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Kiswaili is both a culture and a religion, dominant in [[Njombia]] and [[Hanzatia]] as well as northern [[Palan]].
Kiswaili is both a culture and a religion, dominant in [[Njombia]][] [].
= Culture =
= Religion =
There are four gods, but only three of them are the allies of man.
, but of
are the of .
(TODO: Name) is the goddess of air, responsible for all things temporary and current. Without air, man dies within minutes, and so (NAME) guides the fate of the ''now''. Todays good fortune, luck of all kinds, success in a single act or short encounter, but also the fate of the battle and the hunt.
is the of and ..
(TODO: Name) governs water, without which man dies within days. His domain is the long-term plans and acts, those things that last, but not forever. Health and harvest, good family and true love, the affairs of states and kings.
the , and and the .
(TODO: Name) rules the domain of earth, the eternal and all things that belong to it.
Finally, he-whose-name-shall-not-be-spoken is the god of fire and destruction. Man can live without him, but the temptations of the power that fire brings are always present. The Lochak people understand that small, controlled fires can be useful, but large and uncontrolled fires are indiscriminate killers and destroyers. In most Lochak lands, the use of fire magic is forbidden, and the penalties are often harsh. Fires that can not be put out with a few buckets of water are avoided wherever possible. Temples often eschew fire altogether and use magical lights instead, if they can afford it.
The dominant feature of Kiswaili is its tribal or clan nature. In Njombia it is mostly tribes, except for the south where, like in Hanzatia and Palan, the clan structure dominates.
The tribe or clan affiliation is so central to personal identity that names within Kiswaili begin with the tribe or clan name, followed by the personal name, followed by either the father's (for sons) or the mother's (for daughters) name to indicate position within the tribe or clan. For example, the full name of current King Garako is Mouma Garako, son of Sarolan, showing his affiliation to the Mouma tribe. In fact, the king is the only official who drops his tribe name upon ascension to the throne as he is considered to be "of all tribes". Lesser officials retain their full names, so the principal of the Nanalanda Territory is still named Principal Njagwe Sajala in offical documents, dropping only his father's name. At the Chief level, even the father's name is retained.
Tribal culture dominates Kiswaili daily life to the point that while in general Kiswaili are friendly to outsiders, the simple fact that foreign visitors are without a local tribe affiliation makes all aspects of life much more difficult for them. Social life as well as business is conducted first among tribe members and only afterwards with outsiders. This is not a law anywhere within Kiswaili areas, just a custom - there may be several markets in a large city, all of which are open to everyone, but they will tend to be tribe-segregated simply by both merchants and customers preferring the market dominated by their tribe.
One other aspect of the tribal culture is vital for everday life: Disputes and misbehaviour are things that are considered to taint not just a person, but their name, i.e. their tribe. Therefore, tribes generally police their members and attempt to solve problems before they leak out.
This begins from an early age. Children will be watched over by neighbours and other tribe members, who will report back their behaviour to the parents. A misbehaving child will return home and find its parents well-informed about its deeds. This generally makes most Kiswaili people behave themselves well in public, as these childhood experiences stay with them through adulthood.
It can also mean mob justice being served occasionally, especially in large places like cities where multiple tribes meet and each tribe watches out for its reputation.
Most Kiswaili are friendly and talkative people, open to outsiders to some degree. An "outsider" to the Kiswaili is anyone not of the same tribe. It makes little difference if he is from two cities over or the other side of the continent.
Kiswaili children are not named at birth, but rather on their first birthday, more or less. It is the nameday that is celebrated, not the birthday, and so the one-year is an approximation not an exact rule. Most importantly, the personal name is never given during illness or other periods in which the child isn't well, as tradition has it that a child should be named on a good day and that an ill or weak condition during the naming ceremony would carry over into the entire life. In fact, there is a phrase that Kiswaili people use to speak about sickly people: "He was named on a bad day."
It is common for both men and women to grow their hair long, except for soldiers and others going to war. For the tribe chiefs and nowadays kings and other lords, this has transformed into a tradition of growing your hair long during peacetime and cutting it short in wartime. Some rulers have sent their cut-off hair to the enemy as a declaration of war. Especially long hair on a ruler means this person has managed to keep the peace for many years, and is generally viewed as a sign of strength and competence.
Shaving the hair off completely is a common punishment for prisoners of war.
