|Common Names||Tolo, Trobes|
|Social Classes||Merchants, Poets, Chefs, Soldiers, Musicians|
|Major Cities||El Puerto Azul, City of Arvost, Sant-Auban, Vauclasa|
The Tolonne Culture, also known as the Tolo, are a maritime and mercantile society spread across eastern Daen, the Solacian Isles, and the Regalian Archipelago. They draw influences from both the Ithanians and the Bragacao, and are well-known for their foods, trade savvy skills, and their musical poets known as the Troubadours (or Trobairitz in the case of women). They ply the waters of much of the civilized world despite their reputation for laziness, and partake in whatever festivals and celebrations they come across, or in the places wherever they reside. They represent a bridge between their many neighbors and are avid traders, and are especially protective of their cultural identity, as can be seen in their rather intense and manipulative nobility.
The Tolonne have a history deeply tied to Solacia upon which they originated. They were once Ailor slaves to the Altalar who made their great estates and plantations on the sunny islands, but as time went on, came to develop a unique personal identity. Their masters had them sing and perform music for their pleasure in addition to working in the fields, and what once might have been considered Daendroque Culture slowly transitioned into the Tolonne. By the time of the Cataclysm, what few Altalar were left fled for the mainland. The Tolonne found themselves essentially trapped, the waters around them turbulent from the great Magic event, and most sea-worthy ships gone with the Altalar. They fought with the other slaves on the island and sought to maintain their identity and newfound freedom, which resulted in the Asha slaves retreating from the island for the mainland. Now alone, the Tolonne reorganized themselves as their own people and began to develop uniquely in comparison to their fellow regional Cultures. They became focused on music and the vocal arts, though as important imported goods began to dwindle, they shifted outward. It was now that the Ithanians entered the picture, as led home by eager Tolonne sailors plying for fish and exploring minor islands, trade blossomed between the two peoples. Over time, Tolonne and Ithanians mixed on the island or on the mainland as Troubadours and Trobairitz, once confined to boasting about travelling the length of Solacia, saw a challenge in venturing into the outside world. Over time, a sizable Tolonne minority, largely traders, existed in Ithania and eventually traveled into the Regalian Archipelago to exist in territories alongside their Ithanian cousins. When Regalia came to Solacia, intent on uniting all Ailor lands in Daen, the locals submitted peacefully to the Empire and a new influence emerged: that of militarism. Warfare wasn’t glorified in their society, but it did become acceptable and an assumed event, and thus bringing home tales of such events or from the Cultures of your fellow battle comrades grew in importance for the trade-focused, musical people. To this day, the Tolonne remain a flexible group, eager for interactions with others, and their isle remains both beautiful and a major tourist destination for foreigners.
Language and Dialects
The Tolonne people speak D'Ithanie given their heavy influence from that Culture.
The naming customs of the Tolonne are rather simple and straightforward. Most names are composed of a first name and a surname, with middle names or career identifiers added on afterwards by choice of family and by their status in life. Sometimes, if a moniker is well-received, the Tolonne in focus may choose to incorporate it into their name as well. Birthplace naming styles are sometimes used, though it is not the norm. A few examples of Tolonne names can be found below:
Lifestyle and Customs
Tolonne families generally follow a monogamous trend, with an authoritarian system of inheritance; the firstborn son generally marries a suitable wife and in turn moves his family in with his parents, creating a multi-generational family structure that encourages close bonds. Daughters often leave home to live with their husbands, or sometimes to strike out on their own, and second and third sons leave home to start new families separately from their siblings. In keeping with this system, firstborn sons often take up the trade or positions of their parents in adulthood, while younger siblings are typically free from expectations to continue a family trade. These Tolonne are the ones who usually depart from their homes in search of careers abroad, and became members of the prominent diaspora that so defines their society to outsiders.
Tolonnesa gender roles are in some contrast to the Ithanians they branched from. Rather than focus on the superiority of the female form, Tolonne beliefs are loosely patriarchal in foundation. Usually a man leads the family or other endeavors, and soldiers or mercenaries are composed of units of men. In practice, their society is much less rigorous in the enforcement of these gender roles. More focus is placed on the ability of the man to perform his job than his natural superiority over the ‘fairer’ gender, and it is unlikely but possible for women to rise to a level of prominence in Tolonne societies, with the Trobairitz (female minstrel, song-writer and poet) being a good example of the loose enforcement of gender roles. This extends to the nobility, where even more ambiguity exists, and it some places female nobles totally override their husbands to make decisions on their own.
