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A clan is a group of
people
people
united by actual or perceived
kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox states tha ...

kinship
and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clans may claim descent from founding member or
apical ancestor Common descent is a concept in evolutionary biology applicable when one species is the ancestor of two or more species later in time. All living beings are in fact descendants of a unique ancestor commonly referred to as the last universal commo ...
. Clans, in indigenous societies, tend to be
endogamous Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group, caste Caste is a form of social stratification characterized by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in ...
, meaning that their members can marry one another. Clans preceded more centralized forms of community organization and government, and exist in every country. Members may identify with a
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...
or other symbol to show that they are an . Kinship-based groups may also have a symbolic ancestor, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor who serves as a symbol of the clan's unity. When this "ancestor" is non-human - frequently an animal - it is referred to as a
totem A totem (Ojibwe The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten province ...

totem
.


Etymology

The English word "clan" is derived from old Irish meaning "children", "offspring", "progeny" or "descendants"; it is not from the word for "family" or "clan" in either
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
or Scottish Gaelic. According to the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive res ...
'', the word "clan" was introduced into English in around 1425, as a descriptive label for the organization of society in Ireland and the
Scottish Highlands The Highlands ( sco, the Hielands; gd, a’ Ghàidhealtachd , 'the place of the Gaels The Gaels (; ga, Na Gaeil ; gd, Na Gàidheil ; gv, Ny Gaeil ) are an ethnolinguistic group native to Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Sco ...

Scottish Highlands
. None of the Irish and Scottish Gaelic terms for kinship groups is cognate to English ''clan''; Scottish Gaelic ' means "descendants": * ' means (English) "clan" * ' means "family" in the sense of the nuclear family, or can include more distant relatives living in the same house * ' means either "family" in the sense of "household", or everyone who lives in the house, including non-relatives * ' means "family" in the broad sense of "kinsfolk"


Clans as political units

In different cultures and situations, a clan usually has different meaning than other kin-based groups, such as
tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribe
s and
bands Band or BAND may refer to: Places *Bánd, a village in Hungary *Band, Iran, a village in Urmia County, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran *Band, Mureș, a commune in Romania *Band-e Majid Khan, a village in Bukan County, West Azerbaijan Province, Ira ...
. Often, the distinguishing factor is that a clan is a smaller, integral part of a larger
society A society is a group A group is a number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and nominal number, label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be ...

society
such as a
tribe The term tribe is used in many different contexts to refer to a category of human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intellig ...

tribe
,
chiefdom A chiefdom is a form of hierarchical political organization in non-industrial societies usually based on kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all socie ...
, or a
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
. In some societies, clans may have an official leader such as a
chief Chief may refer to: Title or rank Military and law enforcement * Chief master sergeant Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) is the ninth, and highest, United States Air Force enlisted rank insignia, enlisted rank in the United States Air Force, ...
,
matriarch Matriarchy is a social system in which females (most notably in mammals) hold the primary power positions in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. While those definitions apply in general E ...
or
patriarch The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Or ...

patriarch
; or such leadership role is performed by elders. In others, leadership positions may have to be achieved. Examples include
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
,
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
,
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
,
Korean Korean may refer to: People and culture * Koreans, an ethnic group originating in the Korean Peninsula * Korean cuisine * Korean culture * Korean language * Korean alphabet, or Hangul Places * Korean Peninsula, a peninsula in East Asia * Korea, ...
, and
Japanese clans This is a list of Japanese clans. The old clans (Gōzoku) mentioned in the Nihon Shoki The , sometimes translated as ''The Chronicles of Japan'', is the second-oldest book of classical History of Japan, Japanese history. The book is also called ...
, which exist as distinct social groupings within their respective nations. Note, however, that tribes and bands can also be components of larger societies. The early
Norse clans Norse is a demonym for Norsemen, a medieval North Germanic ethnolinguistic group ancestral to modern Scandinavians, defined as speakers of Old Norse from about the 9th to the 13th centuries. Norse may also refer to: Culture and religion * Norse ...
, the , are often translated as "house" or "line". The Biblical ''tribes'' of Israel were composed of many clans. Arab clans are sub-tribal groups within Arab society. Native American and
First Nations The First Nations (french: Premières Nations ) are the largest group of indigenous peoples in Canada, Canadian indigenous peoples, distinct from the Inuit and Métis. Traditionally the First Nations lived south of the tree line, and mainly sout ...
peoples, often referred to as "tribes", also have clans. For instance,
Ojibwa The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territ ...
bands are smaller parts of the
Ojibwa people The Ojibwe, Ojibwa, Chippewa, or Saulteaux are an Anishinaabe people in what is currently southern Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territ ...
or tribe in
North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to ...

