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The Bilimarrd Culture was a complex society of the coasts of Region A and the Bilimarr islands that emerged in the Early Bronze Age.

EncompassesEdit

  • Bimilarr
  • Pjijim

Material CultureEdit

The Bilimarrd do not use agriculture on the same scale as many other societies in the region. This is for two major reasons; unfavourable soils, and an abundance of edible sea life. However, whilst sophistication in farming techniques is lacking there is a great complexity of water management. Cisterns and wells are maintained as a matter of basic living standards due to the lack of rivers on Bimilarr Island and the surrounding islets. This is less important at Pjijim where freshwater streams are available. Likewise, urban planning is deeply developed, particularly due to the importance of water management; all Bilimarrd cities are neatly arranged in grids, arranged around important water sources and distribution networks. The Bilimarrd prefer to build wooden houses and buildings rather than stone ones, mostly due to the scarcity of metal tools stronger than copper but also because of the utility of the trees found on the island. There are three exceptions to this general rule; store-houses, water-systems, and the djunkalarra, the singing theatres of the Bilimarrd. Gold is an occasional import, but pearl and coral are more usual prestige materials on the island. Ivory is most valued of all, being a rare import from the desert coasts far to the south. The crafting of bone artifacts is quite developed and sophisticated, and along with wood is the main medium for writing- due to frequent trade, the Bilimarrd have come to utilise the Ginki script tibquiote, which is usually inscribed into wood or bone with a special stylus; this stylus is usually made of bone, but the tip is copper. Bilimarrd ceramics have some similar themes to that of the Ginki as well, but this is due to more ancient commonalities with Ginkim than any recent trade- ceramics resembling shells (particularly tortoise shell), horns and hoofs are all utilised alongside actual shells and horns as common drinking vessels and small containers. Art frequently depicts both island animals and those of the surrounding seas; cormorants, flamingos, eels, tortoises, octopuses, skinks, pigs, and bats. The Bilimarr are also consumate seafarers in the seas of the western coast, particularly favouring the great canoe; this is a barely modified form of the vessels their nomadic ancestors once roamed the sea waters in, enlarged so as to carry more passengers.

SocietyEdit

There are only two full kings among the Bilimarrd; one at Bilimarr, the other at Pjijim. In both cases the king, by law, must dwell outside the city itself, and the term for king translates as 'man on the hill', which also means 'overseer'. They are primarily considered to be administrators of the city, but in the event of a war a specific war leader is appointed by the kings. Each city is considered a particular community unto itself, with the various towns and villages in nearby areas keeping shrines in the markets of the main city. Agricultural towns and villages are particularly valued for their produce, which is not common in the poor soils of the Bilimarrd lands, or at least poor soils for agricultural produce- numerous fruiting plants are foraged directly instead, and in time perhaps they may be domesticated. Sailors are a major social class on the Bimilarr island in particular, not only being fishermen but traders (and very occasionally warriors as well). When fishermen go on extended trips, they do so in small fleets. These fleets often have rich subcultures of their own, some harkening back to the days of sea nomads. This is partially due to the Bilimarrd fascination with the sea, which is reflected in their most sacred tradition; the djunkala, the singing of hymns to the sea. Gathering in the special theatres which face the sea, great swathes of the Bilimarrd spend perhaps an hour on the appointed days lullabying the waters. They sing songs of richly coloured coral, of successful voyages, of the beauty of sunsets, of the birth of laughing children, and of thanks for the riches of the sea. The days that these songs are performed on are not unified among all parts of the Bilimarrd, but there are some sacred days kept by all. On those days, those who ply these waters from other cultures speak of the entire sea being filled with beautiful voices. The dolphin in particular is held sacred as an animal among the Bilimarr, though their most commonly worshipped deity is instead Parnkapapa; the cloaked bat with a man's voice. Bilimarr law was traditionally remembered by special reciters who memorised over many years, but the recent adoption of writing has seen this tradition mostly replaced with written records as a primary institute of memory. However, the reciters still exist due to the use of shorthand in the legal scripture which requires elaboration in order to make complete sentences. The reciters are thus transitioning into a dedicated literary class. Warfare is generally rare in this era, but in the past it was used to secure the hegemony of Bilimarr over the islands and to secure the independence of Pjijim from Bilimarr. Bronze weaponry is imported from Ginkim, and is relatively rare compared to copper or bone weaponry- shark's teeth are a particularly prized arrowhead (though in practice correctly sized shark's teeth are rare enough that this is an ideal rather than a reality, and most arrowheads are actually copper). Salt is prized to help preserve both fish and pork, but an ideal meal involves fresh produce gathered that day (with the obvious exception of agricultural produce, such as maize); these meals involve the entire family.

In the Bilimarrd legal system, there exists a unique profession: that of the law-singer, or Giyaktjayunbu-yan, often abbreviated "Giyak-lagi."The law-singer is a special subclass of scribe in Bilimarr, who is tasked with advocating a side during a legal dispute. Generally, when a dispute occurs, each party would choose a singlegiyak-lagi, who would then be tasked with writing a song that incorporates the text of the laws that are being invoked, the circumstances of the invocation, a description of all the virtues that the party possesses, and hymns to the sea and king. When the giyaktjayunbu-pula (the name for a dueling pair) have finished their long songs, the king or, more often, a priest, decides whose song is more compelling. Evidence is seldom either gathered or considered; only the merits of the song bears consideration. In many cases, particularly in criminal cases, the defendant's song consists entirely of apologies and meek acceptance of whatever punishment the other giyak-lagi advocates, regardless of the wishes of the party.The giyak-lagi profession is undoubtedly a more religious profession than the standard scribe. The involved "trials" are similarly deeply religious, often sung by the sea just prior to the day'sdjunkala. In many villages, the resident priest is a giyak-lagi.

DietEdit

Maize, particularly semi-doughs made out of cornflour, is the carbohydrate of choice on the island alongside sorghum. However, due to limited agriculture this is not the most frequently consumed carbohydrate; that role instead belongs to edible seaweeds, which are practically a domesticated crop in Bilimarrd society. This is supplemented by fruits and roots native to the island, including the Bilimarr groundnut. Figs are able to be grown in Pjijim, and these are exported to the islands to provide some additional fruit in the Bilimarrd diet. Cattle did not prove sustainable on the island, but pigs have thrived and join bats as the only mammals on the islands. Game meat is strictly controlled on the islands, though this is too late for the pygmy elephants once native to the island who have been extinct for over three millenia. The main source of protein remains the abundant fish in the nearby waters. Eel and ayu are both commonly eaten, along with octopus, sea urchin, and occasionally shark. Mead is brewed here, as with Ginki material culture, to be drunk out of horn shaped vessels. However, the sap of the sweetwine tree is also fermented for alcohol, and this is a more common drink in the rural hinterland as compared to cities.

NotesEdit

 Pjijim is fond of using diplomacy to secure its position against aggressive mainland powers, and is a traditional ally to Ginkim for this particular reason.