The Ithanian Culture is one of the high society Regalian Cultures, together with Regal, Wirtem, Leutz and Dressolini, though unlike these others, is the only high society culture that developed entirely outside of the Regalian Empire before becoming part of it. Ithania and particularly its capital Grand Vertu play an important role in Regalian politics as well as high culture around the world, as Grand Vertu is often called the second capital of the Empire. The Ithanian Culture comes from Ithania, a Kingdom within the Regalian Empire, though it is not solely the culture of Ailor, as Ithania has a very large Teledden and Maraya population that have successfully integrated into this cosmopolitan culture.
Ithanian Culture can find its origins in both Ailor slave culture and Allorn culture shortly following the collapse of the Allorn Empire. Ithania itself, a continent attached to the larger Daen supercontinent, was protected from Allorn revival movements by a large desert that covers a third of the Ithanian landmass in the south, and then a massive impassable jungle beyond that on a raised canyon plateau that prevents any army movement. During the collapse of the Allorn Empire, the Teledden rulers and population were already in the minority in Ithania compared to the larger Asha and Ailor slave populations, because it was considered a border province of the bigger state, where the majority of the land was used for plantations. News from the violent and murderous slave revolts in Maartasil and Mirtasil, as well as the huge explosion of chaos and violence in the Daen governorates reached the Teledden who, in a motive of self preservation, instantly emancipated the Ailor slaves (though kept the Asha in chains). Ithanian Culture branched off from Allorn culture at this point as Ailor and Teledden developed the culture together, though in the modern era, Ithanian Culture still has more in common with Teledden Culture than other Ailor Cultures.
Ithania much like the Regalian Empire is a state following the policy of “Freedom of Conscience”, meaning that while it officially enforces a duality of Unionism and Estellon as its state religions, a form of religious freedom exists for its inhabitants to follow whatever religion they please without persecution. It is estimated that roughly a third of the Ithanian Culture is Teledden, while the rest is Ailor. Asha slaves are usually not included in the demographics, because they are intentionally deprived of their cultural identity and disincluded by the Ithanians. To presume that as such the relation of Estellon and Unionism however is also thirty and sixty percent is not accurate. It is estimated that nearly half the Teledden within the Ithanian Culture population are Unionist, and that a tenth of the Ailor population is Estellon worshiping. Unionism came to Ithania through peaceful missionaries from the Regalian Empire early on and found footing long before Ithania was incorporated into the Regalian Empire. The Priscelle Sect existed for quite some time in Ithania which preached an alternative version of the gospel which favors the right of women to become Empress, but this tradition died down as the Priscelle Sect was a heresy and thus often prosecuted, and eventually merged into Emended Unionism which favors no particular gender (while Dogmatic and Evintarian continue to prefer male succession).
Prevalence of Heroes
As part of Unionism, the practice of Hero worship is common across the Empire, but nowhere near as common as in Ithania. Ithanian Culture has a strong ancestor worship element (more on this later), where the glorious deeds of one’s ancestors are proudly paraded for all to see. The Concilly Council of Dogmatic Unionism frequently receives requests to declare deceased Ithanian Knights and political leaders as Heroes, and many of them also pass through and become canonized. Each of the powerful notable houses of Ithanian Culture have some sort of Hero ancestor (or even multiple) that they use both as symbolism and example of virtues to live by. Ithanian Heroes are often depicted in paintings and sculptures, and Ithanian palaces are filled with busts.
Ancestor worship is a tacitly heretical habit that the Ithanian Culture maintains that is technically against Unionist and Estellon Dogma, but is still practiced by the locals. Heritage is everything to the Ithanians to the point where marriage unions and family planning are stressed over in great detail to create an as glorious as possible lineage. Ithanians often maintain shrines or altars to ancestors of great honor and legacy, and even sometimes drag a bust of their most notable ancestor around in the house so that the bust is never alone, or that the bust can always gaze over its descendants, even at the dinner table. It is very common to find a statue with some candles and votive offerings to a great ancestor in an Ithanian house, and Ithanian manors usually have a Gallerie de Triomphe (a Triumph gallery) where busts and statues of ancestors are lined for all to see, surrounded by walls covered in mirrors.
Customs and Traditions
A very dominant aspect that can be found in nearly every other Ithanian custom, is the matriarchal identity of the culture. Very rarely will one find an Ithanian family or political office held by a man, making the current King of Ithanian an absolute exception, especially so because he is a widower and has not remarried to prevent a Queen consort from taking over his Kingdom. Ithanian matriarchal tradition is a holdover from the Allorn days, where in the Allorn Empire, only women could become Empress, thus furthering the logic that women are the more suitable gender for leadership. Each Ithanian family has a matriarch who wields absolutely power within their family, though to imply that the culture is inherently misandrist is not correct either. Men traditionally have more freedoms in Ithanian Culture than women do in the far opposite patriarchal cultures, though they are sometimes objectified, they are never possessively controlled or have their opportunities in life cut short, they just cannot become political leaders.
