The varied and different people of Shaoshu and all its constituent territories
DescriptionThe Shaoshuan people, or simply "The Shao People", hail from the center area of Zheng-Kitar, from the lands east of The Tianzhao Peaks to those bordering the western edge of the Guezhan Rainforest. They ultimately trace their lineage back to the Great Shaoshu Empire, but in this day and age the simple moniker "Shaoshuan" is a broad term that most outsiders do not realize encompasses several smaller ethnic groups that existed ever since the founding of the Shaoshu Empire - the land that the empire covered was so unfathomably vast that when it shattered, these sub-ethnicities were able to form smaller kingdoms out of the ruins of their parent kingdom. They are not one united ethnicity, but many different ones - with many origins, cultures, and appearances between them.
AppearanceWhile composed of many different ethnicities - which foreigners find difficult to differentiate - the Shaoshuan people do have some features in common. Moreso than mostly any other Ethnicity on Zheng-Kitar save perhaps the Dharan or Ustanan people, the people of Shaoshu are incredibly tall, standing ON AVERAGE anywhere between 5'11ft to 6'9ft (1.8m - 2.05m) in height, with women tending to be shorter on average than men. Their builds are much more commonly large and imposing, especially members of the Shao-lan and Shao-neia ethnicities (See below), who are often viewed as tall, well-built adonises. Shao people, unlike most other ethnicities, can have a huge variety in their hair color and style - it tends to be straight or wavy most commonly, and color-wise they have incredibly diversity, with black being the most common but colors such as Golden, Red, Brown, or Flaxen are also incredibly common. Their eyes tend to have the highest percentage of being heterochromatic out of any ethnicity on Zheng-Kitar, and are often brown, but can also be blue, gray, hazel, or green.
Sub-GroupsAs has already been mentioned, the Shao do not form a single ethnic group, but are instead composed of many distinct cultural and ethnic peoples. Below is a description of the sub-groups comprising the "Shaoshuan" people.
Shao-sharaThe Shao-Shara are the primary ethnic group of the Astaran Republic. Their culture has long been one conquered and oppressed by others, particularly the original Shaoshu Empire, but is one that has finally won its independence in recent years. Shao-sharan culture is rich with unique dances like the jig, instruments such as bagpipes, and brewing all manner of drinks - their folk music and dance in particular are widely known across the lands of the Shaoshu Empire and beyond, and they have made an unnaturally large contribution to the field of literature - many famous novelists and storytellers and bards have emerged from Astara with alarming regularity. Altogther, the culture of the people of the Astaran Highlands is one of beautiful simplicity - they are a people who care deeply about family and clan, about proving their mettle on the field of battle, and about enjoying themselves as much as possible. Much like the Khadagarian people, they care extremely little for the trappings of civility or normality - they are often loud to the point of obnoxiousness, joke and jest with one another with all manner of insults and biting jabs, and do as they please with little care for social decorum or etiquette. They are a country well-known for their hearty, filling meals of ludicrous proportions and for their world-famous alcohol distilleries said to rival even the greatest Ezdhûl ales, as well as their "pub culture" and cultural love of harsh words and insults - they are a foul-mouthed and ill-tempered people with a strong sense of martial discipline and enjoyment of sports and athletic pastimes, and are well-known to have invented a majority of the most beloved insults that are used throughout central Zheng-Kitar(As well as a wide variety of compliments often considered backhanded) Most famous is their legendary Highland Games - the world-renowned sports and athletic festival held every year in the months following summer that sees warriors, competitors, and all sorts of people and creatures venture from all over the continent to come participate in the legendary Astaran tests of physique, skill, brawn, and more. Deeply ingrained in their culture is the 'kilt' - a garment resembling a knee-length skirt of pleated tartan cloth often worn by Astaran men(though now frequently worn by women and girls as well) - as well as their own unique clan heraldry, which most every Astaran proudly wears on their person out of pride of their community and clan. Central to their culture is the act of communal drinking at pubs and taverns - they have a strong unity and sense of community, and tend to organize themselves into small, rustic villages rather than big cities. Common names for Shao-sharans include Seamus, Seán, Fergus, and Finbar for males and Ellen, Joan, Sheila, and Nuala for females.
