Monday, November 21, 2011

Ethnicity in Dark•Heritage, part 2

After much delay, here's part 2 of the ethnicity of DARK•HERITAGE series.  I expect that I'll need a few more posts yet to finish the series.
  • The Hasparans are a coastal ethnic group found eastward of the tolosans on the southern shore of the Mezzovian.  While the hasparans recognize their kinship with the tolosans, they also emphasize their differences.  They often say that while the tolosans spread throughout the Mezzovian area, it was actually hasparan culture that they spread.  The hasparans claim to be autochthonous; that is, they claim to be a sister group to the tolosans, not descendents of them.  When the tolosans were just a tribe of fishermen on the coast and southern isles, long before they dreamed of empire or expansion, the hasparans were already on the other side of the Colomà swamp living their own lives.  Physically, the hasparans look very much like the tolosans; they are gracile and average in height, with olive skin and dark eyes, mostly.  Their dark hair is often treated with henna, which causes it to turn a dark reddish color.  They also often utilize henna tattoos as decoration.  Sént-Haspar is the urban metropolis which most strongly identifies with the hasparans, and still today, the Archduke of Sént-Haspar claims most of the area that makes up the ancient kingdom of Halasparia as his fiefdom.  Halasparia has an ancient historical and military tradition, but perhaps what it is most known for is its cuisine, architecture, art and music moreso than for anything else.  In many ways, much of this cultural heritage has been coopted by the tolosans, and across much of the Mezzovian main, hasparan food, hasparan gittern music and hasparan architecture is associated with the Terrasan empire overall.  Despite this, most hasparans do not see themselves at odds with the terrasans, but rather in symbiosis and close association.  Wile hasparans are frequently very proud of their ethnic heritage, there is very little separatist or nationalist sentiment amongst them.
  • The frequently rustic stranzeros are occasionally called Sarabascans, since the majority of them that are known outside their dark woods, swamps, and fields of the far east on the north side of the Mezzovian come from that area.  More of a region than ever a country or polity, the stranzeros mostly live in hinterlands and far-flung locations, and have managed to stay out of mainstream society in the Mezzovian Main area for the most part, with the exception of Sarabasca, the stranzero's face to the world.  Most stranzeros still live in small hamlets, tribes, villages or family groups, and recognize no authority to govern them other than their own local ones.  In this regard, the stranzeros have evolved a culture of independence and freedom that many other folk caricaturize to an extent, but who's ideas have also galvanized many of the nascent nationalist movements around the mainland.  Stranzeros are even shorter and darker of color than the tolosans and others around them, having never mixed at all with any balshatoi or tarushan population, and having remained largely isolated and insular.  However, that is not true of the population of Sarabasca itself, which is a very cosmopolitan city, and which has come under the sway of both Terrasa and Qizmir in recent years, and other prior kingdoms and principalities before that.  As folks from all over the Mezzovian have moved or passed through Sarabasca over the years, there are a number of folks who self-identify as stranzero, but who resemble people from anywhere else.  This could possibly be the source of some tension within the stranzero community... except that, frankly, there is little interaction between these cosmopolitan stranzeros and the more insular back-country ones.  People from Sarabasca do trade with the "swampies" as they are sometimes called, and Sarabasca itself is an important safety valve for those who for whatever reason fail to fit into the tight-knit back-country communities, but by and large the two "halves" of the stranzero community find themselves passing each other like ships in the night, mostly indifferent to the other's presence.  Stranzeros are also somewhat feared around the region, when they travel, due to the rumored malign practices of their shamans and priests, known as bocori, who practice a form of black magic.  In other places where stranzeros gather in numbers, they tend to form enclavces or ghettos and keep to themselves. 
  • The forasteros, or pallarans as they're sometimes called, are another far-flung ethnic group with ancient ties to the tolosans.  Making up the majority of the population to the east and south of the hasparans, the forasteros are undergoing a very different sort of nationalism, under very different conditions, than most of the rest of the ethnic groups who are associated with the Terrasan empire.  At it's greatest extent, both the kingdom of Halasparia, and later the Terrasan Empire claimed much of the territory where the forasteros live, although they generally left them alone as long as tribute continued to flow in.  When the jann landed at Qattara, founded their kingdom, and subjugated the native inhabitants of the island, it was forasteros that they enslaved.  When the jann continued to the Golden peninsula, they further subjugated more forasteros.  Today, only a small portion of the forastero ethnicity lives outside the Qizmiri yoke, and as their sense of nationalism has grown, rather than fostering independence, it's fostered a sense of kinship with the tolosans, the hasparans, and the Terrasan Empire, in the hopes that they'll return in force and roll back the jann.  This seems unlikely as the political and military strength of Terrasa wanes, and separatist and nationalist sentiments grow stronger, pulling apart the fiber of the Empire.  Many forasteros, therefore, have fled, and now live in exile in Terrasan lands.  Many others, of course, have come to terms with Qizmiri subjugation. As it turns out, few enough of the natives are actually enslaved, and if forasteros are unlikely to get far ahead in the government of the jann; well, many forget that that was true under the Terrasans as well.  They're lot is not so bad, and many forasteros have left behind much of their heritage, speaking and dressing in Qizmiri styles.  Many of them, even prosper.  But nationalist sentiments are not always logical, and many chafe under the jann.  In fact, this truculence is arguably one of the main reasons that Qizmir has not yet managed to roll further west than it already has, and knock on the doors of Terrasa itself.  There is a compelling need to deal with forastero unrest at home.  Forasteros, in physical appearance, are not unlike rustic tolosans or hasparans.  They tend to be of average height, perhaps slightly darker skin tone, with dark hair and eyes as well.  Although they do not frequently use henna in their hair, henna tattoos are not uncommon, at least for special occasions.  Their hair and beards tend to be think and very curly, almost kinky, in nature.  Men and women both often keep their hair fairly short, but men almost always grow beards.


Alatha said...

Hey, people do read this. I check periodically. There is some good stuff in your world creation, with great thought put into it.

Joshua said...

Oh, sure, my "nobody reads this" comments are mostly for self-effacing comedy.

Although, realistically, almost all of the hits I do get are Google image searches.