Giyaani Ethnicity in Zheng-Kitar | World Anvil


The people of the Great Gyatsoshin Desert


  The vast and myriad people that make up the nomadic tribes and small villages that dot the enormous Great Gyatsoshin Desert, the Giyaani are an old people with a similarity culturally to the Ssarin people, in that they live outside the bounds of civilization and shun the trappings of a more complicated lifestyle - but are wholly unique in their appearance, history, and other culture as the desert that is their home has shaped them into a brutal, unrelenting people for whom survival is their every concern...everything else, a mere luxury.   Perhaps moreso than most other Ethnic Groups, this ethnicity can cover an enormous amount of species that call the desert their home, from the towering Eldragi or their mates the Othraka, to the obvious Humans, or even the various Kobold or Lamia tribes that call the Gyatsoshin Desert Home. All are united by the trappings of this ancient culture, divided though they are into two distinct groups.  


  The Giyaani are unified in their appearance, with skin that is often either incredibly tanned or dark-skinned, sometimes to the point of resembling charcoal-black. Many among them are often called as "The Blue People" for the indigo-dyed clothes they traditionally wear as well as the indigo paint which often dots their skin. Their appearance is unique among most other ethnicities, in that they rarely leave anything but their face exposed to the searing heat of the desert, wearing a unique item of clothing called a tagelmust, a combined turban and a veil to obscure the face - this is worn by men and women both when reaching maturity and is seen as a sign of passage, as the turban is there to stave off the hot desert sun while the veil has traditionally been worn to stave off the evil spirits of the desert.   Their clothing is often scribed with religious verses and text to aid with this warding, giving them a distinct appearance. They are often seen wearing light colors such as white or blue, and almost no dark ones such as black, to better ward off the sun. Their bodies can range significantly, as many races can make up this ethnicity - but they are typically lean but muscular, though they may not be as "well-defined" outwardly as others, as lifetimes of work in the desert struggling to survive, raiding and fighting and foraging slowly builds their body into an invulnerable bastion. This often means they are incredibly hardy and resilient, and very rarely do they get diseases or ailments due to their often peak physical conditions - any less means they will be taken by the desert.   For the races such as the Eldragi who are naturally inured to the heat's touch, they instead dress sparingly in pelts and cloth taken from the beasts of the desert, leaving large swatches of their skin exposed to the desert heat - for the Eldragi especially their exposed skin serves an important purpose, as their skin absorbs sunlight to keep their internal temperature regulated properly and ensure they stay heated through the freezing desert nights. Regardless, for these heat-inured races, the focus shifts from protection from the sun to ease of movement, though a simple headwrap and veil is still common to ward the sunlight from one's eyes. Free from worry about the heat, these races are free to dress sparingly, to boost their ambush tactics and banditry they often engage in, or perhaps to display tribal inkings on the skin. These clothings are often colored to allow them better camoflauge against the sandy dunes.  


  As mentioned before, the Giyanni are not a wholly united Ethnic Group - there are two distinct ethnic groups within the desert, two schools of thought that are often likened to "Yin" and "Yang" by the more spiritual and older residents of the desert - one cannot exist without the other, they say, and the two are engaged in an eternal tug, vying for dominance against the other. They often engage each other in skirmishes and ambushes, though are just as likely to unite against outsiders if threatened wholesale - mutable and adaptable, survival is their common uniting goal, before which nothing else matters. As the popular Giyaani saying goes, "Let the desert wind cool your aching head - that the weight of your grudges will drift away instead." The two groups are described below.  