A contentious continuing issue in Ithania is slavery. Ithania is a deeply progressive country, and the Ithanian culture is deeply progressive (more on this later). One would assume that emancipation of the remaining Asha or Eronidas slave population is thus implied or expected, but this is far from the truth. Ithanians in general consider the act of slavery barbaric and immoral, but also consider it a practical necessity for their standard of living. Indeed, the Ithanian Culture is generally considered a cash-cow by the other Regalian Cultures, Ithanians in general are exceptionally wealthy and even the lower and middle classes have a much higher standard of living than virtually any other people or race across the world. As such, Slavery is called the “Dark Necessity” among the Ithanian people, and they resist any attempt to emancipate the slaves of their realms. Ithanian people generally live in areas where technological replacement through automata is impractical, given the relative poorness of deep-earth minerals and resources, thus requiring considerable imports and a severe reduction in standard of living for the people. The Ithanian cultured are entirely aware of this selfish stance, but deem their mission to civilize the world with beauty and grace more important than the moral injustice of slavery. Many of them also validate their stance on slavery through the actions of Asha and Eronidas since the establishment of the Ithanian Kingdom. The Asha Corsairs and Eronidas raiding armies have frequently breached beyond Ithania’s natural defenses and inflicted violence and pillage on its people, an argument the Ithanians use to imprison and enslave Eronidas and Asha on their plantations.
The concept of Ni Militaire means “No Military”, symbolizing the Ithanian desire for pacifism and a repulsion for violence. Ithanians inherently believe violence to be barbaric, a primal aspect that civilization has largely left behind centuries ago. However, at the same time, (and especially the King in modern times) the Ithanian people also acknowledge that the world is a violent place, with Hvitskag (Velheim) raiders in the north, Eronidas raiders in the west, Asha raiders in the east, and Allorn revanchists in the south. The Ithanian Culture homeland is constantly beset upon by invaders, and as such, Ithanian has had to develop a large army for itself, supplemented by Regalian garrisons that only recently were dismissed when Ithania became a heartland. While Ithanians are pacifist in nature, many of them end up becoming warriors or generals of great skill, because of the concept of “Necessity before Desire”. The Ithanian people set out a path towards pacifism, but until that time, Ithanian should invest in the second largest army in the world, funded by Ithania’s rich gem industries and slavery fueled plantations. Ithanian soldiers in particular are known to be the most beautiful of soldiery, having expensive well decorated armors and well groomed steeds, in comparison to the often poorly equipped Regalian feudal levies.
While most Ailor cultures are very anti-Magic, the Ithanian Culture is very pro-Magic. Since the very beginning, Teledden inclusion in the development of Ithanian Culture meant that Magical training and studying were very accessible and encouraged, especially for the newly flourishing and recently liberated Ailor populations. Many of the Regalian Empire’s greatest magicians and sorcerers who happen to be Ailor are Ithanian Cultured, because so many highly funded and excellent magic academies exist across Ithania, while Regalia only has four. The Ithanian academies also benefit from the extensive Allorn libraries that were left in the wake of the Allorn collapse, books that were made illegal contraband in the Regalian Empire at large, but because Ithania up until 309 AC maintained its own legal code, were protected from book burnings incited by anti Magic fears and violence.
l’Essence du Mâle
It is already stated that Ithanian Culture is a very matriarchal culture, and while this does not mean it is automatically a misandrist culture, it does have several aspects about it that can be seen as objectifying men. Women are seen as the fairer gender in terms of intellect and decision taking, but men are considered the fairer gender in terms of appearance and passionate pursuits. Male physiology plays an important role in Ithanian culture whether that comes through the glorification of the male body in art, or the display there-of in male dominated sports for the viewing pleasure of the female (and male) audience. Ithanian Culture has a very strong queer subculture within it that thrives, both on the aspect of its sapphic domination of politics, and it’s homosexual domination of the sports and arts. Same-sex individuals often thrive in Ithanian Culture because of the wide embrace of their preferences. Even though most other cultures accept queer folk, Ithanian culture truly cherishes and glorifies it, almost to the point that having same-sex attraction is considered a blessing, and blessed even more so are those who swing both ways.
