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|Anthropology of kinship|
A clan is group of apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a symbol of the clan's unity. When this "ancestor" is non-human, it is referred to as a totem, which is frequently an animal. Clans can be most easily described as tribes or sub-groups of tribes. The word clan is derived from clann meaning children or progeny but not family in the Irish language and Scottish Gaelic languages. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was introduced into English around the year 1425 as a label for the tribal nature of the Scottish Highlands society. Clans in indigenous societies are likely to be exogamous, meaning that their members cannot marry one another. Clans preceded more centralized forms of community organization and government; they are located in every country. Members may identify with a coat of arms or other symbol to show they are an independent clan.
- Clans as political units 1
- Clans by continent and/or region 2
- See also 3
- References 4
Clans as political units
In different cultures and situations, a clan may mean the same thing as other kin-based groups, such as tribes, castes, and bands. Often, the distinguishing factor is that a clan is a smaller part of a larger society such as a tribe, a chiefdom, or a state. In some societies, clans may have an official leader such as a chieftain or patriarch; in others, leadership positions may have to be achieved, or people may say that "elders" make decisions.
Examples include Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes had fox and bear clans whose membership could supersede the tribe.
Apart from these different historical traditions of kinship, conceptual confusion arises from colloquial usages of the term. In post-Soviet countries, for example, it is quite common to speak of "clans" in reference to informal networks within the economic and political sphere. This usage reflects the assumption that their members act towards each other in a particularly close and mutually supportive way approximating the solidarity among kinsmen. Polish clans differ from most others as they are a collection of families who bear the same coat of arms, as opposed to claiming a common descent (see Polish heraldry). There are multiple closely related clans in the Indian sub-continent, especially south India.
Clans by continent and/or region
The Irish Gaelic term for clan or less identifiable family group is fine ; líon tí is a term for "family" in the sense of "household"; and muintir is a term for "family" in the sense of "kinsfolk".
a Meaning the transcontinental area between Asia and Europe.
- Dineen, Patrick S. (1927). Foclóir Gaeďilge agus Béarla an IRISH-ENGLISH DICTIONARY. Dublin and Cork, Ireland: The Educational Company of Ireland, Ltd.
- Ó Dónaill, Niall (1992). Foclóir Gaeilge–Béarla. Dublin, Ireland: An Gúm.
- "Clan", Online Etymology Dictionary
- See, for example, 1 Chronicles 4 and Numbers 26 in the Old Testament.
- See Edward MacLysaght, Irish Families – note: Families, not Clans – Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1985.