Arcél 300

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Arcél -750
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Arcél 600

The Ħomtso, Hurtso, and Tsyeʔ valleys were now dotted with Uyram villages. Like the hunter/gatherer tribes they evolved from, they were frequently at war with each other. The more successful villages grew ever larger, absorbing or conquering nearby villages till they had become small city-states. Around 300 the Homtso delta had been unified by the priest-kings of Srethun; its chief rivals were Tsopwan on the Hurtso and Pheʔ on the Tsyeʔ.

Though there were some shadowy creator gods and a world of spirits and demons, the Uyram chiefly venerated their own ancestors (uy), who had once led them to game and now watched over their crops, their wars, and their morals. Indeed, Uytai simply means ‘the land of (our) ancestors’.

The ancestors were the legal rulers of the Uyram cities— indeed, they led their cities’ armies into battle, in the form of macabre constructions of bones (uywar) adorned with animal hides, feathers, jewels, and gold, held aloft by an honored caste (uyħwa, the ancestor-bearers). Only the priests could speak for the ancestors; naturally enough, pauram ‘interpreter’ became simply the name for the ruler.

An important distinction to the Uyram was between the good ancestors (puruy) and the mad ancestors (fretuy). Everyone had ancestors of both types, and either could be revered, though in the case of the fretuy this was more appeasement than worship. The good ancestors provided blessings, protection, order, fertility, and wisdom; the mad ancestors offered creativity, humor, madness, intoxication, and power.

Authoritarians and moralists tended to see madness as opposed to goodness, but to most people madness was a necessary complement. It might take benign forms, such as getting drunk or entering a musical trance, but could also be quite literal— insane people, for instance, were made into priests. Nor was fret ‘mad’ the same as tsrat ‘evil’. There was occasional talk of tsratuy ‘evil ancestors’, but it was best not to think much about these.

In theory the ancestors, through the pauram, dictated everything from the crops grown to marriage partners to punishment for criminals. The city-states (if not the outlying villages) were certainly tightly organized, and developed rudimentary tally systems to keep track of production and the passage of time.

About this time the Kereminthic peoples learned to add outriggers to their canoes for additional balance. This innovation allowed them, despite the tiny size of the canoes, to greatly increase their range, and they boldly paddled across long stretches of open water. From the southernmost of the islands south of Ȟaibalai it’s about 400 km to the coast of Arcél; the coast was first explored, then colonized.

Mnesean tribes have settled the upper Šrun river.

Characteristic figure

Historical Atlas of Arcél
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