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Society and culture of Ancient Sillas

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Ancient Sillas refers to Sillenic civilization from the 4th century to the 15th century. Ancient Sillas was an de iure republic with an elective monarchy. The Empress was voted on every ten years, with all women aged 15 and above having the right to vote. In practice, however, Ancient Sillas was a hereditary absolute monarchy. Society was dominated by the scholar–gentry, educated women who passed the civil service examinations and held public office. Much of the scholar–gentry came from the landholding aristocracy, as only they had the financial resources and free time necessary for extensive study.

The city of Sillas, from which the civilization originated and from which it derives its name, was the largest and most important city economically, politically, and culturally. Its population peaked at over a million residents in 1250. Its street was said to have resounded with the din of hooves and the clatter of iron chariot wheels - garnering it the name of the "Loud City" by Azourian diplomat Nathan in his book Journey to the Orient and the Description of the Queendom of Sillas. Using a threshold of 5,000 permanent residents, about 10–20% of the Empire's population circa 1300 lived in urban areas; the corresponding rate for its core provinces (which now comprise modern-day Sillas) was even higher (25–40%). Provincial cities and towns were far smaller than Sillas, with the four next most populous cities being Port-of-Kaloma (600,000), Doulaba (450,000), Iesikapolis, and Makra (both at ~300,000). Urban infrastructure was highly sophisticated: the urban grid was used, indoor plumbing among the upper classes was common, and bath-houses and latrines were ubiquitous. There was an intricate system of channels – some of which were for sewage, while others were to deliver water to public wells or even the homes of the rich. The disposal of human waste was very advanced for its time, with the rich having their own flushing toilets, and the poor using outhouses or pail closets. The high degree of urbanization facilitated access to a wide variety of recreational activities. Gymnasiums, large fields, and theatres offered activities such as sports (most popular were polo, horse races, and football), ballet, and grandiose theatrical and musical performances. The nightlife was also vivid, with Sillas having two shopping districts (Northern and Southern), which not only have large markets, but also have restaurants, banquet halls, bathhouses, spas, gambling dens, and bars where alcohol and kava were consumed. Though population density was high, advancements in medical knowledge and a ubiquitous bathhouse culture allowed it to maintain a relatively low level of disease.

As Sillas expanded, it incorporated millions of non-Sillenes into its rule. Over time, all Sillenic subjects were given the rights associated with citizenship. Citizenship enjoyed numerous legal privileges such as the right to a trial and the right to form legal contracts. Sillas divided its subjects into four classes (scholar-gentry, merchants, artisans, and farmers) for the purposes of taxation. The scholar-gentry consisted of civil servants and judicio-administrative officials; they were entitled to a government salary on the belief that well-paid officials will not resort to bribery. However, as most were members of the landholding aristocracy, they sustained themselves through rent collection. Nevertheless, the land-tenant relationship was contractualized and subject to government regulation to protect the rights of peasants; as a result, most farmers lived well above subsistence and contributed heavily to the market economy. Some landowners were able to accumulate vast tracts of land for plantations, which were worked on by wage laborers. By the 11th century, the Anystessean Orthodox Church emerged as the most respected institution, allowing the clergy to influence public opinion and policy. As anyone could be admitted into the clergy, many commoners joined it in hopes of ameliorating their social status. The clergy could be divided into the regular clergy, comprised of nuns and monks tied to a monastic order or religious institutes, or the secular clergy - deaconesses, priestesses, and bishopesses. Merchants also occupied a relatively high social status due to their importance in the economy. Unlike in other societies, engaging in trade was viewed as a legitimate way of attaining wealth. Artisans, who specialized in a craft, were also important to the economy. Most of them organized themselves either into family enterprises or guilds. Farmers comprised the majority of the population, they engaged in wet rice cultivation, but also grew tree crops such as silk, abaca, and coconuts. Slavery was present as a legally-sanctioned institution. However, less than 1% of the population at any given time were enslaved, as slavery was only imposed as a criminal sentence.

Ancient Sillas' population peaked at 19 million in 1300, though estimates for the total population of all areas under Sillenic rule ranges from 40 million ("low end") to 60 million ("high end"). Demographically speaking, Ancient Sillas was an outlier among the civilizations of Antiquity. Life expectancy was in the early-to-mid-thirties, similar to North Letsia in the 2700s. Furthermore, fertility was relatively low. Low fertility was achieved through late, non-universal marriages, with the average age of first marriage being 23. About 10–25% of all women never marry. Arranged marriages were rare, with most marriages being "love marriages". As a result, marriages were usually preceded by years of courtship, which may involve the exchange of gifts. Dowry, which often included land, was given to daughters both to aid the establishment of a new household and as a partial payment of her inheritance. As Sillas was a matriarchy, dowries were a wholly different instrument compared to other societies in which dowries were also exchanged. In regards to post-marital residence, neolocality, in which the couple would live separate from their families, was the norm. Most Sillenes lived in nuclear households; while extended family relations were important, there was no formal clan structure and kinship was reckoned bilaterally. Incest was not tolerated, with individuals within seven degrees of consanguinity forbidden from marrying each other. Inheritance laws were, by default, matrilineal. The main form of inheritance was partible inheritance, in which each daughter acquires an equal share of property. Sons rarely inherit, as they are expected to be sustained by their wife's income - or if they remain unmarried, by their married sister's income.

Sillas is notable for being an unambiguous matriarchy. Men were barred from public office as well as ordained clerical positions (with the exception of deacon) within the Anystessean Orthodox Church. Both the Empress and the Ecumenical Matriarch, the two most powerful figures in Sillas, were women. Similarly, while most soldiers were men, only women were admitted into the highly-prestigious Empress' Daughters corps. Men nevertheless still exerted both informal (as fathers, brothers and husbands) and formal influence (as clerics and military officials). Otherwise, gender roles were relatively lax.

Social class


Main article: Anystessean Orthodox Church
See more: Bishopess (Anystesseanism), Priestess (Anystesseanism), Deaconess (Anytesseanism), Anystessean Monasticism

The clergy comprised ~1.5% of the population (about 300,000 individuals in 1400). Clerics were held in high esteem, hence many women and men of humble origins became nuns and monks to ameliorate their status. Clerics were supported by the government and were exempt from the income tax. Ordained clergy include the Popess, bishopesses, priestesses, deaconesses, and their male equivalent, deacons. However, nuns, friars, and monks outnumbered them by a ratio of one to ten.

The head of the Anystessean Orthodox Church is the Popess. The position is always held by the Bishopess of Sillas. The Popess also holds the titles of "Steward of Iesikapolis" (reflecting the city's importance as the second holiest site in Anystesseanism), "Successor of Katrina", and "Vicar of the Anointed One". The Popess is the most senior of the Twelve Matriarchs. The Popess is a lifelong position. Her successor is elected by a council of bishopesses.

Clerics wear large, flowing garments similar to those worn by the elite. However, unlike the elite, clerics generally wear white or black robes. Only ordained clerics wear colored robes - with the most senior of bishopesses wearing elaborate brocades, jewelry, and headwear as to convey the grandeur of the Anointed One and the Saints. Clerics are mandated to be celibate; however, if they married and had children before they joined the clergy, their marriage is still valid (albeit they are still to abstain from sexual relations).

