THE SOCIETY OF THE PROTO-BULGARIANS
For the Proto-Bulgarians, the most important was blood and nation. Each clan bore the name of its founder. Among the most famous were the Dulo, Ermi, Ukil, Kuviar, Chakarar clans.
The ancestor, the oldest of his clan, was the food provider, with its members depending on him and the one taking care of its cohesion. He had to maintain its combat capability, by keeping a certain number of horsemen in combat readiness, with the necessary weapons and equipment and at the disposition of the tribal chief.
The elder was not always the warlord or the chieftain of the warriors of his people. After he reached a certain age, it was common for his firstborn son to take his place. However, the right of the ancestor to hold the supreme judgment and his right to sacrifice to the higher god remained unchanged.
All men in age to carry arms and all women able to work were considered as equals in the eyes of the elder. He also attributed the prisoners of war, brought into slavery, among the families.
The orphans of the warriors who died in battle were not only the burden of the widows, but of the whole clan. It cared for them and respected them as children of warriors who defended their honour on the battlefield. The clan not only shared glory and merit, but also disgrace, which fell upon them if any of its warriors disgraced himself in battle or ran away in the face of the enemy.
The family had a smaller influence than the clan. The members of the family were the first to obey its laws and the will of its chieftain.
The head of the family was bound to provide for the daily bread of all its members, women and children. It was also his duty to train the male child for war and hunting. The oldest woman of the family prepared the young girls to become housewives, whose primary concern was the preparation of food and clothing. But because of the harsh living conditions and the frequent absence of men during military campaigns, women also learned to ride and shoot bows in order to protect their homes.
The tribe stood over the clan. It was formed by the close and distant clans. At first, the tribal chief was chosen by his elders on the basis of his military and leadership qualities. The situation changed gradually after the Vth century A.D. The tribal chiefs became rulers: khans, whose power was inherited from his father by a son or another close relative.
Supreme authority over the Proto-Bulgarian tribes was held by the Great Khan (“kanas-subigi”). His power was thought to derive from the supreme deity, and there was a magical connection between him and the ruler. If God turned his gaze away from the high khan, then the elders of the tribes had the right not only to overthrow him, but also to put him to death.
Not only was the Great Khan the supreme military leader and governor of the state, he was also the high priest and judge. His word was law, and those around him were the doers of his will.
Thanks to their well-organised society, by following by established rules and order, assisting one another, and respecting the will of the ruler, the Proto-Bulgarians earned a number of victories and settled on vast territories. The efforts that they all put together in one direction, towards the achievement of their goals, have become their hallmark. Transmitted from generation to generation, it has been carried to our times. To this day, Bulgarian children are taught the story of the bundle of arrows that Khan Kubrat gave to his sons. In this way important lessons are passed through the generations and the heirs of the ancient Bulgarians learn that success is rooted in the strength of a healthy society, a strong family and the cooperative efforts they display on a daily basis.