Tribes, Nomads and Settled Communities (Class 7 History Chapter 7 Notes)

Hornbill Dance
Tribes, Nomads and Settled Communities
  1. Despite political and economical changes, the societal change was not same across the subcontinent. The different section of the society underwent through a different series of changes.
  2. A large section of the society was divided according to the rules of Varna, prescribed by the Brahmins. The difference between high and low, rich and poor grew over the period of time.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Societies
  1. There were societies which never followed Brahmanical code of condut. They were divided into several sections. These socities are known as tribes.
  2. They were united by common lineage. They were mostly agriculture dependent and others were hunter-gatherers.
  3. The land was controlled by the community and produce was divided amongst households according to its rules.
  4. They were several tribal communities and they usually clash with caste-based societies for natural resources. However, they were codependent for their different needs.

Who were Tribal People?
Tribals are found in most of the subcontinent. They don't have written records, but they preserved a rich oral tradition. Some of the most powerful tribes are
  1. Khokhar and Gakkhars in Punjab.
  2. Langahs and Arghuns in Multan and Sind region.
  3. Blochs in the northwest.
  4. Gaddis in the Western Himalayas.
  5. Nagas and Ahoms in the northeast.
  6. Cheros in present day region of Bihar and Jharkhand.
  7. Munda and Santal in Odisha and Bengal region.
  8. Kolis, Berads, Koragas, Vetars, Maravars and others in Maharashtra and southern regions.
  9. Bhils and Gonds in the central region.

How Nomads and Mobile People Lived
  1. Nomadic pastoralists usually moved over long distances with their animals. They lived on pastoral products. They traded their produce with settled societies for their needs.
  2. The Banjaras are the best known trader-nomads. Their carvans are known as tanda.
  3. There were also castes of entertainers who performed in different places for their livelihood.

New Castes and Hierarchies
  1. As the economy and needs of the society grew, new jatis (castes) emerged within varnas.
  2. Many tribes were absorbed into Brahmanical caste based society and given new castes, according to their status in the group.
  3. Among Kshatriyas, new clans such as Rajput became powerful by the eleventh centuries. They replaced older rulers.
  4. A large number of tribes from Punjab, Sind and the Northwest Frontier adopted Islam.

A Closer Look
  1. Gonds lived in a large forested region commonly known as Gondwana - the country of Gonds.
  2. They were divided into several clans. Each clan has its own raja or rai. Garha Katanga is one of the most powerful Gond clan and was mentioned in Akbarnama.
  3. They followed a centralized administrative system. The kingdom was divided into garh. Each garh was divided into 84 villages or chaurasi. The chaurasi were subgrouped in seven barhots made up of 12 villages.
  4. Their emergence lured them to become the part of caste based society, which later led to fall of the Gondwana. Rani Durgwati, who ruled on the behalf of her son, was one of the most fierce Gondwana ruler.
  5. Gonds disintregated after their defeat to Mughals and later Bundels and Marathas.

The Ahoms
  1. The Ahoms immigrated from present day Myanmar to the Brahmaputra Valley in the 13th century.
  2. They created a new state after suppressing the bhuiyans (landlords).
  3. Later, they annexed Kingdom of Chhutiyas (1523) and Koch-Hajo (1581).
  4. They were one of the early adopters of firearms and by 1660s, they were known for their high quality gunpowder and cannons.
  5. In 1662, the Mughals defeated the Ahoms, but they were not control the state for a long period of time.
  6. The Ahom state dependent on forced labour. The forced labour was known as paiks.
  7. Each village has to send a number of paiks on the rotation basis. All adult males have to do compulsory military service.
  8. They introduced new methods rice cultivation in India.
  9. The Ahom society was divided into several clans or khels. Each khel administered several village. And the land for agriculture was distributed by the village community.
  10. They usually followed their tribal religion, but after the introduction of Hinduism in 18th century, most of them adopted Hinduim. However, they still follow their tribal rituals.
  11. They also respected poets and scholar. They were given land grants. Theatre was encouraged. Several major Sanskrit works were translated into their Ahom language and later Assamese.
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