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By the present century Chwahir culture has become so distorted it is difficult to recognize the mostly black-clad Chwahir from their ancestors, who loved color, and who only wore black when seeking justice (or vengeance).

Social harmony is fundamental to Chwahir existence, even in the army days. The key is the twi, which is partly alternate family and partly work group. Twia are formed in many ways, though usually among age-mates in village or town. Sometimes they are related and sometimes not. In some areas, they are assigned; Shnit of course took over and attempted to assign twia, and any close to him would certainly be broken up (something Chwahir rarely did) if he suspected their loyalty was too given to one another and not to his will.

A good twi is loyal, everyone having one another's back. They help one another in all times and circumstances, and relationships, even marriages, are negotiated with prospective partners' twia, if members of a twi do not pair off.


Rice reaches back into the mistiest history of the Chwahir. Rice dishes of various kinds (especially noodles made of rice-milk batter) were the staple, but as the land became drier, other crops replaced the hemp, which caused a gradual revolution in food. Rice became the dish of the powerful, and for ordinary people was saved for special days (or for starvation, as rice stored properly lasts a long time); the army adopted the 'slurry' of the west (cabbage and oats, or wheat if oats are rare) as a relatively fast, easy meal, cooked into pottage. It can be made bearable with a little honey, as most villages have their apiary.

Like everything else, rice became politicized under Shnit as the climate worsened, being entirely reserved for him and his army. To be caught eating rice would earn not only you but your twi, and perhaps your family, instant death.


By the time of Shnit Sonscarna, the military was about the only possible job for most people. The economy was a wreck, black marketeering being marginally more successful than the rigidly controlled, stiffly taxed regular business. Women, useless in war, were forbidden to own property, to read and write. Later he was mad enough to pass a law to forbid them to use family names, even, because he felt that mothers were secretly keeping their children, specifically boy children, loyal to families, and not to him. His army training showed this rejection of any possible loyalties in its ferocity--added with mind-altering spells meant to suppress initiative and enhance obedience.

Women in Chwahirsland ran the black market, they had secret signs and signals for communication, and they worked hard to ameliorate Shnit's depredations as decade after decade passed on and he never died, just tried to increase his stranglehold on the kingdom, and life itself.


Music had been forbidden by his father; the form that stubbornly persisted was the ancient Great Hum, an eerie, haunting, beautiful series of incredibly complicated patterns that were never sung aloud, just hummed in a soft tone, along with noises that evoke different aspects of life. There is a trace of evidence--that, again, isn't always acknowledged--that the Chwahir Hum arises out of historical memory of the resonance of disirad.

In spite of Shnit, most Chwahir cherish the personal hum as well as the Great Hum, which expresses communal harmony. Musicians outside the kingdom recognize it as the art it is, but it is rarely heard by outsiders, and as no hum ever sounds the same twice, find it impossible to reproduce. Jilo, as part of his sweeping changes, permits some hummers to attend the music festival in Colend, where they astonish the world by winning the much-valued Silver Feather, and the Chwahir hum begins to gain prestige. That would be the first time in centuries that anything out of Chwahirsland was lauded.

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Categories: Chwahirsland

Page last modified on August 31, 2013, at 08:38 AM