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Underrated Cultures

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Telcontar, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Caliburn

    Caliburn New Member

    Hey good question Telcontar. To clarify, I'm pretty sure there weren't ever Songhai "paladins" as such, however in pictures I have seen their swords look similar to those used by the Christian knights--curiously European--and they followed an Islamic religion that promoted religious crusades much like the Christian crusades to the holy land.

    Pictures like this one: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2706/4484475839_a577c71ce7.jpg make a strong impression on me in terms of what an African/Islamic-styled fantasy paladin might look like. Civilisation 5 was the first I'd heard of them.

    EDIT: Don't quote me on any of the facts esp. regarding their Islamic religion (I just read something that said 97% of Songhai never converted to Islam).
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    I don't know about the populace as a whole, but Songhai's most famous leaders were very devoutly Muslim. I also recall that they had enviable freedom of religion.

    I remember seeing the graphic in Civ 5 of the sword Askia carries, and thinking it was wrong. Who knows, though - perhaps they really did use that kind of blade. I'll have to look into it.

    Muslim's certainly did have their version of holy warriors, though - the Ghazi.
  3. Chekaman

    Chekaman Scribe

    Some ideas

    Cathage-Everyone knows about Rome, but few know about Carthage.
    Scottish Clans
    Native Americans
  4. Balam Ka'ana

    Balam Ka'ana New Member

    I'm currently working on what I plan to be a series of stories based on Mayan culture and mythology. The Popol Vuh (the Mayan creation bible) lreads. like an acid trip. I'm having a bit of trouble reigning in some of the absurdity to make the folklore more palatable. Also the number of gods in their pantheon can be overwhelming you see multiple deities governing the same aspect or idea. It isn't always clear what a deity's purpose is.
  5. deepikasd

    deepikasd Acolyte

    One of the most underrated cultures I think are definitely the Aboriginal tribes of Australia. Not only is their mythology and way of thinking in life so different from the western concept that we have and practice, but their way of living is also very different. They are very earth-based and live taking care of the earth and paying respect to it.

    They are a culture based on oral tradition (their past/history/lifestyle is transmitted to the next generation orally). They also have this concept of Dreamtime/Dreaming in which the past and the present are sort of both the same thing. (I can't really explain this concept really well. According to a documentary I once watched, Dreaming is based on events that occurred during the period of creation but at the same time is happening in the present.) They also have the songlines which, from what I understand, is songs that "map" out the lay of the land. People who follow the words of the song can find water, sacred sites, other groups, etc. I also love how they always ask permission of the land before they do things. In the documentary (sorry I can't remember what the name was; it's about myths and the modern world) I noticed that there had this one scenario that showed this one tribe covered in blueish paint. Since the natives are dark-skinned this was very striking. They also paint themselves in reddish mud in some ceremonies. And don't forget the walkabout. Also, there is a varied distinction in those of the present. Some have been "Christian-ized" (they were basically "forced" by early settlers/Christians to renounce their "heathen" ways; the children were sort of brain-washed into a more Westernized thinking). Then there are those who stick completely to the old ways, including the dress-code, etc. Others then mix the Western culture with the old way of life (ex. they use cars instead of traveling on foot and wear what we consider "normal" clothing).

    Also, Eastern Indian culture. I think people have this concept that when you are Indian, you are a Hindu. That is a very biased and wrong concept. Indian culture is really unique because it is a culture mixed with different types of religions. Not a lot of people talk about it, but culture is really defined on religion and not the other way around. People tend to take things from religion and mix it in with their daily lives. Therefore, you have this really crazy mix of culture in India. Let's take a small city for example. You can have Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists (though they are relatively few), practitioners of Zoroastrianism, etc., all living side by side. Then there is a mix of nationality: South Indians, North Indians, Nepalese, Chinese, and other foreigners. This huge mix can make this small city totally different from the city down the road just because how people celebrate their religions, what they eat, what they wear will all vary on the other individuals in town. Since there is such a variety of religions and nationalities, you will end up with a town that is unlike any other.