Tolonne culture is very holiday-intensive. Festivals are common occurrences and days of celebration are frequent for various causes, though they generally vary from town to town. There are a few important celebrations that are enjoyed culture-wide, Festenal de Sindicat and Jorn de lo Soldat being the primary two. Festenal de Sindicat, or Festival of Union, on the 16th of September commemorates the official adoption of Unionism as faith of the Tolonne. It is celebrated with feasts, raucous dances and an hour long set of prayers prior to dawn to start the day’s festivities. Nobility often focus much more on the Festival of Union than the latter holiday, as it allows them time to network with other nobility from further abroad while appearing to be good and pious examples for the peasantry and middle-class. It is not unheard of for tailors to be hired specifically for designing dresses and outfits just for the single day, never to be worn again afterwards. Jorn de lo Soldat, or Day of the Soldier, is an annual holiday held on the 23rd of June, though focused much more on the lower classes. It fulfills two purposes: It serves as a farewell and celebration of soldiers departing to serve in the military, and it serves as a matchmaker to help establish future unions when the soldiers return from military service or conscription. In the lead up to the day, the families arrange to have their son meet with a daughter of another family, where they are then paired up on the day to partake in festivities together. Generally, it is hoped and expected that the pairs organised for the day take fancy in each other and will decide to settle down once the boy returns, made a man from war.
Literature and Folklore
One of the most renowned exports of the Tolonne are their poetry and their poets. They employ complex wordplay in their poems and often offer subtle social commentary on the happenings of the world. They are often employed in foreign courts for their work, where they entertain both those who understand their Language and those who do not; even if one does not understand Tolonnesa, they can enjoy the vocals employed by the poet. Their poetry is always secular in nature, and oftentimes can be bawdy. Non-poetic literature is not especially common among the Tolonne, at least compared to their poetic traditions but when it is present, the stories written are often adaptations of old Tolonne myths, and a type of novel they call the ‘“Novalement Monde”. It is a type of story where the reader follows a central character through some sort of outrageous adventure that is designed to draw attention to the subtleties in the background. The idea is that by focusing on the surroundings, the reader can come to new conclusions about their own lives and see a ‘new world’. So far, it has not extended far out of their own literature bubble into the rest of the literary world. Satire is also a popular literary focus in Tolonne literature. They usually give their satire through the medium of anthropomorphized animals within their literature. By making the story seem strange and alien using animal protagonists, it becomes more difficult to accuse the author of making ill-judgements or criticisms of real people, and because the animals are a useful literary device through which to draw reference to the actual nature of these creatures.
Tolonne philosophy is rather simple and focused around the maintenance of their way of life, yet reflects their position as a terminal of other cultural philosophies. Thanks to their close proximity to the Daendroque, Ithanians, and Bragacao, their beliefs can be viewed as rather representative of their surroundings, yet distinctly Tolonne in nature. There are a few dichotomies in their philosophy; travelling and trading is central to their identity, yet they are deeply connected to the land. There are many words describing conditions and features of the land that have no alternatives in other languages. They are reputed to be lazy and lethargic throughout the domain of Ailor-kind, greatly valuing holidays and celebrations, yet they are an industrious people that roam many seas, both rough and gentle. War is avoidable, yet many Tolonne volunteer for wartime service in the Empire of their own volition. The ideal Tolonne should always be generous and supportive of their fellow man, yet even in their own familial systems they will cast their own out into the world without a second thought. These simple dichotomies often form the bulk of Tolonne philosophy. Representation of the world through art is extremely important, and a sign of great culture, and to destroy art is an act of mindlessness. Any who can come to speak the Tolonne language and take part in their affairs can eventually come to call themselves Tolo as well. This system of assimilation and a stubborn attachment to their language is among the reasons why Tolonne minorities tend to not assimilate, wherever they may be.
