Coeurl Tribe

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Coeurl
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The Coeurl Tribe, an off-shoot of the Seekers of the Sun sub-race of Miqo'te, are located over a wide range of territory. A portion of the tribe resides in the rural desert of Eastern Thanalan, near the borders of the beastman homeland of Pagi'than with some family clans choosing to settle off the coast of the Bay of Dha'yuz. While not much is known about this secretive tribe, three large villages have agreed to be studied and will be the focus here.

Race : Miqo'te Clan : Seekers of the Sun
Population : ~200 Number of Villages : 3
Religion : Azeyma, the Warden; nature spirits; the Coeurl Naming Conventions : C' (pronounced ka)
Location : Eastern Thanalan, near the border of Pagi'than and the coast of the Bay of Dha'yuz

History

As with the rest of their species, the Coeurl tribe arrived in Eorzea in the Fifth Umbral Era, when ice bridges were created across continents. The ancestors of the current tribe followed not only their traditional prey but also the visions of their tribal leaders and the beast that they revered, the coeurl. During the end of the Fifth Umbral Era, when the ice began to melt, the tribe migrated to the eastern portion of Eorzea, preferring the desert climate much like their tribal guide. Much of the tribe remained essentially nomadic, though each claimed their territories in various parts of the desert around what is now the city of Ul'dah.
In the last several hundred years, three villages have broken away from the majority of the still-hostile tribe and settled down. They have created a tribal culture unique to themselves, abandoning the more common nomadic lifestyle in favor of cultivation and mutual non-aggression.

History of the Coeurl Tribe with the Amal'jaa

Due to their proximity to the grasslands of Pagi'than, the native home of the lizard-like beastmen known as the Amal'jaa, the Coeurl tribe has had a history of open warfare with the beastman. Each side has claimed that their lands were invaded first, though the true first aggressor has been lost in a long history of small raids, larger battles, cease-fires, and near-massacres. At the current time, the Coeurl tribe has not been observed crossing the border into Pagi'than or Amal'jaa lands, however the beastmen have been increasing their raids into Thanalan- even so far as the city of Ul'dah- so it is likely only a matter of time before the current cold war escalates once more.

Culture

A note regarding the Coeurl culture at large and methods of communication in specific. Due to their proximity and the harshness of the environment they have carved their villages out of, the Coeurl have developed highly subtle forms of silent and near-silent communication using facial expressions, ear placement, and tail and hand motions. They use this form of communication amongst each other and to recognize one another while out in the world at large. As this is their default form of communication, when Coeurl tribe members are in society at large they are often regarded as somewhat twitchy.

Politics

Each of the three villages in the Coeurl tribe follows a system of government whereby five of the eldest members of the village- three females past child-bearing age and two males past hunting age- come together to discuss the good of the village. It is this Council that determines whether or not to declare proper war, when to look to new hunting grounds, and mediates disputes involving other villages, disputes between the various traditional ton (vocation-based fraternities and sororities), and disputes between nunhs. It is also this Council that determines which members of the tribe will be considered as 'Ankobia' and 'Master Hunter' (the titles are the same regardless of sex) and are qualified to lead the younger warriors and hunters, respectively, through their training.

The Jali

The position of bardpriest, known as jali is an important one in the villages of the Coeurl tribe both politically and spiritually. She plays the role of historian, mediator in minor arguments, spiritual bridge between the tribe and the elementals and the goddess, song-singer, dance teacher, and psychopomp along the rites of passage.

The jali position is always held by a female and is passed only to female progeny as it requires too much movement between villages and into the outer world to be held by a tia or a nunh, who must be present in the village in order to protect it.

Each village has it's own jali, however the jali of each village is expected to travel into the other villages as well as into the outer world frequently in order to maintain positive relations with the spirits and to learn the stories that are their stock in trade. Whenever one village's jali is gone, the other two jalis and their daughters are expected to pick up the duties. The only time all three jalis are required to be in the villages are during the two great festivals.

The jali of the three villages are related. When the tribe crossed the ice in the 5th Umbral Era, one female had the ability that is now called 'The Echo'. She had three daughters. Over time, those three daughters have either raised or adopted daughters with that same ability so that they can trace their lineage in an unbroken line back to the first. The Echo has manifested in various different ways, leading to the jali's various duties. The current jali of the three villages consider one another sisters and have raised their daughters to do the same.

