Elithoan Ethnographical Questionnaire

From FrathWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Elithoan Ethnographical Questionnaire

Dr. Zahir’s Ethnographical Questionnaire was compiled by David Zahir to help in the description of concultures, and can be found in the files section of the Conculture group at Yahoo.


This article describes the culture of Elitho, the nation in the north of the island of Tygenoc wherein the Celinese language originated. The idea of a pan-Elithoan culture and nation is a relatively recent (and, as a result, a controversial) one; the Elithoan Commonwealth has been around for less than a century, prior to which, Celinese Tygenoc was a collection of independent states. As a result, the responses of this questionnaire are intentionally broad, since differences in culture between the Extreme North and Ioðinbêr, or between Chlasc and Perís can be considerable.


Questions of Place

Describe the geography of where your society calls home.

Elitho is situated on the Northern half of Tygenoc, a large island comparable in size (but not in climate) with Greenland. The myriad isles dotted around Northern and Eastern Tygenoc mostly form part of Elitho too. Divided into thirty-six traditionally independent tystírain (states), Elitho ranges from the mountainous north - replete with fjords - to the forest-dominated centre, to the rolling hills and dales of the borderlands. There are several major cities, and hundreds of smaller towns.

Describe the climate your society deals with. How severe are their seasons?

In the South, the difference between the seasons is not that great; the summers are balmy but not immensely hot, and the winters are mild, if rainy. In the extreme North, winters can be bitter with numerous blizzards.

What kinds of natural disasters has this society gotten used to?

The only common natural disaster is floods during the early spring, but engineering has limited the damage they cause.

What are the most commonly-grown foods?

Pears, apples, potatoes, grains, potatoes.

What are the most commonly-eaten meats?

Hogget, goat, horse, rabbit and pheasant are the most commonly eaten meats.

What foods are considered exotic or expensive?

Beef and pork are considered exotic, as is cow’s milk and cheese; milk and cheese are produced by goats in Elitho.

What forms of alcohol are common? Rare?

The most common forms of alcohol are cider (sydrë), whiskey (hwysgín) and fruit-flavoured witbier (lairulos). Very uncommon is beer with hops; practically unheard of are vodka and gin.

Is there usually enough food and water for the population?

Certainly. Elitho is a net exporter of food, with an expansive agricultural belt. Most of Elitho's water come from the plentiful lakes and rivers that characterise swathes of the country, with some also coming from ground water and wells.

What is this place's most abundant resource?

Fruits, vegetables, timber, livestock, hydroelectric power from the sea.

What is its most valuable resource?

Silver, limestone, vanadium.

What resource is it most lacking?


How do people travel from one place to another?

There are a great many forms of transport in Elitho, with the most common being the train. The Caraiðot Elithoeg (Elithoan Trains) system began with a route between Ioðinbêr and Aír, via Chlasc, some 200 years ago, and thus the railways precede the creation of a single Elithoan state by over a century. One can pretty much get to any town on the railway network, often by just taking two trains; one to the regional exchange (the largest settlement in that area) and one local train.

Riverboats are still very commonly used, particularly in the north - sometimes, a riverboat trip can be quicker than going by train, and more direct. Ships were, for a long time, the standard for travelling long distances, and still are the most common way of travelling from the Elithoan mainland to its many islands, and between islands. However, airships are becoming an increasingly popular means of international and long-distance internal travel; and there are now nearly 40 airship ports dotted around the country.

Inside the towns and cities, there are a number of types of municipal public transport; most common are local trains, trams, metros and trolleybuses, but some towns have cable cars, municipal riverboats and amphibious buses. In terms of private transport, quadracycles and private ships and boats are all common.

Are the borders secure? In what way?

The border with Beichlë is one of the most secure in Lorech, in part because of attempted Beichlír invasions, in part because of the Beichlë government’s paranoia about defections to Elitho. The borders are guarded night and day on both sides. The border with Jinyero is open due to a customs agreement.

How many people live here?

Around 70 million people live in Elitho proper.

Where in this place to they congregate?

That greatly depends. Folk from the countryside often spend part of their weekend in the nearest big city, but often just congregate in the town halls and clubs.

What part of this place do they avoid? Why?

No part of the country is avoided.

What are the most common domesticated animals here? And what are they domesticated for?

Goats, sheep and horses are the most common domesticated animals. Goats and sheep provide meat, cheese and milk. Horses are used for riding, agricultural work and for meat. Domesticated fowl provide eggs and meat.

What are the most common wild animals?

There are hundreds of animal species in Elitho. Red foxes, fallow deer, great bustard, snowy owls, merlin falcons and red pandas are considered typical animals.

Which animals are likely to be pets? Which ones won't be?

Cats, domesticated rabbits and dogs are by far the most common pets.

Questions of Time

How far back does this society's written history go?