Shao-neiaThe Shao-Neia are the primary ethnic group of the Kingdom of Osneia. They are seen by others as strict, angry, and uptight - and while this is partially attributed to their dialect of the Shaoshuan language sounding quite naturally loud and furious, this is also due to their long and storied history of military power and warfare. Warfare is synonymous with an honored and noble pasttime in Shao-neia, and all of the country's board games, tabletop games, and games of intellect revolve around strategy, planning, and tactics as well as diplomatic relations and how to politic - preparing those who play them unknowingly for a future of war and political diplomacy. The Kaisers, a fusion of nobleman and general both, rule the society of Shao-neia as all citizens serve mandatory time in the military, after which they are freed from active service to pursue their desires. Overall, Shao-neians are a deeply honorable people who have a deeply set cultural tradition of 'knightly-ness' that pervades their lives, from commoners to the Kaisers that rule the country - as a people they hold a deep-seated belief in the notions of honor, loyalty, and duty, and believe in following through on their duties and promises once established or made. They are naturally inclined to equate the self with the group, and tend to set aside personal desires for the good of all. They are often taught to have a strong sense of personal accountability(Which is where the "Osneian Honor" they are known for comes from), and are often raised to own up to and accept every decision they make, for good or ill - they are not much inclined to lie, and often have a strong inclination to or otherwise think highly of public service(Such as military service or knighthood) as well as self-sacrifice. As such, they often hold themselves to high standards or are otherwise held to such high standards by their peers - and while this can sometimes have adverse reactions on some Shao-neians, causing them to break under the stress of such expectations, as a whole they consider such obligations a noble burden and live their lives with the noble beliefs established above. Shao-neia cuisine and culture, however, is rich with festivals and celebrations - they have a well-known and popular "carnival culture" that has influenced many holidays that have spread across the territory of the old Shaoshuan Empire. Their cuisine is rich with sausages and warm alcohols, as well as some deep, rich spices, and their bread is also incredibly well-made and popular. As the popular Shao-neian saying goes, "Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar" - their meals are often filling and hearty, though sometimes off-putting. Common names for Shao-neians include Wilhelm, Diedrich, Gerwulf, and Bertram for males, and Leonore, Katrina, Kasimira, and Gretel for females.
Shao-rathThe Shao-rath are the primary ethnic group of the Coalition of Nine. As a country that stands as a crossroads for travel out west and for those coming into the lands of Shaoshu from the west, Shao-rath culture is characterized by diversity, which is reflected in a wide range of traditional customs. The Tianzhao Peaks have also played an essential role in shaping the history and culture of the Shao-rath people - the mountains provide ample protection from the north-west, and there is a strong skiing and mountaineering culture here, as well as folk arts such as yodeling. Even moreso than Ustanan culture, the Shao-rath have a strict culture of business and financial services - they have deep-rooted beliefs of financial secrecy and client confidentiality, which has done wonders to draw others in from all over the continent to store their earnings in the great money markets there. Unlike many other cultures in Zheng-Kitar, most all Shao-rathians have a very well-developed sense of entertainment and 'personal time' - the well-off state of their country means many Shao-rath have time to develop a hobby, favorite vacation spot, or other leisure activities few other cultures are afforded the luxury of having - which often leads many Shao-rath to question and dislike the notion of 'living for work', and cultures where the working class has no life outside of work and service to their lords or masters. In stark contrast to the Shao-zou, Shao-rath also typically have an innate, natural trust for their government, and other strict governmental bodies in general - they also tend to look upon mages and casters favorably, and often hold a near-universal respect for the elderly, often believing in caring for their aging population as best as possible. Because they have a high standard of living in their home nation, they can come off as somewhat privileged and haughty, but this often is not the case - they simply sometimes lack a true and good understanding of the world outside their borders, as few Shao-rath desire to leave their home nation without good cause. Despite their belief in government, they are often very open and forward with their opinions, as their culture teaches them to speak out about societal issues and problems as they are discovered, and to be active and vocal in their desire for societal reform where it might be needed. Neutrality is also key to their culture - ever since before being originally conquered by the original Shaoshu Empire, neutrality was one of the main principles of their foreign policies - they strictly adhere to these policies that see them not be involved in armed or political conflicts between other states. To this end, most all citizens of Shao-rath are armed and prepared around the clock for violence thanks to mandatory government-sponsored educations(Mostly revolving around self-defense, but also concerning other basic things) - to ensure external security and promote peace. Common names for Shao-rath people include Harri, Alexander, Petri, and Mathis for males and Nola, Lena, Edda, and Inès for females.
