Litou Perimeter Ward Tradition / Ritual in Creus | World Anvil
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Litou Perimeter Ward

The ribbon cutting ceremony at the new UTC Power-Wagon Final Assembly Manufactory was like any other bland consortium ritual Thanie had attended back in the Etoile Capital City, and she was starting to regret her decision to attend (as opposed to the volunteer pay for taking the extra-work shift), until a line of men walked onto the dais, each holding a mallet and a large wooden carving.   "And now, in homage to the Litou, we ward and consecrate this manufactory building. May the bad luck stay out of the building, and the protection of the Litou ancestors descend and bless our enterprise." The Consortium rep had his hands up to the sky, as though asking the spirits of those ancestors for their blessing, though Thanie was completely sure the man was not Litou.   She nudged her labor-chief. "Rikord, what is this nonsense?"   "The Perimeter Ward ritual. I know, you folks from the Capital are going to say its strange and backwards, but Progress sometimes has to look to the past, too." Rikord grunted from his half-slumber; it was a slightly too warm day.   The magistrate's apprentice-turned-manufactory-assembly-operator watched the scene with some interest. The thirteen men holding statues had fanned out around the new building, with the five Thanie could see roughly equally spaced. They placed the statues on the loamy ground and knelt. One of them called out.   "Ready!"   "Mark!"   In unison, they all struck their statues, driving them into the soft soil. A distant *crack* was heard, and one of the people in the crowd cursed.   "That's probably bad luck, I take it, if one of the statues broke?" Thanie was now more curious about this superstition.   "You'll have to ask the Litou, but no, I don't think so. They'll just get another statue and hammer it in. There's not many ways this warding ritual can go wrong, if I recall correctly." Rikord shifted in his seat. "They just need to release us from this nonsense so we can get back to the assemblage line."


The Litou woodcarving tradition, while physically present, is culturally almost lost to history; the Litou carve their works, but the greater knowledge of cultural practice and significance of their woodcarvings is something that has generally faded over time, with two exceptions - the familial woodcarving, and the carvings required for consecration and warding. The consecration rite has been occurring unchanged since prior to written history, in an entirely unbroken line. Contemporary Litou describe the consecration as one of the first cultural practices they learn as children, regardless of the degree of their Etoilean assimilation.    In the modern era, the ritual has gained a new prominence in Patino, the Machine City. A manufactory consortium interest had a Litou executive officer, who consecrated and warded her new manufactory in this tradition with a famous quote, "It probably won't hurt." This has been taken to heart by many a consortium and business interest in Patino, with even non-Litou entrepeneurs going through the motions of hammering statues around their buildings to ward off bad luck against their business.


The Litou Perimeter Ward consecration is, relative to other rituals of its type in different cultures across Saibh, quite simple. No word-chants or dances are necessary, merely the carving of thirteen specific woodwork pieces, depicting 'protectors' of the hearth. It is unnecessary for the residents of the building to be warded to be themselves involved in the carving, and sets of carvings for the purpose can simply be purchased from a dedicated carver.   Once the carvings are in hand, they are positioned at thirteen points around the building to be warded in a rough circle and in a specific order. Upon cue, all thirteen are hammered into the ground and buried with mallet strikes. As soon as the last figure is buried, the building is now warded against harm, bad luck or influence, or malign spirits. Supposedly, this ward persists even if a number of the sculptures are dug up or destroyed, though of course the whole thing is pre-Etoilean superstition.

Components and tools

Thirteen woodcarvings, depicting the thirteen traditional 'protectors' of the hearth, must be created or sourced. Because of the Litou carving style tending towards abstraction over fine detail, the sculpts of these protectors are by definition vague and inconsistent - for example, the sculpt of the shield guardian, Dyad, has a shield in all depictions, but virtually no other shared consistent details. The intent seems to take precedence over the result (and it would be a bit of a shame for finely detailed woodcarvings to be hit with hammers and buried).


While ideally thirteen people are needed to hammer the carvings into the ground at the same time, as this is a less formal ritual that hasn't been precisely documented, nobody can say for sure whether it 'matters' if all thirteen carvings are hammered down at the same time or if one person taps them all in. The importance of such a detail is ultimately left to whoever made the decision to consecrate the building with a perimeter ward to start with.


While a building can ostensibly be warded at any time, most new manufactory buildings in Patino are now warded on their construction - building crews in Patino have done it so often that they simply ask the contract holder if they'd like the building warded. True believers in the Progress of the Principality of Etoile have gone on record dismissing the process as so much superstitious rot, but the majority of new buildings are warded and consecrated. This has been noted with bemused articles in the Patino journals, wondering why a Litou cultural rite is now being observed principally by non-Litou people (though Patino residents of Litou descent are typically more than happy to volunteer their time to be part of the ritual).   Notably, when a building is torn down, some effort is typically expended to recover the carvings before demolition, though this aspect of the rite is nowhere to be found in the original Litou practice.
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