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VI. Religion and Tradition

Religion among the Tehir is a matter of multi-layered superstitions. Being a transient people of the sand, the Tehir have little interest in praying to the gods of fully sedent men. Whether or not the hushed rumors of deity-abandonment are true, the Tehir are of the elements and thus reverence for the things of earth -- and fear of those things not of this world -- are commonplace. While trade relations outside the Sea of Fire have blossomed over the past seven hundred years, the minimal religious design has persisted among the Tehir. The most basic tenet among the Tehir is that everything that comes from the sand returns to the sand.

Tehir spirituality is based on distinctions between the sacred and the profane, typically illustrated through oral tradition, dance, and above all, reverence for life. Like all things in the wild, it is a gradual process. These carefully woven tales of life and being among the Tehir help reinforce the cultural norms by driving home the moral codes necessary to survive in this harsh climate. Those who grievously fail to adhere may no longer be considered Tehir. They may be seen as dead to the tribes and cast out as such. Yet, even death is not immediate for the dead. The malevolence of the spirits dominates Tehir life and ritual. Whether through the blessing of a child or the avoidance of certain objects, the Tehirís belief in the power of the spirits to thwart them is very strong.

Birth

The Qoqa, the babe, the spring of life, sits at the dividing line between sacred and profane. The newborn babe is quite vulnerable to death, but also immersed in life. It is believed the sand and sun struggle for ownership of a new baby; one wishing to devour the body, the other wishing to scorch it. For this reason any new child born to the Tehir will not be shown to the world for its first many days, and it is kept wrapped at its mother's side beneath cloth to protect it from the elements, as illustrated by the following rhyme:

  1. Keep my baby from the sun
  2. Lest my works be soon undone
  3. Seven days beneath the hide
  4. Little girl held at my side.

Midwifery is a revered profession.. The midwife is a skilled healer and a master of local plants and totems. She uses her knowledge and experience to ease the womanís pain during childbirth. She also commonly leads the other servant women in the singing of quiet, soothing zamads as the birth progresses. A noblewoman of childbearing age often employs a midwife among her servants. A woman of the servile classes will commonly pay for the assistance of a noblewomanís midwife during the actual childbirth. These payments may be in the forms of hides or grain and millet.

Nameday rituals are held many days after the birth to sanctify and bless the life of a new girl. For the noble female, a pair of semi-precious metal bangles or oversized silver neck rings will be given to the babe shortly after birth and worn until her adult name is chosen. The tradition is a display of economic pride and prowess, exclusive to the Tehir nobility.

  1. She was given the name Ahibe
  2. Silver wrapping her arm's girth
  3. At one-on-three she was called Ankinabe
  4. On her chin the sign of her birth.

Coming of Age

At the time of a girl's first menstruation, she may visit the hut of her grandmother. Within the hut she spends her days sweating out the pollutants and learning about the responsibilities of the womenfolk in her tribe. The time is not spent undergoing any sort of arduous rituals, though the young woman will take the mark of her mother upon her chin. It is at this point that her matrilineal ties become most important, as the young woman proceeds toward finding herself a mate. When the time comes, the woman will mark her own daughters with her personal symbol, at the first full Zlo, or red moon, following the coming of their own adulthoods. The new name she receives is typically a conglomerate of her birth name and some portion of her mother's name. Only her tribe would know her original name, and its use is strictly private, never to be used again in public.

Upon thirteen to fifteen years of age, the boy will be tested by either his father or uncles in a series of laboring tasks based on his caste and proposed profession. Famous among them, is the hunt for the bessho, held in the fall. The boyís task might also include heading a raiding party, preparing weaponry, or proving skilled mastery of his technical craft. Twins might be set to duel one another. The diplomatic boy might be set to arrange his own marriage or those of others in his family. If the boy succeeds during the year of the Hujuura, he will be paraded about the festival as an eligible bacheloró and undoubtedly will find a family excited to take him.