Religion

As with most of their sub-race, the Coeurl tribe worships the sun goddess Azeyma, the Warden. In her honor they consider themselves the warriors of the clouds and celebrate two large festivals annually. The tribe also reveres multiple manifestations of elemental spirits- fire and water being two elements of greater importance due to the villages' desert lifestyle. The reverence for the coeurl has made that figure a creature of folk tales, morality stories, as well as an intercessor between the tribe and Azeyma.

Azeyma's Rest

Azeyma's Rest is the summer solstice, when the Coeurl tribe believes that Azeyma shines her brightest before beginning to hide her radiant face behind her fan. It is a day to celebrate accomplishments of the year, to show one's strength, fertility, joy, and pride to the shining face of the Warden. It is often celebrated with elaborate dances, songs testifying the accomplishments of the tribe as a whole as well as individual members, and many times it is this day when young tias will attempt to challenge the nunhs of their village.

On the day of Azeyma's Rest, the Coeurl tribe's largest number of courtship rituals are acted out. While a small number of rituals occur on other days of the year, it is considered good luck to be courted on the longest day of the year, as it is believed that Azeyma will bless the pairing with fertility and will allow the new female to join her sisters with that nunh in good harmony.

Previously, there was a ritual enacted on Azeyma's Rest wherein a tia was chosen by the Council, sent into the wilds for 24 hours with nothing to eat or drink and no weapons. Should he return, he would be granted nunh status for that shortest night of the year and that night only and he should have his choice of any of the women of the tribe who would accept him, as they believed him to be blessed by Azeyma herself. Should a child be born of that symbolic union, they were almost universally heterochromic, a symbol of great importance to the Coeurl tribe and, indeed, the Seekers of the Sun as a whole. This ritual has largely fallen out of favor (at least publically) due to outside pressures from visitors to the tribe, who consider the practice overly superstitious.

Azeyma's Rest is considered a holiday primarily celebrating the masculine elements of the tribe, with music, dancing, and story-telling following this theme. It is occasionally referred to as the 'male's new year'.

Azeyma's Rising

Azeyma's Rising falls on the winter solstice, near the end of the rainy season, when the Coeurl tribe believes that the Warden is beginning to rise from her long period of resting and is finally prepared to draw back her fan. As compared to the more boisterous celebrations of Azeyma's Rest, Azyema's Rising is a deeply spiritual holiday and is focused on preparing of one's self and one's village to move into the brightness of the Warden's light once more- and to be worthy of it. A holiday focusing on relationships between the spirits and the 'real' world, each village's cubs perform a ritual dance for which they have practiced for months wherein they form a chain that resembled a great fork of lightning striking through the three villages, moving from one all the way across the other two, until each dwelling and gathering place has been touched by their footpads- which have been stained a pale blue by grinding a flower that grows only in the rainy season.

This same pale blue stain will be re-applied to the gates that stand at the entrance to each village, a symbolic rekindling of the bond between the Coeurl people and the lightning-bearing creature they revere.

When the sun has set, many lanterns are lit and great feasts are prepared, and the village's female shaman and bard, known as a jali, will step forward and begin to tell one of the stories of how Azeyma came by her fan. In the most popular version, the Warden's radiance was so dazzling the Miqo'te people became lost and wandered in the desert. They would have died had it not been for a great coeurl queen, who saw the brilliant goddess and took pity on the plight of the Miqo'te people, slipping between them and the shining sun's light. The coeurl's fur was burned black wherever the lady's eyes fell, like sunspots left behind one's closed eyes, but the lady was inspired, and fashioned herself a fan to shield her chosen people.

Once the story is told, the jali will partake of a drug to send herself into a light trance as the village sings and dances tributes to the coeurl and Azeyma. While in said trance, the jali will attempt to seek the elemental spirits of fire, water, and (should she be lucky) the coeurl itself to ask for a year of abundant game, healthy childbearing, and safe passage for the cubs passing into adulthood.

Given the deeply spiritual nature of this holiday as well as it's focus on beginnings, Azeyma's Rising is themed around the feminine and is considered the 'female's new year'.

