The Village Clan

In principle, the bonso descent categories take concrete shape in the form of villages. The descent categories cut across different tribal groups, and all Cobra (hantal), for example, classify one another as non-marriageable and hence as agnates (bai). However, the members of the Cobra category never act together as a unit or social group. In contrast, the villages as units of action represent empirical and named segments of the general bonso categories, and in view of the correlation between territoriality and descent, we can speak of “village clans.” Among the Gutob Gadaba - as also among the Ollar Gadaba, the Parenga, and the Pengo (see below) - village clans of this kind are found in every bonso, and the group name is often derived from that of the village. For some villages, I am aware of additional Gutob names, but for others, only Desia names are used.[1] [2]

The village of Gudapada is called Gangreungom - “village of the Gangre” - in Gutob, and Gangre64 designates the group of the village founders or “earth people” (matia). All Gangre, whatever village they live in, belong to the Cobra bonso and are identified with their village of origin, the only one in which they have the right to eat tsoru as members of the Four Brothers. The founders of the village of Ridal or Ruda’el are called Ruda’i and belong to the Tiger bonso. In these two examples, the meaning of the names Gangre and Ruda’i is unclear, but in other cases, the names of the village clans are derived from the names of animals. For instance, the “earth people” of the village of Soilpada are called cats (girem*), and those of Kalapada are called birds (guga*). Like the Gangre, the Girem and the Guga belong to the Cobra bonso. Gibir - from gibi’*, pig - is the name of the founders of the village of Kujam, who are from the Tiger bonso, and their village is called Gibirungom in Gutob. In other cases, no agreement between the name of the village and that of the village clan can be identified. The village of Cheliamenda - where the matia are from the Tiger bonso - is called Gisemunda in Gutob, but the people are known as Messing. Often, the name of the village clan is simply derived from that of the village by adding the suffix “-ia”; the “earth people” of Totapada are called Totapadia, for example.[3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Members of these village clans are also found in other villages, usually as internal affines of the local matia, not just in their villages of origin. For instance, the Ruda’i are to be found both in Gudapada and in Orna, where the matia belong to the Cobra bonso in each case. In the village of Raipada, where the “earth people” belong to the Monkey bonso, there are some houses of Gangre.66 The Durlia, originally from the village of Drueil and members of the Sun bonso (kora), have settled as affines in Totapada (Cobra bonso) and Gor- ihanjar (Monkey bonso), among other places, but also among their brothers in Kojriput, the so-called Suklital Gutal. Although there are some villages in which the matia can be identified only with difficulty, since they do not make up the majority of the village/7 many different groups are found in one village/8 or one group claims to be the matia group in two villages/9 for example, the overall picture of this village clan organization is clear. The decisive question, as a matter of principle, is who has the right to eat tsoru at the village shrines.

Without question, there are more villages than village clans today, since new villages have been established and older ones have split, as described above. All the villages founded by the matia of the old Guneipada are considered a single village for ritual purposes, now as before. Overall, it can be seen that the village clans of the Tiger and Cobra categories are far more numerous than those of the Sun and the Monkey. Since Gorihanjar and Raipada were previously a single village - Osorungom, as Gorihanjar is still called today - and I know of no other village in which the “earth people” belong to the golori clan, there appears to be only one village clan among the Gutob Gadaba with this bonso. The following table lists the village clans of the Gutob Gadaba and their villages of origin, but makes no claim to be exhaustive.

Table 5: Gutob Gadaba Village Clans

Village Name Desia, Gutob

bonso

Village Clan

Presence in Other Villages (bonso of the matia)

Alangpada, Alungom

Cobra

(hantal)

Alangpadia, Alungnen

Ponosguda (Tiger)

Auripada, Kalungom

Cobra

Auripadia, Kalnen

Ponosguda (Tiger)

Bondpada

Cobra

Bondpadia

Deulpada, Aiungom

Cobra

Deulpadia, Ainen

Ponosguda (Tiger)

Gudapada,

Cobra

Gudapadia,

Raipada (Monkey)

Gangreungom

Gangre

Gorihanjar (Monkey) Montriput (?)

Guneipada, Inde'el

Cobra

Guneipadia

Gutalpada

Cobra

Gutal

Kalapada

Cobra

Guga (Bird)

Oleibir

Cobra

Oleibir

Sogor (Parenga, Tiger)

Onmail

?