If the boy fails, he wonít be allowed to prove himself again for another year. Curiously, not many fail; whether the ability of the boy and the difficulty of the task are carefully considered by his family has not been established. Another possibility is that the lure of the economic benefit of marriage is a great incentive for success.

Marriage

The Tehir are not polygamous, but separation is common. Given the ease of travel during the cooler months, weddings are typically held during this time. The greatest reasons for marriage among the Tehir are based in economic prowess and tribal alliances. Exchanges and dowries are an integral portion of the Tehir life. In a nomadic culture, a man who can afford to bestow gifts upon another truly exhibits his own wealth. When he can walk away from a failed marriage with a herd and significant wealth, it only solidifies his esteem, making him more desirable to the next bride. Below is a small selection of marriage traditions within the Tehir classes, each of which indicates the importance of trade, gifting, and reciprocity.

The noble marriage ceremony lasts seven days and for a woman's first wedding, the seventh evening is spent in song and dance, the air filled with beating drums played by the servants of her betrothed. This is the final moment for the woman to be without attachments; once she is married, she will have a slew of people to look after within the household, regardless of her marital status down the road. She will dance like never before -- and never again.

  1. A song from a sister to the bride:
  2. May our mother live longer than your husband
  3. And your daughters outnumber your sons
  4. May the yierka hide bend under your touch
  5. And your man's mischief soon be undone.

As a woman prepares for her wedding, the other women of her tribe will sing her the zamads. Upon completion of a woman's first marriage ceremony, she will take a headscarf.

The man who marries a female diplomat will bring with him goods from his own tribe. This exchange is a matter of formality and is meant to orient the new family with that of his old who, by way of this marriage, will solidify a trade or war alliance.

The ceremonies of the craftsmen are few, as their primary responsibilities come to the head of the tribe. Theirs is not the time to dally with rites and ceremonies in the name of their own joy.

A few small traditions for exchange with craftsmen still exist, including attempts at besting the bride's family: the bridegroom's family will try to outdo any feat to prove they've no need for the man (the proceeds are typically reserved for the newlyweds at a later date). The male songweaver will create for each of his new bride's male relatives a song of power, protection, warding, or wealth. The chant will be "owned" by this new relative and, should the opposite result come after singing such a song, it would be suitable grounds for immediate termination of the marriage. For the Tehir these songs are not just pretty sounds, but are the audible recitation of magic, much akin to a protective amulet.

  1. A song from the bridegroom to his wife's uncle:
  2. May the yierka not eat your herds
  3. And the sand lay still and flat
  4. May your every oasis be refreshing
  5. And wife grow rich and fat.

Within the context of the laborer, traditions of dowry have formed based on the agricultural or herding tendencies. The sedentary farmers are less apt to trade brides and bridegrooms between full tribes and thus, the swapping goes mostly from family to family. It is most common for the servile bridegroom to bring his farming implements to his new family, while the remaining stores of his new father-in-lawís last harvest will follow the bride into her new home. The manís family is given a sum for him by the wife's family, though they likely celebrate the wealth and welcome having fewer mouths to feed. They will return the favor to the wife's family by sending with the man a set of hides for the wife to make a new yurt. The father of the bride relinquishes his claim over the bride's livestock, which was given to her years earlier.

Silver rings are common gifts of affection between men and women, and may contain semi-precious stones of malachite, agate, turquoise, and more. Typically speaking, the laid stones are opaque in nature, though may contain some shimmer or translucence. It is said the duller the stone, the more solidified their commitment.

War

Warfare is a way of life among the Tehir. While their raiding can be viewed as ruthless, it has become a source of economic stability for a number of tribes. The practice, once held primarily between tribes, is now more common against Imperial forces despite overwhelming odds. Many Tehir die in such raids, though when the bounty is good, it merely encourages additional attacks. Whole raiding parties have been summarily decimated in such brazen attempts. A small selection of the rites and rules of conduct are presented below in varying forms of clarity.