Rites of Passage

When a miqo'te cub of the Coeurl tribe approaches their twelfth name-day, they are considered to be coming of age.

At this time, the youth is taken aside by the Council and the jali of their village and is taught the history of their people and the ritual songs and dances of passage. They are also placed in seclusion until they complete the ritual items that will show the villages their change in status. Males and females both embroider their vests and headscarves and both sexes must complete the creation of basic weaponry- often a bow and arrows or a spear- for the final portion of the ritual.

Once the weaponry is fashioned and the dances and songs have been learned to the Council and bardpriest's satisfaction, the youth is sent out into the desert of Thanalan for one full day and one full night. They are not given food nor water, having to find these things on their own. Many Coeurl tribesmembers relate that they are given visions during this time, shown the way to prey or to water sources by elemental spirits, by the coeurl, or by following the shadow of Azeyma's fan.

When the youth returns to the village at dawn, they are gifted with their embroidered clothing, feasted, and welcomed into the adolescent world. A small celebration is thrown in their village and the youth must sing and dance what they have learned both from the jali and on their spiritual and survival journey into the wilds of the desert. When the celebration is over, the youth is free to choose a ton, to leave the communal housing of their mothers, and to learn a trade. It is at this time that tattooing is common, with many Coeurl adolescents choosing to get tattoos on their faces or elsewhere detailing their journey into the wild.

The 'Ton'

The ton are the communities within the villages of adolescent male and female miqo'te that are learning a trade. All of the ton are open to both sexes, however living arrangements are divided into male and female communal housing with an elder member of the ton so as to discourage courting or unsupervised pairings. The ton are used much like the outer world uses their various schools- there is a warrior's ton where the adolescents will learn the arts of war, tactics, how to weild various weapons, and how to work in a team, a hunter's ton that focuses on archery and tracking, a cooking ton, a weaver's ton, et cetera.

The only profession that does not have a ton is that of the jali. This profession is passed down strictly through bloodlines due to the extensive amount of training required to learn the songs, dances, and rituals. The adolescent progeny of the jali in the villages are encouraged to join other tons, however their studies as the future bardpriest in the village take precedence.

The warrior's ton is an excellent example of how tons work in Coeurl society. An adolescent joins at the lowest level, the Sword Bearer or Afena. At this level, the adolescent warrior is given a mock wooden weapon and is typically treated as a runner, expected to learn by being silent and watching their elders. They perform many of the chores of the communal housing in order to learn discipline. They typically spar only with other Afena. In war, the Afena are camp runners, thus the title sword-bearer. The next level is Apprentice or Adum. Upon graduating to apprentice level, the warrior has been taken under the wing of a older student and is given a blunted metal weapon and begins being taught tactics, the way of fighting that the Coeurl tribe favors. Adum are allowed to request sparring sessions with members of their own rank as well as the rank above them. They still perform chores but usually only do those related to attending to their mentors. In war, the Adum act as squires, sticking close to their mentors and providing for any and every need. The next rank in the ton is Warrior or Asafo- these are the bulk of the fighting force of the village and are adults in the tribe that have undergone their adulthood rite of passage and returned to become mentors in the ton. Very rarely a nunh will be a part of this rank, however it is mostly made up of tias and females not currently bearing cubs. The final rank is the head of the warrior ton as well as the de facto general in times of war, the Ankobia. This rank is chosen by the Council from the best warriors in the ton and is typically held until resignation or death in battle.

The non-combat focused tons, such as the weaver's ton or the cooking ton, have slightly different structures and graduation standards, however they generally hold to the same idea as the more martial tons. The biggest difference is that the heads of these tons are not appointed by the Council but are chosen by the ton in an internal vote held among the adult members of the group.

Singing/Hunting the World

The final ritual most Coeurl tribespeople undergo is that of Hunting the World (called Singing the World for the daughters of jali). It is a relatively new rite, begun when Ul'dah began being settled so close to their traditional hunting grounds which introduced the tribe to many new people and new cultures. The legend goes that after several failed raids on the fledgling city, attempting to drive the intruders off thier territory, the three Councils met and it was decided that the tribe would approach the settlers as an opportunity.