In a stark contrast to this, the regional nobility and wealthy of their society are harsh, vindictive plotters and schemers in the worst way. Their philosophy echoes some parts of the general philosophy of the rest of society, but they themselves have twists and alterations to suit their needs. For starters, they are deeply connected to the land. It is extremely rare for their first or second-born heirs in their society to leave home, as they are taught that as the individual next in line, they must remain utterly loyal to their house, land and tenants to protect them from the outside world. They are also the exact opposite of the “picture” they often present to outsiders, that of lethargic, inactive loungers. Particularly in youth, both genders often heavily devote themselves to physical training and exercise to get into a good physical form. They believe it gives them an edge in combat and in society, for people don’t know what to expect when they encounter them beyond the image they project. Speaking of others, they are forever distrustful of outsiders. In comparison to the common people, they might feign trust and acceptance, but their brutality in dealing with those they deem to be foes, even if they have converted to the Tolonne way, are startling. This is where their militarism comes in, as while few are directly involved in the military, their regional nobility acts like a military and army, with strict codes of conduct and harsh penalties for those who break it. They are militaristic in their enforcement of Unionist wishes and ideals, though such things are sometimes blocked by the more moderate public of their lands.
Tolonne folklore is varied and features a number of colorful and mystical characters, some famous and some infamous amongst their people. A number of them thrive on, despite their pre-Unionist histories, by assimilating Unionist aspects into the tales and myths. Here are a few prominent ones told of by their song-smiths:
- Tarrasque: Tarrasque, one of the most prominent figures in Tolonne folklore, is a Dragon-like creature that is discussed in a number of tales. He is rarely depicted in artwork due to the belief that creating his visage may summon him “from the dead.” His description is that of a creature bearing the head of a Dragon with human hair and teeth the length of blades, a crocodilian body and a turtle’s shell, six legs and a tail that ends in a scorpion’s stinger. He was said to have lived in the early years of the Regalian Empire, until a Unionist preacher claiming to represent the Emperor slew the unkillable beast with the help of the Imperial Spirit, and strung his head up to present the Tolonne people with evidence of the holy act. The slaying of the Tarrasque is still the subject of a number of festivals to this day and represents the time that a majority of the Tolonne converted to Unionism. The recent events that have seen the Imperial Dragon emerge has led to some discontent among the Tolonne.
- La Bèstia de Auvanha: The Beast of Auvanha, also called The Spawn of Valagoth was an event that struck the Tolonne town of Auvanha in the 170’s, and lasted until the 180’s. The Beast was a creature that slew over a hundred people over its reign of terror in Auvanha, being described as a creature resembling a Dire Wolf, though twice as large, capable of escaping any hunter, and walking on two feet at times. It was renowned as unkillable until a team of hunters from Ithania and Daendroc, led by a Tolonne guide, managed to find its lair and slay it using “blades of Silver”, before parading its large hide about a number of cities. A minority of modern intellectuals believe that the Beast was in fact just a pack of wolves struggling to find food during a particularly cold stretch of time. It is commonplace to find many less-reputable Tolonne shops claiming to be selling pieces of the hide of the Beast of Auvanha. They are only ever simple wolf pelts, however, and the real pelt remains missing.
- La Dama de Ribièra: The Dame of the River is a popular folktale and childrens story, focussed around the tragic tale of a woman who was murdered by drowning by her husband. After death, she met with the Spirit who took pity on her and let her remain with the living in Aloria; though only if they suffer by the rivers can she take form and lend them advice or assistance, usually by healing them or guiding them subtly to safety. One crew that shipwrecked off the coast near a Tolonne settlement claimed to see a woman guiding the survivors to shore; this story eventually led La Dama to become an extremely popular mythological figure for the Tolonne, and for some to even incorporate her in their prayers to the Imperial Spirit.
- Rainaud lo Rainard: Rainaud is a very popular and old figure in folklore, though generally not assumed to be real anymore. He is an anthropomorphic fox that often is a trickster, and often portrayed along with other animals in literature made to pass commentary on modern everyday life and the world at large. Interestingly, Rainaud is often shown turning the tables on “scheming nobility” in a great many pieces of Tolonne work. Rainaud had such popularity in the early days of the Tolonne that he directly led to the Tolonnesa word for fox being “Rainard”. It is common to refer to someone who is either tricky or thrifty by that term to this day among their kind.
