Tescarana Ethnicity in Spirit of the Age | World Anvil


The Tescarana are the people of the Tescaries, both Grand Tescary and the Small Tescaries surrounding it. The Tescarana speak Tescaraum , a language with four broadly recognizable dialects (Highland Grand, Lowland Grand, Northern Archipelagan, and Southern Archipelagan). With the exception of the Highlanders on Grand Tescary, the Tescarana are a seafaring culture. Most settlements are coastal, and a substantial part of their subsistence comes from fish. Though the rivers of Grand Tescary support some agriculture, Tescarana farmland has always been poor even in comparison to their northern neighbors. Consequently, the Tescarana do not rely on the land, but the sea for most of their sustenance. Owing to the proliferation of small boats, the Tescaries are well connected but also hard to manage for any would-be ruler.   The Tescaries have historically been divided between innumerable small chiefdoms and kingdoms, with the largest being centered on the agricultural towns on the estuaries of the rivers flowing down from the highlands. The people of the Small Tescaries are in many cases self-organized, with relatively egalitarian communities of fishermen that recognize no fealty to any lord or king. In recent times, the somewhat more coherent kingdoms of Grand Tescary have been subordinated to either the Kilthian Duke of Fahrig or the Runberi South-Fahrig Trade Company (commonly referred to as the Condominium). Those larger settlements that have a more hierarchical structure tend to be varieties of monarchy and strongman-rule. The lack of an independent coherent priestly organization has caused Tescarana priests to be more involved as direct power brokers in their communities than in many other regions, and in many cases a particularly gifted Tescarana priest has come to rule a settlement.  
The Tescarana share few institutions, though they do have traditional posts, treaties and other cultural touchstones to deal with eachother. Nevertheless, the reach of each individual polity has generally been fairly short, and trade with their neighbors has been done on those neighbors' terms. With the increasing encroachment of the Condominium and Kilthian forces, some groups have chosen to simply turn pirate, striking out from their island coves to raid foreign vessels before disappearing.
Tescarana kingdoms are often more properly thought of as confederations, with various clan headmen joining forces in tributary relationships, and in most cases the clans are at least nominally equal (though tribute often tends to flow one way and in practice more numerous and powerful clans wield more influence in the confederation). These confederations can be short-lived affairs, as the Tescarana are loath to swear fealty to anything other than their own clan. Perhaps the most successful clan in recent history has been the Meluta clan which has gained control over large parts of the southeastern countryside in Grand Tescary, much in part to clever intermarriages bringing smaller clans into their fold.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Metli, Thana, Aulia, Culni, Veilia, Hasti, Sethria, Cafatia, Tita, Vesia

Masculine names

Cuinte, Teucer, Thocero, Rasce, Cae, Teitu, Pesna, Tarquin, Venthi, Plecu

Family names

Tescarana have a first name and a clan name. This clan name speaks of their origins, and reveals who their loyalty is owed to. Clan name may change, usually if the Tescarana joins another clan through marriage (or more rarely, because another clan is forcibly absorbed). Some of the more populous clans in existence right now are the lowland Tescarana clans of Meluta, Alfne, Feru, Marcna, Cacni, and Pulpae. However, clans are numerous in the isles, as many do not number more than a hundred.


Shared customary codes and values

The Tescarana are known to be a clannish folk, for they organize themselves in villages and fishing communities and hold these communities in high regard. However they are not an insular people, and are better traveled than most folk. In the void of central authority that is most of the Tescaries, the Tescarana lean heavily on clan affiliation, advertising it wherever they go. Though it is customary for Tescarana to go to venture far and to readily accept guests, this openness is mirrored by fierce protectiveness. Should anything happen to a member of a Tescarana clan, the other members will go to significant lengths to avenge wrongs committed against their own. Though hospitable, the Tescarana emphasize the voluntary nature of such interactions, and are fiercely territorial, both on land, and regarding their fishing waters.   The Tescarana are very honor-bound, but less on a personal than a clan level. As it is customary for young, unproven Tescarana to travel with only the reputation of their clan to protect them, it is crucial that the clan is respected, not only in its power and resources but also its will to protect its members. Thus, while clans may be submissive to other clans, and may pay tribute in the form of guest-gifts, this is not usually formally acknowledged. Instead, subservient gestures are rare and usually involve face-saving outs and explanations. To demand that someone bow is considered a great insult.   Loud, proud, gregarious, and quick to speak their mind, the Tescarana have a very physical demeanor. Typically easy-going, the Tescarana are not easily insulted and rarely hold grudges unless the attack is against their clan, in which case the response is bloody fury. Submissive gestures are unusual in isles, something that has caused many a faux pas in foreign lands as the Tescarana do not bow when they are supposed to.

Common Dress code

The typical Tescarana wears loose, breathable linen tunics and pants, dyed in a variety of colors (but light blues and greens are the most popular). Not wearing either a hat (usually a form of beret) or a veil outdoors is considered unusual, with men being more likely to wear hats and women more likely to wear veils. While the colors of the tunics and pants are often lighter and less striking, the headgear is always dyed in a deep, striking color. Often, a veil is tied under the chin and behind the neck to not get in the way. Thick, goathair jackets are used to guard against the cold, and the hide of a lynx or wolf is used to make luxury clothing.

Art & Architecture

Owing to the relative lack of great forests on Grand Tescary and most of the archipelago, the typical Tescarana building is a mud-brick frame plastered with clay and gypsum mixtures. The result is typically a fairly smooth stone wall of an off-white color, though the frequent rains of the Tescaries tend to over time cause the plaster to slightly darken and streak. Tescarana rarely build tall, and build with gently sloping roofs, often with a rain-groove along the side for rainwater collection. Windows are usually round, and the architecture in general avoids sharp corners, with doors typically having half-circle tops. Entrances and windows of all sorts are often decorated with engravings and paintings along the edges, with increasing complexity signaling the status and wealth of the occupant.   The interiors of Tescarana dwellings are typically large, open halls. The Tescarana eschew interior walls in many cases, rather supporting large buildings with impressive columns and drawing curtains across to divide space. Fireplaces are generally set into an external wall, creating a visible bump on the exterior of the building. Itinerant Tescarana have devised ingenious ways to improvise shelter on islands they land on, and many of these sailing clans have traded for large goathair felts from the highlands of Grand Tescary that they erect into colorful tents when the need strikes them.    The Tescarana have a rich dyemaking tradition, and though the dyes obtained from their snail farms are the most famous, the Tescarana have discovered natural dyes from many other sources. Harvesting weeds, leaves, octopodes, and insects to color their clothing and other fabrics they use. Dyed fabrics are a customary gift among the Tescarana, and even the clothes of common folk are frequently dyed in elaborate patterns, though not with prestigious colors like murex purple. Raw dye is used as a trade good and even currency between the clans.
Diverged ethnicities
Encompassed species
Languages spoken
Related Locations


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Dec 17, 2020 22:25 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I really like the idea of clan loyalty, and fact that being told to bow is a great insult to them. Can definitely see why foreign powers might be offended, though.   Really interesting article. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet