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Rihannsu Culture

The above images show the ch'Rihan capital of Ra'tleihfi during the day (left image) and just before sunset (right image).

Last Updated Friday June 20, 1997, 10:35 PM EDT

To better understand the Rihannsu culture as it exists today, you need to examine their ancient Vulcan roots. The Vulcans of the past were an extremely warlike and emotional people until the teachings Surak slowly brought about the rise of the logical and emotionless Vulcan culture we see today. After the Etoshan pirates were defeated, it was a student of Surak's named S'Task who led a group of Rihannsu known as the Travellers out into the stars to create a new way of life and search for a place to start over without surrendering to the taint of Surak's new ways. Based on the fundamentals of the warlike ancient Vulcan society, present Rihannsu culture is a curious mixture of ancient Vulcan customs evolved and aged during the tough realities of the Journey and their early hard life on their new homeworlds of ch'Rihan and ch'Havran.

Rihannsu culture places great value on the family, service to the Empire, and mnhei'sahe, the Rihannsu concept of personal honor. The Rihannsu family is close-knit and marriages are for life, as the bond between husband and wife is so deep that the concept of divorce or separation does not exist in Rihannsu society, and failed marriages are taken as a taint upon the mnhei'sahe of both individuals. Each and every Rihanha exists to service the Empire and will gladly and willingly die in performing that service. As such, the military is seen as the most prestigous of all jobs in the Rihannsu Star Empire and combat veterans as the most respected members of society.

There is an old Rihannsu proverb that sums up the culture rather well: "certain it is and sure: love burns, ale burns, fire burns, politics burns, but cold were life without them." Unlike the current misdirected practices of their Vulcan ancestors, since they left before logic was embraced and shows of emotion shunned, Rihannsu enjoy all aspects of life to the fullest, revelling in their experiences. Even seemingly unpleasant experiences like death and war are cherished for their intensity by the Rihannsu, who revel in the experiences, as their history has clearly shown. Rihannsu traditions are buried deep in their history and psyche. They affect every aspect of their lifestyle, and deviation from tradition can be interpreted as a personal dishonor.

An important tradition is how Rihannsu greet one another. Greetings vary depending on whether the parties involved are members of the military or not. If two civilians are meeting each other, one may choose to bow to the other, although it is not required. The other may choose to nod or bow in return, or do nothing at all. To do nothing is considered rude. Whether the person nods or bows in return depends on a number of factors, such as his or her position in society, the position of the other civilian, or the whether the other person is an acquaintance or not.

When military personnel greet each other, the one of lower rank is required to salute the officer of higher rank. The higher ranking officer can then decide whether or not to bow, nod, salute or ignore the other. Very seldom will someone ignore a salute. If the two officers are of the same rank, they may bow, nod, or salute the other, and do the same in return.

If a military officer and a civilian meet, the civilian will usually bow to the military officer, but will never salute. The civilian is not required to bow or nod, but it is usually done and strongly recommended as that military officer is entrusted with the defence of the Empire and to be respected. The military officer can then return the bow or nod, salute, or ignore the civilian altogether. Normally they will return with a nod or bow and on rare occasions even salute. For instance, a military officer may choose to salute a civilian if the civilian is a retired officer, or of exceptionally high status.

There are also certain traditions that must be adhered to when hosting a meeting with another Rihannsu. One is the serving of a beverage to guests when they first enter the house. This beverage may be one of four: ale, water, wine or citrus (juice). Ale is cheap, and is seldom served unless a social gathering requires cheap spirits. Water is the most common and not terribly expensive, but still showing courtesy to your guest. Wine is more expensive and is used when entertaining special guests. Citrus juice is the most expensive, and is reserved for very special occasions.

Once a beverage is served, it is the guest's privilege to take the first drink. This is also done out of respect to the host for serving the beverage. After the guest finishes his or her first drink, the host may follow.

Upon entering a room, it is traditional to introduce yourself to those also present in the room. This can be done by bowing, saluting or nodding, and saying "jolan'tru." If someone is accompanying you into a room, and they do not know those present, introduce that person to them. If you are accompanying someone into a room full of people you do not know, wait until that person introduces you. The best way is to introduce the person to everyone else individually, bowing or nodding to each new acquaintance. When leaving a room, it is also customary to bow or salute while saying "jolan'tru."

Position always outweighs rank. If an Arrain is the commanding officer of a vessel, he would be addressed with his position, "Riov," not his rank, "Arrain." If you were talking to the Fvillha, who was also the head of his own house, about a matter that dealt with his house, you would address him as "hru'hfirh," but if it was a matter dealing with the Empire, you would address him as "fvillha."

For example, say H'daen is Hru'hfirh of the House Radaik. He is an Enriov in the Bloodwing and in command of a fleet of vessels within the Legion. If you were addressing him about a House matter, you would call him "Hru'hfirh tr'Radaik." If it was a general naval matter, you would address him as "Enriov," but if you were addressing him about a matter that dealt with his ship or the fleet of ships under his command, you would address him as "galae'Riov" (Fleet Captain).

The real power one holds is position, not rank. One may order someone else to do something because of position, even if the person being ordered around has a higher rank.

This also holds true when talking about greater and lesser houses. Members of a greater house will have more social prestige and political power than those of lower houses. However, the power you gain from being a member of a greater house only extends to political and influential circles. This does not mean an Arrain of a great house may order an Arrain of lower house to do something. This is outside the scope of house powers.

Rihannsu Social Status

Respect is the basis of Rihannsu society and to be disrespectful is to show a lack of mnhei'sahe. Showing respect to elders and superiors is a must in the day to day rigors of life in Rihannsu society. Every Rihannsu knows by the bearing and actions of another what rank and social status that person has. Non-verbal cues, reputation, military rank, and past experience all dictate the respect owed to each individual Rihannsu. Failure to show the proper respect bodes poorly for you and your house (hfihar) and is usually dealt with in an appropriately Rihannsu manner.

To an extent, Rihannsu social status and the rank of military personnel operate in parallel. Because the Rihannsu are a militarily oriented society geared to the protection and promotion of the Empire, military service and accompanying rank are very important, but not the sole, indicators of social status.

The person with highest status in the Empire is the "Fvillha," or chief Praetor, the Speaker of the Praetorate and the highest authority within in the Empire. The status of other Rihannsu are ordered according to position in a long chain starting with the Fvillha and military combat veterans until ending with the lowest status, that of a prisoner. Prisoners are considered even lower than slaves, as a prisoner is considered to be without honor and is almost less than Rihannsu.

The Rihannsu social structure is actually much more complicated than what is presented above, as there are structures within structures within structures to the point where it is rare for any two Rihannsu to have the exact same social standing. Finally, although prestige and social standing are often related to rank, social status should not be confused for military chain of command. Ranks and positions effect social structure, not the reverse.

Rihannsu Religion

On Vulcan, before the journey, hundreds of religions existed of every conceivable kind. When the journey began, the Travelers, therefore, also possessed a wide array of religions. No single one dominated the soon-to-be Rihannsu's attention, until one began to be prominent, one that had, amusingly enough, begun as a fad or joke.

On one of the Travelers' news nets on the ship Gorget, some nameless Rihanha left a small dissertation with the title of "Matter as God." She argued that things in the universe noticed, such as well the very object you need disappears - it simply noticed your need to it, and reacted perversely. The Universe itself, then, is borderline sentient, and will react well or badly depending on how you treat it. The tone of this sounds most humorous, and perhaps it did begin as a topic of humor. As the discussion grew larger and larger, the idea was discussed more and more seriously, though never without a little humour thrown in.

The Travelers concluded that because of the very fact that the universe existed, it had the right to be treated with honor, to be appreciated, and had the right to be named. The Universe, they decided, wanted to be ordered and cared for, and treated well, and we are here to serve that purpose. If there are indeed gods, we are merely their tool towards caring for the Universe. We are the caretakers of the less sentient forms of life.

