From Avaria
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Salawi are coastal peoples from northeastern Idiri, their society blending local Idiri with Sirdabi customs to make a distinctive culture that has only grown and thrived since the days of the early caliphate. Though widely dispersed through the caliphate, their native homeland is the province of Zalawi.

The prosperity of the Salawi derives chiefly from maritime trade with southwest Riendu and the demicontinent of Jalanjhur, and many of them live in bustling commercial cities built directly on the coast or upon clusters of islands just offshore. Further into the interior, pastoral life in small village communities is common, and many people also work in the mines that provide the region's famed high-quality iron. They have an enterprising independent spirit, and are the pre-eminent sailors and shipbuilders of the Sirdabi Caliphate.


Salawi typically have very dark complexions ranging all the way from a deep chocolate brown to a lustrous blue-black, with tightly curled to kinky hair. Their eyes may be a range of browns, including deep gold and amber. They are commonly tall and lanky, the women with willowy frames and the men with musculature more wiry than bulky.


Like much of their culture, the ordinary garb of a Salawi blends both Sirdabi and Idiri influences, sometimes with a touch of Jalanit or Irulao style thrown in. Women usually wear a sarong called the kikoi, which may be worn like a dress to drape from the chest or shoulder, or like a skirt wrapped around the waist. When worn like a skirt, the kikoi is usually paired with a short choli blouse that bares the midriff and features either puffed or close-fitting short sleeves. When out and about in town, or dressing for inclement weather, women will put on an abaya cloak -- the universal white of business and formality, or a variety of colors for more everyday affairs. Sometimes they will add a loosely wrapped and colorful headscarf, or they may go out bareheaded to show off the intricate rows of braids in which they like to style their hair.

A typical man of the city would go about his business wearing a white bisht over the classic Sirdabi thawb, which may be either white (again, for more formal or professional occasions) or dyed with bright blocks of color (for leisure or home). Rural men dress much the same way, but except for formal occasions they most typically wear the brightly patterned thawb and a bisht in various rich brown hues. Sometimes city men, particularly merchants with wide-ranging connections, will put on the knee-length, long-sleeved garment called the kurta, more commonly worn in Jalanjhur. Whether in city or country, no man's outfit is complete without the kofia, a simple cylindrical cap with a flat crown and no brim. Kofia may be plainly colored or striped or elaborately embroidered, made of inexpensive cotton or luxurious brocade.


The native language of Salawi is called simply Salawi. Despite being a distinctly Idiri language, it has incorporated a number of Sirdabi loan words over the centuries, and it is also written in the Sirdabi script. As citizens of the Sirdabi Caliphate, the vast majority of Salawi also speak Sirdabi itself. It is not uncommon for Salawi sailors and merchants also to speak some Jalanit; familiarity with this tongue is especially widespread in the southern city of Laascana. Basic literacy is widespread among Salawi, with city dwellers generally boasting more sophisticated reading and writing ability than rural or village populations.


Among the Salawi, property -- land, houses, and wealth of various kinds -- is inherited along matrilineal lines, generally passing from mother to daughter, or otherwise being distributed among a mother's children according to her wishes. If a daughter inherits property, she may keep, use, and dispose of it as she pleases. A son who is allowed to inherit, though he may enjoy the use of his inheritance, is not allowed to dispose of it -- such property as he has received from his mother must be passed on in turn to one or more of his own daughters, and in the meantime it is often managed by his wife. Conversely, however, prestige and title follow Sirdabi custom and are passed down along the male line, which in some unusual cases may result in men of great social status living almost materially destitute. More typically, the utmost care is devoted to ensuring that both material and social status remain secure within the family, meaning that among the wealthy and powerful a great deal of strategic emphasis is placed on making proper marriages. Among those of only small and moderate means, strategic alliances are a much lesser concern and individuals are far more likely to marry to please only themselves -- with their parents' approval, of course.

In their homeland of Zalawi, the Salawi historically lived in city-states which competed fiercely among one other for power, prestige, and trade. While this era ended when these smaller states united as a province of the Sirdabi Caliphate, most Salawi retain a highly competitive spirit, usually (though not always) tempered by a strong sense of fun. Games and competitions of all kinds are extremely popular throughout Zalawi, as much in the interior village communities as the urban population of the coast. While intra-city competitions are common, the leading families of Zalawi additionally sponsor a province-wide series of athletic games every five years, where the various former city-states now compete for prizes and prestige. Such games have begun to spread throughout the caliphate, planned and participated in chiefly by local Salawi, but also by a growing number of people of other heritages. Besides these more physical competitions, Salawi have an especially great love for dice games, which they often use to while away long hours at sea or in port. They also love making boasts, the wilder and more exaggerated the better. While other peoples sometimes find such behavior obnoxious and arrogant, the Salawi generally mean it more in fun than in seriousness, and one more thing they like to compete in is seeing who can brag the most outrageously.

See also