Amongst the Tolonne, music and the creation of music is considered extremely important to maintaining their culture and to ensuring well-being amongst the populace. They often use a wide variety of instruments, though by and large, vocals are the most important instrument a Tolonne musician can have; string instruments are a close second, composed of lutes and rebecs. Other instruments used are lyres and violas. Tolonne music ranges from simple capellas to entire sung epics, to dancing jigs, and poems of love and honor sang in rhyme. The employment and consumption of music is not limited to the upper classes however. Tolonne is home to a class of well-respected and known poet musicians known as Troubadours (or Trobairitz, if female), who employ their skills while travelling through their homeland in the Solacian Isles and throughout Daen at large. They often sing capellas as well as, interestingly, by and large replace the position of town cryer in most smaller villages and ports. They inform the general populace of news from abroad and domestic via song, which earns some incredulity from other cultures, and work amongst noble courts, where they subsist on the donations of patrons rather than any stable income. Tolonne music is sometimes considered to be low-class in Regalia proper, for it is indeed well-loved by the lower classes. An added feature to their songs is when it crosses the class divide. Young, more common men (or even women) who wish to seduce Tolonne nobility or those above their station are informed that it is good the less layers the one they wish to woo is wearing, the better, especially if they are removed while romantic odes and music is played for them. This rarely happens, as Tolonne nobility are a very haughty folk, but it is true that the less clothing a Tolonne noblewoman is wearing, the more open and trusting they might be.
Tolonne fashion draws much influence from other Cultures, preferring to emulate the fashion of higher prestige Cultures. Though they once had a vibrant fashion culture of their own, it has largely been taken over by foreign influences in the modern day. Regardless of the fashion styles being drawn from, Tolonne fashion always features a few key aspects. They must be light and breathable. In stark contrast to this, Tolonne noble women are often shrouded in layers of light material that hides much of their physical body. This is primarily due to their belief in hiding what is possible for them and keeping secrets close at hand (ie. bundled tight against them), but also because it is thought that common people or those not from the family are unsuitable to behold the unveiled female upper-class form. The less layers a Tolonne noblewoman is wearing, the more trusting she often is of the individual she is with. Colours are important for expressing oneself through their clothing, and even the less wealthy will endeavor to have at least one set of somewhat colorful garments, including reds, blues, and sometimes even tawdy yellows. Tolonne often incorporate simply-designed tunics, and sometimes thin second-layers to ensure their clothing can ‘breath’ in warmer temperatures. Wide-legged breeches are common, ending just below the knee so that they can be fastened with linen wrappings. Dresses with rather low cuts can be seen worn by women, though usually only by the un-betrothed. Hats are rather common, with a number of variants of large, wide-brimmed styles and berets.
There is little taboo in growing out one’s hair amongst the Tolonne, and respected hairstyles follow this trend. It is not uncommon to see peasantry, and conversely, upper class members of society, growing their hair out to fairly long lengths so that they can then be tied back using a number of different methods. Braiding is common among the peasantry, while using ‘ties’, metal clips or simple rings is more common with the upper class. Leaving the hair free and untied is common for unmarried Tolonnesa women, while married women often decide to wear buns or elaborate hairstyles. Beards are well-respected on Tolonne men, and a well-groomed and styled set of facial hair is a sign of sophistication. Tolonne facial hair styles are especially susceptible to the Imperial styles.
The architecture of Tolonne villages, towns and cities reflect the coastal maritime nature of Tolonne life. Most cities feature large, open plazas for the many festivals that Tolonne people partake in, as well as for the weekly markets that tend to pop up. Away from sight, there are a number of infamous sprawling bazaars to be found in the more major cities, with cramped alleyways but bright colors and smells abounding. Port cities, as the most common urban arrangement for the Tolonne, are often larger and sprawling urban locales, centred around some sort of maritime port that allows for trade to flow in and out of the city. They are often lively, and as trade entrepots, are home to both the less law-abiding denizens of the sea and honest folk making a living working the docks. Restaurants are common sights in these larger cities and take advantage of the movement of people to ply their food trade.
Most buildings are composed of timber and assorted dyed clays, leading Tolonne cities to appear overly colorful and, at times, rustic despite the urban surroundings. Most towns feature a number of larger chateaux contained within the town that belong to local trader families who have the income to afford private displays of wealth, but do not have the luxury of larger plots of rural land that belong to the nobility. Historically, a number of these chateaux did once cover the land, symbols of wealth generated by the trade of the region that incorporated marble statues, large hedge gardens and carved inlays. But in recent years, they have gradually lost favor as the infrastructure of the nobility, and in turn local military, started a newer trend. While previously, the countryside was dominated by the occasional chateaux with little protection, Tolonne architects drew inspiration from the castle-building traditions of Regalian Cultures and from the river towers of the Daen to begin building their own defensive infrastructure for the greater nobility of the region. The style attempts to blend the pragmatism of solely military castle structures with the luxury and beautiful architecture of Ithanian and Tolonne-style chateaux in a beautiful, but effective, creation.
