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Para'floa

Culture

Culture and cultural heritage

Due to their Senzen origins, the Para'floa have a deep connection with nature, respecting its balance, yet not bending to the disturbances and hardships that can come of it. From a young age children are taught how to swim, fish, harvest, build boats, and synch their very energy with plants, in particular the pine that float alongside their homes.   Most of them live their whole lives on the incredibly wide rivers, looking for places to better herd mammals or their freshwater seahorses. They are excellent on crafting nets from river weeds and strings made of barks, sometimes managing to wash them out of color by using wax from water bees.   The religion the Para'floa have is commonly called among them as "Frogaria", which is a collection of myths and tales mentioning heroes and parables. Beyond a particular affinity with frogs, they do have origin stories for their people, such the seahorses running away from sharks that swim upstream just like the waves that make the river flow backwards. However most of them heavily emphasize independency from any government or society, while keeping solidarity in hard times.   This behavior led to both peace and strong aggression from them when facing Early Kings asking for taxes or to settle in one place. Most of them started resorting to piracy as every kingdom wanted their share on coins they barely used.   As Adália was better structured as one unity, great liberties were granted to the ones living in the wide rivers. Cargo would only be taxed if brought ashore for sales, which didn't stop a black market from forming, however made the risks less worth it. And as services for smaller merchants became more common, a yearly tax for safety on the river was imposed, which most accepted to pay when the Knights of Cradle of the family Touéris begun patrolling rivers and keeping the Crown's peace.   Secondary options as a biennial conscription to the Navy as a method of paying debts became an easy way for Adália to profit over small taxes unpaid and avoid bad will with people that could siege whole trade roots and remain unbeaten. The government knew that the black market would always exist, and it was less risky, and cheaper to find and punish people on land than insult a whole culture that was there before it. Letting taxes be more loose on them would pay off in the long run, as merchants would eventually trade again or more frequently expend their money.   During some harsh times, though, many did envy the position of Para'floa, and begun trying to do the same. The crown tried to block that movement, thinking they could get on a loophole where the only way to make it official, when the Para'floa had no concept of marriage, therefore if one would marry, it wouldn't be following the Para'floa culture... but little came of it, within less than three months, and a lack of guards to have patience arguing legal technicalities, the crown allowed a migration to the rivers... only to have over half of the same population migrating back to land on the first summer, claiming it was not worth the dangers.

Shared customary codes and values

Being fairly independent from each other, the Para'floa acquired the habit of exchanging small barrels, and eventually, glass bottles, of shrimp eggs. For when bad things happen to their farms, they have reserves. Traditionally, the shrimps are on oils that keep the pH in such a way the eggs can be kept long hibernation for over five years before dying. To Para'floa, the respect for giving lifesavers can be great, especially if they have to abandon their homes to change rivers.   As it became a hobby to build small landscapes inside the bottles, and the Para'floa hardly have a way to craft said items, it became a huge source of trade with merchants on harbors.   Families of Para'floa are fairly lonely and self-sustained, yet they do maintain a sense of community among their own, usually meeting with the same groups of families they know as summer approaches, to keep themselves safe from the storms, and problems that might arise.

Common Dress code

The sailors families pretty much ignore the fashion of Adália due to the lack of practically. Usually wearing few clothes, exposing a lot of their skin, with lightweight fabric that doesn't get in the way of their movements or stuck anywhere dangerous. Anything that doesn't dry fast tends to be ignored.   In colder days, they do have cemekao-like cloaks of leather and fur to keep them warm, hanging several on each one of their boat, so they remove them whenever they have to enter in contact with water, and dry themselves simply by wearing them and controlling water.   It is common for them to wear bracers on their arms, with barks thick enough to protect themselves from a sword cut, since metal would not have a good durability. Those bracers, around their pulse, might contain knives and other tools of quick access during diving.

