The Shendar are the human nomadic desert tribe living in the Ráhaz-Dáth, the desert which occupies the southern edge of the Sarvonian continent. They are the original tribe which chose to stay in the desert, true to old traditions and values whereas over the time part of the tribe settled down at more fertile places near the coast. About 1.000 b.S. they became part of the Stratanian Empire which had formed in the cities around the desert. The Shendar control all the secret paths through the desert and are thus have been able to retain their independence from the Stratanian trading empire till today.
|Image description. A Shendar woman of the Shen-D'auras living around the Seven Jewels in her typical clothes with her aj‘nuvic, the familiar every Shendar bonds with when coming of age. Illustration drawn by Faugar.|
Though there are several family clans as well which have slightly different traditions, the Shendar can be divided generally in three main sub tribes:
The Shen-Kha'si (Clay-People)
The north-western tribe, called the Shen-Kha'si or "Clay-People" due to the famous pottery they produce live around Uderza, but travel as far as the southern border of the Aj'nuvic Grounds or the Oka'Seri Swamp.
The Shen-D'auras (Scent-People)
In the north-east the Shen-D'auras herd their animals, mainly living around the Seven Jewels, but wandering up to the Narfost Plain as well. Their main trading items are fragrances like in'cent, my'rhh and a'gera, therefore they are also called the "Scent-People".
The Shen'Siuu (Salt People)
The most southern tribe are the Shen'Siuu or "Salt People", mainly living in the Yar'Dangs, roaming the desert around the Makadi Gadi saltpan and the southern part of the Oka Seri Flood plains.
However it is to stress, that the features which they have in common outnumber the ones by which they differ by far, so they have f.e. one representative for the "outside" world, their leader called the "Hrul Zhaeón".
Appearance. The Shendar are tall, mostly slender and well built. Due to their long
wanderings through the desert their bodies are trained and even those women who
put on some weight after several children have no problem with mounting their
easily. Every child, regardless of boy or girl is held to stay fit and therefore
you will find both genders in competitive games like
running over long distances, climbing a tree quickly or catching a stripped kara
with bare hands for fun. The men are slightly smaller than the women, though
this isn’t noticed easily for their greater compactness and viriness of their
bodies. Generally the Shendar have a light brown skin and a dark hair colour,
the colour of their eyes ranging from a light grey-green or
grey-blue, to deepest black.
These main features can be seen throughout the whole tribe, but nevertheless, one can tell the sub-tribes apart by how they look or dress.
of the Shen-Kha'si (Clay-People)
The people of the northwestern tribe, the Shen-Kha'si or Clay People, are generally taller, with a lighter skin colour and though the hair colour is mostly dark, lighter shades are more common as in the southern tribe. Even a fair child is found now and then, showing that sometimes non-Shendar from the north are allowed to marry into the tribe. The eyecolour is mostly grey or grey-green.
of the Shen'Siuu
The Shen-Siuu or Salt-People on the other hand seem to be more sunburned than the clay people, the skin and hair is slightly darker, the hair sometimes is even black as the stone by Thalambath and there are nowadays a few people with a darker skin colour, originating from a few dark skinned women from Aeruillin who married into the tribe some time ago. The eye colour goes with the hair colour and so the black haired men and women have dark brown to jet-black eyes.
of the Shen-D'auras (Scent-People)
Reddish hair, though still dark, is common with the Shen-D'auras or Scent-People, who seem to be a mixture of both other tribes with the widest variety of stature and skin colour. The red hue in their hair is however not natural, but dyed with the hendi, a colour gained from the leaves of the me'hendi bush. With hendi are painted colourful ornaments mainly on hands and feet, rarely on the face as well. In this tribe some children are born with most amazing blue eyes, but the colour changes to a grey-blue when they get older.
Coat of Arms/Sign.
Still to be added.
Territory. The Shendar are the only inhabitants of the vast desert Ráhaz-Dáth and the Narfost Plain. Their territory stretches from the southern Yar'Dangs to the border of the Sharadon Forest and includes the Nirmenith Mountains as the Norong'Sorno and the nearby Lands of Pain. Only the big towns at the edge of the desert are populated with what is now called the Stratanian tribe, a mixture of former Shendar who settled down and people of other tribes who joined them, with the time founding a new society.
All three sub tribes have a main region which they call their homeland, but cover a much bigger region on their wanderings to new pasture. Sometimes they meet in one place for a special occasion - then the mysterious town Rah'mat comes to life, but most times they travel in different regions on traditional paths.
of the Shen-Kha'si (Clay-People)
The Shen-Kha'si, living occasionally in and around Uderza herd their animals in the Aj'nuvic Grounds, in the Open Woodlands south-west of Bardavos and the part of the flood plain bordering the Oka'Seri Swamp.
of the Shen-D'auras (Scent-People)
The Shen-D'auras call the Seven Jewels their most precious "dome", though they wander through the whole desert and up to the Narfost Plain, providing Bardavos with a great spectacle when coming back from the Narfost via Bardavos, using one of the world wonders to leave the Plain, the Hanging Bridge of Bardavos.
of the Shen-Siuu (Salt-People)
The Shen-Siuu are the most southern people, living mainly in the Yar'Dangs, but herding their animals up to the southern part of the floodplains, but as well on the west side of the Makadi Gadi saltpan up to the foot of the Norong'Sorno till the fertile land east of Thalambath starts. They are often seen around the volcano and in the Lands of Pain as well, though not for feeding their animals, but gathering the burning stones which are part of their income.
