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Social Structure of Medieval Nepal

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Social Structure of Medieval Period

Medieval period

Medieval period
Source:www.sothebys.com
Medieval period

The period before Prithvi Narayan Shah (880 – 1769 A.D) is regarded as the Medieval period of Nepal. This historical period of Nepal had various social features. Some of them are as follow:

  • Joint Family System
    During the rule of Mallas, people used to live in a large family. They used to share same kitchen and same roof for their livelihood. They believe that they should live jointly according to their religion, social norms and values. Houses were constructed as a clustered settlement.
  • Varna System
    According to Mallas, there were many castes and varnas. People were divided into thirty-six castes and four varnas from eighteen castes and four varnas. This was influenced by the division as preached by the Saint Manu in his Manusmriti. But in the course of time, it turned into a strong castism which caused discrimination among the castes and division of society on the basis of higher castes and lower castes. After the rise of King Jayasthiti Malla, the caste discrimination system was slowly banned. He brought several reforms in the caste system and the divisions of the society. He maintained and kept the society in order. So, we are now in this condition.

Inheritance of Dynasty

The Malla rulers of the Kathmandu valley were known as descendants of sun. They used to call Shah from out of a valley as the descendants of moon. King Aridev coined the term "Malla" which literally meant "wrestling". It is said that Aridev was born during a wrestling ceremony. Later, heheard the news of the birth of his son while hewas engaged in wrestling.

Origin of Surname

In the medieval period, people used to originate surname from their occupation. For example, the ministers were called Mulami (Mulmi at present), courtiers were called as Shistha or Shrestha and the prime minister was called as Mahath. Similarly, painters were called as Chitrakar, those who made sweets were called as Madhikarmi and those who used to look after stones were called as Bhandare and so on.

Dolaji System

In the medieval period, there was the system of marriage in which bridegroom was received in the home of a bride. It is no more followed that, after the marriage, a bridegroom should live in his wife’s birthplace. King Jayasthiti got the title of "Malla" after his nuptial relation with Rajalyadevi. Similarly, King Punya Pal received the Malla title after his marriage with Shakunmala through Dolaji Marriage.

Widow and Re-marriage

Widow and Re-marriage
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Widow and Re-marriage

In the medieval period, there was the system or trend of widow and re-marriage. Both male and female have right to re-marriage after their divorce or death of their husband or wife. The daughter of Rudra Malla of Bhaktapur – Nayak Devi married to Prince of Kaski Harishchandra and married to second time with the Prince of Tirhut – Jagat Singh Kunwar.

Rituals and Festivals

Rituals and Festivals
Source:www.medievalists.net
Rituals and Festivals

Rituals and festivals were celebrated in various ways according to their cultures. In the present time, we celebrate a lot of festivals and traditions but in the medieval period, they used to celebrate Dashain, Tihar, Gaijatra, Indrajatra, Ghantakarna etc as their major festivals. They used to perform religious and cultural dances like Mahakali dance, Lakhe dance and Kumari dance etc. Both Hinduism and Buddhism were practiced in the medieval period. There was a mutual relationship between Hindus and Buddhists. Most of the kings used to follow Hinduism but they used to give equal priority to other religions as well.

Language and Literature

Malla Kings were learned but some of them were religious and spiritual ones. Siddhi Nara Singh did penance and constructed Krishna Temple. He was a spiritual and learned king. Dramas, songs, puranas, tantra and ritual books were written by him. They used to speak Sanskrit, Newari, Maithili, Khas etc. They have learned about Chanakya Policy, science of ethics, politics, philosophy, poetics etc.

Evil Custom

Medieval society was full of social evils. Some of these were early marriage, slavery system, satee system and so on. In this period, people had very hard and struggled life. Girls were not allowed to exhibit even their face to any unknown persons. They had to cover their face with a veil. It was known as Purda system.



  1. The period before Prithvi Narayan Shah (880 – 1769 A.D) is regarded as the Medieval period of Nepal.
  2. They believed that they should live jointly according to their religion and social norms and values.
  3. According to Mallas, there were many castes and varnas. People were divided into thirty-six castes and four varnas from eighteen castes and four varnas.
  4. The Malla rulers of the Kathmandu valley were known as the descendants of sun.
  5. In the medieval period, people used to originate surname from their occupations. For example, the ministers were called Mulami (Mulmi at present), courtiers were called as Shistha or Shrestha and the prime minister was called as Mahath. Similarly, painters were called as Chitrakars, those who made sweets were called as Madhikarmi and those who used to look after the stones were called as Bhandare and so on.
.

Very Short Questions

The period before the rise of Gorkha state in the leadership of Prithvi Narayan Shah is regarded as the Medieval period in the history of Nepal.

There were 4 varnas and 36 castes in the Medieval period.

The system of marriage in which a bridegroom is received in the home of a bride is called as the Dolaji System.

Siddhi Nara Singh Malla penanced and constructed the Krishna Temple.

Dashain, Tihar, Gaijatra, Indrajatra, Ghantakarna were the religious festivals in the Medieval period.

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  • Before which king's period is regarded as the Medieval period of Nepal?

    Prithvi Narayan Shah
    Gyanendra Shah
    Birendra Shah
    Tribhuwan Shah
  • In which system,the people believe that they should live jointly according to their religion and social norms and values?

    Joint Family System
    Dolaji System
    Origin of Surname
    Varna System
  • Who constructed Krishna Mandir?

    Jay Dev Malla
    Siddhi Nar Singh
    Jay Prakash Malla
    Pratap Malla
  • In the Medieval period, people used to originate surname from their _______________ .

    genders
    occupations
    religions
    castes
  • In Varna System, there was discrimination on the basis of ________ .

    caste
    race
    gender
    religion
  • During which ceremony,  Aridev named himself Malla?

    Football
    Judo
    Karante
    Wrestling
  • One who paints pictures is called ___________ .

    Geetkar
    Chitrakar
    Sahityakar
    Sangitkar
  • Which King got the Malla title after his marriage with Shakunmala?

    King Rana Bahadur Shah
    King Prithvi Narayan Shah 
    King Punya Pal
    King Pratap singh Shah
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status of women


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anuj

what was the social structure in medival nepal


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