PATTIDARI, lit. cosharing or shareholding, was, like mislddri, a system of land tenure during the Sikh period. The basic principle was traceable to the time honoured institution of joint family and inheritance of property in equal shares by descendants (male only) whenever a division took place, the rule of primogeniture being practically unknown in India as far as the common people were concerned. Patti in Punjabi means a share as well as partnership and pattiddr is a shareholder, cosharer or partner. The system emerged in the initial stages of Sikh rule in the Punjab.
As Henry T. Prinsep records in his The Origin of the Sikh Power in the Punjab and Political Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1834), “When the Misals acquired their territorial possessions, it became the first duty of the chiefs to partition out the lands, towns, and villages among those who considered themselves as having made the conquest, shamil, or in common.” A village allotted by the sardar or chief of a misi to a “sarkarda or leader of the smallest party of horse that fought under the standard of the Misal” was held jointly by the allottee`s family or was further divided according to common law of inheritance.
Or, sometimes, a single village would be allotted to more than one person or family, in which case that land would be divided into proportionate shares called pattis or tarafs, lit. side or direction, each sharer owning a taraf. The residential area of the village would also be earmarked into wards usually on clan basis, which even now arc called patlis in Punjabi. More often than not, the entire village land was not so divided and a portion was kept as shamldt or village common managed by the panchdyat or council of village elders. Land held on pattiddn tenure was heritable, but could not be alienated by sale though it could be mortgaged. Division and rcdivision of a pattiddn holding gradually reduced the holders to the status of subsistence jdgirddrs and, their tenure being permanent and hereditary, they were ultimately absorbed into the general category of peasant proprietors.
1. Prinsep, H.T., The Origin of the Sikh Power in the Punjab and Political Life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Calcutta, 1834
2. Banga, Indu, Agrarian System of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1978