The Shendar character and
temper can be described shortly: They are friendly, cheerful and proud.
They do see the serious aspects of life, which they cannot evade living in a
demanding environment, but it doesn't determine their life. Living in a
balanced matrilinear society where nobody is put at a disadvantage, nearly every work or
position is available for everybody and seems to have created a sense of fulfillment
within the whole society, which may be the cause of their positive
view on life.
Hospitality is one facette of their friendly way of dealing with other people. No visitor will be sent away from a dome when searching for shelter. Even a foe has the right to stay for three whole days until the owner may ask him to leave.
Shendar people are proud. Proud of being a Shendar, proud of their way of living and mastering the life in the desert. Therefore critics on their way of living, their goverment, their clothing or other things characteristic for the Shendar is not very welcome and their normally very friendly behaviour may change to an unexpected outburst of rage. In the same respect the coloured clothes or golden jewelry used sometime in the southern tribe, the Shen-Siuu, is causing so much trouble: they are seen as a critics on traditional Shendar ways of living - and therefore have to be abandonned.
The Shendar also have remained a tribe of tradition amidst a quick developing outside
world. They hold true to their language and other customs of old, not caring too
much about powers that try to control them. Since the
"grand seperation" of the settlers about 2500 b.S. they hold their nomadic traditions
high, still being the only people living in the Sarvonian
Uderza is a mainly Shendar town, though part of its population is nowadays of foreign origin. However, the number of citizens varies widely due to the seasonal depature of a great number of shepherds.
Rah'mat is the only town which is inhabited by Shendar only. The town consists only of domes and holds true to the nomadic tradition. To the annoyance of outsiders, the location of the town changes or is non-existent at all.
Most foreigners, residents of the other Santharian provinces, aren't even aware of the fact that the Stratanian kingdom exists of two tribes, but the Shendar don't care too much about this.
Society. "The privilege of the women is the precondition for the equality of the genders" is a saying of the Shen-Kha'si. All the political power and the right to take decisions which affects the tribe, be it as a whole or the single family, lies in the hands of the women only. The men have in certain cases a right for a veto though (see under Government). With this privilege however comes the responsibility for the well-being of the whole tribe, the families, the properties like housing and livestock.
The Shendar society is matrilinear, that means, the lineage and all it implies is preserved through the daughters, but unlike the Sor'inyt women the Shendar women think highly of the men and value the life under one roof (read more details in the entry on Shendar Society).
The Shendar Bonding.
One of the most important times in the life of a
Shendar is when (s)he
comes into maturity. At this time every
goes into the wilderness and tries to capture - with the help of relatives - one
of the young aj's which are nearly mature. This is the time when an
looking for his life time partner, but is not yet ready to leave the parents.
The relatives - only men in the case of a boy and only women in the case of a
girl - help to separate the young
aj from the parents with the help of their own
animals. Then they beat the young
aj into the direction of a fenced small area
where it is held for 61 to 77 days and where only little food or water is
available for it.
The task of the child is now to win the "heart" of the young aj by bringing him the favoured leaves and water every day, sit near it, talk to it, tame it. The child itself gets only little or no food as well to share the feeling of hunger with the animal. In the beginning the food is only given to the aj by stretching out an arm through the fence, but the aj won't accept it, so the child has to go after some days into the fenced area which is highly dangerous. The aj then has nearly its full size of over two peds shoulder height and is in a desperate mood. All relatives have gone back after the first days and the young Shendar has to prove as well in this time that (s)he is able to survive in the desert.
The Shendar believe that the desperation of the the children, barely 13 to 14 years old and for the first time alone in the desert move the hearts of the aj'nuvics and that they finally accept the donated leaves of the kids. And as soon as a child has been given a leave from the Aj' it is save and has found a friend for the entire life. The human child is now the partner of the aj which won't look for one of his kind any longer.
After the given time of 61 days the relatives of the child come back to see if the bonding was successfully, which is the case nine out of ten times. The aj will now follow the child back to the tents and eventually after some time allow the child to ride it. If the bonding wasn't successful, the aj is released and the child gets a second chance in the next year.
Sometimes it happens that two of the aj'nuvics that live with the Shendar produce an offspring. But this young aj is very unlucky. None of its parents will care for it, it is totally neglected and has to be raised by the humans. Though much effort is put into this, the young animal will never gain the strength and the radiant appearance the wild raised animals have and will eventually die. Those who come near maturity are bonded, or at least the attempt is made with handicapped children who could for any reason not go through the normal maturity ritual. They are both brought into the desert where they have to live on there own for a short period of time (3 to 9 days). This is very often successful, the need of the two, aj and human child, to support each other seems to tighten their relation.
Picture description: A Shendar dome in the midst of the Rahaz-Dath. Image drawn by Talia.
The Shendar, having a
nomadic way of living, mostly use the tent, called the "Shendar
Dome", as basic housing form,
although there are also some who have settled down and live in houses
made out of clay in Uderza and nearby
villages (see there).
