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Author Topic: Savage Age: Argyrian Empire  (Read 111058 times)
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« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2009, 03:36:31 PM »

Argyrian Warriors
Being the ambitious and warlike people that they are, Argyrians can boast of long and glorious martial traditions. Over the course of history their ways of fighting have evolved significantly, absorbing many influences from foreign peoples.

The heroic early days of Argyrian warfare, before and after the founding of the Empire, were dominated by chariots. By now these ancient instruments of war have become largely obsolete, but such was the mark they left upon the psyche of the people that to this day they remain the very symbol of warriorhood and martial glory. Though no longer seen on the battlefield, chariots are still used in ceremonial purposes, as well as sports.

As the charioteer passed from the forefront of military might, his place was taken by the footman and the horseman. A rivalry between infantry and cavalry formed, lasting for a time, and ended in the triumph of the horseman. In the present era, mounted soldiers form the pinnacle of Argyrian warriorhood, both in terms of battlefield prowess and prestige.

Primary Warrior Archetypes
(Other Warriors)
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2009, 03:39:45 PM »

The Lancer

There can hardly be more iconic image of an Argyrian warrior than that of the Lancer. Riding a swift and agile warhorse that gallops like the wind across the field of battle, clad in steel and grasping the sturdy shaft of a Contos lance, the Argyrian Lancer runs his foes through with a spirited charge.

The contemporary form of the Lancer is a blend of native Argyrian traditions and barbarian influences. After the Empire expanded to engulf the northern land of Andauria, it became increasingly in contact with marauding nomadic tribesmen from the Endless Plains. Fighting against (and alongside) these fierce horse people instilled many changes in the equipment and fighting techniques of mounted Argyrian warriors - most importantly the adaptation of the long Contos lance and the two-handed grip needed to wield it.

There is a good deal of variation among the tactics and armaments of Lancers. While all use the Contos as the primary weapon for the charge, the choices with side arms come down to regional traditions and personal preferences. Many fight with the common arming sword (Spathion) or a sabre. Some make use of a heavier weapon, such as a battle axe or a mace.

The favoured forms of Lancer armour are maille and lamellar, sometimes scale. A quality helmet is a given, but the arms and legs may be less heavily protected. Lancers generally do not carry shields, as they need both of their hands to wield the Contos. The horse might have some armouring too, but never a full barding: a "three-quarters" type armour that protects the front of the mount is the heaviest end of the spectrum. Most Lancers armour themselves as effectively as their wealth permits, but those who serve on the southern frontiers often opt for lighter armouring to better withstand the scorching heat of the subtropical climate.
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« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2009, 06:08:24 AM »

The Skirmisher

Where the strength of the Lancer is concentrated in the singular shock and power of a charge, the strength of the Skirmisher springs gradually from the steady attrition of successive hit-and-run attacks. More lightly armoured, the Argyrian Mounted Skirmisher excels in harassing and pursuing his foes, avoiding melee contact until the time is right. He thins their numbers with ranged weapons - javelins or a bow and arrows - and sows confusion in their ranks by circling around, closing in to shoot or throw, wheeling and turning to retreat before they can catch him.

Skirmishers are often stationed on the wild frontiers, where the need to respond quickly to lightning raids by rowing bandits poses a great challenge. Few soldiers are as suited to this task as mounted Skirmishers, supported by some lightly armoured Lancers.

The art of mounted skirmishing requires a great deal of skill and stamina, as well as a horse that is both nimble and enduring. The rider cannot afford to weight his mount down with heavy equipment, a fact that inevitably decreases his chances of survival in prolonged melee. A Skirmisher only enters melee once his enemies have been sufficiently weakened, and strives to defeat them quickly.

