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Re: OT: Corpses, etc. (was: Re: Gender in conlangs (was: Re: Umlauts (was Re: Elves and Ill Bethisad)))

From:Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>
Date:Thursday, November 6, 2003, 0:40
>Daine do go to the ossuaries (or other grave >sites), in spite of their belief that the >departed soul has move on. It's like with us: >many of us believe in some kind of migration of >the soul, whether it be into a heaven or into >another life; yet we still visit and even bother >with cemeteries. There is a psychological >attachment or connection with the dead that the >living can't easily shake.
In the case of Christians, it is more than just a psychological attatchment that causes us to bother with cemetaries. Since one of the unique beliefs of the Christian religion is that the body will be resurrected and live forever, we do not destroy the body, but bury or entomb it respectfully, waiting for the day that it will be raised. Orthodox Christians do not cremate those who have fallen asleep for this very reason. It's not that God cannot resurrect a body which has been completely destroyed, as by modern methods of cremation, because He can, but it is shows disrespect to God to go to a great deal of trouble to destroy something that you know He is planning to use again. But you are right that even people who do not have the reasons that I do for having cemetaries have a psycological attatchment that causes them to care about graves.
> So, even if the spirit >her dear departed grandmother is currently >abiding in the body of her young son, a Daine >woman might still mourn and wish to commemorate >the bond she shared with the older woman.
So do the Daine believe in some form of reincarnation?
> > I think that I will probably give the Cwendaso > > language two words for > > "bone." One will refer to animal bone, which > > they carve into various > > implements. The other will refer to human > > skeletons, which they are very > > careful with, because they do not allow human > > remains to become defiled. > >A useful distinction for the Cw. While Daine >don't fear remains, neither do they see it as >defilement to make a flute out of a relative's >arm. ;)
The only people in any of my concultures who would ever do anything like *that* would be the Trehelish Death priests, and they wouldn't do it to their relatives. They would burn their relatives, because it is much more comfortable for a dead person's spirit to wander in the "dark land under a starless sky" where the dead properly belong than to remain stranded in this world. (And that is saying something, because the "dark land" is not a particularly nice place. I think it's sort of like being stuck nowhere forever.) The Trehelish punish criminals by first executing them and then burying them so that their spirits are stranded in this world. (And this is not incompatible with my other post where I said that the spirits of the dead are dangerous to the living, because the priests can perform special "bounding" rituals which will keep the ghosts within the bounds set on the graveyard.) The priest of the Trehelish Death cult do make musical instruments out of the bones of their sacrificial victims - and I am not talking about the animal ones. <grim smile> Yes, they do *that*. (You know, I started out with the Trehelish being my first conculture. They were the only one for a long time, and this about Death being their most powerful diety is something that I only came up with a few months ago. It really changes how I view them - they're really not as nice as they used to be -, but it also explains some things about their culture that I've known about for a long time, such as the general level of brutality by our standards - and by Cwendaso standards.) Anyhow, yes, they do *that*, but nowadays they are generally confined it to doing it only twice a year in each temple, and they are no longer allowed to select victims by lottery. Victims can now be obtained only from the Trehelish government from the ranks of condemned criminals; anything else is strictly illegal. Four hundred years ago, they were performing such sacrifices *much* more often, and the victims were never criminals. And even though Death is the most powereful deity in their pantheon, he is not the most worshipped one today. These days, his worship has been falling out of favor, and there is a small minority of Trehels who absolutely refuse to worship him. And, Padraic, you have yourself to thank/blame that my Trehelish Death cult makes musical instruments from human bones. Back when we were having that discussion about different types of musical instruments, you had brought up the Daine's habit of using Daine skulls for resonators, etc., and I responded that the Cwendaso would *never* do anything of the sort. But I got to thinking that that it would be a resonable sort of thing for the priests of Death to do, since I already knew that they practiced human sacrifice. I haven't updated the website to indicate that they use human bones in ceremonial instruments, but I'll put it in sometime. For the Tovláug/Cwendaso, nearly