The Shendar tents have the most economic form to cover the most free space with the least material to cover this space - the half sphere: A big central tent, called the "dome", is surrounded and attached by several smaller ones. Every smaller tent has an access to the central big one, only the family quarters are connected to each other. The main tent has seven peds in diameter (see mystics of the numbers below). A few families have only this single tent, but it is not very common. Most try to live in the extended and more comfortable form with the smaller tents attached. To make this possible two or three young families live together in one tent, preferably with relatives. Most of the tents are inherited and due to the scarce, very valuable and quite difficult to come by raw materials new ones are very seldom. The central tents seem huge, too huge maybe for the unknowing eye, but their advantage of this construction is that they hold enough air to survive in a day long sandstorm, and even if the outer parts are all covered with sand, the main dome will show through the sand. [More...]
Clothing. Blue is the colour of the Shendar people, Uderza blue, blue-black and raw white are the main colours a Shendar will wear. Little other colours, some red, some blue and some green can be seen within embroideries, but not as a colour a whole piece of clothes has - with some recent exceptions.
A white shirt with long sleeves, closed at the wrists and the neck are accompanied by wide trousers of the same material, a cloth made out of the fluffy cover of the toccon tree seeds. The trousers are laced up at the ankles as well to prevent heat and sand intruding. However, sometimes the shirt is not used if it isn't necessary to avoid too much sun or sand. Especially young women at home tend to go just with the tunica.
On top of these shirts and trousers the Shendar wear a kind of tunica, traditionally made out of a cloth of the toccon tree mixed with the fiber of the more durable chi'it. This tunica is coloured blue or black. In most cases the tunica reaches down to the middle of the upper leg, but people who will probably not fight, staying at home with no immediate need to mount an aj'nuvic like pregnant women, young mothers, old people of both genders may wear it nearly down to their feet. This long tunica could, to be out of the way, be rolled up and fixed to the belt if needed. In the Shen-Kha'si tribe everybody wears the blue Uderza tunica, the southern Shen-Siuu tribe however uses sometimes tunicas out of fine white bleached leather. The more ornamental oriented Shen D'auras have tunics out of different layers of cloth which show much more intricate patterns.
A broad belt around the waist holds the tunica, which has no seam on the side, together, but that's not its only purpose. A various amount of bags are fitted to it which hold different things, what ever the individual Shendar might need. This belt is made out of the most valuable material the Shendar use, the skin of the ráhaz'estár, the giant rock snake. It seems that a Shendar doesn't feel like a Shendar if he/she would wear a belt out of common leather. The colour of the belt shows in which part of the Rahaz-Dath the rock snake lived and in most times you can judge from where a Shendar hails from with looking at his/her belt.
For cold nights the Shendar use blankets woven out of the wool of the aka'pis. Here some patterns may be found when different coloured wool is used. Most times these blankets show any of the colours a aka'pi may have, from light to dark brown, a pure white blanket is an exceptional sight.
A big, light cape which is sometimes not more than a piece of cloth of the right size helps to avoid the burning sun. The salt people prefer a white one out of pure chi'it, the clay people a blue one which is slightly thicker and is of the same material as the tunica, thoroughly made, with a hood shading the face. The most valuable cape however only a Shendar warrior can posses. It is made out of the skin of the rock snake, has incredible attributes and is part of his armour.
A headscarf or turban protects the head whenever the Shendar are forced to travel the desert. White or blue are equally used here. It is simply a long piece of cloth wrapped around the head.
As for footwear: The Shendar are barefooted most of the time. There are two exceptions. If the sands are too hot sandals are used which are made out of leather pieces tied to the feet with laces. These are used as well if a Shendar should be forced to enter a town like Strata or Thalamabath. And there are the boots of the warriors, made out of the skin of the rock snake, rare and very valuable. In special cases however, for hunting purposes or in very cold nights, boots made out of leather, natural in colour or dyed blue are used as well.
The three sub tribes differ slightly in the ornamentation of their clothes. While the Salt People like to do fine coloured embroideries on the sleeves of their white blouses and the seams of the tunicas, the Clay People prefer white small laces on their sleeves around the wrists and applications on their tunicas and capes made with the silvery skin of the rock snake. The tunic of the Scent-People consists of two layers on top of each other. In the upper layer, be it the blue or the white one, geometrical holes are cut, very often a pattern of triangles, the edges sewn carefully on the now visible lower layer. In rare cases more than two layers of different colours are used, making it to a very artistic piece of clothes.
The impression of a Shendar isn't complete without the jewelry both genders use. It consists mostly of religious symbols made out of fine silver, necklaces, rings around the upper arms and in the ears, the nonfighting women being the ones which are the highest decorated.
Over the last years the clothing has caused some tensions between the norther Clay People and the southern Salt People.
There seems to be no logical reason for the northern tribe to use just the colours white and blue (and brown) for their clothes, but having the monopol on the blue colour seems to lead to the solely use of this mineral to dye the clothes, except the additional use of the invilberry to deepen the blue till black. No Shendar who wants to have influence in the tribe dares to wear another colour - and doesn't want it, the honour forbids to use any other colour.
