The Kajan... aye, I've heard tales, but never seen one of 'em. Don't know what you'd want with that lot, they give me the creeps they do.
It is a shame that the Kajan are so far removed from Mythian life and culture. For I believe there is much that they could teach us, in their own peculiar way.
If there's a Kajan beside you in those swamps, you're safe. If there isn't, pray to whoever the hell is watching that you get through alive.
There are so many opinions on the Kajan, from the people of the foothills to those of the plains. Perhaps that is because nobody truly understands the Kajan but themselves. In a way, that is a terrifying thought.
The Kajan are the indigenous peoples of Mythia's swamps, and are divided into tribes within their wider society. Originally isolated from the rest of Mythia during the Precentury, or so has been determined by the scholars who study this age, they came into increasingly frequent contact around the year 180, as the plains kingdoms began to test the boundaries of their territories. Their histories, customs, and culture have been of much interest to wider Mythia, and even today they are still held apart from the rest of Mythian society.
Sanaja, Jana, Segan, Hagjan, Thjara, Gjan, Gra
(n.b. in feminine names, j is pronounced as y and g is pronounced as zs. Q is a <|> in IPA)
Sara, Amana, Zaraka, Kazada, Thana, Qa, Gara, Ajaqa
(n.b. in masculine names, j and g are pronounced as they would be in English. Q is a <|> in IPA)
S, Q, J, H, G, Z, K, R (or any combination of the before and the vowel a).
Family names are constructed by taking the initial of the first name of an ancestor and then adding to it consonant pairs with a. These consonant pairs represent members of the matriarchal line. For example:
Initiator of bloodline=Sa
Continuing members: Jana, Segan, Thjara, Gjan, Gra
(n.b. all surnames are treated as feminine names for pronunciation purposes)
Many Kajan use only the last few generations of their name in common parlance.
Many Kajan can now speak the common tongue of Mythia, due to their increased connectedness to the rest of the world. However, the language is still not universal and not one of choice within the tribes. Typically, the Kajan communicate in their own common tongue, which does not have a specific name and is referred to by Mythian translators variously as Kajan common, Gajan (pronounced as a feminine name), or simply Kajan. Within the tribes, there are many minor variations on the common tongue used, which while seeming small change the structure and vocabulary enough that tribes separated by comparatively large details are unable to communicate effectively using the other's language.
Kajan culture revolves heavily around ancestors and the proper respect for those who have come before. From the full last name of every Kajan to the practice of The Unsung Hymn
, ancestors are present and recognised every day. When meeting a stranger in a new town, Kajan often reach back in their memories to find ancestors who had met each other from both lineages.
The Kajan are widely regarded as primitive by the rest of Mythian society due to their lack of use of spellwriting. However, the Kajan have arguably achieved higher levels of pure technological prowess than the rest of Mythia, and are widely regarded as second only to Thespians in their knowledge and usage of herbs. Kajan typically have the same proportions of natural spellwriting talent as would be expected of any Mythian population, or so is surmised, but the number who go into further training is very limited and typically confined to those who have left the swamps for good.
The Kajan have a very loose social code covering intertribal etiquette, while most stricter codes are confined to individual tribes. When a member of one tribe interacts with a member of another, there are a few things that are sure to be observed by both people.
Firstly, all tribes typically refrain from interfering with a hunt. Food can be scarce in the swamps, and even hunting groups from tribes that are in opposition tend to leave the others alone out of respect for the hunt and the innocents that will be fed with its products. Similarly, should two tribes be bent on the same quarry, either one will leave the hunt or they will share in the spoils should they catch it. This can result in some rather odd incidents, one of which is detailed by Atalia Segorna in her History of the Kajan:
Sajana's tribe, whose name has no analogue in the common tongue and which I shall not try to reproduce here, was engaged in hostilities with the "Inkbark tribe", or so Sajana called them. I'd seen many small confrontations in my time with Sajana, and knew to stay away from any who I saw in the borders of our region. And yet here I was sitting side by side with the hunters of the Inkbark, their spears by their sides, divvying up the Takker with as much poise and calm as cutting a chicken at a family dinner.
Secondly, when coming into contact with another Kajan in the wilds, the first thing each person will do should they have peaceful intent is to bare their head to the other. This is a sign of non-hostility in Kajan culture, as it exposes what they see as their most vulnerable part, containing their consciousness and memories and therefore their ancestors (see Myths and Legends). After doing so, the Kajan will return to standing as is seen to be natural by other Mythian observers.
Third and finally, the Kajan one and all extend assistance to those in need. Should members of one tribe come upon members of another trapped by a predator or floundering in a dirtwater pool, they will give assistance as best possible. This extends also to outsiders, and more than one early contact of the Kajan met them due to an unfortunate encounter with the native flora and fauna.
