Yatsimoan Ethnicity in Zheng-Kitar | World Anvil


The islanders of the frozen islands of the north, one of the oldest cultures in all the world


  The Yatsimoan people, or more commonly referred to as simply 'Simoans', are the island people of the frigid north, dwelling in The Glacial Drift alongside the ferocious, mysterious Yokai, the Kitsune, as well as a number of other sea and land-dwelling beasts exclusive to the icy flows of the northern seas. They have lived in their villages up in The Glacial Drift since ancient times - it is their ancestral homeland and on they are extremely protective of, though they remain a tribal people they are one of the most ancient cultures in the entire world, and one of the last living relics of a more simpler time.   They are some of the first peoples in the world to develop seafaring travel, back in ancient times - Simoan seafaring and boatbuilding is some of the first and simplest, though no longer the best. Yet even so, their simple seafaring ways and simple boats designed to ferry them between the frozen islands of the glacial drift hold their place in history as the home of the first seafaring culture in the history of Zheng-Kitar.  


  The Yatsimoan people are almost always well-developed, and almost no other culture on Zheng-Kitar have the noticably large and well-shaped limbs of the Yatsimoans - their arms and legs are well-developed and well-shaped, and often thick and imposing as well as muscular. This is due to their intensive focus on physical activity - all Simoans are well-built to hunt, forage, and make the arduous journies on their boats to the other islands in the area - these journies on their simple boats are often made solo or in pairs, so intense muscular power and physique is needed to control the boat in the frigid, ice-coated waters of the Glacial Drift and to fight the currents and the riptides.   They tend to be dark-skinned and an almost caramel or other dark colors, a rarity for the frozen north, with faces that tend to be squared slightly. Their faces can vary wildly, but generally possess overhanging eyebrows and thick lips. Their hair is often dark and tends to be frizzy or wavy, and is often darkly colored.   Most integral to their appearance is their tribal history of the tatau, an ancestral and tribal form of tattoo that is performed on men and women alike - these are often black-inked geometric and intricate patterns that are tattoed onto their lower body, upper legs, and sometimes their upper arms and biceps - this process is done without any pain-blunting medicines at all, and tends to be extremely painful, but gives them a wholly unique appearance to those who notice them. These tattoos are believed to have some deep tribal meaning, but they are also incredibly personal and are thus rarely explained to outsiders.  


  The Yatsimoan people are one of the oldest cultures on all of Zheng-Kitar - and while they do not strictly shun the trappings of civilization like the Ssarin, they are a people that have been slow to adapt to the passing of ages and the advancing of civilization. Where other peoples have grown and begun to build large cities and advanced civilizations, the Simoans mostly yet live in tents and villages, with only a few select Simoan tribes beginning to found larger villages, erecting walls and laying roads in the final first steps to civilization.   Their history is a long one, and they are said to have been tribesman once living on the mainland countless thousands of years ago - but in ancient times their ancestors were trapped as part of the mainland continent broke off and shattered, leaving them stranded in what is now The Glacial Drift. Over time, they developed their own culture and became the first seafaring peoples on Zheng-Kitar and possibly the world, building small, single person boats and canoes to traverse their island homeland. Even now, their cultures and traditions remain from this most ancient of times - passed down in the words of their elders and the songs of their people.   In recent times, they have been targeted by foreign powers for colonization - primarily the Jarls and Thanes of Jugeum, who saw the Simoans as prime targets to absorb into their burgeoning empire. Though the attempt ultimately failed after the Simoans succeeded in pushing back the first wave of longships sent by Jugeum, it is all but assured the frozen barbarians will return one day - meaning the Yatsimoans have been having nasty wakeup calls on the nature of the world. They have been known to make excellent bodyguards and warriors thanks to their thick, powerful builds and imposing bodies, but it is rare for a Simoan to venture far from the glacial drift of their own volition, though it has been known to happen.  


  They are a simple and tribal people, with great focus on community - they do most things together, and family is viewed as an integral part of a person's life. Elders, to this end, are viewed with immense respect and tend to hold the highest status in their villages, which can be easily seen in their weekly gatherings on the last day of the week, where many families gather together around a large communal firepit for an afternoon meal. The dishes at these end of week feasts are large and varied, from fresh seaweed and fish to baked taro and rice, as well as even whole pigs. The eldest and most honorable members present will eat first, and this will go around until the youngest members eat last. They tend to be simple and trusting - their tribal nature has engendered a certain naïveté that means that while they hold no qualms about hunting or fishing, they tend to be 'gentle' compared to other more advanced and violent peoples from around Zheng-Kitar. This is reflected in their beliefs as well - they have a cultural taboo against wasting resources, and will thank and pay reverence to the spirits of fish and animals they hunt, wishing them well in their journies into the afterlife and thanking them for the meal. Each creature and object, they believe, has a spirit - one that will become angry if misused or killed wantonly.   Yatsimoan culture is heavily based around the ocean and fishing as well - seafaring and boats and the sea itself play a huge role in their culture, and many Simoan villages venerate the Spirit King of Water, Yezhiha, as their primary provider and patron. As a rite of passage, each Simoan must pass a trial into adulthood that involves taking a specially constructed single-person boat out onto the frozen seas and enduring a solo journey to a distant island through rough seas and riptides - they must survive with nothing but their ingenuity, survival skills, and personal power, and enduring such a journey is crucial to being seen as an adult - after such a journey, such newly crowned adults will generally earn their first tribal tatau after this point.   Their culture is very centered around self-sufficiency and family, as well as tradition - the shark and turtle are both sacred animals to them, and are treated with great reverence. They believe in the notion of 'carving one's own destiny' - that each of them has a path to follow in life, and they must be willing to sieze that path no matter what it takes or where it leads. They tend to be animistic and polytheistic in their faith, believe in destiny, and their boats and canoes have become a sport taught to almost all Simoan children growing up as an important part of their culture. They are also incredibly spiritual and emotional, and their tribal practices reflect this - they believe that the physical and non-physical aspects of the world are not seperate, and therefore to heal one aspect, all must be healed - such that to heal a sore stomach, healing an anger towards a sibling may also help such a thing.   Finally, they tend to be incredibly distrustful of outsiders - constant exposure to foreign powers and a recent attempt at colonization of their lands by the freezing barbarians of Jugeum have soured them on outside cultures, and the diseases introduced to their people from foreign influence are still ripping through their tribes with wild abandon - meaning many Yatsimoans have a rather poor view of foreigners. Their relationship with the beastly Kitsune is not violent per se, but the two cultures tend to avoid each other - the Yatsimoans see the fox-people as demons best left alone and paid offerings to, and hunted only as an absolute last resort. To kill a Kitsune is often taboo to many Simoan tribes, and not only because doing so is likely to break the already fragile peace between their two peoples and lead to a bloody war neither side is willing to commit to.
Naming Conventions
Yatsimoan names are very melodic - they use Samoan and other Pacific Islander naming conventions.
Male Names
Samuelu, Apelu, Kalepo, Etano, Solomana, Mauga
Female Names
Naomi, La'ei, Eva, Arihi, Nafanua, Telila
Tautu, Paea, Malemo, Isaia, Taito, Saluni
Encompassed species