  1. Twice on our bellies
  2. Watch them pass
  3. Thrice on our bellies
  4. They've met their match.

The typical raiding party will scope out an Imperial caravan for a few days before striking. During this time, an attending shaman will bless the raiders and scouts. Upon their return, he will wash each man's face or arms, careful not to expose the flesh too much. This ritual washing not only bonds the men, but prepares the flesh for modification: depending on the outcome, the raider may take a new lash or tattoo upon his arms and cheeks.

A man who slays his enemy shall cover him in sand; the sand consumes all. A legend among the Zofitul tribe holds that should the man not cover his enemy, he must know that spirit may haunt him forever.

The woman whose spouse has not returned from a raid with the party will seek the gown of her husband's mother's adolescence. Should it remain unlocated, the man will be presumed dead and the tribe resumes their trek. Incidentally, the inability to locate the gown is most common in situations where the marriage was arranged cross-tribe: the mother of the groom cannot give her adolescent clothing to her son for the benefit of the daughter-in-law, for the garment itself is sacred to the mother as well and she may require it to help ease her passage out of her childbearing age.

The man whose dagger is lost on a raid will spend three days following a raid in the service of another. At the end of this time, it is customary for the man to receive a new (and often more finely crafted) blade.

Death

The withered old man says to the newborn babe, "My poor child, you must not mention my name when I am gone. Because if your mother hears, she may think you are calling her instead. And she will come take you because she is lonely."

In dying, the Tehir leaves his flesh immediately, but the spirit lingers for a brief time. The flesh must be buried at once, deep in the sand, and never looked upon again for fear of being possessed by evil spirits. If he is killed by another of his tribe or commits suicide, it is believed the spirit will travel independent of the flesh for many moons, seeking vengeance, solace, or respite.

  1. The darkened morn
  2. Her tears unseen
  3. The babe unborn
  4. Its birth obscene

Rumor says any babe born at the hour of midnight during the simultaneous silent phases of Ufura, Tzou, and Zlo must be put to death. Without the purity of the moonlight, the new flesh is otherwise feeble, absorbing contamination that will later bring famine and sickness to its family. The minuscule corpse is then buried eight thousand paces to the east of the nearest oasis, wrapped only in its mother's headscarf. Should the mother ever find the carcass intact, a perceived reanimation of the baby would likely drive her to suicide. Theories and applications vary widely.

There is little pomp or circumstance surrounding the actual death of a Tehir, though women of all classes typically join to sing their zamads to comfort one another. Superstition about death is quite prevalent in the Tehir life. Whether acting out of fear or reverence, the Tehir will rarely meddle with a carcass. The possessions of the dead are distributed to the family and servants or buried if no taker is found. The Tehir take heed not to disturb the recently buried corpse in the discarding of materials. It is curious to note that, should a Tehir gravely wrong another, he may be expelled from the tribe and "written off," referred to as dead, and subsequently assumed to be an evil spirit by any that sees him. Such Tehir are easily noticeable by their terrible scarring and disfigurements.

A verse about death; tribe unknown:

  1. They came to us
  2. All dead and white
  3. Stories of death
  4. They came to us.
  5. Where wraiths do lie
  6. And blood runs free
  7. Ruined buildings
  8. Where wraiths do lie.
  9. Ruined buildings
  10. Spirits of death
  11. Keep 'way your evil
  12. Keep mine breath.
  13. Where wraiths do lie
  14. The blood is dead
  15. That evil breathes
  16. Where wraiths do lie.

  17. They came to us
  18. All dead and white
  19. Stories of death
  20. They came to us.

Gifting

An aspect where beliefs among the Tehir differ greatly is on the matter of gifting. Women typically hold that a gift is a gift, meant for her and not another. While some may view it as selfish, when considered within the scope of matrilineality and wealth distribution, the concept is wholly logical. As will be described later on, the gifting during weddings can be quite extensive and the bride may grow quite wealthy in the successive offering of goods. Her new husband's family is typically given a fine gift, but not so fine that it would require them to give up more than the son just offered! For men, this is a reciprocal process, which accounts not only for their accumulation of wealth, but also as a tool for the procurement of songs and dances. In some tribes, should an elder give a younger man a gift and he be unable to match it in kind, the younger of the two would be forced to compose a song or gift specially crafted for the elder. In doing this, the accumulation of material wealth can be scattered among the younger men, while the old continue to grow more and more wise.

