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The Dress of the Erithi

"From a notice sent to the Scholars of Ta'Illistim for immediate dispatch to any interested party."

Due in part to our natural reticence, the unique quality of erithian dress has been a source of admiration, but also confusion, since making our presence known. As such, many of the traveling erithi have adopted local forms of dress or modified their normal clothing. For those that choose to wear the traditional garb, both formal and utilitarian, finding a tailor that can properly craft it has been impossible. For that reason, I have tasked one of our best tailors to provide an explanation of the intricacies of our traditional attire and to travel the expanse of Elanith. Talented though he may be, however, I do realize he will never be able to seek out all traveling erithi and proffer the comforts of home dress. Thus, I hope that the tailors and seamstresses of these other lands will pay close attention to his descriptions below and learn the craft of fine erithian sewing.

1 Ivastaen 5107
Chief Scholar Isienaka of the Eloth Dai

Erithian Clothing: A Guide

I am Vithalan of the Tichan Dai, and I have the great honor to be a tailor to many important personages in Eloth-Ra. I am but a simple man, a humble tailor, and as such, my writing is less elegant than one of our scholars. Pray forgive me, but our elders felt I would be best able to describe our clothing, despite my lack of a silvered written tongue, and so, I have given it my best try.

The first item of importance when understanding attire of the erithi is that each garment has functional and formal versions which are readily apparent at a glance. Functional clothing consists of sturdier materials, simpler patterns, in essence, less "fuss" for our daily tasks. Formal clothing radiates color and cheerful excess of fine fabrics. While some sewing is obviously involved, much of the art of Erithian dress comes in the intricate folding of materials.

Typical dress consists of an atika or an elothrai, an isiqiri, an atanika, nanjir or kanjir, and a pair of yatane. Oftentimes, you will also see a vatanura. Of course, for our more adventuresome erithi, I have heard it is more and more common to wear any one of these items with foreign clothing. For example, someone might choose to wear a common skirt with an atanika, despite the obvious clash! Ah, but I get ahead of myself, as the terms I am using must surely be confusing to the non-erithi. I shall explain myself forthwith, and again, let me apologize for my lack of written poetry.

When the erithi embroider or adorn clothing, we do so most often with scenes of natural wonder and beauty. Flora and serene fauna are most common. The use of color is most prevalent in formal wear, but it is not unheard of to have splashes of elegance and color even in our daily attire. As a side note, when pluralized, none of the clothing changes form or pronunciation. Also, when referring in general to an item that has gender specific versions, you would utilize the feminine form. For example, a store sells atanika, not atanikas, nor atanika and ataniki. Atanika alone suffices, but you would state that all the men wore ataniki, since you are only referring to men at that point.

Enough of the brief language lesson and on to the clothing!

Below, I explain each clothing item in detail. When such items are commissioned, please be exact, for an atanika fit for a party looks quite different from an atanika for a day at the wharves.

Atika (aw TEE kuh): Our women's headwear, the atika is starched in a series of three or more wave-like peaks flowing back from the forehead. In everyday use, the atika is typically simple linen or raw silk, occasionally dyed, but never patterned or embroidered. Indeed, many do not even wear an everyday atika, preferring a bare head. Formally, however, the atika is a work of art, consisting of many bright hues in silks and linens. Embroidered within an inch of its life, the formal atika will often have a back-flowing veil.

Acceptable materials: Most cloth, but preferably linens, muslins, and silks.
Unacceptable materials: Wools, leathers, suedes, or any other thick, unwieldy materials.

Atiki (aw TEE kee): The headgear of our men, the atiki is quite similar to the atika, but instead of arched waves, the atiki sweeps back at the crown and folds inward along the edges. Again, everyday-use atiki are made of linens with metal-clasped folds. Formal atiki clasps are elaborate, however, such as gold filigree clasps shaped like dolphins in mid-leap or an elegant crane amid the rushes. Like the atika, formal atiki utilize lush silks and linens in myriad hues and are often heavily embroidered.

Acceptable materials: Most cloth, but preferably linens, muslins, and silks.
Unacceptable materials: Wools, leathers, suedes, or any other thick, unwieldy materials.

Elothrai (ehl ohth RAY): The erithian version of a ferroniere, the elothrai is a forehead-worn gem suspended from a fine chain. The scholars of the erithi originally wore these to signify their "inner sight" or wisdom, but the elothrai were so beautiful that men and women alike quickly adopted the decoration. Each Dai has its own signature agate for use in the elothrai, but all choose their own agate at personal whim anyway. In erithian, "eloth" means sky and "rai" is a truncation of either raiyatha (soul) or raiyartha (agate). It is amusing to this humble tailor that the jewelry designed by scholars has become a matter of debate amongst them, as there are differing schools of thought (and hence dissertations, arguments, and even petty quibbling) as to whether or not it is soul or agate. I personally believe the original one who bestowed the name left it intentionally ambiguous to spark just such debate, and even now, they look down upon us and chuckle from the skies.

Acceptable materials: Any agate for the gem.
Unacceptable materials: Any other gem or stone. An elothrai is always made with an agate, and it is always on a chain of sorts, never a solid piece of material like a circlet.

