The early hill tribes developed into a matriarchal society which persisted right into the 19th century CE.
The Kuravar engaged in love at first sight and immediate consummation. A rudimentary marriage rite, if any, followed consummation. This was known as kalavu or pre-nuptial love – as opposed to post-nuptial love (karpu). Interestingly, over time “kalavu” came to mean “thievery”.
Men taking another’s widow and adopting her children was common. During her lifetime, a strong woman would take multiple partners.
Even after the first semblance of statehood and institutions of government evolved, children were known by their mother’s name, rather than their father. To put it plainly, the clansmen knew who the mother was, but did not always know which man had successfully impregnated the woman.
This naming convention also worked well in latter day patriarchal societies where a man had multiple wives and it made sense to identify his children to their biological mothers.
The Kuravar adorned themselves with flower garlands and wore skirts of leaves and grass. Animal hides and decorative leather, and bones and teeth of predators were prized items. Flowers played a major part not only among the hill tribes but all of the Deccan of ancient south India. (One can write a tome on flowers, their uses and importance in ancient Indian life.)
As social norms and the institution of marriage developed, men presented their lovers with trophies: usually teeth or claws of predators stringed together and worn around the necks. This evolved into the present-day holy thread or thaali which the groom ties around the neck of his bride.
*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2018 ***
Note: Treat these posts on Ancient Indian history as highly simplified introductions to a complex, often conflicting, and vague period mired in the mists of antiquity.
Join me next Friday for a little on the everyday lives of the ancient (B.C.E.) Tamil herdsmen of the Mullai (forest/pastoral) region.
I worked for a number of years on Bougainville Island (Part of Papua New Guinea but in the Solomon Islands group) – they also have a matriarchal society.
I’ve not visited Bougainville Island but visited Port Moresby several times on business during the 1990s. Met people from the island. I recall an insurgency on the island back then directed against foreign mining operations.
Another fascinating aspect of this beautiful culture. Thank you.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
All good wishes for the weekend,
so interesting I see some parallels in bunt culture of South Canara region.thank you for sharing! looking forward to reading more of your written work. I love the haiku as well. keep it up!
First comment on my blog – welcome aboard 🙂
Glad you like my posts on Ancient (South) India. And the haiku too.
Going forward, I hope not to disappoint.
Very interesting, Eric, although sterling silver would be more appreciated by me than claws or teeth. 😉
LOL! Yes, that would have been cool – the only person to wear sterling silver back then 🙂
It’s Saturday morning here 🙂
Well, enjoy your Saturday! I’m glad Friday has arrived. 🙂
When a baby is registered in Honduras it is given BOTH the father’s AND the mother’s last name. I rather like the custom. I don’t know how they handle the next generation for four would be too much, although it might assist people making ancestry charts! sometimes the simplest things can be reduced “ad absurdum”
In some cultures at one time the name string goes on for several generations, or so it seems. XYZ son of (s/o) ABC s/o DEF s/o GHI s/o and so on.
I guess it is only right that the strong and able can protect more. Men taking another’s widow and adopt their children is a generous act. Ironically society at that time is more broad minded and less critical than our time. Perhaps we can step back and relook at those practices that were right all along.
When survival confronts people every moment of the day, there are only so many options open to society.
It is not surprising that wealth breeds selfishness and false values become the new normal which leads to society fracturing and looking inwards, I reckon.
Interesting history lesson, Eric. Well done.
Thank you, Ina
All good wishes for the week ahead,
I enjoyed that as you will have anticipated. 🙂 I was told that there was a part of North Kerala coastland that was a matriarchal society and wonder if you have any information on that society. From memory it was the Nayar Community. Tribes in the Northeast India are matriarchal too.
Yes, parts of Kerala had a matriarchal society as I mentioned in my reply to Nousheen – “western regions of the Deccan”. I’m unsure whether it included the Nayars but could very well be. You are well informed 🙂 The Northeast regions – also probably had matriarchal societies.
All good wishes,
interesting as always, Eric
Thank you, Bill
Much appreciate you reading and commenting.
Enjoying these historical posts.
Thank you, and pleased to know.
And I much appreciate your visit and comment.
I think they had it right with marriage. No need for complex ceremonies!
Hello my Nairobi friend,
I agree with you. Same with my marriage, just some legal stuff and we were married!
That’s how it should be. Easy stuff
This is very interesting. There are/were several matriarchal societies in India but this one is new for me. Thanks.
First comment in Written Words Never Die. Welcome 🙂
From what I know matriarchal societies were quite prevalent in the western regions of the Deccan.
All good wishes,
P/s. That book you recommended – The adventures of Amir Hamza – I’m reading it now. Fascinating!
Glad you liked reading Amir Hamza..