The Most Hated People of Nideon
Soon to be featured here: an excerpt from a Pelan holy book
HistoryThe Pelan trace their history back to the 4th century, when founding matriarch Tsia Xitano brought together several nomadic tribes in southern Feren which shared similar beliefs. It is likely that Tsia Xitano is also the founder of the Epaluno religion, which most Pelan subscribe to. The Epaluno religion states a belief in a single diety who, though she is most commonly depicted as female, takes the form that allows her to best reach the people she is trying to contact. Many anthropologists believe that the creation of this belief system allowed the Proto-Pelan tribes to unite by setting aside religious differences. Tsia Xitano became the grand matriarch at a time of drought and promised the Proto-Pelan tribes that she would find them better hunting grounds, which she did, by taking them north. As they traveled north, however, the Pelan often found they did not mesh with outsiders. Their conflicts in Nefrale, over issues such as the acceptance of same-sex couples and equality between the sexes lead several Pelan groups to break off, traveling east. Many found acceptance in Linakra, where their social values were shared, but found they had to hide their magical abilities. This would prove to be only the beginning of the troubles the Pelan had. Like the Thisaazhou, the Pelan received a mixed reception as they traveled around the Major Continent, though they used a different strategy to find acceptance. Tsia Xitano encouraged her people to assimilate where possible, and while she did not ask them to keep their beliefs a secret, the Pelan only spoke of their cultural and religious practices to outsiders when people directly asked them. Unfortunately, this lead to a variety of rumors springing up about the Pelan--from their desire to, along with Linakrans, wipe out all who used magic to the practice of sacrificing children for the purposes of secret magic rituals. These rumors have led the Pelan to be persecuted in a number of countries and as a result, they are now scattered across Nideon. Though the Pelan were originally nomadic, the combination of persecution and assimilation has led to most Pelan today becoming sedentary in any country where they can safely live.
The most current persecution of the Pelan people begain in Ethion in the 1950s, with President Chitaa Solosol accusing Pelan refugees, who had arrived twenty years of bringing with them The Southern Fever and attempting to wipe out the Ethite people. In truth, though the Pelan were not the cause of the fever, Pelan temples throughout the country rallied community members to raise money for those who were out of work, make masks for medical staff and others, and deliver food and supplies to people in quarantine, as well as offering temple space for hospital overflow. These activities are in line with the primary principles of the Epaluno religion.
The Rules of Hospitality
coming soon: an example about hospitality rulesThe founding belief of the Pelan culture and the Epaluno religion is that of hospitality. Pelan are told to welcome all people from all walks of life. The doors of Pelan temples are often open all hours of the day, and Pelan communities frequently hold community meals, to which anyone is invited. They raise their children to, whenever possible, speak in a language that all present can understand and to abide by the rules of outsiders when in their homes. Furthermore, they are known for inviting outsiders into their own homes, often presenting them with gifts. They try to love and forgive all people, just as the goddess does. Most Pelan are pacifists, many to the point of allowing themselves to be killed by persecutors rather than fight back.
Social Justice Within Pelan Culture
coming soon: an example of Pelan social justiceAnother facet of hospitality within Pelan culture is that of social justice. Tsia Xitano, who herself had a bad leg, was known for her efforts to create a society in which people with handicaps could live well. She also promoted equality between men and women, and ensured that children were cared for by the community if orphaned. The Epaluno faith promotes the acceptance of outside practices that are not harmful to others, regardless of whether or not they are well understood by the Pelan themselves.
coming soon: an example of Pelan animal kinshipSocial justice and hospitality also extends to the rights of animals, in particular, The Tusked Sole. The Pelan used the soles as beasts of burden as they traveled, as well as using their wool to make their clothing. The Pelan chose the soles because they lived in matriarchal herds, and thus they were considered animal brethren. Epaluno texts teach to care for animals before caring for oneself, and there are documented cases of Pelan nomads dying to protect their soles, as well as giving soles burial rites. The Pelan were the principle figures behind the movement to save the tusked sole from extinction when poachers sought them for their ivory, and most domestic soles live on Pelan-run farms. The Pelan have also been part of movements to protect other animals from destruction.
