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The Nayar of India

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Nayar: The Misunderstood Society

The Nayar of India is made up of numerous castes of a society still based off of many old traditions. This specific society has drawn much attention and controversy over issues of marriage and kinship. However there are other intriguing aspects of their culture such as descendant lineage, religious beliefs, and methods of healing. Most recently studied aspects of social and economic organization further fascinates anthropologists to attempt to answer “who are the Nayar?” There are many different ways in which a society can structure itself in order to ensure its’ survival. In past times, the Nayar would be described as being foragers, that is, people who hunt animals and gather plant life for subsidence. As time went on, populations grew which resulted in a change in social structure. With a need for increased food and resources, many foragers turned into horticulturists. Permanent settlements were established and plants were intentionally grown through the use of agricultural activities. Like many other societies, the Nayar followed a path similar to this which led to the formation of a state. As defined, “a state is a polity with a centralized government and the power to collect taxes, draft men for labor and work, and make and enforce laws for communities within its territorial borders” (Carneiro, 1970). But that doesn’t completely explain why the Nayar are considered a state. To do this, we can look at specific traits that can be seen only in state societies. First off, states have dense populations often in the tens of thousands range. Record keeping is necessary to keep track of resources, collected taxes, external exchanges, and historic weather patterns. Finally, states are the only type of society that constructs monumental architecture. Now that it has been determined that the Nayar are a foraging society

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