NCERT Textbook - Tribes, Nomads and Settled Communities Class 7 Notes | EduRev

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Class 7 : NCERT Textbook - Tribes, Nomads and Settled Communities Class 7 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


91
Y
ou saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms
rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new
arts, crafts and production activities flourished in
towns and villages. Over the centuries important
political, social and economic developments had
taken place. But social change was not
the same everywhere, because different
kinds of societies evolved differently. It is
important to understand how, and why,
this happened.
In large parts of the subcontinent, society
was already divided according to the rules
of varna. These rules, as prescribed by the
Brahmanas, were accepted by the rulers of
large kingdoms. The difference between the
high and low, and between the rich and poor,
increased. Under the Delhi Sultans and the
Mughals, this hierarchy between social
classes grew further.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal
Societies Societies Societies Societies Societies
There were, however, other kinds of
societies as well. Many societies in the
subcontinent did not follow the social rules
and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas.
Nor were they divided into numerous
unequal classes. Such societies are often
called tribes.
7
TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Fig. 1
Tribal dance,
Santal painted scroll.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Page 2


91
Y
ou saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms
rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new
arts, crafts and production activities flourished in
towns and villages. Over the centuries important
political, social and economic developments had
taken place. But social change was not
the same everywhere, because different
kinds of societies evolved differently. It is
important to understand how, and why,
this happened.
In large parts of the subcontinent, society
was already divided according to the rules
of varna. These rules, as prescribed by the
Brahmanas, were accepted by the rulers of
large kingdoms. The difference between the
high and low, and between the rich and poor,
increased. Under the Delhi Sultans and the
Mughals, this hierarchy between social
classes grew further.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal
Societies Societies Societies Societies Societies
There were, however, other kinds of
societies as well. Many societies in the
subcontinent did not follow the social rules
and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas.
Nor were they divided into numerous
unequal classes. Such societies are often
called tribes.
7
TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Fig. 1
Tribal dance,
Santal painted scroll.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 92 OUR PASTS – II
?
Members of each tribe were united by kinship bonds.
Many tribes obtained their livelihood from agriculture.
Others were hunter-gatherers or herders. Most often
they combined these activities to make full use of the
natural resources of the area in which they lived. Some
tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to
another. A tribal group controlled land and pastures
jointly, and divided these amongst households
according to its own rules.
Many large tribes thrived in different parts of the
subcontinent. They usually lived in forests, hills,
deserts and places difficult to reach. Sometimes they
clashed with the more powerful caste-based societies.
In various ways, the tribes retained their freedom and
preserved their separate culture.
But the caste-based and tribal societies also
depended on each other for their diverse needs. This
relationship, of conflict and dependence, gradually
caused both societies to change.
Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People?
Contemporary historians and travellers give very
scanty information about tribes. A few exceptions
apart, tribal people did not keep written records. But
they preserved rich customs and oral traditions. These
were passed down to each new generation. Present-
day historians have started using such oral traditions
to write tribal histories.
Tribal people were found in almost every region of
the subcontinent. The area and influence of a tribe
varied at different points of time. Some powerful tribes
controlled large territories. In Punjab, the Khokhar
tribe was very influential during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more
important. Their chief, Kamal Khan Gakkhar, was
made a noble (mansabdar) by Emperor Akbar. In
Multan and Sind, the Langahs and Arghuns dominated
extensive regions before they were subdued by the
Mughals. The Balochis were another large and powerful
On a physical
map of the
subcontinent,
identify the areas
in which tribal
people may have
lived.
Page 3


91
Y
ou saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms
rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new
arts, crafts and production activities flourished in
towns and villages. Over the centuries important
political, social and economic developments had
taken place. But social change was not
the same everywhere, because different
kinds of societies evolved differently. It is
important to understand how, and why,
this happened.
In large parts of the subcontinent, society
was already divided according to the rules
of varna. These rules, as prescribed by the
Brahmanas, were accepted by the rulers of
large kingdoms. The difference between the
high and low, and between the rich and poor,
increased. Under the Delhi Sultans and the
Mughals, this hierarchy between social
classes grew further.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal
Societies Societies Societies Societies Societies
There were, however, other kinds of
societies as well. Many societies in the
subcontinent did not follow the social rules
and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas.
Nor were they divided into numerous
unequal classes. Such societies are often
called tribes.
7
TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Fig. 1
Tribal dance,
Santal painted scroll.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 92 OUR PASTS – II
?
Members of each tribe were united by kinship bonds.
