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The 'Ani

An amazingly beautiful tradition. I unknowingly participated in the Shaath, and they let me receive the associated 'ani! Truly a tale to tell! -Dr. William Joseph Bumblebottom

The History of the Tradition

The term 'ani is unique to the Uhlmor of the I'l An Meadow and is associated with milestone achievements. The tradition of tattooing itself stems from the oldest example found to date. An individual, nicknamed S-man, was found in a bog on the continent of Nereshi. S-man is though to date to around -17823 BE. The body was spoken to through arcane means to attain the date of death, reason for death and essential knowledge related to the tattoos.   This being said, the tradition, seemingly, began on the Continent of Nereshi, making purchase with the local Ssine population. The migration of the tradition occurred at some point during the Era of Life. The exact date escapes historians as they are unable to find solid evidence of the migration itself. It is assumed that either tradesmen or pirated from the Dalsheikh Peninsula, who interacted with the Ssine regularly, adopted the tradition.   From this point, we can see the appearance of tattoos throughout the subcontinent of Idune and pushing north as time went on. As this did happen, the Elves, for some reason, seem to have skipped over this artwork. The halflings and humans took it in their own strides with multiple iterations throughout the years. However, one ethnicity, known as the Uhlmor, took to the tradition quite favorably. The nomadic group of the I'l An meadow/ Kralmire Steppe, adopted the tradition, later naming the act of tattooing as "ani."
After spending some time with the pirates of the Blue Gulf I found myself quite bespoke with the representation of color within their tattoos. - Dr. Bumblebottom

The 'Ani Themselves

A Needle & Hammer is used to crate the patterns and art which dot the bodies of the Uhlmor. Various artistic styles have been seen throughout the ages. The first recorded instances of tattooing among the Uhlmor came in the form of clay dolls. This is assumed to be the sort of "pattern" of which the people of the steppe could confirm what they wished to get. The second assumption is that the dolls are representations of tattoos which have already been completed. Perhaps, the 'ani are that of their parents.    It is known through historical records and eyewitness accounts that the Uhlmor often use a sort of needle and hammer to deliver the black material into the skin. The first important thing to note is that the black coloration within the skin is in fact volcanic ash collected from deposits within the Kralmire Hishlands. It is currently unknown if this is dangerous for regular consumption.    The process itself involves the recipient and the handler. The handler takes ground volcanic ash and water mixture (ratio unknown) and dips the long needle like rod into it. The rod itself is made of the bone from an Elk antler, shaped to the necessary size and weight. From here, the handler positions the needle onto where the ink will be deposited. The needle is tapped with the hammer in a precise way as to not harm the recipient but to deposit the ash into the skin. The ash itself seems to sit within the middle layers of ones skin.    The 'ani take roughly two weeks to completely heal. The process seems to be intensive on a threshold related to pain, but otherwise harmless. The handler is usually someone within the tribe who is practiced and learned. Training often takes at least a year of observation and an undetermined amount of time to practice.

Lifetime Milestones

The 'ani within the Uhlmor mark the milestones of one's life. The doth'ani, or birth tattoo, is a simple line upon the right leg of a child. As the Uhlmor grows older, the more and more lines they will receive. Each 'ani upon the right calf is a milestone of a year lived.   During the Ra'en ith, or the 17th year of an Uhlmor life, they will complete their Shaath and receive their Shaath'ani. This milestone is remembered through an 'ani of an elk skull and antlers on the upper back. It is not uncommon for someone to have additive features or pictures within a single tattoo. However, it is important to note that the longer the session is carried on the more excruciating the pain.      The last and final 'ani of an Uhlmor life is the after their final breath. The corpse will undergo certain funerary rights where their face will be painted to "look like their ancestors." Here, the 'ani are made to reflect the skulls of their ancestors and prepare the Uhlmor life for the afterlife. considering the Uhlmor believe in extended rebirth, the idea of their bodies being tattooed will carry with their soul into the next. It isn't uncommon among myths and tales for children to ask, unprompted, for the tattoos of ancestors past. This has continued to fuel the tradition of the 'ani as something sacred and which carries the ability to transfer into the new life.
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