Diasporan

Strangers in their own land

Savages, vagabonds, and trinket mongers. If I never see another one of them it would be perfectly fine with me.
Tynesia Seargent, Varian scale inspector, 2845 AoR
D
iasporans are an oppressed ethnic minority. They are infamous for having lost their ancestral lands to the Inqoans, and ever since, they have been the repeated target of prejudice and attempted genocide. Many assume that the name "Diasporan" was placed upon them, as a result of being conquered and evicted from their original homelands and forced to roam throughout most of Islegantuan for thousands of years. But the name was actually chosen by the Diasporans, when they willingly migrated away from Auld Cervia's influence, long before they ever heard of an "Inqoan", and before they could have dreamed of losing any conflict against them.  
Appearance
In terms of genetic traits, the Diasporans are essentially identical to Elladorans. While both groups ultimately trace their lineage to the Tallonai and Auld Cervia, the Diasporans (like the Elladorans) tend to be darker and taller with broader, stronger frames.
History
P
etro-Pisine Kali is colloquially known as the "First Diasporan". He was a member of the Auld Cervian High Council and he had grown increasingly exasperated by the overtly-agnostic (and at times, atheistic) tendencies of Excilior's first civilization. As a resident of the embryonic nation of Blepi, he wasn't a completely-acknowledged member of the Council with full voting rights, but he was still allowed to participate and provide input on behalf of those on the Islegantuan peninsula. And as the first nation was barreling toward its eventual splintering at the end of the Age of Cervia, Petro-Pisine and his followers finally concluded that their best course of action was to break off. To start completely anew. And with a modest complement of several hundred adventuresome settlers, he spearheaded an expedition that eventually spawned a unique ethnic group - the Diasporan people - who established a broad foothold across the entire eastern coast of Islegantuan.  
Inqoan Expansion
His visionary motivation established a sprawling society that eventually came to stretch across all of Islegantuan's eastern coast. However, the Diasporan's head start was still insufficient to quell the tidal wave that became the Inqoan Expansion. What started as the benign settlement of Collia by a bizarre-and-unfamiliar foreign culture in 708 AoE, eventually culminated in the annihilation of all recognized Diasporan lands at the hands of the Inqoans when Llanpiq was formally recognized in 2114 AoE.  
Cultural Eviction
In that span of 1,404 years, the Diasporans repeatedly found themselves betrayed and undercut by ethnic brethren (the Elladorans and the Tallonai) whom they originally believed were allies. In a tragically-slow process of forced retreat, the Diasporans were repeatedly cheated, deceived, and betrayed until they found that they had no territory left to claim as their own.
Lifestyle
S
ince the loss of the Diasporan's last tactical stronghold in 2112 AoE, they have led a cursed existence as a people with no homeland and few allies. At different times throughout history, they have been targeted for genocide, slavery, even target practice. They've been despised in every location they've tried to call home. It's perhaps unsurprising that the Inqoans have taken overt steps to wipe Diasporan culture. But much of the Diasporan despair has come from the realization that their own fraternity - the Tallonai and the Elladoran - have at times done even more than the Inqoan to pursue their total destruction. Their history has been an ongoing struggle against numerous cultures who would rather just eliminate the Diasporans rather than find any way to share even the slightest portion of their existing resources.
Claims ese Elladoran. Ese got fancy tales of 'is so-called ancestors. But he can't fool me. Ese got the stink of Diasporan about 'im.
Ainan Ayman, Blepian saltfoot, 2240 AoR
Assimilation
The Diasporans now survive through three different strategies. First, there are those who have chosen to simply assimilate. Diasporans look like Elladorans. So for those who don't feel compelled to speak like Diasporans or dress like Diasporans, they have the option to move to Elladoran cities and basically "blend in". Some of these scattered souls still identify as Diasporans when asked. But others complete the charade by claiming Elladoran heritage - even going so far as to fabricate complete backstories and denying any potential connection to the Diasporans.  
Enclaves
The second survival strategy is to maintain their own, independent communities in rural backwaters or city slums where the parent culture doesn't pay them much attention. This can work - sometimes, for decades - and it allows them some sense of stability where they can foster their own traditions and pass them on to the next generation. This also gives them easy access to whatever employment exists in the area. Unfortunately, this also makes them targets. The Inqoans especially - and to some extent, the Elladorans - have an established tradition of eventually raiding and scattering these makeshift collectives. This leaves the tight knit group to scramble for someplace where they can find knew quarters and establish a new base. The timing of the destruction of these encampments is often tied to some sort of broader, commercial force. For example, a long-running project of temple construction requires a great deal of cheap labor. Sensing this opportunity, the Diasporans establish a small community somewhere in the vicinity of the construction site, and for many years, while the construction continues, the presence of this community is essentially... tolerated. But once the temple has finally been completed, and the Diasporans' cheap labor is no longer in immediate demand, the local authorities fabricate some excuse to raid the makeshift settlement and "cleanse" their neighborhood of the foreigners.  
Nomads
The third strategy is, perhaps, that which is most associated with Diasporans in the casterway mindset - the life of nomads. Many Diasporans simply gave up trying to establish permanent residency in any particular location. Rather than deal with the constant hassle (and threat) of hostile host cultures who never really want them there in the first place, a large percentage of them have chosen to band together in small groups - typically, 10-50 - and roam the countrysides. They stop only briefly, often for 2-10 days, packing up and moving on before the local authorities get wise to them. These groups live off the land, or they survive by plying what trades they can in the communities through which they pass. Some even foster their own traveling trade shows, hawking wares and providing on-the-spot services. Although there are many Diasporan communities that do not embrace this nomadic lifestyle, these traveling groups of (perceived) vagabonds are the image that pops into most casterways' minds when you say "Diasporan".

