Ru-Pani (culture)

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Cultural Overview

Flotillas of boat dwelling Tre-Ahni, which follows the seasonal migrations of various marine animals. They are exceptional pilots and fisherfolk. Most coastal cities and towns tacitly disapprove if their nation-less culture, but do like the exotic goods they trade, so they are tolerated in small numbers. The Ru-Pani themselves are very open and welcoming of strangers who embrace their ways.
The term for a flotilla of Ru-Pani is vu s'vin - boat village, which is an accurate description of their collective lifestyle.

Origins

Even the Ru-Pani don't recall their origins, although they seem to have originated from many places at once, much like their continued practice of ethnic mixing suggests.
Some groups of these nomads have been on the Torcastan Sea for as long as the tre-ahni could sail.

Geography

Most Ru-Pani flotillas are found in the Coastal waters of the Western Torcastan Sea. Some traverse the Northern shoreline, and a few have been known to sail out the straight and into the other seas of Entorais.

Language

Each flotilla of Ru-Pani speaks a creole of the languages from where they hailed originally, or areas they frequent. The specific dialect of each vu s'vin is distinct and sometimes seem like completely foreign languages.

Family

Ru-Pani consider their whole flotilla to be one clan regardless of actual blood relations. Each boat, or ship within the flotilla will usually belong to a single family which live on that vessel.

Structure / Size

Ru-Pani families generally consist of a pair of parents, and their unmarried children. Some relatives may also live with the immediate family, if they lack a spouse and children of their own or are elders who need care.
Typically a family numbers 4-6 members, although families numbering twice as many are possible.

Roles of Family Members

The parents of the family will practice the family trade (typically fishing or hunting) and teach it to their children.
Children are free to find a different trade once they reach 12 years, as then they are considered adults, and need to consider their own course.

Importance

Family is very important to the Ru-Pani. Not just the immediate parents, siblings or children, but the greater clan as well. Given the negative reactions of outsiders, having a large family that accepts and support one another is vital.

Influence

Once one is an adult, they can make important decisions for themselves, but often seek the advice of their parents or other elders of their family.
The Ru-Pani value freedom, and accept that that includes a young adults right to make decisions and own the results of those choices. The family will support their own in such choices even if they fall short of expectations.

Orphans

Children are considered a blessing to the Ru-Pani, and any orphan will find a new home with another family, either blood relatives, or any family which has room on their boat to take in a new mouth to feed. This openness with taking in children has contributed to the salacious stereotype that Ru-Pani will steal stray children from towns and cities they visit; The matter is more complex than a simple truth/falsehood.
Have children been acquired by the Ru-Pani when they visit a port? Yes. Are they absolutely certain the child is an orphan when they join the Ru-Pani and sail away? No. More than one runaway has joined the sea nomads out of spite, or simply to disappear from their former life. The choice to join the flotilla is the child's to make, as the Ru-Pani value personal freedom.

Religion

Ru-Pani who were not born at sea often hold their own religious views from their time before joining. The Ru-Pani also worship, Ytrure, a benevolent sea goddess and mother figure, and many of their cultural practices revolve around her influence and protection.

Primary Beliefs

The sea provides
The Ru-Pani believe that if they respect the sea and take only what they need, that it will continue to provide for them so long as they respect this balance.
The sea takes
The sea can easily become angry and destructive. It can also will take lives even in calm waters. The Ru-Pani respect the deadly nature of the sea and return their dead to the sea.
The tide flows both ways
Ru-Pani understand that life is a cycle, but also a back and forth wash like the tide. They have lean times and times of bounty. They have happiness and sorrow. It is better to experience both, and know that neither state lasts forever, than to fight this balance.

Religious Figures

The Ru-Pani faith is not an organized religion, and therefore lacks any organized hierarchy. However someone in each flotilla will be chosen to perform specific ceremonial roles for particular occasions.
Kesiqao
A gender neutral title given to the most pious amongst a flotilla. This person will be the defacto spiritual leader of the vu s'vin and performs rites for the membership.

List of Religious Observances

Thanksgiving
Ru-Pani return the last mouthful of food from their daily meals to the sea in thanks, knowing that the sea will provide future meals in exchange.
Prayers
Ru-Pani will give prayers at sunrise and sunset asking for protection or guidance, and a giving of thanks for the blessings they have received.

Ceremonial

There are specific life events and community occasions which involve some level of celebration amongst the Ru-Pani.

Birth

The birth of a new child is a considered a happy occasion. After a day of privacy given to the immediate family, the membership of the vu s'vin will gather and greet the newborn and the parents with small gifts, tokens, or charms to welcome the newborn to the clan.

Naming

Children are named by their parents at sunset during the first day of their lives.

Adulthood

The Ru-Pani don't really pay much attention to age, beyond noting the seasons passing.
At 12 years or so, a child becomes an adult, and is gifted with some symbolic article of jewellery to denote the change in status. Usually a bracelet, or necklace.

