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Olia Gifting Ritual

The Ritual is a celebration and display. It is obligation and contest. The individual holds one to celebrate the building of a house or to wash away dishonor and shame. The Family holds one to celebrate marriage and arrangements. The Clans hold them to shame, unify, obligate, designate heirs and positions and establish right and title - displaying and witnessed by guests and community. Thrall bonds may be lifted or outlaw status applied or removed. The matriarch or mother of the Numaym (House) brings out the Totem mask and wears it. In the ritual it may be handed down. The Numaym house head wears an elaborate crown. Lesser house heads wear lesser crowns. Titles are bestowed with gifts- chiefs, Speakers, leaders of dance and song societies, Ushers and Tally keepers. Guests are given ceremonial garland or headdress or bands by rank. Totem crests are given as tokens of alliance, or totem art carvings of village or house.

A successful gifting means the rituals were performed and:
  • Guests accept gifts
  • Guests acknowledge claims in their speeches
  • No one objects to claims
  • Guests invite hosts to subsequent Gifting
  • Recognition of Birth, marriage, death, adoption, initiation as Winter dancer, assumption of new name or seat.
  • Present claims or changes and have them recognized. For example - to name a local town council member or appoint a mayor. Or promote a village guard to officer.
Refused gifts, crowns, garlands and bands are objections and refusals of claim or status of the host. The refuser is expected to hold a larger gifting and giving everyone a larger gift. Bidding wars of show and counter may occur that may drain houses or place them deeply in debt to their supporters.

Execution

The announcement if a Gifting is made to the community. For larger clan events, messengers may be sent to gather as many houses of the clan as possible. Also invitations are sent to rivals, allies and anyone that the celebrant wants to impress or obligate.

On the day the house or festival area has been cleaned, decorated and prepared. Cooks and cooking areas have been made ready. Guards are placed to control the rowdy and prevent disruption. The ushers (previously appointed) are ordered and take in the attendees and guests, with important individuals and their family placed around the high seat of the house. Ushers, under oversight of tally keepers, distribute the crowns, garlands, headdress or bands - typically worked with totem designs of the host. Important guest crowns will have the guest's Totems as well as the hosts. Seating is a signal of recognition or rejection of prior claims and positions in previous Giftings.  Shaman and or mages are ushered to special seats behind the host and have a servant that sees to them. Those who will get special recognition or honors get placed on the second tier. General family and associates are around the performance space. Low guests are behind the performance space or even outside of a building.

The Ceremony starts with horns and drumming. The host speaks a welcoming. Important guests are acknowledged and honored with gifts of art, materials or coin. They are expected to say something to the host in honor and recognition or dispute.  Drinks are distributed for a toast while the speeches occur. Ushers begin serving the high seat, then work down.

The Seasonal society performs song, dance or stories in thanks to the spirits. The Mask society invokes the host Totem. Wealthy hosts will have Mask Societies for all their associations and town/ village totems. It is a good mark to have Mask society members of important guests also in the invocation.

Frightening performances representing the lost dead of the Drowned King and Bonegatherer and the unclaimed dead are performed. A ritual cremation and offerings are made and gifts given out as memorials - blankets or dishes, carved art works or things with the House emblems of the dead. The Ghost Society performs memorials for the recently dead, and for any special requests by the host. These will include dry or fresh flower spread over the whole audience.

The host now announces the business. Marriages, agreements, titles, promotions, claims of position or dominance. The host gifts everyone from high to low in a display of wealth and influence - pottery and dishes, clothes, blankets and bedding, weapons, jewelry, baskets, a fine horse, goats, poultry, cattle or ghost deer, furniture or any other item, treasure or favor. The most important are given by the Host themselves while most are distributed by Tallykeepers. Important guests will be given gifts that have import or meaning, or are a favorite or collectable of the recipient. Those who have made objection are heavily gifted. It is a given understanding that the objector will gift out everyone better than the current host to outbid the claims in a Gifting of their own. Otherwise they must accept the gifts and the claims or postings. Speeches by recipients of Gifts in support or opposition may be made and are expected. This is also the time to bring up suggestions which will be pursued at one's own future Gifting such as candidates for promotion or position or alliance and union.

