The Lendosan Confederation's population can be divided into twelve basic cultural groups. These groups are not clear-cut, and any comments about them are, by necessity, generalisations, but they nevertheless represent distinct substrata of overall Lendosan culture. These groups are recognised both by scholars and by ordinary citizens - one's cultural group is generally a sourrce of pride, and Lendosans are more likely to identify themselves by cultural group rather than, say, by religion.
Most of the cultural groups observed in Lendosa are subsets of the larger Lendian culture, based around the Lendian ethnicity (which is taken to include Piolsans). The four main ethnic minorities of Lendosa also represent distinct cultures. There are also other non-geographic cultural groups formed by immigrant communities.
The map below shows the basic distribution of the twelve most commonly recognised cultural groups. The boundaries are, of course, approximate - there is no clear-cut division. Furthermore, there is sometimes disagreement over classification. For example, some see the two branches of the Teldian culture (the western Avrisians and the eastern Xoxinans) as distinct. Similar claims are sometimes put forward about the Azulian culture (the Lolthians on the northern coast and the Neonians on the southern), and the Alvaronian culture (the Rezimanians in the west and the Videcians inland).
The Alvaronian cultural group is the largest in Piolsa, and is sometimes referred to simply as "Piolsan" (although other Piolsans resent this use). It is based in the western and central parts of the island. Some scholars believe that it should properly be divided into several smaller groups, perhaps as many as four - the Videcians in the inland valley to the east, the Rezimanians on the southern coast, the Regasians on the northern coast, and the Lavaians at the westernmost tip. The group most likely to be declared "separate" are the Videcians, who have been influenced considerably by the Sargonese.
Traditionally, Alvaronian culture has placed emphasis on dignity and restraint, much like the Azulian culture of Lendia. Patience, in particular, has historically been seen as a valuable trait - haste has been regarded as undignified, and was to be avoided. Alvaronians have traditionally been strong followers of the six Virtues, although perhaps not as strong as the Sargonese.
Almost all Alvaronians speak Lendian as their first language, with the historic Alvaronian language having been absorbed into Lendian some time ago. Alvaronians do not have a strong accent (when measured against Azulian, the "standard"), but nevertheless use a number of grammatical patterns unique to their dialect, and also have a certain amount of additional vocabulary. Alvaronians sometimes retain older spellings for words.
Traditional Alvaronian Clothing
The Aspalian culture is found in the southwest of Lendia, in the region of Aspalia. It is, at base, a Lendian culture, but has been strongly influenced by the culture of the historic Paspalhite civilization which previously inhabited the region. The amount of influence that Paspalhite culture has exerted can vary considerably - some areas, particularly those that folllow the Paspalhite religion, evidence strong Paspalhite cultural traits, while others, where Lendian influence is strongest, Aspalian culture is virtually identical to Azulian culture.
Aside from the scattered remnants of the Paspalhite religion, which worships a goddess named Usha, Paspalhite influence on modern Aspalian culture is visible mainly in art, music, architecture, and clothing. Also, many believe that the strong codes of honour and honesty that the Paspalhites followed have left their traces in modern Aspalian attitudes - the Aspalians tend to treat promises and oaths more seriously than other Lendosans, being less willing to give promises and less willing to forgive the breaking of them.
The ancient Paspalhite language is now extinct, but had a considerable influence on the dialect of Lendian now spoken in Aspalia. Aspalian speakers of Lendian generally have a strong and distinctive accent, and use many words which are not found in other dialects of Lendian. The accent tends to be stronger in rural areas, and the strongest accents can be difficult for some Lendian-speakers to understand.
Traditional Aspalian Clothing
The Azulian cultural group is based around the east of Lendia, primarily in the regions of Lolthia and Neonia. It has traditionally been the most influential cultural group in what is now Lendosa - Lolthia and Neonia have usually been the wealthiest and most powerful parts of the country. Many people (particularly Azulians) consider the Azulian culture to be the "basic" Lendian culture, with others being off-shoots or variants. For this reason, it has sometimes been termed "High Lendian" culture. Other people, however, resent this view, and have deliberately asserted their own traditions against the strong influence that Azulian culture possesses.
Some scholars argue that the Azulian culture is better thought of as two distinct groups - the Lolthians on the northern coast and the Neonians on the southern coast. It is true that Lolthia and Neonia have always had a strong rivalry, each considering itself to be the true heart of Lendian culture, but most scholars agree that compared to other cultures such as the Rivanians, the difference between Lolthian and Neonian culture is relatively slight.
