One of the republican clans in the time of the Buddha.
The Koliyā owned two chief settlements - one at Rāmagāma and the other at Devadaha. The Commentaries (DA.i.260f; SNA.i.356f; A.ii.558; ThagA.i.546; also Ap.i.94) contain accounts of the origin of the Koliyas. We are told that a king of Benares, named Rāma (the Mtu.i.353 calls him Kola and explains from this the name of the Koliyas), suffered from leprosy, and being detested by the women of the court, he left the kingdom to his eldest son and retired into the forest. There, living on woodland leaves and fruits, he soon recovered, and, while wandering about, came across Piyā, the eldest of the five daughters of Okkāka, she herself being afflicted with leprosy. Rāma, having cured her, married her, and they begot thirty-two sons. With the help of the king of Benares, they built a town in the forest, removing a big kola-tree in doing so. The city thereupon came to be called Kolanagara, and because the site was discovered on a tiger-track (vyagghapatha) it was also called Vyagghapajjā. The descendants of the king were known as Koliyā.
According to the Kunālā Jātaka (J.v.413), when the Sākyans wished to abuse the Koliyans, they said that the Koliyans had once "lived like animals in a Kola-tree," as their name signified. The territories of the Sākiyans and the Koliyans were adjacent, separated by the river Rohinī. The khattiyas of both tribes intermarried, and both claimed relationship with the Buddha. (It is said that once the Koliyan youths carried away many Sākiyan maidens while they were bathing, but the Sākiyans, regarding the Koliyans as relatives, took no action; DA.i.262). A quarrel once arose between the two tribes regarding the right to the waters of the Rohinī, which irrigated the land on both sides, and a bloody feud was averted only by the intervention of the Buddha. In gratitude, each tribe dedicated some of its young men to the membership of the Order, and during the Buddha's stay in the neighbourhood, he lived alternately in Kapilavatthu and in Koliyanagara. (For details of this quarrel and its consequences see J.v.412ff; DA.ii.672ff; DhA.iii.254ff).
Attached probably to the Koliyan central authorities, was a special body of officials, presumably police, who wore a distinguishing headdress with a drooping crest (Lambacūlakābhatā). They bore a bad reputation for extortion and violence (S.iv.341).
Besides the places already mentioned, several other townships of the Koliyans, visited by the Buddha or by his disciples, are mentioned in literature - e.g.,
Nisabha (ThagA.i.318), Kakudha (SA.i.89) (attendant of Moggallāna), and Kankhā-Revata (Ap.ii.491) (and perhaps Sona Kolivisa, q.v.), were also Koliyans.
After the Buddha's death the Koliyans of Rāmagāma claimed and obtained one-eighth of the Buddha's relics, over which they erected a thūpa (D.ii.167; Mhv.xxi.18, 22ff). See also s.v. Suppavāsā.