Other the southern tribe: Some men of the Salt People had chosen to marry women from Aeruillin, in some cases slaves from Shan'Thai, who brought with them the knowledge and the love for the bright coloured cloths' from the Sor'inyt people. So one or the other red, pink or yellow cape or tunica can be seen nowadays, especially near Strata. The cloth import from the Sor'inyt is not generally accepted, not even in the southern tribe, but living more freely in the south the bright colour of Aeruillin replaces the white as far as the wealth allows it, though wearing Uderza blue is still more valued. It has been reported that there were severe quarrels at meetings of the two tribes about the wearing of other than Shendar made clothes and the fight was only conciliated with the help of the Scent-People who were different anyway and more tolerant towards the issue.
Jewelry. No Shendar without jewelry, and be it a single ear ring made out of plain, unornamented silver. The form commonly used is the triangle, symbol of Baveras, the Goddess of the Sea. Three, its multiples and seven are holy numbers for the Shendar, and therefore little silvery plates with three edges and mostly equal sidelength are the most seen. These however can be fixed together in various ways, but always as multiples of three, 21 being a very common number. They are used like the round form as earrings, as necklaces or combined with the round rings around the arm.
Foiros being the main God after Baveras the Shendar worship, the round form for any jewelry is very common, be it as round ring in the ear, around the upper arm or as round disc with a symbol or even a little pic showing, hanging on a leather band around the neck.
Circles and triangles are combined very often and so a big varieties of patterns are possible. The families use different, inherited patterns. But if an artist invents a new form, it is accepted as well and may create a whole new fashion. If he is lucky, every one wants to have one of this special design and he will be a rich man soon.
The material is only silver, gold is the colour only reserved for Foiros and religious purposes. So gold jewelry, imported from Aeruillin and brought to the Shendar by relatives of foreign women who had married into the tribe, has caused even more severe trouble than the coloured clothes from the Sor'inyt. The discussions have gone so far as to forbid marriages outside the tribe.
Several examples of these patterns can be seen on three leather fragments which were given to Artheos Mirabilis Federkiel at a special occasion. They are now in the library of New Santhala and were printed and published recently in the New Santhalan Journal.
Diet. The diet of all Shendar tribes consists mainly of milk of the aka'pi and its proceeded products like the various forms of curdled milk like yo'gur and ke'fir, of cheese in all its variations, imported grains, vegetables and fruits found during their wanderings, not so often meat of different, mostly hunted, animals.
The southern Siuu are buying their needed grains in Strata and eat therefore the grain imported from Aeruillin, the Kha'si however import their grain from the north over Varcopas and have mostly wheat, the D'auras buy their grain from both other tribes and have therefore the biggest varieties concerning their meals.
One could assume, that the milk of the aka'pis is the same, but due to different grazing grounds, not even this simple food tastes always the same. The cheese varies widely, due to a different process in making it or various added herbs.
Fruits and vegetables available vary with the visited region also. So the Kha'si love the fruits of the cacti growing in the Aj'nuvic Grounds, the Siuu say the most delicious food in the world are the fica fruits growing at the western border of the Makadi Gadi Saltpans and the D'auras claim, nothing surpasses the desert berries growing around the Seven Jewels. All are using the everpresent sand melons, the berries of the mil'no plant and any other roots or fruits they are capable of finding during their wanderings.
Meat is not a every day treat for the Shendar. On festivities an aka'pi might find its way over a roasting fire, but Shendar are reluctant with eating animals they know. So a stripped kara may well land in the cooking pot when caught the first day at a new camp. However, if it was running about the camp for some days it is quite safe from being consumed. Well loved are hunted animals like brown karas or any other of the numerous mammals roaming the floodplains or Open Woodlands. The meat is available then in abundance and will be dried for later use as well.
Weapons and Armour. Shendar Weapons. The Shendar are known to be specialists in a variety of weapons normally not used by the more northern residing tribes of Santharia.
Picture description. A Shendar from the Shen'Siuu ("Salt People") tribe practicing his skills with the Double Kilij Blade. Image drawn by Seeker.
Shendar warriors on their aj‘nuvics
were a frightful sight in the wars of the past and still are - they don't need
their hands for leading their animals but use their feet - so their hands are
free to either use the double kilij
as two swords or their other
sling and the
The most famous weapon is the double kilijj, a sword, in its basic form, the single kilij, as old as the Shendar tribes themselves. The double kilij was invented later as the need arose to have a representative and dangerous weapon at the same time. It consists of two slightly curved blades of about two fores length which can be attached to each other and used as one sword, though not as elegantly as when used apart, with one sword in every hand. Only warriors (of both genders) or dedicated sword dancers know to handle it perfectly, but many Shendar men try to master it as well.
The bane whip, underestimated because of its humble beginnings and mostly common material, it is an incredibly deadly weapon. It is able to break bones, slice through flesh, ensnare items and fling. Made mostly out of the leather of the aka‘pi or brown kara, it is a much more common weapon than the double kilij. Every Shendar tries to master it, but it is the favoured weapon of the women, easy to carry around, quickly ready to use. Priceless are the bane whips made out of the skin of the ráhaz-estár, for their special material makes them deadlier than every other bane whip.
Even more common is the sling which can be found in the hands of younger children. It is the weapon the Shendar might be best known for, though it is not as famous as the double kilij.
It is used by both genders alike, and for a wide range of purposes, be it from chasing away a stripped kara to kill a big cat like the puón mazá or use it as a means of warfare - to throw burning stones as missiles to set fire on buildings or just do wreak damage through their impact.