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Moriah, Kaynya, Rossa, Janiya, Danoka

Masculine names

Jaisper, Mossafa, Aydnen, Kayson, Alaisha

Unisex names

Gaima, Kendran, Harlen, Kailie, Tristian

Family names

Marando, Baraka, Nema, Kali, Maru

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

I used to contend that Qoanesh is nothing but a bunch of animal sounds, suitable only for vermin and wild beasts. Then I heard a Diasporan speaking it, and I knew that I was correct.
Inchenko Domir Maximovik, Ucaranian troubadour, 2247 AoR
L
ike the Nocterns, most Diasporans are polyglots. This is a practical convention, borne of necessity, because they spend so much of their time forced to dance between their own culture, and the culture of whatever land they are currently inhabiting. With this in mind, nearly every Diasporan speaks Tallonari and Komon. They are notable for their high percentage of Qoanesh speakers. Elladorans and Tallonai rarely make any attempt to learn even the most basic Qoanesh phrases. They complain that the language is incomprehensible and that they can't physically reproduce the phonemes necessary for Qoanesh speech. Nevertheless, many Diasporans manage it. This isn't an act of cultural acceptance on the part of the Diasporans. Most Diasporans profess an open hatred of the Inqoans and would probably never speak a word of Qoanesh if they didn't have to. But a large portion of the Diasporan population still lives amongst Inqoan lands - in the shadows - and they find it imperative to actually know and understand the dominant tongue that is spoken and written all around them.
 
Ammiscence
Amongst themselves, Diasporans speak Ammiscence. It is their own language and it is rare to ever find a non-Diasporan who can claim to be even mildly conversant in it. Cognoscenti debated for centuries whether it is a "real" language. Even the Diasporans freely admit that their tongue originated as a patois between Komon, the original Tallonari of Auld Cervia, and the more cosmopolitan Tallonari dialects of the Elladorans. With a stunning act of cultural practicality, Ammiscence swiftly evolved to lean heavily on Qoanesh constructs after the Diasporans were essentially conquered by the Inqoans. In a historical paradigm where most cultures would cling tightly to their own lingual traditions, the Diasporans displayed a stunning adaptability that was reflected, in part, by the rapid adoption of those Qoanesh concepts into their own language.   Few cognoscenti debate any longer, with any seriousness, whether Ammiscence is a "real" language. Even if every one of its underlying precepts was initially cribbed from a prior language, it has now evolved to the point where native speakers of Komon, Tallonari, or Qoanesh have little hope of comprehending anything that's being discussed in an Ammiscence conversation unless they have previously endeavored to study the language.
 
