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Author Topic: Minority Tribes: The Tang and Hanwa  (Read 561 times)


Offline Seung Corro

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Minority Tribes: The Tang and Hanwa
« on: May 03, 18, 07:36:07 PM »
Minority Tribes: Tang and Hanwa
In the great story of Tacea’s creation, the legendary Black Widow Queen Amaterasu gave birth to four daughters, from whom the four Great Clans descended. At her side as she raised her four daughters were her faithful attendants: the Priestess Xuannu and the Healer Kwanseieun. In the great cataclysms of the volcanoes, Xuannu and Kwanseieun had lost their homelands; their Clans, their peoples, and their traditions had been devoured by flame. As rewards for their loyalty, Amaterasu gifted them each a homeland for their own children. To the children of Xuannu she gave the twin islands of Zhong, south of the lands which would be the birthright of the Kagen dragons. To Kwanseieun’s children, she gave the island of Kaesong, east of the Ariake heartland. As long as the people of Zhong and Kaesong were loyal to the Dragon Throne, they would exist as their own independent districts, tithing directly to the Territory Court, so they might preserve the rites and rituals of their foremothers’ lost peoples.

Over thousands of years, the mainland forgot the stories of Xuannu and Kwanseieun, but on the outlying islands their descendants never forgot.

The Tang
cultural reference: tang china
symbol: the peony

The Tang are a people of aesthetes. They value beauty and elegance in all things, from their homes and gardens to their food. This has led to a caricature of them as delicate, sensitive, and flighty; the head-rolling Tang male, with his louche and lackadaisical gestures, pretending at femininity is an absolute staple of traditional Tacean theater. Seen as unable to commit and untrustworthy because of it, the Tang--like their cousins the Hanwa--tended to keep to themselves, which only allowed the rumors to grow.

Those familiar with the Tang got to know a rigorously scholarly people. The people of Tang had universal education for female children up until the age of fourteen, and they were able at that time to take the Child’s Examination, the passage of which permitted further study and eventual placement in the Court of the Tang Queen. Unique among Taceans, male children were also offered the chance to receive a Courtly education, including literacy, but their test was incredibly difficult and given at the age of eight. In this way, female superiority was assured. Education of males as escorts, guards, and consorts was also compulsory, but ended at the age of twelve, when the most promising would be swept away to finish their education, without the instruction in literature and literacy their more fortunate brothers were given. The rest would be sent out into the world to work the trades that kept the Tang islands functioning.

Unlike their cousins the Hanwa, the Tang fully embraced the geisha system and adopted it for their own. Instead of teaching mainlander instruments and dances, the ‘floating worlds’ taught traditional Tang songs, dances, and music. The orphanages of Tang were trolled for likely candidates by mainland flower districts and Tang floating worlds alike in a fierce competition for the most beautiful and talented boys. Their candidates would be taken away to the floating world and trained until they reached their majority in the same manner as mainland geisha. However, Tang courtesans did not leave their okiya after training was complete; instead, they remained with their okiya, and were only hired out for events on temporary terms. They held concerts and dance recitals, wrote poetry and painted. On Zhong, the societal positions mainlaid Geisha typically occupied after leaving their okiya were occupied instead by male bureaucrats.

The absolute core of Tang culture, that which set them furthest apart from their mainland and Hanwa cousins, was their examinations system. There were four ranks of scholars: student, recommended scholar, tribute scholar, and distinguished scholar. Very few Tang scholars ever obtained the rank of distinguished scholar, as attaining the rank often took twenty years of rigorous study after attaining the rank of tribute scholar, which in itself was a project requiring a decade of study. Still, it was traditional to attempt every test for which one qualified every year. One's rank in the scholarship system overrode all traits save gender and Caste; it was the ranking system which determined who was worthy to rule the Zhong, when more than one Queen was available. One could be a Black-Jeweled Queen and still be found unworthy to serve as the Queen of Tang if a better-scoring Queen candidate was found. Female bureaucrats were preferred rulers of cities and towns where Queens were unavailable. Male bureaucrats numbered perhaps one in every fifty bureaucrats at any given time.