Weapons of choice include either bow & quiver or a bundle of javelins, with at least one suitable melee weapon as a sidearm. Lances are rarely used due the difficulty of carrying them, but some some horsemen do train in dual tactics, prepared to perform either role by adjusting their equipment. Shields are common gear among mounted javelineers, a useful way to make up for lighter armour. Oval-shaped shields have been found to be the most practical. Armour generally includes only a cuirass and a helmet.
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« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2009, 02:20:49 PM »

The Scout

Reconnaissance is one of the most important military tasks, though also one of the less glorious. Still, every warlord worth his station recognizes the value of perseverant men able to negotiate difficult terrain, follow the tracks of enemy parties, and make keen observations on the defenses and activities of an enemy camp - all the while remaining undetected. Besides military, Scouts are found in the employ of caravan masters and mercantile organizations looking to protect their goods from raiding bandits. Some even take up the profession of the bounty hunter, using their skills to track down thieves, spies and escaped slaves.

Scouts favour light equipment and diverse, flexible tactics. They are usually trained to fight equally well with ranged and melee weapons, mounted and dismounted. They are skilled trackers, pathfinders and explorers, well able to survive on their own in wilderness conditions. They employ stealth techniques to stay unnoticed, but are also prepared to make a swift escape and lose any pursuers via speed, endurance and guile.

There is plenty of variation to Scout weapons, reflecting adaptation to local terrain and tactics. The Argyrian military equips it's Scouts with arming swords and light shields. Many Scouts favour the axe due to it's usefulness as a tool. Armour tends to be leather or linen, facilitating stealth and quickness. Metal helmets are worn, but usually lighter and less impairing of vision and hearing than typical combat helmets.
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2009, 10:53:18 AM »

The Cataphract

Mounted on a fierce warhorse of Aspidian breed, armed to the teeth and lavishly decorated, the Cataphract represents the pinnacle of Argyrian military might. Cataphracts are recruited from the sons of noble families. They are provided with the finest of training in horsemanship and mounted combat techniques, and meticulously drilled in manouvre and tactics. Being noblemen by birth, they are intrinsically tied to political machinations and courtly intrigues.

Although the weight of their equipment makes them slower moving than any other horsemen, Cataphracts are the most powerful force on the battlefield, famed for their professionalism and iron discipline. They ride in a dense formation, moving like a solid mass of steel, always striving to maintain perfect order and unity of motion throughout complicated manouvres. Their charge, though relatively slow, is like an avalanche sliding down a mountainside: terrifying to behold and nearly impossible to withstand.

Both the horsemen and their mounts are protected with high-quality armouring of steel lamellar, almost impervious to all but the heaviest of weapons. They wear helmets with metal face-masks or 'veils' or maille, cover their arms with laminated defenses known as Cheires and their legs with greaves, leaving no part of the body unprotected. So complete is their armouring that shields are deemed redundant.

Though Cataphracts make use of many different weapons, such as arming swords, axes, sabres and bows, there is a particular iconic weapon that nearly every one of them carries: the heavy flanged mace known as the Bardoukion. The reason for this is their role on the battlefield, which often sets them up against similarly heavily armoured foes. The devastating blows of their signatory weapon are capable of penetrating or denting most any armour, making it the ideal choice for such encounters. Lighter and faster-swinging weapons are preferred for disposing of 'softer' foes, however. Contos lances are used for charging, but quickly discarded when the melee begins.
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« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2009, 10:32:00 AM »

The Retainer

Many men of high station in the Empire employ a retinue of highly trained professional warriors. Noble families maintain large household guard units every bit as organized as a military company. Temples and shrines require dedicated guardians to protect the often remarkable cult-treasures stored within them. Some holders of public office have armed servants at their beck and call, and merchant princes know well the value of protecting their business interests with force of arms.

The Retainer is a dedicated warrior serving a specific master or organization. He may be a bodyguard, an enforcer, a ceremonial sword-bearer, a palace watchman, or even a thug who is sent to roughen up troublesome rivals. Sometimes a Retainer may be sent away on missions: solving problems on outlying estates, acquiring valuable items or information, investigating suspicious activities, escorting important personages - anything that his master's interests may require. What ever his role may be, he is expected to serve with loyalty and diligence.