Le Grand Court
Le Grand Court is a term the Ithanian cultured use for their version of the game of politics which is quite cut-throat in its very non-violent way. Ithanian court culture has largely been inherited from Allorn political culture, with the assassinations and abductions removed. Glorified among Ithanians is the act of utterly humiliating someone in public to the point that death might almost be preferable, but never should anyone stoop so low as to commit to violence. Plotting at court itself is considered a great skill and favored activity, from as high as the royals to the lowly servant and even the slaves who wield some power of secrecy at court. Many cultures have attempted to emulate Ithanian Court Culture, but none quite reach the level of verbal savagery.
Much like the general high fashion and high culture of Ithanian Culture, Ithanian cuisine is considered so called Haute-Cuisine (High Cooking), trendsetters among the upper classes far beyond the Ithanian kitchens. Ithanians are not known to use many spices which they consider too strong for their palette or too exotic, though they are masters of the use of herbs. Ithanian cooking tends to be more savory than sweet, with heavy emphasis on butter, celery salt, and dark sauces with heavy beefy overtones. Ithanians have also developed the art of fine-dining, where diners eat six or eight small dishes to experience new experimental cooking techniques and new flavors. Ithanian cooking also makes frequent use of Magic, though technology like Clockwork is strictly forbidden in the Ithanian kitchen, as they consider it unclean.
Ithanian sports, surprisingly, are mostly inherited from the Eronidas. When the Eronidas were first enslaved as punishment for their invasions into Ithania proper, the Ithanian people discovered the joy of watching Eronidas engage in their native cultural sports like Running, Wrestling, Discus throwing, the Pentathlon, Javelin Throwing, Long Jumping, Boxing, and the Pankration. These sports eventually developed as wider cultural sports when Eronidas slaves transitioned more into gladiator-like slaves as opposed to house servants or physical labor slaves. It is estimated that in modern times about half the Ithanian sporting community of athletes is Ailor and Teledden and the other half is Eronidas slaves. The Ithanians host yearly competitions called Les Jeux des Goliaths, where athletes from all over the Regalian Empire come to compete for the golden medals of greatest athletes of the Empire (much to the chagrin of the more modest Regalians) in the sweltering heat of the southern desert, with scarce outfits. Sports to Ithanians is more a form of performance than something to do to keep healthy. Sports are performed to please the audience, less for the height of performance. Many of the most famous athletes in Ithania are ironically Eronidas slaves, who have glorifying posters of them made, and their names known wide, but still lack the freedom to decide when and where to compete. Well performing Eronidas slaves are the most expensive commodity on the Ithanian market. When it concerns more leisurely sports, the Ithanians consider equestrian sports their preference, such as horse dressage, or horse racing. Ithania also has a lively betting culture as a result.
Ithanian fashion is strongly dominated by silk, and often even by semi-translucent silks. In fact, their fervor for silk is so great, that they absorb nearly half the Empire’s silk production, and nearly 8 out of every 10 bales of silks arriving as imports from the Sihai lands. For women, modesty is covered, but skin is frequently exposed for the sake of attracting attention and showcasing what the women are proud of. For men, parts of the chest and stomach can be exposed, especially with deep V-neck designs. A man who has peak physical fitness usually gets away with larger and more open pieces of clothing. Ithanians have developed the fashionable clothing piece called the crop top (frequently worn by men), where it merely covers the chest and leaves the stomach exposed. This is normally a piece of clothing worn by commoners (due to the heat of Ithanian deserts and the countryside), however has made its way to the upper classes as a form of casual home dressing that is liberating and expressive, with high accessorization. Additionally, Ithanians must not under any circumstances wear furs or pelts, as these are considered barbarian clothing pieces, with exceptions made only for ermine fur.
Ithanian art is extremely similar to Regal Culture art in the realm of statuary, given that they both represent glorification of the bodily figure, though Ithanian style instead focuses on thinly shrouding the figure’s body with really thin Silks complete with complex folds. Usually, the folds produced by the contours of the body are of higher artistic expression than the whole statue itself. As such, a sculptor will often create strange, unrealistic facial proportions but extremely realistic clothing folds, and still be considered a master sculptor. Statues are almost exclusively made out of the whitest of marble, as the color white is considered pure in Ithanian Culture. They believe dark stone colors are obscene and dirty. Jewelry is also an expression of art in Ithanian Culture, particularly adopting Altalar jewelry but also designing their own, often in combination with Altalar Silks or Sihai Silks, embroidered with gold-thread.