Stories are an important part of Kiswaili culture, and the telling of stories is part of most formal ceremonies, such as funerals (where stories about the recently departed are told) or marriages (where stories about the couple as well as their parents are told).
This is all true stories. Fantastic stories are far less common, most stories told and retold are about historical figures or one's own ancestors, and are supposed to be true, though over time many of them become more glorious and heroic.
There are also "location stories", which are the common stories of villages and other places, and who serve an important role in defining a place and recording its most important history. These stories are told to all children growing up in that place, and are known by heart by its adult inhabitants. In the larger towns and cities, due to the volume of stories, people have begun writing down these stories and compiling them into history books.
The Kiswaili bury their dead in cemeteries, where typically a family shares either a grave (for the poor) or a patch with several graves or even an entire section with a row or circle of graves. There is a phrase among the Kiwsaili - "buried alone" - which is an expression of the most utter and desperate loneliness, so lonely that you are not even buried with your family. Often used to express sorrow for those who travelled the world and never returned.
Death rites include the remains of the deceased being kept in a temple for three days. The rich will embalm their dead and display them openly while the poor will roll them in fabric soaked in oil to prevent rotting. It is strictly forbidden by custom to cry or wail in the presence of the deceased as nobody wishes to move on into the afterlife accompanied by the suffering of their relatives and friends. Once the body is in the ground, a three day period of mourning follows during which work usually rests or is reduced to the minimum.
An important part of the death rites in Kiswaili is to move on. Widows or widowers are expected to marry again within a year.
As the Kiswaili culture spans all climate zones, there is no uniform clothing style. What is the same across all Kiswaili is that pastel and earthen colours are most prominent and bright colours very rare. The most popular colours for official and special occasions are white and black, often in intricate combinations.
Ornaments in general are popular among those who can afford them. They are done in either contrast or identical colour and typically show patterns, waves and curving lines.
This page is still incomplete and missing content or details that are planned, but have not been added yet.
Art & Music
This page is still incomplete and missing content or details that are planned, but have not been added yet.
With the culture spanning such a vast geographic area, from the tropical south to the much colder north, no common style of architecture exists within Kiswaili. However, some common elements and terms have emerged, and local features.
The most common feature is that throughout Kisawili lands, doors and windows are most often closed off with cloth. Only in the northern regions are wooden doors and shutters common, but even there curtains still remain an addition. In the south, most doorways have a long curtain that serves as a door, while windows have short curtains. In more afluent houses, crochet with wide holes or thin and semi-transparent fabrics like silk are used to keep the curtains down but allow light inside.
If the owner wishes to shut his house, two or three wooden bars are put in addition to the curtains. These provide little security against someone trying to break in, but since most Kiswaili houses are not enclosed entirely anyway, it makes little difference. Some shops and wealthy houses can be closed either with doors or with more bars or metal grids, secured by metal locks.
One common indicator is the Kisawili differentiation between houses into three categories: Open, half-open and closed.
An "open" house is one where most rooms have at least one wall missing or at about a foot high, just symbolically marking the edge of the room. This style is very common in the south where the climate allows for it. Canopies or curtains provide protection against the occasional rain. It is also common for shops of all kinds to have a half-high wall and sell out of that opening instead of having an inside space.
A "closed" house does not have this feature and is what most other cultures would consider a normal house - every room has four walls. This is the most common building style in northern Kiswaili regions.
Obviously, a "half-open" house mixes these styles, with some rooms open and some rooms closed. The two most common types of half-open houses are courtyard houses which are closed on the outside but have open rooms towards an enclosed courtyard, and side-open houses where one side of the building is open while the other is closed, providing some closed and some open rooms. This later style is used in regions where the weather does not allow fully open houses, as it shelters half the house from the elements while still keeping the other half open for good days.
The Kiswaili religion and the Kiswaili Faith are strongly connected and you rarely see one without the other, except in the south (in and around Palan), where the Faith of Ikoyo has replaced the Kiswaili faith. Until about 50 AV the Faith of Ikoyo was expanding, but recently a return to the "old ways" has become fashionable and the situation has stabilized, with a few places even reverting back to being mostly Kiswaili Faith.
Kiswaili is the dominant culture in an area of half a million square kilometres and is home to about 6.3 million people.
It reaches from the furthest south all along the western coast of Auseka towards the far north, and covers all climate zones and biomes except for the highest mountains.