Sorry this is so late in coming. It took me an embarrassingly long time to come up with a topic. When I finally thought of culture I facepalmed so hard… Anyway, you’ve waited long and patiently so I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the post.
We’ll start with the Dwarves, because honestly I find these particular Dwarves quite fascinating. They’re miners, as most are portrayed, but since they live in Kor-Baen that makes them a lot more interesting to me, for some reason. I’m not sure why. They’re forced by their surroundings to be tougher than the average Dwarves (so they’re pretty darn tough), and their diet is different from that of anyone else in Kaloris.
When I think of culture I think of a whole mess of things. Food, clothing, religion, history, traditions. All of that goes into what makes a culture what it is. So you might get some repetition from my past posts in this one, but hopefully it won’t be too terrible.
The Dwarves of Kor-Baen have very few resources. They live in a rather barren wasteland, surrounded by cold and stone, so most of their clothing materials are either imported from Roenor or made from furs, and mostly Shahr pelts. When they go hunting the Patharai, they usually take the pelts of those, as well, and turn them into leather.
Linen pants are usually imported from Roenor, and Shahr pelts are used for shirts and tunics (the former for men and the latter for women). Patharai leather is most often used for making boots, and those boots are occasionally lined with Shahr fur for comfort and warmth.
Chieftains and their families tend to also wear Shahr pelts as cloaks, and their boots are more often lined than those of anyone else.
Metal rings are commonly used to hold up women’s hair and men’s beards, and chieftains often let their hair grow long to show their status.
Jewelry is common among the Dwarves, seeing as they mine metal ores all the time, and women are often adorned with necklaces, rings, and large earrings. Men tend to wear rings, as well as pendants indicating their rank in society.
I am going to be entirely making this up as I go, so please bear with me.
The Kor-Baen mines run all the time, except on holidays. Such occasions are greatly looked forward to by miners and other citizens alike because it’s a time they can rest from their work and have some fun.
Since the Dwarves need breaks from mining after a while because it gets insanely boring and tedious, there are quarterly holidays. The spring one is called Sprien-Sira. In summer they have Iram-Sira. In the fall it’s Umid-Sira, and in the winter it’s Akath-Sira.
Since it’s always cold in Kor-Baen (always winter, never Christmas?), there aren’t really any flowers in the spring or colored leaves in the fall, it’s all just dreary white and cold. But their celebrations are all slightly different.
In the spring there are a couple of flowers that crop up for a couple of months before they die off again. One such flower is the Lammon. It’s a grey flower, very reminiscent of stone, with a sturdy dark green stalk and toothed petals. A spine grows out of its center, with venom on its point. You’ll want to be verrrry careful when picking one of these.
Part of the Sprien-Sira is a gathering of these flowers so that their venom, called Iurit, can be collected. The venom is used to tip the Dwarves’ spears right before battle.
Another common part of Sprien-Sira is acting. Dwarf children (as well as their parents) love to act, and skits are put on throughout the three-day course of Sprien-Sira. They usually remember historic events and famous Dwarves, but some others are more fun and playful and creative.
Throughout the whole thing, as with most celebrations, there is a lot of eating, as well as dancing and singing. Young Dwarves have a tendency to jump on the tables at meals and start singing and dancing, generally resulting in sing-alongs with the whole crowd.
Summer is when the Shahr are most plentiful, as well as when the Dwarves usually run out of wood, so Iram-Sira is the hunting festival. The Dwarves head into the mountains after the Shahr for the first day, and then they head into the forest after the Patharai on the second and third days.
During this time, the women and young ones tend to prepare things for the men’s return, such as the butchering shops and large bonfires lit by the river for cooking their catch.
After the hunts they’ll all gather around the bonfires and tell (usually exaggerated) stories of the hunt while they feast on their kill. Usually only about half a dozen Shahr are eaten that night, out of about fifty.
This is perhaps the most mundane and ordinary of the four festivals. It’s mostly eating, singing, dancing, and playing games. One such game is a card game called Spider, which I invented based on Spider Solitaire. It’s hard to explain or I’d explain it in this post. Maybe I’ll feature it in a later post.
Races for Dwarven children are common, especially since Dwarves are rather slow compared to the other races thanks to their shorter legs.
Dances are held regularly across the three day festival, as well as sing-alongs. Drums are the most common instrument found in Kor-Baen, with guitars taking second place.