It must be noted, some tribes have taken the opposite view of this subversive tactic: the younger man will try to outdo his father in gifting and should the father be unable to reciprocate equally, he is forced to give up some of his knowledge (hopefully in the form of a totem or sand painting). In doing this, a son may be able to secure some level of standing in the tribe. Ultimate care must be taken not to offend his elder, lest the father become the subject of ribbing by his wife for making such a poor attempt at trading.

The reciprocal gifting comes to a spearhead at the gathering of tribes, once every nine years. The gathering includes an unimaginable amount of gifting. It is said that any tribe that cannot hold its own at the Hujuura is scorned severely.

Seasonal Events

Each season has special events, some of which vary by nomadic tendency. It is common for women to gather during the most special times and sing secret songs, called zamads.

A directional verse:

  1. Move three paces toward the sun
  2. Five closer to Hujuura
  3. Past blue rocks, red boulders ten
  4. Much closer to Hujuura
  5. Beyond Oasis Izamgir
  6. So close to the Hujuura

A great gathering of tribes occurs once per nine years for two months in the winter. For this festival, every tribe will gather somewhere in the Sea of Fire. Word of the gathering's location passes between the tribes by way of caravan, sometimes taking four years before word fully circulates. The preparations for this gathering are very extensive, and usually a pair of tribes will join for a few years prior to collaborate. Called the Hujuura, it is a common time for trading, marriages, and alliances. Gift reciprocity is of paramount importance during this lengthy event.

The cool months between Eoantos and Fashanos are prime traveling time for the Tehir. This period signals a peak in trade and a lull in farming and thus is a frequent time for marriage. The winter solstice is typically spent only with immediate family to ensure no evil spirits bring ill will. They will not sing and dance this night.

Nomadic tribes are known to find spring a powerful time of year. Their herds give birth, and they prepare for the wretched heat of summer. During this time, the semi-sedent tribes of the south traditionally perform a variety of cleansing rites, and the young men will often court women with newly created songs and dance. The farming women of the south tend to craft new songs each spring to carry themselves in a methodic rhythm, perfect for a long day of planting. These songs may vary from inspirational themes to mindful prayers for bountiful harvest.

A song from the Halqlia tribe of the southeast quadrant:

  1. We bend and sweep
  2. With our long blades
  3. Drop and then move
  4. To the next glade

  5. Along comes Sister
  6. She, covering seed
  7. Move along quickly
  8. And do it again.

The summer solstice is a day of prime importance for nearly all Tehir. It is the most sacred time to create an amulet to ward off evils. Rites explicitly for prosperity and good health are never held during this time.

For the farmers, autumn is a busy time, but it is also one of great festivity. Any male suitor will surely spend his time in the field rather than dancing, should he hope to win a bride that season. It is not uncommon for male herders in the north to leave on mass hunting trips mid-season. As autumn wanes to winter, rites for prosperity in the coming year are common. If a woman desires to become pregnant, she will likely consume a goodly amount of goat lard -- old tales claim the lard of a she-goat killed in heat will make a woman's flesh irresistible.

Celestial Activity

The silent phase of Ufura, or "ivory" moon, is a favored time to conduct raids. Without its shining radiance over the desert, the Tehir may move in relative darkness. The whole phase of Ufura, however, is said to be strongest for withdrawing spirits from possessed bodies. If a Tehir wishes to call the moon in spite or rage (though doing so may bring additional bad luck), he might scream out, "Gabziz horilekem!"

