Appearance and Material Culture. Physically, the Noriki [NOH•ree•kee; sing. NOH•reek] tend to be tall, broad-built, and strong. They usually have light eyes – blue, green, or light brown, broad facial features, and fair to reddish hair. The women style their hair into long braids, while the men refrain from shaving their facial hair after they reach full maturity. The men wear tunics and breeches of linen or wool, tied with a belt, while the women wear wrap-around skirts, or, occasionally, single-piece dresses made of similar material. The shirts are dresses are typically embroidered with designs that represent kin-group, patron deity, or other religious motif. On weddings and other formal occasions, the women wear tall headdresses. When they can afford them, they are partial to long earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, while men wear metal buckles and clasps. Both are partial to knee-high leather boots, although typically they wear shoes made of woven straw. In the winter, they don felt boots, woolen overcoats and caftans, and hats made of wood or fur. Red-colored clothing is especially prized by them, but for this reason it fetches a steeper price. They possess combs and other grooming implements, and for a generally rural people, have a decent level of personal hygiene. They are frequent bathers in a sauna, which they house in a separate building, and which plays a key role in their spiritual life. Dwellings. Given the abundance of wood, they build their huts above ground out of logs, with slanted roofs of wooden boards or straw mixed with pitch, but nearer to the steppe, where trees are more scarce, the houses are also built as dugouts that are partly sunk into the ground. Each house is surrounded by a palisade fence of sharpened stakes. The centerpiece of the interior is a stone or clay oven, which is used for cooking, heating, and sleeping on, but most people have little by way of furniture other than perhaps a few benches. The inside of the hut is typically whitewashed and bright, and kept fresh-smelling and free of insects with fragrant herbs, but the soot from the stove can quickly cover the walls and spoil the odor unless the house is regularly aired. Larger huts also have a specially designated “bright room”, which is kept closed and clean for notable occasions. Some also have an entry room, or mud room, where shoes and tools are stored. Most have an underground cellar for storing perishables. Agriculture. The Labdy ancestors of the Noriki have long practiced agriculture, but it was not until they adopted the heavy plough just under a millennium ago that they were able to expand into northeastern Nor’ in appreciable numbers. They grow millet, wheat (in the rich dark earths bordering the steppe belt), and hardier cereals like rye and buckwheat in the northern parts of the country. From these, they brew beer and kvas (a low-alcohol rye beer), although mead is also very popular (apiculture is very widespread among the Labdy, and honey, along with wax, are also two of the main Nor’ exports to other lands). They also cultivate peas, lentils, cucumbers, cabbage, carrots, turnips, beets, pumpkins, radishes, onions, garlic, and other vegetables that grow well in tough soils. Among fruit, apples, pears, plums, and cherries are commonly grown, as well as peaches and grapes in more southerly regions. Herbs such as dill, parsley commonly found in their gardens. Flax and hemp are grown to produce oil, clothing, and rope. Husbandry. They have long been familiar with various forms of animal husbandry. They domesticated horses a long time ago. The elite ride them in combat, but they are more commonly used for agriculture (along with oxen). They have also figured prominently in heathen religious rituals, and even though they no longer practice horse sacrifices, an echo of their importance is visible in the horse heads carved at the end of roof beams of many houses. Pigs, goats, cows, and sheep are also domesticated as livestock, though with the exception of pigs, they are raised more for milk, wool, or hides than for meat. Domestic fowl, including chickens, ducks and geese abound in many households, and are raised for their eggs, as well as eaten. Dogs are common pets, guards, and hunters’ aids in any Noriki settlement, and cats are particular favorites, though they are expected to pull their weight by catching rodents. Diet. The Noriki diet heavily centers on bread as the main staple. Its consumption is so symbolically essential that any important visitor to a house or a village is greeted by young women presenting them with a tray bearing a loaf, along with salt, which is a prized trade item brought in from without. Soups, made of cabbage, beats, and fish, along with wheat, buckwheat, pumpkin or pea porridge (kasha) are also part of everyday fare (and eaten with wooden spoons). Eggs and milk are consumed daily, and dairy products, including butter, sour cream, curds, and various forms of buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt are commonly eaten for breakfast, with bread, or in soup or porridge. Vegetables, berries and mushrooms are preserved for the long winters, either by drying, pickling, or making into preserves and jams. Pies, whether sweet (apple, berry, cherry) or savory (fish, mushroom, chicken, or meat), pancakes, and dumplings are the mainstay of holiday fare. Meat is eaten when it is available and not prohibited by the fast calendar. Pork is particularly popular, with salted fatback being considered a particular treat, and an accompaniment to drinking. Alcoholic drinks are famously popular, especially on holidays and long winter nights. Traditionally, they consisted of kvas, beer and mead, though the elite with access to wine is quite partial to that potable as well. As for vodka, distillation process has only recently been introduced, so that beverage is just beginning to be introduced to the wider public (with predictable consequences). Crafts. Agricultural activities and most animal husbandry are performed by all able-bodied members of the community, and are not specialized. The same is true for handicrafts such as spinning, weaving, embroidery, basket weaving, carpentry, barrel making, cart, boat, or sled manufacture, leatherworking, shoemaking, animal slaughter, tanning, haberdashery, and candle manufacture. All are generally performed in the home or yard, though particular people possess greater skill at these tasks than most others. Several specializations stand out, however.