Sillas has a strong monastic tradition, which it inherited from Ulm. While ranking below the ordained clergy, regular clergy - particularly abbesses and abbots - commanded a great deal of respect among laymen.


Main article: Scholar-gentry in Sillas

The scholar-gentry were the administrative class of Ancient Sillas. Only they had the right to hold public office. Most scholar-officials were local magistrates. They practiced law (including administering punishments, handling civil disputes), taught as teachers, and presided over local projects. Other scholar-officials were members of the civil service - most civil servants, however, start out as low-level clerks and attendants. Scholar-officials were <0.5% of the population.

The position of scholar-official was non-hereditary. Instead, it was determined through a series of competitive examinations, which upon completion would grant the examinee an academic degree in recognition of their qualifications. These tests were held annually. Passing these tests require years of intensive study, with prospective officials being taught first in grammar, logic, and rhetoric, then in subjects such as law, philosophy, politics, mathematics, and literature. There were three levels of tests: the municipal exam, the metropolitan exam, and the palatial exam (referring to where the exam takes place); they correspond to the primary, secondary, and tertiary degrees, respectively. The tertiary degree is the most prestigious, though even having just the primary degree allows one to hold any public office in theory. Appointment is by referral, though in practice, people are appointed based on their relationships rather than actual merit. Scholar-officials usually were relieved of service in their fifties or sixties.

Scholar-officials were salaried due to the belief a well-paid administrator would not resort to bribes. This salary, which was rendered in both grain and coinage, was exempt from the income tax (though their personal income is still taxed by the state). The highest tier of government officials (the Six Secretaries, the State Council, the Grand Commandant, etc.) receives an annual salary of 600,000 cash and 1,000 cavan (60kg) of dehulled rice. Meanwhile, the lowest tier receives only 30,000 cash and 50 cavan of dehulled rice. Retirees receive an annual pension equivalent to half of their former salary. Scholar-officials are actually paid less when compared to the administrative classes of other states: for example, a top-ranking government official in Syres would receive the equivalent of 10,000,000 cash. This is due to two factors: the Sillenic bureaucracy is more extensive, and scholar-officials are usually landed aristocrats. As absentee landladies, the estates of scholar-officials are often managed by hired overseers, or more preferably, by their relatives.

Farmers and landowners

As in any pre-modern society, the majority of people were employed in agriculture. Initially, most farmers were independent cultivators. However, by the ninth century, land became increasingly scarce - as a result, by then most farmers were tenants. Nevertheless, the landlady-tenant relationship was heavily regulated. For example, a landlady cannot terminate a lease without notifying the tenants, and without finding another landlady willing to lease land to them. Rent is fixed at one-tenth (one-fourth in areas that yield two crops per year) of total produce. The tenant is responsible for the procurement of their own tools and draft animals, and for the construction of their house. While the landlady may help her tenant in this endeavor, she is not legally obliged to. She is, however, legally obliged to provide food to her tenants during times of poor food security.

Most farmers were rice farmers. They also grew yams (sweet potatoes were introduced from Qera later on) and plantains in soils unsuitable for wet rice cultivation. Other main crops include abaca whose fibers were used in clothing, twine, and papermaking, and coconut, which yielded oil and coir. In the South, due to lower due to lower rainfall levels and the lack of rivers (needed for irrigation), the staple crop was millet, while the main textile fiber was cotton (which is non-native to Sillas, and introduced from the East). For additional income, farmers also engaged in sericulture (that is, the production of silk) while the women of the household weaved fabric which they either sold themselves or did as a subcontract. There was a "soft" division of labor between men and women. Men generally did the more laborious tasks of preparing the land, harvesting the crop, and threshing the rice grains. Meanwhile, women generally managed the nursery, transplanted the rice saplings onto the field, and milled the rice. Commonly-kept livestock were bufalo (as draft animals and for milk), horses (for transport - sometimes as draft animals), goats (for milk), sheep (for milk and their wool), and chicken (for their meat and eggs). Pigs were seldom kept, though they were not unfamiliar animals. Due to the taboo surrounding mammalian meat consumption, the typical Sillenic diet is somewhat lacking in animal protein. Despite the scarcity of mammal meat, poultry-farming and aquaculture were highly developed. Farmers raised fish (mostly milkfish or tilipia) in artificial ponds. They also raised shrimp, freshwater crabs, lobsters, oysters, and geoducks. However, most Sillenes got their protein from pulses. In Olmac, some farmers farm using chinampa's (raised riverbeds), though as the region was sillenized, the system fell out of favor. These farmers cultivated a "trinity" of maize, squash, and beans. Maize, however, was not viewed as valuable as it had a shorter shelf life than both rice and millet, and as such, it was most often used as feed.

In the North (the Makuku and Teninukal regions), the predominant form of agriculture was plantation agriculture. Wage laborers were often wealthier than their tenant counterparts as they were better paid. Major cash crops include sugarcane, peppers, citrus fruit, cotton, indigo, dyewoods, and citrus fruit. Some plantations were so large that they had hundreds of workers on them - enough to constitute a village, or even a small town. As a result, some of these larger estates had a section where the workers lived that include all buildings a regular village would have.

Merchants, artisans, and craftsmen

After the landed gentry, merchants were the wealthiest segment of society. Most merchants were urban shopkeepers - however, a significant minority were itinerant merchants who specialize in the transport of goods from one locale to another. While the commercial sphere is generally dominated by women, most itinerant merchants are actually men. These male merchants typically associate with a shopkeeper, who is often either their spouse or a female relative. Merchants used to pay a commercial tax, which was ended in XXX. Merchants were important because they helped stimulate commerce - which was identified as a source of Sillas' wealth. They were also hired in the transportation of goods produced by the government salt and iron monopolies, or the oversight of salt-fields, ironworks, and mines (which were all owned by the government). Merchants engaged in many trades to maximize their wealth - for example, a shopkeeper may offer cash crops, fabrics (weaved by subcontracted peasants), finished wares such as porcelain, lacquerware, cutlery (produced by artisans), or even engage in money-lending (despite the practice being frowned upon due to the sin of usury). Some merchants even became industrialists and engaged in businesses such as private production of salt and iron (which was illicit, but rarely prosecuted) or brewing alcohol.

Artisans and craftsmen had a socio-economic status between that of merchants and farmers. Important crafts include toolmaking, metalworking, pottery (with porcelain fetching high prices from consumers and merchants alike), leathermaking, ropemaking, and jewelry-making. Like merchants, artisans organized themselves into guilds. Artisans often built their workshops (and thus, their homes) near market-places - where potential consumers can easily spot them. Artisans were sometimes employed by the government to help with the production of luxury items (while the menial tasks are ensigned to slaves).


