|Common Names||Sudemen, Two-Tribe Velheim|
|Classification||Nomadic animal herders|
|Social Classes||Herders, Pastoralists, Nomads, Medicine People|
The Tarkkin are a unique society within Aloria, being made up of two distinct tribes of peoples: the mountain and steppe dwelling Ylhällä and the forest-dwelling Sudemo. Both survive largely through tending animals; sheep and goats for those in the mountains while the forest dwellers thrive on pastoral care for the Tarkkin Metsähivri, a species of cervid bred by the Sudemo. Although once enemies, the arrival of the Skagger Horde drove the the two tribes together to help eachother defend their land; a bond that has remained ever since. Marriage is extremely important to their society, and it also plays a key role in their religion, which is a variation of Oldt Fayth that emphasizes two married pairs of the Oldt Gods. To many, the Tarkkin are a curious people but a distant one, as they live in one area of Drixagh and are rare to leave their homeland. They have survived for centuries, but only time will tell if they will continue to survive the growing hostility toward Northern Cultures from people of the South.
The Tarkkin are an old society, but one with a complicated history. As the Tarkkin lack a written language, still largely relying on orature and imagery, their early years are vague. It is generally accepted that the Ylhällä are the older of the two tribes, as scholars have been able to determine at most 300 years of history from their cave paintings. It seems that in the era either around or just post the Cataclysm, the tribe moved into the mountains and began their existence as nomads, tending to small flocks of sheep and goats they brought with them, but occasionally descending from their high mountains to hunt in the Throatcapstog, the regional forest. Soon into these excursions, they encountered enemies, depicted in red pigment in their wall art, who fought against them. From here, the orature of Tarkkin society offers a clear picture as to what transpired. The two tribes fought against each other for a handful of years, but both found themselves under the heel of the Skagger Horde, which washed over Drixagh from places unknown roughly half a century after the Cataclysm. Rather than fighting each other, the two tribes tried to unify and resist these attackers, but there were too many, and they were savage fighters, easily defeating the more primitive ancestors of the Sudemo and the Ylhällä. They took control of the region and intermarried with the Tarkkin, also turning the two tribes into sources of manpower and supply. It is thought that the Tarkkin’s obsession with bears comes from this point in their history, but it may have also been an earlier outgrowth from the Ylhällä living in caves where bears were a distinct danger.
By 120 AC though, the Tarkkin had begun to unify more formally. Their stories tell of secret meetings and daring deals under the nose of Skagger masters to unify their people and begin to push the Skaggers out. In 150 AC, this action took place, and the Tarkkin rapidly kicked out Skagger forces in their region. Some claim that Skagger husbands who fought against their kinsmen on the side of the Tarkkin were allowed to stay, but it is impossible to know for sure. Shortly afterward, as the Tarkkin pushed outward and drove south, beyond their traditional territory, they came across the Regalian Empire. Unfortunately, to the Regalians, the Tarkkin appeared just as savage as the Skaggers and the fighting lasted several days as the Tarkkin continued to retreat back, returning to their traditional lands. By this time, luckily, Tarkkin captives from battle had revealed the truth to the Regalians who opted for a more peaceful approach to dealing with the Tarkkin. A simple deal was hammered out, and the Tarkkin were left in peace. Soon after this, the formal Order of Maailma was set down by their society in order to bring a true peace onto their lands which had seen conflict for over a century. The first marriages between the two tribes occurred during this era, and the formal boundaries between the two groups were also set out. Instead of attacking each other for their supplies as they had decades earlier, they would now trade for it. In the century since then, the Tarkkin have largely lived in peace. They made contact with isolated pockets of their people on some of the small islands just off Drixagh’s north coast and integrated them into their system of life, while also establishing peaceful ties to the Velheim and encountering the Fridurfolk for the first time in 198 AC.