Liability
Ammiscence serves several roles amongst Diasporans and those in their surrounding communities. Obviously, it's a communication medium for those fluent in the language. But for Diasporans, the meaning goes much deeper. Their language is a significant source of cultural pride - and when they gather in private, it's rare that they will speak anything but Ammiscence. From this perspective, it's akin to a Diasporan "secret code". Conversely, when they are in public, amongst non-Diasporans, they will rarely allow a single word of Ammiscence to cross their lips. Part of this is just pride - because they honestly don't want anyone else to be privy to the sacred sounds of their native tongue and they would greatly prefer that "outsiders" never have an opportunity to learn its nuances. But the public embargo on Ammiscence also has practical roots. For, like Nokmeni, openly speaking Ammiscence in public spaces is a potential invitation to trouble. It's no exaggeration that, in the more backward regions of rural Islegantuan, Diasporans have been lynched for speaking their native Ammiscence in public Elladoran, Tallonai, or Inqoan spaces.

Shared customary codes and values

D
iasporan culture has been constantly torn apart by two logical, but often contradictory, ideals for more than two thousand years. On one hand, the Diasporans have always been obsessively devoted to one ever-present theme: survival. After the indignity of the Inqoan Expansion, many Diasporan tribes were completely annihilated, or their members were so demoralized that they left their family groups altogether to "slide in" amongst the Elladorans and begin entirely new lives as though they were never associated with the Diasporans in the first place. But for those who remained, there was a renewed resolve to just... survive - no matter what it took to accomplish that feat. With this in mind, there are many Diasporan legends that detail the exploits of tragic heroes who had to give up everything - but in the end... they survived. And for them, that is ultimately the moral of the story.
To lose one's identity is equivalent to death. Yet dying to preserve one's identity still results in... death.
Pora Igo, Quitan Diasporan, 2123 AoR
Identity
But this overriding ideal of survival has always rested - uneasily - beside the consistent Diasporan theme of identity. For all their talk of "survival", Diasporans have rarely been willing to sell their soul for the handful of magic beans that is survival. And even as every generation of elders screams that their efforts are for naught if there is no next generation, there is an equally-strident voice in their community pointing out that if they "survive", but they lose every semblance of who they really are, then they have still suffered a particularly-cruel type of death. So a common theme of Diasporan history has been the constant struggle to, above all else, ensure their own long-term survival - while also ensuring that this survival is not rendered meaningless by the sad amelioration of their own hopes and ideals.

Common Etiquette rules

C
ommon stereotypes paint the Diasporans as being excessively polite - especially to any non-Diasporans. Like any cliché, this shorthand view has some basis in reality, while also managing to unfairly paint an entire culture with an indiscriminate brush. Some scoff at Diasporan etiquette as subservient and weak, but that's an easy stance to take when the observer has a homeland to call their own - and the Diasporans do not. For the experience of being Diasporan is the experience of being always and continually "other". No matter where they currently reside, no matter who is ostensibly their (current, supposed) ally, they are preternaturally aware - at all times - that they are never actually home. Even when they believe their hosts will not harm them, they are always keenly aware of the fact that everyone around them are the hosts - and they are eternally the guests.
 
Powerful Words
But even when Diasporans are completely amongst their own, and they feel completely free to relax and be themselves, their countenance is one that many other culture would identify as incredibly "nice". This is at least partly attributable to the fact that Diasporans view words as things. They believe that every word, once it's spoken, never truly goes away. In their traditional worldview, every time someone opens their mouth, they are birthing an endless stream of tangible persistent thoughts that, on some level, will haunt this world for eternity (or, at a minimum, for the remainder of the speaker's life). This tends to make Diasporans very careful about the words they choose and the thoughts they express - even when they are "only" expressing them amongst the friendly environs of their arbyrkin.