Written records about history in Celinese varieties go back over a thousand years, with written history in Tygenoc going back over three millenia.

How far back do its people believe it goes?

They believe that there has been a Celinese society for at least a millenium, and a civilisation in present day Elitho for thousands of years.

What is the worst disaster they believe they've faced?

Beichlë’s invasion and taking over of the Elithoan Sairstír is considered the nadir of modern Elithoan history; the southernmost tystírain of Elitho were taken over during the Dual Civil War in Jinyero-Esfoth and Elitho, with the local populace not allowed to leave the Beichlír state. The administration of Cothí Mylôn is considered the worst government of United Elitho.

What was the best thing that every happened to them?

It is difficult to say. Many elements of Elithoan history are very positive, but there is not one single event deemed “the greatest.”

What in their past makes them feel ashamed?

There is nothing in the history of the United Elithoan commonwealth that provokes shame on the part of its citizens, given that the nation has been dedicated to democracy, justice and equality since its inceptions. However, some citizens from Ioðinbêr regret their actions against Celinese and Jinyer in Western Jinyero, which arguably facilitated the Beichlë occupation of Sairstír.

What in their past makes them proud?

Many aspects of their history make them proud. Some patriotism revolves around Elithoan success in protecting their country against Beichlë, but most of the time, people are patriotic about Elithoan states having the oldest parliamentary system in the Northern hemisphere; the declaration of essential freedoms; the conservation of the nation’s natural beauty, and, perhaps most of all, the lifelong learning educational system that is the model for many others around Lorech.

What are they afraid of happening again?

An invasion. Current invasion-related preoccupations no longer focus so much on Beichlë, with whom the federal government has negotiated a difficult peace. The main worry on the minds of the average Elithoan is the Tsi-Circassír conflict. The Circassírain are the closest allies of Elitho, and are considered a sister nation, given that both share similar heritage and a common language. The Tsi (or đhì) are one of the most powerful nations on Lorech, and declared war on Circassio under the pretext that parts of their expansive, archipelago nation are inside the territorial claims of Tsi. Pacifist Elitho have been a mediator in the dispute, and have so far helped avoid the formal breakout of war between the two. If talks fail, then the Elithoans will have to choose between fighting alongside their allies and risking invasion, or sitting back and perhaps letting their kindred nation to be subsumed by Tsi.

Who in the past is the greatest hero? The worst villain?

There is no national hero, but the great first consuls of years past are revered, particularly Líre Cerwín (architect of a united Elitho) Cairí Bleimonth (writer of the Declaration of Essential Freedoms and creator of the Statutory Minimum of Public Investment) and Yseoc Naiaríth (the First Consul who brought in the lifelong learning system as it remains today.) There is no national villain either, though Mylôn and many commanders of Beichlë are widely despised.

Do people think the present better or worse than the past?

It is difficult to make a generalisation about a nation wherein attitudes are often polarised, but most believe that the present is better than the past, and that the nation continues to make strides and progress.

Do people believe the future will be better or worse than the present or past?

It depends whom you talk to.

Questions of Sex and Family

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

One. Any more than one is against the law, considered an ‘offence against the dignity’ of the monogamous spouse.

Who decides on a marriage?

Both partners. The traditional requirement was for a couple to spend five years together before they could marry and have children, and to a certain extent, this is still the default practice. Both partners decide to start a promise, which is similar to an engagement, but is legally recognised - it does not have the same legal binding, but endows upon the other partner certain legal rights. Then, after a period of at least two or three years, both partners agree whether to marry or not, at which stage they begin preparations to wed.

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

Divorce is allowed, but is a relatively uncommon circumstance given that many long-term unsuitable couples break up in the extended engagement period. If both members of the couple agree to break the marriage, there is no need for legal proceedings. If one partner wants to divorce and the other does not, then a neutral arbiter works out the details of the divorce.

Who usually takes custody of children if a marriage ends for some reason?

How is adultery defined? What (if any) is the punishment? Who decides?

How are families named?(g) What happens to orphans?

How are boy and girl children treated differently?

Are premarital relations allowed?

How does your society define incest? Rape? How do people react to these?

What, if anything, is considered a good marriage gift?

What secret vice is believed to be widely practiced?

What secret vice actually is practiced?

What sexual habits are widely believed common among foriegners?

How do people react to homosexuality?

How do the genders dress?

Is prostitution legal? How are prostitutes viewed? Is this accurate?

What professions or activities are considered masculine?

What professions or activities are viewed as feminine?

What inanimate or sexless things are considered male or female?

What is the biggest sexual taboo?

Does this society connect the ideas of marriage with love?

What does this society mean by the word "virgin" and how important it it?

Questions of Manners

Who speaks first at a formal gathering?

What kinds of gifts are considered in extremely bad taste?

How do younger adults address their elders?

