The "Forest-People"—as "Askar" means in their tongue—are aptly named. They are tied intimately to the land in which they live; the trees of their forest are host to their crops, and are the only good of note which they can sell. For years, the thick sheltered them from large invading armies, and hosting surprise raids against those small enough to make it through. But with the rise of modern ironworking, the forces of Doloshorn, northern neighbor to the Askar, were able to subjugate the Askar for the first time in their history.
Major language groups and dialects
The Askar speak their own language, which is related to language of the Malar to their immediate north, and has been significantly influenced by the languages of the other valleys of the Tolorak. There are no dialects within the Askar language.
Shared customary codes and values
The Askar place a high value on the solvency of tradition. The heritage of the people is seen as the foundation upon which the people are built, and as such loyalty to them is paramount.
Common Dress code
Though it isn't entirely uncommon to see Askar wearing clothes made from imported materials, especially among the poorer of society, their cultural focus on the preservation of tradition has preserved the style of dress they've worn for centuries. Because their religious mandate to preserve the forest of Tekum trees prevents them from growing conventional crops or raising conventional livestock, traditional Askar clothing is entirely devoid of fabric. The shtukram—literally "Moss Skin"—is the traditional clothing material among the Askar, and is made from large patches of moss, cultivated on the sides of tekum trees, taken above the fog where they can dry in the sun, and then woven together with stripped fern-stalks. Shtukram are warm and moisture-resistant, and can be died in a variety of colors by pigments derived from plants and insects. Even the poorest dye their clothes in vibrant colors, the aforementioned pigments being fairly inexpensive, and easy to produce. The wealthier of society display their prosperity by augmenting the shtukram with salum, a material made from the thin, willowy composes the wings of giant, colorful moths—and, appropriately, translates as "chitin." The process to turn this material into clothing is laborious, requiring that the chitin be boiled in water, and then carefully felted together with small needles, in turn usually made from the chitin of other arthropods, before being allowed to soak in the fog for weeks. Salum is usually used to supplement an existing outfit shtukram, adding intricate whorls of color to the otherwise blocky dies of the shtukram. However, the council of elder priests which governs the Askar from Holem Shyor are known to wear billowing outfits made entirely from salum, which is said to have been blessed by the spirits which they worship to be stronger than bronze.
Art & Architecture
The buildings of the Askar people, such as they are, are unique. They cannot build from nearby lumber due to the ancient pact that forms the foundation of their religion, and cannot clear ground to build from stone for the same reason. Aside from a handful of structures built from imported wood, the Askar build from living vines, woven between the branches of the titanic tekum trees to from bridges, platforms, and walls, with branches and leaves woven into the vines to serve as roofing.
Common Customs, traditions and rituals
Among all the traditions of the Askar, the most treasured is their ancient pact with spirits of the Fog. Upholding their end of the bargain requires the Askar to work to protect and preserve the Askem Valashor, as the forest of of especial importance to the spirits. Individual trees, carefully selected, may be cut down, for any purpose, under the terms of this pact, but the number which may be felled is severely limited.
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