An archipelago of low but extensive atolls about 4600 kilometres east-north-east of Thekla (well beyond the bounds of Gehennum and, for that matter, beyond the terminator, on that face of the World of Isles from which Indarian cannot be seen).

The people of Ramastaarn are not related to the Gehennese and their kin of the Blessed Isles, nor to the people of Fairon. They are tall, taller even than the Faironese, but less heavily built. Their skins are extremely dark, their eyes are brown, and they have curly or frizzy black hair.

Among the most accomplished builders in the World of Isles, the Ramastaarnii make massive palaces and lodge halls, and enormous step-pyramid temples out of porous limestone. Yet, like the people of the Blessed Isles, they lack mineral resources and must import their metal tools at considerable expense from Gehennum.

Ramastaarni society has a marked and unusual division of roles between men and women. A woman is born a member of her mother’s matriclan. This organisation owns and rules a swatch of land, usually at least one whole atoll. Although the matriclan is ruled by an hereditary queen, apportionment of income within it is equal.

Boys are born without status. On coming of age at thirteen most are are initiated into one of the totem lodges which span Ramastaarn. Each lodge controls either a trade or profession or certain fishing or hunting rights. Initiates are taught the economic skills of their lodge in a type of apprenticeship, and also learn the secret rules and quasi-religious mysteries of the lodge. Lodge membership and status provide a man with his means of livelihood and his social position.

Many Ramastaarni totem lodges have ideals, training disciplines, and mysteries designed to encourage the creation of avatars. The better hunting and fishing lodges aim at creating Persiflegians and Khryseians, the craft lodges, at training Timeonides while the Raven Lodge of mercenary guards trains Luciphagians, the Pearl Shell Lodge of weapon-makers trains Vesperian martial artists, and the privileged Red Flower Lodge trains Jolianides to protect Ramastaarn against monsters and pirates. On a less martial trend, the Eternal Lodge trains Amaranthi bards, and the Sky Dome Temple lodge trains the Chansithi shamans who assign boys to their proper lodges.

Men without lodge membership — rejects, outcasts and criminals — along with junior members of poor lodges and unemployed members of professional lodges, must emigrate, starve, or work as labourers on buildings or in the women’s fields.

No marriage is allowed in Ramastaarn, and men are not allowed permanent residence in the women’s palaces. Tradition forbids anything which might suggest that a woman belonged to a man. Women expect to be courted with gifts and compliments, to enjoy flirtation and a liaison no longer than they wish for, untrammeled by masculine possessiveness. Lasting affaires are enlivened by the difficulty of cohabitation and a thousand rules and accidents which threaten to part the lovers. Apart from this, no taboos restrict sexual opportunity.

In Ramastaarn the cadavers of queens, heroes, and grand masters of lodges are not cremated with the normal run of folk, but mummified over smoky fires and preserved as objects of veneration. See undead.

Ramastaarni clothing is simple and scanty. A simple loincloth like a perizoma, perhaps secured by a leather belt, or a zoma, will do. Embroidered, smocked, and tasselled ponchos and semi-circular mantles are formal or festive wear. Jewellery and head-dresses proclaim wealth, status, and lodge or matriclan affiliation.
Typical artifacts of Ramastaarn are made of wood, shell, bone, and bamboo. Weapons are spears, slings, atl-atls, and wooden clubs and swords set with shark’s teeth and splinters of shell or bone. Ramastaarni boats are fast, sea-going catamarans.

Copyright © 1991 by Brett Evill. All rights reserved.