The Punjabi Chieftains and the Transition from Sikh to British Rule

  • Andrew J. Major
Part of the Cambridge Commonwealth Series book series (CAMCOM)


At the time of its partition in 1947 the Punjab was primarily a land of peasant proprietors and tenant cultivators. However, there also was — especially in the western districts that were incorporated into the new state of Pakistan — a landed élite: a heterogeneous class made up of the minor ruling princes, the large zamindars (landlords), who held estates that were mostly let out to tenants, and the principal jagirdars (holders of jagirs, or assignments of land revenue), who were the remnants of the old Sikh service aristocracy. Representing the leading families within all three of the undivided province’s main religious communities — Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs — as well as the patriarchal heads of the most powerful of the biradaris (clan brotherhoods), this landed élite was collectively referred to by the British as the ‘chiefs’ or ‘chieftains’ of the Punjab.1 For about ninety years these chieftains had been the faithful allies of British authority in the Punjab.


Income Omic Verse Dian Ethos 


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  1. 1.
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© D. A. Low 1991

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  • Andrew J. Major

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