    Another culture underrated is those on the Amazonian river. I forget the name of the tribe, but there is one that lives their lives basically for their gods. They believe that in their ceremonies, their gods actually come and visit with them taking on a human form. To become more receptive to their gods, they actually take hallucinating "drugs" (more like a "herbal" drink) that helps them to "see" their gods. However, most of the other aspects of their lives are partially modernized like cookware and clothing.
  6. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    On a linguistic note, there is an Aboriginal Australian tribe which doesn't have words for 'left' or 'right', and instead they always use 'east' and 'west'. They have a far superior internal compass than any other group in the world, basically. I feel like you could adapt something similar into a conlanguage, maybe not (just?) for direction but for something magical. Something we can't distinguish between because of the limits of our language, but your characters could.
  7. Aravelle

    Aravelle Sage

    Another underrated culture and mythology? Hawaiian.
  8. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Historical Hawaiians are one of the groups I actually have looked into. Thoroughly fascinating people, though sadly knowledge of them before the arrival of European explorers is very limited.
  9. King Raven Stark

    King Raven Stark Scribe

    I've been looking up lost civilizations that vanished during the ancient earth era like the Dravidians, Aryans, and Harrapans
  10. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    Sorry for the necro, but I didn't want to create a whole new thread around a small rant of mine.

    Is anyone here interested in pre-Christian, pre-medieval Northern Europe? I'm talking the Celtic, Germanic, and other "tribal" peoples whom the Greeks and Romans derogated as "barbarians". Honestly, whenever I world-build using Counterpart Cultures, I usually base my Northern European analogues on the pre-Christian cultures rather than the standard Middle Ages.
  11. ShortHair

    ShortHair Sage

    Always wanted to look into pre-Columbian cultures of Middle and South America. They've just re-opened a dig near Ayacucho in Peru.

    Saw a piece on History Channel recently on lost civilizations. There's a site in southeast Turkey that doesn't belong to any known civilization, and it's thousands of years older than Stonehenge. It's a certainty that there were cultures of which we haven't found a trace--or if we did, we didn't know what it signified. They could have lived anywhere, reached any technological level, and then killed themselves off--the way we "modern" people tend to do.

    One theory holds that the Black Sea was dry at one time. Something happened, possibly rising sea levels, and the people living there were inundated. The few survivors would pass down the widespread myth of the Deluge. There's a similar trope in Randall Garrett's Gandalara books.

    There are carvings in the Sahara Desert that hint at a culture there before it became desert. Can anyone say for sure that all the deserts in the world are natural?

    Yes, I shouldn't get archaeological theories from TV. I don't have time to go to the library or sift through all the BS on the Internet.

    Other suggestions. Mongols as the good guys. Tibet? I've never heard of anything but Lost Horizon that even tried. The early Christian and proto-Christian sects who got weeded out by the early Roman church. There's a sect in Ethiopia that may have the real Ark of the Covenant.
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Shorthair, read 1491, by Charles Mann.
  13. I am. I've been thinking about basing my next work's main culture on them. The only problem is, I hate doing research. ;)
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I'm very interested in the Celtic myths; the backstory of my vampire novel is heavily steeped in Celtic lore and mythological beings, and my Fae duology has more of the same.
  15. Chekaman

    Chekaman Scribe

    I'm interested.
  16. Helleaven

    Helleaven Minstrel

    There are many underrated cultures in the world. Most of them unfortunately have been forgotten.

    For example, I just admire the ruins of Angkor Wat but I don't have any idea who built them or what kind of a culture they had.

    For me, one of the most neglected side of the history is Turkic tribes. They were mostly nomadic people and it might look like they had no life except fighting and hunting. But they had mythical stories which is so underrated that even the Turkish people doesn't know anything about them. Pre-Islamic Turkic history reaches far behind anyone can imagine. From Hungary to Bulgaria, from Scythian to Avar Empire, from Turkestan to Uighurs, from Azerbaijani to Seljukians, from Gokturks to Great Hun Empire... Ottoman Empire is another example, but they had many resemblances to other Islamic cultures. I admit that it's kind of annoying to feel like ones culture is left out as if it had never existed.
  17. D. Gray Warrior

    D. Gray Warrior Troubadour

    I have never seen a Mali Empire culture or Aboriginals.
  18. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    I like 1960's/70's African American culture. In order to really get my interest, a culture needs a minimum requirement of funk. I'm doing a thing with a fantasy culture based on this.

    I think most contemporary cultures and subcultures are underrated. I guess most fantasy guys are more backwards thinking.
    Jabrosky likes this.
  19. Waz

    Waz Scribe

    Like Tolkien, I'm interested in the Poetic Eddas and the Norse cultures in the time that Beowulf was compiled. That transition phase is an intriguing blend of old, warlike Vikings and new, morally-focused Christians.

    "I cleaved his head clean off, praise the Lord above."
  20. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    For my part, I think a hybrid of modern Afro-Diasporan and ancient/pre-colonial African cultures would make for a fun mix. Problem is that I'm not terribly familiar with modern Diasporan culture beyond having listened to some hip-hop and R&B. I have plenty of Diasporan friends online, but we don't talk about modern-day stuff so much.

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