But recent years have seen problems come to their relatively isolated society. The raw material wealth of their land, from the great and ancient trees that grow in the forests of the Sudemo to the uncovered or minimally worked minerals of the Ylhällä’s mountains, has attracted the attention of the Regalian Empire. While other sources supply the Empire with these materials, surveys and more frequent contact with Imperial officials have served to make the Tarkkin worried and restless. These feelings were not helped by the Burning of the North, which the Tarkkin survived by declaring loyalty to Regalia along with the Velheim in their lands, further driving worries into the population about their future. For now, though, the Empire is busy elsewhere, and so the Tarkkin carry out their days in their corner of Drixagh as they have for the past century.
Language and Dialects
The Tarkkin speak a unique language called Emänkeel or “Mother’s Tongue” in Common. Birthed in the mountainous regions of Drixagh, it is unknown how such a vastly different Language from the others found in the northern regions of the Archipelago came to exist. It's infamous for being difficult to learn by outsiders, caused by its numerous grammatical cases and complicated conjugation. One especially interesting aspect of Emänkeel is its habit of borrowing words from other languages. The Emänkeel’s vocabulary is quite small, hence it’s common to use words from other languages when the word needed doesn’t exist in Emänkeel. Words are most commonly loaned from Skodje, Common, and other Languages encountered by the herdsmen in their travels and dealings with people.
Not unlike other Northern languages, dialects are a prevalent part of Emänkeel. They differ vastly in every tribe and are so distinctive from each other that one can tell where a Tarkkin comes from just from their way of speaking. The dialects between Tarkkin societies can sound so different from each other that even a native speaker can find themselves confused by a dialect that isn’t theirs.
There isn’t a clear pattern in how the Tarkkin are named. One thing that is uniform in most Tarkkin names though is the generous use of diphthongs and double consonants and/or vocals, but even that rule doesn’t apply every time. Just like words in Emänkeel, names are often “borrowed” from other languages, most often from Common, and are made to be more fitting for the Tarkkin tongue. Matthew becomes Matti, John becomes Joona, Caroline becomes Karoliina, and Alice becomes Aliisa to give a few examples. Lastly, it’s common for Tarkkin parents to name their child after a highly respected elderly relative or family friend, as it is believed that doing so will provide the child with great luck and longevity. Some examples of first names are below:
The Tarkkin believe themselves to exist outside of Regalia’s order, as they make up barely 1% of the total population of the Regalian Empire, and also live in a very remote and natural region that “only the Gods rule over.” As a result, they do not follow Regalian Law, and as they are not an entity directly hostile to the Regalian Empire, this is cautiously allowed. Velheim lords still try and demand their obedience; however, and this can be a source of tension between the two parties. As for Tarkkin laws, they are heavily focused on the structure of Clans, the subgroups to the two tribes that make up Tarkkin society, and marriage. Each Clan of the Sudemo has a “bonded” Clan in the Ylhällä, and bonded Clans exchange brides and grooms in special religious-based ceremonies to strengthen the ties between the two groups; s. Such events are special, holy times, and occur every four years. Due to their nomadic lifestyle though, it is common for a representative group from a Clan too distant to all make the trip in time, to be formed and go to their bonded Clan so that the bride or groom might be given away with their own people present. The largest Clans are known to swap at most a dozen brides and grooms at once. The ceremonies of marriage are strictly in law, and punishments are doled out harshly to parties who interrupt them. It is important to note that these marriages are only a small section of the many dozens of marriages that take place within a single Clan, as the trade of brides and grooms is limited in scope to being, as mentioned, once every four years. When these marriages joining Sudemo and Ylhällä together occur, it is common for other, normal marriages to also occur at the same time.
Beyond the rites and structure of marriage, the societal order of the Clan is laid into law. Each Clan is headed by a grand patriarch or matriarch, Clan Mothers for the Sudemo while the Ylhällä have Clan Fathers. These leaders are not elders per se but are instead elected every four years by a majority vote based on skill and knowledge and prowess, as determined by the Clan that surrounds them. Emergency elections can be called if or when one Clan leader dies, or their old age gets the better of their mind, but such things are rare as most chosen are in the later middle ages, 40 to 50. The election sees all capable of turning out going to a Clan gathering, and then physically standing with the candidate they accept. If there are more than two, rounds are held where the individual with the least is eliminated until it comes down to two individuals. Cheating, such as bribery of individuals is not allowed, though each Clan has slightly different definitions of what exactly a bribe might be. This tribal democracy is strange to outsiders but is thought to have been some leftover system from before the Skagger Horde came, the Tarkkin returning to it as a tie back to their roots. As for the remaining laws of Tarkkin society, they are dedicated to herding and animals, especially concerning accusation of theft and animal mistreatment.