Despite it always being snowy in Kor-Baen, they still celebrate the snow in the winter. They tend to have snowball wars, complete with elaborate forts, and there’s usually a fort contest. Even the adults take part in these festivities.
Of course, games, dances, and music are still a large part of the celebration, as always. There are usually campfires fairly near the snow forts (but not near enough to melt them) to warm up by after a particularly rigorous snow siege.
After these festivals out in the cold, they’re usually eager to return to the hot mines. ;)
The Elves are fishermen, as you may recall from my previous posts, so their culture reflects that. They also have more ready access to trade than the Dwarves do because they don’t seclude themselves and they have easier-to-access shores. They can trade directly with Roenor as well as just with the rest of Kaloris.
The Elves’ clothing differs depending on what their role or job is. The governors tend to wear silk imported from Adrelia., while farmers and fisherman, and most of the other working Elves, wear linen tunics and pants, at least most of the time. Farmers tend to wear tan, fishermen tend to wear blue and green, and it varies more for the other Elves. Purple seems to be a favorite, though.
Most Elves prefer going barefoot to wearing shoes, although the governors wear shiny black leather boots (the leather imported from Roenor) as a sign of their status. Plus they click on the marble floors of their manors, which is always a bonus. Who wouldn’t want clicky shoes?
Elves tend to love their work. They put their whole hearts into it and they enjoy it entirely. Don’t ask me how they do it, I would think I’d get tired of fishing after about a week, but they do it day after day without tire and without fail, so good for them. As such, they don’t have holidays as a break from work so they don’t go crazy, like the Dwarves do. They have holidays merely to celebrate things, and most often they’re celebrating what Abba has given them. For the most part, all of the Shae Nir Elves believe in Abba. There may be a couple who believe in the Lankádi, but they’re very few.
Perhaps the largest festival they have is the fishing festival, Lingwe Merende. It lasts for a week, and the fishermen don’t particularly break from their work. Fishing contests are a big part of the festivities, waged with hook and line instead of nets like their usual fishing. Anyone can participate in these, and children have a tendency to do more splashing and swimming than fishing. They like shoving each other overboard. Fortunately, all Shae Nir children are taught to swim at a young age. Most of the fish caught in these contests is cooked up for the festival feasts, and what’s left is stocked with the other regularly gathered fish in the icehouses, where it’s kept fresh until it’s ordered.
Swimming and boating are popular pastimes in Shae Nir anyway, but they seem to occur even more often during the fishing festival. A common place to row out to is the island of Tol Dulin, where Ianlar Illien is located. It’s a common breeding ground for griffins and rocs, and the people who live there will often tame the flying creatures to ride. It makes it a lot quicker to get back to the mainland. The mainland children, in particular, find this fascinating, and sometimes the Roc Riders will take the kids on flights around the island.
Another large festival is the harvest festival, Yaveyn Merende. This time it’s the farmers who don’t get off work. One of the first things to happen is for a few of the adults to go through with a sickle and cut a maze through the corn and wheat. Then come the maze runners (no book reference intended), who almost always play hide-and-seek as they find their way through the maze.
As always, there is music and dancing, and over the years songs have been written just for Yaveyne Merende, as well as some of the other festivals.
The humans are ruled by a king who lives in Cron Hatal (which also happens to by the home of one of my two MCs), and most of them worship the Lankádi.
Humans have probably the most varied wardrobes of anyone in Kaloris. Cotton and linen shirts are common for the ordinary folk, while the governors, mayors, royals, and security tend to wear silk and velvet tunics and jerkins or vests. Leather vests aren’t uncommon among peasants, and leather pants are worn by everyone. Black leather boots are common among the wealthy, while brown leather boots are common among the middle class and most of the lower class go barefoot.
Because it’s the center of power, most of the citizens there chiefly worship Kaysar and Rane, the rulers of the gods. Thus there are festivals in their honor, as well as a few smaller festivals to honor the other gods.
There’s also a harvest festival in the fall, which is only celebrated by the farmers on the outskirts of the city. Most of the other folks don’t particularly care about the farmers’ crops until they get to eat them.
The harvest festivals are much like those of the Elves, with dancing, singing, and of course harvesting. The children tend to play hide-and-seek in the grain fields before their parents come behind with a sickle and cut all of the crops down. Sometimes they’ll cut the fields into mazes first and let the kids (and sometimes some of the adults, too) find their way through the maze before they return for the rest of the reaping.
For waiting so patiently for this post and for reading the entire monster of a thing, here’s a link to a recent short story of mine.