Azulian culture has traditionally placed a strong emphasis on dignity, ceremony, and grace. In particular, the open expression of emotion has traditionally been frowned upon - people were expected to maintain strong self-control at all times. This is, of course, an over-generalisation, but in the minds of many Lendians, there is a sharp distinction visible between the "restrained" Azulian culture in eastern Lendia and the more festive Rivanian culture to the west. Artistically, the Azulian cultural group is seen as the home of fine arts such as painting, sculpture, poetry, opera, and symphonic music. Azulians have traditionally seen themselves as the most cultured of Lendian peoples, and many of the Confederation's best known artists and composers had an Azulian background.
The ancient Azulian language formed the basis of the modern Lendian language, having gradually expanded and absorbed most of the other nearby languages related to it. As such, the Azulian dialect of Lendian is generally seen as the "purest", and is widely viewed as the most correct. Television and radio presenters, for example, have traditionally been trained to use Azulian pronunciation.
Traditional Azulian Clothing
Caerulian (alternatively spelled Carulian or Caerulean) culture is based along the eastern and northeastern coast of Piolsa. It is the dominant culture of the Caeria region, and of the coastal areas of Videc. Caerulian culture is noted for its conscious emulation of Liliani culture. (Liliana, a powerful empire of northern Longerath, never conquored Piolsa, but there were a number of Liliani settlements built in the Caeria region). It is debatable, however, as to whether the Liliani elements it incorporates are genuine or merely "pseudo-Liliani". Although Caerulian culture has traditionally been proud of its Liliani influence, some scholars say that the emulation is more of style than substance.
The art of the Caerulian cultural group is heavily modeled after that of the Liliani, as are various other elements of Caerulian identity. Caerulian culture has traditionally been less enthusiastic about "native" Lendosan concepts such as the six Virtues, and its stories and folklore has been more Liliani than Lendosan. Lendosan culture has still been a very significant influence, however, and most scholars say that the Caerulians are much less like the Liliani than they have traditionally believed themselves to be.
Caerulians speak the Lendian language, with only a slight regional accent. The Caerulians tend to refer to their accent as "Liliani", although linguists say that the Caerulian accent is actually further from Liliani than several other Lendian dialects. The Caerulians do, however, retain several features of Liliani grammar that have been retained in the Caerulian dialect - particularly noticable is the "-cue" suffix, based on the Liliani "-que". Linguists believe that the suffix was deliberately preserved by Caerulian authors who wished to emphasise their culture's links to Liliana.
Traditional Caerulian Clothing
The Catanian culture is located in a relatively small area of northern Piolsa. Historically, this area was home to to a people known as the Katanai, a blending of settlers from Longerath (the basis of the modern Lendian ethnicity) and pre-colonisation inhabitants. Today, the element of pre-colonisation tribes has almost totally vanished, having been drowned out by large waves of immigration. However, elements of their old tribal beliefs remain present in modern Catania.
The Katanai were a highly spiritual people, believing that a "spirit world" co-existed beside the physical world, and could influence it. This belief has largely (although not completely) died out in modern Catanian culture, but still leaves a considerable legacy. Many Catanians still follow traditional rituals intended to honour the spirit world, even if they do not actually believe in it - they are regarded as cultural, rather thhan religious, regardless of their original intent. Similarly, Catanians are often unwilling to speak the names of the dead, or even speak of the dead at all - this can be traced to a tradition in ancient Katanai culture.
In ancient times, there was a separate Katanai language, blending Liliani and indigenous languages. Later, as the influence of indigenous peoples decreased, the influence of neighbouring languages like Alvaronian became greater. Eventually, the language had adopted so many Alvaronian words and grammatical patterns that it was considered to be an Alvaronian dialect. Alvaronian itself was absorbed into the Lendian language, which united the various languages spoken by the colonists. Modern Catanians speak a form of Lendian almost identical to that of the Alvaronians, although surprisingly, one distinct Katanai grammar form remains - Catanians, rather than saying "will" or "shall", instead say "will then" (that is, they would say "it will then rain" rather than "it will rain".)
Traditional Catanian Clothing
The Kha ethnic group, living on islands to the southeast of Piolsa, have their own distinct culture and traditions. While Kha culture has been influenced by the traditions of other Lendosan peoples, it has retained a considerable number of differences, and along with the Riochans, the Kha are considered to be the least "Lendianised" people in Lendosa.
One of the important features of Kha culture is the Kha religion, based around six deities controlling various human attributes. The Kha deities are Eldana (goddess of strength), Esi'ko (god of wisdom), Kel'Sra (god of endurance), T'Dendro (god of quickness), Leha (goddess of intelligence), and Yana (goddess of persistence). Even among those Kha who are not religious, the forms and rituals of the religion has had a strong influence. Other aspects of Kha culture include a very strong emphasis on self-assertion - Kha regard a failure to stand up for ones beliefs to be the most serious failing a person can have. Kha have traditionally been viewed by other Lendosans as aggressive and arrogant, while the Kha themselves have considered other Lendosans to be weak and insincere.