Onmalia

Orna, Osolungom

Cobra

Osol

Poibada

Cobra

Poibadia

Ponjol

Cobra

Kupa

Potenda

Cobra

Patik

Chandalamanda (Tiger) Komel (Tiger?)

Soilpada,

Giremungom

Cobra

Soilpadia, Girem (Cat)

Montriput (?)

Tentulipada

Cobra

Tentulipadia

Totapada

Cobra

Totapadia

Chandalamanda (Tiger) Ponosguda (Tiger)

Chandalamanda

Tiger (killo)

Sirme, Sirmlia

Tikrapada (Tiger) Soilpada (Cobra)

Cheliamenda,

Tiger

Messing

Gudapada (Cobra)

Gisemunda

Orna (Cobra)

Ponosguda

Tiger

Gumal

Gonel

Tiger

Osag

Montriput (?)

Kujam,

Gibirungom

Tiger

Gibir (Pig)

Jointgiri (Tiger?) Totapada (Cobra)

Petpada,

Tiger

Petpadia

Go'enungom (?) Ridal, Ruda'el

Tiger

Ruda'i

Gudapada (Cobra)

Orna (Cobra)

Village Name Desia, Gutob

bonso

Village Clan

Presence in Other Villages (bonso of the matia)

Tikrapada (?)

Tiger

Tarob

Orna (Cobra) Kamarguda (Cobra)

Tikrapada

Tiger

Endaktal Gutal[8]

Tukum, Orleungom

Tiger

Tukmia, Orlenen

Drueil

Sun (kora)

Durlia

Gorihanjar (Monkey) Poibada (Cobra)

Gelaguda

Sun

?

Jalahanjar

Sun

Honjria

Kojriput

Sun

Suklital Gutal

Poibada (Cobra)

Gorihanjar,

Monkey

Osornen

Jalahanjar (Sun)

Osorungom

(golori)

The village clans acquire their identity through three interconnected characteristics: descent, territoriality, and commensality. The members of a village clan belong to the same bonso, although genealogical ties are significant only at the level of the kutum and even at that level are no longer remembered when they lie more than three or four generations back. Within the village, kutum and kuda groups are contrasted to one another, and the village as a descent group is likewise contrasted to other villages that are either bai or bondu. The significance of territoriality is evident in the term matia (“earth people”), which excludes all those who arrived “later,” no matter how long they have lived in the village. These latter are known as “latecomers” or upria.

Territoriality is thus not identical with residence. In whatever village a Gan- gre may settle, he remains linked to the territory of his village of origin, which defines his identity as a Gangre. This status is articulated and perpetuated through the Four Brothers’ tsoru commensality at the village shrines.[9] Each year at the April festival (chait porbo), the pujari and randan host the boys of the village at the village goddess’s shrine, mediating the children’s status as “earth people” by alimentary means even at their young age. Among adult men, those who have “fetched” a bride, only those who are ritually married are permitted to eat tsoru at the village’s most important shrines.

Ritual relationships between village clans are found not only within the Gutob Gadaba, but also between tribal groups. I was only able to confirm marriage alliances between the Gutob and the Ollar Gadaba, but other ritual relationships link Gutob Gadaba village clans to those of the Parenga. I am unaware of such relationships between the Gutob Gadaba and the Joria in the east or between the Gadaba and the Bondo or Didayi in the west; however, Elwin (1950, 2) mentions a moitr relationship between Gadaba and Bondo in the latter area.

This aspect of the village as village clan, as I have called it here, has either gone unnoticed in previous studies or been briefly mentioned and then ignored, apparently because its significance has not been fully grasped. In an early study, Pfeffer (1982) mentions that the Tigers and Cobras are each divided into two subgroups, which we can recognize without difficulty as village clans in my terminology:

The overwhelming cobra and tiger groups among the Boro Gadaba (great or “senior” Gadaba) are again subdivided into ollerbiri and oiyal (cobra) and gutal and gumal (tiger) which are both expressions of the eternal juxtaposition [i.e., seniority]. On the basis of locality [i.e., villages], 12 tiger clans further oppose 13 cobra clans with whom they intermarry. (48)

