Ranata

"Why would the Ranata send you here of all places?"   "They didn't. The spirits did. The Ranata don't even know the Great Empires exist - and we like it that way."
-a discussion between a Mayokan worker and a Ranata Traveller
  The Ranata are a people inhabiting the Ranata Isles, an archipelago off the southwestern coast of the continent of Sembar, on the very edge of the Sapphire Sea. An enigmatic and isolated people, they consist of various tribes scattered across the hundreds of islands that make up the Isles.   The Ranata have skin of a copper hue, usually with dark hair. Their eyes run the spectrum of colours, and while dark and green eyes are prominent, blue and even violet eyes can be found among them.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Natari, Laia, Halaia, Ekia, Maroho

Masculine names

Kalonai, Vale, Aua, Varoha, Kulai

Family names

Ranata do not use family names. If they must identify themselves beyond their given name, they add their tribe as a second name (for example, a Ranata named Kalonai from the Laluii tribe would refer to himself as Kalonai eha-Laluii, meaning Kalonai of the Laluii).

Culture

Major language groups and dialects

The Ranata speak their own language virtually exclusively. While there are small dialect changes across certain island regions, by and large their tongue is the same across the culture. Due to their isolation, very few Ranata speak other languages, with those that do being exclusively returned Travellers.

Culture and cultural heritage

The Ranata are composed of collection of dozens of individual tribes scattered throughout the Isles. While there are some small variances in cultural elements between individual tribes, by and large all Ranata tribes follow very similar traditions, beliefs and codes of conduct.   Most Ranata tribes are led by a triad of individuals - the Tribe Father/Tribe Mother, the First Hunter, and the War Chief.   The Tribe Father or Tribe Mother is a spiritually-attuned individual, usually a shaman, who specialises in the medical, psychological and spiritual well-being of the tribe, along with managing the oral traditions and lore of the tribe.   The First Hunter is a position retained from the days the Ranata were hunters and gatherers, and has been adapted into the new era. The First Hunter is chosen from among the most experienced hunters and farmers of the tribe, and represents the logistical and survival needs of the tribe.    The War Chief, as the name suggests, is the leader of the tribe's warriors. Together, the three act as representatives of their respective charges among the tribe, and confer together to make decisions about the future of the tribe.   While there is no central government or leadership of the Ranata as a whole, it is not uncommon for several tribes in a similar geographic location to form loose confederations.

Shared customary codes and values

Most Ranata are communally-minded - they are conditioned to think about the tribe as a unit instead of an individual, and are encouraged to see themselves as part of a greater whole. Selfishness and personal gain is frowned upon, and failure to adequately demonstrate commitment to the tribe can see a person ostracised. Conversely, taking actions to benefit the tribe or a fellow tribe member are praised.   While it is expected that tribes among the Ranata will clash in skirmishes every so often, particularly when land and resources are scarce, the practice of war is strictly regulated by general agreement between the tribes. This is due to the belief that excessive, unnecessary violence, especially due to unchecked greed, will draw the attention of malevolent spirits who will bring calamity upon a tribe. To this end, no non-combatants are permitted to be hurt by warriors, any surrendering or incapacitated warriors must be taken prisoner, and villages may not be destroyed- and as soon as a force is routed or surrenders, the battle is over and the opposing force must be granted free passage out of the captured territory.   A particular quirk among the Ranata is the act of gift-giving- it is common for prominent Ranata of different tribes to present gifts to each other, and once a gift is presented, there is an unspoken expectation for the recipient to up the ante and present an even grander gift. In the cases of powerful leaders, this can extend to whole herds of animals or entire portions of villages.

Average technological level

The Ranata are currently in a technological transitory period; prior to contact with the peoples of Arikanda and Kas in recent centuries, they were still primarily using obsidian and flint and had not yet mastered metalworking. Bronze and copper are being integrated into Ranata society, however are not implemented on a wide scale due to limited access to tin on the remote Isles. In spite of this, they have developed the specialisation of labour, agricultural techniques and organised societies seen throughout the world. Obsidian is a commonly-used material. Spears, obsidian-tipped axes, and solid wooden clubs are common weapons, while leather and wood is used for armour.    

