The Goudus are a pastoral tribe in the agency tracts of Andhra Pradesh, recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in the Agency area of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. They inhabit predominantly the hill tracts of Araku valley, Paderu and Manchingput areas of Visakhapatnam district. In the 1991 census, their population was 11,279, and the total literacy among Goudu was 17.78%.
The entire Goudu tribe is divided into twelve endogamous subdivisions which are further divided into clans such as Korra (Sun), Pangi (Kite), Killo (Tiger), Vanthala (Snake), and Samardhi (flower).
Goudus of East Godavari district speak Telugu and those living in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts speak Adivasi Oriya.
They practice shifting cultivation and also settled cultivation in the valley lands. The main occupation of Goudus of interior villages is cattle-rearing.
The popular ways of acquiring mates are through negotiations, capture, love, elopement and service. Levirate type of marriage is also in vogue. The Goudus have their traditional community councils known as Kula Panchayats which maintain their customary laws, settle disputes, and impose fines on offenders.
The design of the Goudu alphabet is based on their architecture and implements. The Goudu build their huts without a threshold or doorway, so entrance is gained by crawling. The common shape for the Goudu letters, then, is a triangle, imitating the shape of their dwellings; the lower vertical line represents a crowbar, which is one of their most common implements for agricultural and domestic use.
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