Marriage

A marriage between two Ru-Pani is a community affair, involving a brief but formal religious ceremony followed by three days and nights of feasting and celebrating.

Divorce

Divorce is a private affair between the couple and their family. In essence a couple simply stops living together splitting the family assets between them such that neither will be destitute afterwards. Children will usually stay in the care of their mother.

Death

Funerals for the Ru-Pani are sombre affairs where the vu s'vin gather together to say goodbye to their departed member before giving the body to the sea.

Inheritance

When a Ru-Pani dies their spouse inherits their possessions. If a single-parent passes, the eldest child who does not have a boat of their own will inherit the property, and is expected to care for their younger siblings until they are old enough to move out.

Boat Launch

The official launching of a new ship or boat is a momentous occasion for the Ru-Pani. The celebration involves the whole community regardless of the size or purpose of the vessel.

Sea Moots

When two or more groups of Ru-Pani meet-up at sea, or in port they will gather together into a larger flotilla. Trading, storytelling, and other social activities ensue for several days while they are together.
When they part to each sail their own ways, some families, or individual may decide to join the other vu s'vin.

Diet

The aquatic lifestyle of the Ru-Pani impacts their diet in both variety of available ingredients and suitability for cooking and storage aboard boats.

Food

Primary ingredients are fish, shellfish, seabirds, eggs, kelp, and what vegetables or fruit they can grow in container gardens aboard their vessels. Some grains, fruits, and vegetables are traded for when in port.

Cultural Dishes

Fruity mild curries and pilafs of nuts and steamed mudgrains are typical. Brine pickled shaloki is also a delicacy served at moots between vu s'vin.

Spice / Flavours

Typical favourites in Ru-Pani cooking are sweet-fruity, savoury, peppery, and butter-like.

Drink

Non-Alcoholic

Pressed fruit juice, or fresh water are common. Milk from the occasional cebuc or teica kept by a family might also be drank, but is usually used for baking, cheese making, or churning into butter.

Alcohol

The Ru-Pani drink a variety of wines, beers, ciders, and distilled spirits. Usually brewed by the resident brewmaster in the vu s'vin, but they will trade for drink they cannot produce themselves.
Zei-pah
The Ru-Pani sea nomads ferment a signature spirit called zei-pah. Every vu s’vin has a unique recipe or take on the beverage, but the common ingredient is sea water, fermented sea-plants, and plums/peaches, combined with special herbs known only to the Ru-Pani brewmasters. Most report it to have a bitter salty flavour with hints of honey and cherry. The turquoise liquid has fairly high alcohol content, and does seem to improve one’s night vision capabilities. The Ru-Pani purport that the drink grants good luck to the consumer, and as such is often used to toast new ventures, partnerships, and marriages.

It’s not a trade, it is a cultural practice, which all Ru-Pani participate in; either the brewing, or consumption thereof. As to pointers, I recommend getting a decent brewer, like myself, to guide you through your first few batches to ensure you are making it right, and understand the subtle cues given by the batch during the fermenting process. I don’t claim to be best, but I certainly am better than most. Experience and quality ingredients make a big difference. Even so, something as seemingly unrelated as the weather can affect the finished product.Z’al Kylee, a brewer of the Ru-Pani

Fashion

Fashion for the Ru-Pani is a mix of cultural styles, from which emerge a common eclectic style uniquely their own.
The Ru-Pani have no particular nudity taboos, and as such children below puberty will often be naked when the weather permits. topless men and women are also common when the ru-pani are not in mixed company.

Textiles

Ru-Pani clothing is usually crafted from quick-drying light fabrics such as silk, hemp, or linen. Leather and wool will be included in colder weather regions.

Dyes

Bright colours are favoured by the ru-pani, but only dyes which are salt tolerant for fastness are used.

Embellishments

Beadwork
Beads in patterns or images are common on ru-pani headbands, belts and vests, typically made from precious metals, coins, coral, or shells. Loose short chains or nets are sometimes also worn often decorated with dangling beads or other charms.
Embriodery
Complimenting the beadwork in embroidered patterns using brightly coloured yarns.

Outfits

Loose fitting billowy pants and shirts are common. Typically paired with a wide sash belt, and a similar head dress, either worn as a band, or a full covering.
Most Ru-Pani go barefoot aboard their boats, but will wear sandals or low shoes when ashore as needed.

Daily by Class

Outside of specific protection needed for working some professions, most ru-pani dress in a similar style of clothing regardless of their social standing or the trade they practice.

Ceremonial

Given that their lifestyle is a constant celebration of life and freedom, the Ru-Pani have no specific ceremonial garments.