Lifestyle and Customs
Order of Maailma
Tarkkin society operates complexly in regards to family and gender roles, greatly influenced by their religion and their separate but blended societies. This entire system is known as the Order of Maailma (Order of the Universe) and helps them to keep order in their world. The Tarkkin live in two tribes, that of pastoral Sudemo and the steppe-mountain nomads of the Ylhällä. Both groups have a standard set of four paradigms for married couples to follow, displaying the various possible combinations of a dominant or subservient husband and a dominant or subservience wife. Each paradigm is an ideal, and as such is rarely followed fully, but expectations exist for each which are usually met to some degree by the two married parties. The first, and rarest, are two dominant partners. In such an instance, Tarkkin custom demands no competition or jostling for leadership of the house, but joint partnership in it all and a clear division in labor, responsibility for children, etc. with conflict over these duties not occurring in front of children lest it weaken family bonds. The next two, where the male or female is dominant and paired to a subservient partner, calls for the dominant personality to lead discussions and command the household. This is the most common structure of household in Tarkkin society, with female dominant households more common among the Sudemo while male dominant families are more common in the Ylhällä. The final paradigm and one of the rarest ones are where both parties are subservience. These matches are not looked down upon so much as considered “sweet” and requiring external guidance, usually from the parents of each half of the couple, who then must act according to their own paradigms. These paradigms, unfortunately, do not leave any room for same-sex couplings. Such couples must keep their relationship a secret and can never be formally wed to each other in Tarkkin society. This can sometimes be a bit awkward, as it is usually an unsaid truth and the worst kept secret in tribes as to who are secretly in a same-sex romantic relationship, which is added to be the fact that is it very rare for anyone to vocalize this truth. In addition, the Tarkkin are not polygamous. The Order of Maailma does not allow for adultryeither, and if anyone is caught doing so, they are often punished harshly.
The Tarkkin are nomadic people with a deep connection to animal life, which is shown clearly in the unique celebrations they engage in. Winters are cold and dark up in Drixagh, so themes of celebrating light and warmth are also commonly found in Tarkkin holidays. Despite their holidays being heavily spiritual and based in religious ideas, the Tarkkin view them more as a time to relax and spend time with one’s friends and family, rather than as something strictly and uniquely religious. A listing of their major holidays can be seen read below.
- Sydäsuvi, a celebration of summer, the sun, and love. It’s celebrated on midsummer’s eve, on the day the sun stays up for the longest. It’s the most important of all Tarkkin holidays, and the one favored by most. Sydäsuvi is celebrated by building a great bonfire, which is then lit up in the evening. Other ways to celebrate include a great feast, singing and dancing, and lastly but perhaps most importantly, heavily drinking. The Tarkkin also claim it is the day the four major gods of their religion were married, and it is common for marriages to also occur around this time.
- Kekri, a celebration of the last harvest and the beginning of winter. It’s around this time livestock is herded to winter pastures. Kekri is celebrated at the end of fall, or whenever last crops are harvested. Kekri is meant to be a time to relax and unwind and the last chance to bask in the light and warmth of the sun before winter comes. Kekri usually lasts about a week, which is filled with dancing, singing, and other communal activities. Kekri is also seen as a time to remember and honor the deceased. It’s common for a Tarkkin family to dedicate an empty seat and a portion of a meal for deceased family members. This also the time most people want the Arpuja to contact the dead for them.
- Hela is the celebration of the ending of winter and fertility. Also the time the Tarkkin herd their livestock back to summer pastures. Just like Sydäsuvi, Hela is celebrated with a bonfire, but this time several are built instead of just one. Once the fires has been lit, the Tarkkin herd reindeer to run between the bonfires. Doing this is believed to keep the livestock from getting sick. Food and alcohol sacrifices are also a part of Hela. This is done to keep the spirits and gods content, and so ensuring a warm summer and a good harvest. A famous local story about a competition between Ul and Balla is often told at the end of the celebration.