Tolonne cuisine is an interesting creature of its own, representing a meld of maritime and terrestrial foods. Tolonne recipes and food use simple ingredients but strong flavors, such as garlic, olives, salted fish and other seafood, as well as the occasional spices borrowed from Daendroque cuisine. Dairy products are used less often, including the cheese favored by their Ithanian brethren, in favor of olive oils and wines. One of their most well known foods is Bolhabaissa, a traditional Tolonne fish stew, utilising a number of vegetables for the broth, and served with spiced mayonnaise. What makes it unique from other fish stews is their use of bony rockfish found in the coastal waters. Others include Ratatolha (Ratatouille), a stewed vegetable dish, Cacolet, a rich slow-cooked casserole using a number of meats, typically pork sausages, duck or occasionally mutton, with pork skin and white beans, and Clafotis, a baked dessert that uses black cherries and spices to create a sweet pie.
Sports for the Tolonne are a more complex affair than for their Ithanian relatives, though still less focused on anything particularly masculine. They are usually focused on aquatic activities, such as competitive fishing and racing sailing ships. Other sports that have become more popular are both Leutz and Dressolini-style dueling. Pre-eminent among Tolonne sports is the yearly Concurrencia de Velocitat. It is an elaborate racing competition with a long tradition, with a focus on team-building and encouraging adapting both the skills necessary for piloting ships in the future, but also building leadership skills in future captains of vessels. The aim for each crew, of which there is usually fifteen ships, is to follow a complex and wide race ‘track’ marked by anchored ships at sea and smaller anchored and colorful markers, to be the first to make it back to the port.
The markers are set as guidelines, and the ‘captains’ are encouraged to come up with new and creative ways to take the lead as long as they follow the circuit in a roundabout way. Injuries are a common outcome in such activities. The ships are often marked with colorful paint and fly a white flag to inform passerby of their harmlessness. Ships donated by prominent trade families for the day escort and patrol the track during the procession. Winning is rather prestigious, as the ‘Captain’ and his crew are recognised as skilled and valuable workers, and have no difficulty in finding lucrative employment. Many smaller towns and cities host their own lesser versions, but they do not approach the importance of the Concurrencia, where crews tend to come solely from a single town and it becomes an affair of pride for that town or city.
The Tolonne, as a culture of traders and maritimers, often spend much of their leisure time by the water, whether that be a river or by the ocean shores. Sports are important leisure activities for the Tolonne, with little taboo on swimming or other water activities, and spending time at bazaars or attempting poetry is looked upon well by others. They also spend time enjoying or practicing their music and poetry, given their inclination toward the performing and musical arts.
Symbolism for the Tolonne often incorporates features of Solacian culture, such as the Sun, known by them as Sol d’Tolonnesa with an embellished golden disk and red-gold waves surrounding it. The Tarrasque is often displayed in simplified forms in heraldry, utilising the mythical creature’s invincible reputation to symbolise the Tolonne everlasting. The most common and well-loved of Tolonne symbols, however, is La Crotz de Tolonnesa, or the Cross of Tolonnesa. Originally the coat of arms of a powerful Altalar family, the symbol has been subsumed by the Tolonne culture to represent the entirety of their people. It is a yellow cross upon a blood-red background, with its centre cut out, and bobbles on each of its twelve points. The bobbles, or pomettes, are commonly believed to have been derived from the rivets used to attach it to shields for the family that once owned it.
- Though match-making is often dealt with through the Jorn de la Soldat, it is still expected that a Tolo man ought to be able to write a piece of poetry that would impress his suitor. One of the most famous (or infamous, rather) instances of this, however, was when the poetry of one Tolonnesa noblewoman to another was published; a scandal ensued, both due to the nature of the relationship, and the surprising quality of the work.
- One of the most famous of the Tolonne Troubadours is known for his grisly death. He had managed to reach employment in the court of an Elven princedom, where he wrote numerous songs and pieces directly criticising and talking down to his employer. When a translator had finally arrived in court months later, for the Prince had seen no reason to translate except of curiosity, they were outraged and had the Troubadour executed.
- It is not known where the stark difference in behavior of the Tolonne nobility comes from. Some believe it has been this way since after the Cataclysm, and these ideas were enforced by ex-overseers who blended into Tolonne society only to reemerge to once again reign over populations. Others still believe it is much more recent, an outgrowth of dealing with passive-aggressive Ithanians, criminal Daendroque and the cutthroat mercantile tactics of the Bragacao over the past century.