Although Retainers are primarily footmen, they may still enjoy a high degree of prestige if belonging to a particularly prominent faction. The Imperial Guard, which oversees the safety of the Emperor himself, is of course the most prestigious unit of retainers within the Empire. Household guards of the most influential nobility also command a good deal of respect. A Retainer who is part of the official retinue of a bureaucrat may even hold some degree of legal authority when carrying out his orders.

As Retainers mostly stay near their wards, they tend to specialize on weapons and tactics suitable to urban and indoors environments. Missile weapons and long spears, for example, might be too unpractical and cumbersome to lug around. Neither is there much need to overcome armour. Swords and daggers are the most common weapons of Retainers, and many of them (especially bodyguards) also train intensely in unarmed combat techniques.

Armouring among Retainers varies a lot more. Many are unarmoured save for simple defenses such as bracers. Those who do wear bodyarmour favour a light panoply, one that is comfortable enough for long shifts and suitably elegant to be worn within a noble's palace or villa. Heavier kits are worn by the personal guard units of warlords and officials who partake in military campaigns or travel across unpeaceful regions of the Empire.

Retainers are generally men born ordinary citizens, having found employ after earning a reputation through successful military career or some other avenue. They typically receive most of their equipment from their master or faction, in addition to housing and food. They become very closely associated with their ward's household or organization, a tie that grows more firm with each passing year. Loyal and competent service may be rewarded with a grant of land at retirement, or some other arrangement that secures the livelihood of the Retainer and his family. Sons of Retainers often take up their father's mantle. A Retainer who fails in his duties may be discharged from service dishonorably. Having thus sullied his reputation, he is unlikely to ever find employ under a new master, and may be forced into a life of a mercenary, bandit or beggar.
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« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2009, 10:33:27 AM »

Other Warriors

Only a small number of Argyrian warriors actually fall into the presented archetypes. The vast majority are simple commoners who took up a career in the Empire's armies to make a living, or who were pushed into service in times of war.
    *
Spearmen are the most numerous footsloggers in any army, and also the mainstay of militia that maintain public order in towns and villages. They excel in prolonged close-order melee with a spear and a large round shield, supporting each other in a shieldwall formation.
* Swordsmen are the tactical opposite of spearmen: fast-moving, loose-order troops that pepper their foes with javelins or darts before charging into the fray. They fight with an arming sword and an oval shield, relying more on individual prowess than the strength of a formation.
* Shock Troopers are crack infantry specialized in daring assaults. They favour heavy melee weapons such as axes and maces, paired with a round shield. Their armour is of high quality but flexible, typically shirts of maille. Exceptionally well trained, Shock Troopers charge fearlessly into pitched melees, striving to tear their opponents apart quickly and brutally.
* Archers are drilled to let loose their arrows in unison, creating raining volleys that kill by the sheer volume of projectiles rather than individual accuracy. Their effectiveness depends a great deal upon the quality of their equipment; unarmoured hunters and herdsmen with self-bows are but a minor asset to an army, while professional bowmen with composite bows and scale armour are a force to be reckoned with.
* Marines are the soldiers who serve aboard the Empire's fleets of war galleys. Equipped with short swords, axes, javelins and bows, they are trained to fight on the rocking deck of a ship.
[/list]

Few of these people ever make a name for themselves by acts of derring-do, or become involved in games of politics and power - their lowly station denies them the opportunity, barring strokes of fortune. Most are doomed to live insignificant lives and be forgotten.

Even so, some extraordinary individuals do rise from time to time from the masses of rank and file, arrogantly defying their lot in life and paving their way to gold and glory. Perhaps they manage to win the favour of a prominent patron and are taken in as Retainers, or are rewarded with title and land for heroic labours in service to the Empire. Or perhaps they turn against the proper world order and forge their own destiny as wandering philosopher-warriors, legendary bandits, notorious pirates, tomb robbers and rebels...
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« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2010, 02:21:17 PM »

Athletics
Many Argyrian cities host biannual games that gather athletes from the immediate region and lands further off. The games are held at fields cleared outside the cities and surrounded by elevated banks for spectators. Games always begin and end with religious ceremony.