Main article: History of Slavery in Sillas

Unlike the Mesallo-Syresian World, slaves were only a small part of the economy and population - only constituting roughly 1% of the Sillenic population. While slavery might have been more common in the past, the Sillenic Constitution (which was believed to have been initially transmitted orally, though even by then most of the constitution was unwritten) as well as Sillenic citizenship law forbade the enslavement of citizens unless they have committed a serious crime. People who committed the most serious of crimes were given the choice of being put to death, voluntary exile, or slavery. Most of these criminals chose to become slaves, as it allowed them to reintegrate into their communities after expiating their wrongdoings. Unlike in other countemporaneous civilizations, slavery still retained legal personhood and a certain degree of legal protections and freedoms - which were restored after they completed their sentence. All slaves were state-owned and did work on either government construction projects or state-owned salt-fields, ironworks, and mines. These slaves often worked alongside seasonal laborers, who - unlike them - were paid by the government. As slaves were a subject to scorn (to the point of physical altercations), slaves and wage laborers were later kept separate from one another.

Another source of slaves were prisoners of war - however, they were released and repatriated to their home countries (or to their home provinces - in the case of Sillenic captives) after the conflict has concluded. While Sillenes themselves cannot own any slaves (and were protected from becoming slaves by the law), non-Sillenes both were slaves and slaveowners, as the Sillenic government allowed its non-Sillenic subjects to govern themselves by their own laws. Slavery was most prevalent in Qaryaat, where they were put to work as domestics or as agricultural laborers. Other places were slaves existed was Exhula, Jauvuk, Zasana, Mohejaro, and Beraba. Slaves in the protectorates were often a subject of pity for the Sillenic settlers and visitors, with Sillenes even going as far as to free the slaves - to the anger of their owners. While the owners often sued Sillenes for property damage, since disputes between non-Sillenes and Sillenes always fell under Sillenic law and procedure (as part of the Sillenic Right), the slaveowner faced little chance at "reclaiming" their slaves; as most, they can petition some sort of monetary compensation. To avoid this "loophole", slaveowners would sometimes maintained that their slaves are hired domestics or wage laborers. Slavery as an institution eventually began dying out throughout the Sillenic Empire, as the sources of slaves (war captives and indebted farmers) dried up due to a long period of peace and prosperity. Nevertheless, chattel slavery still remained and returned after the end of Sillenic rule.

Sillenic penal slaves cannot be freed for the duration of their sentence unless they did an act "worthy" of manumission (such as saving a life), though in particularly severe cases, the slave may get their sentence shortened but not terminated (for the honor of the family the criminal had wronged). Both them and non-Sillenic slaves were also manumitted if they are too old, dying of a terminal disease, or incapacitated due to illness. Unlike Sillenic slaves, however, non-Sillenic slaves were subject to corporal punishment from their slaveowners and it was often legal to kill them.


Urban life

Urban growth and management

During this period, Sillenic cities were among the largest in the world, owing to advances in agricultural technology and hydraulic engineering – the latter allowed urban residents access to a secure source of water and sanitation facilities, therefore mitigating two pre-industrial constraints (water access and disease, respectively) to urbanization. The city of Sillas itself, which served as the capital and seat of government until the XXth century (though it continued to hold importance as the seat of the Ecumenical Matriarch of the Anystessean Orthodox Church), had one million residents during its peak in 1250; the surrounding metropolitan area (defined as the city proper and its eleven designated suburbs) had an unprecedented population of over two million. The second-largest city was Ogaholle, which later became the capital of the Western Sillenic Empire. Its population grew from XX,XXX to about 600,000 by the late thirteenth century. This rapid growth could be attributed to its position as one of the region's most important ports, often re-exporting rare and lucrative western goods such as coffee, tobacco, ivory, and gold; by the Fall of the Eastern Sillenic Empire in 147X, in fact, it had eclipsed Sillas as the economic, political, and cultural hub of the region. Generally, the demographic epicenter of the Greater Sillas macroregion moved consistently westwards, as the regions surrounding the capital was overpopulated and thence had limited opportunities for further development; this stimulated emigration to newly-incorporated provinces. Lower Makuku, which was a fertile river-plain, underwent massive population growth; in 1000, it constituted only ~XX% of the total population – this proportion doubled by the Eastern Empire's fall. With heightened access to foreign trade and the main production center of sugarcane and fish sauce (both goods sought after both domestically and by foreign traders), it also grew in economic importance and became a crucial source of government revenue. For example, the port city of TBD was claimed to have reached a population of 500,000 towards the end of the period – almost one-half of the population of Sillas itself. In line with this trend, the accumulative population growth of subjugated regions during the period were substantially higher than the regional average. For example, Kaloma had grown by XX%, Makuku by XXX%, and Chrystalia had experienced an over ten-fold increase due to settlement. However, the reasons for growth were different depending on the province; those that were less developed prior to conquest typically grew due to an influx of Sillenic settlers (who often comprised the overwhelming majority of the non-agricultural class), whereas in the opposite, growth could be attributed to the introduction of Sillenic agricultural techniques.

Sillas, the capital

Sillas was the capital of the Sillenic Empire. During the twelfth century, the city doubled from 400,000 residents to 800,000; the population would peak in 1250, with a population of well over 1 million. However, only half of the city's residents lived inside the city walls, which enclosed an area of 20.7 square miles (53.67 km2). Sillas was so populous that Bria once attempted to issue a ban on chariot traffic in specific areas of the city, due to the tremendous noise pollution the people generated. The newer parts of the city were constructed under a grid plan, though the older parts – such as the commercial district and the city center – were not. The center of the city was the Imperial Palace, which itself constituted a large palatial complex of multiple connected buildings and halls; all of this was enclosed by its own set of walls, and only accessible by a series of four gates. The area surrounding this was known as "Old Sillas", and generally corresponded to the administrative buildings such as the building housing the Popular Assembly.

Unique among contemporary cities, Sillas was classified as a producer (instead of a consumer) city. In contrast to other major cities at the time, such as Syres or Azoz, it did not derive its wealth from tax transfers from the territories they controlled. Instead, the majority of the region's wealth was due to the export of manufactures such as textiles (made from abaca) and porcellaneous wares – which were produced in the city's numerous privately-owned workshops utilizing material from the provinces. As a result, merchants and industrialists were prominent in the city's public life, hosting banquets and other social events. In addition, Sillas was considered one of the premier trading hubs and maritime ports of the empire, thus being crucial in the trade of other lucrative goods such as sugar, pepper, oil, salt, and wine. It also was the center of the government monopoly on the production/distribution of iron, arms, and salt.

Sillas was most famous for its markets. It had two government-supervised commercial districts: the Northern market, and the Southern market. The latter was far larger and was filled with stalls selling basic goods such as rice, meat, fish and shell-fish, wine, salt, sugar, spices, oil, and cloth. Later, it was also the area where government doles would be handed out to the unfortunate. The Northern market was more limited and traded in luxury goods such as fine cloth, brocades, ceramics, jewelry, cosmetics, and perfumes. As a result, it was more popularly known as the "shopping district". It featured shopping streets and arcades, as well as spas. Both of these districts were home to numerous tea-houses, bars (which served alcoholic beverages such as wine and mead), gambling dens, and banquet halls – though the latter was catered more so to wealthy patrons. These all essentially functioned as communal centers, and as such, they were often active until past midnight. In addition to these were the family-owned restaurants and bakeries (concentrated within the commercial district) which catered to all. These sold common food items such as bread, noodles, soups, and pastries.