  The "Yin" of the two Giyaani Ethnic Groups, the Gi-yaan are best defined by the motto "Live and let live.". Most of the Gi-yaan are a nomadic people, though exceptions exist - they are not as prone to banditry, raiding, or fighting as the Gi-shin, and more inclined to trade with those they encounter than they are to attack them. While not completely averse to violence, their common stance on violence is that it does nothing but serve as a detriment to the tribe or pack - a thing done only when absolutely neccesary, when trading or discussion fails, or is not an option. They are traders and merchants at heart, or at the least, beings who wish to be left alone or who prefer peace and talk to violence and death - they are the more secret of the two ethnicities, and often shun contact with outsiders more than the Gi-shin. As opposed to the Gi-shin, Slavery, while still a part of Gi-yaan culture, is not nearly as central to them - slaves are kept, but are usually purchased or aquired, and rarely taken. They are not treated terribly so long as they contribute, and in time they might even earn their freedom once their use has been exhausted or perhaps promoted to full citizen of the tribe if they prove useful enough. It is a neccesity to the Gi-yaan, not a pasttime, and Slaves are but another tool to survive in the desert, and are often the first to be left behind in times of scarcity.   Everything they do is calculated, and done for survival - nothing is done in waste, and for the greater good of the tribe or pack - anything less is a disservice to the whole and will get people killed by the brutal environment. They instead focus on foraging for resources, hunting and gathering to provide for themselves - though to this end, the one thing almost assured to start a fight with the Gi-yaan is territory. Land is everything to them, especially to the nomads, and if another group begins to encroach on the land or territory they have long since held themselves or passed through regularly as nomads, it is almost assured to come to blows, as land is akin to one's breadbasket - allowing another group to infringe upon it is letting another come in and settle in your house. They are deeply based "in the moment", and to them every day is only concerned with the next - they tend to live in the moment and rejoice in what they have before it fades away, not caring to get too attached to any one location or person - in this way, it can be hard for them to develop deep relations due to their fleeting, chaotic lifestyles and in the moment passions. They are taught that life is short, so to enjoy it while they live it.   They tend to be a bit more traditional than the Gi-shin, but many traditions fall to the wayside in the name of survival - females and men are divided only by the types of tasks they undertake, and almost no Gi-yaan tribes restrict genders to specific roles - doing so is considered a waste of good potential. They have a rich culture of tapestry-weaving, which is often how each tribe's history is displayed, and are known to make jewelery and all manner of traditional weapons. They are more scholarly than the Gi-shin, and are often avid astronomers - charting the movements of the stars to both chart their paths across the desert but also as a way to commune with their ancestors, who they believe dwell in the stars after death. As a nomadic people, music, dance, and games are intrinsic to their culture - music and dance are their preferred forms of expression beneath the cool desert sky, with graceful movements and undulating bodies dancing to songs that tell the history of their people. Stealing is often a foreign concept among the Gi-yaan - to steal something is a taboo to them, and confusing - a thief who is caught even by another tribe will often be returned and the belongings returned, as to take the belongings of another without a raid or ambush, or without trade is to set a dangerous precendent. Moreso than the Gi-shin, they have a deep festival culture - when multiple tribes of Gi-shin meet and can do so amicably, they will often rejoice with a festival, sharing each other's music and culture and dances and rejoicing in the heat of the moment.  


