Ghan Customs
The Vicighans are a proud people, and though they may now cower in the besieged ruins of their cities, fearful of the degenerate, mutant-worshipping monstrosities that the bulk of their race has become, theirs is an ancient and noble culture that celebrates thought, learning, and above all wisdom. It is important to those that remain civilized that they keep their culture alive, and they work to celebrate what they made, remember what they were, and shut out what they now are.

Dukes and Mystics


The Ghanish lands are divided into large tracts, each ruled over by a Dux - what has become known today as a Duke. The Duke rules absolutely, and is served by a Boyar who commands his armies, and a Ban who manages his lands.

Mysticism

Mystics are not priests as such, but rather they are seers who use the Daemon Weed, and a few other secret herbs, to fall into a deep sleep. During this sleep they reach out, commanding their dreams, and touch the fringes of their mad divhi's dying nightmares. There they do their utmost to deduce his will. But woe to those who venture too deep, for many have never returned. Most view the mystics as martyrs - men who slowly give up their minds to bring other Ghans close to the divhi they thought lost. Many think them dangerous madmen. In either case they wield no authority in Ghanish society.

Masks

Masks hold a special symbolism in Ghanish Culture, and covering the face is seen as a form of taking on another identity. As a result masks perform a centrally important task in all parts of government. When a Duke or judicial official passes judgement, they must do so wearing the mask of Ghanda, for no mortal is fit to judge another. When they officiate a ceremony they must don the mask of ceremony. When they go to war they must don the mask of slaying. And so forth. To improperly display one's face, in Ghan government, is a grave enough offence to completely undermine any ruling.

Bath Houses

Public baths have always been a staple of Ghan communal life, and much of the politics and business of the duchies is performed in the casual and often opulent surrounds of the bath house. Often a bath house fills in for the temple to the poor of the Ghan duchies, as noble sponsored bath houses, even in poor neighbourhoods, are opulent places of luxury that welcome visitors for a very low fee indeed.

Worship


The Ghan people have, ostensibly, accepted that they are alone, and that with their Divhi sleeping on the verge of death they will receive neither boon nor protection, and yet they remain loyal, but they do not worship in the sense others do.

Religious Tolerance

The Ghans feel that to turn to another divhi would be to abandon their own, and so outside worship, though common, is a shameful secret. Large cults like that of Eku in the south are growing in power and influence however. While the Ghans recognize that other Divh exist, they try to remain wilfully ignorant of them, and prefer to show their loyalty to Ghanda by politely staying clear of places holy to other faiths, and ceremonies or discussions of religion.

Inheritance


Ghans practice primogeniture, with only the eldest son standing to gain anything from his father's death. This means subsequent sons must turn to a trade of their own, or depend on their eldest brother to help them should they require means beyond their own. Generally this means that the family trade, be from that of an artisan to that of a duke, passes patrilineally from father to first son through a family for generation upon generation, with little changing.

Bastards

A man's children - all of his children - are a part of his family, and entitled to his name. Bastards born both before the beginning of a marriage, and after, are accepted into a man's household. Their mothers, however, enjoy no such benefit. And a woman who has fathered a bastard is marked as a woman of loose morals, and will find it close to impossible to find a husband.

Age of Majority


Children in Ghan society are considered to become adults over a period of time rather than upon reaching a certain age. Instead are eligible to begin to undertake a series of ceremonies in their twelfth year, and have until their eighteenth to complete these and pass into adulthood. The ceremonies are not defined, specific rites, but rather things they must be deemed to have proven about themselves - virtues they must have - in order to pass into adulthood. The eldest same sex member of the family decides when these milestones are passed, and ushers the child into adulthood, normally around sixteen, but sometimes much sooner.

Property


All Ghans can own land, slaves, animals, or goods if they have the wealth to do so. There is plenty of land, and few Ghans, and so the Dukes do not retain exclusive rights to the lands in their territories.

Slavery and Vargor

Generally speaking the Ghans are accepting of slavery, but only the vargor are taken as slaves for life - born into slavery. Men can be enslaved, but never for life, only for a period of time until their debt is paid. A man who owes another money or wronged another may be slave to the other until his debt is deemed clear, but this period will always be finite. and will never be inherited by his heirs. In the presence of their masters a slave must always wear the mask of servitude - showing your bare face to your owner is considered profoundly disrespectful, even defiant.

Women


Men and women have heavily segregated roles in Ghan society, but women aren't completely marginalized. While they can't control positions of power, they can own property (until they are married, when their property reverts to their husband) and they are considered the heads of their household. Overseeing the day to day running of a home, including dealing with artisans to purchase goods, raising the children, hiring servants and labour, operating business and keeping household accounts are all not only the woman's duty, but her prerogative, leaving men to involve themselves in matters political, intellectual, and financial, as well as to earn coin and goods to keep the household. This arrangement may keep women from positions of power, but also gives them influence and power of their own.