In addition, there were numerous open spaces (both public and private) to play both horse polo and Sillenic football – both popular sports.

There were about 12 major public baths in Sillas, though including minor baths (including privately-owned ones), this number rises to ~1,500 (or one per 800 residents). The largest of these baths could hold as much as TBD Baths. A windcatcher, in combination with an underground canal, would be used to cool the building and to serve as natural ventilation. Steam baths were not only more popular but more ubiquitous. However, people frequent these more so for therapeutic (rather than recreational) reasons.

Sillas had a complex system of sewers which, using rainwater or water directed from the TBD River, would collect and deliver waste to the main channel; from there, it would be deposited at the nearest stream or river. Contrary to popular belief, only the wealthy could afford to have indoor plumbing and thus flush toilets. Nevertheless, waste disposal remained sophisticated by pre-industrial standards – a fact that contributed to the city's ability to sustain itself. The commoners instead used outhouses – which were separated from the house, indoor pail closets, and chamber pots (for nocturnal use). Their contents were then collected and either disposed of (by a nearby sewer) or sold as night soil. Almost the entirety of Sillas' water was either supplied from the TBD and TBD Rivers. However, over time, the city's inhabitants began to depend on groundwater, especially for human consumption. Due to the possibility that the water may be contaminated, the water was treated prior to consumption; often by boiling it and/or diluting it with liquor, therefore killing all pathogens.

  • foreign quarters
    • Azourian / Syresian quarter
    • inns
    • foreigner's entertainment
  • religion
    • grand basilicas / minor basilicas / monasteries
  • schools
    • cathedral
    • monastic
    • imperial academies


Sanitation and water supply

  • bathing
    • public baths
    • rivers
    • private baths
  • soap
    • plus aromatic oils
    • perfumes
  • indoor plumbing
  • waste disposal
    • pig toilets / latrines
    • out-houses
    • pot

Rural life

Marriage, gender, and kinship

A mural showing women wearing silk robes.

Most Sillenes typically lived in extended households of the stem type, meaning that a couple's firstborn daughter (or in rare cases, their firstborn son), and their spouse and children, cohabit the same house. As a result, the average family size consisted of five and six individuals and was multi-generational (spanning three of more generations at a time). The family was hierarchally-organized, with older generations superior to younger generations, older people superior to younger people, and women superior to men; hence, the head of the household is, by custom, the eldest woman. The family matriarch is responsible for managing family affairs (such as handling family finances, or deciding each member's work schedule), as well as representing the family in public events.

While descent was bilateral (a child identified equally with their mother's and father's kin), inheritance (of property, surnames, etc.) was matrilineal. Surnames were passed from mother to child, while the father's surname was retained as a middle name (though this could not be passed to his grandchildren). As a result, while a child was a member of both their maternal and paternal clan, their child would only be member of their maternal clan (while also being part of their other parent's clan). Nevertheless, they were still considered kin.

Post-marital residence was prescriptively matrilocal; this meant that the groom lived with the bride and her family. While this was the ideal, in about a fifth of marriages, post-marital residence was patrilocal - meaning the bride moved to her husband's household. This usually occurs if the groom's family do not have a daughter to continue their lineage. Patrilocal marriage was undesireable, hence it was almost always the last resort. Usually, families without a daughter would adopt the "extra daughter" of a close relative.

The main form of property transfer after marriage was the dote, which can be rendered in English as "bride price" or "bridewealth". However, it was closer to a dowry in function, as like it, it was intended to help establish the new family and to help support the groom in his wife's household. Half of the dote would become conjugal property (owned and used by both spouses), while the other half was for his personal use; the dote would be returned to the groom after a divorce. The dote often consisted of items useful for the household, such as tools, livestock, money, and rarely, land. Dowries were only given in patrilocal marriages.

Sillenes practiced strict exogamy, which meant they married outside their community. Sillenes did not tolerate incest, with people of the same lineage (or even same surname), prohibited from marrying each other. In contrast, other societies, while still observing some degree of incest taboo, permitted cross-cousin marriages - though this is often because kinship recknoning in said society was unilineal. The residents of saller villages, which consisted of one or two clans, thus sought brides and grooms from other communities.

Inheritance laws were matrilineal, with the eldest daughter inheriting the land and natal from her mother (an example of female-prefernce primogeniture), while movable property and money was divided equally between her children, though with daughters being given twice that of sons (an example of partible inheritance). Sons inherited less because they usually joined their wife's household after marriage.

  • matrilineality
  • matriarchy
  • prescriptive matrilocality
  • inheritance
  • extended family
  • clans
  • kinship reckoning
  • high rate of celibacy
    • bachelors
    • bachelorettes
  • marriage
    • arranged marriage
    • matchmakers
    • divorce
    • remarriage
  • demographic patterns
    • low fertility rate
    • high age of first marriage
    • high rate of celibacy
  • sexual norms
    • adultery
    • premarital sex
    • homosexuality
  • contraception
  • abortion and infanticide
  • fictive kinship


Sillenic kinship relations pivot around both the immediate nuclear family (which consists of two parents and their children, whether adopted or biology), but also their extended family members. The average household is rather small, having four to five immediate family members. However, members of the same clan usually reside in proximity to each other, such as in the same village or a village in the vicinity. Kinship is bilineal – members of both the maternal and paternal lineages are recognized as blood relatives. As a result, children typically adopt their mother's surname, while retaining their father's as a patronymic (which they cannot pass onto their children).

Most households are headed by the wife, however, the average household's task are divided on the basis of sex: males typically conduct the majority of agricultural labor, while females instead conduct their duties (which include managing finances, weaving, raising children) within the confines of the house. In addition, women also tend to cash crops, manage small livestock, and transplant rice seedlings. It is hypothesized by anthropologists that matriarchy had developed within Neolithic Sillas due to the economic importance of female labor: as early Sillenic society commercialized and urbanized (thus increasing the importance of commodities such as abaca, silk, oil, and soap), they acquired more wealth and therefore, a higher stake in political affairs. The division of labor is less clear within urban households, with both men and women alike engaging in commmercial or merchantile pursuits. Within aristocratic households, while both the wife and husband may both be at positions of prestige as government workers (as a civil official or military officer, respectively), this is an exception and not a rule. Aristocratic women are required to engage in civil service to retain their status; as a result, they often leave the duties of managing their estates to either a overseer, or more often, their male relatives (including their husbands). Even when they do reside together, aristocratic men often concern themselves with athletic pursuits as children are often taken care of by hired nannies.

