Basilicus
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Of all the nations and people groups of the planet Traesh, there is one without a designated claim of land. The Sijara are nomads by nature and by heritage, caring little for boundary laws-- or laws, in general.

Perfectly at home as much on caravans through the desert as they are skulking the city streets; the Sijara view outsiders- the "bound people"- as, at best, fools, and at worst, cursed. Taking advantage of these piteous fools is of no shame-- their own stupidity bound them to the world, and the Sijara can make a profit from it.

Overview[]

Not all Sijara are thieves or con artists; many prefer to trade fairly with those they encounter. They may make for themselves a good living as respectable merchants; transporting goods from one exotic locale to the next as they continue their endless wandering. What all Sijara share in common, however, are their free spirits and silver tongues.

Sijara usually travel in close-knit family groups, ranging anywhere from small troupes to huge extended families with members numbering in the dozens. After coming of age, most Sijara strike out on their own to make their fortune, traveling alone or with other families for a few years before finding a lifemate with whom to raise a family of their own. 

Because of this tradition, many Sijara find themselves in the position to form alliances with rouge mercenaries or elite bands of soldiers from the countries they pass through. It often takes some convincing for them to use their skills to the benefit of a party full of outsiders, but many eventually grow to view their footloose companions as being Sijara at heart, and possibly even family. Sijara are fiercely loyal to family members, so winning the trust of a Sijara is well worth it.

Despite their larcenous tendencies, most Sijara are not overly greedy, contenting themselves with only what they can carry. The exception is a Sijara attempting to impress a lifemate. A prospective partner's family must be persuaded that their son or daughter's intended lifemate xan support a new family, and so Sijaras with someone special in mind will typically attempt to claim as much treasure as they possibly can.

Appearance[]

Both male and female Sijara wear their hair long. Most of the time, they leave it loose. Bound hair is the sign of a serious situation, such as a business transaction, battle, or important ceremony.

Because of their nomadic lifestyle, Sijara wear their wealth. For most this takes the form of jewelry- especially facial piercings- and flamboyant clothing. Sijara who are mercenaries or soldiers may sink their wealth into armor and weapons. After the first successful mission, a Sijara mercenary might trade in her plain steel blade for a sword so ornate it's nearly impossible to wield. Then the next time she needs money, she'll simply reverse the bargain in another city; allowing her to carry along her wealth without the burden of coins.

A Sijara will even wear extravagant clothing into combat- proving that he can get through a fight without a single slash in the expensive shirt, or repairing it flawlessly if he fails, shows that he has the skills needed to keep a family safe and prosperous.

Despite their affinity for piercings, the vast majority of Sijara scorn tattoos, viewing them as a symbol of permanency. Sijara prefer platinum jewelry as the most efficient means of transporting wealth, but will stoop to gold, silver, or even bronze if it is all they can afford. A quick glance at a Sijara's many earrings is usually enough to determine his or her current monetary situation.

Hierarchy[]

Sijara use brightly colored sashed to show status. These sashes can be broad or narrow, and they are worn over the shoulders or the hips depending on personal preference.

  • Charteuse: Young child. This sash is donned when the child learns to speak, and is worn until the child is old enough to assume some responsibilities. A child is not named until he or she dons the charteuse sash.
  • Jade: Underage adolescent. The wearer of this sash contributes to the family, but has not yet come of age.
  • Scarlet: Single young adult. Shortly after donning this sash, a Sijara will leave their original family to seek their fortune. This is the status of most Sijara who are members of mercenary gangs or elite bands of soldiers.
  • Burgundy: Young adult with a lifemate, but no family. This status typically does not last long, and it usually only applies to freshly bonded couples.
  • Violet: Adult with a family. This includes not just parents, but aunts, uncles, or even cousins; any member of a traveling family who has responsibility for children. Most Sijara wear this sash.
  • Indigo: Family leader. This is equally likely to be a status held by a male or a female, and might even change on a daily basis. The wearer of the indigo sash must be obeyed without question in a crisis; at all other times, decisions are made by the group.
  • Sapphire: Clan leader. This sash is used only where there are large extended families traveling together, and plays a similar role to the indigo sash in individual families. Clan leaders also officiate important ceremonies.
  • Sky Blue: Elder. A Sijara who is too old to hold the mantle of leadership, but is nonetheless respected. No Sijara is ever considered too old to travel. 
  • Silver: Hero. This sash is awarded to any Sijara whose exploits rank among those in legend. Only a handful of Sijara per generation wear it, and most of them don it first at their death rites.

