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Sir_Godspeed

Indian Imagery across Glorantha... but what about Teshnos?

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So, this is something that's been bubbling in the back of my head for a good while, and it's not some huge issue or anything, but I think it's worth considering - and I suspect the people who work on Glorantha have done so to some degree.

Basically, it's this: there seems to have been over the last few years, (before my time, but still relatively recent) an increased usage of artstyles and iconography that is based on RW artstyles from the Indian subcontinent in cultures across Glorantha. We see multi-armed and dancing goddesses in Peloria as well as Esrola, we see North-Indian buildings styles in Seshnela, and we see Theyalan Orlanthi with a very Indra-looking Orlanth, and plenty of other Indian-styled things, including hats, clothes, and other items besides divine images.

First off, I think that's very cool. Indian artstyles are just... well, they look visually very interesting, they help convey the sense that Glorantha is not medieval Europe, or indeed not even Classical Greece. You could also argue that there is some level of shared artistic language across Western-Central Genertela - with the Seshnelans apparently having used some kind of Indo-Greek imagery in their royal friezes.

What it does, however, is raise the question about what Chaosium intends to do to make Teshnos stand out. To my knowledge, Teshnos is the closest we get to a Erschatz-India in Glorantha, which, while obviously no perfect match, is still more of a direct translation of a region into fantasy than the more well-developed and *highly* hybridized and innovated Central and Western Genertela. As much as Kralorela and Vormain suffer similar problems, they at least get to keep their Wuxias and coiling dragons and what have you to themselves to an extent. Teshnos seems like it won't really stand out in a meaningful degree.

Any thoughts on what the plans are from the developers/writers/directors?

And of course, from fellow fans, and long-time Glorantha enthusiasts who might know more about this than me? I know that some of the Teshnan islands, like the Amazon island and so on, might borrow more from Southeast-Asia, Malay krises (Teshnos seems to have these in the Guide as well), or maybe some Thair or Burmese styles - but that just leaves me wondering what the East Islands are going to do! :P

As always, looking beyond the Real World is always a possibility, but it I think most people here think whatever the styles or imagery should be, it should be somewhat rooted in some kind of verisimillitude, even if not outright realism.

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Teshnos is amply depicted in the Guide.  Elephants and Wavy Swords are things that stand out as being distinctively Teshnan.  I'm not seeing the problem?

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I am not them but the short answer historically has been "go there and report back." Individual explorers and small teams have uncovered aspects of life on the lozenge that surprised even Greg. They'll have to do it again to bring the far corners up to what we now know about the center.

For me there are sensitivity issues around doing a lot of publishing for Teshnos by the book as it now stands until that deep exploration happens. Lazy subcontinents and spice-laden air just don't cut it. 

If I were going there today I'd start with what's left behind after points west break off their Greco-Bactrian thing. The archaic materials touch on a people called the "nagas," which have obvious parallels to the history of India north and south. Go as far into the dravidian zone as you can. Start there. If you find that the border between them and the gigantic archipelago is porous, that's okay. Maybe they were talking to each other throughout Time and we just don't know yet how that conversation played out.

I do like elephants and wavy knives though. What if Geertz's Bali had an entire subcontinent to spread across, rangdas and barongs all the way down.

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2 hours ago, metcalph said:

Teshnos is amply depicted in the Guide.  Elephants and Wavy Swords are things that stand out as being distinctively Teshnan.  I'm not seeing the problem?

And those are cool! But they do not really a culture make. And they do not really answer the question of how the presence of the Wastes, and different influences like for example the Artmali will probably create entirely different artstyles, architecture and clothing from Central-Western Genertela.

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7 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Teshnos seems like it won't really stand out in a meaningful degree.

Any thoughts on what the plans are from the developers/writers/directors?

As @scott-martin said "go there and report back." 

I don't see this as being a focal area for Chaosium any time in the near or intermediate future. It will happen at whatever point some one decides that they want to plunge in and "make it so" and creates some scenarios to get the ball rolling.

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Yeah.  Although whenever the gods book comes out there might be a few hints about Teshnos in the form of local cult descriptions like "Solf is like Lodril but ___" where the ___'s would constitute the hints.

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Stylistically Teshnos will have a lot in common with Seshnela as it was part of the Middle Sea Empire.  Hence I assume the Kingdom of Eest to be the equivalent of the Indo-Greeks of Bactria.  Teshnos lost half its gods from, I believe, the Goddess Switch.

I think that after the departure of Avlor, there was a God Learneresque faith in charge.  This was smashed to pieces by Sheng Seleris and the current fiery focus put in place.  The post god-learners survive as groups of philosophers like the Charvaka.  The Celestial Empire also brings in some Dara Happan elements.

The Guide retains the old description of how Teshnos is run (the Vessel of Light advised by Five High Priests) but also puts in a new scheme.  Is the Vessel of Light the High Priest King of Teshnos or the meditating mystic (Guide p428)?  Is Garusharp the Priest General of Teshnos or merely the Prince of Wokistan?  Does the scheme described on the frieze represent the power structure across the whole of Teshnos or merely that of central Teshnos.

The Nagas are mentioned as being in Pamaltela (Guide p702) so they may have arrived with the Zaranistangi.  It's possible from the very name of the kingdom that they were involved in the Dawn Age Kingdom of Iznagril.  

 

 

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18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I am not them but the short answer historically has been "go there and report back." Individual explorers and small teams have uncovered aspects of life on the lozenge that surprised even Greg. They'll have to do it again to bring the far corners up to what we now know about the center.

Makes sense. It makes for a more organic development of the region rather than a top-down, single-project kind of thing does.

18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

For me there are sensitivity issues around doing a lot of publishing for Teshnos by the book as it now stands until that deep exploration happens. Lazy subcontinents and spice-laden air just don't cut it. 

Oh, I agree. So many influences have been mixed and joined and innovated on in Western and Central Genertela (and even parts of Pamaltela), that it would be great to see something similar - eventually - done in the East.

18 hours ago, scott-martin said:

If I were going there today I'd start with what's left behind after points west break off their Greco-Bactrian thing. The archaic materials touch on a people called the "nagas," which have obvious parallels to the history of India north and south. Go as far into the dravidian zone as you can. Start there. If you find that the border between them and the gigantic archipelago is porous, that's okay. Maybe they were talking to each other throughout Time and we just don't know yet how that conversation played out.

What caused me to address this topic to begin with, is how essentially the Rigvedic stuff, as well as Hellenic influences seems to have been applied to Central and Western Genertela. To me, that raised the issue of "well, okay, how to make Teshnos feel unique and interesting and not oddly identical to civilizations it doesn't really have a continuous association with?"

Digging into the Dravidian styles and influences can help with that, as can Malay and Javanese/Balinese stuff as well.

-----

I'm not sure if I misread some of the responses, but it seems to me that maybe the way I worded myself caused some consternation. Just to be clear: my question was intended more as "hey, the way Glorantha has been presented may cause an issue in giving the different regions their unique identity, as some well-developed regions borrow more broadly from the RW while others seem more regionally-rooted, any thoughts on this, from crew or fans?" and not "This is terrible! How do you fix Teshnos!" :P 

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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