Etiquette


Relationships between the classes are rigidly structured. A peasant who is too familiar would be rebuffed as "impertinent." Conversely, an upper class individual who behaves in too comradely a way towards a subordinate will probably make the latter suspicious, rather than endear himself to him. Not only would such an overly-amiable aristocrat become the target for ridicule by his own peers, he would leave himself open and vulnerable to exploitation, flattery, and self-serving social climbing on the part of the lower-class person so favored.

Conversation tends to be formal, circumspect, and florid by our standards. Social status is very important, there is no idea of social equality. There are 6 different versions of I and 34 different versions of you, reflecting the relative status of speaker and addressee.

Fortunately, the Tsolyani love visual display, and so pretty much everybody wears clothing and ornaments that indicate their clan, temple, social status, etc. Indeed, there is no word for "nondescript".

Meshqu plaques are used outside of rooms to display a person's different moods and willingness to receive visitors and guests.

"Invitations" to parties, weddings, etc. are usually calligraphed on smallish squares of parchment. They are done in colours and gold ink, using the inviter's clan symbol, a line or two of honorifics, and pretty script.

If a superior wants to see an inferior, a clanmaster wants to see a clan-brother/sister, etc., the request is usually penned in black on a rectangle of Hruchan-reed paper. This is delivered by a servant. Plaques for such messages are an innovation in Jakalla and are unknown in other parts of Tsolyanu. In the east -- Fasiltum, particularly -- commands/invitatons are often simply the clan symbol of the inviter written on a bit of coloured parchment. In Thraya and Jaikalor, a small glass square is sent, inside of which is the clan-symbol of the sender. These are customarily returned to the sender (or rather to his/her servant) when the invitee shows up for the meeting. Some of these symbols are quite beautiful, made of silver, gold, stained glass (in Sokatis), etc.

There is no such thing as a Tsolyani "calling card." Society demands that a visitor leave word verbally with a servant. Thus, if I call uninvited at your clanhouse, the clan's door-guard or chamberlain will inquire my business. I then tell him that I have come to see (e.g.) Gayan; he replies formally with regret that Gayan is not present; I then request him to inform Gayan that I had come to visit, and take my leave. If I have a longer message to impart, I can leave a note or letter. If you have something longer to communicate, pen and parchment -- and in the higher houses, formally trained scribes with a palette of coloured inks and paints -- are available so that you can write a note. If you do not wish to come yourself, you can always pen a note and have it delivered by a servant -- saves going out in the midday sun!

You greet another person by placing your right hand in front of your mouth (as though you were about to kiss your palm) and bowing slightly. Slaves and low status folk genuflect deeply, and everyone kneels before high superiors.

It is an insult to touch someone who is not an intimate friend, unless you have permission or there is an emergency.

Soldiers salute by striking the left breast with a clenched right fist. Officers may or may not return the salute. The equivalent of Yes sir! is Aing!

Many temples have special greeting gestures used between fellow worshippers. Vimuhla followers lay the first three fingers of the left hand on the right forearm, signifying the Flame. Hnalla's clergy make a figure 8 with their right forefinger, etc.

Applause is by finger-snapping, not clapping, and the crowds snap and cheer in the Hirilakte arena.

Insults, even joking ones, towards another person, his clan or temple or legion, are always taken seriously. Only among one's closest friends and lovers is this standard relaxed. To imply or joke that a person is ignoble, dishonest, foolish, weak, or generally less than magnificent is to invite an immediate demand for Shamtla, or a challenge to a duel.

It's a deadly insult to look through the circle made by joining the left thumb and forefinger = clanless/nakome.

Tekumel