The ritual occurs when an adolescent miqo'te has reached the second rank in his or her ton- or in the case of the jali's heir, when her mother has determined it to be time. At this time, the mentor that has been guiding the miqo'te will gift them with a simple weapon, rations, and a piece of clothing embroidered with symbols for protection and knowledge. The youth is encouraged to travel as far and wide as they can in order to bring back some new piece of knowledge relevant to not just their ton but all of the tons, whether it is a new recipe, a new way of sword crafting, or a new song. Once they have hunted new prey across the four corners of Eorzea, they are to return to their village and present their findings on the next Azeyma's Rest, where their position in the tribe will change from adolescent to adult.

It is at this time that tias are considered 'old enough' to start challenging nunhs in earnest, though some unruly adolescent males attempt it prior to their Hunt. It is at this time also that females will change the embroidery on their clothing to indicate they are open to being courted by one of the nunhs, though again, younger females occasionally are mated to nunhs prior to their Hunt or Song, particularly during seasons of war.

Family Structure and Children

As with other Keepers of the Sun, the Coeurl tribe keeps to the traditions of having a limited number of males who breed, known as 'nunh's and a larger number of non-breeding males known as 'tia's. In the three villages, the number of nunhs is never greater than four and currently sits at three in each village, with approximately ten to fifteen tias per village.

The number of tias include adolescent boys and old men out of their prime but still technically of breeding age and so may seem inflated. It does not include the two males on each Council, nor the males of extreme age, as they are no longer considered competition for the nunhs.

Each nunh typically is mated to roughly ten females of breeding age, though that number is somewhat fluid depending on the females of the village and the nunh's efforts to maintain the relationships beyond simple breeding.

Typically, the females live in communal housing, sharing the hunting, gathering, cooking, and child-rearing duties amongst one another, with the very young and very old tias assisting. Each member of a nunh's household is considered family despite previous blood ties, with the females of a household referring to one another as 'sisters' or 'mothers' and the tias of a village either 'little brother' or 'uncle' depending on youth or age. The council members are always 'grandmother/father' depending on sex. The nunhs are typically not referred to in this familial manner, whether due to incest taboos or due to some honorary status attached to their names it is not clear.

Childrearing is a communal process that begins after the cub's eighth day after birth. Prior to that day, the mother and cub are separated from the rest of the tribe and visited by the jali daily so that they may rest and be kept safe from negative influences. On the eighth day, the cub is presented to the tribe and the jali performs a brief ritual so that the elemental spirits will reveal the cub's name. The name is then typically not used in daily life, most Coeurl preferring nicknames or petnames until the cub is old enough to undergo their coming of age ritual.

Courtship

The courtship rituals of the Coeurl tribe are varied but are based on exogenous systems- it is taboo to join with a nunh within one's village. Therefore, holidays such as Azeyma's Rest and Azeyma's Rising are extremely important cultural exchanges wherein the females of the villages meet the nunhs and tias of their neighbors. Dancing is a common form of flirting, with the females dancing before the nunhs and the nunhs dancing before the females in turn in displays of strength, skill, beauty, and sexual prowess. As mentioned previously, such displays are common on Azeyma's Rest.

When a nunh decides upon a female he would like to court, he will typically give her a small gift- jewelry is common, as are small embroidered or woven swatches of cloth, or for the martially inclined female, beautifully inlaid or filigreed small weapons like knives. Once the gift is received and accepted, the nunh will then stage a ceremonial kidnapping of the female from her ton, typically with the elder member of the communal dwelling's approval. If the kidnapping is done well, the female will move her things the next morning from the ton into the communal housing of the nunh's other mates. If the female is disappointed in the kidnapping, the gift, or the nunh in any way, she will petition one of the tias of her village, who will arrive to return her home to her village.

The concepts of marriage and divorce are not followed in the tribe, though they are aware of such things existing. If a female feels neglected or displeased with the nunh she is mated to, she may leave his dwelling and either return to her village or, if another nunh is courting her, she may be ceremonially kidnapped from her current nunh. This typically occurs with younger females that have not yet borne cubs that are mated to older nunhs and often heralds a nunh being challenged.