Common Dress code

S
ince the Diasporans were expelled from their ancestral lands during the Inqoan Expansion, they have had perhaps no more painful point of contention than with their standards of dress and adornment. Amongst the Diasporans, face painting, ritual adornment, and "traditional" attire is not an occasional luxury - it is a critical point of everyday social life. Neither the Elladorans nor the Inqoan regularly adhere to any "ancient" patterns of appearance. While they have their own unique fashions and social trends, those trends continue moving forward to adhere to "modern" casterway mores that are reflected, to some extent, across the entire planet. But Diasporans invest great spiritual equity in the colors, patterns, and accoutrements that are hallmarks of their culture. By their way of thinking, to avoid these adornments is to betray the very essence of what it means to be Diasporan.
I have no sympathy for their plight. They bring this all upon themselves. What with their warpaints and their piercings and those ridiculous headpieces that are like walking billboards of savagery. They may find that fortunes would turn in their favor if they'd just show a little self-respect.
Vajha Jalaga, Gorganian ferry operator, 3473 AoG
Markings
Face paint is not the only example of this phenomenon - but it is one of the most tangible and important. Most Diasporans start their day with a trip to the tribal sanctum. The sanctum's resident "voice" speaks to each Diasporan on behalf of the spirits and gives each a mark that is somehow representative of the message that the spirits want that person to comprehend today. This "mark" can be as subtle as a smudge of color on the cheek or forehead - but it often takes more elaborate forms. It's not uncommon for a Diasporan to emerge from this daily pilgrimage with a complete (and entirely complex) pattern of rich colors spreading across their entire face. Once this "message" is on the believer's face, it is anathema to simply wipe/wash it off. Exiting the sanctum and immediately smearing the paint off their face would be akin to yelling to the spirits that they weren't listening and they don't care what was said. However, after this sanctum visit, most Diasporans go off to fulfill some kind of vocation for the rest their day - a vocation that typically forces them into the midst of Elladoran, Inqoan, or Tallonai societies.
 
Cultural Prejudice
The other dominant cultures of Islegantuan (and, to a lesser extent, Islemanoton) hold the Diasporans in various levels of disdain. They tolerate some degree of Diasporan interaction in their daily affairs, but they have precious little patience for the open display of Diasporan customs or social ideals. The general viewpoint amongst most non-Diasporans is that they will tolerate the occasional Diasporan presence so long as those Diasporans don't behave (or speak, or dress, or adorn themselves) in ways that are overtly reminiscent of Diasporan culture. So, for example, Diasporan field hands may be welcome to continue working, every day, under their Elladoran vassal lord, as long as they are "respectful" enough to try to look like Elladorans and act like Elladorans and speak like Elladorans whenever they're directly amongst Elladorans. So under this example, while the Elladoran lord doesn't necessarily care whether the Diasporans visited their tribal sanctum before heading to the fields (and they most certainly did), she definitely will not tolerate them showing up with any traditional Diasporan face paint, jewelry, or clothing. To arrive for work in such a state is to risk having the Elladoran lord send them home for the day without pay. And yet, to remove these adornments is viewed internally as a betrayal of their own culture.
 
Inqoan Suspicion
On some level, it's almost understable as to why the Inqoans would actively work to undermine the Diasporans' cultural identity. After all, the Inqoans conquered the Diasporans and drove many of them far from their newly-acquired lands. And while a certain, latent underclass of Diasporans is tolerated amongst Inqoan societies (or even, embraced, with regard to the desire for cheap labor), there is always a simmering fear of a potential "Diasporan uprising" seeking to overthrow the Inqoans and reclaim (what they see as) their cultural heritage. Indeed, history has seen several armed Diasporan rebellions against the Inqoan powers. These skirmishes have never posed a legitimate threat to the Inqoan hegemony, but those who are tasked with protecting the future of the Inqoan people are understandably wary of the conquered culture that still lurks in the shadows of their own civilization. And Diasporans openly wearing traditional garb, hair styles, jewelry, or face paint are viewed as an open challenge to Inqoan sovereignty.
 
Tallonai Bigotry
There are relatively few Diasporans making their way amongst Tallonai lands. As such, relations between the two groups are... muted. The general consensus is that Tallonai don't much care for Diasporans, but they rarely have any concrete reasons to justify such animosity. And although they won't openly admit as much, talking to Tallonai long enough about Diasporans will usually yield some variation of, "The Elladorans don't trust them. And if the Elladorans don't trust them - then we don't either." While this is not an enlightened way to think about any particular ethnic group, it immediately begs the question, "What do the Elladorans have against the Diasporans?"
We could finish the project a little sooner if we brought a few Diasporans onboard. But I have no more room in the pens.
Harjarit Lang, Phonaecian scullion, 2658 AoR
Elladoran Insecurity
The question of Elladoran-Diasporan relations is a complicated one. The Diasporans originated in southwest Islegantuan - the same early homeland of the Elladorans. Genetically, Elladorans and Diasporans are nearly indistinguishable. They are both dark, tall, strong, proud peoples that ultimately trace their shared roots back to the Tallonai of Auld Cervia.   But almost from the earliest of times, the Elladorans always viewed themselves as... different. From the earliest Elladoran archives, there are numerous references to the "primitive" and "feral" culture which had taken root on the far eastern shores of Islegantuan. While the early Elladorans seemed intent to continue (what they perceived to be) the "civilized" tradition they inherited from the Tallonai, the Diasporans were content to go "back to their roots". They feel at peace with Excilior. They reject the burgeoning trappings of the "modern" Tallonai/Elladoran conglomerate. They live in smaller communities - eschewing the trappings of large-scale city life. They embrace a spiritual existence, while the Elladorans continue a Tallonai tradition that is widely viewed as agnostic (or even, atheistic). Although most Elladorans will rarely admit as much, they ultimately act toward the Diasporans as though they are embarrassed by them. There is a tangible sense amongst the Elladorans that, in some way, the mere existence of the Diasporans somehow reflects poorly upon them.
 