- Herders possessed unique skills of controlling animals and negotiating with wood and field spirits for their safety. They are almost always recruited from outside the community, perhaps among those who were incapable of performing agricultural work, and it was commonly assumed that part of their training took place under the tutelage of a sorcerer or warlock.
- Potters, because they work at the kiln – a crucially important but infernal artifice, were also regarded as possessing magical powers. Having to fire pots for many hours straight, they worked through the night, and are thought to traffic with nocturnal powers. At the same time, shaping clay is an activity reminiscent of the Creator’s power to fashion new life. Additionally, digging for clay in the earth, and the throwing of vessels, originally used to house the ashes of the dead suggest that potters possess skill in necromancy. These linkages, along with their frenetic work schedules, may account for the potters’ reputation for hard drinking.
- Smiths are regarded as even more arcane and mysterious. Ironworking is a vitally important skill, needed for the production of agricultural implements, horseshoes and other gear, knives, and other utensils. Its practitioners work at the forge, and have command over the element of fire. They are in very high demand, and are therefore often regarded as wealthy, and a lucky find as a spouse. Blacksmiths keep their knowledge secret, sharing it only with a select few apprentices, but people say they learn their craft from, or teach it to, devils, whom some aid in “shoeing”, or taming, witches. They can also shape iron into protective talismans.
- Another type of specialist – the miller – has appeared in more recent times. The operator of the most complex machine most people have ever seen, they have power over the most important fruits of agricultural labor. Like potters command earth and blacksmiths control fire, millers have sway over the elements of water and earth, because the successful operation of a mill requires traffic with spirits of these elements. The location of mills – hilltops for windmills, and near running water for water mills – are often places where magical power is concentrated. Like the smith, the miller is seen to be wealthy, but to an even greater degree than the former, he is seen as a sinner for the supernatural company he keeps.
Akulina, Alena, Anastasia, Anna, Avdot’ia, Dar’ia, Yekaterina, Yelena, Yevdokia, Lada, Irina, Ksenia, Liudmila, Marfa, Maria, Nadezhda, Olga, Sofia, Svetlana, Tatiana, Ul’iana, Vasilisa
Aleksandr, Andrei, Boris, Dmitri, Yegor, Feodor, Gennadii, Igor, Ilya, Ivan, Kirill, Mikhail, Nikolai, Oleg, Piotr, Sergei, Sviatoslav, Timofei, Vadim, Vasilii, Vladimir, Vladislav, Vsevolod, Yurii
Patronymics are formed by putting ovich, evich or ich after the father’s name for males, and ovna, evna, or inichna after the father’s name for females. Patronymics are much more commonly used than surnames, and calling someone by their name and patronymic is considered a sign of respect.
Surnames are formed by adding ov, skii, or in to the end of the root (e.g. village name, color, parent’s name) for males, and ova, skaia, or ina for females. Surnames are uncommon for most people, and are usually born by people of prominent families.