Sex and Society

In the northern portion of the Empire and the states beyond, clans and tribes tend to be matriarchal, descent and inheritance reckoned on the matriline, and marriages matrilocal. Women and men have equal positions before the law, frequently hold rank in the legions and temples, and they may marry as they chose.

In the south, and beyond in Salarvya, however, things can be very patriarchal. The default condition for women is as "good clan-girls," sheltered wards of their clan who hold no positions outside the clanhouse, and cannot do business on their own. They are usually subject to arranged marriage, and must be monogamous (at least with other free folk, some clans allow these women to take slave concubines).

There is however an ancient custom that allows women to take full independence even in the patriarchal south. Any free adult (over 14) woman can declare herself "Aridani". She then is entitled to status equal to a man. Aridani women serve in the legions and temples, in the Imperial bureaucracy, and can run clan business, make contracts, etc. They have more independence in their choice of spouse (of course clan-members of either sex get lots of pressure from their elders in that regard). The practice is not greatly encouraged, and in the southern provinces only perhaps 15% of women are Aridani, fewer yet in Salarvya. In the north the practice is sometimes more common, though in some places it has lapsed simply because it is irrelevent.

The priesthood of Avanthe is mostly female, Her Cohort Dilinala accepts only women. Dlamelish and Hrihayal also have more women than men in their priesthoods. The war gods, Vimuhla and Karakan, have many more men than women as priests, though there are a few women. Their Cohorts diverge: Chegarra has a number of northern women in His temples. Chiteng has relatively few.

Sexual fidelity is not expected of men or Aridani women. The root of a common herb ("lisutl") is a reliable female contraceptive, so pregnancies are usally deliberate. Parentage is broad: your biological mother and her sisters (and your father's brothers' wives) are all your "mothers." Your biological father (as best is known), and his brothers (and your mother's sisters' husbands) are all your "fathers." Children of these people are your brothers and sisters. Your true mother's brothers (and true father's sisters' husbands) are your "uncles," and your father's sisters (and your mother's brothers' wives) are your "aunts."

Multiple and homosexual marriages are recognized. Having multiple spouses is not uncommon among high clans: the pattern often is that the first marriage is arranged (while both partners are young, perhaps not even conceived), and subsequent spouses are added for love or politics. Tsolyani do not equate marriage with romance, though folk do sometimes marry for love. The most common matches are across lineages but within clans. Inter-clan marriages also occur, but require more negotiation.