Indigenous Knowledge System - Exploring Artifacts

1- Distribute the photos from column 2 to various groups, one photo per group. Let the student brainstorm and discuss what they think the photo is about. Assumptions and egocentrism views will emerge from them and there should be a lot of debate!

2- Let the students explain what they think their artifact is, with their own words on Google Classroom (or elsewhere where every student can view each other’s answer)

3- Give them the QR code for their photo which leads to a description of the artifacts and let them read their artifact’s description.

4- Make them reflect and analyze their thoughts before and after reading about the item description.


What do you think it is?


A mask, used to ward off “evil spirits.”

A kind of mask that is used by tribal people as a part of their culture, (dancing around a fire, banging drums and yelling.)

Representative of a god/deity.

Used in a type of dance that utilises rudimentary percussion instruments and melodious chants after a successful harvest to worship and thank their deities. Tribe is located in Maharashtra. Kokna tribe. Didn’t expect the materials to be used.

Copper chalice/goblet/grail

Perhaps holy, to be used to religious ceremonies?

To drink out of? Used by the Aztecs to hold human blood?


It was used to measure grain by volume in pre-colonial India. It is made of brass and has the owner’s name engraved on it.

Decoration piece, crown/hat or container or jewelry

Made from Metal and wood.

Our guess was pretty accurate.

The picture is a Gond marriage crown. It closely relates to the marriage crown that people wear in traditional weddings (the wood is where flowers would usually be).  

Indigenous basket used to collect food, grains, fruits, etc. (or for fishing?)

Made of rattan, (the thin jointed stems of a palm), bamboo

Like we predicted, it’s used for fishing and made out of bamboo or cane.

Comes from Assam used by the Bodos tribe.

We had an idea of what this as because  I have seen this thing before in my grandmother’s house.

A Mask

It looks like it used for Performances or rituals

Such as:

Religious performances

Scaring away evil spirits


Made of clay or mud

The tribal communities of Gonda and Raj-gonds follow several of Hindu customs and are great admirers of Lord Krishna.

Interpreting the meaning of objects we don't necessarily understand, because we believe all these artifacts must have a significant purpose, while for the IP they are a part of daily life and they don't always attach a meaning to every object they use.

In fact those masks for the tribe are so close to reality that now are a part of it and for them there wouldn’t be a deep meaning to it as the one we are trying to find.

Tribal necklace

It has got teeth/bones which represents the power of the tribe over other creatures/animals?

It could be a symbol for the leader of the tribe(position of power/authority)

It could be clothing/jewelry

While trying to determine the purpose of this artefact we tried to make some assumptions to start off. We thought it was necklace and it symbolized a position of power due to the bones/teeth in its composition. We also made the assumption that because it is jewellery, it was only worn by women.

Now, we found out that this artefact is indeed a necklace, but it is worn by both genders. It was made by the Angami tribe and it is made of metal, bone and beads.


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