The Aophoneasa were a yak-herding people in the west of the Eastern Wetlands during the Early Bronze Age.
The Aophoneasa people are a pastoral people who mainly herd yaks and trade and transport goods using their herds. Their main type of dwellings are Beehive houses constructed mainly of mud, poles and yak dung. Their diet consists largely of red meat and yak cheese, yak meat and goat meat is predominant. Barley has been introduced to the area and is slowly turning into a staple, allowing for storage and is fermented into alcohol and is eaten in the form of various flat-breads made from it's flour. The speciality of the Aophoneasa is their ability to operate long yak caravans through some treacherous mountain passes which leads to their trading prowess. Aoponeasa are a clan based people, with a clan headed by a chief who surrounds himself by advisors and retainers. Messengers between clans utilize a complex system like the Chasqui of the Inca; there is a tradition of high altitude endurance running amongst the Aophoneasa and these messengers are a product of that, meant to deliver messages from clan to clan, using knotted ropes to convey messages from a logographic system used by the Aophoneasa. These messengers carried along with them a shofar like horn made from yak horns to signal their arrival into clan territories, this is useful because it is against the gods to kill one of these messenger, and doing so is considered to curse the clan who does so and means war between clans. But this has been done usually by warring clans so there is a precedent.
Another tradition of the Aophoneasa is bridge building, rope bridges from which entire caravans can pass are built across mountain crossings, these are usually a community effort and building bridges can symbolize partnership between two clans, since it allows caravans to pass from one clan to another and building a bridge together can be the contract to an alliance between clans. The Aophoneasa are mostly a peaceful people, but they still carry with them a strong tradition of yak cavalry armed with bronze or sometimes stone lances, these act as the personal bodyguard of the chief along with the levies taken from the clan act as the army, armed with mostly small wicker shield and small fighting knives, shorter usually than a sword but handled like one and larger than a knife, similar to the saxon seax. But raids are few and far out, peaceful diplomatic methods are chosen usually instead. The chief of the clan can very usually be a woman, with men and woman being equally represented as priests, and among the candidates for clan leadership.
The clan is led by the chief and his/her advisors, candidates for the chief position are filled usually by the eldest advisor, who leads the funeral proceedings for the departed chief. And the position of last advisor is is assigned by unanimous decision by the advisory body, candidates can by anyone, but only those who believe themselves to be best fit due to wealth or ability are encouraged to run for advisor, gifting the advisory body is customary for the candidates, and there can be elaborate contests including tests of strength, judgment, cookery, endurance, herding and others, but these usually are organized by richer clans and only if there are few candidates. There are total of 6 advisors in the advisory body, the seventh being the chief. The retainers are usually men, because the Aophoneasa's gender roles assign war making to the men, and thus female chiefs are believed to promote diplomacy and surround themselves by their advisors and messengers rather than the retainers, thus the retainers usually have a conflict of interest with more dove-like members of the advisory body, overthrows of chiefs who offend the retainers greatly can be very common if the retainers feel too slighted.
The religious beliefs are animistic, with spirits of ancestors, mountains and some sacred animals sacrificed to regularly in an effort to appease them and make sure that they work towards the good of the clan.Aside from these spirits, the Aophoneasa believe that the souls of the departed live in a large underground complex, their idea of heaven, where there is magical brightness and no need to till fields or watch after herds, watched over by their earth god Aophla, one of their main gods. Their other main god is the sun god, Qurenlu, who watches over all life in their current dimension, and is the main war god and judgment god, whereas Aophla is the practitioner of diplomacy, altruism and benevolence. These gods are not given any gender, they are believed to be beyond the gender dichotomy since they created all life. War should be tempered by diplomacy, and thus the Aophoneasa believe that they ought to only make war to bring about peace by putting down other clans who want to upset the balance. Anyone who does not follow the tenets of life as dictated by the religious precedents will be judged strongly by Qurenlu, and Aophla will consider these souls unworthy to be sent to the underground heaven, and thus it is believed that these souls dissipate into nothing and made free of consciousness, the worst fate in the eyes of the Aophoneasa, who believe that these dissipated souls are the forms of the clouds, there but not conscious and just floating around aimlessly, sometimes this collective of disabled souls can cry (causing rain) or in anger for their fate cause thunderstorms and winds, it is not believed that these phenomena are affected by prayer as the souls are unconscious and will not listen. The funeral rites for the Aophoneasa are surprisingly not too different for noble or peasant, wood being collected for cremation represents destroying the mortal shell by fire (an element of Qurenlu) and allowing the soul to be judged by him, and then the ashes and bones are buried underground, said to help whether Aophla accepts them. Some criminals are not given these funeral rites and their cadavers are made to be eaten by vultures or simply rot away, which represents their soul not even reaching Qurenlu and definitely not sent to Aophla's dimension.
Clothing is made using yak wool, and sheep wool. With thick sweaters and caps being customary clothing. Chiefs don a leather cap with lining made of very expensive furs, inlaid with gems traded for with other peoples and carrying a very long sceptre, with a red orb on one end (symbolizing Qurenlu) and a rock from a sacred mountain to another (representing Aophla). Chiefs and advisory bodies live in a large stone complex with further storage buildings built of stone and religious buildings for sacrifices. Other sacrifices by priests are done where spirits are believed to reside.