Dhar Ethnicity in The Calinan Sea | World Anvil


"I offer you water, venturer."
-A traditional Dhar greeting
  The Dhar are a people living in the Marai Desert in northeastern Calina.   The Dhar are a nomadic people, and are to date the only people who can survive in the Marai long-term; all of the other people of Northern Calina avoid it wherever possible, and if they are forced to cross it, they usually come to the less isolationist Dhar bands for assistance.   The Dhar are of Calinani descent, and normally have dark olive skin, with dark or green eyes and black or brown hair.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Alesa, Napho, Sephora

Masculine names

Avar, Dalyo, Gareh

Family names

The Dhar do not use family names.


Major language groups and dialects

Most Dhar speak their own language exclusively, with small dialect variances between the different bands. Unlike the rest of northern Calina, Avadian is only known to a small number of Dhar.

Culture and cultural heritage

Dhar associate in bands of several families. The bands are egalitarian and work on consensus between senior members of the major families. Nearly all bands of Dhar are nomadic and are constantly on the move throughout the Marai, although there are a number of underground settlements in the Eastern Marai and the rockier parts of the Western Marai that many Dhar bands spend time at between desert journeys.   When on the move, Dhar are known for their large dome-shaped tents made from goat hides. Each family has at least one tent, with young adults often having their own as well. These are often decorated with bright, colourful carpets and cushions and illuminated with lamps and sunken firepits.   The hyba are prominent in Dhar culture due to the essential role the hyba play in just about every facet of Dhar life; riding across the desert, carrying cargo, and providing hide, milk and meat.

Average technological level

The Dhar have mastered the art of bronze smelting, and while not as urbanised or militarised as some of the other civilisations near the Calinan Sea, are more than capable of developing technology independently of others.

Common Etiquette rules

Many Dhar are reclusive when it comes to outsiders, and often actively avoid them. However there are certain bands that are more friendly, and have adopted the language and mannerisms of the northern Calinans. There is a certain stoicism among even the most friendly of them, however if somebody is lucky enough to be considered a friend of the Dhar, they can then become warm and friendly.

Common Dress code

The Dhar often dress practically to protect themselves from the brutal heat of the Marai. Both sexes often wear wear pale, loose, light clothing to maximise airflow while reflecting sunlight. This is usually paired with a scarf and a hood to ensure full protection, and sometimes paired with a coat during sandstorms. When inside their tents or their underground settlements, they do not wear hoods and usually wear much more diverse colours.  

A Dhar ranger on patrol in the desert

Art & Architecture

The Dhar are known for their stone carvings, having no end of stone to work with in the Marai. Carved totems and statues are common, as are murals.   Most architecture is expressed in the underground settlements of the Dhar, cut into the rock of the Marai. The entrances to these tunnels are usually simple stone buildings, but then open into extensive corridors and halls, decorated with ochre and pigments of various colours. Living quarters in these tunnels are usually connected via arches, and in contrast to the narrow corridors, are wide and brightly lit, decorated with intricate murals and carpets.

Coming of Age Rites

When a Dhar approaches adulthood, the survival skills they have been taught are put to the test through the Forging , a ritual where they are left by their band in the desert with a two day head-start and must use their skills to track their band back down. While dangerous, it is an essential skill that any Dhar must master if they are to survive in the desert.

Funerary and Memorial customs

Due to the chaotic nature of the desert, there often aren't many safe places to bury the deceased. As a result, they are usually burned in pyres, and their ashes are taken to one of the underground settlements in the Dhar, where they are stored in vast necropoli.

Common Taboos

It is considered extremely rude to refuse an offering of water made by a Dhar; being both the basic source of life and in short supply, dismissing such an offer is seen as contemptuous. Conversely, it is rude for a Dhar not to offer water to a traveler, as it suggests they do not care whether the other person lives or dies.   Even worse than refusing water is spilling water - or wasting it in any way. As water is essential to the survival of Dhar bands, destroying it is seen both as a grievous insult and outright dismissive of human life, and doing so is a very easy way to get into serious trouble. Both declining and spilling water is dealt with even more harshly if the offender is a Dhar themselves - they know very well the value of water and have no excuse.


Gender Ideals

The small size of Dhar bands and the unforgiving nature of the Marai means that it's simply not practical for gender roles to be enforced among them. Everyone has to know how to hunt, how to traverse the wastes, how to cook, how to craft and how to find water. To this end, there are no real restrictions on sexual orientation, although it is understood that reproduction is important for most bands to survive.

Courtship Ideals

Due to the scattered nature of the Dhar and their low population, Dhar who wish to marry and have children are encouraged to seek out other bands to find a suitable partner. Should they find a person they would like to pursue, they travel with their band for a period of time, and if they choose to pursue marriage, they can do that and either join the new band, or go with their partner to their old band.
Related Locations

Cover image: by World Anvil


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