- Kouvonpäev, a holiday dedicated to worshipping bears. The Tarkkin see bears as holy beings and believe that worshipping them keeps them from harm's way and protected, both physically as well as spiritually. Kouvonpäev’s celebrations include a great hunt, in which everyone who is capable partakes in. The goal is to hunt down a bear. The celebrations will not proceed unless a bear is successfully found and killed. It’s not unheard of for this to take days or even weeks, so there isn’t really a set day Kouvonpäev is celebrated on, though it’s always sometime in late spring. Once the hunt is done, a great feast is to be had. The feast is intended to be a time to give thanks and praise to bears. Every part of the hunted bear gets a purpose and gets treated with great respect; nothing is put to waste. The fur is used for clothing, the meat is eaten, the bones, paws, and claws get to be used in ritual practices. To finish the evening of celebration, there is a wedding. A young woman gets chosen by the Arpuja, usually beforehand, to be symbolically wedded to the Spirit of the Bear. This is a sacrifice of sorts and is done to keep the Spirit content. After the ceremony, though, the woman is free to be married by flesh and blood individuals and bears no particular special position in Tarkkin society, as this event happens every year.
The Tarkkin share a common religion in the form of the Oldt Fayth, altered to fit their society. Their core beliefs focus on two married couples, Varld and his wife Aella and Vinella and her husband, Bjarkan. With these four deities also comes a dense mythology about them unique to the Tarkkin, which also shines a light onto their ancient background. Their stories say in old times, Varld and Vinella were cousins, living together in the forests while Aella and Bjarkan lived in the mountains. But, Varld and Bjarkan were restless and desired female companionship beyond their relatives. They ultimately found their wives while out traveling, bringing the Oldt Gods together for a great wedding and exchange of brides. Varld went into the mountains to live with Aella while Bjarkan went with Vinella into the forest. In this way, the two groups of gods were unified, and it has remained to this way ever since. Tarkkin mythology also features a variety of tales and stories about the acts done by each spouse to convince, seduce, or woo their lovers. In each of these, the Order of Maailma is established as each of the four gods has a set of at least four stories, one of each corresponding to the ideas of the Order. The wider pantheon of the Oldt Fayth is also represented in these stories, but are usually secondary characters and serve as background for the events unfolding around the wooing and the marriages. Additionally, despite being married, some myths discuss events that transpire when the couples go and visit each other, helping to maintain balance in the world by moving around.
These myths make up the core beliefs of the Tarkkin, but there are other unique touches that exist in their society. One of the largest second beliefs is that all things have a Spirit, even inanimate, man-made objects. This may sound strange to Velheim and others, given that the Oldt Gods already provide a source of worship tied to nature, but these souls and spirits are often characterized as the direct agents of the gods in the mortal world. For example, the Spirit of the Bow is a servant of Vinella just as the Spirit of the Cumulus Cloud is a servant of Aella. These lesser gods are often respected more in everyday life, with sayings, curses, and swears relating to them, with major and important events bringing out the worship of the prime four in addition to the worship of these Spirits. Their worship, in the various forms it takes (from dedicating work and offerings to a Spirit or god to prayer in shrines) are overseen by the shamanic Arpuja. Among the Sudemo, they are all female, while those within the Ylhällä are all male. There are at least four Arpuja for each clan, one for each major god, and Arpuja can train acolytes known as Tuores from both genders until the age of 20. At that point, if they are of the opposite sex, they must travel to the other tribe in order to be officiated as an Arpuja with another ten years of world. The Arpuja are often second only to the Clan Mother or Father in Tarkkin society, who consult with them frequently. Arpujas are also healers and fate-predictors, using plants and bone rituals to perform these other tasks. Some also claim to possess the abilities of Magic, though the Regalian Government has found that such claims are largely fictitious as the Arpuja are more ceremonial in their religious actions, focusing more on their skills of healing and prediction than using their ability to connect to the Oldt Gods and their powers.
