Clan
Overview
 
A clan is a group of people
People
People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:* as the plural of person or a group of people People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:*...

 united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or 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 not human, it is referred to as an animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

ian totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

. Clans can be most easily described as tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s or sub-groups of tribes.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
A clan is a group of people
People
People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:* as the plural of person or a group of people People is a plurality of human beings or other beings possessing enough qualities constituting personhood. It has two usages:*...

 united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or 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 not human, it is referred to as an animal
Animal
Animals are a major group of multicellular, eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Animalia or Metazoa. Their body plan eventually becomes fixed as they develop, although some undergo a process of metamorphosis later on in their life. Most animals are motile, meaning they can move spontaneously and...

ian totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

. Clans can be most easily described as tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s or sub-groups of tribes. The word clan is derived from 'clann' meaning 'family' in the Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 and Scottish Gaelic languages. The word was taken into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 about 1425 as a label for the tribal nature of Irish and Scottish Gaelic society. The Gaelic term for clan is fine finɨ. 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.

In different cultures and situations, a clan may mean the same thing as other kin-based groups, such as tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s and bands
Band society
A band society is the simplest form of human society. A band generally consists of a small kin group, no larger than an extended family or clan; it has been defined as consisting of no more than 30 to 50 individuals.Bands have a loose organization...

. Often, the distinguishing factor is that a clan is a smaller part of a larger society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 such as a tribe, a chiefdom
Chiefdom
A chiefdom is a political economy that organizes regional populations through a hierarchy of the chief.In anthropological theory, one model of human social development rooted in ideas of cultural evolution describes a chiefdom as a form of social organization more complex than a tribe or a band...

, or a state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. Examples include Scottish
Scottish clan
Scottish clans , give a sense of identity and shared descent to people in Scotland and to their relations throughout the world, with a formal structure of Clan Chiefs recognised by the court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms which acts as an authority concerning matters of heraldry and Coat of Arms...

, Irish
Irish clans
Irish clans are traditional kinship groups sharing a common surname and heritage and existing in a lineage based society prior to the 17th century.-History:...

, Chinese
Chinese clan
A Chinese clan is a patrilineal and patrilocal group of related Chinese people with a common surname sharing a common ancestor and, in many cases, an ancestral home.-Description:...

, Japanese clans
Japanese clans
This is a list of Japanese clans. The ancient clans mentioned in the Nihonshoki and Kojiki lost their political power before the Heian period. Instead of gozoku, new aristocracies, Kuge families emerged in the period...

, Rajput clans
Rajput clans
The Rajputs are a martial race and caste of the Indian subcontinent. They are a Hindu caste whose members generally consider themselves to belong to the Kshatriya varna ; however, Encyclopædia Britannica notes that their members have come from a variety of lineages, including from foreign...

, Nair
Nair
Nair , also known as Nayar , refers to "not a unitary group but a named category of castes", which historically embody several castes and many subdivisions, not all of whom bore the Nair title. These people historically live in the present-day Indian state of Kerala...

 Clan or Malayala Kshatriya
Malayala Kshatriya
The Samanta Kshatriya are the topmost subdivision of the Malayala Kshatriya Community in Kerala, India. The Samanta Kshatriyas make up a part of the erstwhile royal families of the Hindu Kingdoms and princely states that existed in Kerala until the creation of the Indian Republic...

 Clan in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, which exist as kin groups within their respective nations. Note, however, that tribes and bands can also be components of larger societies. However, the early Norse clans
Norse clans
The Scandinavian clan or ætt was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing.-History:...

, the ätter, can not be translated with tribe or band, and consequently they are often translated as house or line. The 12 Biblical tribes of Israel composed one people. Arab clans
Tribes of Arabia
Tribes of Arabia refers to Arab clans hailing from the Arabian Peninsula.Much of the lineage provided before Ma'ad relies on biblical genealogy and therefore questions persist concerning the accuracy of this segment of Arab genealogy...

 are small groups within Arab society. Ojibwa
Ojibwa
The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

 bands are smaller parts of the Ojibwa tribe or people in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, as one example of the many Native American peoples distinguished by language and culture, most having clans and bands as the basic kinship organizations. In some cases more than one tribe recognized each other's clans; for instance, both the Chickasaw
Chickasaw
The Chickasaw are Native American people originally from the region that would become the Southeastern United States...

 and Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

 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
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 clans differ from most others as they are a collection of families who bear the same coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

, as opposed to claiming a common descent. This is discussed under the topic of Polish Heraldry
Polish heraldry
Polish heraldry is a branch of heraldry focused on studying the development of coats of arms in the lands of historical Poland , as well as specifically-Polish traits of heraldry. The term is also used to refer to Polish heraldic system, as opposed to systems used elsewhere, notably in Western Europe...

.