Tzou Lekem, the dark moon, is believed to house the unwanted spirits who have been vanquished from the Sea of Fire. On the night when it turns crimson, the Tehir will hide themselves from the moon's gaze, fearful that its bloody hue will slough off and possess them with the utmost of terrible spirits. Suicide, while not common among the Tehir, is most prevalent during the new phase of Tzou. The deceased's relatives may claim Tzou let go of her spirits to consume the recently departed. When the next full phase of the dark moon comes, each family member will undergo a cleansing ritual.

Kekelekem, Ureluzhid, Dielekem, Vyoli, and Zlo, these are a handful of names the little red satellite that precariously orbits Ufura. If a girl comes of age during Zlo's fullest time, it is believed she will live a very long, active and independent life, teetering about even in old age like the little moon around Ufura. This woman will have many daughters, each of whom will grow stronger than she, which will impart the old woman with great wealth.

Constellations in the night sky determine the passage of time for most Tehir, and help the shaman predict coming patterns in luck, health, and prosperity. The beliefs of the constellation's weight upon a child's being and fate vary from tribe to tribe, and even family to family. For example, Lovidz Hid Gtierem, or Mistress's Children, is a constellation known to the Empire as the Handmaidens. For the Juunuj tribe, girls born under this sign are thought to be obedient -- until the time of their mother's death, at which point they are destined to slowly lose their minds, may become abnormally aggressive, depressed, or even commit suicide. Among the Qir Golir tribe, boys born of this sign are thought to be restless and rarely deserving of roles of high responsibility, though they may end up quite successful at vov golbuir, or camel racing.

When a child is born as the Yierka Spur graces the sky, he will be sure-footed and strong, though his cunning and ruthlessness, like that of the yierka, may make him suspicious and cruel. Like the spur used to control the beast, one born of this phase may be likewise domineering. Known as the Catís Paw in the Empire, some Tehir families regard Yierka Spurs to be ineffectual parents due to apparent disregard for the well being of others.

The end of Phoenatos through the middle of Imaerasta is known as the time of the Takouba. Each of its five points represents a key element of the weapon. It a common time for raiding on the far reaches of the Sea of Fire as caravans gear up for travel in the coming cool season. Additionally, boys born during the month of the Takouba (or Wagon, in other parts of Elanthia) are said to be best with the weapon that bears its name

If a child is born to a semi-sedent family during the time of Boji-tu, or Rake (called the Trident by the Empire), he might grow up with the nickname "kabeim," or burden, for his birth caused hardship during the important harvesting season.

Girls born while Zlo is full and the Morduska (known in the empire as the Arachne constellation) is most prevalent in the sky may well be beautiful, but their tenacity and greed may cause financial or marital trouble later in life. Each will require an equally beautiful, yet devoted mate to keep her in check and well entertained.

Symbolism

A Tehir man could find meaning in nearly any item, if given the time. Thankfully however, the Tehir rarely have such time on their hands.

Amulets

Small trinkets Tehir men wear around their necks are vast in their function. Among them, a man will always possess a stone amulet bearing the symbol of his mother, whose familial ties are most important. It is quite common for the amulet pouch to be created by the man's favorite uncle, who participated in the man's adulthood rites. Typical amulet compositions include nuggets of copper, sandstone, filigreed silver, turquoise, and sand-fired glass. Small bits of just about anything in which a man finds comfort or power may be added to the pouch throughout his lifetime (such as the scrap of a brother's veil or even a ragged finger nail). These amulets do not represent the totem spirit, which is discussed later.

In generations past, a tradition of bessho hunting heralded the male's entry into adulthood. Given the perceived extinction of this prized creature in recent times, a symbolic hide-and-seek now takes its place. The boy's uncles drape his father in freshly-retrieved goat hide to ensure him blindfolded. An hour later, the boy is set loose to track the father down. He takes with him the goat's meat and a single bladder of water. When the pair returns by sundown unharmed, the boy is called a man. He receives an amulet with the notches of his mother and a small pouch filled with deserved charms.

Ahmdir

A famed root of the Sea of Fire, this unique plant is responsible for the blue color common in Tehir clothing. Its origins are obscure, but rumor claims the root is actually a frightening and sometimes fatal psychedelic.