Shao-zouThe Shao-zou are the primary ethnic group of the Danzou Theocracy. As its location places it at the confluence of several Shaoshuan nations as well as the Kingdom of Seoghar, the unique culture of the Shao-zou has developed accordingly. They are seen as hospitable to artists and cultural influencers of all kinds, and are eager to follow cultural and artistic trends popular in other countries even to the detriment of their own people. They are, as a whole, zealously focused on the "benefit" a given individual can provide to their society - the worth of a life to many Shao-zouans is measured in hours worked and money earned for the state, a fact which leads to a quite joyless and miserable existence for many. Though they are a people who are incredibly loving and accepting of art and culture of all kinds, they do so on the broken backs of the working class, producing art and wealth that, while beautiful, is forged or painted in blood. Their society is also largely patriarchal - females are expected to provide children, stay in the home, and be 'proper'(Defined as quiet, unassuming, covering all skin, and obedient), while males are given more freedom of dress and in society as a whole. Adding onto this the simple fact that their country is one of the most strictly regulated in all the world, with the strictest border laws and travel laws, and the Shou-zouan people are a frequently downtrodden one that often turns to crime or illegal dealings to pay their bills and feed their families. They have a blatant disregard for most laws and civilized systems, and see orders from figures of power as mere recommendations, commonly trying to do ANYTHING they can to skirt by and get as much as they can for the least amount of work - not to say they are lazy, just that the cruelty of the system they live in has forced them to be frugal and efficient with their lives to avoid being worked to death. Most importantly, the Shao-zou have an immense distrust of and a lack of respect for authority - as the popular saying amongst them goes, "The severity of rules in our country is compensated by the unnecessity of following them". Their long history of oppression by power authorities and leaders that prioritize wealth, benefit, and advancement over lives means that fewer than 10% of Shao-zou ever believe that their leaders do a good job of managing the country's policies and its peoples. Corruption here is also rampant, especially in spheres of governance, which also facilitates deeper disrespect for authority. However, if one can get past a Shou-zouan's exterior, they can be a warm, incredibly communal people who place the bonds of family above all else(blood related or otherwise), prizing the relations they make as crucial to making their way through life that is so often harsh, brutal, and unforgiving such that they MUST band together, or starve to death in the open streets - meaning they are often lifelong friends that will do anything, even break laws and disobey authority, if one can prove themselves trustworthy to them. Common names for Shao-zou include Kravchenko, Opanas, Anton, and Yuriy for males and Zoryana, Teklya, Olha, and Milena for females.
Shao-lanThe Shao-lan are the primary ethnic group of the Olander Principality. They exist above all the other Shao ethnic groups as the ethnic group seen as the most happy and liveable - despite being a relatively small country with difficult weather, they are seen as the most polite people in all the world, as well as their nation, which is seen as the most wonderful place in the world to live. This is described best by the three aspects of Shao-lan life: Simplicity, Politeness, and Equality. This does not mean they are helpless or pacifistic - they have a long history of mercenary and a warrior-culture, but one rooted in homliness and patriotism as opposed to greed or selfishness. When meeting a Shao-lan, one will almost always be met with politeness and a smile, and key to their culture is the concept of 'snugness' - a thing which is hard to describe but is likened to a mood, particularly when relaxing with good friends or loved ones...this concept is believed to be responsible for why they are all so happy - they place this concept above most other things and focus on it first and foremost. Physical activity is popular here - moreso than any other Shaoshuan country, its people stay active and regularly run, jog, or exercise, and the 'small-village' culture of Olander does wonders to make them come across as cozy and welcoming. Common names for the Shao-lan include Otto, Arvid, Ejvind, and Sigurd for males and Erika, Agnes, Maj, and Merete for females.
