Opium and Studs – The Bishnoi Tribe of Rajasthan


Photo by Molly McCahan - SF Examiner

I really enjoyed this article posted by CNNGo titled “Opium and Curry: The Indian Tribe That Welcomes You With Drugs”.

A while back I wrote a post about our opium cups and the ancient tradition of drinking opium in India.

Rosewood Opium Cup

I’ve been fascinated by the Bishnoi, but didn’t have a lot of information on this tribe located in Western Rajasthan.

The article talks about how opium, though officially illegal in India, is used by the Bishnoi in traditional ceremonies.

The Bishnoi people have also been known for their strict conservation practices. “In 1730 hundreds of them laid down their lives by hugging tees to stop them  being felled. They were beheaded, but when the Maharajah of Jodhpur heard of their sacrifice he commanded the lumberjacks to quit chopping trees, as well as heads, in the area.”

Bishnoi Woman Preparing Opium Drink - Photo by Leanne Leonard

And perhaps most interesting about this tribe is their “supposedly  obsolete stud system. As recently as 50 years ago, the best-looking man  in the area was encouraged to sleep with as many eligible females as he could for a decade. He was then summarily beheaded, or at the very least, excommunicated for  life.”

This practice has been outlawed, but as the author notes – so has the opium.

To see our collection of carved opium cups click here.

Molly McCahan has written a wonderful travel series on Rajasthan for the SF Examiner. To read “Rajashtan Revealed” click here.


3 thoughts on “Opium and Studs – The Bishnoi Tribe of Rajasthan

  1. how did u come to know about the stud practice among bishnois. did bishnois themselves inform you or u heard it from somebody else . i m asking this question because i want to collect authentic information about bishnois. a lot of bishnois believe that it was intended to defame bishnois who challenged the dominance of jats.

  2. hello Weiss – thank you for the information. Even i don’t know whether it is correct or incorrect . there is no written evidence in the past records to support that this practice existed. the colonial administrators produced extensive knowledge about the cultures and customs of each and every tribe in rajasthan, but this has not been mentioned in their records. may be this practice was confined in a village or a small region and so it escaped their surveys.thank you!

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