however, clearly indicated that they would no longer accept gifts and wished to be left alone. Maybe they had realized that contact with the settlers would hurt them even more.
Sometimes the nature is healthier and friendlier to us then other people are. Maybe living in harmony with it might help us keeping the best in ourselves as it did in case of Andaman people.
Can you tell us anything at all about the images you’ve used here please?
The images are part of SWARTE collection: One square meter of roots. You can find more about this collection and its message on http://www.sw-arte.com/press/artist_statement/.