Shendar Armour. The typical Shendar armour is made out of the skin and bones of a killed rock snake - killed by the owner of the armour if it isn't an inherited one. When a Shendar youth reaches his or her second state of maturity passing his/her twentieth year, the ones who have decided to take up the life of a warrior have to go on their own into the desert and kill the most dangerous animal there, the ráhaz'estár. If he or she is successful, the family helps to make the armour out of the skin of this rock snake. Unlike other known armours out of leather of common animals or metal this armour is very lightweighted, though as durable and nearly impenetrable as any other. Shendar armour is sewed like clothes, where a greater durability and hardness is needed like on the outside of the arms or in the middle of the chest, several layers are sewed on top of each other or for an even better protection some bones are fixed in the fabric, like on the shoulders. When finished, the armour is treated with several liquids originating in the snake as well, the poison being one of the main ingredients and difficult to handle. So this armour is - in contrary to the stiffness of the other materials - as flexible as clothes, but stiff and hard where needed.
The main piece of the armour is a mail in the form of a tunica, slit at the sides and covering the upper part of the legs, held together by a belt. Attached to it are sleeves enforced with several layers where bracers are needed, and leggings nearly up the whole leg. Here as well double and tripple layers have the function of greaves. The hands are protected by gauntlets, which may have some silver pieces worked in. There is no helmet, but the Shendar use to wrap a piece of the skin into their normal headscarf, which maybe wrapped in a way , that it covers the neck as well and leaves only a slit for the eyes.
The boots a warrior wears for protection are inside made of the finest leather, outside again the skin of the rock snake makes them watertight and durable.
The cape, out of the skin of the ráhaz'estár as well and light as no other material, fits in a single hand if folded together, is nearly indestroyable at the same time, reflecting the heat by day, warming in the cold desert night, watertight, but allowing the sweat to escape.
The Shendar armour has a light silvery or sometimes golden shimmer and needs no decoration, beautiful as it is just through the material it is made of, with the pattern the original rock snake had showing slightly, but not so the last but important piece of it, the belt. It has silver ornaments, the form depending on the family the Shendar belongs to. It holds the sheaths for knives, the bags for other weapons like the sling, the water flask or other things the Shendar want to carry close to his or her body.
The weapon the Shendar are best known for is the sling. It is used by both genders alike, and for a wide range of purposes, be it from chasing away a stripped kara to kill a big cat like the puón mazá or use it as a means of warfare - to throw burning stones as missiles to set fire on buildings or just do wreak damage through their impact.
There are different designs, different materials used and different ways to throw the projectiles. Basically the sling consists of two cords with a sling pocket or cradle between. One cord is either held with a finger loop, or fastened at the wrist, the other releases the projectile. The release cord may have a node, helping to hold it and for releasing the projectile at the right moment. The position of the retention cord is always between thumb and forefinger, regardless if it is held with a finger loop or fastened to the wrist. The thumb holds the release cord as well and acts as a trigger for the release.
Projectiles vary widely. The most common missile is of course a stone of the right size and form, but small sand melons and the prickly fruit of a cactus can have a surprising effect as well. In the battle of Thalambath burning stones were the cause the city had to surrender. They set fire not only on the wooden parts of the houses and mainly the trees, but did damage due to the explosive impact they had when hitting anything hard. Since then wood is banned in Thalambath.
The different Shendar tribes use different designs and compete with each other, which one is the best. The most used material is the chi‘it, either alone or in combination with the fibres gained from the liacuy. The Shen-Kha‘si only use the fibres of the liacuy, found in the Aj‘Nuvic Grounds, the Shen-Siuu prefer the chi‘it, while the Shen-D‘auras use a mixture of both, saying that of course their sling is the best with the advantages of both plants. The cords are nearly made in the same way, though the art of knotting them might vary, the pocket however makes the main difference. While the Shen-Kha‘si make the pocket out of two broader strips which merge with the cords, but have a bit free space between them, the Shen-Siuu make the cradle out of one piece, moulded to fit the missile in. The Shen-D‘auras as always use the invention of both their sister tribes, as they practise all possible throws including windups, while the tribes around Uderza only use the underhand throw and the Shen-Siuu the overhand throw. The subtribes of course use different coloured patterns for their cordes and cradles, however, the dominating colour is most times blue.
There is a special sling, which is used by all tribes, but only by warriors, the sling made out of the skin of the Ráhaz-Estár, the Giant Rock Snake. It is very light, very flexible and builds up a tension while whirling it around which allows a far wider throw than normally. Mastering it however demands a lot more of exercise and skill.
Occupations. Most occupations are in principle accessable for both genders, for women and men alike. However there are some, where the tendency goes to one gender, due to old rules and practical reasonings. So are caravans mostly accompanied by men where the main responsibility for tending and maintaining of the domes lies always in the hands of a woman. Especially the young ones are held to give a great varity of professions a try to find the best suited for them.
