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(drəvĭd`ēəns), name sometimes given to the peoples of S and central India and N Sri Lanka who speak Dravidian languagesDravidian languages
, family of about 23 languages that appears to be unrelated to any other known language family. The Dravidian languages are spoken by more than 200 million people, living chiefly in S and central India and N Sri Lanka.
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. They are so called for purely linguistic reasons; the peoples are of varying racial types. It is thought that Dravidian-speaking peoples may have been spread throughout the Indian subcontinent before the invasions of the AryansAryan
, [Sanskrit,=noble], term formerly used to designate the Indo-European race or language family or its Indo-Iranian subgroup. Originally a group of nomadic tribes, the Aryans were part of a great migratory movement that spread in successive waves from S Russia and Turkistan
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peoples inhabiting for the most part southern India and speaking Dravidian languages. The Dravidian peoples include the Telugu, or Andhra (44 million, 1967 estimate), the Tamils (40 million, some of whom also live on Ceylon and in Malaysia, Burma, and other countries of Southeast Asia), the Malayalam (19.5 million), the Kanarese, or Kannada (21 million), the Tulu (about 1 million), and a number of minority groups which have to a large extent preserved their tribal structure and which live mainly in the mountain and forest regions, such as the Toda, Kota, Kurumba, and Badaga. Several Dravidian peoples live in central India: the Oraons, or Kurukhs (1.3 million), and the Kandhs and Gonds (together about 3 million). The Brahui (0.6 million), who live in Pakistan and the neighboring regions of Afghanistan, also speak a Dravidian language. The religion of most Dravidians is Hinduism, although some are Christians and Muslims; many elements of tribal religions have been preserved in the mountain and forest regions. The Dravidians are believed to have constituted the ancient (pre-Aryan) population of India. According to many scholars, the Harappa civilization was created by the ancestors of the Dravidians between 3000 and 2000 B.C. As early as the first millennium B.C. the Dravidians had their own states in southern India (Andhras, Pandya, Chola, and Chera). In the course of their development the Dravidians created a highly advanced culture (literature, art, theater). In the 17th and 18th centuries the British colonialists seized the areas settled by the Dravidians and began to repartition their lands, destroying the ethnic territory of the Dravidian peoples. During the struggle for national self-determination the Dravidians, like other major Indian peoples, demanded that states be formed out of their ethnic territory. The borders of these states were finally established in 1956: the Tamils live primarily in the state of Tamil Nadu (Madras), the Teluga in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Kanarese in the state of Mysore, and the Malayalams in the state of Kerala.


Narody Iuzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963. (Bibliography, pages 893-94.)


References in periodicals archive ?
Some scholars believe Krishna's blue skin indicates indigenous origin--like the darker skinned Dravidian peoples of the subcontinent.