Families, Work and Culture

Kandar Family Life

Kandar live in large extended families, typically upwards of a dozen adults of various ages living in sizeable many-roomed buildings. Kandar are serially monogamous; they tend not to marry for life, but enter into marriage contracts for a a fixed length of time, typically five years. It’s equally common for a man to join his wife’s household, or the woman to join her husband’s; the decision often has a much to do with practicalities such as the available living space as anything else. Such marriages tend to dissolve if they fail, as is quite often the case, to produce any children. However, it’s common for former partners to remain in the same extended household, often on quite amicable terms. After several changes of partners a household can sometimes up being made up of adults none of whom are actual blood-relatives. The internal politics of some more dysfunctional families can get labyrinthine with petty jealousies and feuds, which occasionally boil over into actual violence.

Property is generally owned by the entire extended group, and all adults have a say in important financial transactions. The oldest man and the oldest woman in the household typically have the final say.

The fertility of the kandar race is very low, and this has several cultural consequences. Firstly, children are very precious indeed. Kandar are collectively very, very protective of their offspring, and woe betide anyone who harms a kandar child. Secondly, pregnancy is universally regarded as a blessing, regardless of how that pregnancy came about. Kandar regard any form of artificial birth control for their own race as anathema; it’s something to be reserved for the fecund humans who would otherwise breed like rabbits. Thirdly, since child-rearing also tends to be the responsibility of the whole of the extended family group, kandar women have far greater independence than in equivalent human societies of the same technological level.

Kandar children typically grow up surrounded by assorted half siblings and cousins. Their actual biological parents are often quite distant figures, and they have closer emotional bonds to whoever is responsible to their day to day care. In noble or wealthier families, these may well be human slaves rather than kandar relatives.

There’s little difference in family structure between kandar nobles and freemen. Nobles tend to take marriage partners from within the same clan, although where a clan is few in numbers in a city, a strong incest taboo means they marry outside their own clan when there aren’t enough potential mates within their own clan. Freemen households tend to be associated with guilds, all adults members of the same guild. Quite often the housing they occupy belongs to the guild.

Human Family Life

Human freemen tend to ape the family structure of the kandar, although the extended families tend to be smaller, with a higher proportion of children. There is far less swapping of partners, since most human unions tend to be fertile. A human couple may well stay together for life, having many children.

Human families outside the guilds tend to be rather chaotic; lots of single parents, children often resulting from casual liaisons rather than committed relationships.

Employment

The working life of the inhabitants of Kalyr varies greatly, as you would expect in such a stratified society.

The popular image of the kandar nobility is that of the idle rich, living a life of luxury off the labour of others, and devoting their time either to higher pursuits like arts, or to endless games of political oneupmanship. Like all stereotypes, it’s not entirely true, but there’s at least a grain of truth in it. There are many wealthy kandar that derive their wealth from the vast plantations that feed the cities, but delegate the day-to-day management to trusted underlings. But there are still kandar nobles that do devote a lot of time to running their estates. Other nobles hold high political office, either as city rulers, or as senior masters in the guilds.

Kandar and human freemen make up most of the rank and file of the guilds. These are the craftsmen, bureaucrats and merchants that make up the urban middle classes. There’s not much in the way of industrial mass-production in Kalyr; everything, even relatively high-tech items, are hand-made. Skilled craftsmen, senior guild administrators and successful merchants can become quite wealthy, although their wealth seldom approaches that of the nobility. A lot of journeymen of more modest skills earn an income that matches their skills; many work long hours, but still struggle to make ends meet.

Human slaves perform most brute labour and drudge work, either in the cities, or most commonly on the vast plantation farms that feed the cities. Some human freemen also work as hired labourers, in some ways their lot is little better than the slaves; since the slaves at least get one decent meal a day.

Arts and Culture

Music

Most classical kandar music prefers sounds and textures to melody. A typical composition is performed by either large orchestras of wind or stringed instruments or equally vast choirs. The music sung by the choirs has no words. There are some works composed entirely for percussion. All classical kandar musical forms are very conservative, and have been much the same for centuries. Despite this, there are very few “standard works”, and many hundreds of similar-sounding works by many different composers are performed. Many of the best choirs and orchestras perform at or are sponsored by the temples of Esala, the patron guardian of the arts.

Meanwhile, popular kandar (and human) music is usually performed by small groups of less than half-a-dozen people playing the seven-stringed zathur and percussion backing one or more singers. This kind of music is usually performed in inns and taverns rather than in temples. In recent years, there has been an explosion of this kind of music, with some artists gaining large followings.

Visual Arts

Kandar art is almost entirely abstract. Paintings contain random swirls of colour, and sculptures tend to be equally weird. Realistic portraits and landscapes are virtually unknown. Any human artist who attempts such a work becomes the subject of much ridicule, while no kandar would even think of doing such a thing.

Many artists earn a comfortable living producing art for rich patrons. The Academy of Knowledge also purchase quite a lot of paintings and sculptures; it’s a bit of a mystery what they actually do with them, because very few are ever displayed anywhere by them.

Literature

Kandar literary forms display the same sort of conservatism as visual and musical arts, and largely consist of reworkings of ancient historical and religions epics, retold in elaborate flowery language. Over the centuries more creative authors added many new elements and characters to these traditional tales, although very few writers have ever written entirely new stories from scratch.

Games and Pastimes

Thlan

A strategy game popular across all social classes in Kalyr is Thlan, a two-player game played on a hexagonal board. There are several types of pieces, each of which has different rules for movement. Whenever a piece is captured, it is turned over, and passes to the other player. As in all the best games of this type, although the basic rules are simple, the strategies can be extremely subtle and complex. It is said that the game takes moments to learn, but a lifetime to master. There is a three player variant of the game, which has the same basic moves, but completely different strategies. A master of the more common two player rules finds that they must unlearn many of their moves and techniques.

Lonthu

Another popular game is called Lonthu. This game involves dice, and a mixture of skill and luck is required to win. Naturally, the game is popular in gambling houses. Unlike Thlan this is very much a lower-class game, shunned as vulgar by the nobility.

Playing Cards

A great many different card games are also played. The standard pack of playing cards consists of 64 cards. There are 7 colours (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown, Purple and Black), each of which has nine cards, in increasing order of value, the Slave, the Farmer, the Guildsman, the Soldier, the Priest, the Wizard, the Knight, the Tharn and the Sarkan, plus one additional colourless card, the Vulan.

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