Comparable Earth Races in Earwa

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Hirtius/Pansa

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« on: February 06, 2014, 05:31:15 am »
Hello forum goers! Just got into the series this past summer.  Couldn't really find an outlet to discuss it online.  But I found this site by happenstance and am very much enjoying the atmosphere and community.  My topic comes from a question that arose when I was poking around the Hypothetical casting for a Second Apocalypse film series and was intrigued that many of the Ketyai characters were opined to be played by white caucasians.  Not to start out my career here with a flame war about race representation, but in my mind all the Ketyai characters are some spectrum of Turko-Semitic/Arabic/Persian or East Indian.  Even though the clear historical dichotomy of the European crusaders vs. the Saracens also has a clear racial dichotomy that many readers have lached onto in the textual analysis of the characters.
I guess I was just curious how the rest of you imagine the nations and characters of Earwa's racial composition.  I'd love to here what the rest of you think. If there are textually denotations of race that you wish to present please cite them for my benefit.  I actually don't own any of these books at the moment lol.

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2014, 12:39:17 pm »
Welcome to the Second Apocalypse, HP (if the connotations of Harry Potter offend, I will adjust to typing your username).

Lol:

My topic comes from a question that arose when I was poking around the Hypothetical casting for a Second Apocalypse film series and was intrigued that many of the Ketyai characters were opined to be played by white caucasians.  Not to start out my career here with a flame war about race representation, but in my mind all the Ketyai characters are some spectrum of Turko-Semitic/Arabic/Persian or East Indian. 

Non-issue. Where bias remains, it should be rooted out.

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Wilshire

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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 02:14:03 pm »
I'm pretty sure 'races' existed fairly separately until the Breaking of the Gates. When 4 of the 5 tribes of men came over to Earwa, they all settled in their own places. I don't know all the names, but I would bet that if you looked them up in The Thousandfold Thought Glossary you would get a decent description of each groups characteristics and where they ended up.
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Phallus Pendulus

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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2014, 02:24:19 pm »
I always read the Ketyai characters as Byzantine Greeks and the Kianene as Muslim Turks/Arabs, for pretty obvious reasons. There's not that much ethnic difference between the two, since both of these groups fit into the general "olive-skinned Mediterraneans/Middle-Easterners" spectrum, distinct from both Zsoronga's people and from pale-blonde Kellhus lookalikes.

Not to start out my career here with a flame war about race representation

 ;)

Alia

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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2014, 05:29:41 pm »
And then there's a problem with Scylvendi, who have pale skins, pale blue eyes and yet dark hair. Now that is a combination which is rather hard to find anywhere on Earth, as pale skin and pale eyes are generally accompanied by blonde or reddish hair.
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Somnambulist

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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2014, 07:14:39 pm »
From the TTT glossary, Kindle edition:

Ketyai—The typically black-haired, brown-eyed, dark-skinned race predominantly concentrated about the Three Seas. One of the Five Tribes of Men.

Norsirai—The typically blond-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned race predominantly concentrated along the northern fringe of the Three Seas, although they once ruled all the lands north to the Yimaleti Mountains. One of the Five Tribes of Men.

Satyothi—The black-haired, green-eyed, black-skinned race predominantly concentrated in the nation of Zeüm and the southern extremities of the Three Seas. One of the Five Tribes of Men.

Scylvendi—The dark-haired, pale-blue-eyed, and fair-skinned race predominantly concentrated in and around the Jiünati Steppe. One of the Five Tribes of Men.

Xiuhianni—The black-haired, brown-eyed, olive-skinned race that still dwells beyond the Great Kayarsus. One of the Five Tribes of Men, who, according to The Chronicle of the Tusk, refused to follow the other four tribes into Eärwa.
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themerchant

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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2014, 07:29:54 pm »
And then there's a problem with Scylvendi, who have pale skins, pale blue eyes and yet dark hair. Now that is a combination which is rather hard to find anywhere on Earth, as pale skin and pale eyes are generally accompanied by blonde or reddish hair.


Unless it's in my family where everyone has pale skin blue eyes and dark hair, although i guess i'm of Celtic origin. So quite a few folk have ginger hair.

Hirtius/Pansa

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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2014, 01:18:57 am »
To Madness:  I'm ambivalent in regards to Harry Potter, but calling me HP makes me feel like I'm desktop software.  Pansa(or Hirtius) is just fine.  ;D

Thank you for the TTT glossary definitions Som.