Traditional Pelan clothing consists of a tunic made from a single piece of fabric folded over and cut to make sleeves and a hole for the head. The side seams are typically laced, using thin cord, often made by card-weaving. The sleeves, neck, and hem are finished using a similar card weaving technique in which yarn is laced through the warp and through holes punched in the edges of the fabric. These tunics may be of any length between waist and ankles, and are often worn with colorful belts, also made using a card-weaving process. Shorter tunics are worn with a skirt or pants. Skirts are made of two pieces of fabric with the sides laced and the bottom hem finished the same as it is in a tunic. The top of the fabric is finished using a slightly different technique in which an additional cord is added to serve as a drawstring. Pants are similarly made, but with the addition of traditionally sewn inner seams, to create less bulk. Historically, these seams were made by a small number of people within a Pelan tribe who specialized in sewing, while the woven finishes could be done by anyone, as the Pelan begin learning card weaving from a young age.
Though Pelan clothing was originally made from single pieces of fabric, the Pelan often reused old pieces. If one piece of clothing wore out, but more of the fabric was still salvageable, it would usually be made into clothing for children, who typically wear knee to ankle length tunics, which may or may not be belted. Pieces of leftover fabric would also be joined together, usually using a card weaving technique, but sometimes with sewn seams. This became more and more common as the Pelan people encountered persecution and were not always able to obtain large quantities of new fabrics. This has given Pelan clothing a unique and colorful appearance. Many modern day Pelan prefer to wear clothing that is common in the country in which they live, though they may wear traditional clothing for important occasions, or choose to decorate their every day wear with woven belts or decorative hems.
Pelan wedding clothes are usually traditional Pelan clothing, though they may have more complex woven hams or embroidery. Furthermore, Pelan wedding clothes are more likely to be made of a single type of fabric, as the ability to create a garment out of one color of fabric was often a sign of wealth in Pelan culture.
Traditionally, Pelan men and women both wear their hair long, which is considered a sign of adulthood. Normally, it is braided, which would have been an easy way for Pelan nomads to tend to it. Men also typically wear a purple headscarf called an Ibi'an.
Rites and Rituals
When a Pelan child is born, the family hosts a meal or party in which they invite all members of the community. Traditionally, this would have been all members of the nomadic tribe. Today, it usually includes a temple community, and may also include others, such as non-Pelan friends, neighbors, or co-workers. Due to the number of people involved, such meals are often hosted by the local temple, with many community members coming together to prepare food. The meal is a chance for the community to meet its new member and vise-versa. While no part of the tradition requires the presentation of gifts, it is a common Pelan tradition to bring small gifts when being hosted by another. Therefore, even though the event often takes place at the local temple, gifts are common. Though there is no given timeline for this event, it usually happens within the first month of the baby's birth.
Coming of Age
The Pelan come of age at age nine. This is not considered the full passage of adulthood, but only the beginning. At eight years old, Pelan children begin showing they are responsible by growing their hair out and tending to it. As it lengthens, they are taught to braid it properly, and after their ninth birthday, they are presented to the Pelan community as an adult. There is a call and response which occurs between the child's guardian and the tribe/temple matriarch. The matriarch then presents the child with an ibi'an, and a meal is held in their honor. The ceremony is the same for boys and girls, even though it is not common for girls to wear the ibi'an. Many women keep their ibi'an in a sacred place and use it for important things, including swaddling babies when they are grown. Modern Pelan girls often practice this by wrapping their dolls in their ibi'an. Family members and community members often present the nine year old with gifts during the community meal. This is a large-scale reflection of a family meal and presentation of gifts which is often held during other birthdays.
In Pelan culture, men usually approach women whom they are interested in having romantic or sexual involvement with. Because men normally cover their faces, except for their eyes, when going to meet a woman, it is common for men to wear elaborate eye makeup. This eye makeup is also viewed as a way of symbolically saying that the man wishes the woman to see who he is beneath his headscarf, and is culturally considered an invitation for the woman to remove his headscarf (though the rules of hospitality would still dictate she ask first.) Because a man might remove his headscarf during a romantic engagement, he might also wear makeup on his lips and cheeks, but if he does so, this is toned down compared to the eye makeup, which should be the focus. Though women often do not wear the ibi'an, if a woman chooses to pursue a man, she may also make her interest known with elaborate eye makeup. This practice has been common for such a long time that secret admirers of all genders leave notes for each other, signed with pictures of eyes. These practices are still common among Pelan lovers today, and many Pelan carry a picture of their lover's eye in a locket.
