The Wa'Senet (also known as the Senet’tu or Seteti) are the people of Senet'tu
, the ancient city of north Sura. They have been much changed by a thousand years of mingling with the many cultures of the Sura Empire
, but their relative isolation has made them differ in many ways. Wa'Senet culture is founded in their long years of relative prosperity and lack of external threats, most crises being only internal.
The history of the Wa'senet people is long. They began as nomads on the plains of Hakassar, and developed into an agricultural culture primarily as a method to cope with the cycles of the river Tajut. The Wa'Senet developed in relative isolation, flank on three sides by the desert and the fourth the sea. The land beyond the riverbanks proved largely uninhabitable to anything beyond small tribes, who continued to exercise independence for centuries after a central state arose.
The first cities of the Wa'Senet were founded around (date). These first cities were little more than collections of farmers gathered for security. A central state developed later, along with their most famous city of Senet'tu. Senet'tu by virtue of wealth and military might subdued the other cities of the Tajut's banks and rose as a central power. It was not the only notable city, but it is the one that remains to this day and so which historians have the most information on.
The tradition of Wa'Senet familial clans probably developed in this period, as families congregated in large established homes including multiple generations, and inherited familial jobs. The royal clan of Senet'tu established hereditary rule some time in this period, following this example.
Early Wa'Senet architecture was largely built of stone until the quarries were depleted, forcing the development of early clay bricks.
The role of family is very significant in the culture of the Wa'Senet. Informal familial clans are the corner-piece of their societal organisation; Wa'Senet familial clans are extremely large, counting all female line descendants.
Though not a formal organisation, clans have a number of traditions usually tied to them and members carry a certain level of status based on the achievements of their clans members. All clans have at least one specific line of individuals dedicated to recording their lineage, usually maintained in a family temple in Senet’tu.
Clans are regimented into three levels of status; Common clans have no notable ancestors through which to claim prestige; Greater clans have one extremely notable ancestor or a number of members of some status (such as government bureaucrats, scholars of small renown, or talented mages). High Clans are usually small, extremely wealthy and have a number of extremely renowned ancestors; most members of High Clan's are titled nobility.
The status of a clan is often in flux and based primarily on perception. The Tirhsh of Senet’tu mediates the status of clans if it is disputed. Due to the effect the status of a clan has on individuals opportunities, genealogy is taken very seriously.
Marriage & Courtship
Marriage between clans is limited to a certain degree. High Clans traditionally only marry into their own number or Greater clans, Greater clan members may marry all, and Common clans may marry only Greater clan members or their own.
Courtship is induced by the woman. Permission to formally begin courtship is granted when she gives her chosen suitor a token, usually a carved medallion of bronze. Usually this is only given after a significant time of informal courtship. Marriages usually take place after the birth of the couple's first child, which is seen as proof of the couples luck and fertility.
The Wa'Senet recognise the concept of Half-Souls, believing those who are attracted to their own gender are the broken halves of a male or female soul trying to find its other half. They are widely accepted in Wa'Senet society, despite Suran pressures to do otherwise.
The Wa'Senet have preserved their ancient naming traditions, though Suran ones are now popular among many - especially merchants and nobles with significant business in Sura itself. Wa'Senet names are personally chosen at the age of 16; before that point they are called by the name of any of a number of sacred protection spells, believed to guard the child from evil spirits. These spells are usually traditional to a family clan.
Wa'Senet wear a variety of clothing. A fusion of Suran-style clothing with traditional Wa'Senet clothing is now extremely common, due to its convenience and low cost compared to more traditional garments. Purely traditional Wa'Senet clothes are now primarily worn by clan lorekeepers, priests, charitable orders and in official duties by the nobility.
Wa'Senet clothing today fuses the Wa'Senet traditional tunic, made of weaved Npago fibres, with a Suran style loin wrap .More traditional clothing will usually include a shawl with beaded tassels in bright colours, and a knee length skirt. Clothing is generally gender neutral, differentiated only by jewellery. Wa'Senet jewellery is common amongst women, including beaded necklaces and bracelets. Suran style bicep rings are popular for men.
Wa'Senet art takes a number of forms. Unlike the Suran love of mosaics, the Wa'Senet popularised murals and glyph-painting as a decoration form. Murals that portray the story of famous ancestors are common, usually accompanied by stylised glyphs that relay the same story in poetic form. Traditional Wa'Senet tattoos are also a common form of artistic expression. They generally form complex geometric patterns, believed by the superstitious to confuse spirits trying to enter via the skin.
The architecture of Senet’tu and the Wa'Senet people has not evolved quickly. Their city is the oldest still standing on the continent, and tradition is valued highly. Suran styled homes have made little inroads due to the local climate; Suran homes are extremely open, which proved vulnerable to Senet’tu's sandstorms. As a result Wa'Senet homes usually have few windows.
Wa'Senet homes are still predominantly square or rectangular, multi-level with flat roofs usually used as an outdoor terrace or garden. The Wa'Senet widely utilise fired clay bricks and lime mortar in constructions, studiously whitewashing exteriors. This has given Senet’tu the moniker of The White Oasis, the city dazzlingly white in the height of the summer sun.
The quarries near Senet’tu were depleted in ancient times, so the only stone buildings are the ancient temples. These are open to the elements, consisting of a stone courtyard encircled by monolithic carved stone columns with the images of ancient gods and kings engraved.
Once the Wa'Senet firmly believed in the literal deification of their ancestors, but this has been supplanted over time by Suran religion. Some traditional holdouts still follow the old beliefs, and there also notable cults to the Divines within Senet’tu, however, the majority of the population are followers of the One and Six Gods.