THE ZDJȨTZAMI

Average Lifespan: 5 – 11 Tam'nýer—a''n Years / 150-330 Earth Years

Age of Maturity: 3 Tam'nýer—a''n Months / 10.5 Earth Years

For the Zdjętzami, their age of maturity is referred to as one’s ability to see shadow. As you might hear or have heard someone say to you “When you come of age”, the Zdjętzami say “When you can see shadow”. This is of course in reference to their god Bezăv. This is because the Zdjętzami believe that their god is closest to their during times of unknown and uncertainty, and when one is considered an adult, we never really know what to expect. We are, for all intents and purposes, engulfed in shadow; unable to see the path before us and no longer considered children, able to ignore the world around us, ultimately stepping out into our own.

Once a Zdjętzami has reached the age of maturity and can see shadow, they are considered much closer to Bezăv, as if able to reach out to him and speak to him in everything. It is considered an awakening not simply socially, psychologically, but spiritually, and this transformation is the most important.

Aging Process: It might surprise you, but Zdjętzami are actually born blind. This doesn’t last long, of course, but they are like this for the first handful of candlemarks and lasts a maximum of 12 candlemarks (half of their first Tam’nýer-a’’n Hour). As might be expected, baby Zdjętzami are very frail and fragile. Their bones have yet to gain any true sturdiness, and hit knocked with enough force can break. Luckily this only seems to last the length of their first Day. In contrast, their ‘horns’ (bits that grow into a coral-like growth from their foreheads) are also somewhat gelatinous until they've had a couple Days to solidify.

Once clear of these first couple of days, babies are much sturdier and safe to touch. This is when true parenting begins. As you might imagine, however, it is a bit heartbreaking and a true test of patience to be able to wait to full be able to grip and hug your own child, but this also gives the mother a bit of a respite and come to terms with the fact that she is indeed a mother, and the father is now a father. After all, it is a never ending job. This also permits the caretakers on duty to see if the babes are deformed or disabled in anyway, so that they can be killed before the parents grow an attachment to the physical form and not simply just the idea of their child.

Past infancy, Zdjętzami seem a bit unproportionate as their eyes, and heads look more akin to bobble-heads, and then you add in the gnarled long fingers. Their feet also are surprisingly sharp until one travels enough on their own accord. Over time, they fill out as much as a species that looks emaciated can. It is only a Tam’nýer-a’’n Month (3.5 Earth years) after their age of maturity that their bodies are more or less fully developed.

It isn’t until much later that the Zdjętzami begin to show signs of elderly age. Think around 8 Tam’nýer-a’’n Years. They will gain spots on their skin, which will also become paper thin. Their skin will also start to feel scaly. The ring of colour in their eyes will begin to dim, and sometimes will become blotted out. For instance, if an individual was born with melanism and the majority of their eye is black, the ring will turn black. If albinism, the ring with blend into the whites of their eyes.

Names:

Zdjętzami names are quite specific, and can be nightmarish at first, for multiple reasons. The first reason is that Zdjętzami names have no spaces. This is similar to the Z'sa'Ză-'Bäa, because unlike their Khah' cousins, they do not use an apostrophe to separate the surname and given name. However, added to this jumble are two distinctive racial differences. Zdjętzami's names have a gender descriptor, as well as a generational name.

To better explain this, let's use an example:

Prztashi ZedrÞot Kraț

Prztashi is the given name of the individual. The 'Zedr' is the generational name (meaning all this persons siblings will carry 'Zedr' in this location of their name). The 'Þot' of their second name indicates that this individual is a female and Kraț is their surname, or family name.

Now, if Prztashi was a man, their generational name of Zedr would end in 'jîð'. Meaning that their name would change from 
Prztashi ZedrÞot Kraț to 

Prztashi Zedrjîð Kraț.


Þot, the female descriptor, is pronounced as Fo-t, or pho-tuh, emphasizing the tuh of saying T.

Jîð, the male descriptor, is pronounced as Jee-th, akin to saying 'teeth' but with a j at the beginning.

Now, if we take out the spaces, as one should this is what Prztashi's name should look like 
PrztashiZedrÞotKraț OR PrztashizedrÞotkraț

 

Physical Attributes:The Zdjętzami people, like most races, are pretty tall. They average anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall, and upon meeting one have a very distinctive colour palette. This is due to a genetic defect that, over time, has actually become the norm for the Zdjętzami, and that is having either albinism or melanism. Meaning that the Zdjętzami are either extremely pale or black in skin pigment.

Of course, this also affects the eyes wherein pale spectrum Zdjętzami tend to have grey, very light blue or milk white eyes with a subtle hint of pink. While the black Zdjętzami have either grey, milky yellow or dark brown eyes. However, the black Zdjętzami have an enlarged pupil, causing their eyes to naturally take in more light which translates to full blown sunshine not being friendly to them. Meanwhile, this also means, that they have the ability to see during the night time.

Now before we leave the subject of eyes entirely, note that the colour of their eyes is simply a defining, slim ring around the pupil itself, that isn't as big as ours, and the 'whites' of their eyes (sclera) is either white or black, matching their skin tone.

