From: Bernuetz, Oliver: WPG (Bernuetz.Oliver@cbsc.ic.gc.ca)
Date: Thu 02 Mar 2000 - 20:48:00 EET
This is my take on the social structure, sex life, marriage structure and
towards women among the Balazarings. Some of this is off of the Griffin Mt.
part of the Glorantha web site but I've expanded on it (especially where the
social structure makes no sense).
Balazaring society is nominally centered around three tribes each claiming
descent from one of Balazar's children each of which is centered on one of
the three citadels. In reality not every Balazaring recognizes the citadels
as being dominant and the actual organizational unit is the clan. Most
are allied with one or another of the citadels but not all of them are. The
that are associated with the citadels have tended to be pretty static though
recently more of the western clans have allied themselves with Elkoi, the
Lunar controlled citadel so that they can receive metal weapons and armour
from them. No one knows how loyal they would be if another citadel would
declare war on the Lunars however.
(In my version of Balazar there are three arch-conservative clans that
to follow Balazar that live in the Elder Wilds and are not allied to any
There are a total of ten clans each of which claims descent from one of
Votank's ten children. Each of these clans is usually around 420 people
in size with about 280 adults. The main family unit among most Balazarings
is the hearth not the nuclear family. The hearth is focused on a female
worshipper of the Hearth Mother who is responsible for looking after the
sacred fire. The other members of the hearth are usually her husband,
another woman, her husband and any children.
This is the core hearth size and is the absolute minimum size. Depending
on the season one or more additional hearths will be travelling with them
for added protection and increased food gathering capabilities.
Despite what GM states hearth and clan decisions are made according
to need. The time of year dictates where hearths travel to and the type of
food they are collecting determines movement. When it's hunting time
the hunters decide where they go. When it's gathering time the gatherers
decide. In times of danger or stress the Tharkanti or senior Foundchild
worshipper present makes the decisions basing their decisions on expected
behavior (if possible) or on the advice of the most respected clan members.
In time of war the clan leader makes decisions he or she thinks can be
accepted by the majority (not just the hunter initiates). The most
member of a hearth is the hearth mother since she protects the sacred fire.
The hearth relationship is the closest and tightest relationship among the
Balazarings and no Balazaring would betray or hurt a member of their
hearth. Fights within a clan are rare as well and violence usually occurs
between different clans.
Marriage is a pretty informal institution among most Balazarings with
pairings joining or breaking up whenever either partner wants to.
Descent is traced through both parents This serves to maximize the
number of relatives people can count on in times of trouble. Sex is allowed
with anyone who isn't your father, mother, sibling, aunt, uncle
or grandparent. There is no stigma associated with being born out of
wedlock since it's such a temporary status.
Women approach men and men approach women and sex is normally
by consensus.. Rape is virtually unheard of and usually the result of some
outsider forcing himself on one of the local women. Homosexuality has
no stigma among the Balazarings as they don't tend to have big families
and there isn't a taboo against non-procreative sex. Public displays
of affection are not common and couples usually seek privacy before
getting physical. Children are constantly hugged, kissed and given
lots of attention. Lacking domestic animals bestiality is not encountered.
Dogs are considered siblings so they're not a permitted sex partner.
Nudity is expected, weather permitting and nothing to comment
about though most people will cover their privates with at least a loin
Infanticide is only practised in the case of extreme deformity. Women
usually give birth when they are in their late teens, early twenties and
make the decision as to timing. Babies are nursed for as long as two years
and birth control is practised. Birth is a sacred event and only women and
shamans (who are considered to be neither male nor female) are allowed
in the birthing chamber.
The Balazarings do not practise representational art forms.
There is a clear and expected division of male and female duties.
Women bear children, watch the sacred hearths and gather the majority
of the food. Men hunt, protect the clans and hearths, fight their enemies
and make tools. Religion is the venue of both sexes depending on
the deity and the shamans among the tribes are considered to be neither
men nor women. While it is unusual it is possible for a man or a woman
to follow non-traditional roles. The Balazarings aren't as accepting as
the Orlanthi are but they don't usually make the non-conformer's life
too miserable. Women adopting a "male lifestyle" are usually treated
as a male and vice versa.
Now on top of this neat social structure is imposed (sort of) that of the
Tharkanti. Balazar brought his typically uptight, patriarchal social order
and introduced it into Votanki society. It was a lousy fit to say the
For the most part the accommodation was one way (and not the expected
way either). A lot of traditional Tharkanti practises were abandoned
such as sexism, taboos against homosexuality, patrilocality, patrilineality,
etc. The Tharkanti lineages within the clans (descended for the most
part from Balazar's followers) tend to favour the male parent in descent,
only marry and breed with each other (though their pure lineages are
mostly a self-deception by now) and tend to worship Tharkantus and
serve as leaders and warriors within the clans. There are very few of
these families as they are most useful in the winter when the trolls are
raiding and aren't that useful at other times of the years. A lot of them
live in the citadels and provide warriors for the citadel guards.
The clan leaders tend to claim descent from one of Votank's children
AND one of Balazar's followers. A lot of this is as authentic as a Waha
Kahn being descended from Waha though.
Oliver D. Bernuetz
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