  The "Yang" to the Gi-yaan's "Yin", the Gi-shin are the more violent among the two ethnic groups of the Giyaani - less inclined to nomadic wandering and more prone to forming settlements, the Gi-shin are defined and best described by the notion of "The strong prosper" - to them, might makes right and strength is everything. Raiding, pillaging, and ambushing as well as banditry are core to their culture - the belongings of others are only such so long as the Gi-shin are not set on taking them, as the common saying goes, and it rings fairly true...they are often incredibly skilled warriors trained in ambush tactics and blitzing raids, to kill with shock and awe and vanish into the winds before a reaction can be mustered. They live their lives by the code of martial might, and hold no qualms with taking or being taken from - strength is everything, and defines their lives - anything less will spell their death in the harsh desert environment.   They are only rarely inclined towards talk, and even then only talk in regards to a surrender or tribute - many giant and monster tribes fall into this category, from whose villages they roam out to strike at any passing nearby, raiding other settlements and passing groups with wild viciousness, pillaging supplies and taking slaves with glee. Slaves, to the Gi-shin, are a natural result of conquest, and the ultimate fate of the weak and undeserving - it is not only a tool to help them survive, but a delightful pasttime - crushing the weak and seeing the yoked can be considered by many Gi-shin to be a sport, and one of their few reasons to trade with others. They are not sadistic or cruel per se, but a product of their environment - they take what they want through force, and unless they have a specific reason to do so, will often not exterminate their target for a raid or ambush completely - they will fight and kill to demonstrate their prowess, break their enemy's spirit, then take what they want - completely slaughtering a given group or target is taboo to many Gi-shin, and is frowned upon as they believe it will do nothing but invite a lethal retribution back upon them. In this way, they draw a fine line between "Taking everything" and "Taking what they need" - they try to ride the line on what will inconvenience their foes and what will stir them to such depths of rage that they will stop at nothing to take revenge on them.   Many Gi-shin find the notion of "community" and "communal survival" foolish - they have no mercy for the weak because the desert, to them, is a spiritual entity that they almost see as a pseudo-deity whose brutal environment is designed to root out the weak and uplift the strong, so they follow its great example in turn to root out those unfit and undeserving to live in it. They are intensely tribal, and though they will often foster a close and loving relationship with their tribe or pack, most outside of that group are seen as outsiders - respect is only given to those who prove themselves against them in battle or who prove strong in other ways. Some Gi-shin, especially monstrous tribes, might see others of human or other 'weaker' races as lesser, and think little of squashing them like bugs, but this mindset can be reflected in most Gi-shin to some degree - regardless of racial biases, life is cheap to the Gi-shin - so they fight and scream and struggle for every bloody inch of it. They often relish excitement and delight in adrenaline pumping through their veins, leading to many seeing them as crazed berserkers and barbarians.   They tend to be loud, raucous, and mirthful when not on the battlefield, letting loose their desires with thundrous force and living their lives as veritable typhoons, knowing no restraint nor hesitation - they are almost too sure of themselves and their path, and rarely question it in any meaningful manner - life is a ride they are here to enjoy, so enjoy it they shall - questioning and hestitation and, in some Gi-shin tribes, even philosopy and academia is for the weak and fools unsure of themselves. Though some of these mirthful celebrations might come at the expense of beaten and brutlized slaves, they are a merry bunch who often relish in taking and comparing trophies of conquests as well as mementos of strong foes or encounters, which they often wear as fetishes or tribal trophies upon their person. If one can prove themselves worthy to a Gi-shin tribe and prove they can pull their weight, one will find a community of rowdy friends that will fight and die alongside you - if you can pierce their gruff exterior first. Their lifestyle of blood-pumping action and survival through strength is simple, and appeals to many - though many monstrous Gi-shin tribes live in almost ritualistic secrecy out of fear of being hunted, many Gi-shin only hide their place of origin to safeguard it from repisal, not out of any care for secrecy. Gi-shin are often more tribalistic than the Gi-yaan, and more averse to intellectual acts or pasttimes - simple lives, and simple existences.  


  The history of the Giyaani is a strange one, and one fairly old - during ancient times, when the Tyrant Cao Lu rose up and united all the barbaric tribes of Zheng-Kitar beneath his banner, all across the land did they respond to his call, flocking to his capital of Ssarizax in droves of the thousands upon thousands to follow the heed of this Charismatic Madman, who finally promised them a place at the top...all tribes save for two tribes in the Great Gyatsoshin Desert. As the two biggest tribes in the desert, they watched their lesser kin flock to the banner of Cao Lu, and saw him for what he was - a mad tyrant who they believed would soon be killed.   So were the Giyaani formed from the union of the last two free barbarian tribes on all of Zheng-Kitar - and when the Tyrant Cao Lu eventually fell, they were waiting to welcome their brothers back to the desert with open arms - so long as they integrated into THEIR tribes. Absorbing all the minor tribes into themselves, these two tribes would eventually become the Gi-yaan and the the Gi-yaan, they gave a home to the gentler and more peaceful remnants, and the Gi-shin, the more violent...becoming the Yin and Yang of the Desert.  