Many tribes obtained their livelihood from agriculture.
Others were hunter-gatherers or herders. Most often
they combined these activities to make full use of the
natural resources of the area in which they lived. Some
tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to
another. A tribal group controlled land and pastures
jointly, and divided these amongst households
according to its own rules.
Many large tribes thrived in different parts of the
subcontinent. They usually lived in forests, hills,
deserts and places difficult to reach. Sometimes they
clashed with the more powerful caste-based societies.
In various ways, the tribes retained their freedom and
preserved their separate culture.
But the caste-based and tribal societies also
depended on each other for their diverse needs. This
relationship, of conflict and dependence, gradually
caused both societies to change.
Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People?
Contemporary historians and travellers give very
scanty information about tribes. A few exceptions
apart, tribal people did not keep written records. But
they preserved rich customs and oral traditions. These
were passed down to each new generation. Present-
day historians have started using such oral traditions
to write tribal histories.
Tribal people were found in almost every region of
the subcontinent. The area and influence of a tribe
varied at different points of time. Some powerful tribes
controlled large territories. In Punjab, the Khokhar
tribe was very influential during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more
important. Their chief, Kamal Khan Gakkhar, was
made a noble (mansabdar) by Emperor Akbar. In
Multan and Sind, the Langahs and Arghuns dominated
extensive regions before they were subdued by the
Mughals. The Balochis were another large and powerful
On a physical
map of the
subcontinent,
identify the areas
in which tribal
people may have
lived.
93
tribe in the north-west. They were divided into many
smaller clans under different chiefs. In the western
Himalaya lived the shepherd tribe of Gaddis. The
distant north-eastern part of the subcontinent too was
entirely dominated by tribes – the Nagas, Ahoms and
many others.
In many areas of present-day Bihar and
Jharkhand, Chero chiefdoms had emerged by the
twelfth century. Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s famous
general, attacked and defeated the Cheros in 1591.
A large amount of booty was taken from them, but
they were not entirely subdued. Under Aurangzeb,
Mughal forces captured many Chero fortresses and
subjugated the tribe. The Mundas and Santals were
among the other important tribes that lived in this
region and also in Orissa and Bengal.
Clan
A clan is a group
of families or
households
claiming descent
from a common
ancestor. Tribal
organisation is
often based on
kinship or clan
loyalties.
Map 1
Location of some
of the major Indian
tribes.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Page 4


91
Y
ou saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms
rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new
arts, crafts and production activities flourished in
towns and villages. Over the centuries important
political, social and economic developments had
taken place. But social change was not
the same everywhere, because different
kinds of societies evolved differently. It is
important to understand how, and why,
this happened.
In large parts of the subcontinent, society
was already divided according to the rules
of varna. These rules, as prescribed by the
Brahmanas, were accepted by the rulers of
large kingdoms. The difference between the
high and low, and between the rich and poor,
increased. Under the Delhi Sultans and the
Mughals, this hierarchy between social
classes grew further.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal
Societies Societies Societies Societies Societies
There were, however, other kinds of
societies as well. Many societies in the
subcontinent did not follow the social rules
and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas.
Nor were they divided into numerous
unequal classes. Such societies are often
called tribes.
7
TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Fig. 1
Tribal dance,
Santal painted scroll.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 92 OUR PASTS – II
?
Members of each tribe were united by kinship bonds.
Many tribes obtained their livelihood from agriculture.
Others were hunter-gatherers or herders. Most often
they combined these activities to make full use of the
natural resources of the area in which they lived. Some
tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to
another. A tribal group controlled land and pastures
jointly, and divided these amongst households
according to its own rules.
Many large tribes thrived in different parts of the
subcontinent. They usually lived in forests, hills,
deserts and places difficult to reach. Sometimes they
clashed with the more powerful caste-based societies.
In various ways, the tribes retained their freedom and
preserved their separate culture.
But the caste-based and tribal societies also
depended on each other for their diverse needs. This
relationship, of conflict and dependence, gradually
caused both societies to change.
Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People?
Contemporary historians and travellers give very
scanty information about tribes. A few exceptions
apart, tribal people did not keep written records. But
they preserved rich customs and oral traditions. These
were passed down to each new generation. Present-
day historians have started using such oral traditions
to write tribal histories.