An Eagle Warrior of the Laluii Tribe

Common Etiquette rules

Outsiders are generally not welcomed among the Ranata - while not openly hostile and while they will trade with the very few wanderers who end up on their shores, they are also very firm about ensuring these 'guests' do not outstay their welcome. They do however make exceptions for young adult foreigners, who they equate to their own Travellers, although even these visitors are rigorously watched.

Common Dress code

Ranata clothing is lightweight and geared towards keeping cool in the warmer weather of the Isles. They often drape themselves in brightly coloured homespun wraps, kilts, light vests, footwraps and similar clothes that protect the body but keep them cool. The few tribes that reside in areas of higher elevation may supplement this with longer sleeves and cloaks.   Warriors and hunters of all genders often wear their hair cut into a kind of triangular mohawk, with the hair broadest at the back of the skull and becoming a single point at their forehead. Warriors also tattoo their arms and legs with distinctive stripes of various colours. Farmers wear their hair long and usually tied back.   While travelling outside of their tribal lands in times of peace, a Ranata is expected to wear clothes dyed in the colours of their tribe to easily identify themselves.  

A Ranata farmer

Art & Architecture

Ranata buildings are almost exclusively residential in purpose. The traditional Ranata family home is a roundhouse constructed from a wooden frame, with a thatched roof forming a cone shape inwards. Communal housing also exists in the form of rectangular longhouses, with thatched roofs sloping inwards, meant to house ten to twenty people. Wooden palisades feature extensively as the perimeters of Ranata villages.   Particularly prominent forms of Ranata art include large statues carved from basalt, usually of prominent spirits or particularly revered heroes. The Ranata also produce carved idols, tokens and talismans, usually made from materials such as flint, obsidian, shark teeth, shells and wood. Decorative wooden pylons in the shape of cylinders are also found in many villages, etched with pictographs of ancient lore.

Coming of Age Rites

The most prominent rite among the Ranata is the Travel; a form of spiritual journey and quest that all Ranata undertake when they reach adulthood. This involves a young Ranata, known as a Traveller, imbibing a narcotic tea that is said to induce a spiritual vision. They are then banished from the tribe for a year, during which time they must attempt to find the subject of that vision; whether it be knowledge, a place, a person or an item.   This is a quest that can see them travel far into the Sapphire Sea, and in rare cases even into Arikanda, Calina or Sembar. If they return, they are assigned a role that best matches the quest they completed. If they return having failed their quest (or their quest is deemed to be inauthentic), they may still join the tribe, but generally undertake menial or mundane roles.

Common Taboos

Nearly all Ranata tribes consider volcanoes to be taboo and forbid anybody ascending their slopes. Two prevailing beliefs are responsible for this - among some of the tribes the belief is that there is a powerful spirit who resides in the volcano, who if disturbed and angered will unleash its wrath and cause it to erupt. Other tribes believe that the spirit is actively working to prevent the volcano from erupting, and any distraction will cause them to lose focus and cause the volcano to erupt.

Common Myths and Legends

The Ranata hold to an animistic series of beliefs about the world, believing that alongside the physical world is a spiritual realm inhabited by myriad spiritual beings of varying strengths and abilities. Every person has a counterpart in that world, as do animals, certain natural features, and certain human concepts. The Ranata believe these spirits can actively influence their world, and like humans can be benevolent or malevolent depending on their own dispositions and the actions of humans towards their respective physical counterpart. Most of the spiritual work of Ranata shamen involves understanding and interceding with these beings.

Ideals

Gender Ideals

The Ranata do not consider any roles to be confined to a particular gender- there are many female warriors and hunters, and shamen and farmers of all genders. Their focus is instead on the role that they have taken on in society, and consider either parent to have equal importance in the nurturing and raising of Ranata youth.

Comments

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19 Jul, 2022 09:36

How is their society able to cohesively maintain egalitarian policy?