Ithanian architecture is well known for representing some of the grandest and most complex work in Aloria, blending ancient Altalar design with Ailor materials and labor to produce glorious structures. It is important to note that commoners don’t necessarily live in palaces, but even the low stratas of Ithanian society live in reasonably large houses. The only true downtrodden of Ithanian society live in so-called undercities. These undercities are usually at the bottom end of the Ithanian waterfalls, artificial waterfalls are usually created in Ithanian cities for their beauty, while also creating a distinct undercity where the copious amount of dew and mist of the cascading water obscures view. It is generally said that while everything touched by the sunlight in Ithania is pristine and clean and rich and glorious, everything touched by the dew of the waterfalls where the sun does not reach is a hotbed of crime. Many Ithanians also still live in Altalar structures which remain remarkably well preserved even more than a thousand years of habitation. As for the structures entirely original and representative of Ithanian principles, one must look to the outskirts of major cities and the countryside. There, the Palace exists, occasionally referred to as a Hôtel. This luxury structure is the centerpiece of Ithanian design philosophy and it is also designed to service the extravagant needs of its owners. The structure has many major features, but in general can be described as existing in three parts, with a central hall possessing two grand wings outward and often extending backwards from a grand facade that makes up the front of the building. This facade features columns, multiple windows, and crenulations, as well as a grand front entrance with a short flight of steps required to reach it. In front of the facade is an enormous water feature, usually a pond to a fountain, surrounded by the path in and out of the Palace’s front. Within the structure, huge, vaulted ceilings with wall and ceiling murals displaying scenes of elegant beauty and Ithanian history give a ceremonial grandeur to the space, added to the frequent use of glass or crystal arranged along the walls, with everything gilded in Gold. The central hall is where the dining room, the ballroom, and all of the important rooms of ceremonial activity are located, in addition to the bedrooms of all the important women staying in the building.
Language and Dialects
The Ithanian Language, also known as Ithanian, emerged from Allorn Altalar when recently freed Ailor slaves from before the Cataclysm sought to speak their own Language. To many foreigners, Ithanian sounds complex and excessive with various grammatical constructions that do not exist in any other language, as one would expect having been subtracted from a convoluted Altalar standard. Ithanian shares some vocabulary similarities with Daendroquin and other tongues to have emerged from former Daen slaves, though none are mutually understandable. The Ithanians continue to pride themselves in the fact that they (along with Bragacao and Daendroque) speak some of the few Languages that did not develop out of the Ceardian, Velheim or other tribal bases that existed elsewhere in the world, whom they have often dejected as barbarian or savage.
Ithanians have both simple yet complicated naming customs. While a simple first and surname are the common trend for ease of use, Ithanians also enjoy their so called “Nom de Court”, or their Court Name, which is a long construction. A Nom de Court starts with a first name, which for men is often like: Hiber, Jean, Francois, Alucard, Guy, and for women is often like: Ella, Noulaise, Alaîs, Attenaïs, Julienne, Madileine, and so forth. This is then immediately followed by the so-called “Nom de Lune”, meaning Moon Name, as the moon has an important role in Ithanian culture. The Nom de Lune is derived from the month that the Ithanian was born in, followed by the term to describe the phase of the moon, described below:
- January is Javienne
- February is Vrière
- March is Marsalle
- April is Vrillaie
- May is Ailaise
- June is Huinousse
- July is Huiviesse
- August is Aoûte
- September is Ellaivre
- October is Tomaise
- November is Obraive
- December is Grande
- New Moon is Looxois
- Waxing Crescenti is Croissant
- First Quarter is Terrois
- Waxing Gibbous is Solarent
- Full Moon is Pouvoir
- Waning Gibbous is Illumin
- Third Quarter is Regalois
- Waning Crescent is Troissant
So for example, if an Ithanian male named Guy was born in December under the Full Moon, the name up to this point would be Guy Grande-Pouvoir. Following the Nom de Lune comes the “Nom de Coeur”, which translates to Name of the Heart. The Name of the Heart is chosen by the individual during their coming of age, and it always has to be a word that describes an emotion, item, animal, object or concept that they strong associate with. For example, if this Guy Grande-Pouvoir strongly associated with lions because they were a Lion’s Pelt knight, and they felt that lions would stand for courage, then his name would become Guy Grande-Pouvoir Lion Coeur. The Nom de Coeur must always be the chosen word or term, followed by the word Coeur. When the Nom de Coeur is complete, a surname is added, that signifies their family membership which for the sake of this example is Montvertu.
Then, finally, all Ithanians complete their Nom de Court with the “Nom de Noblesse”, or the name of Nobility. The word Nobility is a bit more widespread in Ithania, because the Ithanians consider themselves all to be noble as long as they are Ithanian, and ignoble if they are not. The Nom de Noblesse as such is less an aristocratic distinction held only by those of blue blood, and instead a widespread thing. The Nom de Noblesse must always be written this way: An animal chosen that they associate with or consider their spirit animal, followed by “de” (of), followed by the place they were born. So, for example, if this Guy Grande-Pouvoir Lion Coeur Montvertu was born in Theloise, and considered a dog his spirit animal, his full name would finally be: Guy Grande-Pouvoir Lion Coeur Montvertu Cien de Theloise.