Art & Architecture

The Para'floa are iconic in Adália for giving up their protection into forests and carrying the forest within their sailing travels. Their darker skin is due to their Senzen ancestors through generations syncing their spirit with the dark brown wood of a subspecies of araucaria pine.   The tree that usually reaches up to ten meters is found of the summer floods, some of them being completely immersed on a water depending where they stand close to the river. It has somewhat spongy and have a lot buoyancy along with gathering oxygen for breathing through some kind of internal leaves. They also make home for thousands of shrimp, small fish and a species of fresh water seahorse, called galhar.   Once, the Para'floa that got really good at making their homes float along with the water levels decide to give up foundation for both their houses and saint pines, and search for better waters for their farms of aguapé (Eichhornia) and animals. Their ships are made of layered planks and balanced with rocks that slide hopes, along with a few sails. They do have a prow, but are overall quite round, with a eight meter diameter tower where they live with a pine on the middle, with its roots wide on the water. The tower is usually one levels height, with rooms, the bigger one being from the owner of the boat. The lower levels might have straws on them so whoever is diving beneath can access air. Navigation might consist in syncing the spirit with the pine so it moves the roots, controlling the balance of the ship.   Those boathouses might have either outrigger or a pontoons to acquire balance, in a couple occasions, more than one tree. On both cases, tools might be locked into small shelves with holes and ropes on the sides of both structures. The farms of galhars and shrimp are always bellow the house, and provide both bait and food for the families.   The houses of Para'floa usually pull barges, either with gardens or frames with grids that hold herbs and other plants into place, along with other small animals. Whenever in one place, small bridges are put on each. Especially when two or more families share space. Festivals make small cities of boats with trees as masts.

Common Customs, traditions and rituals

The Para'floa every two years get back to land and search for big rocks where their priestess carve in them the history of those two years, Carving Memory, they call it. Centuries of documentation set into stone are guarded by hermits that volunteer themselves for two or four years, it is considered a brave but great honor to guard them, and the individuals that do have them tattooed it in their arms.   The hermits are usually approved by priests, and often brought food or money as tribute for their service. Their responsibilities include studying the rocks, memorizing stories and events, teaching both scholars that come to register them in paper, and individuals that live on the same roof seeking to be priests and priestess under their tutelage.   While priestesses tend to carry several rites involving earthly events, the priests are responsible for organizing festivals in water, either them being parties, burials or memorials. some dates include dozens of people finding temples purposely sunk under the water and carving their respects under it. Paying their respects to the ones that were born and gone on the water, remembering that life flows like the river, and that they need to give back to the river just as much as they take from it.   Priestess and Priests gain tattoo on their cheeks, and once approved their work is completely voluntary. They are always treated with the greatest respect and have families assist them to their requests, however the ones that seem to abuse their power are bad mouthed, often having their boats conveniently not seen when approached. Making those known as "unseen priests".   Many of the rituals on the water are local and frequent, sometimes concerning small groups. Both genders are more busy on healing and spreading the word of events. Major events do happen every biennial just like the ones in water. They never happen in the same year, but special events might be summoned during summers where too many eclipses are predicted to happen.

Birth & Baptismal Rites

Due to a past where every couple years, water would be too still and frog hunting became too excessive before their religion prohibited them. Diseases by mosquitoes almost led their entire culture to extinction, encouraging them to go to the middle of the rivers rather than the shores.   A custom that became common, was to not name babies until they were three years old. Children before five years old can never leave their homes at night, and are protected by the nets that won't let mosquitoes in, and sleep in beds inside a box of said net.   At three years old, however, children gain a name when they are capable of holding up a paddle tied to their leg. The paddle birthday, as it became called, is when a children proves that it can be left alone in the dangers of water without any supervision. Most of them can barely speak, but swim just as well as hippos along with their mothers. The paddle comes along with a large, wide board where the Para'floa use to wander around farther from their boats, capable of doing it even by standing up.   From that age on, children tend to be quite independent, have fun on their own and with their siblings. Often getting a pet that can keep them from harm.   Paddle births tend to happen with family only, however as generations went by, it became quite often for merchants to be invited to watch the tests of use and celebrate through the day. Often meaning that the merchant becomes some sort of godfather/godmother to the kids, teaching them about the world beyond the rivers. A common saying on the difference of the two worlds is that "the parents craft the board, and the merchant buys a paddle".