To Phallus:  I understand the impulse to immediate categorize with the standard: Nansur/Greeks, Kianene/Saracen Ayyubids but I feel like such strict analogies to our own Earth History causes problems.  I'm really terrible at this, I can't find an interview that I know Bakker did awhile ago.  I may be talking out of my ass in the next few sentences to please forgive me.  A criticism that was raised against him was that the style of his writing was simply "ripping off" wholesale from the chronicles of the First Crusades, grafting human history on the chassis of his fantasy universe.  His response I think, was stating that while he was undoubtedly inspired by the events of the First Crusade he was adamant that we should not simplify the Nansur to the Byzantines for the sake of our historical continuity and not Earwa's, Momemn is not Constantinople, Nenciphon is not Ctesiphon, Seleukara is not Selecuia and so on and so forth.  I feel like Bakker is very laissez faire with his fans and doesn't like to direct and condition our thoughts and perceptions too much, but his statements make me think that he doesn't want us to accept the notion that the cultures/races/religions should be automatically assumed to be that of their obvious historical analogues.  I'm not trying to subsume my opinions on to everyone else.  Yet, I can't help but raise my eyebrow when people immediately say "Nansurs are Greeks and the Kian are Abbasid or Umayyad Caliphate Muslims"  I almost feel that we are being complacent when we make that analogy.  Again, just trying to start a dialogue I want to know how other people feel. 

Somnambulist

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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2014, 04:16:51 am »
For my interpretations, I always felt a great affinity between Bakker's writings and our own historical record.  My first read of TDTCB felt almost Biblical.  I saw the Ketyai as Semitic, Norsirai as Scandinavian, Satyothi as African, Xiuhianni as Chinese and the Scylvendi as Huns.  I think the Scylvendi were more likened to Scythians, but I could be wrong about that.  And though the Norsirai were obviously Caucasian, their ancient naming conventions (Nanor-Ukkerja and Nau-Cayuti being good examples) felt more Sumerian/Akkadian to me.

Because they, at least outwardly, resembled those real-world cultures in my mind, it is impossible for me to think of them otherwise now, but I'm willing to admit to that being my own failing.  There are simply too many analogies for me to think of them otherwise.  While recognizing Eärwa has its own distinct mythology, the 'now' of The Prince of Nothing trilogy contains too many real-world references and imagery to easily dismiss as not being references to our own ancient civilizations.  Not that that's a bad thing.  The mythology is so full of the strange and philosophical that a little outward familiarity helps to ground it a bit.  Kinda like training wheels for all the cool, weird, bad-ass shit going on behind the scenes.
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2014, 12:13:01 pm »
To Madness:  I'm ambivalent in regards to Harry Potter, but calling me HP makes me feel like I'm desktop software.  Pansa(or Hirtius) is just fine.  ;D

Lol, I feel like reading up on your namesakes and attributing to you the one your words most embody. It shall be done. But Pansa for placeholder.

I'm really terrible at this, I can't find an interview that I know Bakker did awhile ago.  I may be talking out of my ass in the next few sentences to please forgive me.  A criticism that was raised against him was that the style of his writing was simply "ripping off" wholesale from the chronicles of the First Crusades, grafting human history on the chassis of his fantasy universe.

I don't know which one it might be, it's been a couple years since I read the interviews - which means next time they shall reveal a wealth of new ambiguity as I have been changed: Interviews & Articles.

I feel like Bakker is very laissez faire with his fans and doesn't like to direct and condition our thoughts and perceptions too much, but his statements make me think that he doesn't want us to accept the notion that the cultures/races/religions should be automatically assumed to be that of their obvious historical analogues. 

Because they, at least outwardly, resembled those real-world cultures in my mind, it is impossible for me to think of them otherwise now, but I'm willing to admit to that being my own failing.  There are simply too many analogies for me to think of them otherwise.  While recognizing Eärwa has its own distinct mythology, the 'now' of The Prince of Nothing trilogy contains too many real-world references and imagery to easily dismiss as not being references to our own ancient civilizations.  Not that that's a bad thing.  The mythology is so full of the strange and philosophical that a little outward familiarity helps to ground it a bit.  Kinda like training wheels for all the cool, weird, bad-ass shit going on behind the scenes.

This something of a crux. Had I not grown up a history buff, I would have had a more imaginative experience. And it is Bakker's "letting the reader project" onto the text where much of his magic happens. He seems to play on many of our anachronisms.

However, like all things Bakker, my thoughts immediately drift to what's been omitted. How many inversions will he subject us to? Because I think the deeper question by Pansa is how specific or broad can we get with our cultural antecedents to the analogies in our world? I just see Bakker quietly noting all our thus far forged associations and shattering them.