Mask and Dance societies may lead dances and/ or music is played for the remaining feasting, drinking and sweets. Some Giftings have lasted days. Most just last the night or the evening.

Participants

Karls and Jarls are expected to make Gifts to their kin and house to pay for support given.  Common Thell contribute to make their leaders shine and the nobles pay that back with interest at future Giftings.
The youth who comes of age is presented by parents, grandparents and the House or Numaym.  The youth is expected to give out small gifts to peers and friends.  They have 1 year to repay loans from within the family and house, with Giftings of greater value.  Each blanket, bowl, cup, plate, belt or other item paid back with 2 or in coin greater than the price of the 2 items due.  This continues thru life with Giftings. Unmatched debts create obligation.  Food is given freely and has no obligation except loyalty. Better and more grand food and drink is a status boost.
Artistic Medal disks may be commissioned or bought which represent totem or dance/ mask society stories and figures.

Observance

Gifting is one aspect of Olian duty and obligation to Clan and Numaym.  Size is a reflection of one's social status, and the significance and sweep of what is being celebrated.  A small low status wedding or betrothal would be friends, families and neighbors, possibly high rank clan members.
Mask and Dance Societies: The various offices hold ceremonial status and import. Within the societies members will strive to assume higher ranks where possible. Each Clan, house, settlement or association will have Totems and each individual will thus have two or three totems and opportunity for membership in Mask or Dance societies.

  Mask Society: Typically women and lolak ( see Quol and Lolak), though some men may be in supporting positions. The Mask societies are the chosen of the Totem and guard the rituals of the totem and Numaym. Each house has it's Mask- representing the mask shed by the Totem in assuming union with the Clan founders. The Mask is held to be a direct link to the Totem. Minor Masks are helpers and servants or heroes of the house. There are also opponents overcome which are held to male members of the house to play. Each House has it's Mask Society members who will join with other houses for mask ceremonies related to the totem. Village totem and the Village/ town Societies also keep masks of village totems.
 
Ghost Dance Society: This society does memorial dances and songs of ancestors within the house. They officiate family ghost memorial offerings and promotion and reincarnation rituals. They oversee Giftings to sway evil ghosts to leave them alone and see that the ghosts of the dead are laid to rest. Olia belief is that the dead get promotion to higher spirits, to servants of the totems or sometimes demoted. This Society is open to both male and female membership.

  The Drowned King and Bonegatherer societies are specifically devoted to memorial and laying to rest those whose bodies are lost to the wilds (Bonegatherer) or the sea (Drowned King - Buk'wa). Houses have members but these societies are community based Thane Houses with larger national seniors who possess certain secrets as well as extensive knowledge of the dances, songs and rituals of the societies. Members give memorials in Giftings for those lost in the months before a Gifting.

The Winter and Summer Societies are over seen by the Shaman. They perform offering dances, songs and stories to the local and seasonal spirits in thanks, appreciation and recognition of plants, fish and game, and spirits of the land and weather. Summer Society is light hearted with clowns and fools. Winter is harder but still has jokes and trickster characters in the acts and dances. This is an open society though clans will prefer members from within the clan to officiate the rituals.  

 
The Cannibal Society is another Culture wide Thane House group. The Cannibal is a Monsterous warrior order. Each village and house will have some members but the criteria to be invited to join is a secret. Initiates individually must start with a month removed to isolation in fasting and preparation. The Cannibal Spirit is served by two Hookbeak birds that bring their lord meat and two members of the society oversee the initiate and wear the Hookbeak masks. On the Initiation day the initiate is given a hallucinatory drink and lured into the Society's house with raw meat said to be human flesh. The Hookbeaks guide the member in while senior members wait outside on and around the building. Once the frenzied initiate is inside they are restrained and appeased by members offering themselves to be bitten. It is known that the initiate is expected to Hold a Gifting sometime after joining and make Gifts in compensation. Cannibal Society members wear special beastial faced mask helms in combat and are said to grow fangs and claws and have supernatural abilities. Cannibal society members are honored guards at Giftings.

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Cover image: https://azgaar.github.io/Fantasy-Map-Generator/ by mutterwolf

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