Dress code varies slightly between tribes, but all female Kajan dress practically in a long shirt and leggings. Males often dress in longer robes due to the fact that they are less active in pursuits such as hunting and combat.
Perhaps the biggest reason that the Kajan are widely viewed as primitive by the rest of Mythia is because of their architecture. The Kajan have no large buildings and almost seem to avoid them - there is more than one tale of newcomers to large Mythian cities balking at the large buildings present there. Scholars and historians can shed no light on exactly why the Kajan don't build large structures, and it is thought that it stems from a myth held by the Kajan themselves. Most Kajan dwellings are one or two room huts made from plants that grow in the swamps, typically walled with various woods and peat and roofed with branches and dried reeds.
Kajan visual art is near non-existent, which some surmise to be connected to their aversion to spellwriting. However, one area that they excel at in the arts is music. All Kajan have some basic proficiency in their native instrument, the riid, and singing. Often, those Kajan who leave the swamps make their way in the world as bards. Segorna's History tells of the use of music in The Unsung Hymn
but it's clear that the art of music is practised widely and probably used in other rituals.
See The Unsung Hymn
There are no other documented rituals of the Kajan, although anecdotal evidence from those who have stayed with them in times of need abounds. It is thought that many of their traditional ceremonies are kept intentionally from outsiders out of a desire to keep ancestral traditions pure.
The Kajan frown on few things, typically allowing any behaviours so long as they don't cause direct harm to members of their own tribe. However, two things are taboos held by all Kajan tribes.
Firstly, refusing to offer assistance to someone in need when not actively engaged in battle is considered an offence to all Kajan, and should evidence of this make it back to a tribe it can be cause for war to be declared, a result of which is typically the exile of the person who refused to help. Typically, the word of one against the other is enough - there are no accounts of Kajan lying about this, so crucial is it in life in the swamps.
Secondly, it is forbidden for a male to partake in a hunt or battle unless strictly necessary. Atalia comments on this in her History:
When I asked Sajana why no men were in the hunting group, she looked at me with a mix of shock and pity. "Atalia, the hunt is for women. Not for men. We must respect the mother, and to respect her best, those who claim from her must be her own children."
From this interaction, Atalia surmised that these taboos and indeed the rest of the matriarchal society of the Kajan are drawn from the belief in a benevolent mother goddess. Other interpretations have cast doubt upon this, implying instead that the mother referred to is simply poetic language for the swamps themselves or that it reflects an unkind goddess who the Kajan must appease.
The Kajan put great stock in tales of the past, and so myths and legends abound in their society. They are so varied that it is scarce worth noting any, but there are some that stand out.
Firstly, all Kajan tell the legend of the original matriarchs. Upon their deaths, it is said that their consciousnesses were absorbed into the heads of their offspring, so that they would carry on their lives as memories. The Kajan still believe that this happens today. Although no outsider has witnessed and spoken of or documented a Kajan funeral, it is surmised that these affairs are heavily ritualised due to this legend.
Another legend told by all Kajan is that of their creation. They hold that the original mothers were formed by a being that lives inside the earth - whether this is the "mother" spoken of in Atalia's History or another being entirely is of heavy debate among Mythian studiers of the Kajan. The other peoples of Mythia do not feature in their creation legend at all, and the few tidbits of information that can be gleaned from Atalia's History seem to show that the Kajan believe the rest of Mythia to be a separate land entirely from the swamps, and governed by another force that is termed Zakar. Phonology would indicate that this is a male entity, but no further information is known.
The Kajan are a matriarchal society, and as such it is expected that males are subservient to females. Males are typically expected to care for children while the women hunt or fight, then relinquish care when the females return in exchange for other types of work such as preparing food or cooking, as well as construction.
In social interaction, males are expected to defer to females somewhat, and the word of a female carries greater weight than that of a male. However, the two genders seem to hold each other in a mutual respect, and there is very little evidence of abuse of power in the relationship.
Female Kajan do not seek a partner until they are ready to do so, typically between the ages of 20 and 30. At this time, they seek a male from another family, trying to avoid relations separated by only one or two ancestral lines. This is one of the few occasions where the full last name of a Kajan is commonly used - a female will sit with a prospective male and compare last names to ensure no close relations are had.
After the initial confirmation that the two are not closely related, a female begins courting the male in earnest. This is somewhat at odds with the matriarchal tradition of Kajan society, as males don't see being chosen by a female as an honour or something to jump at - rather, they undergo a courtship process similar to that of wider Mythian society. If the two are comfortable in their relationship they go on to marry and form a family.