In Malayalam, the word Muthuvan means those who carry something on their back. It is said that they carried their children and belongings on their back during their migration to the Western Ghats, hence they were called Muthuvan. The Muthuvan are distributed in Idukki districts and in the adjoining Western Ghats of the Palakkad and Thrissur districts. They speak a dialect of their own. The patois is a debased form of Tamil. They speak to others either in Malayalam or Tamil. The Muthuvan have six matrilineal clans (Koottams), viz. Melae koottam, Kana koottam, Thushani koottam, Kanya koottam, Elli koottam and Puthani koottam with hierarchical order. Each koottam is again divided into six lineages. The functions of these divisions are mainly for marriage alliance, to keep up the social status and to indicate descent and ancestry. The Muthuvan are mainly a landowning community. In some areas, government has allotted agricultural land for them, but not on ownership basis. Traditionally the Muthuvans are nomadic agriculturists, hunters and trappers. Their primary cultivations are coffee, ginger, sugarcane and paddy. The Muthuvan are tribal religionists. The present day Muthuvans claims that they are Hindus.

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