Though being a desert tribe and being a shepherd comes natural to any Shendar, they know professions as any other tribe as well and have smiths in every variation from farriers over those who do excellent weapons to silver smiths who do the prized jewelry. Every Shendar is a merchant, selling the products for export like the pottery of Uderza, the vhin, the salt and the scents to mention only a few. Potters (Uderza tiles), farmers (vhin), saddlers, dyers, miners, clerics, even cooks are the more well-known occupations a Shendar may choose from. Some Shendar choose being mercenaries. In addition there are specialists like the dome tenders, the trackers and leaders through the desert, the caravan leaders, the bards and teachers. The Shendar artists are unique in Santharia, if not in the whole of Caelereth. There are mainly three different "types" - the sand painter, the muralist and the hendi painters
The Shendar don't have paintings as they are known in other places of Santharia - except those few who decided to study arts in Bardavos. The travelling through the desert, the need to move on with all your belongings after maybe only a short time forbade to carry along non-essential things. Already children learn, that nothing is permanent. The great dunes are moving every second, the floodplanes are periodically green and dry, the place to live changes several times a year. Out of this way of live an art evolved which mirrors the fugacity of all things, the sand paintings. They are created to last only for a day or two - as long as it takes the wind to blow it away. A small piece of ground is prepared: all stones are removed, or if it is just sand, it is leveled out. On this spot the artist creates his "painting" - with a variety of coloured sands. Therefore the ground is slightly watered to bind the sandgrains for some time, but as soon as the water has evaporated, it depends only on the wind how long it lasts. Mostly naturally coloured sands from various regions are used, however in the blues paint pigments are mixed to get the bright colours.
Sand Painters are hired for festivities, birthdays or religious feasts, to honour a special member of the society or to praise a God. The biggest ever known sandpainting was created recently near the Seven Jewels showing Baveras after one of the lakes water level raised again after 11 years.
Favourite themes are apart from the depiction of Gods' animals, plants and normal people, especially the typical Shendar woman.
Picture description: A typical Shendar mural showing an Uderzan woman. Pic by Talia Sturmwind.
The Hendi Painters are Shen-D'auras, they don't have problems with their nomadic way of life - their "paintings" are not bound on a location - they are applying their pictures and ornaments on hands and feet, only rarely on the face itself. The colour they use is from the a hendi-bush, which grows in some varities. The resulting colour depends on the kind of hendi-bush, of its location and how the colour is treated afterwards. It is always a variation of red and browns, but can be as light as the Strata yellow or as dark as eophran brown. Often a pattern of triangles and circles are painted, but they don't know strict rules like the potters in Uderza, so leaves and flowers and sometimes small animals are depicted as well. The Shen-D'auras colour their hair with hendi, and sometimes an artist dyes it with different colours and braids it then in an ornamentive way. The ornaments stay on hands and feet for several weeks up to half a year. Then it fades and has to be replaced anew.
The political power of the Shendar is in the hands of the women only. The base
of the political structure is the woman leading a family, referred to as
"mother" or f.e. "mother Kari" if Kari is her birth name.
Most times it is the oldest woman living in the dome, as long as she is capable to do her duties concerning the leading of the family. (If the rare case happens, that a mother cannot fulfill her dutes anymore due to a mental illnes or another severe reason, a family council of all adult women will decide upon the matter). However, the "mother" will never decide on her own, but always ask the adult women of her family and problems will be spoken over and over again till they are solved, which might take quite a while. If things are discussed which touch the interest of men, they will be invited to the talks, so that the women can hear their opinion. Very seldom a leading woman will decide for herself and not in consensus with the other women of her domes, only if two parties with opposing meanings can't come together.
If affairs have to be delt with which concern other families as well, the Mother will speak for the family or choose a woman who will represent her, if travelling is necessary and she chooses to stay at home to overlook the issues there.
Around nine to twelve of these women, who are related through a distant common Mother, come together on a regular base with others to discuss smaller issues, settle differences between families or argue about political themes. They may choose one out of their midst, who they then call "Sister" to carry their voices or go all together to a bigger gathering taking place every year in one of their main gathering places, be it Uderza or Kir'rii in the south.
However, to make such a meeting more effective, not all women of one subtribe gather at one place and one time, but each of the three Shendar subtribes is organised in again three big family-clans with again nine smaller family communities (which are represented by the "Sister"). On a lower level even the Shendar don't manage to organise all in threes and nines, but the "Nine Families" with the "Sister" as leading person each have a different number of single basic families with a number of members varying from 10 to 60 - or as a Shendar would say, from 9 to 66.
The representatives of these "Nine Families", the "Sisters" and their accompanying interested women meet once a year at the gatherings described above, where they choose a woman out of their midst who will represent them at any bigger meeting of the whole tribe. Note: The "Sisters" may have more votes than one, depending on how many women gave her the right to decide for them, the accompanying women have just their own, vote in the interest of their own family only. So if the head of one family is not sure, if the "Sister" will speak in her interest, she has the right to attend the gathering herself.
These nine elected women (three subtribes with three family clans each) form the "Council of the Nine". A group of three will therefore always represent one of the subtribes - called plainly "The Three", or naming their subtribe - the Kha'si Three, the D'auras-Three or Siuu-Three. They have to take all decisions together, though two can rule out the third.
These nine women, representing their clan proposal, in most cases, choose one out of their midst - now with one vote for each woman - to be the "One of the Nine". While the latter is the official title, she is more commonly referred to as "The One-Mother", without her name added like in the normal case. The "One of the Nine" is the true representative of the Shendar, the one with the power in her hands to decide over the welfare of her people - not without consultation of her council of "The Nine" however, and the council of the men if she finds it necessary or advisable.
