. Or peccary-inspired animals.
I now have a peccary-inspired animal roaming these plains, along with a funny little gazelle. I have some sketches of them that I'd like to post, but my camera is dead and I'll have to get new batteries first. Thanks for the tip.
I have been using this ethnographical questionnaire
to size up this culture in as concise a way as possible. I highly recommend using such a list. It has helped me think of things to do that I wouldn't have otherwise. All of the questions of the first section
of the list are(or should be) answered below.
This is an ethnography of one of the tribes who live in the wide plainsland in the East of the Middle Kingdom. The reader is advised to yield to new findings as they are published[in other words, the info in this post is subject to change].
This information was hand-written as a series of notes by a man who lived amongst the natives for some eighteen months. He was well-received, though never considered a part of the tribe.
Starting from almost any point near the central portion of the Plains, and moving in any direction, one can walk for days and days before seeing a change in landscape. Those who have had the fortune of setting eyes on both the ocean and the plain often remark at how perfectly they recall one another. It is in these two places alone that the human eye can see to the end of its ability. Endless as the vista is, the people here care very little for anything that may or may not lie beyond their twenty or so miles of tribal territory. Their folklore tells much of children wandering away from camp only to be taken and eaten by strange beasts or even stranger gods, and of men lured beyond site of camp, only to become lost in an endless sea of green.
The grass in the plain is tall for the most part, fed by many streams and rivers, and reaching up to people's hands as they walk. In some places though, the tall grass gives way and one finds - not grass - but moss. Layers upon untold layers of dead moss covered up by this year's living moss. Sometimes one will find a lone bush, quite leafless for most of the year, but often laden with little bright red ønyk berries. These are psychoactive, and eaten ceremoniously by the elderly - recreationally by the young. Trees and other woody plants are unknown here
The plains have a wide variety of weather throughout the year, with very cold winters and very hot summers. Wind speeds are often high. The prairies have no natural shade, and no protection from the elements. Those who live here weather the four seasons equally well, probably from being so utterly exposed to them from childhood. They lay under the stars on nights considered inhospitably windy or cold in other cultures and only retreat to their tents on the nights which bring frost. They have, of course, developed the art of building their houses in such a way that the constant winds are kept out completely, and in fact their dwellings would be quite sturdy enough, had the winds been doubled in ferrocity.
In the minds of the natives, these plains go on forever
. They know nothing of the seashore, nor indeed of anything which might lay beyond it. In their belief, the horizon looks the same from every place in the world. Because everything that exists at all does so on the infinite Plain, to them the land itself is
existence, and the plain is to them a sort of deity. Everything comes from the plain, and without it there would be nothing but sky.
Agriculture has been known to these and the surrounding people for several thousand years. Grain grows yearly in hand-tilled fields, as does a handful of varieties of vegetable. Birds and land animals are often caught in traps or killed with stone slings
. The acute absence of wood, and with it the possibility of wooden hunting implements, in the area has resulted in some of the most ingenious trapping to be found anywhere on the whole continent.
For several months of the year, the landscape is home to very large naturally occurring flower beds
, sometimes three or four football fields square. While said to be frequented by unlucky fairies, these areas do attract millions of prairie bees, eager for the sugary nectar. Having no trees on which to build their hive, the bees make their homes underground. Natives "harvest" these subterranean hives just like they do their vegetables, and fresh honeycomb(larvae et al) is considered a delicassy.
The mildly alcoholic drink macma
is made from the eggs of the rodako toad, which are laid in the spring in pools of froth near the edge of a standing body of water. Scooped up and funneled into skin bottles along with vegetable juice, fermentation is given about a year. Macma is considered a celebratory drink, such as for marriages.
Food is a precious commodity among these people, who must invest much of their energy in procuring it. They consider their harvest, as well as their trappings, to be gifts from the Plain. Their customs reflect this in their many traditions stressing thankfulness for their three continually pressing needs: food, fortunate animal migrations, and building material
For all their seeming want of basic creature comforts, these highly conservative people seem to see nothing lacking in their way of life. Taking great delight in things most of us seldom notice(such as the beautiful cloud formations continually morphing overhead), they make do with very little excess, and with almost no discontentment expressed even in the most dire of hardships.
Living in familial bands
of between one and two hundred, the people of this tribe number well over four thousand persons. Theirs is one of four
living in an area covering some fifty thousand square miles[about the size of Ohio
Each of these several groups have their own large settled area where they keep their fields, set their traps and generally live out their whole lives. Such camps usually hold less than two hundred people, and have at least one dwelling for each family. A complex series of cultural customs and taboos dictates where a new dwelling can go, which direction it should face, et cetera. Most times there is a community area in the midst of the fields, which are framed by lines of tents on each side but the east.
The main cause for correspondence between groups within the tribe is marriage, and outside of the tribe: war. Any uninhabited place(including the long stretches between camps) is considered wilderness, and is assumed uninhabitable. It is likely that the people living on these much-trodden patches of land have done so for countless generations, rendered unwilling to test the boundaries of their encampments by so many campfire stories which tell of wild and dangerous things in the wilderness. Anyone here will tell you that it is bad luck to stray too far from the village
Large, wide-faced dogs have been bred for meat and for tracking wounded animals which have escaped a trap. Dogs are not considered pets.
The natives of this plainsland make much use of the meat, bone, hide, and hair of the øŋyk, kemba, and ŋuru*, which they catch in pits and nets. Some kemba have been raised from fawns, though no animal but the dog is considered able to be tamed.
*the kemba and ŋuru resemble our gazelle and peccary