In Sillenic society, the relationship between the mother and her children is considered paramount – the cornerstone of Sillenic society. The mother and child is a common motif in Sillenic cultural works, to the point foreign dignitaries noted that the Sillenes observed a "cult towards motherhood". For example, Sillenic political propaganda historically often embedded a maternalistic undertone to increase their appeal (such as in pleas urging the unification of the Sillenic peoples during the sixth to tenth centuries). A child is expected to have two paternal figures – their father, and their maternal uncle(s). Among the members of the clan, the eldest members typically command the highest respect. This is due to the assumption that they are the wisest, having acquired a lot of experience over the course of their lives. The eldest members are referred to as a matriarch if female, and a patriarch if male. The matriarchs hold executive power over decisions concerning the clan, such as the creation of family alliances or the acquisition of family estate. Due to their prestige, they can order their juniors to do tasks for them – though within a degree of reason. In addition, juniors must use formal language (such as honorifics) in their presence – especially in the context of formal gatherings. However, in private, this may be ignored – especially if the two parties are close. These norms also pertain to extended family members not part of the clan, such as paternal relatives.

Inheritance laws are effectively matrilineal, due to both the matriarchal nature of Sillenic society and the practice of matrilocality (in which grooms would reside within the community of the bride). In cases of intestacy, real property is usually apportioned between the female heirs – a practice known as matrilineal partible inheritance. If the property is less than two hectares in area, then it is given to the eldest female heir. In regards to movable property, however, partible inheritance is practiced regardless of the gender of the heirs. Men can own property, which is a right enshrined in Sillenic citizen law. However, due to the nature of the default inheritance laws and the observance of matrilocality, they rarely own or inherit real property. Even among the landed gentry, while women often entrust the task of handling the estate to their husbands, they still lack ownership over the land itself – however, of course, there are exceptions.

Marriages and divorce

Marriage is considered a very important institution, and one of the most important events of one's life. The average age of first marriage for both sexes was around 20 years, with the minimum age of marriage being 15. The age of betrothal, however, can be lower as there is no legal limit. This is unlike contemporary societies, where the groom was often substansially older than the bride. For example, in Mesallas, the average woman had her first marriage at ~13 (which coincides with menarche); in contrast, the average man had his first marriage in his early thirties. In addition to being relatively late for the time, marriages were typically consensual and done for love. While not the norm, arranged marriages were not uncommon and were common within the ruling class as a solution between political feuds. In fact, while romantic love was not discouraged and was admired, marriage was not necessarily accompanied by romantic and/or sexual attraction between the two parties, as these were viewed as secondary to the children's well-being. As a result, a stark contrast to other cultures, the concept of "consummation" (or sexual activity consolidating a marriage) is entirely absent. Marriage was simply viewed as a formal contract between two individuals, with the main intent of raising children to continue their respective blood-lines. Both heterosexual and homosexual unions were recognized, though it is customary for gay and lesbian couples to "adopt" their younger relatives (often their maternal nephews and nieces) as their children prior. Monogamy was strictly emphasized, and there were numerous legal penalties stemming from the pursuit of extra-marital sexual relations.

The proposal is most commonly done by presenting a ring to the bride. The ring is usually made out solely of a precious metal (silver or gold), as it is very expensive to purchase. Therefore, rings are often passed down as family heirlooms and/or inherited from deceased relatives. Prior to this, the suitor must court the prospective bride for a period of at least six months: during which, the suitor will be introduced to the bride's parents, and other immediate family members (and vice-versa). Following this period – which can often last years – the suitor may finally propose to the bride. The marriage must be approved by the mother of the bride, with addition input from her father. Both the practices of dowries and bride-wealth (or bride-price) are observed in Sillenic society – though they are markedly different from their equivalents in patrilineal societies. It is customary that the groom gives bride-wealth to the family of the latter, often in the form of presents such as jewelry, fine cloth, and fragrances; more commonly among the peasantry, it is translated to bride-service, such as helping their new in-laws with field-work. This is solely a symbolic gesture to remind the groom of his obligations to his bride-to-be and his in-laws, as such, its value is exceeded drastically by the dowry. Dowries are considered a pre-requisite (not a mere custom) to marriage. The dower, or the portion of the total dowry retained by the bride, is decided by the bride's family before it is transfered to her ownership. The remaining is given to the family of the groom, and is used to purchase capital to compensate for the loss of their son's labor. Theoretically, the dowry is viewed as conjugal property used to establish a new family – in practice, the dowry is under the full ownership of the bride.

To obtain a divorce permit, either party must present themselves onto the municipal court (with the guidance of a magistrate) and must explain reasons for the divorce. The accepted reasons included the following: failure to fulfill familial duties, disrespect to in-laws, lack of desire for children; as well as more serious reasons such as domestic abuse, marital rape, adultery and other instances where either party has been exploited or harmed by the other. Afterwards, this is reviewed for an indeterminate period of time, with civil officials also visiting the household to evaluate the relationship between the husband and wife, and their children. However, if the offending party is jailed if deemed necessary. Once approved, the husband, if the offending party, is forced into leaving his ex-wife's household. If the wife is the offending party, loses custody over her children; custody is transferred to her ex-husband and to his closest female relative (usually a cousin), unless he remarries. If either offending party is guilty of commiting a crime, they are subsequesently tried under a criminal court – often they get fines or get their sentences to temporary penal labor. In the event of a divorce, the bride's family must return the bride-wealth and the groom's family must return their portion of the dowry. The practice of remarriage was often frowned upon, however, nevertheless accepted and common within divorcees and widowers of all social groups.

Despite conforming to some aspects of the "Western marriage pattern" (relatively high age of marriage, less children), the rate of childlessness was extremely low (<1%). Those who were naturally infertile or in homosexual relations often raised their younger relatives, mainly nieces or nephews, as their own. Even among clergy, most get married and have children before they are formally ordained (since marriages before ordination are valid). Some senior clergywomen even step down to lower positions, where clerical celibacy is not prohibited, to bear children and marry. Abortion was common despite being prohibited. Abortion was done through massages and aborifacient herbs, and used as a form of birth control apart from celibacy and coitus interruptus. Infanticide was non-existent. Despite clans being a huge part of Sillenic culture and kinship, marriages between relatives (whether in the same clan or the extended family) are viewed as abhorrent. Laws prevented people within the seventh degree of consanguinity from attaining marriage; a notable exception was the first Emperor, Adrianos and his wife, Empress Sabina, who was the daughter of the former's paternal first-cousin once-removed (and thus, his niece).


Performance arts

Main articles: Sillenic ballet, History of Sillenic ballet, Music in ancient Sillas

During the fifth century, a highly-stylized form of performance dance known as Sillenic ballet emerged under the patronage of Empress Tianlogna. It developed from earlier court dance traditions, which involved the daughters of nobles perform to entertain guests. Ballet was held in high esteem within the scholarly-gentry. The dancer's light, graceful, and fluid movements appalled to contemporary ideals on femininity and aesthetics; furthermore, many were well aware of – and admired, the work and effort necessary to perfecting the ballet technique. Most professional dancers were commoners; while aristocratic youths of both sexes were taught ballet, they ceased ballet instruction upon hitting adolescence, when they would start intensive study (for imperial examinations) and/or prepare themselves for marriage. Unlike later ballet tradition, dancers did not dance en-pointe as pointe shoes and pointe technique was developed later. Dancers often wore "horse hoof shoes" (shoes with raised platforms), especially when playing characters of high rank or importance to the plot. Ballets were initially performed in simple costumes. However, as the tradition matured and began to incorporate elements of theatre, the sets and costumes became highly ornate and elaborate – though this was at the price of potentially restricting the dancer's movement.