Tribal people were found in almost every region of
the subcontinent. The area and influence of a tribe
varied at different points of time. Some powerful tribes
controlled large territories. In Punjab, the Khokhar
tribe was very influential during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more
important. Their chief, Kamal Khan Gakkhar, was
made a noble (mansabdar) by Emperor Akbar. In
Multan and Sind, the Langahs and Arghuns dominated
extensive regions before they were subdued by the
Mughals. The Balochis were another large and powerful
On a physical
map of the
subcontinent,
identify the areas
in which tribal
people may have
lived.
93
tribe in the north-west. They were divided into many
smaller clans under different chiefs. In the western
Himalaya lived the shepherd tribe of Gaddis. The
distant north-eastern part of the subcontinent too was
entirely dominated by tribes – the Nagas, Ahoms and
many others.
In many areas of present-day Bihar and
Jharkhand, Chero chiefdoms had emerged by the
twelfth century. Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s famous
general, attacked and defeated the Cheros in 1591.
A large amount of booty was taken from them, but
they were not entirely subdued. Under Aurangzeb,
Mughal forces captured many Chero fortresses and
subjugated the tribe. The Mundas and Santals were
among the other important tribes that lived in this
region and also in Orissa and Bengal.
Clan
A clan is a group
of families or
households
claiming descent
from a common
ancestor. Tribal
organisation is
often based on
kinship or clan
loyalties.
Map 1
Location of some
of the major Indian
tribes.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 94 OUR PASTS – II
The Maharashtra highlands and
Karnataka were home to Kolis,
Berads and numerous others. Kolis
also lived in many areas of Gujarat.
Further south there were large
tribal populations of Koragas,
Vetars, Maravars and many others.
The large tribe of Bhils was
spread across western and central
India. By the late sixteenth century,
many of them had become settled
agriculturists and some even
zamindars. Many Bhil clans,
nevertheless, remained hunter-
gatherers. The Gonds were found
in great numbers across the
present-day states of Chhattisgarh,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Andhra Pradesh.
How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile
People Lived People Lived People Lived People Lived People Lived
Nomadic pastoralists moved over
long distances with their animals.
They lived on milk and other
pastoral products. They also
exchanged wool, ghee, etc., with
settled agriculturists for grain,
cloth, utensils and other products.
Fig. 2
Bhils hunting deer by night.
Fig.3
A chain of mobile traders connected
India to the outside world. Here you
see nuts being gathered and loaded on
the backs of camels. Central Asian
traders brought such goods to India
and the Banjaras and other traders
carried these to local markets.
Page 5


91
Y
ou saw in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 how kingdoms
rose and fell. Even as this was happening, new
arts, crafts and production activities flourished in
towns and villages. Over the centuries important
political, social and economic developments had
taken place. But social change was not
the same everywhere, because different
kinds of societies evolved differently. It is
important to understand how, and why,
this happened.
In large parts of the subcontinent, society
was already divided according to the rules
of varna. These rules, as prescribed by the
Brahmanas, were accepted by the rulers of
large kingdoms. The difference between the
high and low, and between the rich and poor,
increased. Under the Delhi Sultans and the
Mughals, this hierarchy between social
classes grew further.
Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal Beyond Big Cities: Tribal
Societies Societies Societies Societies Societies
There were, however, other kinds of
societies as well. Many societies in the
subcontinent did not follow the social rules
and rituals prescribed by the Brahmanas.
Nor were they divided into numerous
unequal classes. Such societies are often
called tribes.
7
TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES SETTLED COMMUNITIES
Fig. 1
Tribal dance,
Santal painted scroll.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 92 OUR PASTS – II
?
Members of each tribe were united by kinship bonds.
Many tribes obtained their livelihood from agriculture.
Others were hunter-gatherers or herders. Most often
they combined these activities to make full use of the
natural resources of the area in which they lived. Some
tribes were nomadic and moved from one place to
another. A tribal group controlled land and pastures
jointly, and divided these amongst households
according to its own rules.
Many large tribes thrived in different parts of the
subcontinent. They usually lived in forests, hills,
deserts and places difficult to reach. Sometimes they
clashed with the more powerful caste-based societies.
In various ways, the tribes retained their freedom and
preserved their separate culture.
But the caste-based and tribal societies also
depended on each other for their diverse needs. This
relationship, of conflict and dependence, gradually
caused both societies to change.
Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People? Who were Tribal People?
Contemporary historians and travellers give very
scanty information about tribes. A few exceptions
apart, tribal people did not keep written records. But
they preserved rich customs and oral traditions. These
were passed down to each new generation. Present-
day historians have started using such oral traditions
to write tribal histories.
