(bēlz), people, numbering about 3 million, who inhabit portions of Pakistan and of W central India, especially S Rajasthan and Gujarat states. They speak an Indo-European language, Bhili, and retain a distinctive culture, much affected by, but not absorbed into, Hinduism. They were traditional enemies of the Rajputs and allies of the Mughals.


See S. M. Doshi, Bhils (1971).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of related Indian tribes living mainly in the mountainous areas of the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Bombay. There are about 2.8 million Bhils (1967 estimate). They speak Bhil dialects related to Indian (Indo-Aryan) languages. Their religion is Hinduism, but they preserve ancient animistic beliefs. The basic occupation is agriculture (cultivation of rice, millet, beans and vegetables); hunting and fishing play a major role in their economy. The Bhils are being assimilated by neighboring peoples (Rajasthani, Gujarati, and Marathas).


Narody Iuzhnoi Azii. Moscow, 1963.
Naik, T. B. The Bhils. Delhi, 1956.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Humble members of society like the Bhils and Chharas compete to gain a minimum of recognition from the higher castes.
The documents and photo shown by the police now gives us positive options of his being there and coming back home," Bhils's father told ANI.
The pre-colonial situation of India is not very well known as there are no records to elucidate it but supposedly in the sixteenth century, some of the tribes such as Bhils and Kols were supposed to have been politically recognized by the Mughal Empire.
The tribal population in this is relatively large number of tribals, namely, Mahadevkoli, Thakars, Bhils, and Ramoshies.
An Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan language, it is spoken mainly by Bhils and those who migrated from India.
A large number of studies exist on the adult cephalic index of Caucasians, Japanese and Australian (Kasai et al.), Nigerian (Eroje et al., 2010), Iran (Vojdani et al., 2009; Golalipour, 2006b; Abolhasanzadeh & Farahani, 2003), and Indian population such as Kvangaja (Basu, 1963), Bhils and Barelias (Bhargava & Kher, 1960, 1961), Gujarat races (Shah & Jadav).
An anthropometric study of Central India, Bhils of Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh.
Efforts to compel the nomadic tribes of South Asia into a sedentary and "civilized" existence generated a system of monitored settlements in the 1830s, and British officials concentrated tribal populations like the Bhils of upland Bombay Presidency--feared for their mobility and martial prowess--in "guarded villages." (19) Supplemented by a system of travel passes, this policy isolated an insurgent military threat and reorganized the colonial world according to the dictates of modern administration, in many ways paralleling efforts in Britain to combat vagrancy and control the itinerant "dangerous classes." Initially, officials conceived the practice of removing tribal people to settled villages as a humanitarian policy that shed the light of civilization onto native populations.
Bhils using home- made bows and arrows to settle personal scores over money, land and women is not a new phenomenon in the state's Indore- Malwa region, particularly in Alirajpur and Jhabua districts.
And if you want true local flavour you can visit the villages of the Rabaris, Bhils and Garasias.
And I remember Kamaladevi made the villagers bring out a charpoy and we sat and saw them working on the sand doing indigo printing for the Bhils. The design was indigo dyed with resist printing in red, yellow and green.