Ballets were often performed with musical accompaniment. The most popular and common instrument was the two-stringed fiddle. Unlike modern stringed instruments, which use metal or nylon, the two-stringed fiddle used twisted silk for strings. It was believed to be introduced by the horse nomads that inhabited the southern plains. The two-stringed fiddle was a very versatile instrument – it was both used as a solo instrument, in small ensembles, and large orchestras. It had three variations, with the one being lower in pitch, and the other being higher in pitch. Another string instrument was the zither. Unlike the two-stringed fiddle, however, it was used mainly for personal entertainment and not performances. Woodwind instruments include flutes and reed organs, though these were derided as crude and lowly. Finally, there were gongs. Gongs that were made out of gold were a status symbol, and were proudly displayed in the parlours or reception halls of the houses of the nobility.

The arts

Literature and theatre

Literature in Sillas flourished during antiquity. Poetry, in particular, became a popular past time for the scholarly-gentry. As the ability to compose poetry became a marker of cultivation and education, educated merchants and rich peasants wrote poetry to affirm their inclusion into the literati. The popularity of poetry could be attested by the fact that over 20,000 poems (penned by some 1,000 authors) have survived to modern-day; prolific poets included Empress Bria and Emperor regnant Adriano, though most of what they wrote did not survive into modern-day. Initially, poetry was highly stylized and was written in verse. By the end of the period, many poems were written in prose and began to emphasize literary themes over adherence to a fixed pattern. During this era, oral stories began to be transcribed – especially as epic poetry. Later on, long works of narrative, written mainly in prose, served as the forerunners of novels.

Visual arts

Funerary art

Paintings were rare since pulp paper had not been widespread yet, and other mediums – such as silk or papyrus – did not absorb paint or ink well. It was generally limited to frescoes and tomb murals. While the first depictions of a natural landscape only appeared in later periods, these frescoes and tomb murals emphasized human figures, which grew in complexity over time as knowledge of the human body and the availability of paint increased. In contrast, preceding periods generally included only abstract geometric patterns.


See also: History of Sillenic ceramics, Sillenic porcelain

The earliest form of pottery was earthenware, which continued in production for utilitarian purposes throughout Sillenic history, but became rarely used in fire ware. The production of ceramic wares, as well as knowledge in the various applications of vitreous enamel, further developed during this period and matured in the following period. Stoneware, which was fired at higher temperatures and was naturally impervious to liquids, was developed very early and became used in the production of fine wares; porcelain was developed later, though "porcellaneous" or "near-porcelain" wares (defined as stonewares with porcelain-like characteristics, and is also made of kaolin clay) were common and first produced around ~1 on the advent of newer, more efficient kilns. However, the distinction between the two in Sillenic ceramic tradition is non-existent, and instead there are two broadly-defined categories: high-fired and low-fired wares. Sillas is rich in petunse, a wide range of micaceous or feldspathic rocks, which was mixed with kaolin to yield high-quality ceramic. In addition, the country also boasts abundant reserves of silica and potassium oxide, while is relatively lacking in alumina – as a result, porcellaneous wares were of high-quality and easy to reproduce (while the reverse would be ideal for stoneware). Kiln technology was relatively mature for the period, with kilns capable of firing at around 1,000 °C (1,830 °F) being developed at around -1000; these were often built below ground, and were long and thin and ran up a slope. This type remained in use until modern times, when more compact types became used. Kilns were fuelled by wood or charcoal, instead of coal.

Most pottery consisted of vessels for storing, serving, or drinking liquids such as water, liquor, oil, incense, and aromatic fragrances. Some were also used to ferment products such as liquor such as palm wine and rice wine, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and certain herbal concoctions; some were also prized for aesthetic indulgement and passed down as important family heirlooms. Vessels used for serving and eating food were less common, as the most common way of serving food was on disposable banana leaves, which were often placed on top of basket plates as later periods (due to their biodegradeable nature, surviving examples have yet to be found). Due to large-scale production, pottery was affordable even for the lower classes, being a decently-decorated piece described as costing about "three to five days' worth of wages". The production of pottery represented a profitable, large-scale industry undertaken and dominated by a few business magnates based on relatively large cities. As a result, wares were standardized and therefore were limited in terms of style and indiviudal distinctiveness. In addition, territorial expansion allowed the production of wider variety of glazes, thus enabling craftswomen to produce more grand and intricate patterns. These wares were exported throughout the region, including Sillas' neighbors, and became well-known world-wide; tariffs became a major source of government income. Celadon wares were particularly popular due to its resemblance to jade – a sharp contrast to later periods, where white porcelain was the most favored. Lacquerware were also highly valued as heirlooms by the elite, and pieces featured carefully-carved miniature nature scenes, landscapes, or simple decorative motifs.

Metalwork and jewelry

Metalworking was not only a highly developed and respected field, but metalwork was viewed as essential part of Sillenic society as it often indicated wealth and therefore, social status. It was a major art form, with numerous examples of vessels and jewellery incorporating precious metals and stones such as gold, silver, and jade. They were produced by highly-skilled craftswomen in small-scale family-owned workshops; they often abided by a set of high standards to ensure some degree of uniformity, especially as the market for these goods grew. Among precious metals, gold in particular was highly valued and very popular, which was aided by its relative abundance in the region. Foreign observers often noted that the average Sillene was very knowledgeable in the craft of goldworking, knowing how to distinguish its purity or how to tell it from pyrite. Gold pieces were often included in bride prices, and passed down as valued family heirlooms. In contrast, silver was not viewed as favorably; however, due to the silver standard at the time, many purchased silverwork and silver jewelry, which were often re-melted before very long to turn into bullion bars. In contrast to gold, silver was largely imported from overseas.

While iron ore was by far more abundant, bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) was more prized in application to artwork, as it did not rust and was viewed as a cheaper and more available alternative to goldwork – particularly to the masses. It was also more hard and durable than cast iron (though equal to wrought iron, and in-turn, inferior to steel). Bronzework during this period represented a peak in both popularity and quality; while prior it was mainly produced for usage in religious rites, it eventually became becomes of aesthetic enjoyment. They were decorated with carvings depicting social scenes such as from a banquet or a hunt, or displayed repetitive patterns with inlaid precious metals and stones. Bronze was also used in the production of hand-held mirrors, which often had complex decorative artwork on the non-reflextive side; some were personalized in that the carvings portray a personal narrative. The reflective eside was usually comprised of a composition of bronze, copper, tin, and lead. Aside from practical purposes, the Sillenes believed the miror could act as a representation of reality, which could make the user more aware of the current situation; it could also be used to interpret the immaterial realm that is not visible to the human mind (a now common trope in fantasy or horror fiction). Bronzeworking (apart from mirrors) would later be replaced as a major art form as technological advances allowed the production of true porcelain – its whiteness, transcluence, and reflectiveness were all highly-qualities in such wares, which together with its greater availability allowed it to displace the former completely.