  Aside from what is described above for the specific groups, life is undeniably cheap in the desert - both cultures hold life in little regard, and tend to live in the moment, enjoying what time they have in whatever ways are central to their beliefs. They have no mercy for the weak, either - there is no sympathy for slaves and those unable to defend themselves, even from the Gi-yaan - they simply do not believe in going out of they way to enslave or crush them, seeing it as wasted effort. But one is mistaken if they believe they will get sympathy from either culture - no matter one's origins, in the Great Gyatsoshin Desert, everyone earns their place, or dies trying.
Naming Conventions
The Giyaani tend to use Arabic or Muslim naming schemes. Last names commonly include "el-" or "al-", but not always - exceptions do exist, and those that lack this last name convention are typically those who live in semi-permanent settlements rather than being nomads.
Male Names
Wasim, Imran, Mohamet, Aram, Ibrahim, Ziyaad
Female Names
Zaahira, Aaisha, Shamira, Nasya, Raiha, Latimah
Family/Clan Names
el-Sultana, al-Aman, el-Farran, Hakeem, Sinai, Meskin
Encompassed species
Related Myths


  "Black Dunes!" - "Shit" or "Fuck" Equivalent. Refers to the black sand dunes said to devour the souls of those who walk atop them.   "Sweet Enenra!" - "Holy Shit" or "Oh my god" equivalent. Refers to the demon of choking wind popular in Giyaani myth that steals away the breath of children in the cradle.  


  "Heater" - Compliment among Eldragi and Othraka. A compliment used to compliment someone's attractiveness, insinuating they're attracting enough to give off physical warmth and heat one's soul and spirit. Sometimes used as 'Someone worth getting heated for'.   "Diamond-ass" - Sort of underhanded compliment used to refer to one's extreme importance or beauty, depending on context.   "Saltblood" - Compliment used to refer to one's large breadth of experience, or skill. Commonly said to older or more experienced people. Refers to one with skill or expertise in general.   "Edible" - Compliment used to refer to one's health and physical condition, specifically when one appears to be at the top of one's condition and physique. Has a very different meaning among lamia and other maneating races or tribes - still a compliment, but an underhanded compliment that means one would be worth more as food.  


  "Skyeyed" - Insult used to call someone an airhead or a dreamer, or someone with excessive naivete. Insinuates they spend too much time looking at the stars, not enough at the ground.   "Roller" - Insult used to refer to someone who's fat. Pretty huge insult when colloquially used to insinuate someone spends too much time benefitting from the gains of others without going out and working themselves.   "Pale" - Insult used to refer to someone who spends too much time indoors, or an excessive academic.   "Blacktongue" - Insult used to refer to someone who lies or betrays others excessively.   "Cheeker" - Insult originally used to refer to someone who enjoys killing and brutality too much, or is too bloodthirsty. Has colloquially come to refer to someone with excessive amounts of lust, or desire.   "Housebound" - Insult used among Othraka and Eldragi. Enormous insult not used lightly, insinuates that one is best kept at home and is useless anywhere else.  

Turns of Phrase

  "Those who sail the stars" - Giyaani phrase used to refer to the deceased.   "May the stars guide you." - Giyaani farewell.   "He'd find sugar in a salt mine." - Giyaani phrase used to call someone a moron.   "She couldn't find glass if she looked down." - A phrase used by Othraka and Eldragi to call someone an idiot.   "May your light shine eternal." - Flexible phrase spoken in a variety of situations. Meaning varies depending on context. When spoken before battle, is considered a good luck phrase, wishing someone well no matter if they live or die. When spoken at a funeral, it wishes the deceased well in the afterlife.   "Look for dirt, expect sand" - Phrase used to tell someone to hope for the best, expect the worst.


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