Konalkepota: Dr. Zahir's Ethnographical Questionnaire

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=Konalkepota: Dr. Zahir's 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.

Please Note: This page is a constant work in progress, and as such, content may drastically change as I build my ConWorld.

Questions of Place

Describe the geography of where your society calls home.

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

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

What are the most commonly-grown foods?

What are the most commonly-eaten meats?

What foods are considered exotic or expensive?

What forms of alcohol are common? Rare?

  • Kofa is a certain kind of alcoholic drink.  Its taste is a cross between chocolate and coffee.
  • Likewise, the alcoholic drink, Tafa, has a tasteful blend of toffee and caramel.

These two are common, and served most everywhere.

  • Mofa, however, is a rare delicacy, and the chocolate alcoholic beverage is offset by the taste of mint. Only the rulers, and those the rulers deem friends, or at least people to be used (which is more common), have ever gotten a taste of it.  
  • Those who live in Pota do not tend to drink alcohol, for it does strange things to those with magical abilities.>
  • Indeed, if anyone living within the Dome doesn't drink, who is of age and allowed to drink alcohol, they may be suspected of magical abilities, and watched by the government.  If it is that the person has magic, they may be eliminated, or their family, thus rendering them outcast to be sent out unto Pota.  It depends on the whims of the rulers.>

Is there usually enough food and water for the population?

  • The people of Pota do not want for food.  In fact, because of the superstition surrounding them, the denizens of the, as yet unnamed, country/land (that the people of Pota were forced out of) make sure that the "others" have plenty to eat, lest the unfortunities visit them as well.
  • That being said, there is still enough food for the rest of the people, provided they do not discover the exact origins of their meat (in which case, they may become vegetarians... unless they figure out the fertilization methods)

What is this place's most abundant resource?

  • The most abundant resource is, indeed, the most valuable--or it is taken for granted, until the end--and that is Tech.  The simple definition of Tech, is that it provides the wearer powers they should not otherwise have.  Or else, it provides cover for the magical, as magic is not supposed to exist.
  • Tech is a cross between a metal, liquid, and electricity.  It is produced in secret underground facilities and made available to the public, for the price of their loyalty and will.

What is its most valuable resource?

  • Aside from Tech, the most valuable resource is the environmental domes that keep out the wild, and has been in place for so long, the people do not have a record of when it was put in place, or who even put it up.  (Blame the governmet.)
  • The people of Pota, however, live outside of this Dome(or encircling wall?).  Only the government Liason Officer can traverse between the Dome and Pota for food delivery, and must undergo exiting and re-entring rituals so as not to supersititously cross-contaminate the seperate cultures.

What resource is it most lacking?

How do people travel from one place to another?

  • Travel is not limmited to walking or running, but there is a certain Tech suit that allows teleportation.  Also, There is a type of vehicle that is operable on land, in air, or on/in the water.

Are the borders secure? In what way?

  • The Domes(or encircling walls?), which are said to protect from the wild, cover each city or villiage, and transport between them must first be approved.  However, one does not have to go out into the wild to travel, as teleportation is possible.
  • On the other hand, Pota, which is--according to the "civilized"--everywhere that is not enclosed within a Dome, does not have borders, and the people may travel anywhere, anywhen.  It is also nteresting to note that there is a complete lack of regard for former eye-color-race status.  The people of Pota have either been able to smuggle their tech, or found the liquid in *plenty* in the so-called wild that they form new tech--if they so desire to have it.  (Some do not need Tech to assist them in functions that they can magically perform.)

How many people live here?

  • It depends on the size of each Dome, and which races (determined by eye color) live within.  (Higher races, as in the gold- or silver-eyed, live within palaces, or at least mansions.  The brown-eyed, which are menial-labor workers, live in crowded quarters with little privacy, if they are lucky.  Those with black eyes, as with each race, live seperately.  These deal with the dead on all levels(both human, and animal), carrying out governmental orders to terminate, and recycling the bodies of the dead for meat or fertilization purposes.  
  • The people of Pota, however, do not count their number, and certainly do not report to the Domed civilizations.  They can marry, and if they bear children, can petition to be allowed to return to live in their former Dome.  Some wish it, and some of these people act as Pota operatives.  Most, however, do not wish to return to their former way of life.  (The "lesser races", (lower-class, if you will) are much greater in number, but were treated, in most instances, as less than human, and find that their life in Pota is much better than their former Dome life.

Where in this place do they congregate?

  • Every Dome has a central plaza in which the people congregate.  

What part of this place do they avoid? Why?

  • Often-times, people avoid the edges of the Domes.  Certainly some have put fences up a little way inside from the circumference of the seemingly clear Dome.  (If this is the case, then the Black-eyed race lives around the perimeter--which is a governmental advantage).  It must be pointed out that the Domes are not truly see-through, but there is a Tech-screen covering the entire inside, portraying a false outside.  <Thus, some governments could theoretically get away with pretending their Domed city is within the world's crust, and the "wild" is caves and tunnels.  (I do not know whether I will incorporate this.)>

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

  • In the Domes, every animal is domesticated.
  • Outside of the Domes, there are exotic animals, such that earth can only dream of.  These animals, which because of magic, are relatively domestic.

What are the most common wild animals?

  • Wild animals have been done away with in the Domed civilizations.  In Pota, however, magic (which does indeed exist) has rendered animals intelligent, and so are not truly wild.

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

  • In the Domes, the most common pets are dogs, cats, fish, primates, birds, even de-fanged snakes, lizards, etc--almost any small- to medium-sized animal that has been rendered safe to live with (will not harm anyone).

Questions of Time

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

How far back do its people believe it goes?

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

What was the best thing that every happened to them?

What in their past makes them feel ashamed?

What in their past makes them proud?

What are they afraid of happening again?

What are they hoping will happen? Do they think it likely?

What do they assume the future will hold?

How has this society changed? Do its current members realize this?

What are the most popular stories about the past?

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

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

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

Questions of Sex and Family

How many spouses may a man or woman have?

Who decides on a marriage?

Can a marriage end in divorce? How?

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?