Saura Tribal of Orissa
One of the most ancient tribes to have walked on the landscape of Orissa, the Sauras find mention in Hindu myths, classics and even the Puranas. Mostly concentrated in and around the Paralakhemundi and the Gunupur area of south Orissa, they are also called by various names such as Sabara, Soura, Sora etc. Aborigines of Saura tribe bear close racial affinity to proto –austroloid tribes that dwell most part of the central and southern India.
People of Saura tribes of Orissa resemble the predravidian tribes with long heads and flat noses. The brow ridges are prominent, but not to a great extent like the Kondhs. There is a depression at the root of the nose. The hair is generally curly and the skin color is brown to dark brown. The Sauras are not strongly built like the Kondhs, but they are physically well built in comparison to the tribes of north Orissa. The Saura men are dexterous marathon walkers. They are also expert climbers and hunters.
The most remarkable point of men from the Saura tribe is his dexterity in climbing hills and efficiency in maneuvering the intractable forest land. There is hardly anything distinctive about the dress of a Saura man which consists of loin cloth about 6 ft long and 10 inches breadth. This may be plain or may be decorated with red tarsels at the ends. Occasionally they wear a single necklace of beads; a traditional dress of a Soura woman is a waist cloth with grey border which hardly reaches the knee. The skirt is about three ft in length and about two ft in breadth and for the upper part they wear another piece of cloth.
The Saura tribal women use simple ornaments to adorn themselves. A few necklaces of beads, round wooden plugs, spiral rings made of grass, bell metal or aluminum in the fingers and toes, little rings in the nose, and metal anklets are worn by them. The Soura villages are situated in the most in-accessible areas and in many cases lie hidden in forest clad hills making it difficult to reach them except through zig -zag steep hill paths. They build their houses on the slope or foot of the hills. Souras are the best terraced cultivators.
Also the Saura tribal are noted for their paintings. Among the various tribes of Orissa, the Sauras are known to have the best developed aesthetic sense. These tribal of Orissa are known to decorate the walls of their home with paintings depicting birds and animals, men on hunting trails, their lifestyle, fauna etc. One of the integral elements of Saura paintings are the geometrical shapes that are used to create bold borders for the center-piece that is invariably drawn in fine lines. They are also known for their handloom products and particularly T-Shirts made by the Saoras with a type of Warli painting done on them are very highly appreciated.