Wede:i

From Almeopedia

For the language, see Wede:i language

The Wede:i were an ancient people related genetically and linguistically to the Mei and to the De:iju, the primitive inhabitants of Čeiy. They dominated Xengiman in ancient times, established the first human states, the first legal code, and the first human writing system on Almea. The Wede:i used a base-6 number system

The Wede:i were perhaps the most advanced people of their time but were eventually conquered by the Eastern tribes; however the invasion produced mixed civilizations and languages while refugees formed the Jei Union. In present times, pure Wede:i elements exist only in Pronel, Do:ju and Jeor.

Modern descendents of the Wede:i language are still spoken in Cuoli and parts of Belšai.

Etymology:: we:+de:i 'mighty people'; Ax. Wedeï.

Contents

History

The first kingdoms and states

The Wede:i were the first humans to develop agriculture. By -4000 agricultural villages lined the Xengi, and soon there appeared domesticated animals, fired pottery, and boats. Population density greatly increased, and villages grew into towns and (by about -2000) city-states.

The first human kingdom-level state was Yenine, which united the Xengi delta around -1550. Epic records assign this feat to the king of the city of Tewor, Akba:un.

The establishment of the second kingdom of Na:nyanok around -1450 is also attributed to an epic king, Bo:ndola:i, lord of Śima:i.

The third Wede:i kingdom, Saiśi, emerged on the upper Xengi river by -1200; it is noted for its system of electing kings and ceremonially killing them after two years.

The early Wede:i kings and nobles are described as continually offering feasts and distributions of wealth to their relatives and supporters. Only later they learnt, that obedience can be achieved more effectively by using force.

The height of Yenine

Yenine conquered Saiśi in -650 (under the paźiwa Begoŋitera) and Na:nyanok in -625 (under his son, Nanuŋitera). It was a well-organized state; its capital, Bi:dau on the Xengi delta, was the first large city on Almea, full of bureaucrats, engineers and priests. Nanuŋitera is also known for the promulgation of the first legal code (-610), called the Canons of Respect.

The invention of writing

The Wede:i invented writing, starting at about the time of the first kingdoms. Their script was logographic, and in its early stages almost improvisational, but the glyphs were slowly standardized. At first only symbols for content words were written-- no grammatical endings or particles. The symbols were mostly pictographs and ideograms; once enough of these had been settled upon, they could be borrowed as phonograms for words for which no symbol was readily apparent. (For instance the logograph for kur "ram" was also used for ku:ru "give".) In the earliest stages they seem to have been written on stone using chalk (or any other brittle substance that left a mark).

The scripts used in the three Wede:i kingdoms had diverged, and Nanuŋitera directed scholars to produce a unified script for use by all. The result was the Old Syllabary, actually a mixed system, consisting of 655 syllabic signs and 440 logographs representing particular words.

The Ezičimi conquest

In the south, the Eastern Inbamumakei tribe conquered Yenine (-325). The invaders, who called themselves the Ezičimi, were careful to retain the administrative, economic, and priestly machinery of the Wede:i state, merely replacing the top men. The Inbamumakei empire was thus a small overlay of Eastern barbarians shakily dominating a mass of more civilized Wede:i.

Beyond the Ezičimi grasp, for now, were the delta, which was too big; it had as many inhabitants as the remainder of the Xengi valley) and Saiśi (too far). The Ezičimi managed to conquer the delta in about -250, but the Wede:i reclaimed control of the middle Xengi. However, once the Ezičimi mastered the chariot, they were able to conquer all of the Xengi valley.

The Wede:i nobility, fleeing the Ezičimi, founded new estates along the Jei; the peasantry was partly refugees from the delta and partly native Wede:i from the river valley, and these estates eventually formed the Jei Union in 250 ZE.

Modern remnants

Wede:i languages gradually disappeared after the conquest except in Jeor, Pronel and Do:ju. The invaders' language developed into Axunašin, not without being deeply modified by Wede:i, which provided the basis for the Axunašin writing system. The Wede:i polytheistic religion was also adopted by the invaders, becoming Mešaism.

