Lel'a Ko

The Ink of Lel

Lel'a ko, which translates to 'ink of Lel', is the name given to the sacred ink used in Koushan Mai tattoos. This specific ink needs to be used for the tattoos to be considered true 'lelashan', or fate markings. False fate markings are considered taboo.  


  Lel'a ko is made of two separate components: sap from the black-veiled mushroom, and blood.   The sap is harvested from the ripe fruit-bodies of the black-veiled mushroom by squeezing them over a bowl. This causes the thick black sap to seep out from the gills. Most Koushan Mai who regularly harvest the sap have permanently stained fingers and palms.   To this, a small amount of blood from the person about to be tattooed is added. It is believed that the addition of a person's own blood will speed up the healing of the tattoo.  


  Lel'a ko will be mixed in a small bowl by a priest of Lel, the god of fate, ready to be be used in the ritual lelashan. It will then be blessed, so that the ink and hand together will create an accurate fate marking.   Using a pair of needles, the priest will then slowly insert the ink beneath the skin, creating the desired design.
An example of lelashan

Cover image: by Katrin Hauf


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9 Dec, 2020 21:15

I love how despite its size, you've managed to imbue the article with so much detail and personality! I really like how the harvester's fingers will stain from the sap.

Author of Interarcanum !
9 Dec, 2020 21:18

Thank you! I didn't want to pad it with a bunch of unnecessary information just to make it longer. :D

9 Dec, 2020 21:44

I always love tattoo based symbology a lot! Nice article!

Kaigan Check out what my players are exploring in the high fantasy world of Kaigan.
Human Survival Guide Read about Mel'Aads adventures as he tries to understand the newly found species "Humans" aboard their space ship.
9 Dec, 2020 21:54

Thank you! <3

9 Dec, 2020 21:59

I looked at the title, and my brain went "Le'e Alako". I'm not sure why. But it just sounded glorious in my head. Yours work too, though! XD

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused CD10.
9 Dec, 2020 21:59

Hahaha, thank you. :D

Master Brinsmead
Caitlin Phillips
10 Dec, 2020 22:23

Ooh what would be considered false fate markings? I love the idea of blood from the person being tattooed being seen as condusive to healing.   In other cultures, are tattoos seen as taboo because of Koushan Mai practices?

Cait x
11 Dec, 2020 00:58

Any tattoo made without the correct ink would be false.   And yeah, not much tattooing going on in other cultures around The Teeth, tbh.   Thank you! :D x

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
12 Dec, 2020 20:45

Sorry it took so long! Ok. MAGIC INK! I'm gonna second others and say its wyite a feat for a small article to tell sooo much to the reader. I love the process of creating it and how it leaves their hands stained. That's a lovely little touch. Well done.

12 Dec, 2020 22:54

No worries, Dylon! Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it. <3

15 Dec, 2020 23:42

Really nice info in this article - you get across such a great sense of cultural depth adding to the richness of the Koushan Mai people in an article not much longer than this comment! Great stuff :)

15 Dec, 2020 23:50

Thank you so much. I love writing about the Koushan Mai! :)

23 Dec, 2020 10:12

Cool stuff! Once a tattoo is done, is there any way of telling if the tattoo was made using this ink or other black inks?

23 Dec, 2020 11:30

That's something I still need to work out, so this will be expanded at some point. I'm thinking maybe true ones have a faint shimmer? Not sure. (And now your comment is here, it will remind me to work on that) Thanks! :)

1 Jan, 2021 00:47

I love the detail you put in here - especially about the harvester's hands. Many people wouldn't think to add that. <3

1 Jan, 2021 01:00

Thank you - it's just a detail that really stuck in my head when I was writing! :)

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