Another essential part of Tarkkin religion is the Hiisi. Hiisis are particular places in nature that have been dedicated for leaving offerings and performing rituals at. A Hiisi is often an extraordinarily beautiful or interesting looking spot, like a waterfall, or an old tree grown crooked and twisty. A Hiisi can be as large as a field, or as small as a piece of driftwood. Larger Hiisis usually have a designated area for offerings and animal sacrifices. Hiisis are also the places where the Tarkkin gather together and celebrate their holidays to the specific Gods and Spirits of their faith. The one Spirit that stands out in their rituals and is mentioned the most is that of the Bear. Bears are the rulers of the forests but also exist in mountain caves as a tie between the two married couples of the Gods. They are worshipped to ensure good luck in hunting as well as for protection for Clans from wild animals. Most of bear-worshipping is done on Kouvonpäev, the holiday the Tarkkin have dedicated for bears (or any other time a bear has been hunted), but sacrifices to them are done all year round. Additionally, there are numerous words for “bear” in the Tarkkin language. They believe that saying the true name of the Bear Spirit, Emänkeel, will anger it, hence people use these various “nicknames” instead.
Literature and Folklore
The Tarkkin possess a simple philosophy of existence: survive. Their lands, which not as harsh as the open taiga of Drixagh, have still shaped them into a people dedicated toward survival. This is not “at any cost,” despite often being mischaracterized at that, as Tarkkins fully believe even desperate attempts at survival can go too far. It is somewhat vague, but there are implications that groups of them survived by cannibalism when the Skagger Horde ruled over them, taking their food and supplies. As a result of these rumors, they do not cross several firm lines in the instance of survival. They are also often dedicated toward the survival of their children over themselves if the need arises. Further philosophies about life and the values that should be expressed while alive are often individualistic, with certain clans focused more on bravery while others might value caution.
The Tarkkin are a people who love their folklore, and it shows in their daily life. From rites honoring bears to ensure a good hunt, to offerings of gruel to favor the Spirits, the Tarkkin take the stories and tales they have been told since they were children very seriously. In the center of all Tarkkin folklore and religious practice is the Lovi, the underworld and home of all souls of the departed. It is said that the Lovi is the place all souls hail from originally, and the plane they exist in even when they are in entities or forms in the real world. The Lovi is often depicted as more of a mental-state than an actual physical place, but some Tarkkin believe that it exists in the bottoms of all lakes and rivers. The Arpuja supposedly have the ability to visit the Lovi to communicate with the souls found there, doing so by performing a very specific ritual, known only by the Arpuja. The ritual involves ritualistic drumming and chanting, as well as the inhaling of a specific blend of herbs. Curiously, Ul plays no to little role in the Lovi and is instead often personified as an active, above-ground presence, actively helping to aid souls find their way to the Lovi but not ruling over it as her realm.
The remaining core of Tarkkin folklore is made up of religious-based tales about their Gods, how they came to marry, but also a scattered number of tales about morals, told in chanted poetry as compared to the tales of gods, which are spoken normally. There is also one Tarkkin myth that doesn’t really fit their faith, and it’s largely because it’s based in truth: the mythology of Dragons. The Tarkkin believe that the mountains are the domain of great and powerful Sky Dragons and that mortals can never fell them lest they want to see their villages and families struck by lightning or washed away by sudden floods. Instead, if the Dragon demands something, the Tarkkin must accommodate. These tales are well known by outsiders to be their ideas of the Blue Crown Dragon, some members of the species being native to the Throatcap Mountains that the Tarkkin inhabit. The Tarkkin claim that the Oldt Gods killed the Sky Dragons for their hubris but with the rise of the Imperial Dragon, confusion has set in for most among their kind. Their mythology says nothing about Dragons turning into people, and so most have chosen to ignore the conundrum.