Betrayal
When the Inqoan Expansion was in full swing, the Elladorans first did little to provide any substantive aid to the Diasporans. They didn't explicitly help the Inqoan, but they also did nothing to assist the Diasporans - in any way. They seemed to affect an unspoken policy of benighted neutrality - regardless of any potential long-term effects to their own borders and their own security. With regard to the latter stages of the conflict, the cognoscenti have now uncovered copious examples of the Elladorans overtly allying with the Inqoan against the Diasporans. And while the Inqoans have gone on to become a constant thorn in the side of the Elladorans, their archives overflow with scholars and politicians who talk of the Diasporans as though they are a "primitive", "backward", and "savage" culture that somehow presents a challenge to the Elladorans.   So this extended legacy is the basis for Diasporan oppression whenever they as so bold as to don ceremonial clothing or whenever they fail to wash off their "shameful" tribal marks. From this perspective, the Inqoans may not "like" the Diasporans - but they tolerate them in reasonable numbers. But the Elladorans often act in ways that betrays a deep-seated animosity toward the Diasporans.

Art & Architecture

D
iasporan art is a bit of an enigma to anyone outside their culture. Modern investigations have shown that the Diasporans boast a rich cultural heritage of art in nearly all forms. But trying to solidly quantify Diasporan artistic contributions as being truly Diasporan is challenging, to say the least. To this day, the Elladorans routinely reject the idea that anything in Diasporan culture is worthy of merit. Given their continued status as social pariahs, Diasporans who have achieved greatness in the broader casterway culture often disavow their ethnic roots. And for those works that are created, experienced, and enjoyed within the Diasporans' insular community, it can be extremely difficult to expose these expressions to any broader audience.

Common Myths and Legends

E
arly Diasporan rites were river rites, and planetary rites, and solar rites, and rites of the winds and the rains and the seas. The Diasporans were one of the first cultures to view all of Excilior, with all that she holds, as a single unified deity. This has led many to tag the Diasporans as the original Wanders of Maenar, or as the first Priori of Syrus. But these definitions are myopic. The Diasporans are not concerned with identifying any particular god as supreme. Nor are they interested in venerating the "best" or "most-important" ecological system. To Diasporans, every aspect of the environment is, ultimately, one. It is all a universal whole. This include Syrus, and Aequin, and all the seas, and all the rivers, and all the continents.
 
Naturalism
With this in mind, Diasporan mythology is frequently pegged as one of the more "beautiful" worldviews. Their songs, their sonnets, their rhythms, their dance, their empirical observations - they are all made with a single unifying ideology of space and time and Excilior as a single joyous entity. This worldview is reflected in nearly all Diasporan legends and mythology. Diasporans rarely burn time crafting the narrow stories of petty gods and capricious men. Instead, they continually tell tales of the early world, the present world, and everything humanity has done to upset the beatific journey. Diasporan legends are frequently cautionary tales - songs of paradise lost and deepening casterway scars.

Historical figures

P
etro-Pisine Kali was the acknowledged progenitor of the Diasporan people. He eventually came to be seen as their pendracon. It was his stewardship that inspired the proto-Diasporans to organize against practices that they did not support in the ancient regal society of Auld Cervia. He collected and presented the original Diasporan concerns to the Auld Cervian authorities. When it became clear that their voices would not be heard, he instigated the first wave of Diasporan migration to Islegantuan's eastern shores. And he established the protocols that still drive some core Diasporan rituals to this day.

Pronunciation digh-ASS-pore-enn
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