The Kha speak their own language, one which has no proven links to any other language still alive today. The Lendian language is widely understood in Kha, but has not made any real headway except for dealings with other Lendosans - Kha remains in use for all everyday purposes. The Kha language itself has proved very resistant to Lendian influence, with the Kha inventing new words rather than borrowing from Lendian.
Traditional Kha Clothing
The islands of Rabel, located to the northwest of Lendia, are home to a distinct ethnic group with its own indigenous culture. Traditionally, Rabeli culture has been looked down on by Lendians, who considered it to be "primative" and "unsophisticated". Despite this, however, the Rabelis have remained proud of their traditional ways, and there is surprisingly little visible influence of Lendian culture in Rabel.
Rabeli art, music, and dance is considerably different from Lendian tradition, although elements of Rabeli music can actually be identified in Rivanian culture on the Lendian mainland. Rabeli culture also has considerably different traditions surrounding marriage and the family. In Rabel, it has been traditional for marriage proposals to be made by women, whereas in pre-modern Lendian culture, this role was usually assigned to men. There is also a tradition of polygamy which is absent in all Lendian cultures but the Aspalian. On many islands, this polygamy took the form of sororal polygyny (where a group of sisters would marry the same man). Polygamy, while widely accepted, was still rare, however, being restricted mainly to chieftains and priests. Today, it is uncommon, but is not in any way stigmatised.
Most Rabelis still speak their own language, although many also speak Lendian. The Rabeli language has been influenced by Lendian, but not to the point of losing its own distinctive features - its grammar and vocabulary are still largely original.
Traditional Rabeli Clothing
The Ranhi people, who live mainly on an island to the north of Piolsa, have their own distinct cultural group, although some similarities exist between it and the Catanian culture on the mainland. Ranhi culture has been influenced by other Lendosan cultures, but retains its own distinctive traits.
A major part of the Ranhi culture is its religion. The Ranhi religion is somewhat difficult to categorise, being outwardly polytheistic but theoretically montheistic - the Ranhi worship a number of gods, but these gods are seen as being merely different aspects of a single divine power. Another well-known aspect of Ranhi culture is its music, particularly its extensive use of certain wind instruments often described by outsiders as "haunting". The folk tales and mythology of the Ranhi are also widely known - many have been assimilated and adapted by other Lendian cultures, sometimes to the point where their origin can no longer be determined except by historians.
Most Ranhi speak their own ancestral language, although the majority also speak Lendian. The Ranhi language has been influenced by Lendian, more so than languages like Riochan or Kha but less so than Rabeli. At one time, the number of Ranhi speaking the Ranhi language dropped below half, and there were concerns that the language would eventually vanish, but an extensive program to revitalise Ranhi appears to have succeeded.
Traditional Riochan Clothing
The islands of Rioch, north of Lendia, are inhabited by an ethnic group distinct from most Lendosans. The Riochans regard themselves (certainly not without dispute) as the oldest civilisation on Vexillium, and follow a culture which is different from any other. It has been remarkably resistant to Lendian influence, mostly as a result of its traditional belief in its own superiority. Riochan culture is also notable for the fact that it does not welcome immitators or converts - despite traditionally believing its own culture to be superior, it has been strongly opposed to anyone (including Lendian immigrants to the islands) attempting to adopt any elements of Riochan culture.
Riochan culture has traditionally valued self-control above all else. Unlike, for example, Azulian culture, it has not seen the expression of emotion as being a weakness, but it has demanded that emotions not determine a person's actions. Placing one's feelings before one's thoughts is regarded as shameful in Riochan culture - even something like shouting is considerred to be a lapse of control.
Artistically, Riochan has a tradition quite distinct from other parts of Lendosa. In Riochan music, bells play a major part, as does choral singing - both these elements are rarely found in other Lendosan music. Rioch is also particularly well known for its carvings, both of stone and of wood. Riochan clothing is also distinct, and is noticable for its almost exclusive use of the colour grey (particularly for men, who were historically forbidden from wearing any other colour except on certain occasions). Even today, most Riochans wear mainly grey.
The Riochans speak a their own language. While many Riochans also speak Lendian, the proportion is not as high as in other parts of Lendosa. The Riochan language has remained relatively uninfluenced by Lendian.