North America
. The many Native American peoples are distinguished by language and culture, and most have clans and bands as the basic kinship organizations. In some cases tribes recognized each other's clans; for instance, both the
Chickasaw The Chickasaw ( ) are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. Their language is classified as a member of the Muskogean languag ...
and
Choctaw The Choctaw (in the Choctaw language, Chahta) are a Native Americans in the United States, Native American people originally based in the Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands, Southeastern Woodlands, in what is now Alabama and Missi ...
tribes of the Southeast United States had fox and bear clans, who felt a kinship that reached beyond their respective tribes. Apart from these different historical traditions of kinship, conceptual confusion arises from colloquial usages of the term. In post-
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a federal socialist state in Northern Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the ...
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. Similar usage of the term applies to specific groups of various cultures and nationalities involved in organized
crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition,Farmer, Lindsay: "Crime, definitions of", in ...
.
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...

Polish
clans differ from most others as they are a collection of
families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity (law), affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the w ...

families
who bear the same
coat of arms#REDIRECT coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard. The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...
, as opposed to claiming a common descent (see
Polish heraldry Polish heraldry refers to the study of coats of arms A coat of arms is a heraldic visual design on an escutcheon (i.e., shield A shield is a piece of personal armour held in the hand, which may or may not be strapped to the wrist or for ...
). There are multiple closely related clans in the Indian subcontinent, especially
South India South India is a region located in the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous coun ...

South India
.
Romani people The Romani (also spelled Romany , ), colloquially known as Roma, are an Indo-Aryan peoples, Indo-Aryan ethnic group, traditionally nomadic Itinerant groups in Europe, itinerants living mostly in Europe, and diaspora populations in the Amer ...

Romani people
have many clans which are called vitsa in Romani.


Clannism

Clannism (in Somali culture, qabiilism) is system of society based on clan affiliation. The Islamic world, the Near East, North and East Africa in general, and Somali culture specifically, is
patriarchal Patriarchy is a social system In sociology, social system is the patterned network of relationships constituting a coherent whole that exist between individuals, groups, and institutions. It is the formal Social structure, structure of role and ...

patriarchal
and traditionally centered on
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through their father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance ...
clans or tribes. Some forms of clannism have been described as having aspects of
ancestor worship The veneration Veneration in Noto St Conrad of Piacenza (San Corrado) Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as havin ...
.Kanu, Ikechukwu A. "African traditional religion in a globalizing world." International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education 1.8 (2014): 4-12.


Clans by continent or region


See also

*
Clan (video gaming)In video game A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, or motion sensing device to generate visual feedback ...
*
Endogamy Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific social group In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unit ...
*
Extended family An extended family is a family that extends beyond the nuclear family A nuclear family, elementary family or conjugal family is a family group consisting of a couple and their children (one or more). It is in contrast to a single-parent family, t ...

Extended family
*
Uradel ''Uradel'' (, German: "ancient nobility"; adjective ''uradelig'' or ''uradlig'') is a genealogical term introduced in late 18th-century Germany to distinguish those families whose noble rank can be traced to the 14th century or earlier. The word ...
*
Gotra In Hindu culture, the term gotra (Sanskrit: गोत्र) is considered to be equivalent to Lineage (anthropology), lineage. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline. ...


References

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