As said above, in most cases the "One of the Nine" will have been out of the ranks of the "Council of the Nine", being with high probability a woman of experience, if not wisdom. From there her official title derived. However, any other woman with the right to vote can be proposed for the highest rank in the Shendar society. She has to have followers though who speak for her, propose her and present her to the whole community.
All present "Mothers", or "Sisters" with their multiple votes are electing then the "One of the Nine" as described below.
The smaller meetings happen on a regular basis every year, where the voting of the "Mother" takes only place every three years, when as many of the representative Shendar leaders try to gather in one place which is then called Rah'mat, to vote for the "One of the Nine", either searching for a new one, when the old one has already served for three terms and is not allowed to fill out this top position again - or renewing the vote for the present one.
The men are organised in the same way, just that the need of regular meetings at the base is not as pressing as with the women, and therefore doesn't take place as often. The speaker of the men has however the right to ask for a gathering of the family, in case he thinks, that a problem is there which needs to be addressed. The men on this low level of organisation have no right for a veto, but this seems to be not necessary, because problems are discussed till they are solved.
However, the equivalents to the "Council of Nine", the "Nine speakers" are of greater importance. Out of their midst the "Council of the Nine" under the advise of the "Mother" (she has no vote here) will choose the H'rul Zhaeón.
Each subtribe has an own male representative as well, the "Ah Waeyrén", one of the three speakers of the subtribe. He is chosen from the three council women belonging to their tribe.
The H'rul Zhaeón represents the Shendar at the courts of the northern Santharian provinces, claiming the rank of the Thane next to the Tristan of Strata. Though the Shendar don't mind being part of the provinces of Truban and Brendolan, they don't feel represented by their governments, which don't stand for Shendar interests. So the H'rul Zheón - in representation of the "One out of Nine" - demands a seat in the council of the Linked Hands to be able to speak for Shendar interests, which is of course heavily opposed by the Thanes of Truban and Brendolan, the Tristin of Truban and the Thane of Brendolan.
The Ah Waeyrén are not as influential - they would have the rank of the dukes for the outside world and are much more accepted by other governments as the H'rul Zhaeón.
While the rights of the men at the base are not very pronounced, the "Nine Speakers" and the H'rul Zhaeón have the right of a veto, if any decision made by the "Council of the Nine" or of "The One out of Nine" is against the welfare of the tribe - in his or their opinion.
While the H'rul Zhaeón often is not able to practise his right, for he is away quite some time to represent the Shendar or lead negotiations at the courts of the Thanes in the north or at the court of the King himself, the "Nine Speakers" make more often use of it, though seven of the nine have to agree to a veto.
Production/Trade. Though the Shendar have a wide variety of production and trade items, they are mainly known as the leaders through the huge Ráhaz-Dáth.
Because of the ages they have lived in the desert, the Shendar were the only ones who knew the ways through it, which was vital information for the Stratanian trade enterprises that started to develop after the split-up. Centuries ago negotiations were started by the Stratanians who had hard times communicating with the Shendar as they barely spoke the common speech in these times and because of their constantly moving locations. But it was agreed that in return for goods they would provide guidance through the planes of sand and if possible supplies on route.
These agreements resulted in a few small communities of Shendar settling down to control the trade in their regions, the biggest of them being Uderza, the only Shendar settlement with houses built out of clay instead of hides of the ráhaz-estár. Bardavos, the former Thaehavos gained importance as a place, where supplies were stocked for the caravans passing it, through it strengthening its position as a free town; down in the south at the southern edge of the Yar'dangs another small settlement was founded, Kir'rii, meaning "Fresh Water", the southern gate to the desert for all travellers coming from Strata and the south. Coming from Thalambath it is still advisable to pass by the oasis of Cari'Cari at the foot of the Norong'Sorno volcano at the west rim of the Makadi Gadi salt pans to look for a Shendar guide.
But guiding foreign people through the hostile desert is only a minor income source. Apart from daily trading items like cheese, hides, tried meat, desert fruits and so on, the three sub-tribes vary greatly in what they trade and of what they live.
Image description: Famous export tiles of Uderza. Picture by Bard Judith.
The Shen-Kha'si's trading
items are probably the most known Shendar items in the whole of
Santharia. There is mainly the
pottery, from which they got their name - the Clay People.
Uderza tiles and pots are famous for
their high quality and mainly their colour, a deep rich blue. How the fine clay
called aerth from the Open Woodlands is mixed, what is added and how the blue
colour is achieved is a well preserved mystery. The true original patterns with
their complicated patterns are reserved for the own use, the tiles, pots, bowls
and vases made for export have a wider colour range and the design is not
restricted to triangles and circles due to the loosened restrictions there.
For smokers the vhin, the tabacco grown in the plain of Uderza is much more important than the pottery. Throughout the years vhin has become the most popular weed smoked among Santhala's higher class. Uderza is the best place for buying good knives and primarily the prized Shendar sword, a weapon which is light, though strong due to the complicated process of its forging. A lot of the trade is done now in Varcopas, but good silver jewellery is better bought in Uderza, as well as the clothes out of the fluffy fruit ball of the toccon tree, which grows in the plain as well, giving shade to the vhin plants. Of course one can get in Uderza everything the other sub tribes sell as well.