Clans in indigenous societies are likely to be exogamous
Exogamy
Exogamy is a social arrangement where marriage is allowed only outside of a social group. The social groups define the scope and extent of exogamy, and the rules and enforcement mechanisms that ensure its continuity. In social studies, exogamy is viewed as a combination of two related aspects:...

, meaning that their members cannot marry one another. In some societies, clans may have an official leader such as a chieftain
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

 or patriarch
Patriarch
Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a compound of πατριά , "lineage, descent", esp...

; in others, leadership positions may have to be achieved, or people may say that 'elders' make decisions. There are multiple closely related clans in the Indian sub-continent, especially south India.

Clans by country

  • Arab Tribes
  • Armenian clans
    Armenian nobility
    Armenian nobility has a long history with many interruptions, most notable of which were the Ottoman and Russian occupations of Armenia.-Terminology:...

  • Burundian clans
    Clan (African Great Lakes)
    In the African Great Lakes region, the clan is a unit of social organisation. It is the oldest societal structure in the region, other than family and direct lineage...

  • Chechen clans
    Teip
    Teip is a Chechen and Ingush tribal organization or clan, self-identified through descent from a common ancestor and geographic location. There are about 130-233 teips...

  • Chinese clan
    Chinese clan
    A Chinese clan is a patrilineal and patrilocal group of related Chinese people with a common surname sharing a common ancestor and, in many cases, an ancestral home.-Description:...

    , family name and consort clan
    Consort clan
    The consort clan is the family, clan of or group related to an empress dowager or a spouse of a Chinese dynastic ruler or a warlord. The leading figure of the clan was either a sibling, cousin, or parent of the empress or consort.- Han Dynasty :...

    s
  • Chinese (Hong Kong) five Great Han Chinese
    Han Chinese
    Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

     Punti
    Punti
    The Punti, a rough transliteration of the Cantonese term for "original locality," refers to the Cantonese-speaking populations of Guangdong province in southern China...

    clans: Tang
    Tang Clan
    The Tang Clan is one of the Great Five Clans of Hong Kong. The others are Man , Hau , Pang and Liu . The Tangs originated from Jishui of Jiangxi province and are considered to be native Hong Kong people, as they were the first immigrants to settle in what is now Hong Kong from what is now...

    , Hau, Pang
    Peng (surname)
    Peng is a common Chinese family name, ranking 35th most common in 2006. Alternate Romanizations include Pang , Phang and Bành ....

    , Man
    Wen Tianxiang
    Wen Tianxiang , Duke of Xinguo, was a scholar-general in the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty. For his resistance to Kublai Khan's invasion of the Song, and for his refusal to yield to the Yuan Dynasty despite being captured and tortured, he is a popular symbol of patriotism and...

    , Liu
    Liao
    Liao can mean:* Liao Dynasty , a former dynasty in northern China founded by the Khitan people**Northern Liao , state founded by the Khitans in northern China...

  • Germanic clans
    Sippe
    Sippe is German for "clan, kindred, extended family". It continues a Proto-Germanic term *sibbja, which referred to a band or confederation bound by a treaty or oath, not primarily restricted to blood relations. The original character of sibb as a peace treaty is visible in Old English, e.g. in...

  • Indian subcontinent
    Indian subcontinent
    The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

    :
    • Gakhar clans
      Gakhars
      The Gakhars are an ancient warrior clan who have predominantly resided in what is present day northern Punjab and South-Western Kashmir, Pakistan. In particular in the cities of Rawalpindi, Jhelum and regions of Gilgit, Baltistan, Chitral, Khanpur and Mirpur, Pakistan...

    • Gujjar clans
    • Jat clans
      Jat clan system
      The Jat are an South Asian social and ethnic group and are divided into numerous clans, often referred to as a gotra or vansha. Generally, a clan name is unique to the Jat community. However, some of their clan names do overlap with the Ahirs, Khatris, Lohar, Ramgarhias, Kamboh, Rajputs and Gujjars...

    • List of Khatri clans
    • Maratha clans
      Maratha clan system
      The Marāthā clan system refers to the network of families and surnames within the Maratha culture of India. The Maratha primarily reside in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Goa and Tamilnadu...

    • Meenas
      Meenas
      Meenas, Meena, Meenoat or Mina is a caste and community mainly found in Rajasthan, India. The name Mina is derived from Meen,meaning 'fish' in Sanskrit, and the Minas claim descent from the Matsya Avatar, or fish incarnation, of Vishnu.Meenas celebrate Meenesh Jayanti in the name of Vishnu on 3...

       clan
    • Mukkulathor
      Mukkulathor
      The Mukkulathor community is native to the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, India. The name "Mukkulathor" alludes to the three roughly designated groups and which make up this large endogamous social group...

       clan
    • Vellalar
      Vellalar
      Vellalars were, originally, an elite caste of Tamil agricultural landlords in Tamil Nadu, Kerala states in India and in neighbouring Sri Lanka; they were the nobility, aristocracy of the ancient Tamil order and had close relations with the different royal dynasties...

       clan
    • Rajput clans
      Rajput clans
      The Rajputs are a martial race and caste of the Indian subcontinent. They are a Hindu caste whose members generally consider themselves to belong to the Kshatriya varna ; however, Encyclopædia Britannica notes that their members have come from a variety of lineages, including from foreign...