Since it was a prime indicator of wealth, jewelry was generally designed to adorn the person (rather than accompany or adorn a costume); as such, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings were the most common forms of jewelry. Similarly, headdresses and elaborate hairpins were also very common, particularly among aristocratic women. In addition to these, fine abaca and silk fabric was sometimes interwoven with streaks of gold fiber. Women, and occasionally men (especially the youth) also wore strings of beads both around the wrist and neck - these were sometimes paired with highly-ornate, decorative plaques or other larger ornaments. These strings of beads served to both dignify one's whole figure, and to also display the used gem (and therefore the wearer's wealth); its quality (in terms of how much it is polished and refined from its original form) and its rarity were used to determine its value. The most coveted gemstone was jade, specifically white "mutton-fat" nephrite. Jade was highly-sought after, and was more expensive than both silver and gold; the white neprhite variety were preferred over green jadeite variety. Part of this could be attributed to the alledged health benefits it has. For example, it is claimed to bring the wearer good luck in health, and in romantic and business affairs, with white jade being seen as more effective at achieving this. Since it was expensive and laborious to work with (due to its special microstructure), no piece of jade was wasted, and discarded pieces were recycled. Pearls were also widespread, and produced as a by-product of mollusc farms; however, these cultured pearls were seen as inferior in quality to natural pearls.


The Aristocratic Women.jpg
Gandharan Athena.jpg

Sillenic sculpture-making tradition was divided into two categories: monumental sculpture and portraiture (in the form of figurines used as religious icons, or life-sized figures). Initially, the former was the more common form, with carvings often adorning the walls of temples and other religious sites and large figures being symbolically placed in public monuments. Sillenic portraiture sought to portray their subjects in a more idealized, instead of naturalized, manner. As a result, they did not portray specific individuals but rather are standardized embodiments of contemporary beauty standards, or concepts such as virtue and morality. However, contact with western civilization, particularly in the introduction of Ulm (in the form of the Irrulmian sect, however) and the migration of foreign merchants, led to exposure to more intricate and technically-superior Azozi and Mesallan sculpture-making traditions; interest and a resurgence in popularity in the art form led to a rise in the complexity of Sillenic works, particularly both in technical quality and in terms of composition. Sillenic sculptures mainly used stone, which was carved by hand with metal tools; this is in contrast to later periods, where the preferred material was wood (which was lacquered to preserve it), clay (often glazed to give it color), and jade. Ivory was used for smaller statues, as well; while terracota was uncommon, it was not unheard, and mainly used for specialty purposes. Pieces of glass, as well as both precious and semi-precious stones, were sometimes used to add detail such as in the eyes, jewelry, and weaponry – this practice was generally limited to smaller-scale works, often held in the houses of rich, aristocratic households. Sculptures could be free-standing, and fully carved in the round; they could also be still attached to a background plaque as partially-carved reliefs.

By the end of the Olanda dynasty, during which Ulm became the state religion (and was followed by members of the scholar–gentry – albeit nominally, and under coercion), Sillenic statues had developed to become noticeably different. There was a wider variety of poses and composition, as sculpture-makers began to emphasize naturalism (heavily influenced by copies of Azozi and Mesallan masterpieces). Similarly, while the busts or statues of specific individuals remained rare, there was greater technical detail in depicting minor qualities such as the texture of fabric or hair, as well as more properly-proportioned bodies and faces. As a result, they became more personal and less rigid; this dynamism would later give rise to the later "baroque" style. Concurrently, as the number of prosperous middle-class households (who often became patrons of art) increased, free-standing statues and figurines, often displaying secular themes and subjects, became significantly common; prior to this, it was generally limited to temple statues or religious idols.


Clothing and apparel

Clothing in Ancient Sillas was not dissimilar to succeeding periods. Most people donned shoes or sandals, undergarments, and then robes (or a cloak). However, the elite and the middling classes also wore jewelry, hair pieces, hats other fashion accessories as a display of their wealth. Sillenic clothing was not simply utilitarian, but also served the important artistic and cultural purpose of projecting status and identity. Due to the hot and humid climate, clothes were often loose-fitting and free flowing. However, weighted objects such as girdles, amulets, and belts were sometimes used to fasten or tighten them during work. The task of weaving was designated to women; most purchased yarn and thread from the market. Some artisans specialized in weaving: they would sell to their clients customly-made garments that were not necessarily in line with traditional attire. The main textile fiber is abaca, which could be made into both coarse and fine weaves; since the latter required a tremendous amount of time to produce, only the wealthy could afford them. Cotton was introduced during the Classical period, but was used in undergarments. Other textile fibers such as flax, wool, and goat hair were regarded as oddities and were imported in minimal amounts.

Food and cuisine

Main article: History of Sillenic cuisine
Further information: Sillenic cuisine, History of wine in Sillas

The staples of the Sillenic diet were rice and plantains; taro, breadfruit, panicled millet (especially in the drier south) and legumes were also important. It was estimated that about six to seven tenths of the average Sillene's diet (60–70 percent) was comprised of any of the aforementioned staples. While rice was most commonly cooked and eaten as separate grains, plantains were often grinded into a flour (to lengthen its shelf life), which was used to make cakes. Both rice and plantain flour was used in the baking of steamed cake, boiled cake, and flatcake or flatbread. Steamed cake was usually stuffed with meat and vegetable, and due to its affordability, many poorer residents of Sillas City subsisted on them. Boiled cake was also popular, and viewed as an effective method of diet theraphy. The contemporary definition was very broad, including dumplings, noodles, and other kinds of food that soak grain flour in water. The upper classes favored dumplings; since the process to make it was heavy and complicated, commoners often just consumed noodles. Flatcake was the main form of pastry in Imperial Sillas. It was sometimes made very thinly and stuffed with savory ingredients as a form of springroll. However, it is more often paired with sweet ingredients (such as yams and candied fruit) and often topped with powdered sugar, honey or coconut milk. The main seasonings, judging from contemporary cookbooks, were salt, sugar (both cane and palm sugar), pepper, garlic fish sauce, soy sauce, copra oil, and vinegar. Other additional seasonings included sesame oil, shrimp paste, and imported products such as cinnamon, cloves, and olive oil. Like their modern counterparts, the Sillenes used chopsticks as their main eating utensils. However, they also used spoons to consume soups and other liquids, while they cut meats with forks. For drinking beverages, Sillenes often used either earthenware or porcelain cups; the elite often used imported goldwork or silverwork.