Only men are allowed to participate in the games, with two exceptions: Amazonids are allowed to participate in armoured sprint, as that is the only competition where the athletes are not naked, while other women are allowed to "participate" in chariot sports, because it is the owner of the chariot that is considered to bear the glory of victory or the shame of defeat - not the actual drivers. Three divisions based on age exist for all the games: Youths, Men and Elders.


Competitions are held in several different forms of athletics, such as:
  • Sprint
  • Armoured Sprint (wearing full military panoply: weapons, armour and shield)
  • Discus Throwing (maximum distance)
  • Archery (shooting at targets at fixed distance)
  • Javelin Throwing (distance and accuracy)
  • Horseback Riding (always performed without saddle and stirrups, for a more challenging test of the rider's horsemanship)
  • Chariot Racing (two horse team and four horse team variations)
  • *Chariot Running (two men take turns riding a chariot while the other one must run along it; they switch places at intervals)
  • Chariot Archery (drive past a two-sided target and loose an arrow on each side)
  • Chariot Javelin Throwing (as with Chariot Archery, but using javelins)
  • Weight Lifting
  • Boulder Pushing (a large boulder must be rolled uphill, reaching the top as fast as possible. Different sized mounds and boulders are used in different games)
  • Pankration (unarmed one-on-one combat with very few rules and no point scoring - a competitor wins the match when his opponent either yields, is knocked out, or dies)
  • Wrestling (unlike the almost rules-free pankration, wrestling is very restricted in form and techniques, and considerably less dangerous)
  • Climbing (either ropes or a wall up to a high tower, distance varies)
Most games do not feature all of these forms; the program varies from region to region. The date when the games commence is likewise unique to each region, as is the exact procedure of the religious ceremonies. Regional games typically last from three to five days.

There are no monetary prizes for victors, only a symbolic wreath and a palm leaf. A great deal of glory can be won, although suspicions of cheating can taint it, whether justified or not.
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« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2010, 02:28:27 PM »

no distance events?
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« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2010, 02:58:29 PM »

Leetz


no distance events?

Not on most games. (The list only contains the most common sports, so there's always room for the regional oddity.)

I didn't want to just straight out copy the ancient Olympic games, hence there's stuff like pushing boulders and climbing. Not to mention a strong emphasis on chariotry.
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« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2010, 09:05:52 AM »

Slavery

Slavery is an intrinsic part of the Argyrian civilization; few could imagine a world without it. Slaves perform a wide variety of tasks, ranging from simple manual labour to sophisticated professions, oftentimes alongside free workers. They can be found in almost any occupation other than holding public office. Their treatment and living conditions are no less diverse: Slaves with valuable specialized skills, such as scribes, teachers and chefs, may easily enjoy a better quality of life than most of the poorer free citizens. On the other hand, there are slaves forced to toil ceaselessly under the scorching rays of the Suns, hauling massive blocks of stone to some colossal monument, or waste away chained to the hull of a galley, pulling oars to the tune of the drum and the the whip. The most miserable fate of all however awaits those who are condemned to the Empire's lead mines. Notorious as veritable death traps, these pits require a constant input of new slaves to replace those who perish in their lightless depths.

Regardless of their lot, all slaves ultimately have the same rights in the eyes of society and law: none whatsoever. They are seen as property rather than persons, animate tools to be used and abused as their owners see fit. Familial and marital ties among slaves are not recognized, though owners generally do not discourage couplings between their slaves.