As their name, the Salt People imply, the Shen-Siuu trade mostly with salt which they harvest under terrible conditions in the southern Makadi Gadi saltpan, but the jewels found in the Yar'Dangs are also famous in Santharia, the tribes of Aeruillin estimate more the burning stones the Shendar collect around the Norong'Sorno and in the Lands of Pain. They sell the trading items of the other two tribes as well, though it might be cheaper to buy pottery from Uderza which made its way to Strata by ship.
The Shen-D'auras sell their goods in Bardavos, but otherwise they are fully dependant on the Kha'si and Siuu who have to trade for them. Their main income are scents - therefore their name Scent People; some say, it refers to their persons as well, who are always smelling strongly - most times in a pleasant way though!
The most famous scents are the in'cent, which is used for religious purposes throughout Santharia, the my'rhh, which has a sweet and strong flavour at the same time and is often used to hide the smell of dead people till they are buried, then the lovely a'gera.
However, they collect other herbs and useful plants as well, like the ice milk and the khmeen and not to forget the leaves of the me'hendi which provides them with their colours for their skin paintings.
A well loved trading item is the liqueur made of the desert berry, but not much is left for trading, therefor the prices even in nearby Bardavos are high.
Natural Resources. The Shendar have access to all the sources the Ráhaz-Dáth provides them with. The seemingly barren desert is so rich in resources that the Shendar think of themselves as wealthy people, though they have personally not many things they called their own. Nearly every part of the desert is rich in minerals of various kinds. Well known are the jewels from the Yar'Dangs, the burning stones from around the Norong'Sorno vulcano, the Nirmenith Mountains are said to hold great treasures, the Shendar keep a secret though. The famous clay used for the Uderza pottery comes from the Open Woodlands and the Big Sand dunes provide a special fine grained sand used for hourglasses all over the Santharia.
The desert is full of animal life, especially the Oka'Seri flood plains and a Shendar will not get hungry in most parts, digging at least a sand melon up.
Mostly taken as given, the Shendar see the water as their most valuable resource. And there is plenty if one knows how to find it. At some places it is available all over the year like in the Oka'Seri swamp and in the lakes of the Seven Jewels - though this might get a bit salty - but there are various oases as well or deep reaching wells, some are well known, others are hidden and one needs often a Baveras aid to find it again.
Religion. The Shendar believe in the twelve gods of the Aviaría, they worship however mainly Baveras, who is the most beloved and revered Goddess of all, followed by Foiros, who is respected and feared. Sometimes the prayers are directed at Grothar as well, but more often Baveras is asked to speak in their favour to Grothar. There are exceptions of course, a smith may pay his reverence to Urtengor and a hunter might send a prayer to Arvins.
Baveras is worshipped daily, mostly by women, even small groups of the nomads have their own Baveras aid who travels with them from place to place, often responsible for finding water. Foiros is mainly worshipped in the big towns in his splendid temples like the one just outside Strata on the height to the north. He attracts the young Shendar men, the older however have learned to value Baveras, the water giving goddess during their travels through the desert.
Besides the daily worships of the Aviaría which is not different to those in the northern parts of Santharia, some Shendar are searching the path to what they call "Second Reality". To get there, one has to be a "warrior", but a warrior who is not fighting an external enemy, but the enemy within himself. To go the "way of the warrior" is a spiritual way to find questions not yet posed, it is a search for the truth behind what we call reality, the truth behind the truth. Not much is known about this "way of the warrior". Though people going this way don't hide it and though it is not a secluded sect which obscures its secrets - this path seems to be extremely hard to follow, and the few who reach the desired goal, are too reluctant to tell about their experiences; so not much is known about it.
Unlike many northern tribes, the Shendar believe in a life after death. It may have been not always this way, for old stories or myths point in another direction. The few scholars disputing the issue, think that the premature deaths which have often occurred in this harsh environment were just too hard to carry and depressing. So when the former more fertile Ráhaz-Dáth developed to a dry land their belief may have changed to what is it now. The hope for a life after death, even a better one like before, enabled them not to lose their will to carry on and to try to defeat the desert. However, these are just speculations, for it must have happened long ago at times, when nearly no written history existed and if only a few fragments have remained.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. A lot of festivities show the Shendar's inclination for celebrating whatever event may give a reason to do so. Religious festivities are as common as personal ones like the feast for reaching maturity or a special birthday, but most times they can't be divided apart.
Not a feast, but a religious ceremony nevertheless is the "Journeyon". Two important facts on this unique death rite: For one - the Shendar don‘t want to believe, that life ends with the death (see Religion). Therefore they say good bye to their dead in a way, which means more "See you again later" and provide them on their last journey with all what a Shendar needs to travel. The most important being in her or his life is for a Shendar the aj‘nuvic bonded to the man or woman. It will accompany the dead person in death as well.
Not long ago a young woman, G'inna of the Seven Jewels, told one of the Compendium writers how she experienced her first death rite when she was about thirteen years old. Talia Sturmwind was allowed to write it down. She narrates it in detail in story-form, just as G'inna told it to her in the text "Journeyon - A Shendar Death Rite".