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Marriage and Malkionism


Jeff

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On another thread there was a lot of speculation about marriage in Loskalm, so I figured I'd post a little bit about the various (or at least *some* of the various) approaches to marriage among the Malkioni.

Let's start with the Brithini. Among the Brithini, marriage is a temporary state with little magical significance, signifying merely an ongoing attempt to reproduce and can be dissolved easily. Women form a fifth caste (the Menena) but in practice are assigned to one of the standard four castes. Children remain with their mothers after separation.

The Rokari are very different. Marriage is an extremely significant (and obligatory - an unmarried male above a particular age can be fined or even cast out) ceremony, and something that is a fundamental "public interest." The primary function of marriage to create new members of the caste (i.e. children). Marriages are governed by the laws of that caste (designed to make sure that each caste is self-sustaining), and negotiated by parents and caste leaders. Marriage for love is considered irresponsible and foolish - people have concubines and lovers for that. Children (including women) belong to the father's caste. However, marriages are big, joyous celebrations desired in their own right, with music, drink, and feasting (which give lie to the image of the Rokari as dour and humorless). Wedding celebrations often take three days or even longer. Divorce is permitted only with approval of the parties that negotiated the marriage in the first place.

Ironically, in many ways the New Hrestoli are more like the Brithini with regards to marriage. Marriage for the New Hrestoli is a temporary state with little magical or philosophical significance. It is not required, not even for childbirth. Indeed, some interpret the teachings of Siglat as recognizing "no other form of marriage than the union of the man who lives freely with a consenting woman." Women belong to the same castes as men and hold the same legal rights. Children remain with their mothers after separation, and paternity is of no legal significance, as most property is held by the caste office and not the individual (personal property such as items and effects can be given to whoever the owner chooses). 

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From the fragments of Arkatsaga that I have, and the dreaded conversation with Greg :D ... so this is quite possibly not 'canon'.

For the Brithini, I understood that children were not necessarily of the caste of their parents, with numerological and/or astrological components leading to the assignment. Arkat was officially born into the warrior caste because the Brithini were unaware that his mother had another child before. If 'they' had known, he would have been assigned into the wizard caste. So he was trained as a warrior with the innate abilities of a wizard.

This, plus the advanced warrior trainings given due to the the necessities of the upcoming wars that Brithini prophecies indicated, led to Arkat breaking through caste restrictions and becoming one of the most powerful 'humans' within Time.

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The above is canon. Yes, some say the Brithini assign caste based on the order of birth from the mother (first child goes to the Dronars, second to the Horals, third to the Talars, fourth to the Zzaburi, and repeat). But of course, that flies in the face of the Seshnegi family histories of Fronal and other Brithini. And, if you notice, it didn't make it into the Guide. It is probably safer to say that the Brithini have their own inscrutable means of assigning caste that reflects their rigid immortality and is not strictly hereditary.

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3 hours ago, Jeff said:

The above is canon. Yes, some say the Brithini assign caste based on the order of birth from the mother (first child goes to the Dronars, second to the Horals, third to the Talars, fourth to the Zzaburi, and repeat). But of course, that flies in the face of the Seshnegi family histories of Fronal and other Brithini. And, if you notice, it didn't make it into the Guide. It is probably safer to say that the Brithini have their own inscrutable means of assigning caste that reflects their rigid immortality and is not strictly hereditary.

I could see it as a "logical" if wrong assumption based on myths like the Social Order from Revealed Mythology, and assuming that Dronar was the first son of Malkion, Horal the second, Talar the third, and Zzabur the fourth.

Given how few people have knowledge of Brithini customs, and how the Malestini/Early Malkioni stories are only known from later sources, if it's not in the Abiding Book, it's probably subject to rumour, speculation, and hearsay.

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On 11/16/2016 at 9:30 PM, Jeff said:

 Children remain with their mothers after separation, and paternity is of no legal significance, as most property is held by the caste office and not the individual (personal property such as items and effects can be given to whoever the owner chooses). 