Veils

Women are expected to cover their faces when in public, for a woman wields no official social role, and thus is a servant to the public. However in the privacy of her own homes, where she is mistress and host, she may uncover her faces, even in the presence of guests. In some older, more traditional communities women are only allowed to unveil in their own homes in the presence of their husbands, or a male member of their immediate family, but must remain veiled if unescorted. Women are always welcome to unveil when surrounded only by other women.

Birth


A new life entering the world is reason enough for celebration, and the new father is expected to feast his own family and that of his wife while she remains in a tent at the heart of the festivities with a midwife. When the child is born then it is immediately presented to the gathered people. It is considered a grave offence to leave the feast before the presentation of the child. If the child or mother do not survive the festivities continue, spilling over into the mourning celebration (see Death below).

Star Signs

The date of a child's birth is unimportant to the Ghans. Rather they note the constellation of starts that waxes brightest when a child is born. It is said that each sign affects the traits of a child, giving them certain personalities, and certain talents unique to those sharing that sign. It is a belief shared by the Kelorns to the far west.

Marriage


Marriage is more of a business agreement than a binding of two people, and has no religious connotation whatever. Men seek a bride who can carry many strong children, and who will run their household in the way they want. It is almost like taking an apprentice or assistant. However beautiful women, even those with little else to commend them, also have their share of suitors, and pursuing a woman for love rather than profit is not unknown, though elders will shake their heads at such pursuits.

Betrothal

It is up to a man to seek a desirable bride in Ghanish culture, as she will be running his household, and he needs a woman that is to his liking, both in appearance, manner, and competency. Once he has settled on a bride he will approach her father, and offer him a price - be it a business agreement, coin, goods, rank, or favour - to bring her to his home. The father will then agree or disagree, or seek to negotiate. However the offer must be paid in full before the bride is sent to her new husband, meaning the period between acceptance and marriage can be a long one.

The Ceremony

The marriage ceremony amongst the Ghans is a simple one, with little pomp or ceremony. The bride-to-be's family assemble at her father's home, and he leads her, surrounded by family, to the home of her betrothed. There the husband-to-be waits with his family. The father brings his daughter forward, and the groom's second comes forward to accept her. She is taken and formally presented to the groom, who either accepts her into his house, or sends her back to her father, and then it is either done or not. There is no celebration, merely a formalized change of lodgings.

Dissolution

The only opportunity for dissolution is during the marriage ceremony, when the husband can send a bride who disappoints him back, and ask any offer be repaid in full. If one partner or another dies, the survivor is free to remarry after exactly one year. Women are expected to wear a veil during this mourning period, to signify their unavailability.

Death


The Ghans see much death, and with their divhi upon the verge of death it is a stark reminder that no one waits for them on the other side. But rather than be distressed by the inevitable, the Ghans defy their fears by celebrating death. When an individual dies, it is a time to make merry, and celebrate that individual's life, not lament their passing, and though privately each man and woman will mourn, they will mark death with as much festivity as possible.

Funerary Rites

Every Ghan puts away funds and curries favour against the day of his death, so as to host his friends and family for one final time. During this time the body is present, in a coffin, which is burned in a great bonfire as the sun sets to warm the feasters into the night. A deathmask is taken of the body in plaster immediately after its death, to be ensconced in a small family tomb as a memorial, which is then visited in memory of the deceased.

Food and Eating


Eating is often a ritualized and important process amongst the Ghans. Most have known bitter weather and starvation in their lives, and famines are not uncommon, so the Ghans celebrate and venerate a meal more than other races. Firstly meat must be slaughtered in a very specific manner to be suitable for Ghans to eat, bled dry, and blood on the plate is a cause of great offence. Meat must never be cooked, only taken raw, and poultry is considered poison. Secondly Ghans fall into two groups, those who may eat seafood, but never meat that dwells on land, and the opposite who may eat the bounty of the land's beasts, but never those from the sea. The belief is that the two simply cannot be mixed, and the choice of which to cleave to is made by the entire family. While an entire family can reorient its diet, they must fast for a month to cleanse their bodies before doing so.

When actually eating, to touch food before the host has first begin to eat is an offence grave enough to warrant legal reprisal, and to not empty one's plate is an insult to the host, though not one worthy of punishment. Food is eaten by hand, and utensils are not provided, and dried seaweed is used to pick up and wrap meat and vegetables while eating, in the same way other cultures might use bread. The Ghans take all of these customs almost impractically seriously, and react with horror when their decorum is breeched, even by unknowing foreigners.

Dreamer's Pipe

Ghans have a habit of smoking a hallucinogenic dried leaves of Daemon Weed, bled of their venomous sap. It is customary for them to offer it to a guest, though many know that outsiders find the experience distressing and forgo the formality, and it is a grave insult to refuse or not to draw deeply enough from the pipe.