For those interested, the traditional agates for each Dai are:

Eloth Dai: Owleye agate
Surath Dai: Drought agate
Nalatha Dai: Nalatha agate
Yachan Dai: Summer agate
Tichan Dai: Storm agate
Valaka Dai: Beetle agate

Isiqiri (iss ih KEER ee): The isiqiri is a shirt, but of a very particular cut. The sleeves always come to the wrist and are cuffed in some manner. Isiqiri have short, stiff and upright collars which are unfolded and rise one to two fingers above the shirt. They are buttoned, often in a matching style to the manner of cuffing, but often the method of buttoning is hidden by an overflap of material. Everyday isiqiri are of raw silk or basic linens, while the formal have a greater range. However, since isiqiri are typically worn under an atanika, they are usually less elaborately embroidered, even in formal attire. There is no appreciable difference between male and female cuts of an isiqiri.

Acceptable materials: Most cloth, but preferred materials are linens, muslins, and silks. For truly rugged professions, coarse materials like broadcloth are occasionally used.
Unacceptable materials: Wools, suedes, leathers.

Atanika (aw tawn EEK uh) and Ataniki (aw tawn EEK ee): Women wear atanika, the showpiece garment of our traditional garb. An atanika is a multi-layered robe with a center line opening. An ataniki, for the men, is essentially the same garment except that the cut allows a left-line wrap instead of center line. For everyday atanika, the sleeves are of a smaller bell, the vatanura (sashes) are optional, and the length is just above the knee. While some choose to keep their atanika simple and utilitarian for daily use, most erithi prefer embroidered layers of silks, linens, and other fine materials. Formal atanika are quite elaborate. All atanika do have inner ties to hold the garment together, even if a vatanura is not worn, but using the ties is also a matter of personal preference. Depending on the climate, atanika might be lined with warmer materials, such as wool or fur.

Acceptable materials: Silks, linens, satins, velvets, and muslins. Wool or fur is only acceptable for lining or accents.
Unacceptable materials: Leathers, suedes, and most other stiff materials.

Allow me a brief sidenote, if you will, on the atanika. Some believe that the differing openings are symbolic in nature. Like all such opinions, no definitive answer exists, but I have always found it fascinating. The symbolism in the center line opening is that women are our centering presence and thus their atanika opens along the center line of the body, while men are driven by the bloodrush from the heart and thus ataniki open along the heart side, or left side, of the body. More prosaic women suggest that a man originally designed the garment with the left-bound opening, and his pregnant wife quickly disabused him of that notion, preferring a cut that allowed her burgeoning belly to protrude in comfort. As I said, beliefs vary, but regardless of the origin, men would not wear an atanika, nor women an ataniki.

Vatanura (vaw tawn yur uh): This is a side-tied waist sash made from elaborately folded cloth. Vatanura are never sewn together, although they can be embroidered if desired. Exceptionally cleverly made vatanura often have a small inner pocket for a key or other tiny trinket.

Acceptable materials: Any cloth that is not overly stiff.
Unacceptable materials: Leathers, suedes, metals.

Nanjir (nan JHEER): Buttoned below the knee, nanjir are similar to other culture's breeches. They are always made roomy, never skintight or even remotely fitted, so they flare out at the hips and thighs. Men and women alike wear nanjir. While most nanjir are relatively simple in adornments, it is not unheard of to see a heavily embroidered pair made to match a formal atanika.

Acceptable materials: Most cloth materials, even the coarser ones, plus leather and suede.

Kanjir (kan JHEER): As an alternative to the nanjir, women sometimes opt to wear kanjir, a tight-fitted legging that terminates at the ankle. Tradition dictates that all kanjir have at least one piece of agate sewn on them somewhere, and women are often seen wearing kanjir with a kanjiqi.

Acceptable materials: Any soft cloth, such as velvet, silks, satins, or linens. It is not unheard of, although rare, to have a coarser material such as broadcloth, sailcloth, or wool.
Unacceptable materials: Suedes and leathers.

Kanjiqi (kan JHEE kee): Kanjiqi are thigh-sheaths that erithian women wear with kanjir. Crafted to hold a small dagger or similar weapon, the small sheaths are worn mid- to upper-thigh and can be a fingersbreadth or a handspan in width. Young, unmarried erithi often prefer the more "enhancing" aspects of a kanjir-kanjiqi combination and wear it frequently. Nanjir are not designed for kanjiqi, and anyone wearing them together would look utterly ridiculous.

Acceptable materials: Most cloth material and suedes and leathers. Metals, woods, etc may be used for adornment.
Unacceptable materials: Any metals, woods, bones, or rigid material.

Yatane (yaw taw NEE): Yatane are typical erithian shoes. While we often prefer to wear sandals woven from rushes when relaxing or just walking to the market, shoes are more practical for many tasks and are preferred for formal events. Yatane are ankle-length, low-heeled, and have gently pointed toes. Most materials are acceptable for yatane, and as is common, yatane range from sturdy and practical to fancy.

Acceptable materials: Any materials shoes would normally be made from, so most cloths, leathers, suedes.
Unacceptable materials: Inflexible materials like metals. Woods and rushes can be used for the undersoles, but not for the rest of the yatane.

I hope this has been a useful guide. If, however, there are still questions, I will, as tasked, be visiting many towns and cities where erithi reside now, and I shall impart my knowledge to as many tailors and seamstresses as I can find.

Signed this 15th day of Ivastaen, 5107
Master Tailor Vithalan of the Tichan Dai

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