The book ‘Kings of the Forest:
The Cultural Resilience of Himalayan Hunter-Gatherers’
(Honolulu:University of Hawaii Press, 2009) by JANA FORTIER is the most extensively publication devoted to the
Rautes people of Nepal.
The Raute are one of the last nomadic ethnic group of hunther gatherers, not assimilate into the surrounding farming
population, is estimated at about 650 persons living in the KARNALI and MAHAKALI monsoon rainforest of Western Nepal.
Their language called ‘Raute’ or ‘Khamci’ is classified as Tibeto-Burman and it’s closely related to the language spoken
by two related ethnic groups the Ban Raji (“Little Rulers of the Forest”) and Raji (“Little Rulers”) of the same region
(Fortier and Rastogi 2004).
The closest well-documented language to Raute known at the present time is the Chepang, spoken by an ethnic group of west-central
Nepal who also have been hunter-gatherers until the current generation.
The Raute are known for their hunting of langur and macaque monkeys for subsistence, hunting has no other purposes but to
consume for their survival , they prepare hunting by sacrificing chicken to the god on the new-moon day.
They also gather wild forest tubers, fruits, and greens on a regular basis.
To obtain grain, iron, cloth, and jewelry, they trade handmade wooden bowls and boxes to local farmers.
They do not sell other forest products, bushmeat, or forest medicinal plants.
Pictures and text courtesy of Jana Fortier.
In the follower pictures Raute drummers, called Guru, leading a dance in Jajarkot, Nepal.
They act like shamans who dance for many reasons,but especially for the happiness of the Sun deity, known as Berh.
During dances, only the older boys wear shamanic dance regalia.
When they come of age, they give their dance regalia to their younger brothers.
Each dancing dress is sewn with strips of red cloth by their sisters usually.
Raute drummers communicate with Berh through the trance-like drumming.
While drumming, the shamans call themselves “gurao,“ spiritual leaders who even possess the power of turning themselves into
a tigers. Drum made of monkey hide and “Saana” wood. Rautes themselves refer to their drum as a Dhol, and local villagers too
refer to it as a Dhol drum although it doesn’t have the classic Indian Dhol drum shape (Indian Dhol are wider, shorter, and
have a curve in the body of the instrument).
Courtesy of Jana Fortier