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The Abode of Ancient Clans   

The ancestral home in the communal life of the Kodavas of Coorg

The origin stories of distinguished clans and families across many societies of the world are associated with their ancestral homes. Ainmanes are the ancestral homes of the Kodavas of Coorg, designating a particular okka (clan or family). They are situated on the jamma (ancestral) land of the okka and form a composite cluster of structures with specified areas for rituals and ceremonies that endorse the clan's traditions.

Ainmanes have been in existence since the 8th century CE. They are architectural marvels made of wood, mud and stone characterized by sloping tiled roofs and elaborately carved wooden doors and windows. Additionally, they feature kayyales (verandahs) with tapering, square carved pillars that support the atta (attic) and aimaras (wooden planks) located between the carved pillars.

Ainmanes are generally classified into two types as commonly found. Othe pore - literally meaning a single-roomed house/hut – is a tile or thatch roofed rectangular house with a single wing. These were the homes of the more modest Kodava clan families.The Mund mane, on the other hand, signified higher clan status with its size and grandeur. What distinguished them was a courtyard at the center of which was the mund - a square, sunken inner space that was open to the sky, allowing for ventilation and light.

Ainmanes embody practicality and aesthetics in an impressive way that serve the social and cultural needs of the clan -family. Its functions and use are defined by elaborate guidelines aimed at strengthening and supporting clan bonds. Each member of the okka has access to and the right to live in and around the Ainmane on the jamma land. This includes daughters who have married into other okkas but have returned to their paternal Ainmane due to various reasons. The Kodavas have shown a rare progressiveness in this regard going back in time.

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