Tarkkin artwork is similar to that of the Velheim, in that it is mostly made up of carvings. A minority of such work is done with wood and is practiced by the Sudemo, but it is far more common for carvings to be done into bones. Tarkkin style is different from that of Velheim artwork as it is minimalistic, simple with fluid and natural imagery shown compared to the geometric and stiff designs of the sister Culture. Carvings are most commonly applied on all kinds of jewelry and pendants, as well as the hilts of weapons. Imagery of bears and cervids are most common. Another form of art, though only practiced by the Ylhällä, is that of cave painting. While every other Culture had abandoned this ancient art form, this tribe of the Tarkkin continue to practice it, feeling it connects them to their ancient past. As a result, their cave paintings are continuous and ancient, some of the oldest sections theorized to be 300 or more years old.
Tarkkin music sounds very tribal and rather simple, and so is considered as “primitive” by outsiders. Those people are largely wrong, though, as Tarkkin music is a very concise form of art with its own set of rules and complications. All of Tarkkin music consists of three main elements: singing, drums, and Kannels. A Kannel is a string instrument, consisting of a hollowed out piece of wood, shaped a bit like a slanted parallelogram. A Kannel’s size and its number of strings depend on the size of the piece of wood that is used in the making of the instrument. The drums in Tarkkin music are truly as simple as they appear to be. Small, easy to hold drums made from simple materials are preferred. The main part of Tarkkin music is the singing. The Tarkkin have two distinct way of singing. More celebratory and upbeat songs see their melodies completely improvised, the singers often going by what they feel like. This form of singing is focused on the emotions the singers are currently feeling, or what they want the song to evoke. The other form of song are the religious or moralistic poetry songs. These tell a variety of folktales about the Tarkkin, and while all are modified somewhat by the Clans, they still tell the same base stories. Some of these stories are: mighty heroes are not able to kill a large predatory bird, but a younger sibling is, a woman finds a fish and comes to her brother, telling him to kill it despite its protests and promises with a fully grown woman emerging afterward, and finally, a great tree which grows before being felled by the gods, whereupon many magical weapons are created by humanity (and occasionally the Gods).
The fashion of the Tarkkin largely takes after the fashion of the Velheim, though with modifications according to the regions the two tribes operate. Sudemo garb is usually more colorful, with greens and whites with hints of red, with women wearing a simple shawl overtop of their dresses which partially covers their sleeves and arms while male fashion often includes a short cloak. Ylhällä fashion, by comparison, puts both genders in fur-lined garments made to keep the individual warm. Both tribes make use of bone pins to help secure this clothing around their bodies. The only set style of fashion that crosses the tribal divide for the Tarkkin are the vestments worn by the Arpuja. Their outfits represent a bizarre blend of elements together to represent the four major gods of the Tarkkin pantheon. Juvenile Tarkkin Metsähivri antlers sit upon a Arpuja’s head, while their clothing has a green color to it, with water symbology sown into the front of the clothing finished by their simple cloth belts that often have a sprig of herb tucked into it. This outfit is the same for both women and men, either gender able to wear the “dress” (which is more like a large smock) or tunic-with-pants version available to them.
Tarkkin architecture is very limited due to their habit of moving around in search of new and better grazing lands in both tribes of their society, the Sudemo sedentary for several months to a year solid before moving on with the herds of Tarkkin Metsähivri they tend to in the forests. The Ylhällä in comparison move around a lot more but tend to dwell in caves or sheltered-regions of the mountains and steppes they call home. Both tribes, however, do make use of the cone-shaped tent structure known as a Kota. A Kota is supported by long, sturdy poles, and it’s walls consist of either cloth and/or hide, or even dirt, mud, and peat. The top of the Kota is left uncovered, to let out smoke from the campfire that Kotas often have. In some traditions, it’s expected to make two doors instead of one when building a Kota; one for humans, and another for Arpuja, Spirits, and the souls of the departed.
