Living amongst the sparse, rocky expanse of the Rivla-lwëp, the Nderbikii are a people who are divided into numerous tribes who all view themselves as being part of the same people. Deemed too ‘savage’ to be drawn into the Empire of Turelion, the Nderbikii are the core of what the other tribal peoples of Minid Province refer to as the Abwëfbĩkii. They have been exiled to the south of the continent of Dricaro, where they have demonstrated their hardiness and that they do not need the ‘civilisation’ of the Empire in spades.
The Nderbikii do not define separate roles in their society for men and women and a reflection of this is that they do not have separate names for men and women. It is common for men and women to have the same first name and this is not seen as something odd or unusual. Common Nderbikii include: Adeeshuduggaat / Ahatsunu/ Amata/ Anagalmeshshu /Anagalshu/ Arahunaa / Ariistuun/ Dadanum/ Deemethresu/ Diipatusu/ Enheduana/ Ettu/ Gashansunu/ Gemekaa/ Ibbi-Adad/ Iltani/ Kinaa/ Ku-Aya/ Kullaa/ Labashi/ Laliya/ Ligish/ Mannuiqapu/ Mushezibti/ Mushezibitu/ Naram-Sin/ Nigsummulugal/ Niiqiarqusu/ Nikanuur/ Nikiiarqusu/ Suusaandar/ Uktannu/ Utuaa/ Yahatti-Il/ Zakiti
Family names in Nderbikii culture are taken by combining the name of the child’s father and mother, which indicates who the child is a son or daughter of.
Major language groups and dialects
The Nderbikii people speak a dialect of Bwĩgit a language which is spoken widely by the peoples of Dricaro. Whilst they once intermingled freely with the tribal peoples from the other regions of Dricaro continent, their forced exile by the Empire of Turelion to the Rivla-lwëp, south of the Frost Fang Mountains means that they have had ample time and isolation to create their own dialect of Bwĩgit. It is still possible for the Nderbikii to understand their cousins to the north, but not everything would be directly translatable.
Shared customary codes and values
The Nderbikii do not regard men and women as being separated by anything other than their physical biology. This means that they have no set societal roles for women or men and instead Nderbikii are expected to do instead what they show the most aptitude for. This means that one may well find men looking after children or preparing meals, or women protecting the tribe as warriors or hunting for food and vice versa. As a result sexism is not a concept that Nderbikii understand and they find the concept of people not being allowed to do something because of their gender strange. In addition, though they lead a harsh life in the wastes of the Rivla-lwëp, the Nderbikii value every kind of strength or talent, whether that be physical strength or aptitude for learning lore. All are held to be of equal value, provided that the individual turns their natural talents towards protecting the interests of the tribe, or honouring their ancestors. The ancestors of every Nderbikii are held like gods and all Nderbikii understand that they must be treated with respect, lest they turn their backs on their progeny. The concept of ancestors for the Nderbikii is a tribal link rather than a blood link. For example an individual would regard every deceased member of their tribe as being their ancestor, even though they are not blood relatives.
Art & Architecture
As the Nderbikii are nomadic, they have no architectural style that is linked to buildings as it is very rare that they actually construct a building of any sort, be that a dwelling, social structure etc. What they do build however, are what are known as ‘Spirit Gates’. These are arches constructed from flat pieces of stone hewn from the landscape of the Rivla-lwëp plateau, or occasionally from ice in the more southern regions where it will remain permanently frozen. ‘Spirit Gates’ are used to mark ritual sites of importance to the Nderbikii and are an integral part of their religious and cultural gatherings. The art of the Nderbikii tends to focus around leather and carved bone medium and most Nderbikii tribespeople wear leather clothing that is decorated with all manner of carved and patterned leatherwork. Bone carving is also linked to practical objects and the axes, spears, knives and other tools that Nderbikii carry with them are often highly decorated with small bone carvings suspended from them, or made entirely from them, such as the bone grip of a knife).
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
Tribes of Nderbikii come together every full moon to commune with the spirits of their ancestors, consult one another and as an opportunity to trade between tribes in a gathering that is referred to as a Fkifev in the Bwĩgit language. These monthly assemblages take place at one of the many ritual sites spread across the Rivla-lwëp, which are all marked by the presence of a Spirit Gate. The tribes are not obligated to attend every single one of these gatherings, and many will only attend a handful every year, but when a tribe chooses to attend a Fkifev they are bound by sacred laws to put their differences aside and to refrain from bloodshed whilst within sight of a Spirit Gate. This means that even tribes who have bad blood, or who are in open conflict with one another can gather without fear of repercussions or blood shed at a Fkifev.
Birth & Baptismal Rites
Children born into an Nderbikii tribe undergo a ritual welcoming into both their tribe and the broader Nderbikii community. When a child is brought to their first Fkifev, they are carried through the Spirit Gate under the supervision of their tribe and are then blessed by tribe’s shaman in the presence of the tribe and all of their ancestors.
Coming of Age Rites
Whereas babes and infants are welcomed into the tribal communities of the Nderbikii by being carried through a Spirit Gate, when Nderbikii children come of age in their fifteenth year, they are expected to prove their strength and honour their ancestors by undertaking a journey from one Spirit Gate to the Spirit Gate that they passed through as youngsters. Depending on where the tribe happens to be when a youth has to undergo this, it could mean a journey of many hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Some tribes deliberately ensure that their youths have a long journey to undergo, and take an arduous journey as a mark of respect to the tribe and its ancestors. Regardless of how long the journey is, youths have a whole year to finish it. If it has not been completed by their sixteenth year then they are considered as outcasts from their tribe and the Nderbikii people.
Funerary and Memorial customs
The ground of the Rivla-lwëp is generally too stony or too frozen to easily enable the digging of graves, and firewood and animal dung is far too precious a commodity to wasted on the burning of a body. Instead, when a member of a Nderbikii dies, their flesh is removed from their bones and left in the wilderness, a sign that everyone’s earthy body is beholden to the natural cycle of life and that it will sustain another creature. The bones of the deceased however, are kept and ground into a fine powder. When the tribe next attends a Fkifev, or arrives at a sacred location in-between gatherings, the bone dust is thrown through the Spirit Gate, to symbolise the person’s spirit being released from their earthly shackles. As a result, the ground around Spirit Gates is white with the dust of generations of dead being venerated in this way at them.
It is considered a serious taboo to spill blood, whether an animals’, a monsters’ or a humanoids’ within sight of a Spirit Gate. Such an act is deemed to be a desecration of a sacred site, and the offender will be made to sacrifice some of their own blood beneath the arch of the Spirit Gate. If a humanoid or any other creature is killed within sight of a Spirit Gate, the offender is exiled from the tribe and from the Nderbikii people. It is also considered a taboo to imply that someone is not fit to undertake a certain job or role based on their sex. Outsiders who have expressed surprise when Nderbikii women are seen to go out hunting whilst men stay and look after the camp often find themselves being challenged to prove their worth against those they accuse, something that often does not go well for them.