Shao-xardThe Shao-lan were the primary ethnic group of the Kingdom of Corudillo, which has since been conquered by the barbaric tribes of the Guezhan rainforest and absorbed into the Kassau Matriarchy. They were once a very religious people, who were ruled by an aristocracy who they believed ruled by divine right from the gods - they were a simple but faithful people who placed great value in hard work and trade, but they also had a history of blatant disregard and disrespect for tribal peoples and 'barbarians' - they regularly trampled over such peoples for conquest and personal gain of both themselves and the ruling aristocracy. It was this tendency which spelled their downfall - the tribes they so regularly crushed finally rose up and overthrew them, so now the country is all but gone, the aristocracy slain or enslaved by the female-centric tribes of the Guezhan Rainforest and the other barbarians that follow them. They have been fully absorbed into the Kassau Matriarchy, and those that were not fled to other Shaoshuan Countries. Common names for the Shao-xard included Geraldo, Celio, Gregorio, and Fernándo for males and Josefina, Ysabel, Ria, and Elvira for females.
Shao-shuThe Shao-shu are the primary ethnic group of the Shaoshu Empire, now fallen from its former glory to a shell of what it once was. They are much-reduced from what they once were, and though the King and Queen of Shaoshu sits as the head of the Shaoshu Empire, it is a far cry from the 'Empire' of yore - most of its constituent territories have broken free of the imperialistic yoke of its rule and declared their independence. Their parliament and house of lords sits as aristocratically ruled governmental bodies where a clear line between the 'ruling class' and 'working class' is distinguished - they tend to be incredibly patriotic and somewhat disdainful of other cultures not their own, which has been their driving motive behind the formation of their empire since ancient times. This does little to engender respect from others, as they tend to come off as somewhat xenophobic. They are not commonly sociable or amicable to strangers, even other Shao-shu - they will not make eye-contact or speak to others out of the blue, and have a clear idea of 'personal space', though once with friends at a pub or tavern they can get quite rowdy. Imperialism still lingers in their culture, but it has faded from glory - and while some Shao-shu yearn for their former glory, they are defined by the reforms sweeping through their nation which give a light of hope to many that they might adapt to the changing times and survive in this turbulent world. Bloodlines are important to the nobility and ruling class, and noble houses dominate the upper ecehlons of Shao-shu society. Common names for Shao-shu include Dwight, Avery, Benedict, and Hughie for males and Sadie, Rita, Miriam, and Dawn for females.
HistoryThe Shaoshuan people trace their roots back to the ancient "Shao-shu" people - they had long since been an imperialistic nation, but over time as kings and queens came and went, they continued to expand seemingly without limit - their colonies continued to grow in number and they began to grow in size and scale, conquering more and more lands and peoples and yoking beneath the rule of their Royal class and Nobility to pay taxes and tribute to their new government. They existed as the foremost superpower of the Age of Imperialism, but as all good things must one day come to an end, so too did their legacy - their colonies began to throw off the shackles of their rule one by one starting with the mind-numbing violence of the Shao-sharan wars for independence, where the Shao-sharan revolution army performed such barbaric acts of wanton savagery in the name of freeing their nation and brethren that they sent a wake-up call to all their sister nations still under the yoke of Shao-shu rule: The time of subjugation was over. Shortly thereafter, the Empire collapsed and fragmented under its own weight, as territory after territory broke down and away from the King and Queen to form their own societies once more.
CultureAside from what is described above for each ethnic group, Tea is an integral part to almost all ethnic groups of the Shao, and their Tea Ceremonies are incredibly sacred things - they take their tea very seriously, and treat it as an artform. Their ceremonies for tea are used for all manner of discussions, and to perform one together is seen as an act of brotherhood and companionship.