Kuqatay Ethnicity in Umqwam | World Anvil


One must see their blood drawn, for how else can they know that they still live?
— A Kuqatay
  The Kuqatay, literally meaning "heart," or "the hearts" when used in this context, are a group within the Votaw who are critical of their studious, peaceful ways— claiming that to live is to fight. To sit idly is to die.  

Boiling Blood

Vitaw was once a war-torn land, which was, in fact, originally formed from two warring tribes. Both had grown used to the constant fighting, and this had seeped into both of their cultures. Many a tradition revolved around fighting, and so, once the fighting stopped— so too did much of their culture. It must, then, come as no surprise that some refused to let go of these traditions. As both tribes became more and more peaceful, calm, and happy with one another's presence, the rage of traditionalists and warriors alike would increase. When the time came for the tribes to join together as one, forming the nation of Vitaw, these war hawks would also join hands— in order to prevent the union.   A fight was to be instigated, as the leaders of each tribe met in the village that would later become Yoqawil, the hawks would set it on fire— then fight amongst themselves, which would in theory spur everyone present to join in and ensure that the warring would continue forevermore. Instead, this would only seal the fate of both tribes— as both worked together to save the village after a fire started by one of the hawks lit it ablaze, forming stronger bonds with one another in the process. Furious, the war hawks would threaten those present that they would take the village for themselves— and bring their fury upon Vitaw.  
Calm down, son, we can see y'all need some time to process things. Keep the village, and when you finally return home— you'll find that our new way of life is much more fulfilling.
— Chieftains, to the war hawks
  Some of the hawks would leave with the newly-combined tribes, and attempt to spread their ideals among their kin, but the majority would stay behind— forming the Kuqatay. Both those who left, and those who remained are referred to as Kuqatay— as both shared the same core ideals. Yoqawil has grown over the years as new bodies have joined their ranks, and remains a testament to their undying adherence to tradition. Today, many Kuqatay move frequently between the secluded town and the Votawan nation beyond.
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Unlike the Votaw, the Kuqatay adhere to traditional Wakip naming conventions, their names changing as they grow and change as people.  


One cannot back down from a fight, nor flee— doing so is an admission of weakness, and proves that they have lost their way as a warrior. Those who do this are punished by placing their hands in boiling water.   Sneak attacks— warriors must maintain their honor and face their enemies head on. To fail this is to admit that they are weaker.   Abandoning the Kuqatay way— it is not unheard of for Kuqatay to fall in line with the Votaw that surround them, though it is seen as a great betrayal when they do.   At any opportunity, Kuqatay will cut or tear the red top-feathers from these traitors, to continuously symbolize their ideological defeat. To avoid this, many of those who leave often shave these feathers on a regular basis.

Religion & Myth

  Most Kuqatay reject the Kuqim faith which dominates Votawan culture, as it runs counter to their own ideals. There is no need, to them, to "always answer" when they already know their life's purpose— to fight. Some adopt traditional spiritual beliefs surrounding the idea that one's spirit must be sated with battle. In this vein, a commonly held belief is that spirits came into this world through a great war in the sky— and grew bodies as weapons to combat their enemies. For those who believe this story, battle is not only their purpose— but their duty. How could one deny what they were created to do?    

Tradition & Values

  The Kuqatay believe that the truth of life lies in battle— and try their best to carry on the traditions the Votaw have forgotten.  



Birth is a child's first battle won, having defeated their egg to join the world of the living. The egg itself is adorned with war paint, and dress, so that it mimics a true warrior— making the child's defeat of it much more meaningful.   Once cracked, the child's parents will dance in a mock-battle, circling the crying babe as they do so.

Coming of age

Upon reaching the age of thirteen, a child is considered ready to become a warrior. Their parents will aid them in donning war paint and clothing, before donning their own— and engaging in a mock battle utilizing wooden clubs.   This will inevitably turn into a lesson on how much the child has to learn, and from then on, they will be properly trained to fight.


Each Kuqatay is cremated after death, and their ashes are used to create war paint donned by their family, friends, and comrades in battle.   It is believed that by doing this, the living may gain strength from what of their spirit remains— and ensure that it does not atrophy in idleness as it fades away from the material world.


The drums beat, our chant grows louder— the egg of battle now hatches.
— A Kuqatay leader
As with the Votaw, the egg is a sacred shape to the Kuqatay— though rather than beat their drums to related formulae, their drums are fashioned after eggs. Each side of a battle must approach, halt, and beat their drums for five minutes before the battle may commence. As the Votaw do not fight in the same way— utilizing modern weaponry including firearms in place of clubs and bows, and not wishing to fight to begin with— the Kuqatay arrange annual battles among their own numbers, so that all may still enjoy traditional warfare. Whoever wins, gains control of Yoqawil— and the next year, the losers must fight to reclaim it. Skirmishes and other small fights will occur sporadically between these large annual battles.   When a warrior is killed in battle, their killer must place their body upon the ground in fetal position— symbolizing their return to the egg, and to whatever exists beyond this life. Those who attack another in the midst of this ritual are felled by their own comrades, who will, in turn, perform this rite with their still bodies. Prisoners are never to be taken, instead, warriors will cut or tear the red top-feathers from the heads of defeated but still living enemies, to symbolize their defeat.  


  Relationships are procured in a similar fashion as the Votaw, with the major difference being that the Kuqatay do not engage in debate to win over their partners. Instead, they will engage in a one-on-one battle, adorned with the proper paint and clothing.   This battle is only ever initiated when both parties wish to be together— this is not to determine their fate, or who should control who— it is instead simply to show what strengths both will bring to the relationship, and show where each may be able to aid the other.


  The Kuqatay embrace tradition, and wear poncho-like coverings woven from magically treated stone known as yahavo. The ends of these are split into thick strips, which are then tied together in a series of egg-shaped knots.   The yahavo used to create these is typically created by hand, though as the number of enchanters who do so has been steadily decreasing over time, more and more Kuqatay are forced to make do with factory-produced yahavo, instead.

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Author's Notes

Feedback is very much welcome! Whether on the content, or the formatting! Please, point out typos if you spot any!

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Jul 8, 2020 15:24 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This is really interesting! I love the contrast between the Kuqatay and the Votaw.   I think my favourite bit is the parents dancing in a mock battle over their hatched child. Such a great image. :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jul 8, 2020 17:00 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Thank you! Yeah that was a fun bit to write!

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