  1. She ate her clothes
  2. That senile woman
  3. She died all alone
  4. The blue-skinned woman.
  5. Do not mash the ahmdir
  6. Within your black face
  7. It will make you feared
  8. You'll see the dead place.
  9. You'll hear dead places
  10. Within your black face
  11. Do not mash the ahmdir
  12. It will make you hear.
  13. The blue-skinned woman
  14. That senile woman
  15. She ate her clothes
  16. And died all alone

Body Modification

Quite popular among the Tehir, body modification is practiced across age, status, gender, and class lines. The symbolism varies between each, however. Should one possess extremely dark skin, he or she may opt for inserting tiny objects (typically beads) under the skin to create raised and occasionally paler bumps. Known as beading, this unique Tehir form of body modification is applied by only the most skilled artisans. Beading may also be used to "kill" the power or identity of an existing tattoo.

When coming of age, a young woman will take the mark of her mother upon her chin in the blackest ink possible. Typically speaking, the mother will mark her daughters with her personal symbol, at first full red moon following the coming of their adulthoods. Locations for women's tattoos typically include the cheeks, neck, jaw line, and forehead. Men usually sport markings on the arms and around the eyes as symbols of glory or sometimes scorn.

Slaves of either sex may be marked by a wide tattoo or linear, beaded marking stretching from one temple to the opposite jaw. It is usually quite conspicuous and utterly restricts the slave from any attempted social climbing, post-freedom.

Markings of Men

The elder man of a tribe may take a small crescent near the eye. A mystic or wizard is often marked with lines radiating from the eye sockets and may include, based on elemental focus, rows of diamonds, undulated lines, bolts, or chevrons upon the arms. A rogue, raider, or warrior may take horizontal bands near the eyes, curved lines from cheekbone to jaw for each successful raid, or a series of slash-like marks across the forearm for each foe he has killed. A laborer may have the tops of his hands or feet tattooed with a stylized yierka spur. A healer or cleric would likely be marked by the sign of the eye, which can range from a simple circle with an off-center dot, to an elaborate representation with brows and lashes. The bard, diplomat, or craftsman can take a myriad of symbols, including bars, bands, frond tendrils, and the adopted symbols of their lovers. An extended lip filled with a wooden wedge may indicate a man who has lived to see his grandson grow to adulthood. Ragged coiled markings spiraling about the forearm would be a personal sign of scorn, showing a man whose wife left him for a non-Tehir. A foolhardy, young male that failed his first attempt into manhood may be adorned by a wide mark in his brow.

An expelled Tehir will be beaten senseless, his teeth may be removed and his body terribly wounded or burned in an attempt to remove or "kill" any former markings of prestige. Should he survive the ordeal and get close enough to another tribe, they will see the scars across his face and arms and send him away.

Women's Symbols

The placement of the woman's birth sign takes precedence over the following imagery. It is not atypical to find the mark worked right into the overall design. The elder woman of a tribe would likely take the image of a sun disk (varying from simple to elaborate) upon her wattle or high on the brow. Large or heavy earplugs may indicate a rich woman, or one who doesn't have to work hard. Should a woman choose the role of the healer, she would be marked with small ribbons of dots, called "bloodscrolls" around her jaw or collarbone. Should the female become a warrior, she will take one or many curvilinear lines from cheek to jaw. Snake-like or circular markings may be made upon the cheeks of a clerical or spiritual woman, though she may also be identified by a crescent or eye between the brows. Of the most grandiose imagery is the female bard, whose geometric tattoos may spiral from one cheekbone to the adjacent collarbone, frequently splitting off into wispy trails which lick at the eye and breast.

Sandstorms

The only times a Tehir would wish for a sandstorm are during a raid or during a burial. In this, he would draw a bidirectional spiral in the sand and murmur a variety of guttural verses. Any other sandstorm would likely be cause for concern.