The language of Jeor, an offshoot of Wede:i, survived well into classical times. Jeor was finally conquered by the Gurdagor starting in 1950, and by the Xurnese c. 2600. It was replaced by Xurnese over the next few centuries, but survived among the local intellectuals as a badge of difference; indeed, the official language of independent Tásuc Tag is Jeori. The other modern representative of the family is Cuolese, spoken in Cuoli, to the northeast of Xurno, and Dowe, spoken in one canton of Belšai.

Culture

The Wede:i were perhaps the most advanced people of their time and enjoyed some basic inventions— pottery, the loom, organized states, the wheel, boats and writing. The Wede:i used a base-6 number system

Their language belonged to the Wede:i-Mei superfamily. Modern descendants of the Wede:i language are still spoken in Cuoli and parts of Belšai.

Society

In the earliest histories the Wede:i were performing feasts and redistributions in Śima:i while monarchs given absolute power in Saiśi for a limited time and then ceremonially killed. By the time Begoŋitera and Nanuŋitera established the empire of Yenine, there was stable, intensive agriculture enabled by massive state-built irrigation works.

This in turn required large-scale organization, educated and literate engineers, and a religion to motivate and mobilize the masses— a system sometimes called a hydraulic empire.

The central fact of existence has always been the state, always essential. The southern religions had always preached support for the state, the importance of the collective good, and the social lubrication necessary to a populous and busy state: manners and decorum; respect for superiors; fair and just treatment for inferiors.

Wede:i society believed in hierarchy, and the 5 classes were largely hereditary, believed to reflect a scale of spiritual worth. It seemed natural to everyone that each of these classes lived by different rules.

  • The king (paźiwa)-- in a class of his own
  • Nobles (ma:ngun)-- large landowners, also responsible for defense, perhaps a tenth of the population; later replaced as a class by the Ezičimi
  • Clerics (na:ngun), the personnel of organized religion
  • Officials (leźugun), the scholars who made the imperial bureaucracy run and the engineers who oversaw its public works. (Some sources grouped these with the commoners, but they always had special rights, and in later times were effectively higher-ranking than the clerics.)
  • Commoners (de:igun), the peasants and craftsmen

These societies had no markets and no merchants; any economic enterprise above the level of the individual farm or workshop was managed by the state.

War was the province of the nobility, who made up the bulk of the soldiery (a peasant levy could be raised in an emergency, mostly for defense) and armies were fairly small— a serious disadvantage when the Ezičimi invaded— though at the same time the nobility was fairly large.

The [[[Link title]][Canons of Respect|Guśali Sa:unak]] set out the responsibilities of the social classes: the concept was that the obligations of one's rank prevented greed, arrogance, or excess. Brutality toward the lower orders was a serious sin (but repentance was allowed to take a monetary form; rape and adultery, were punished by requiring the offender to pay the woman's bride-price.)

Religion

The Wede:i were polytheists. Their chief god was Wila:r. Wede:i worship was based in temples and conducted by priests, who later were given Ezičimi supervisors.

Other gods were Tokna:n, Akru:, Raśakma, Aklu:ma, Maun, Losuna:n, Yaujina:n, Jaukaroda, Songkana:n, Begong, Birbi:, Śabukma and Akśim. The Wede:i described the gods as participating in endless wars, and believed that they had become gods by defeating the previous pantheon— the aktikun ('great old ones', misshapen and cruel beings now imprisoned underground, responsible for earthquakes and volcanoes).

The Wede:i were told that their god Wila:r (= Meša) had been defeated by the chief Ezičimi god, Inbamu, and that as a consequence they were collectively slaves of the Ezičimi.

The Wede:i also believed in mura or Murineli, a superior plane of being after death.

The southern religions included some means of escape from the demands of society. The Canons, for instance, ordained one day a year (benśentin) when all laws were reversed, and blasphemy and insubordination reigned.

List of major Wede:i kingdoms

Yenine, Na:nyanok, Saiśi, Yewor, Jei, Śinji, Yeśela, Su:dau, Taŋgun, Do:ju, Puroŋeli, Eŋgodra, Raśakbori, Jeor

See also

Author: Stilgar