Coming of Age Rites

The Para'floa have a concept of voting in their meetings. Only adults that have a boat can vote, whenever someone decides to live with the owner of the boathouse, regardless of gender or age, said person abdicates of making decisions that impact boats or society unless they are priests.   As a result, teenagers, usually above 15, start to slowly craft their own boat on their free time. They start with small structures before going with their parents to release a pine afloat during spring. The boat is pulled just like any other barge until cut off completely. It tends to take years for it to be complete since it requires a lot of testing and a work mostly done by one person that begins living inside of it to prove it s both functional as a home, but that the teen can survive difficult situations.   It is not uncommon for teens not to leave their parents, or to inherit a boat from a grandparent that decides to reside with one of their children so they can be cared. The only official celebration is when the ties are finally cut. Yet the general consensus of becoming an adult is when one either has their own boat or a child to care for.

Common Myths and Legends

<WIP> Something with sharks swimming upstream and candles.

Ideals

Beauty Ideals

Perhaps due to their nature on swimming, wide, broad chests seem to be attractive on both sexes, along with thick legs. As their environment requires them to be fit, fairly muscular bodies call more attention, fat is almost a synonym for lazy and young people too thin may be mocked to be "single father babies", joking they were malnourished when raised. Older people don't seem that bothered those standards, though, almost evaluating themselves by how much success they had in managing the boat.   As it regards their own race, the wet wood looking, coffee tone of brown their skin share with the water pines is traditionally valued for them. Liking to contrast with very light tones of green eyes, almost yellowish, similarly trend for their smooth hair.   Men tend to shave their heads or braid their green hair backwards, somewhat similar to Adalian trends. Most do not like beards, and pejoratively calling them "shrimp farms". As for women, many volunteer to work on the aguapé farms they pull, only to sync their spirits frequently enough for their Senzen genetics kick in and gradually make their hair white or lilac.   Children do like their hairs short and practical, not bothering them when swimming, yet women after motherhood tend to enjoy having long soft hair. Often with braids only on the bottom, around the hips, holding weight that adds more volume.

Gender Ideals

All things considered, the Para'floa are very neutral regarding gender roles. Most of the activities for them simply require skill and physique and are dangerous to not know them for something so arbitrary. With that said, it does not stop a general idea of what males and females should aspire for.   As milking is not something they generally do keep stored, women are encouraged to raise children and take care of the insides of the boat, sometimes farming, while men should be more outgoing and bring back resources. This of course overlaps heavily with introversion and extroversion, so roles are frequent to switch once breastfeeding ends.

Relationship Ideals

To the Para'floa, the idea of forming a family does not depend too much in blood, but who literally is in the same boat. Their high respect for guests regards that as far as they're concerned, the people invited are temporarily their family on the very least, and they have responsibility towards them.   Although hospitality is what they're famously known for, people living more closely may find weird that the concepts of marriage do not seem to apply for them. It is not uncommon for them having more than one partner, two or more couples sharing a boat, or no members of the family being relatives at all or be romantically involved.   Single parents are quite common, living their own lives on their own boat, and romantic encounters to happen whenever they feel interested in a person from another boat. Many times when a child is small, it is common for a Para'floa to anchor and rent their boathouse, and go live with more experienced parents, or a single mother to put on hold her boathouse building and spend more than a decade with her parents.   To "Share a Pine", as they say, members have to trust each other deeply, it usually begins due to some necessity. However, whenever a spontaneous decision begins, it is a big step many like to avoid. Several decisions on how useful and reliable a mate should be.

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