All Sijara wear sashes, from the moment they are named until their death. To take off the sash is to declare oneself an outcast. Sashes may be lost or damaged, but it is a mark of great dishonor, and they are always replaced as quickly as possible. An oath sworn upon one's sash is second only to an oath sworn upon one's family.

The rare outsiders who deal regularly with the Sijara will sometimes attempt to don sashes in order to better fit in. If they ask, they will often be given a charteuse sash; jade, if they are especially respected. Any sash from a greater rank causes offense, while sashes of colors not found in the order are considered meaningless adornments and ignored. Indeed, many Sijara can be found wearing sashes of irrelevant colors in addition to their rank sash, simply for the sake of appearance.

Even the poorest Sijara will scrape up some dye for a properly colored sash. The least well off might not have morre than a vertical stripe of color on the front of the sash, while better off families would flaunt their wealth with large, brilliantly dyed sashes. Young Sijara who wish to set out on their own must first be able to afford te expensive dye for their scarlet sash, making their place in the heirarchy even more meaningful. Young adults planning to start it by obtaining some of the rarest dye in the world.

Spirituality and Ritual[]

Sijara are highly self-reliant. While they occasionally give honor to gods- especially those of luck  or travel- few worship them on a regular basis. Their stories of the eldest god teach that divinities never give without taking away. Because of this, they distrust most spiritual beings, viewing them as crafty traders who must be negotiated with carefully.

Superstition varies by family, but one that is common to nearly all Sijara is the view that outsiders are cursed by their ties to crafts and the land. Few Sijara are willing to serve as guides, not wanting to bring ill luck onto themselves. Outsiders who travel are seen as brave fools: doomed to misfortune, but nonetheless valiant for their efforts at overcoming their curse.

Rituals[]

The four rituals that define a Sijara's life are their naming, their coming of age, the bonding ceremony that unites them with their lifemate, and their death rites.

Naming[]

A Sijara is named when they receive their first sash. Names of recent ancestors are often used, as are popular local names from the place where the child was named or was born. In this way, each Sijara carries some small part of their origin with them through their travels. Unnaed Sijara are not yet thought of as people; a child who dies in infancy is considered the same as a miscarriage.

Coming of Age[]

Sijara come of age when the head of their family declares them ready. This involves a ritualized bartering for their previous service to the family. The better an adolescent is able to haggle, the more gifts they will be given as they set out on their own. A failed bargain means they are not yet ready, and must journey with the family a while longer before trying again. This encourages juveniles to contribute generously to the family when they can and to sharpen their bargaining skills. It also ensures that every youth sets out has at least some wealth, and some rudimentary skills.

Bonding Ceremony[]

In order for a  pair of adults to be bonded as lifemates, both of their families must agree to the match. This typically involves a lengthy expedition to track both families down and convince them to meet. Once everyone has been assembled, there is an exchange of gifts between families. The pair to be bonded choose which family's leader will become the temporary clan leader- often a contentious process- and then the clan leader officiates at a brief ceremony. The pair exchange heavily embroidered burgundy sashes, and are then declared lifemates. This is traditionally celebrated by an entire week of feasting; often the longest time any Sijara family ever stays in one place.

Death Rites[]

Sijaran death rites are relatively simple affairs. The corpse is dressed in plain clothes and a sash, and all of their jewelry removed. A few words will usually be said by close friends and family members, and then the body is burned. The ashes are scattered over the course of the next journey. If possible, the ashes are tossed over cliffs or into running water. The most dire insult one can deal to a Sijaran is to suggest that after their death, their body will be buried and remain forever in one place.

The greatest of Sijaran heroes are given a unique honor: some of their ashes are kept in a small flask by the head of the family. The ashes are passed down from generation to generation. Wherever the family goes from then on, the ashes will as well, and so the hero is never bound to one place, even in death. 

Heroes[]

Though Sijara do not keep track of ancestry past a few generations, a family will take pride in the number of death flasks that the leader carries. It is very rare for a leader to possess more than one; families that have several know that their lineage is greatly blessed by heroes.

The Sijara don't have many legendary heroes, but those that they have are greatly celebrated. For instance, Born in a recent time of unrest, when Sijara were viewed with suspicion by other cultures Rezala helped turn the tide. When a plague swept across the prominent kingdom of Colia, she came to the aid of the royal family, traveling far and wide to find the rare ingredients that made up the cure. Because of her actions, there is one kingdom where Sijara will always find a haven. 

International Relations[]

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