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Béana

This article is adapted from the entry for béanal in The Sâryan Encyclopedia, Cárshǒhl University Press, 22nd edition (716).

The béana, or village hall was a central feature of most Sáharians’ lives. It was one of the first structures built when founding a village, and usually the last to disappear should the settlement be abandoned, do to its relatively monumental architecture.

Purpose / Function

The béana was the core of the community in every sense. It was the centre for festivals, serving as a communal feasting hall when the weather was too poor to comfortably celebrate outside. Passing travellers such as messengers, who in remote villages would often gather a crowd interested in news, could stay overnight in it; it was also where travelling lúthenal would usually tell their stories. It was also a place of justice—most trials would take place in or outside the béana, presided over by the cáreithílvon who resided in it. Defendants, accusers, or witnesses who were considered at risk of harm or flight could also stay in the béana, and the records of the trial were kept there. The béana also contained records of who stored what in the communal root cellar under the building. All but the largest farming families would keep some stores there.

Architecture

The archetypal béana was a stone-walled, thatch-roofed structure with an oval footprint. The shape derived from the roundhouse which was the most common form of domestic architecture during the Tílthorían and Early Sáharían periods, extended to provide a larger space. Like the early roundhouses, the first béanal were likely made of cob or wattle and daub. Stone has been described as the standard from the Middle Sáharían period onwards, however there is some debate over whether rural béanal only had stone foundations outside of the rockier regions of Ároásh and Sílvashó. Some Late Sáharían urban béanal may have combined a stone foundation with half-timbered construction for the walls.   As communities increased in size, town béanal became architecturally distinct from those of small villages. They were commonly based on a rectangular plan with apses on the short ends, to combine the traditional shape with more modern construction techniques for larger buildings. By the -70s, Cráincavéna had a massive béana with a two-story rectangular base and apses on all four sides. Cárshaló, on the other hand, may not have even had a béana.

History

The béana appears in the earliest records of Tílthorían and Sáharían life. In those early days, it probably started as the property of the largest landowner in the community, excluding any local nobles, since originally the head of that family was the cáreithílvon. The ownership of the béana probably became communal in most villages by the middle of the Early Sáharían period, around the same time the position cáreithílvon ceased to automatically fall to head of the wealthiest farming family.   While the importance of the béana waned in towns as they grew in the Middle and Late Sáharían periods, they were never fully eclipsed by other structures, and in villages the béanal continue to serve many of the same purposes that they did in past centuries.
Alternative Names
Village Hall, Caráine Caréth (Village Hearth), Bêhn (Sâryan)
Type
Public hall / house
Parent Location

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