Traditional Riochan Clothing
The Rivanian cultural group is centred on northwestern Lendia, covering the regions of Rivania and Melhoria. It takes its name from the region of Rivania, which itself is named after Riva, its principle city. Riva is some distance from cities such as Gloria Libertatis and Zolariza, traditionally thought of as the heart of Lendian culture. Rivanian culture, therefore, has historically been looked down on by society's elite, who preferred the "more refined" culture of Azulia. Rivanians, however, have always been proud of their culture, and have emphasised its differences from Azulian culture at every opportunity.
Rivanian culture is somewhat more vibrant and colourful than the relatively restrained and reserved culture of the Azulians. Rivanian music and dance tends to be more lively and energetic than the "refined" culture of the Azulians. The Azulians have traditionally placed an emphasis on dignity and self-control, but Rivanian culture generally rejects this, putting great value in the open expression of emotion. Rivanians have a reputation in other parts of Lendosa as being hot-tempered and excitable, while Rivanians often consider other Lendosans to be over-formal and boring. Also, Rivanians have traditionally had a more relaxed attitude than other Lendosans about romance and sex.
Most Rivanians speak the Lendian language, but with a distinctive accent and with various unique pieces of vocabulary. The Rivanian dialect also evidences a sharper contrast between formal and informal language - official and ceremonial language tends to retain many archaic forms which have vanished in other dialects, but ordinary, every-day language is considerably more relaxed than in other parts of the country.
Traditional Rivanian Clothing
The Sargonese cultural group is based in the southeast of Piolsa, and is named after the city of Sargon. Sargon, although no longer the political and economic centre it once was, is a major cultural centre in Piolsa, and has given its name to the Piolsan tradition that predominates in the area. Sargonese culture, for whatever reason, has resisted assimilation somewhat better than most, and many distinctive Sargonese features remain noticable.
Sargon has historically been a strong follower of the six traditional Virtues of Lendosan tradition. Direct reference to the Virtues (rather than merely an abstract adherence to them) is still more common in Sargonese culture than in any other. Sargonese cultural values have also traditionally included a strong focus on self-reliance and autonomy, almost to the point of encouraging people to deliberately isolate themselves from others. This tendency, while not as strong as it once was, is still noticable - few Sargonese will ever directly request help from another person, instead finding more circumspect and discreet means of indicating that they need assistance. Similarly, most Sargonese will view a direct offer of help as slightly insulting - instead, one must tactfully determine whether help is required, and then render it without an explicit offer.
The historic Sargonese language has now largely been absorbed into the Lendian language, based on Azulian (to which Sargonese was related). Sargonese is still spoken by a minority, however, and has recently been gaining ground. Even among those who do not speak Sargonese, however, a distinct accent is noted. In particular, final vowels are often faint - this reflects a feature of the Sargonese language, which discarded the grammatical gender that Lendian retains. The Sargonese accent is said by many to be the the strongest, as measured from Azulian.
Traditional Sargonese Clothing
The Teldian cultural group is based in the mountainous regions of inland Lendia, mostly occupying the regions of Avris and Xoxina. Due to its geography, the interior of Lendia has been exposed to less influence from the dominant Azulian cultural group, and has retained a number of traditional features. Because much of the Teldian area is rural, rather than urban, Teldian culture has traditionally been seen as less sophisticated than that of the Azulians. To many, Teldian cultural is synonomous with "rural" or "folk" traditions, although in actuality, other cultures have their own separate rural heritage.
Some people, both Teldians and others, prefer to split the Teldian group into two smaller cultures - Avrisian in the west and Xoxinan in the east. While there are indeed differences between Avrisian Teldians and Xoxinan Teldians, most scholars believe that the similarities are important enough to consider the Teldians a united cultural affiliation.
Teldian culture has a reputation as being more lively than the "restrained" Azulian culture that dominates Lendia, although Teldian culture is not as informal as Rivanian culture has a reputation for being. Important aspects of Teldian culture are its music (distinct from any other musical style in Lendosa) and its strong heritage of performing arts. Teldian culture is particularly noted for its drama and its minstrels, but other features, such as its dance and slight-of-hand "magic" tricks, are also well-known. There is also a strong tradition of fortune-telling and other types of mysticism.
The Teldian language has mostly been absorbed into modern Lendian, which was originally based on the language of the Azulians. In places, however, Teldian is still spoken as a first language. These areas tend to be the most remote parts of the country. Teldian is slowly gaining support in the region's urban areas, however, as more people seek to preserve what they now see as their heritage. The influence of the Teldian language on the Teldian dialect of Lendian is noticable, but mostly takes the form of vocabulary rather than pronunciation - the Teldian language has very similar prronunciation to the Azulian ("standard") dialect of Lendian.
Traditional Teldian Clothing