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Tribal Societies

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Tribal Societies - Lesson Summary

Indian civilization consisted of many different societies following different systems. Some people followed the Varna or caste system prescribed by the Brahmins, where people were classified on the basis of their occupation. Under the Mughal Empire, this division became even more prominent.

There were some people who did not follow the caste system and rituals prescribed by the Brahmins and were often called tribes. The tribal societies did not have hierarchy or class inequality as the members were tied by family relationships.

Some tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to another, while others earned their living from agriculture. They did not keep any written records about their traditions but had a rich history of arts, rituals and customs, which they passed to the next generation through oral communication.

During the 13 th and 14 th centuries, the Khokar tribe was very influential in Punjab and was succeeded by the Gakkhars. The Langah and Arghun tribes dominated extensive regions in Multan and Sind before they were subdued by the Mughals.

The Balochis were a large and powerful tribe that lived in the north-west region and consisted of smaller clans, which had their own chiefs. The Gaddis were a tribe of shepherds that lived in the western Himalayas while the distant north-eastern part of the subcontinent was entirely dominated by tribes like the Nagas, Ahoms and others. Chero chiefdoms emerged in Bihar and Jharkhand during the 12 th century.

Other important tribes such as the Mundas and Santals lived in Orissa and Bengal. The Kolis, Berads and others lived in the Maharashtra highlands, Karnataka and also in some parts of Gujarat.

Large populations of Koragas, Vetars, Maravars and many others lived in the south while the Bhils were spread across western and central India. The Gonds could be found in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.


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