Axiem wrote:Next Question: does your culture have any "shortly after birth" or "coming of age" ceremonies? (For example, infant "baptism" and young adult "confirmation" in some Christian circles)
"Uurg warriors and mothers have two names: one given at birth, and one taken upon the completion of the first battle season, or after the birth of the first child. There is no disgrace in dying during ones first battle season, for indeed more than half of all young warriors die sometime in their first season." (De Barbaros, Starlenson, 1989)
"For a people who spend so much time naked, Alghadaine marry, conduct sexual relations and give birth in quiet privacy. It is rare for Alghadaine couples to marry in publick; most simply go out into the forest with a close friend or two and make a quiet statement of marriage and exchange of tokens. Alghadaine marriage tokens consist of an arm band that the woman wears on her right arm; but the man is adorned with a lock of his wife’s hair that she ties around his neck and makes it to hang down his back. It is said that this is to ever be a reminder to him, and a warning to other women as well!, that he has a woman waiting for him when he wanders.
Since houses are small and only one family lives in each; their relations are not so open to public view as are those of other Daine. And when a woman is about to deliver, she takes up residence in a house set apart from the rest by some space. There, she is visited only by the midwives, who minister to her and ensure that any curious onlookers are shooed away. When the baby is born, the midwife presents it to the father who introduces it to folk and pronounces its name, as happens in many other Daine tribes." (On the Wildings, Norwich, 2003)
"When a child is born, a fire is lit outside the house where the birth took place and the midwife announces to the waiting people whether its a girl or boy and also the new childs name is announced by the father. A first ring is pierced into the left ear.
When the elders feel the time is right, and the child has matured enough, he comes of age; usually after about thirty years have passed since his birth. At this time, he is no longer called by the androgenous term “child”, but properly by bradi or nima which mean man and woman respectively. The newly made adult takes an adult or chosen Name, and along with a feast receives a third earring." (On the Use of Earrings (from Wildings), Norwich, 1721)
"The Sharrundaine, those Miserable Daine who infest our fair city have a strange custom regarding their hair. Many women, when they are pregnant dye their usually dark hair some strange colour, like blue or green. After the birth of the child, she washes out the colour, thus returning it to its natural state. Others, when they are pregnant for the first time, use some strange technique to remove the colour from their hair. Each time they have a child, they dye a portion of their hair. Such Sharrundaine women that follow this practice make for an interesting spectacle indeed, once they have borne a number of children." (On Hairstyles (from Wildings), Norwich, 1667)
"The birth of any Daine child is attended by much ceremony and celebration. Before the happy event may be celebrated, though, there is much anxious waiting. It is known that a certain number of still births and abortions occur for every live birth, and of all live births, a number will not survive infancy; thus the Daine have developped an especial attachment to their babies and children, and consider each one of them particularly precious. They never induce abortion except in rare circumstances where it is assured that the mother will die in childbirth or before, neither do they expose their infants. Thus, Daine reserve their celebrations for live births, yet make themselves ready for a family’s tragedy.
The birth itself is a mysterious event, for men anyway, attended only by the mother her close kin and kith (usually her sisters and friends) and her midwife. Men are not allowed to attend, and may not even approach the birthing place. Rather, they must be content to await outside, anxiously listening for the sounds emanating from within.
A special birth house is set aside for the use of birthing women. In small clanholdings, this might consist of nothing more than a segregated room or suite set aside for the purpose from the main part of the house. In larger villages, a small house is built especially for the purpose. They are made cosy and secure inside, as the mother will spend the last days of her pregnancy in and around this house. It is generally kept closed and even when not in use or when it is being aired out, men are not allowed to enter. The birth house is often a fairly simple set of rooms decorated much the same as any other Daine house, having bed boxes, low benches and a table.
The midwife must be a woman, and is a specially trained healer who has not only great experience in the general healing arts, but is taken as an apprentice to an experienced midwife. Some midwives will only take on apprentices that themselves have borne children, presumably so that they will be empathetic to the experiences of their charges.
While birthing is not a great secret, few women talk with their men about the experience; preferring to reserve the details for other women who can share the experience with them. What is known is that Daine women squat to give birth, supported by their friends and relations; after the birth and expulsion of the placenta, the cord is tied off and the woman takes a ritual nibble of the placenta. It’s recalled amongst older women that when they inhabited the City in the old days, new mothers were often so hungry that they’d devour the placenta entire. Later this seems to have developped into a birth ritual.
After the baby is cleaned off, it’s brought outside to the waiting father and the couple’s male relations and other friends. He has the happy duty of of presenting it to the clan and informing everyone of its sex and name. Thereafter, everyone begins yipping and yowling, the midwife whisks the baby back into the birth house to be with its mother (often shooing away curious men) and the feasting begins outside. The birth feast will begin immediately and last long into the night or the next day. When she’s ready, mother and baby will be sent home from the birthing house.
Not all babies are born alive, and Daine everywhere are prepared to console parents of the stillborn. The parents who had hoped for so much and who so looked forward to the joys and sorrows of raising the child are now left to mourn and weep, and their friends and families are left to console them. The birth feast turns into a funeral and funerary meal. While the funeral is much less complex for a newborn, the grief is every bit as pointed and it agrees in all the basics with the funeral of an older person. The body is borne out to the boneyard by the parents and is left exposed; any bones left after the flesh is devoured by beasts are taken to the catacomb.
In the event that two women give birth at the same time and one baby is born dead, people will naturally be torn between joy and sadness. It is usually considered best to celebrate the life of the baby that made it; but to be especially supportive of the family in mourning. (Birth Customs in Westmarche (from Wildings), Norwich, 2003)
Next Question: Does your culture have any before or after death customs?
are a specialist order of monks in Kemeteia-Misser whose sole function is to recall the dead of the district to mind by unceasing chanting of lists of brief obituaries. As many as twelve lists of names are read simultaneously by twelve cantors; the body of monks supplying the responsive parts. The essential form of the chant is:
- C. year of the year name, month of month name
- C. work of a occupation or singular deed
Upon the termination of the last response, a monk strikes a small bronze bell and the cantor begins again with the next name.
The Onomatismists have lists of names of people who died in a given district going back sometimes as far as two thousand years, roughly contemporaneous with the founding of the earliest Kristian communities in the Empire. Each monk wears a grey hooded robe of cotton which is bound with a long cord and carries a string of wooden beads with one hundred and forty-five beads. After the one hundred and forty-fourth name is read, a short canticle of prayers and appropriate scriptural readings is recited, followed by the phrase "We recall and pray for these who have crossed over before us."
It is not known how complete or spotty the lists are, but it is likely that the lists for the last thousand years or so, since the firm establishment of Kristianity in the Empire, are very complete.
The lists are read, not in alphabetical order, but in order of death date. Because each Kristian parish keeps meticulous records of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and other vital statistics, the work consists largely of reading out of a copy of the local parishes' death register.
The monks recite names from sunrise to sunset, taking a break at mid day for meditation, rest or other tasks. Name recital does not take place on Sundays, which is reserved for attending the liturgy and resting from labor. Not all the monks in the community are attending to the recitation at all times. There are other duties to be performed in the community's house: general housekeeping, food preparation, copying of new records or replacing old and worn records.
Onomatismistic communities are generally attached to one of the larger churches in a city or town. Smaller parishes are encouraged by the bishops to transcribe and forward their death registries to a nearby Onomatismistic community for insertion into their litanies." (Guide to The World)