    • Tarkhan clans
    • Yadav clan
    • Nair
      Nair
      Nair , also known as Nayar , refers to "not a unitary group but a named category of castes", which historically embody several castes and many subdivisions, not all of whom bore the Nair title. These people historically live in the present-day Indian state of Kerala...

       Clan
    • Malayala Kshatriya
      Malayala Kshatriya
      The Samanta Kshatriya are the topmost subdivision of the Malayala Kshatriya Community in Kerala, India. The Samanta Kshatriyas make up a part of the erstwhile royal families of the Hindu Kingdoms and princely states that existed in Kerala until the creation of the Indian Republic...

  • Iranian clans
    Seven Parthian clans
    The Seven Parthian clans or Seven Houses were seven purportedly "Parthian" feudal aristocracies allied with the Sassanid court.Only two of the seven - the House of Suren and the House of Karen - are actually attested in sources dateable to the Arsacid period...

  • Irish clans
    Irish clans
    Irish clans are traditional kinship groups sharing a common surname and heritage and existing in a lineage based society prior to the 17th century.-History:...

     and septs
    Sept (social)
    A sept is an English word for a division of a family, especially a division of a clan. The word might have its origin from Latin saeptum "enclosure, fold", or it can be an alteration of sect.The term is found in both Ireland and Scotland...

     (also: Chiefs of the Name
    Chiefs of the Name
    The Chief of the Name, or in older English usage Captain of his Nation, is the recognised head of a family or clan...

    )
  • Israelites
  • Japanese clans
    Japanese clans
    This is a list of Japanese clans. The ancient clans mentioned in the Nihonshoki and Kojiki lost their political power before the Heian period. Instead of gozoku, new aristocracies, Kuge families emerged in the period...

  • Korean clans
    Bon-gwan
    Bon-gwan is the concept of clan in Korea, which is used to distinguish clans that happen to share a same family name . Since Korea has been traditionally a Buddhist country this clan system is cognate with Gotra in Sanskrit texts and shares most features...

     and names
    Korean name
    A Korean name consists of a family name followed by a given name, as used by the Korean people in both North Korea and South Korea. In the Korean language, 'ireum' or 'seong-myeong' usually refers to the family name and given name together...

  • Manchu clans and names
    Manchu family name
    Like the Mongols, the Manchus were simply called by given name but they had their own clan names . Hala consisted of several mukūn, the unit of exogamy...

  • Mongolian clans and tribes
  • Norse clans
    Norse clans
    The Scandinavian clan or ætt was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing.-History:...

  • Polish clans
    Polish clans
    Polish clans differ from most clan systems in that while they are mostly composed of families sharing male-line origin there can also be some genealogically unrelated families bearing the same coat of arms and clan name because of a formal adoption upon ennoblement or sometimes because of a...

  • Rwandan clans
    Clan (African Great Lakes)
    In the African Great Lakes region, the clan is a unit of social organisation. It is the oldest societal structure in the region, other than family and direct lineage...

  • Scottish clan
    Scottish clan
    Scottish clans , give a sense of identity and shared descent to people in Scotland and to their relations throughout the world, with a formal structure of Clan Chiefs recognised by the court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms which acts as an authority concerning matters of heraldry and Coat of Arms...

    s
    • Armigerous clan
      Armigerous clan
      An armigerous clan is a Scottish clan, family or name which is registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon and once had a chief who bore undifferenced arms, but does not have a chief currently recognized as such by Lyon Court...

    • Scottish clan chief
      Scottish clan chief
      The Scottish Gaelic word clann means children. In early times, and possibly even today, clan members believed themselves to descend from a common ancestor, the founder of the Scottish clan. From its perceived founder a clan takes its name. The clan chief is the representative of this founder, and...

  • Serb clans
    Serb clans
    Serb clans is a general term referring to what are known as plemena and bratstva , traditional geo-political units of the Western Balkans that now richly attest social anthropology and family history . The descendants of the clans are divided by regional and lately, national affiliation...

  • Somali clans
  • Tanzanian clans
    Clan (African Great Lakes)
    In the African Great Lakes region, the clan is a unit of social organisation. It is the oldest societal structure in the region, other than family and direct lineage...

  • Turkish clans
  • Ugandan clans
    Clan (African Great Lakes)
    In the African Great Lakes region, the clan is a unit of social organisation. It is the oldest societal structure in the region, other than family and direct lineage...

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