Tribal people were found in almost every region of
the subcontinent. The area and influence of a tribe
varied at different points of time. Some powerful tribes
controlled large territories. In Punjab, the Khokhar
tribe was very influential during the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries. Later, the Gakkhars became more
important. Their chief, Kamal Khan Gakkhar, was
made a noble (mansabdar) by Emperor Akbar. In
Multan and Sind, the Langahs and Arghuns dominated
extensive regions before they were subdued by the
Mughals. The Balochis were another large and powerful
On a physical
map of the
subcontinent,
identify the areas
in which tribal
people may have
lived.
93
tribe in the north-west. They were divided into many
smaller clans under different chiefs. In the western
Himalaya lived the shepherd tribe of Gaddis. The
distant north-eastern part of the subcontinent too was
entirely dominated by tribes – the Nagas, Ahoms and
many others.
In many areas of present-day Bihar and
Jharkhand, Chero chiefdoms had emerged by the
twelfth century. Raja Man Singh, Akbar’s famous
general, attacked and defeated the Cheros in 1591.
A large amount of booty was taken from them, but
they were not entirely subdued. Under Aurangzeb,
Mughal forces captured many Chero fortresses and
subjugated the tribe. The Mundas and Santals were
among the other important tribes that lived in this
region and also in Orissa and Bengal.
Clan
A clan is a group
of families or
households
claiming descent
from a common
ancestor. Tribal
organisation is
often based on
kinship or clan
loyalties.
Map 1
Location of some
of the major Indian
tribes.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES 94 OUR PASTS – II
The Maharashtra highlands and
Karnataka were home to Kolis,
Berads and numerous others. Kolis
also lived in many areas of Gujarat.
Further south there were large
tribal populations of Koragas,
Vetars, Maravars and many others.
The large tribe of Bhils was
spread across western and central
India. By the late sixteenth century,
many of them had become settled
agriculturists and some even
zamindars. Many Bhil clans,
nevertheless, remained hunter-
gatherers. The Gonds were found
in great numbers across the
present-day states of Chhattisgarh,
Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Andhra Pradesh.
How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile How Nomads and Mobile
People Lived People Lived People Lived People Lived People Lived
Nomadic pastoralists moved over
long distances with their animals.
They lived on milk and other
pastoral products. They also
exchanged wool, ghee, etc., with
settled agriculturists for grain,
cloth, utensils and other products.
Fig. 2
Bhils hunting deer by night.
Fig.3
A chain of mobile traders connected
India to the outside world. Here you
see nuts being gathered and loaded on
the backs of camels. Central Asian
traders brought such goods to India
and the Banjaras and other traders
carried these to local markets.
95
They bought and sold these goods as they moved
from one place to another, transporting them on their
animals.
The Banjaras were the most important trader-
nomads. Their caravan was called tanda. Sultan
Alauddin Khalji (Chapter 3) used the Banjaras to
transport grain to the city markets. Emperor Jahangir
wrote in his memoirs that the Banjaras carried grain
on their bullocks from different areas and sold it in
towns. They transported food grain for the Mughal
army during military campaigns. With a large army
there could be 100,000 bullocks carrying grain.
The Banjaras The Banjaras The Banjaras The Banjaras The Banjaras
Peter Mundy, an English trader who came to India
during the early seventeenth century, has described
the Banjaras:
 In the morning we met a tanda of Banjaras with14,000 oxen.
They were all laden with grains such as wheat and rice ...
These Banjaras carry their household – wives and children –
along with them. One tanda consists of many families. Their
way of life is similar to that of carriers who continuously
travel from place to place. They own their oxen. They are
sometimes hired by merchants, but most commonly they are
themselves merchants. They buy grain where it is cheaply
available and carry it to places where it is dearer. From there,
they again reload their oxen with anything that can be
profitably sold in other places … In a tanda there may be as
many as 6 or 7 hundred persons … They do not travel more
than 6 or 7 miles a day – that, too, in the cool weather. After
unloading their oxen, they turn them free to graze as there is
enough land here, and no one there to forbid them.
Find out how grain is transported from villages to
cities at present. In what ways is this similar to or
different from the ways in which the Banjaras functioned?
?
Nomads and
itinerant groups
Nomads are
wandering people.
Many of them are
pastoralists who
roam from one
pasture to another
with their flocks
and herds.
Similarly, itinerant
groups, such as
craftspersons,
pedlars and
entertainers travel
from place to place
practising their
different
occupations.
Both nomads and
itinerant groups
often visit the
same places every
year.
TRIBES, NOMADS AND
SETTLED COMMUNITIES
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