Ollerbiri, Oiyal, Gutal, and Gumal appear to be understood here as subcategories of the bonso without territorial reference, and Pfeffer does not draw a connection to the Cobra and Tiger villages mentioned immediately following.72 In his later work, no further indications of this kind are to be found, but he assigns the village a central position in what he calls the Koraput Complex, as both an analytical and a social unit, and he sees the village (along with the “sublineage” [kutum] and the “local lineage” [kuda]) as one of the three segments of the social order relevant for group interaction (Pfeffer 1997a, 17, 21, 24). The members of a village ideally belong to the same descent category and act as a unit in relation state this explicitly. Even taking into account the same author’s remark elsewhere that “full membership [in a Bondo village] can be acquired only by birth” (Furer-Haimendorf 1954,178), it is unclear whether the individual has to be born within a local descent group (as among the Gadaba) or merely within the village in order to qualify for tsoru commensality.

72 The twelve or thirteen villages of the Tigers and Cobras suggest the ideal and ritual village federations that will be described below.

to the outside world and to the earth goddess, according to Pfeffer (1997a, 20), who also ascribes importance to the aspect of tsoru commensality. However, these traits are not brought together in a way that does justice to the significance of villages of origin as named segments of the social order, as cultural ideas and categories of reference, and as empirical units that combine descent, territoriality, and commensality.

In his analysis of the relationship between territoriality and descent among the different “Munda” tribes, Parkin stresses the importance of the agnatic village founders and mentions various ways in which the village’s agnatic identity is ritually articulated (including tsoru commensality), but he does not go beyond this. Moreover, Parkin (1992,90) criticizes the “ethnocentric picture of the Munda village as primarily a territorial unit” and considers the agnatic group to be the only determining focus. My thesis, in contrast, presumes a considerable significance for the aspect of territoriality, in connection with the other criteria mentioned.

Mohanty (1973 - 74) recognizes the villages as named segments of the overarching bonso category, but limits himself to the following brief remark:

Each Gadaba clan [i. e., bonso] is further divided into a number of divisions which take their names after particular villages in which the clan was originally distributed. Such divisions may be called sub-clans, consisting of few lineages. (133)

Mohanty does not pursue the “sub-clans” further. In his tables presenting ritual relationships, the village clans or “sub-clans” do not appear.

In contrast, Thusu and Jha (1972, 53) give rather more detail about what they call “brother-clans” among the Ollar Gadaba east of Nandapur, in the Pottangi area. The descent categories (“Bonsh” or “Kulam”), which they call “phratries,” are divided into various “brother-clans,” they report:

the members affiliated to these clans believe that theyare [sic!] bound together exclusively by consanguineal ties (Saru Bhai) [and] [...] they had a vague belief that some of these clans were once associated with the village names. It is quite possible that these clans were previously localized, for example Gugaguda village (as mentioned earlier) is named aftar [sic!] the Guga clan, whose (male) members still dominate it, though not in size, but by exercising important socio-political and religious offices in the village. (53f)

This is apparently the same system that I have described for the Gutob Gadaba, here including the neighboring Ollar villages as well. Thusu and Jha mention tsoru commensality and the privileged status of the “brother-clans,” a status that - as the authors mention elsewhere (57) - results from their role as village founders and qualifies them for the village’s ritual and political functions.[10] [11] [12] They also note the association of these “brother-clans” with their villages of origin and the derivation of their names from those villages/4 Their table of the social groups of the village of Gugaguda shows that some of the groups have villages of origin located in the Lamtaput area. The Ollar village clans of the Murjia (Tiger), Mundagoria (Fish), and Kodria (Fish), mentioned by Thusu and Jha, will be seen again in the description of the Gangre’s network of ritual relationships. Other village clans that the authors encounter in the Pottangi area but cannot place (55) are Gutob and Ollar Gadaba from the region around Machkund and Lamtaput.7s

