Tuesday 22 March 2011

Some rambeling notes on the Galmearan tribes of the Cochnai

This woman called herself by the trading pseudonym of "Thread Spruce" after a moderate sized spruce that produces fine black thread roots that can be used as a cord. She sat for me in her families hut by the bright light of the lace-working torches. Although they ware thick cloaks and delicate fabrics when outside, they go naked in the warmth of a hut or temple. She is from Cimbowli in the Cochnai, a strip of mountain and coniferous forest that borders the Frayan bog.  The Kreyicians would say she is from one of the 'Civilized Tribes', so called because they live in permanent dwellings, engage in trade and cultivate the summer soils.
"The so called 'civilized tribes' of the Cochnai engage in exquisite crafts.  Gathering the bog-cotton from the western marshes of the Frayan they spin fine cotton threads and knot them into delicate lace using bobbins of polished ivory and pins made of stiff ridge bristles from a local variety of hairy pig. They also make tallow, resin and skin candle lamps, by whose soft light they spend the long winter nights creating lace.

They trade in the north in the summer with the sea-elves and to the south with the few Moryan (gypsy) tribes who venture that way. 

Stip of Cochnai lace
The patterns on the lace are all deeply spirit based - but this is not known my the humans and elves who end up wearing it far away.  To the foreign wearer it is merely swirls, leaves, flowers and animals."

[Here Faadon had attached a number of samples of the lace, but unfortunately for us he seems to have later un-attached them, presumably to ware or give away. Thus we are left only with a few simple remnants to illustrate this craft.]

"The Galmearans of the Cochnai call this trade lace "seed spirits", and trade them with the intention that the appreciation of nature / spirits will be stimulated by those that ware it. In some ways it works.  In the Kreyic border regions where much of it ends up the people believe it is woven by the faeries, and those wearing it must respect the forces of nature.  It has its own quiet cult among the peasants.

When the lace reaches Kreyic it is in the hands of the Moryan (gypsies). The Moryan stick to the border regions as the cultural hegemony is less restrictive here. They themselves have become symbolic of a free society amongst those who are involved in the periodic peasant rebellions and surf uprisings of the territories. As their home is often the green-wood they have become in Kreyician border folklore as equivalent of "the Wild" - a term used to promote a sort of primitivism and an ideal of natural pureness. Given the poverty imposed by land ownership on these oppressed people it is not surprising. The Moryan are sen in direct contrast with the "Dirty Civilization" of the city and castle based inner counties of central Kreyic. 

Some Cochnai lace from the hem of a Kreyician peasants skirt. Unfortunately this old and re-used scrap was acquired from the gallows after a peasant uprising. Its owner was a young woman whose first child had died from malnutrition.  After birthing a second she and her husband had then retreated into the royal hunting forests and built an illegal home where there would be no tax. During this rebellion they where found, and in their home where three wounded rebels she was treating. All the adults where hung, and the boy taken by the kings knights to train to be a man-at-arms or bailiff. I will not say how it was achieved, but that child is now living peacefully with the Moryan in a distant land.

The lace that the Moryan are trading thus became a small token of this rebellion - it was, after all, how many of the Moryan where clad. Surfs and peasants thus adorned themselves in the rich lace and tassels whenever they had any surplice to spend.

Some finer decorated cloth - 'winter plants'
Of course it did occasionally leak up the social hierarchy, but like all aristocratic fashions it quickly faded.  Lower down it persists, and has done for many hundreds of years, the individual animal / leaf / energy symbolism of its creators lost and consumed by a struggle for freedom.  It becomes a symbol for natural non-centralized, non-hierarchical society. In this way the Cochnai creators achieved, partially, their ideas of "seed spirits".

The only major difficulty for the Cochnai Galmearans, if they knew the whole story, was that it also promotes wide spread illegal farming and hunting, which from a balanced natural point of view can be far more destructive than the wild chaises the aristocracy maintain for their personal pleasure.

The people of the Cochnai also make delicate tassels and intricate wood inlays. They create big carvings of deities, but these are not traded. they are "mature spirits".

They farm small areas during the summer for plant food and they milk the semi-domesticated hairy pigs. They live in sedentary villages and maintain a network of pathways.

Cross-section of a temple building.

Front view of a temple building
Their form of nature worship is the most dogmatic and least individualistic of the Galmearan tribes, and involves temples (large hall with a host of carved and dressed deities at one end. They have no priests, but for three moons a year everyone dedicates themselves to worship. In summer it is to the Sun, using trance and fasting, and involves invoking fey spirits. In winter it is a dedication to the Earth, involving meditation. In either spring or autumn, depending on the particular town, it is dedicated to celebrating Plant and Animal life. This involves feasts, social festivals and energetic ceremonies. 

Celebration of Water was also carried out, but how or when or by whom was not disclosed to me, though my wife gave me an infuriatingly knowing look (which she then denied) when I told her of my frustrations in discovering it.  I can only conclude that they told her something of it freely enough, and this is because she is female."


  1. I am a peasant in the cult following. I have a skirt with just such a laced edge and do indeed respect the nature spirits.

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