How Slaves Are Made

The common ways of acquiring slaves are by enslavement, trade, and breeding. Although Argyrians are generally hostile to the notion of enslaving their own people, and Imperial laws forbid the enslavement of those endowed with citizenship, it is a mistake to assume that this never happens. It is a fact that under the right circumstances, almost anyone could be made a slave. Wars are by far the most important source of fresh slaves: it is customary for the victor to seize all surrendered enemies and a larger quantity of civilians and turn them over to the slave traders, whose caravans follow in the trail of marching armies like a flight of vultures. Piracy, though never officially sanctioned, is another major source. Finally, certain crimes are punishable by permanent or temporal enslavement of the perpetrator. Slavery is inherited matrilineally - any children born of a slave woman automatically become slaves themselves, regardless of the status of their father.

Manumission

Slaves can be set free via a process known as manumission. It is usually motivated by greed: Many slave owners allow their serviles to engage in some private business on the side, as long as they continue to perform all of their normal duties. A slave who manages to accumulate enough savings in this manner may then use that money to purchase his freedom. Of course, there is no obligation for a master to comply with this, but it is probably in his interest. It provides a convenient way of replacing an old slave (who might at this point be less valuable due to aging) with a new one, the buying of which can be funded by the fee paid by the old slave.

To be legally effective, manumission requires a bit more than just the owner telling his slaves to go away. He must take the matter to a public notary, have records made and sealed. Slaves "freed" without this procedure are considered masterless slaves by the law, and may be legally captured and re-enslaved by anyone. Freed slaves do not gain Argyrian citizenship.

Slave Revolts

Not all slaves are so fortuneous as to have any prospect of manumission. There are millions of slaves within the Empire, and quite many of them are habitually mistreated, even outright worked to death. Not surprisingly, they are wont to attempt escape. Most are caught, but some manage to flee and lose their pursuers. Such runaways tend to find that they have no place to go, and must turn to theft and banditry to avoid starvation.

Sometimes, however, greater menace may be spawned from the despair and determination of these former serviles. Throughout it's history, the Argyrian Empire has experienced some large-scale slave revolts, the most severe of which even threatened it's very existence. Such uprisings are rarely as idealistic as one might expect. Rather than seeking to abolish slavery, these rebels are more likely to want to turn the tables on their former masters.

The biggest spot of trouble has always been the land of Carantia, where particularly large concentrations of chattel-slaves can be found toiling on the enormous agricultural estates belonging to wealthy noblemen. These fertile farmlands form the breadbasket of the Empire, providing food for the massive population of the capital city. Revolts there tend to disrupt grain shipments, causing famines that stir up unrest among the common people.

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« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2010, 05:22:43 PM »

Funeral

Far from a somber and morbid affair, Argyrian funeral is an elaborate and quite noisy set of rituals. Even the poorest families tend to honour their dead with as lavish ceremonies as they can afford; in cities the poor neighbourhoods often pool their resources to ensure that funerary expenses of any member can be covered as needed.

The Preparations

Funerary rites begin soon after death has been confirmed. A wreath of vine-leaves is wound around the head of the deceased Argyrian, while his body is washed with perfumed water and oils, before being wrapped in red cloth. The corpse is lain on a couch on the courtyard in front of his house (or inside near the doorway). An earthen vase containing water is placed by the entrance, so that friends and relatives who come to visit and mourn will be able to purify themselves when they leave. For how long the corpse remains on display in this manner depends on their status and wealth. Men of common rank are typically sent on the journey to the next life after just one day and night of mourning, while prominent aristocrats and statesmen may be kept this state for as long as a week.

The Procession

The actual funeral begins with an exuberant procession, which takes off on sunrise. The corpse is laid on a litter and carried, usually by the strongest male relatives, although a wealthier family may employ a lavish funerary chariot instead. Many gifts and funerary offerings, such as jars containing wine, honey and spices, are arranged around the cadaver, along with several personal items of his. The decorated urn which will contain his remains is carried behind the bier.

At the head of the procession march the hired flute and harp players, dancers and professional wailing-women, their music and cries loudly announcing the passage of the cortege. In the wake of the litter follow the relatives and others taking part in the procession. Immediate kin (parents, brothers, widows, sisters and children) are the ones that walk closest to the bier, then cousins, in-laws, grandchildren, and after them everyone else.