The discussion grew and continued solidly for 78 years. Many of our modern beliefs formed during this time. The idea of rehei, your private, self-found name, originally developed as people used handles during the discussion. Reheiin evolved until they were names you found within yourself and held a profound understanding of who you were. As an extension of this, naming in general was given a great deal of consideration and everything found, be it animal, mineral, or vegetable, was given a well thought out name, the most appropriate name for it. We see the effects of this form of thought as we consider the significance of Rihannsu names today. When one goes through an important change in life, for example, one often renames oneself.

Since no small importance was placed on the Universe's actual physical existance, a side discussion began, defining the elements of the Universe. Thali (Earth), Ralaa (Air), Takar (Fire), and Atla (Water), were decided upon. Some argued that Plasma and Collapsed Matter should count as well, but these suggestions soon faded away, leaving only the original four. Just as some sort of idea of character was placed towards the Universe, each of the four elements had their own personality. The elements became symbols for ideas. When the elements were invoked, they were to bring aid to that idea.

Obviously, this Elemental philosophy, or religion as some might call it, is not the only religion that Rihannsu follow. Some, such as the d'Ravsai religion, have quite a number of followers, yet the Elemental philosophy has ensnared the thoughts of the majority of Rihannsu, perhaps because it is so open to free discussion and debate. There is no single text or pronouncement which must be followed in this respect. The Elemental philosophy is simply the center for Rihannsu theological debate.

When the Travelers reached ch'Rihan, they did so after decades spent in a life on board ship. There was considerable strain on the settlers who were essentially leaving behind the only home they new for a strange world. S'Task calmed many a worried Rihannsu with a few words of wisdom. He managed to turn upsetting, threatening problems into meditational exercises on the Elements, calming the minds of many. Still, S'Task was only one man, and could not help the burdens of so many individuals. Where he left off, though, was taken up by philosophers, those Rihannsu who had spent their time most heavily involved in the discussions on board ship. Together, the philosophers calmed the fears of most and aided many Rihannsu in making difficult life decisions. To this day those who spend their life following the Elements serve as counselors to the Rihannsu people, helping many troubled minds in the day to day difficulties of life.

The Elements became symbols of ideas and those Elements might be invoked to represent those ideas. The most commonly held opinions of these elements will now be discussed. Takar (Fire) represents quick change, anger, and passion, while thali (Earth) represents stability, the lack of change, tenacity and fortitude. Finally, Ralaa (Air) represents adaptability to change, whimsicality, and celerity of thought and Atla (Water) represents serenity, silence, stealth, slow change, love, and seduction. Usually, an individual will adopt one of the elements as his charge, something he feels he represents most and an element he respects. That individual, if interested in meditating on such matters, can become involved with one of the sects.

Whatever sect a Rihannsu citizen belongs to, he should not ignore the other elements and the attitudes they represent, merely recognizing that he favors this particular element. If his only course of action in a situation was to adapt to it, a typical Rihannsu might meditate on Ralaa to help their train of thought, though if he was normally part of the Takar sect, he might find a Takar slant on the whole symbolism of Ralaa.

Often at birth, diviners are called in to determine what element a child will fall under. Often, because children are taught what they were divined as at an early age, they strive to follow the ideals they see as falling under that element. Obviously though, as people change, many become ill-suited for their sect, and consult with a d'Galan, who will be discussed later, for their true element, if indeed they have one.

Each sect has a leader in any given area and it is they who pronounce that sect's judgement on an idea. Usually, sect leaders try to represent the majority of feeling within their followers. Occasionally, the most powerful sect leaders reach the position where they transcend the sects themselves and become a d'Galan, a great seeker. Power does not necessarily equate to meditational progress, and it is mental progress that is necessary to become a d'Galan. Often, Rihannsu on the meditational journey to becoming d'Galan cycle through the sects so they can gain a viewpoint on how the elements work together as a whole in the universe. A Rihannsu who feels he is ready to become a d'Galan often enters into a meditational apprenticeship with an already transcended d'Galan, who determines if he is indeed ready for such a step.

The following are titles that should apply to anyone involved in Rihannsu religion:

Graphical Rihannsu Page

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