  • [1] Furer-Haimendorf (1943b, 163n2) mentions that the Bondo have Remo names for their villages, alongside the Desia names, and in view of the significance of tsoru commensality for thevillage, it can be presumed that the concept of the “village of origin” or “village clan” also existsthere.
  • [2] These village groups are often referred to using the suffixes “-mon” (plural), “-nen*”(people), or “-lok” (people); so for example as Gangremon (Gangrenen or Gangrelok): theGangre.
  • [3] Many village names in Desia end in “-pada,” meaning “land,” while “-padia” means the“people of the land”; thus Gudapadia means the “people of the Guda land,” that is, the Gangre.In Gutob, the ending tal*” presumably has a territorial meaning similar to that of “-pada.” TheEndak’tal Gutal are the Gutal of the plains, while the Suklital Gutal are the Gutal of the hills. Thecorresponding ending in Ollari is “—til” (Thusu and Jha 1972, 53).
  • [4] As part of a buffalo sacrifice for the deity boirobi in Raipada, the resident Gangre sacrificed apig at a subsidiary shrine and cooked its head for themselves as Gangre tsoru.
  • [5] In Soilpada, the affinal group of the Dongoromaji is so numerous that at first glance, theycould be confused with the matia (the Girem).
  • [6] Durlia (from Drueil), Totapadia (from Totapada), Osag (from Gonel), and Girem (from Soil-pada) live in Montriput, along with Dombo, Rona, and Mali, so that this is presumably not avillage of origin for any of these groups, but rather an offshoot of another village, as the suffix“—put” itself suggests.
  • [7] The Gumal (Tiger) claim to be the matia both in the village of Ponosguda and in Kalapada.Conversely, the Tarob (Tiger) appear to be always affines, in the villages known to me, andnowhere the matia.
  • [8] Various stories recount how the Endaktal Gutal (Tiger) and the Suklital Gutal (Sun) werepreviously brothers, but were separated by a rising river or other obstacles and became affines.The names refer to the location of the villages. Tikrapada is located in the low-lying area near theGoradi River, and endak* (or enda’*) is the hollow in the clay floor of the house in which pots areset. Kojriput, in contrast, is located in the hills, where a variety of thorn or burdock (sukli) isomnipresent, and so Suklital* indicates the hills.
  • [9] Furer-Haimendorf (1945, 331) writes about the Bondo in this regard, “Every village is a ritualunit whose members partake of the same sacrificial food and do not intermarry; new settlers arenot automatically accepted into the unit, but remain for ceremonial purposes and in regard tomarriage regulation members of their paternal village.” We can presume that second-generationimmigrants are also not integrated into the tsoru group, although Furer-Haimendorf does not
  • [10] The “village priest” is called “Palas,” and the “Naiko” is the “secular headman” (Thusu andJha 1972, 57).
  • [11] One of the same authors (Thusu 1977, 20 - 37) encounters a comparable situation (correlationbetween territoriality and descent category) among the Pengo in northern Koraput and theneighboring districts, where in the plains villages various bonso (“bonsh,” “phratry”) are known,and a variety of subordinate units (“clans”) exist, the names of which have various meanings(e.g., the names of birds), but the meanings in most cases are unknown. The majority of these“clans” are assigned to the Tiger and Cobra “phratries” (32). In the mountainous eastern part ofthe Pengo area, considered “traditional” (“Pengo-Pati,” 8, 10), however, the informants wereunfamiliar with the term bonso (20, 22). “In fact, whenever they talk among themselves with a view to know their group-affiliations,they would make an inquiry in these words: “Ina kar manaeti”, i.e. what people are you? Thisquery, according to our informants, would refer to the villages inhabited by them or theirancestors.” (20) In the village of Chikir, for example, nineteen “householders” (23) were asked about theirgroup membership, to which thirteen answered that they were “Chikria,” that is, people fromChikir, while the remaining six came from other “villages of their origin,” not all of which theywere able to name, but which they assumed to be indicated by their title in each case. Thepicture was the same in other villages, and in view of the lack of a bonso tie, the author chose tocall these units “non-totemic clans.” Nevertheless, some of these villages of origin are apparently linked to bonso categories (24). The author does not comment on the similarity to the“brother-clans” of the Ollar.
  • [12] These include the Tarob (“Tharub”), Sakia (from Sonkai), Tentulipadia (“Tentalparia”),Ambapadia (“Amaparia”), and Tukmia (“Thukum”) (Thusu and Jha 1972, 55). “Pombia” (54)likely refers to the Pambia (from Pambi), the panjabai of the Sisa in Gudapada.
 
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