Tang’s capital was the Gated City of Chang’an, a marvel of civil engineering that bridged the saltwater Grand Channel between the two islands of Zhong. Despite being more than ten centuries old, Chang’an boasted a street grid and a modern sewer system. Tang edicts protected historical construction in order to preserve the city's history. Chang'an was composed of 108 rectangular wards, each about the size of a small city block, and at the time of the eruption of Mount Mago claimed 55,000 inhabitants. Within its walls were scrolls and artifacts from every period of Tacean history, many of them written on silk or paper made from bark or other plant fibers. During the eruption, the city was evacuated: of its 55,000 inhabitants, perhaps two thousand managed to escape. The rest were lost to unstable Winds in their attempts to escape or to the cloud of pyroclastic ash which has consumed the city.

From a population of 125,000, approximately twelve thousand Tang survived the eruption of Mount Mago.

The Hanwa
cultural reference: joseon korea
symbol: the bear

Where the Tang are seen by the mainland as aimless artisans, the Hanwa are seen as mindless laborers. Considered loyal, but ultimately unintelligent, their long-term association with Seung Corro has only barely raised their social profile. Yet, as with the Tang, this is hardly the truth. The Hanwa are hardworking and agriculture-focused, as befits the wide plains of their island. They are down-to-earth and relaxed compared to their cousins the Tang and markedly more egalitarian than the rest of Tacea, at least as far as ability to climb in social class is measured. It is possible among the Hanwa to begin in the gutter and ascend to the Hanwa Court.

The Kagen grow the vast majority of Tacea’s food supply, but the Hanwa had been gifted the perfect climate for growing a great deal of medicinal herbs. They had beneficial trading agreements with the Tang, who had more access to Kagen yields than the Hanwa but far less infrastructure for processing what they purchased. Approximately a quarter of the Hanwa found employment in agriculture; a significant amount of the remainder were employed in the refinement and sale of what they produced. The Hanwa were also prodigious sea-fishers and talented chefs. To have a Hanwa chef on the mainland was to have a guarantee of inventive and interesting food for guests.

While there are many geisha of Hanwa descent on the mainland, plucked from Priestess-run orphanages or sold to okiya by their families, the Hanwa have a very minimal tradition of male courtesans of their own. They have a strong artistic and spiritual identity which sets them apart from the mainland and the Tang, but this is the same identity which leaves the creation of art and the ministering of the spirit to women exclusively. The Hanwa believe there is a stark line between male and female, and training men in cultured arts is too close to stepping over that line for them to be comfortable with it.

The Hanwa generally follow the precepts of Mother Night, and cleave to mainland traditions in the veneration of their ancestors. Part of what sets the Hanwa apart is their creation myth, the story of where the Hanwa people came from. It states that before Amaterasu, during the earliest time of the fire-rivers, a bear named Ungyeo lived in a cave and prayed nightly to Mother Night to become human. Hearing her misery, Mother Night sent Witch to Ungyeo with twenty cloves of garlic and a bottle of mugwort. She told Ungyeo that if she could eat only garlic and drink only mugwort for a full cycle of the seasons, Ungyeo would become a woman. And so Ungyeo did: she lasted eleven months of the year, but as she entered her last three weeks, the eruption of a volcano consumed her stores of food. Such was Ungyeo’s desperation to become a woman that she ate nothing and drank nothing, and passed away of thirst a scant two and a half weeks short of her goal. Filled with pity for the bear’s honor and determination, Mother Night raised Ungyeo from the dead and turned her into a woman. The Hanwa are descended from Ungyeo, or so the legend says.

As such, Hanwa art and culture uses the imagery of a bear in much of their art and symbology. The bear is a symbol of feminine power, nurture, and strength, decorating Hanwa doorposts and clothing. At the height of summer, they celebrate Ungyeo’s persistence and bravery in a seven-day Bear Festival that takes place four weeks before the end-of-harvest Star Festival.

The Hanwa capital of Jaejong was, on level comparison to other capital cities of Tacea, very small. In other Territories, it would pass for perhaps a town. Situated on a thin strip of land, it had little room to expand, and out of necessity consisted mainly of the Queen’s Residence and what industry was required to keep her Court supplied. Major population centers were found in the far north of the island with the city of Hanseong, which permitted water-bound trade into the Ariake capital of Inaba, and to the far south with the port of Gyeongbokgung, which handled trade into Kagen and Tang lands. Itoko’s eruption hollowed out the side of a mountain, and a large part of Kaesong sank beneath the waves in its aftermath, including Jaejong. Because the eruption was so much greater than Mago’s, the total population of the Hanwa islands decreased from 75,000 people to perhaps four thousand people, scattered between the Ariake and Kagen provinces.