All participants are dressed in red; preferably in fully-red funerary robes, or at the very least displaying some piece of red clothing on their person (the poor likely cannot afford better than red headbands or sashes). In the case of nobility, some of the relatives cover their faces with the death-masks of their ancestors - thus invoking the symbolic scene of the deceased being accompanied on his last journey by the the spectres of his progenitors. Torches and oil lamps are born by the mourners (or more likely, by their slaves) as they proceed through the still-dim streets.

The Pyre

The procession ends at an outdoors crematorium, usually by a grove or a garden, where the funeral pyre has been prepared: a wooden platform erected for the corpse to be laid upon, with a heap of logs treated with aromatic oils gathered underneath it. The deceased is lifted atop this platform, his head set pointing toward the East (the direction of Life) and his feet toward the West (the direction of Death). Any and all further offerings are brought forth and added to the pyre. The mourners are then arranged to stand in a circle around the pyre, while one of them (usually the closest kinsman) receives the honour of setting the fire with a torch. As the flames raise up to consume the deceased, an oration in the form of eulogy is given.

The Feast

After the fires have died, ashes and bones are collected into the urn, which is then returned to the house in a less formal procession, now under the rays of the risen Suns. The attendants part and must now bathe in order to purify themselves of the pollution caused by proximity to the cadaver. A sumptuous feast celebrating the memory of the departed will be held the coming night. A vacant place at the table will be set for the deceased, with an empty bowl and cup. Each guest is expected to contribute to the filling of these by donating a portion of their food and drink. This "ghost meal" will be spared, to be offered as a sacrifice the following day. Later on, the urn will be taken to it's final place: a family crypt or mausoleum - or should that be too expensive, a niche within a large communal catacomb.

Men of particularly high profile (Emperors, leaders of noble Houses, world-famed heroes and the like) may be further honoured by funerary games, an athletic contest held usually on the day following their cremation.

The Fears

A proper funeral is seen as a necessity in order to aid the dead on their journey to the next life (or alternatively, an afterlife on a gray island). Negligence in this matter is believed to risk the creation of an angry ghost, wont to attack the living (and not necessarily those who are responsible for it's predicament). Because the prospect of such haunts poses danger to people in general, Argyrian society looks down on those who fail their duties to their dead kin. If a funeral is for some reason impossible - such as when people die on foreign lands, in war or drowned at seas, making it impossible to retrieve the corpse - the relatives can do little more than appeal to the deities (through diligent prayer and sacrifice), engage in substitute rituals (such as burning a figure on the pyre) and hope that it will be enough.
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« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2010, 04:00:48 AM »

What is the significance of the colour red to the Argyrians?

How does one come into the profession of being a wailing women?

Why is west the direction of Death?

Are pyres allowed anywhere and everywhere? Are there especially preferred groves or Imperial gardens for example?

Are you familiar with the Hindu practice of Kapal Kriya?
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« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2010, 04:59:46 AM »

Jaerc


What is the significance of the colour red to the Argyrians?

Argyrians view Life and Death as the two sides of the same coin, therefore they don't have different colors to symbolize each, but a single colour is the symbol for both. Red seemed to be the best choise for this, since it is the colour of blood, and blood can easily be associated with both life and death. Red is thus the funerary colour, but it's also appropriate for fertility and childbirth-related matters, medicine etc.

Jaerc


How does one come into the profession of being a wailing women?

I don't know x. Could be they're just poor women who needed a job? They probably work for the undertaker business that organizes the funerals.

Jaerc


Why is west the direction of Death?

Some real-world cultures (eg. Egyptians) have associated west with death, probably because the Sun setting there seems like it's sinking into the underworld, and heralds the coming of night.

In the case of Argyrians, the reasons need not be known or explained, since the people themselves would not think to ask such questions about the origins of their mythology, and they might be long forgotten anyway.

Jaerc


Are pyres allowed anywhere and everywhere? Are there especially preferred groves or Imperial gardens for example?