Sand Painting

A men's ritual held within a special hut and typically crafted when the moon of Tzou Lekem is full, sand painting is a very old and lasting tradition. The literal imagery is too sacred to describe, and it is said a painting never lasts more than a single day once it is completed. Regional sands are often traded between tribes and make fine, even prized gifts during weddings.

Snakestones

The humans of the Empire believe the snakestone to cure afflictions of the eye. The origin of its magic has come to the Empire by way of Tehir traders who swear of its powers (certainly, the Tehir would not outwardly explain the snakestone's other uses). It is claimed the spirits of the snakes, powerful totems representing inconspicuous travel, join in fits of rage to secure spiritual "routes" through the desert. When the battle is through, and their frothing spittle has dried, all that remains is a curious stone, cold as death. Internally, a Tehir shaman may use this stone not necessarily to cure physical afflictions, but to sense the aforementioned spiritual routes throughout the desert. His insight, when used by a tribe's scout, may yield safe passage through a barren wasteland of bodies buried in the sand.

Songs

Both men and women compose verse. Their usage and power vary greatly. Women have specially crafted zamads, which they sing for births, weddings, deaths, and a variety of special occasions. These are sung only by women and are never taught to men. Young men, on the other hand, form their own songs and poetry meant to inspire one another and coax women nearer after the sun has gone down around the campfires. Married women do not perform the dances accompanying menís songs, unless the woman is devoid of social status or has become possessed by spirits.

Spirit Totems

Upon his birth, the male babe is wrapped in a swath of blue linen and kept out of public view for twenty-eight days. A patron animal or spirit is chosen for him during these twenty-eight days by his uncles. The decision of which totem to choose for a child will include consideration of the physical strength of the child early in life, the resolve of his parents, and extenuating factors limiting success in their region. For example, a boy whose mother is exceedingly short in stature might find his totem among the winds, as his uncles want to ensure the boy grows taller than she. A dual interpretation of the totem could lead the boy to take flight, beginning a tribe of his own near a more forgiving environment.

The totem is initially alluded to by selectively color-coordinating the beads of a single string necklace. The boy will wear this necklace into adulthood and seek to appease this spirit in return for its guidance and favor. Some claim the small necklaces of young boys ward off the burdens associated with adulthood - most commonly represented in the symbolic stones, pouches, and turbans of the Tehir man. It should be noted, the same symbolic colors used in men's veils are layered in the boy's necklace as he ages. The totem is a manís most sacred possession and most important consideration throughout all aspects of his life.

Failure to respect his given totem (not to mention those of others) can bring a grave fate upon a man and his tribe. The importance of this reverence is played upon in a handful of traditional tales. A story called Dzinet and the Feather, illustrates the danger of this irreverence: great tragedy struck the boyís family after he scorned his totem, the vulture. Dzinet viewed the vulture as a pest and danger. When a vulture followed him on his first solo hunt, he shooed it away, thinking it would draw the attention of Imperial soldiers rumored to be in the area. Instead of leaving an offering for his totem, he buried the entrails of his first kill. The vulture however, never stopped following Dzinet that day. On its final departure, a single dirty feather fell from the vultureís belly and landed in Dzinetís knapsack, unbeknownst to the young boy. He later returned to his people and brought with him its scourge. Each of his siblings became insatiably hungry. Having eaten all the stores of grain and every goat, the boys and girls turned to eating carrion. The children soon died, their bellies bloated with worms and rancid flesh.

Veil

The veil is a symbol indicating manhood for the Tehir. Beyond acting as a spiritual shield to ward off evil, it represents his ability to withstand both the heat and elements. Check the Clothing section for more information on these unique Tehir garments.

Water

A semi-sedent shaman may lay "magic stones" in circles throughout a field; this is believed to attract rain. The nomadic tribes use such stones in a more logical way. A departing tribe will ring the oasis with stones to capture and retain water, ensuring moisture stability for the next time. The "magic stones" vary in composition, from turquoise in the semi-sedent and cliff regions to sand-fired glass in the bowels of the Sea of Fire.



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