What colors are associated with power? With virtue? With death?

If two men get into a fight, how is this supposed to be resolved?

If two women get into a fight, how should that be resolved?

When is it rude to laugh at something funny?

What kinds of questions cannot be asked in public? In private? At all?

How do people demonstrate grief?

What does this society do with their corpses?

What kinds of jewelry do people where? And when?

Who inheirits property? Titles? Position?

What happens to those suffering from extreme mental illness?

What are the most popular games? How important are they?

What parts of the body are routinely covered?

How private are bodily functions like bathing or defecating?

How do people react to physical deformity?

When and how does someone go from child to adult?

Questions of Faith

Is there a formal clergy? How are they organized?

What do people believe happens to them after death? How, if at all, can they influence this?

What happens to those who disagree with the majority on questions of religion?

Are there any particular places considered special or holy? What are they like?

What are the most popular rituals or festivals?

What do people want from the god or gods? How do they try and get it?

How do their religious practices differ from their neighbours?

What is the most commonly broken religious rule?(i) What is the least-violated religious rule?

What factions exist within the dominant religious institutions? How do they compete?

Are there monastic groups? What do they do and how are they organized? How do you join one?

How are those who follow different faiths treated?

What relationship do religious and political leaders have?

What superstitions are common? What kinds of supernatural

events/beings do people fear?

Questions of Government

Who decides whether someone has broken a law? How?

What kinds of punishments are meted out? By whom? Why?

How are new laws created or old ones changed?

Is there some form of clemency or pardon? What is involved?

Who has the right to give orders, and why?

What titles do various officials have?

How are the rules different for officials as opposed to the common person?

How do government officials dress?

Is the law written down? Who interprets it?

Once accused, what recourse does someone have?

Is torture allowed? What kinds?

How are people executed?

Who cannot rise to positions of leadership?

Is bribery allowed? Under what circumstances?

What makes someone a bad ruler in this society? What can be done about it?

What are the most common or dangerous forms of criminal?

Questions of War

Who declares war?

Who has the power to declare conditions of peace?

What happens to prisoners taken in battle?

What form of warfare does this society use?

Who are the Elite warriors? What distinguishes them?

How does someone get command of troops?

Where do the loyalties of military units lie?

Are there professional soldiers? Do they make up the bulk of the military?

Has this society ever attacked another? Do they want to? What would make them do so?

Who are their enemies? Who's winning?

What do soldiers do when there's no war?

Questions of Education

Does this society have its own language? Its own writing?

How common is literacy? How is literacy viewed?

What form and value are books?

Who teaches others? How do they teach?

Who decides who learns to read or write?(f) Who teaches professions, like carpenter or scribe?

Are foreigners ever brought in to teach new skills? Who does that?

How do this society's doctors try to treat wounds and sickness?

Which medical assumtions of this society are wrong?

Questions of Art

What are the favorite artforms?

What are the least-favorite?

How respected are artists?

Do artists require official or unofficial protection?

What kinds of trouble are artists in particular likely to find themselves in?

How might a very successful artist live?

What forms of theatre does your society have?

How naturalistic or stylized is your society's art?

What shapes are most common in your society's arts, like embroidery or architecture?

Which artforms get the most and least respect?

What form does censorship take?

Who may not be an artist?

What qualities equal "beauty" in this society?

What makes a man or woman especially beautiful?

How do people react to tattoos? Piercings? Facial hair? Make-up?

Questions of sex and marriage

Is sex confined to marriage?

Or, is it supposed to be? What constitutes aberrant behavior?

Is there anything about this culture or religion in that culture that specifically addresses sexual conduct?

Are there laws about it? What about prostitution?

How old should someone be in your culture to be having sex?

What is considered too great a difference in age for a couple?

Do relationships allow multiple partners?

Should sex be a one-to-one experience? Or are groups allowed?

And, of course, what about homosexuality? Is it frowned on? Encouraged?

Questions of death and burial

What is their understanding of death and dying?

Do they cremate their dead? Or, how are dead bodies disposed of?

Is the family responsible for the body?

What part do the priests play?

Are there cemeteries at all?

Or, does everyone have a crypt in back with all the relatives in it?

Do people visit the dead? If so, how often and why?

Questions of suicide

What do people in this culture think about suicide?

Is it the greatest sin one can commit? Or is it a sin at all?

Is it the great and last comfort of a tormented soul?

Is it worse than murder?

Questions of Law, Justice and Police

Is there a civilian police force, or is law enforcement the province of the military?

Is the police force a nationalised one, or are there multiple regional forces?

How "military" are they? Are they usually/ever armed?

What is the extent of their authority? Can they shoot you? Can they use magic? Can they torture or otherwise force a confession? Can they use telepathy?

Are there individuals or groups who are above the law?

Is there a secret police?

What is the role of police informants, if any?