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A Dwarven Culture

History and Distribution

Takental is the name given to the main cultural group among modern dwarves.

The most definitive characteristic of Takental culture is the Takenai church (a branch of Ilharism), from which the culture draws it's name.

Takental culture is a result of a combination of several preceeding cultures in the aftermath of the collapse of the Kolhadh empire. It has Kolhadh elements, as well as many elements of the culture of the Gâkath who swept across the previously Kolhadh-held lands as the Empire collapsed.

The other important influence is obviously the Ilharic religion, which developed during the collapse of the Empire in the area around the headwaters of the west fork of the Kâlanan. Most of the Gâkath were converted to Ilharism within two centuries of their conquering of the Kolhadh lands. The people and culture of the Takental are descended from this mixing.

A notable splinter group of the Takental are the Kethaktal Heretics, concentrated in the city of Tiermik.


Clan System

The Takental culture organizes the dwarven extra-male sociobiology into a system of clans. The system is a clear example of the confluence of the Gâkath, Kolhadh, and Ilharic cultures. The clan system is the result of the fractious Gâkath patrilineages taking over and adapting to the Kolhadh economic, and political, infrastructure, in a way profoundly shaped by Ilharic values, such as the Ilharic denunciation of polyandry.

Sept Structure

The basic unit in clan structure is the sept, sometimes called a house or household.

The defining individual of a sept is the patron, the eldest married male. Other members of the sept include all that apply of the following:

  • The patron's wife, the matron.
  • The patron's mother, the dowager.
  • The unmarried brothers of the patron's father (his paternal uncles).
  • The patron's unmarried brothers.
  • The patron's unmarried daughters (daughters become part of their husband's sept when they marry.)
  • The patron's eldest son, the heir.
  • The unmarried younger sons of the patron.
  • The heir's wife and children.

The unmarried males (generally, the younger sons of each generation) are called the cadets of the sept.

A daughter of the sept remain in the sept only until she marries. Then she becomes part of her husband's sept. The groom's family must pay a brideprice. Depending on the circumstances and social status of the two septs, the brideprice may be money, goods, or services. In general the higher status of the bride's sept, the higher the brideprice demanded. A marriage is often considered to create an alliance (political or economic) between the two septs (and their clans), but the nature and strength of this alliance is highly variable.

In a sept there is only ever a single married couple in each generation (traced through the paternal line). If the patron had an uncle, brother, or younger son that had married, that (cadet) relative would be the founding patron of a new sept within the same clan.

Clan Structure

Related septs are grouped together in clans. Each clan has a principal sept, which is the eldest sept. The patron of the principal sept is the patriarch of the entire clan. The other septs in the clan are those that were spun off when two sons in a single generation married. These are called cadet septs.

Supporting the founding of a new cadet sept requires a good deal of resources on the part of the old sept. The old sept must not only support the new sept while it becomes established, it must also pay a second brideprice on top of the one paid to the family of the heir's bride.

Because of this, nearly all cadet septs are founded directly by the principal sept, rather than by another cadet sept. Since the principal sept is almost always the most prosperous, by virtue both of its age and its central status, cadet septs are often unable to support the founding of a new sept. In addition the patriarch is unlikely to permit it.

Friction within a clan is not uncommon. Cadet septs, and cadet males, are expected to carry out the policies of the clan patriarch, but cadet septs expect to be treated as junior, not as subservient. If a patriarch is acting in a manner unacceptable to his cadet septs he risks losing authority over them. Sometimes the cadet septs may remove him from power. Depending on the circumstances this may involve forcing his "retirement", with the patriarchy passing to the heir. Under more extreme circumstances, the entire principal sept may be removed from that position, and one of the cadet septs becomes the new principal.

If the septs are split more equally in supporting the patriarch, a third alternative is for the some of the cadet septs to leave the clan and found a new clan. This is an extreme step since a clan founded in this manner will have none of the accumulated resources and contacts of an established clan.

A clan may also split by the decision of the patriarch if it becomes very large. This is uncommon, but not unheard of, since both of two conditions must be met, first the clan must grow large enough, involving paying many brideprices, and then the patriarch must relinquish control over some of the septs, turning supporters into less tightly bound allies.

Septs may also at times change allegiances from one clan to another. This usually only happens when a clan is dispanded, often because it has lost so much of its population (and/or resources) that it can no longer support itself as a seperate clan. Clans are also, rarely, disbanded for political reasons, with each sept being dispersed to other clans. If there is a clan that is closely related (by a recent split) a sept may join that clan, but more often it will join the clan of the sept's matron's brothers. Whatever the circumstance and relation, the acceptance of a sept rest with the clan's patriarch.

Economic Rights of Septs and Clans

Under Takental tradition, some forms of property may only be held by septs or clans, and not by individuals. Primarily this applies to perennial economic resources such as pastures or mines. The sept (or clan) actually owns the economic resource and not the physical property, so it is possible that one sept might own the timber rights in a particular area of forest, but another sept might own the hunting rights in the same area. Or, anyone can walk through a pasture owned by a sept, as long they in no way disrupt it as a grazing area for the sept's gadlêt.

In some cases a sept or clan may be considered to own more abstract economic resources, such as a specific trade route, or the rights to a perform some paid service in an area. A clan might, for example, "own" the the right to export woven wool from a particular village, though several clans might produce it. The other clans would then have to sell their surplus to the clan who owns the exporting. Anyone else who exported the product would be considered to be poaching.

Among Great Houses, rights of taxation and levy over the population of regions fall into the same legal category. Many Great Houses maintain this kind of control of widely spread regions, and these fiefs are a prime bargaining resource among the powerful clans of the Takental, and a prime source of contention, economic, diplomatic, and military.

Such resources can be bartered between septs and clans, but not between individuals. A patriarch who sold such a resources either without appropriate consultation with other family members , or who used the profits in a way that benefitted him but not the clan, could be charged with theft by his clan.

Death, Divorce, and Remarriage

Questions of clan inheritance and marriage politics are often complicated among the Takental. The costs and benefits must be weighed in three spheres: biological, social, and economic.

For example, if the matron of a sept dies prematurely, the patron must decide whether to remarry based on a number of factors. He must consider whether he already has enough children to make the next generation viable, or whether he needs more children. The answer to this question is different depending on whether the sept is principal or cadet, as well as its relationship to the other septs of its clan.

He must also balance the social costs and benefits. Can he secure a new alliance by wedding the daughter of a potential ally? How does this balance with any offense the clan of his first wife might take at her place being given to another?

And finally, does the sept have the economic resources to pay brideprice to the family of a second wife this generation?

So there is no simple answer as to whether it is common for a widower to remarry; only in the weighing of all these concerns is a decision made.

Questions of divorce and questions of sucession if the patron dies prematurely are likewise decided by the balance of these three spheres of cost and benefit.

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