Tag Archives: Caste System

Maya Caste System

maya-society - hwsThe Mayan Class Structure
The social structure of ancient Mayan society
By Xolotl Huascar, 2002

The Mayan social stratification was very tightly knit into a multi-layered structure. It seemed to have incorporated the caste system, which meant that membership was hereditary and difficult to change caste. However, there were others who had more freedom and were able to freely move among the communities.

The top of the society was large and complex, consisting of the ruler, his family, their retainers, Continue reading

Senmin – Burakumin

BurakuminReligious origin of the Japanese caste system
By Thomas Paine, Robert G. Ingersoll, Sam Ayache

The caste system may have developed as early as the eighth century AD. The Japanese population was divided into two groups according to Shinto concepts of purity. Shinto concepts equated goodness and godliness with purity and cleanliness. Shinto held that impurities could cling to people, making them evil or sinful.

Komin (“acceptable citizens”) or ryomin (“good citizens”) were engaged in agriculture. They belonged to the state and had a duty to pay tax in labour and in kind. The other group was called shiyumin (privately owned people) or senmin (“despised citizens”) because of their non-agricultural and unproductive occupations. Continue reading

Jati – Indian Caste System

Caste SystemIndian Caste System

If a Hindu person were asked to explain the nature of the caste system, he or she might start to tell the story of Brahma — the four-headed, four-handed deity worshipped as the creator of the universe.

According to an ancient text known as the Rigveda, the division of Indian society was based on Brahma’s divine manifestation of four groups. Priests and teachers were cast from his mouth, rulers and warriors from his arms, merchants and traders from his thighs, and workers and peasants from his feet.

Even today, most Indian languages use the term “jati” for the system of hereditary social structures in South Asia. When Portuguese travelers to 16th-century India first encountered what appeared to them to be race-based social stratification, they used the Portuguese term “casta” — which means “race” — to describe what they saw. Today, the term “caste” is used to describe stratified societies based on hereditary groups not only in South Asia but throughout the world. Continue reading

Burakumin – The Untouchables In the Japanese Caste System

Burakumin 2Burakumin in ( Japanese: “hamlet people”) also called eta (“an abundance of defilement”), or “untouchable,” is an outcaste Japanese minority group at the bottom of the traditional Japanese social system. The Japanese term eta is highly pejorative, but prejudice has tended even to tarnish the otherwise neutral term burakumin itself.

No physical characteristics distinguish burakumin, unlike other main minority groups, from the majority population. They were originally members of outcast communities in the Shinto and Buddhist era, composed of those with occupations considered impure or tainted by death (such as executioners, undertakers, workers in slaughterhouses, butchers or tanners), which have severe social stigmas of kegare (“defilement”) attached to them. Other outcast groups from whom buraku may have been descended included the hinin (“non-human”). The definition of hinin, as well as their social status and typical occupations varied over time, but typically included ex-convicts and vagrants who worked as town guards, street cleaners or entertainers. Continue reading

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