Tarkkin cuisine is divided between the two tribes that make up their society. The pastoralist Sudemo largely survive on the meat of forest wildlife, the meat of the Tarkkin Metsähivri, and for those Clans who skirt the Great Middle Sea in the north of Tarkkin territory, fish. All of this is supplemented by the forage of the forest, berries, mushrooms and wild grains all added to dishes. One of the noted dishes of the tribe is flavorful Auringonian Stew, claiming to have been created by the Auringon Clan. It makes use of Metsähivri meat alongside plantlife to great a chunky hotpot meal. As for the Ylhällä, they have a curious dichotomy of food. The beginning of their meals often see them eating cold foods like pre-made sausage and cold meats set over top of mashed or crushed root plants like beets or potatoes. The second half of their meats though, warm up, as they make use of the full bounty their sheep and goat herding offers them, along with the fish they collect from mountain lakes and rivers. They are also excellent food preservers, which is required to survive in the harsh winter months. Their most noted dish, largely due to the disdain from outsiders is their Head Cheese, not true cheese but instead, a gelatin-based substance made with the head of a sheep or goat. Root vegetables such as carrots and other greens are routinely added into the dish as well. When any of the Clans from the two tribes meet, they share all of this food freely with one another, while also breaking open their stores to bake special treats or created flavored curds for celebratory consumption. The Tarkkin are also a people fond of drink, Velheim alcohols making up a large range of their favorites though the local drink of Kossu (similar to vodka) endures.
The Tarkkin people have one major and unique way of relaxation: the sauna. How the sauna exactly came about is unknown, but is generally believed to have been an attempt by the Sudemo to mimic the mountainous hot springs once used by the Ylhällä. These natural hot springs have largely gone dry over the past 200 years, with a sparse few nestled across the range of the Throatcap Mountains controlled by the Tarkkin. Regardless of origin, the sauna has a wide variety of uses by the Tarkkin people, from bathing to relaxation, to socialization, to even healing. Bathing in a sauna is a communal experience and is seen as a great way to catch up with friends and family after a long day. Bathing usually involves communal singing, swimming if a source of water is near, and hitting each other with Vitsas, bundles made with certain branches and leaves which aid in the cleaning process. Although some stationary sauna buildings can be found, they are not common due to the Tarkkin’s nomadic way of life. Instead, a type of sauna that is dug into the earth called a Horna is much more commonly used, as it’s quick to build and disassemble. The base for a Horna is a large, circular hole, dug into the ground, with a pile of stones at the bottom. Once the rocks are heated, the hole is covered with a dome-like shape built of sticks, pelts, bark, or peat. Water is thrown onto the heated stones, creating steam that heats up the rest of the Horna. A Horna is usually the first thing built by a Clan when they are setting up camp. Saunas are also used for many religious rites, usually that of birthing and healing the sick. It is said that most Tarkkin spend their first and last moments of their life inside a sauna. The Sauna Spirit is a key entity in Tarkkin society, and after the building is used, it’s customary to leave some water in the sauna for the Spirit to bathe with. Leaving food offerings to please the spirit is also common. Another common bit of leisure is ice skating, often credited to the Tarkkin as well, who used the sharpened bones of animals to move across frozen waters, the ability gradually spreading out to other areas of Drixagh and then, wider Aloria while metal attachments to the feet are now used.
Tarkkin Culture as a whole has several symbols, thanks to the two distinct tribes that make up the society. The Sudemo are often represented by a stylized Tarkkin Metsähivri head or antlers, which is sometimes erroneously used to represent the entire society. The Sudemo also make use of the Luonto-ykkönen, a stylized image meant to represent the marital union of Vinella and Bjarkan. As for the Ylhällä, they are commonly depicted by a stylized grey human handprint, to represent the mountains and steppes they call home. They also make use of a symbol that means marital union, the Taevas-ykkönen, meant to represent Varld and Aella. Finally, there is also the symbol of the bear, moreso used internally by the society to represent bravery, strength, protection, and good luck in hunting. Tarkkin who wear the symbol on pendants and armor are sometimes confused for Velheim, which offends their sense of being different than their sister Culture, and so they usually hide such imagery when outside of their society.
- Some scholars have considered that the Lovi either is or is somehow linked, to the Void. No one, however, has managed to prove or disprove this though, as the practices of the Arpuja are a well-kept secret.
- The Arpuja are often considered a lesser version of the Staargir by the Velheim, but they are technically better as they can see, function as healers, and play an active role in the daily life of the populous who’s spiritual health they oversee.
- Tarkkin territory is said to contain several ancient Dragon temples, but the inhabitants don’t go anywhere near them, fearing the wrath of the Spirit of Sky Dragons.