There are dedicated crematoriums, mostly outside the cities and towns, maintained by the undertakers. Some of them are "high class" sites that serve the upper classes.

Jaerc


Are you familiar with the Hindu practice of Kapal Kriya?

Not really. I recall that Hindus prefer to cremate their dead outdoors, though.
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« Reply #29 on: March 21, 2010, 10:39:30 AM »

Wedding

The Argyrian wedding is a major event, gathering a vast crowd from the relatives and friends of the couple to be wedded, including even barely-known acquaintances and hanger-ons. In the case of prominent aristocracy, the opulent reception festivities may assemble hundreds of guests. The protocol is not set in stone, and regional traditions differ somewhat, but weddings throughout the Empire do proceed roughly along the lines of the example given here.

The Arrangements

The road to marriage begins with the groom-to-be's family hiring a middleman - often a professional matchmaker - to look for suitable candidates, unless they already have one in mind. Once a desirable spouse has been identified, this middleman is sent to negotiate with her family for the arrangement of a marriage. If the bride's family is found agreeable to the union, the terms (dowry) will be negotiated directly between the families. Only after this will the groom's family come forth with a formal proposal, along with presenting a gift to the bride. To determine an auspicious date for the eventual wedding day, the families contact astrologers.

The Wedding Ceremony

Note

As observant readers may notice, at no point is any kind of priest or state official involved, nor is there any need to visit places other than the two families' respective households. The signed marriage contract will be presented to the local notary, post-wedding, but other than that the two families involved are responsible for every step along the way.
The wedding ceremony takes place at the bride's home. At morning the bride is bathed, then dressed, by the women of her family. The water for the bridal bath must be carried from a freshwater spring by children, as it is meant to purify the bride and bless her with fertility. Once cleansed, beautified and perfumed, she will be dressed in yellows and greens and wearing a veil that covers her head. One of her dedicated assistants will be bearing a floral wreath (preferably of Amaracus, and hand-picked by the bride herself) to be used in the ceremony.

The groom and his family, accompanied by a host of guests, arrive before midday. The groom will be dressed in his finest outfit, and wearing a wreath of oak-leaves on his head. They will be asked to wait outside or in the vestibule or atrium until everything is ready, then led to the main room or hall where the bride waits, seated on a dais or a divan. At this point, a short speech may be held by the bride's father. The dowry is presented for all to see and inspected and verified by the groom's father. Provided that nothing is found lacking, the groom is seated next to the bride, and the marriage contract signed by their fathers. Now comes the most important part of the ceremony, the ritual unveiling of the bride: her veil is lifted and the floral wreath is placed on her head. Guests may now offer their compliments to the newlyweds. Music may be played while the wedding gifts are laid on the couple's feet. The ceremony concludes with a libation on the household shrine, performed by the bride and groom, in an appeal to the deities of marriage, fertility and virility.

The Transition

After the ceremony everyone gathers on the courtyard or the street outside the house. A sorrowful ritual of departing, signifying the bride's leaving of her old family, is enacted: the bride and her female relatives and friends weep and lament soundly as she is taken to the cart or palanquin that is to carry her. A pompous wedding procession then heads off to the groom's home.

The Reception and the Consummation

The procession ends at the house of the groom's family, the entrance to which has been adorned with many clay figurines and/or tapestries depicting pregnant women and erect penises; auspicious talismans of fertility. Once everyone has arrived, the offering of libation at the household shrine is repeated. Then begins the reception party, as the tables are set for a great feast and musicians fill the air with boisterous tones. Copious drinking, singing and dancing continue through the night all the way to the dawn. Amidst all the revelry, the bride and the groom are taken to the nuptial chamber, which has been prepared for them; the bed decorated with flowers and the air sweetened with incense. A close friend of the groom will stand by the entrance keeping guard while the guests come to beat on the closed door to drive away any malevolent spirits, and bestow good fortunes upon the couple by singing lewd songs.
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