Nunhs and Tias

When a tia decides to challenge a nunh for breeding rights, there are a few ways in which the Coeurl tribe typically settles such challenges. It is the nunh's right to choose the weapon and the tia's right to choose the terms- first outside the circle, to first blood, etc. It is strictly taboo for a challenge to occur during a time of war, though it is not unheard of for a tia to take advantage of the chaos of combat to eliminate a rival and petition for their position. Typical challenges occur during spring and summer, with the most common forms of combat being wrestling matches (claws and teeth being absolutely necessary for the Coeurl version of this sport), swordplay to first blood, even games of skill such as a game called Oware, which is played on a board with several pits and small glass beads.

If a tia is defeated, they lose face for a short time (particularly if extremely cocky) but can work themselves back into the good graces of the tribe relatively easily. It is generally seen as extremely poor judgement for multiple tias to challenge a nunh back to back and should the Council suspect that tias have banded together to take out a nunh they may punish the offenders extremely severely- exile being the accepted punishment.

Should a nunh lose his place in the village, he will be taken in as a respected tia but the females in his dwelling typically return to their respective villages with their cubs where they will move in with their mothers or go to the tons where they lived prior to joining with the nunh. The new nunh must go about the courtship rituals from the beginning and establish himself anew.

Warfare

The Coeurl tribe is typically peaceful amongst themselves. They have a long and bloody history of warfare with the lizard beastmen the amal'jaa to the east as well as minor skirmishes with other miqo'te tribes and the occasional bandit troupe that attempts to encroach upon their very large territory. This includes pirates attempting to use the Bay of Dha'yuz as a safe bearth. As a result of this, the tribe has learned to translate their natural speed, hearing, and sense of smell into powerful guerilla-warfare style combat.

Considering one of the tribe's tons is focused entirely on hand-to-hand combat (the warriors) and another is focused on archery and tracking, the Coeurl tribe is skilled in using small groups of combatants to surround an enemy, whereupon they flush them and using silent or near-silent communcation, they force their enemy into running combat whenever possible, picking them off. When the enemy stands to face them or proves to be better armed or armored, the tribe uses their knowledge of the land to set up traps, not above using their own or one of their enemies as bait.

Typically, the Coeurl tribe does not have any residents with the ability to call upon magical forces, though the occasional prodigy has been known to occur. Such usually leaves the tribe during their period of Hunting the World. It is not unheard of for there to be one or more members of the tribe with the skill to summon manifestations of the elementals, however, and the jali are generally recognized as skilled healers- whether due to a knowledge of herbs, spices, and other primitive alchemy or due to a skill at conjury is not clear at this time.

In battle, the Coeurl tribe will often paint themselves with dark blue symbols and stain the pads and claws of their hands so that should they be unarmed, they still strike with the power of the spirits.

Ritual Weapons

The Coeurl tribe practices a unique battle ritual in that they will only use certain materials in weapons used to kill enemies versus weapons used to hunt. The belief is that hunting is a sacred rite, as is battle, and each must adhere to it's own ways. A hunting bow, for instance, may be strung with the gut of one of the miqo'te's first kills, whereas a war bow will be strung with the hair of the first enemy to be successfully faced.

Death

The tribe's view on death is one of renewal- death is part of the cycle of life and therefore the spirit of the dead must be encouraged to walk on. Upon the death of a village member, the village will gather to cremate the body. Upon cremation, it is fervently wished that the deceased miqo'te will go on to “live in the Warden's warmth”. The ashes are then taken and used in the casting of several small bells which are hung in the windows and doorways of the deceased's former home or ton, where the desert wind will cause them to ring joyfully and remind those still living of the brightness of the life beyond.

Impact of Outside Cultures

The Coeurl tribe are not located terribly far from Ul'dah. As a result of their proximity to this large, bustling city, many of the younger members of the tribe who leave on their Hunt or Song leave and do not return. Whether they are lured away from the tribal society by the larger promise of riches, fame, and adventure or victimized due to their naivete is not clear, however it is certain that each year a few Coeurl adolescents do not return from their rite of passage.

Overall, the Coeurl tribe takes on a somewhat conflicting approach to the outside world. “ I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers.” is a common tribal saying but the concept of diyafa or hospitality is deeply ingrained into the Coeurl. Even an enemy that requests hospitality is granted it and to turn one that asks away is a deeply shameful act. The villagers seem to be most content to have the greater world held at arm's distance but will not hesitate to welcome it should it pass their gates.