  "Kefe" - A simple curse word used frequently, such that it has lost most meaning to native Yatsimoans. Literally translates as "Iceflow", but is generally used as an all-purpose swear or curse.   "Sweet Nāmaka" - An exclamation of surprise common to the Yatsimoan people. Similar to "Oh god" or "Holy shit".  


  "Pa'agu" - A heartfelt compliment that means 'boat partner'. When used between friends, it refers to one whose friendship you hold so close that you hope the friendship can endure even after death into the next life. When used between romantic partners, it refers to one who you wish to spend all lives and eternities together with.   "You listen well" - A simple, straightforward compliment, but one that has a deeper meaning that surface level. Compliment given to one who has a good head on their shoulders, who listens and understands, and who can hear the voices of nature and its animals. A good-hearted, spiritual person who respects their elders or betters.   "Seamonkey" - A compliment given to one who is capable and talented. Someone you can trust, who can provide for not only themselves but others.   "Matai" - A Yatsimoan word used as an honorific. Means 'chief' and sees frequent use for chieftains, but is also seen as a sign of respect when used for elders or those worthy of deference or admiration.   "Iceblood" - A simple compliment used to call someone a badass, cool, or the like.   "Dem ice" - A compliment given to others with good eyesight, awareness, and the like. Used similarly to the saying "Good catch" or "Nice spot". Born from a misunderstanding of foreigners of how Yatsimoans would say "Them eyes" with their thick accents, and ended up becoming somewhat of an 'injoke' among Yatsimoans that caught on as a cultural saying.  


  "Fa'afa" - Difficult to transliterate into common. Means something between 'unwanted one' and an insult that is somewhat equivalent to calling someone the opposite gender. Can be used jokingly between close friends, but otherwise is extremely insulting.   "Kalu'ele" - A nasty insult used to refer to one who has lost their way, translated as 'Child of Kalu'. A vile or twisted person, one that cannot be trusted, and/or one that actively brings harm to others.   "Smooth" - An fairly tame insult that loosely means "foolish", "bratty", or "childlike".   "Tidebound" - A unique Yatsimoan insult that means "One too weak to control their own destiny", or "one who drifts on the currents". Someone who is weak, insufficient, and/or unable to properly live their lives on their own.   "Fastlipped" - An insult meaning someone is excessively impatient and/or obnoxious. Also implies one has no respect for their elders or betters.   "Pale-eyed" - An insult used to refer to a traitor, liar, and/or enemy of the people. Can also mean 'one who works with yokai(demons)'.   "Coconut" - An insult used to refer to someone who is deaf or blind to the voices of nature and its animals. One who does not give proper thanks for what they take, one who does not pay reverence where it is due. An oaf, or tone-deaf fool. More generally, an idiot. Also used as a term for outsiders or foreigners.   "Dem ice" - When used as an insult, this compliment(See above) is a sarcastic way to tell someone to clean out their ears. Someone who cant hear well, someone with selective hearing, or just someone you want to poke some fun at - also used by Yatsimoans to make jokes between each other when foreigners cant understand them as if to say 'look at this idiot'.  

Turns of Phrase

  "Nāmaka's hung 'em up good" - A Yatsimoan phrase used to refer to one with terrible luck, or one with awful survival skills(Typically referring to oceanic skills).   "May the ice flow ever for you" - A common phrase said as a farewell, wishing others wellness and good health.   "They rest with Nāmaka now" - A Yatsimoan phrase said at funerals and in reference to the departed, who they believe rest in the grip of Nāmaka, Goddess of Oceans and Tides.   "They got the coaleyes" - A phrased used to refer to someone who is extremely lovesick, or someone who has been charmed by anothers' wiles in some way. Also used to refer to someone who is hopelessly obsessed with something or someone.   "As sure as U'wele sinks" - A saying used to reassure others that something is going to happen. Something that will happen, something that's inevitable, etc. Refers to a Yatsimoan demigod who, according to myth, was peerless at all things except swimming.   "Sinker, Swimmer, One more Row!" - An odd Yatsimoan phrase used as encouragement. A way to encourage others to try something, to do something, to take the leap, etc.


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