Marriage and Divorce
Traditionally in Pelan culture, marriage only occurred between important people, such as leaders of different tribes marrying to form an alliance. In this case, the wedding would occur with witnesses from people represented by both groups, officiated, if possible, by a neutral party, such as a matriarch of another tribe. If a third-party could not be found, a long-standing member of the Epaluno clergy would conduct the ceremony, as they were considered to represent all followers of the Epaluno faith. The marriage ceremony would be as follows:
If a union were not considered important politically, a couple was usually considered married if they conceived children together. If later they chose to part, they would come to an agreement about how the child would cared for, as well as divide any shared resources they had. If they wished, they could make this divorce official by presenting their agreement to an Epaluno clergywoman or tribal matriarch and receiving her blessing. If the two parties could not come to an agreement, they would present the problem to an Epaluno clergywoman or tribal matriarch who would determine how the child would be raised and how the couple would divide any shared resources. They would then sign a written agreement with a bloody thumbprint and suffer the wrath of the goddess if they chose to break it. While divorce was not uncommon among the everyday people, it was severely frowned upon among anyone important enough to warrant an actual wedding ceremony.
Today, many Pelan choose to undergo a wedding ceremony for either legal reasons or to show their love for one another. The modern Pelan ceremony is similar to the ancient one, with the parties exchanging gifts, reading a wedding agreement, and being blessed by a temple matriarch. Parties normally sign their names in ink, instead of stamping their fingerprint in blood, however. The ceremony is, of course, followed by a temple meal, which all present are invited to. Divorce, similarly, remains much the same, with the parties signing an official agreement (in ink, rather than blood) with a temple matriarch to witness.
- Both parties would offer a gift to the other, usually something which could be shared among the people, such as Soles or food.
- Both parties would take turns reading a prepared agreement which included the conditions of the marriage (such as what each member would provide to strengthen the alliance.)
- In order to commit to the pact, each member would prick a finger and stamp their bloody thumbprint on the contract.
- The officiating party would offer the newlyweds the goddess's blessing.
- A feast would take place in honor of the couple, with all witnesses present participating.
Though Pelan couples are usually heterosexual, the general feeling of the Pelan people toward people of other sexualities is acceptance. The Rules of Hospitality dictate that the Pelan should not condemn practices which are not harmful toward others. Homosexuality was not recognized in ancient Pelan culture, however, so the concept is new to the group as a whole, meaning Pelan likely engage in homosexual relationships in secret. Asexuality is seen among the Pelan as a lifestyle choice, and people who do not marry or have children are often treated like aunts and uncles to others' children in the community. There is some evidence that historically, some of these people were actually in homosexual relationships which were neither openly recognized nor condemned by their tribes. Polyamory is rare among the Pelan and as opposed to homosexuality, receives a mixed reception from Pelan, as some believe it is harmful in that it can lead to jealousy.
Traditionally, when a member of a Pelan tribe died, their body was wrapped in their ibi'an, and they were buried, to prevent predator animals from following the tribe. A group prayer was spoken over the burial site, which was marked by a torch or candle so the goddess could find them and carry their soul to the afterlife. This light also symbolized the tribe standing over the body. The nomads rarely marked their dead permanently, knowing the low likelihood of returning to the burial site. The torch may have also served to keep away predatory animals long enough for the tribe to move on. Such rites have also been known to be given to The Tusked Sole, which the Pelan used to travel.
Today, Pelan have adopted a variety of funerary customs, depending on where they live. Those who remain closest to the original custom may bury their dead in a cemetery with a head stone marked with the Pelan torch or in a wildness area, where the grave may be unmarked or marked by a tree or other natural marker. Some Pelan continue to bury their dead in a single grave area, where individual graves remain unmarked and the bones of the dead are expected to mingle.
Pelan culture tends to be matrilineal, though duties between men and women are considered to be different, but equal. For example, a community meal is generally cooked by the men, but served by the women. In Pelan communities today, the temple matriarch usually greets adults at the beginning of a service while her husband or another man will gather children. Though roles within Pelan culture are often divided among males and females, these are not strict, and any role can be filled by any person, as long as they are able and willing to do so.
Historically, the Pelan do not recognize any genders other than cis-male and cis-female, but as with different sexualities, most Pelan believe the Rules of Hospitality dictate them to accept others who identify as different genders. Therefore, other gender identities are not understood by Pelan, but there is no animosity for these people.
soon to come: the greatest oath of the Pelan people
coming soon: quote from Pelan lullaby
History of the Ibi'an
Weaving in Pelan Culture
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