LOL, I thought the Hrestoli were supposed to be idealists?  Clearly they have little grasp of the vicissitudes of family law.  They effectively treat a child as a mother's property, extinguishing the value of fatherhood without regard to the fitness of the mother?  Some men like fatherhood and are well suited to parenthood, while some women are notably unsuited to it.  Even if this solution works 70% of the time, there would still be 30% screw up; hardly ideal.  There is no regard for the opinion of the child, and apparently the men have no interest in the future of their offspring.  Stalin himself would be envious that a state could utterly extinguish human emotion so effectively, destroying filial and paternal ties as though they never existed, apparently without mind control, and yet be seen as Utopian. :)

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@Jeff -- Are these principles (that you've laid out above) universally-and-rigidly kept in all cases, or are some of the cultures more-flexible about these things?

Also (for the "children remain with their mothers" cultures):  what happens when this becomes impossible (e.g. the mother dies or becomes similarly unavailable)?  Does the child revert to the father?  Or to other members of the wife's family?  Or ... ?  What if the mother or sister of the father is available, but there's no available female relative of the mother for MANY degrees of separation?   Etc ...

 

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There are of course local variations (probably more variation among the Rokari than among the Hrestoli). But these are the basic rule of thumbs.

If the mother dies, then the child belongs to her kinship group. After the marriage (or union or casual affair) has dissolved, the father's kin have no legal claim, though it likely occurs from time to time.

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  • 3 months later...

Here is how I think it works - mostly agreeing with everything Jeff says, but expanding on the reasoning behind it a little bit. 

The Menena caste is not simply the female caste, it is, like all the other castes, actually defined by the work and social role they perform - Menena is the Mother caste. The job of Menena is to give birth and raise children, and as part of that maintain an environment suitable for the raising of children, and to teach children what they need to know for life. 

To the Ancient Brithini, of course being born a woman defines your caste and your social role, just as your birth circumstances determine your caste for everyone else. Your role is to produce new Brithini adults, and you perform it as appropriate in lines with Logic and reason - marriage is an arrangement to perform that function. In practice, they also adopt the caste of their partner and assist them with their caste duties, and this is understood as logical, as the mother must know the caste duties of their children so they can teach them. Menena also have their own duties related to creating an appropriate home for their families. It may be extended, perhaps, to include caring for those who due to illness are not able to care for themselves. 

I think caste used to be strictly hereditary for the Brithini, but this is another thing that broke in the Great Darkness. Families broke down, people had to raise people in the wrong caste to survive, war ruined everything. They have complex rules that amount to 'hereditary castes are best, but here are an extended list of other rules that may be used in altered circumstances'. The idea of a woman who is not in the Menena caste is conceivable, but not really understood. 

Of course in modern times, Brithini Menena do not actually spend much of their time raising children or giving birth. This doesn't bother the Brithini at all. A soldier is still a soldier if there are no enemies to be fought, and a mother is still a mother if there are no children around to be raised at that moment. 

To the Rokari, they believe they are imitating the Brithini but also understand that things are done differently now than they would have been in glorious Danmalastan. Now that people are mortal and resources are limited, logic determines that life is precious and a strong marriage commitment is the most sensible strategy. Marriage is still understood as an agreement to create children, and the bearing and raising of children the duty of the Menena caste. 

To the Hrestoli, Menena is a caste, and enjoys caste mobility like any other. A woman of Loskalm is considered to be in the Menena caste if they are a mother or homemaker, and is automatically accepted into that caste if they wish. But if they instead join another caste (being accepted as a Guardian or a member of another profession) they they are considered to be of that caste, Should they fall pregnant, they become Menena caste again, are relieved from other duties, and remain that way until their children are born and they are able to return to other duties. It is considered perfectly acceptable for members of higher castes to take a prolonged time out for child care, though it is also considered acceptable for one to put her children into a child care arrangement and return to other duties. For example, a Guardian woman might return to her duties, and make arrangements for her child to be in the care of a female relative. Group child care arrangements are considered logical and desirable. 

And in keeping with New Hrestoli idealism. if a man should decide that they wish to dedicate themselves to child raising and child care, they are also considered to have voluntarily joined the Menena caste. This is not shameful, though it is a little unusual. 

Comments and feedback appreciated. 

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