That is not to say that the tribe is a dying one. The tribe has learned many things due to the process of the Song/Hunt and since the Calamity they have taken in orphans and members from the more nomadic tribes in the area that were displaced when the Deepvoid appeared. As a result, the tribe is currently in a state of some flux, with changes being made to previously rigid systems. It is uncertain whether the Coeurl tribe of current day and the Coeurl tribe of the future will resemble one another at all.

Art and Music

Dress

The Coeurl tribe favors loose, flowing clothing, dyed or woven with a variety of bright colors. After the coming of age ritual, the villagers each have a tagelmust or combination turban/veil that is embroidered more and more elaborately throughout their life. Typically, the tagelmust is dyed a bright blue using a method that requires the dyer to pound the color into the cloth due to the lack of readily available water. As the miqo'te grows, they add embroidery to the headscarf until it is so thickly embroidered with the details of their deeds that the original blue is almost invisible.

Weaving

The members of the weaver's ton of the Coeurl tribe have learned a great deal from the outside world, especially Ul'dah, and have become quite adept at using their natural dexterity to create elaborate designs where each color has it's own meaning. The tribe has become known in certain circles for the brilliance of their colors and the delicacy of it's designs and trade relations have tentatively begun to export the Coeurl weaving into Ul'dah.

Some of the colors and themes common in Coeurl textile work are:

  • Light blue- spiritual ties, lightning
  • Dark blue- strength, power in battle
  • Gold/Orange- fertility, joy, glory; associated with Azeyma
  • Purple- femininity, fertility
  • Green- healing, growth, purity
  • Black- festivals, spiritual energy

Jewelry

Jewelry is common for both males and females in the Coeurl tribe, with designs varying but trending towards the abstract and elaborate. The tribe favors the use of symbols to evoke adages, old stories, and folk heros, and these symbols are very popular in jewelry. Crystals, gemstones, and precious metals are all common, with most jewelry being made using either the lost-wax casting method or the filigree method, both of which favor delicate designs and allow for a great deal of intricacy.

The village nunhs each carry a ceremonial weapon that is more appropriately considered a piece of jewelry. A sword created out of fulgarite glass- the glass that is made when lightning hits sand. Carefully crafted by the best swordsmiths in the villages, these swords are passed on when the nunhs are challenged and are a symbol of both their strength and the fragility of their position in the tribe.

Females tend to favor small bells around wrists and ankles when in the village.

At this time, the miners of Ul'dah have not realized that the sands around the Coeurl villages are rich in naturally occuring gold and precious stones.

Tattoos

Much like the jewelry, the tattoos of the Coeurl tribe trend towards abstract symbols with deeper meanings. Most members of the tribe are tattooed in one form or another, many receiving their tattoos at their coming of age ceremony and adding to them after their Hunt/Song. It is common in the tribe to receive tattoos on the face, across the cheeks and nose, as well as on the upper arms and across the shoulders.

Music

Common Instruments

The Coeurl tribe favors percussion instruments, several different kinds of drums being common among the villages. Each village has a very large drum meant to be used as a message relay system, all the way down to very small bongo-style drum sets held between the knees. Each of the three villages have a sacred drum that the jali uses when doing ritual songs, made of cactuar with coeurl hide. These drums are believed to beat with the sacred heart of the coeurl itself and have been carefully tended by the jali over many generations.

Besides the drums, instruments like bells and bone flutes are common, with many of the tribe adorning wrists, ankles, ears, and tails with small tinkling accessories to create a musical counterpoint to the heavy percussion common in their dances.

The Coeurl tribe also use their voices in various ululations and calls, having a much wider range of vocalizations than the Hyur, Roegadyn, or Lalafell.

Dance

Dance is an extremely important part of Coeurl culture. It is part of their courtship rituals, part of their coming of age rituals, part of their religious rites, and a part of their spiritual life. Most Coeurl dances involve the entire body from the tips of their ears to the ends of their toes and are driven by strong percussion created by drums and footpads hitting the earth.

In a species where communication can be subtly changed by ear and tail position, the ears and tails of the Coeurl are a big part of many of their story-dances, used to evoke emotions while the face is hidden by a mask or the hands.

Coeurl ceremonial garb is worn during their dances and there are a multitude of different dances for males, females, and both.