anything would constitute defilement of a body: you can't let the birds and beasts get at it; you can't burn it; and for the last four hundred years you can't even undress it to put new clothes on; you get the idea. They are very conservative in that department. And Tovlm instructs that the bodies of enemies are not to be allowed to be defiled. So...let the Cwendaso get into a minor war with the Trehelish...when the Cwendaso win a battle, they are *required* not to allow the bodies of their fallen enemies to become defiled. (They are allowed to despoil the bodies as long as they don't strip them.) So they stand guard over them, waiting for a party of Trehelish soldiers to come and claim the bodies and give them funerals...but the Trehelish don't know that they're expected to do that or that they would be allowed to. So when the Cwendaso can't stand the smell any longer, they bury the bodies. To them, this prevents them from becoming defiled, since the birds and beasts can't get at them underground. But we know how the Trehelish feel about burying bodies (or you do if you've read my other post on this thread today), and they became quite offended...Nasty mess. Anyhow, there is a sister people to the Cwendaso, and they probably still worship their ancestors. Who knows, they might be like your Daine as far as making musical instruments out of human bone. I know very little about them, other than that they have probably still not come out of the Sone Age. (The Cwendaso themselves are only partly out of the Stone age. They use metal, but do not manufacture it themselves. Fairly soon, though, they are going to be a culture who simultaneously hunts with flint arrowheads and keeps written records. They're a bit of an oxymoron, but I like them a lot.) I assume that these people related to the Cwendaso have not been exterminated in the last millenium, but I'm absolutely not certain of that. My conworld does have other peoples, such as the Telekesto, who are related to the Trehelish, but I don't know much about them at all, except that Telekest is a kingdom, not a representative democracy. Any culture related to the Trehelish is going to share the same underlying mythology, so I think it is fair to assume that the Telekesto also worship Death as the most powerful diety. (And they may be more ardent worshippers these days than the Trehelish are. That's actually fairly disturbing to contemplate.) Another little thing that I am now wondering about is how Trehelish medical science managed to reach the ralatively advanced level that it has if they can't study human anatomy by disecting corpses. There may be things that can be done to a corpse by the priests that will render it temporarily safe to handle. On the other hand, the Trehelish may have the Nidirino, a people whom they subjugated and who are now partially integrated into Trehelish society and culture, to thank for medical advances.
> > Now > > that I think about it, the Trehelish, with > > their pathological fear of > > uncremated human bones, may need more than one > > term corresponding to > > "bone." I suspect that I can get away without > > creating specialized lexical > > items, though, if I simply use a set of idiom > > such as "charred bones" and > > "uncharred bones." > >Or something along the lines of "safe" and >"unsafe" bones. I.e., bones rendered >nonthreatening. That way, if it's just human >bones they fear, animal bones would naturally be >"safe". But then, how do they know if a bone >they've picked up is nòt human? [Most times it's >obvious, but there are some that are more >difficult to tell...]
And if they're not sure, believe me, they will toss it into a fire, pronto. Either that or they will avoid touching it altogether and get one of the Death priests to come out and pick it up and char it for them. It is not something that they want to take chances with in the least. > "The Instruction" from tovl
> > - 'to instruct' + -m, nominalizing suffix.) > > Tovlm in English can be found > > on my website, at the bottom of the Cwendaso > > section. > >Excellent! I'll have to look into that. The >Teacher's book can be found at mine.
If I could find your website :) Never mind...I checked out your .sig. I'll take some time to read it when I get the chance.
> > This is all interesting information. It's > > always interesting when the two > > of us end up talking about Daine and > > Cwendaso/Tovláugad. > >Well, there seems to be some common ground; >though there are clear enough differences!
I started taking a look at your Daine pages. There are some similarities, but plenty of differences. I'll have to redo portions of the Cwendaso religion webpage, because I now know more than I did when I wrote it, and I have also realized that there may be a better way of organizing the first portion of that page to give a better general feeling for their religion. They are not atheists in the least, but they have been accused of it. They neither build temples nor offer sacrifices, and that makes them incomprehensible to everyone else. Isidora


Costentin Cornomorus <elemtilas@...>
John Cowan <cowan@...>
Isidora Zamora <isidora@...>