Jewellery

Jewellery made from ivory, bone, shells, coral, precious metals, precious stones, or wood are all common.
Usually crafted by the ru-pani themselves, and in the form of earrings, finger rings, bracelets, armbands, and necklaces.

Makeup

Due to the exposure to sun, and sea water the ru-pani eschew the wearing of make-up.

Tattoos

Some vu s'vin have skilled tattooists amongst their members and in such flotillas marking the skin is common, but it is by no means universal amongst the ru-pani.
When present, tattoos are large colourful, and depict nautical themes and imagery. Full sleeves, or backpeices are often a source of pride for those sporting such body art.

Leisure Activities

The Ru-Pani live a life of leisure, work and play often co-exist in their daily routine. they still engage in specific social activities for entertainment and socializing.

Sports

Competitive activities will involve water in some fashion. Swimming, diving, wrestling on a suspended plank, and other activities which help condition them to being on and in the water.

Games

Children are taught some skills and folk-lore through word games, typically involving hand eye coordination, and pattern matching and memorization.

Gambling

Dice, tokens, and other games of chance are common amongst adults, as a more sedentary activity.

Social Gatherings

Evening are typically filled with socializing, sharing food and drink, singing songs, playing music, and telling stories.

Arts

Ru-Pani culture is rich in art, both colourful and celebratory.

Storytelling

Many Ru-Pani are practised storytellers, and will share tales of their sights they've witnessed throughout their travels with fellow ru-pani or outsiders who care to give them the time or even a few coins.

Writing

Most Ru-Pani are illiterate. so writing is uncommon.

Poetry

Closely tied to music and song, reciting poems is seen as a variant of storytelling. Some are short and bawdy, while others can be lengthy ballads.

Fiction

Many stories told by the Ru-Pani are works of fiction built upon some kernel of truth. However a skilful story teller holds back on the truly outrageous elements to craft a plausible narrative, such that it becomes difficult to separate truth from falsehood.

Dance

Ru-Pani dance is typically performed barefoot aboard a ships deck, or on a beach. Generally twirling, gyrating to rhythmic music, and can be a solo performance of a group effort.
With the encouragement of an audience challenge dances can occur where two or more dancers try to out dance each other taking turns adding new moves to fluid and shifting improvised patterns.

Gymnastics

Ru-Pani can be quite agile; a life of climbing rigging and moving aboard a deck at sea lends itself to well to skilled acrobatics. Ru-Pani also practice similarly in water performing aquabatics as easily as aerial work using ropes and ladders.
These can be solo or synchronized performances involving up to a dozen participants.

Music

Ru-Pani love to make and listen to music. Instruments and musical styles are a blend borrowed from other cultures and like their fashion create a unique cultural style.

Singing

Music is often accompanied by song. Either soloists singing ballads or group participation is popular folk tunes. Typically the content of such songs reflect the ideals and folk-stories of the Ru-Pani.

Percussion

Drumming is typically clapping, or uses hollow wooden drums with a skin on top. Elaborate rhythms will accompany dance during celebrations and social gathers.

Strings

Stringed instruments with a sounding chamber such as guitars, lutes and the like are more common than harps and lyres,

Wind

Wood and reed flutes provide a haunting melodic music usually not accompanied by song.

Carving

The Ru-Pani produce small intricately carved beads and figurines from the teeth and bones of larger sea creatures, shells, coral, or wood. Sometimes totemic in nature these usually depict nautical subjects.
Larger carving are reserved for the rails and other features on their boats and ships.

Scrimshaw

Alongside carving is scribed and inked patterns and images typically using bone or ivory.

Time

Time to the Ru-Pani is a ebb and flow. They do not worry about the pace of things. Life happens and they enjoy living in the moment. They still plan for the future, but do not hurry or stick to a specific schedule, believing things will happen when they are meant to happen.

Timekeeping

The Ru-Pani use simple devices, or their hands, to track the position of the sun to estimate time of day. Beyond that they rarely bother to track the passing of time.

Daily Routine

Ru-Pani will wake with the dawn and eat a light breakfast, followed by any activity they need to do or simply desire to engage in as appropriate.
The various vessels of the vu s'vin will separate and sail about staying reasonably close to each other.
Around mid-day they will have a second light meal, and a short nap, before engaging in work or other activities for the afternoon.
They will bring their vessels together in early evening and set planks between them to create a network of paths connecting all the ships and boats. This is a time to gather for a bigger meal and socialize with the other members of the vu s'vin.
Songs, stories, and games are enjoyed until just after sunset, when they retire to their individual homes for sleep.

Timeline

The recorded history of each vu s'vin takes the form of oral recounting of events. There is not any collective historical record of the entire people, since they simply could not know every story of every ru-pani, in every vu s'vin.
General consensus has the following global events:
802 YG - Current Year

Persons

List of Ru-Pani Persons

Stories

See Also

Ru-Pani (language)
Ru-Pani (people)