Dhanû Masks

There is no need for words - let my mask speak.  
— Imari, Dhanû Clan-Warrior
  In Dhanû, the mask are symbols of who its wearer are and all they seek to aspire. Elaborate helmets made from metal, Chitin and ivory, the mask speak to the nature of those who wear them. A fearsome beast for a warrior who gives themselves over to fury in battle or the mask of an ancient hero for those who seek virtue. It is an old and honored craft in Dhanû, with strict rules and customs.      

Making a Mask

 
Measure carefully. Another bone like this won't come to the forge anytime soon.  
— Garoji, Master Artisan of Izhaso
  Dhanû Masks are crafted to resemble something, typically great beasts or grinning devils. Each one is made unique to the warrior who will wear it, although a few treasured masks are passed down through generations. The most common masks are forged from Chitin or carapace, then reinforced with metal. Horns, tusks and other adornment are stripped from slain monsters to be used on the mask and it is considered especially auspicious if the warrior has themselves felled the beasts that provide the material.    


  The masks of nobles or wealthy warriors use more rare and valuable material to craft their masks. Some hire the Imaður to hunt for them, potentially making any beast that walks, crawls or flies through Sheoin into potential material.   Some use precious metals and even gems to adorn their Masks, though this practice is not common. Most Masks are still worn in battle and such ostentatious displays rarely speak well of the wearer's character.   The poorest typically use bones and try to color them with dye. No clan would stand for one of their own lacking a mask and even the destitute are afforded aid to acquire one - at the cost of many obligations.

     

Wearing The Mask

 
To wear a mask to a gathering is like bearing a naked blade.
  The choice of mask is a deeply personal statement that the wearer makes to the world, but interpreting the meaning of the mask is a complicated matter. Warriors who fear their courage might falter wear the mask of fierce beasts to draw from that strength, while others don grinning devils to intimidate foes. They are matters of prestige and personal glory, with a well-kept and beautiful mask speaking well of its owner. The warrior who wears one poorly or in disrepair will find themselves shunned.  


  Damaged masks are expected to be repaired as soon as possible. To lose one's mask in battle is among the worst shames a Dhanû can endure and sometimes believed that the one who owns it also owns a part of the warrior's soul.   When a warrior dies, his mask is left with his family and clan. They are sometimes broken apart and used in pieces to perform the Shikei on their skull

  The Mask is traditionally only worn during battle or in other confrontations where the warrior must become more than himself. The only other time is during the Masquerades, light-hearted festivals where Dhanûians of all castes don cheap and exaggerated masks and act the personas.
Dhanû   A city-state of proud warriors and skilled poets, Dhanû is nestled in the caverns of the Sheoin Region. Theirs is a society bound together by obligations, honor and rowdy kinship.   Read More About Dhanû
Dhanu_7
by ArtDeepMind
   

Too Many Masks

  When the mask is an extension of the self, few trust those who own more than two. Those who do are considered deceptive or lacking in conviction at worst and at a loss for what their true identity is at its most charitable. To be told they own too many masks is a subtle condemnation of characters.  
Few things are taboo when it comes to what the mask looks like, though modelling them after other, living people is rarely done except by the most devoted zealots.
       

Becoming the Mask

  Some unfortunate few become cursed with a madness that causes them to believe that they are what their mask depicts. These possessed warriors will run on all four, howl and bite, often ending in violent bloody murder.   Such afflictions are believed to be the work of evil spirits, attracted by the sins and broken oaths of the afflicted.   Read More About Becoming the Mask



Cover image: by Joern Zimmermann

Comments

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24 Jul, 2019 17:45

The curse of the mask is interesting, it reminds me a bit of Pooka in a sense which i loved.   Probably so far my favortire reading of this clan. Being a fan of Majora mask helps a bit i guess.   Talking about them masks, if you loot one, does the tribe is insulted if you try to sell it. will they give you a compensation like "Lost Mask, 100 dollars if found " ? Are they more "simple" masks like to portray calm power or unalterable/uncorruptible ? And those that buy hunters to get them, are they shunned because they didn't made it themselves ?

26 Jul, 2019 12:52

A well-written article as always Qurilion. I really like this idea. It is reminiscent of the strict social and warlike etiquette of the samurai, where appearance is all and judgements made upon it will mark a person forever. Does the mask have to be worn after a certain age? Are all genders required to wear one? Even menial professions like blacksmiths and bakers, etc?   You state that "To wear a mask to a gathering is like bearing a naked blade." Is this a bad thing or not?   Grammar Police: "To be told they own to many masks is a subtle condemnation of characters." Change to "too many".

26 Jul, 2019 13:07

Thank you kindly! :D Yes, the high concept for the Dhanu basically reads something like "drunken samurai-vikings who hunt monsters to make gear out of 'em".   The Dhanu are pretty equal between genders, so they make no distinction there. But only warriors and nobles are really permitted to wear masks. I'll see if I can make that more clear and add something about the age!   As for the bad thing or not - how would you feel if someone showed up to your party with a shotgun slung over their back? ;D   Whoops! Thanks - gonna run the article through some grammar checks! <3

26 Jul, 2019 18:35

Ooh so cool! Any depiction of japanese-themed masks is low-key one of my favorite things to use from asian history. You also depict these masks' importance and regard very well with really clear words, great job on that!   I have two things I'd like to touch on. First, for an object so important, it would almost seem likely a very precise profession should be made out of it, only select people having the capability and right to make these masks. Adding them in or linking a new article talking about them could be a great addition that also helps dive deeper into the masks. We get a lot of its spiritual information here, that article would be great to go into its simple, physical traits!   Second, are there any instances when people would try to enchant these masks for added benefit or prestige? I understand maybe they're in a region (Dhanu) where magic isn't prevalent, but I only gather that these people are honor-bound from this article so I'm unsure. If magic is allowed among them, then perhaps they do enchant them! Which could lead to even more variety among them, or even conflict. >:)   Hope this helps! Have a great summer camp Qurilion!

27 Jul, 2019 00:59

Okay, this is really cool. I love how you broke up the article with quotes and images, so it doesn't turn into a big wall of text. The problem where they become their mask (literally) is also really interesting, because then it raises questions about how much of their persona is related to the mask. It is really fleshed out and original and the masks look cool, which is a nice bonus. How did this tradition come about?