For instance, much of the scattered anachronistic etymology of Earwa seems to play on even more ambiguity when so many key terms have cross-cultural precursors.

Also, culture is in part many individual behaviors functioning together... perhaps, our cultural associations based on description are already flawed because their behaviorial residue won't mirror our real-world analogies.

I think for me the best moment in the books is when it sunk into me that Achamian is a darker Ketyai (who I cast generally as the various antique cultures beneath the Anatolian Plain). I mean, Kellhus fulfills our Hero-Tropelist but subversion ;).
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 12:18:05 pm by Madness »
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Wilshire

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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 02:16:53 pm »
And then there's a problem with Scylvendi, who have pale skins, pale blue eyes and yet dark hair. Now that is a combination which is rather hard to find anywhere on Earth, as pale skin and pale eyes are generally accompanied by blonde or reddish hair.

Recent studies suggest that blue eyes come from Neanderthal ancestry (the average person is 2.7% Neanderthal, geneticall speaking), and that blue eyes with dark hair/skin where pretty common several thousand years ago.
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Phallus Pendulus

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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2014, 02:54:51 pm »
And then there's a problem with Scylvendi, who have pale skins, pale blue eyes and yet dark hair. Now that is a combination which is rather hard to find anywhere on Earth

It's very common on the British Isles, and probably all over Western Europe. The "light-skinned and dark-haired" look isn't rare at all, so I don't know where you're getting this from.

Looks-wise, it's obvious that Conan the Barbarian was the inspiration for the Scylvendi race.

Wilshire

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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2014, 03:06:08 pm »
I think Alia was referring to dark hair and/or skin coupled with blue eyes. Maybe its different in Europe, but where I have only met a small handful of people who have blue eyes and brunette hair. So, at least for me, I'd agree that that combination is rare.... Though like I said above, since cultures exhibit different traits more prominently,  where you live probably heavily influences your perception of the "rarity" of a trait (unless of course your knowledge is based on wide reaching scientific studies or surveys, in which case maybe you might be less biased)
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Alia

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« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2014, 03:54:33 pm »
Well, over here were I live (Central Europe), if I see someone with pale eyes and dark hair, they usually have their hair dyed. Pale skin and dark hair, OK, but pale eyes and dark hair - it's rare. And certainly I cannot think of any ethnic group that would have this combination as their characteristic feature (which was the main point of my first message, actually).
Although I believe that several thousand years ago it could happen more often, after all (if I remember correctly from my high school biology lessons) gene encoding blue colour of eyes is recessive.

As for another point, similarities to Earth history - have you read "Sailing to Saranthium" by Guy Gavriel Kay? The author took history of Bysanthium and almost literally retold it in a fantasy setting. And half of the fun from reading it came from recognizing the correspondences and also differences - the points where Kay diverged from "real" history. I even took a reference book on medieval history and read the part devoted to the relevant period of history to better see what the author changed. Having said that - I haven't had the same feeling while reading Bakker. The similarities, the correspondences are there, to be sure, but not to such a degree.
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Hirtius/Pansa

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« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 06:45:55 pm »
To Madness:  They aren't too important.  They're just minor figures during the years of the last Civil Wars of the Roman Republic.  We had to do a project in high school about Roman figures, and I choose the most esoteric figures that no one had heard and that I thought would be fun to research.  And ever since, every rpg video game character I make, every username I have is usually Aulus Hirtius or Gaius Vibius Pansa.  It has always been a fun "what if" in my mind if they had lived through the battle of Forum Gallorum, defeated Mark Antony and established a coalition government with Cicero, Octavian and the Senatorial faction under Brutus.  What would have happened to the Roman Republic then?  Just a little something I wonder about. 

To Alia:  I haven't read "The Sarantine Mosaic" but, I have read "Tigana" and the "Lion of Al-Rassan" so I am very much familiar with Guy Gavriel Kay's Historo-Fantastical style.   I honestly am not sure how I feel about it sometimes.  Judging a work of fantasy by how much a hews to it's historical analogues may be an amusing distraction for funsies, I do it all the time lol.  But while I love Kay and Bakker, the issue remains,  is taking the historical record of Earth civilizations and adopting them for fictional purposes derivative and a copout?  Or does it give us something to identify with and enrich our reading?  My feelings on this change every other week.  God, I'm such an equivocator...  I'd just like to reiterate that my OP was in regards to my observations of other readers as racially and culturally coding the Inrithi as European Christians where I think the text doesn't support that blanked correlation.  It seems we've gone on a bit of a tanget, but a tangent about historical appropriation in fiction is always an excellent tangent!