The various meats that were consumed included a wide variety of poultry (chicken, ducks, and later, introduced semi-domesticated ratites such as rheas) and reptilian meat such as crocodile. The imperial government encouraged people not to consume beef, since the bull was a valuable working animal. The slaughter of cattle was generally looked down upon (but not explicitly prohibited), and as a result, the main source of domestically-produced leather came from crocodiles, snakes, and birds. The consumption of mammalian meat in general was limited, and the consumption of pork and beef was commonplace durign festivals and banquets. Lamb was also consumed by the elite. The main source of protein however, was seafood. Aquaculture was highly developed, with many peasants in inland communities raising fish on man-made pools or on artificial channels. Molluscs and crustaceans (such as crabs, clams, river prawns) were also raised for their flesh, while more shallow bodies of water (such as the banks of rivers) were set aside for the cultivation of aquatic plants. Asides from fish, the Sillenes also enjoyed eating cooked jellyfish with pepper, cardamom, ginger; snails and oysters with wine or oyster sauce; fried squid with ginger and vinegar; and horseshoe crabs, true crabs, shrimp and pufferfish – the last a rare delicacy referred to as the "river piglet". Dairy products were made, but not on a large scale compared to contemporary Western civilizations. Cheese was either eaten on pastries, or for the harder varieties, as part of military rations.

The consumption of true tea (Camellia sinensis) was non-existent, as tea was not indigenous to the region. However, a wide variety of herbal concoctions were consumed – mainly for medicinal purposes rather than for recreation. The Sillenes used folded and/or sewn square bags made of cloth to hold and preserve the flavor of the mixture. Liquor was abundant and drank during every meal and by all the classes; the per capita consumption of alcoholic beverages in the Sillenic capital was estimated to be 2–2.5 litres for males, and about 1.5–2 litres for females. The main forms of liquor were rice-wine and palm wine, with demand for the latter (as well as copra oil) prompting the proliferation of coconut plantations. These were often diluted with water to reduce the alcohol content (thus preventing intoxication) but still killing pathogens, and only consumed unadulterated during special events. Mead was also produced on a much lower scale, and while grape-vine was not unknown, it was imported and thus only consumed by the elite. Coffee during the later period was imported and became extremely popular. However, it was not domestically-produced until later periods.



Main points

  • collectivist
    • emphasis on the community
    • individual pursuits are frowned upon
  • honor-shame dichotomy
    • concept of "face" is very important
    • face is connected to virtue
  • family-oriented & maternalistic
  • emphasis on literary & artistic pursuits


  • clan relations are emphasized
    • clans are headed by multiple matriarchs (usually eldest and "wisest")
  • extended family = basic family unit (as opposed to a strict nuclear family)
    • most households consist of the nuclear family in addition to maternal grandparents (and for the rich, servants)
  • bilateral descent
    • individuals in the patriline and matriline are both considered kin
  • inheritance of surnames, titles, etc. is matrilineal
    • mothers pass their surnames to kids (father's surname becomes their middle name)
  • however, inheritance of property is bilateral (though daughters inherit more)
    • land, house from mother to daughter
    • certain forms of movable property (tools, livestock) from father to son
courtship & marriage
  • choice is very selective
    • male pressure to conform to beauty standards / behavioral expectations; this is paralleled by female pressure for virtuosity (which would determine "legitimacy" of marriage)
  • strictly monogamous
    • divorce is hard to obtain
  • strictly exogamous
    • incest is abhored
  • premarital sex is not sanctioned
    • ensures high paternal certainty
  • exchange of property upon marriage:
    • dowry = usually immovable property (like land), kept by wife
    • dower / bride gift = usually movable property or capital (in form of jewelry, precious metals, etc.), given to wife
  • matrilocal residence: grooms live w/ wife & herf family
    • due to higher female contribution to subsistence and more stable matrilines
role in households
  • in peasants
    • men plant, grow, and harves the crops
    • women process crops, engage in petty trade, manage household (incl. its finances), rear children
  • traits associated w/ femininity
    • nurturance
    • sensitivity
    • sweetness
    • supportiveness
    • gentleness
    • warmth
    • passivity
    • cooperativeness
    • expressiveness
    • modesty
    • humility
    • empathy
    • affection
    • tenderness
    • emotional
    • kind
    • helpful
    • devoted
    • understanding
  • sexual passiveness/receptiveness considered feminine while sexual assertiveness/desire considered masculine
  • similarly aggressive to men, but in a different manner (see below)
  • driven by affect, empathy, and morality
    • results in low narcissicism > higher levels of selfness & nurturance
  • more extraverted, more person-oriented
  • greater self-restraint / diplay of inhibitory behaviors
  • more religious
    • religion is linked to emotion and sentimentality (gratitude, shame, guilt)
    • focus on conflict mediation, tenderness, and humility
cognition (incl. socio-emotional intelligence)
  • better verbal abilities (vocabulary, reading comprehension, speech production, essay writing)
    • higher processing speed involving letters & digits
    • better phonological processing and word fluency
  • lower performance in geometry, measurement, probability, statistics and especially mechanical reasoning
  • more pro-social behaviors: more empathetic & sympathetic
  • better in emotional interpretation (facial recognition, expression-processing, etc.)
  • the language of conversation is primarily a language of rapport: a way of establishing connections and negotiating relationships
  • "points system" for loving expressions
  • feminine-style leadership (emphasis on inclusivity & cooperation) contrasts w/ masculine-style leadership (emphasis on tasks & control)
  • morals are paramount
  • based on compassion (rather than justice)
    • judgement is holistic – it is based on the context (relationship, needs, etc.); as opposed to impartial, fair, rational/objective
  • ethics are more deontological over utilitarian
  • interpersonal relationships are central
    • thus, qualities such as compassion, charity, and tenderness are highly-valued
  • more intense emotions (both of positive & negative valence)
    • however, less intense & frequent experience of pride
  • fears typically involve aggression and hostility
  • indirect aggression (rumors, gossip) in public
    • direct aggression only used in private
  • aggression fixed through constructive discussion
  • stress tends to be internalized (higher rates of anxiety & depression)
  • rumination (withdrawing one's self) elevates stress
    • stressful things are discussed w/ friends and loved ones
  • in “feminine” (person-oriented) societies, both & women are expected to be modest, tender, and concerned w/ quality of life
    • results in overlapping gender roles (ambition and competitiveness is not valued–quality of life is emphasized over material success; men are socially-allowed to respect the small, weak, and slow w/o loss of masculinity)
  • feminine cultures tend to be more collectivist due to significance of interpersonal relationships
  • male
    • height, body size, musculature, proportions (shoulders)
    • jaw shape (square)
    • voice pitch
    • virtue & chivalry
    • lack of facial hair and body hair in general
ideals for scholar–gentry
  • for men:
    • overseeing family agricultural estates
    • engaging in athletic pursuits
  • for women:
    • involvement in charity works, altruistic pursuits, etc.
    • organizing communal festivities
    • engaging in scholarly pursuits
    • engaging in aristic pursuits
    • raising children
    • managing family finances
economic roles
  • scholar-officials
    • cash crops
    • animal products
  • merchants
    • moved wares (itinerant merchants) or resold them (sedentary merchants)
  • artisans
    • specialized in a particular craft (produced manufactures)
    • sold their wares at the market or to merchants
  • peasantry
    • engaged in rice cultivation
    • also cultivated tree crops