Aside from this, the Zdjętzami have numerous physical attributes to take note of; horns, antennae, ears, lichen-esque growths and carapace faces (and this is just the top half!). Zdjętzami have faun-like ears, concerning shape, the antennae they have look somewhat feathery, and help them smell, of all things. Their lichen-esque growths begin appearing the closer they get to their age of maturity, and keep growing from then on around their faces, and down their necks and collarbones.

Concerning their hair, it grows in a particular way, almost imitating puffs when growing from their temples, and thick and bushy from the rest of their head. When it comes to their horns, they grow solely from their foreheads, swooping back. Now, the horns for the most part branch out like coral, but they cannot grow out like bull horns, or up to such an extent as deers' do. They always swoop back, as if shielding the crown of the skull, and guiding the antennae.

Their general bone structure is what we would probably refer to as emaciated. The Zdjętzami have extremely pronounced collarbones (clavicles), and ribs. Now while their ribs are very exposed, they usually refer to them as 'markings' or 'chest markings' as they feel that while there is an average, there is also a fingerprint like quality to them. No one really knows why they feel this way, but it may have something to do with their god Bezăv and the importance of lines and rings in their culture. Now, their hips are also very pronounced, but they have extended bone growth here to protect their lower organs too.

When it comes to their genitalia, Zdjętzami, despite having a gendered name descriptor, usually tend to be intersex. Meaning that while being addressed in conversation, they are noted to be either male or female. 'Under the sheets', however, they have pieces of both genders as we know them. This translates to the difference between gender and sex. Sex is what you have between your legs, and gender is the gender you see and feel yourself to be as a person. To the Zdjętzami this is extremely important, and also helps explain why they mature so early. Thanks to their physiological sex though, the females don't menstruate as human females do. Instead, the Zdjętzami absorb their uterine lining, if applicable to them.

 

Last, but certainly not least, the Zdjętzami have legs that probably tell the most about their origin story being born from Mirzum. Their legs, from their pelvis, go backwards where ours go forward, and their knee is also backwards, shaping them like a grasshopper's springy legs. They walk on talons which act as the ball of their feet, and of course, while they look so pathetic, there is strong muscle and tendon there to keep them steady in the weather they must face. Their talons being more or less their foot too keeps the sands of their homeland from burning them and permits them to stand like a devoted scarecrow through strong winds that would otherwise rip the flesh off of other races.

Language:

Language wise the Zdjętzami speak C'eröd, the universal language of Tam'nýer—a'. However, they tend to speak it with the adornment of trills, and when speaking, most T's are pronounced 'tee-yah', and E's turn to an 'eh' sound, as 'é' does.

Religious Views:
If the Zdjętzami weren't already complicated enough as a species, buckle up. When it comes to religious views or beliefs, the Zdjętzami are similar to the Ãoni in the idea that they are living for their Goddess, Ŧ'ţ'ra-'kii. However, rather than simply living for one Goddess, and praising her for the life she has given the Ãoni, the Zdjętzami worship death and any aspect that they attribute to it. Consequently, this means that the Zdjętzami also believe fervently in reincarnation. Everything is part of the cycle that while life on Tam'nyer-a' is a rich experience, it is merely one stop along the travelling of their soul.

Ultimately, the Zdjętzami focus their worship towards death and the afterlife. While this means that the Zdjętzami should worship Uu'krieuvan, the god of Death & Reincarnation, they do not. Instead, they believe in their own version of this god and to them is the only god. There are no others, and living isolated as they do, really don't know the existence of the other traditional gods. They know and speak C'ërod because that it what is taught to them. It started and formed somewhere and somehow, and do not view it as a gift from any god, because communication is simply just that: communication.

Akin to the Ancient Egyptians, throughout the life of a Zdjętzami lies preparation for the journey to the afterlife. For instance, hey will weave their own death veil during their life, that will cover their entire body once they have died.

Their God of this journey that the Zdjętzami worship and give honour to so graciously, is the very land and sky that blesses them and covers them like a blanket. It is this imagery that speak to the belief that they are being constantly guided or following in their God's footsteps, as it were. It also declares that individuals are all equal, no matter the gender, or talents, as they all rely on one another. An individual exceeding at growing food will require the talents of a metal-smith when it comes their children getting their ears pierced, and vice versa.

Of course, this all being said, their version of death and rebirth carries a name: Bezăv (bae-z-aw-v). It is believed that Bezăv is closest to you as he lives in shadows, or rather that shadows are small manifestations of Bezăv.

Since people might get confused- the distinction between regular Tam'nýer—a''n belief and Zdjętzami belief about reincarnation here's an elaboration. The main difference is that while every other race believes that reincarnation as anything living on Tam'nýer—a' is their future, the Zdjętzami believe that this is their only life to be lived on Tam'nýer—a' . From their life on Tam'nýer—a' they travel to different planets and/or planes of existence through reincarnation, going so far as to believe that they can become a rock in another life and gain wisdom from that.


Sexual Practices:
If the way the Zdjętzami live could be any indication, the Zdjętzami tend to be a primarily polyamorous species. Some families may have up to 8 parents living together cohesively to raised their brood, essentially doing as much as possible together as well, sharing each other's 'story'. While this may seem odd to us, it in part has something to do with their religious beliefs pertaining to reincarnation. This is because the Zdjętzami believe that in every reincarnation, even if they be a rock in their next life, that each tie they have in this life, will continue as a mash up in the next. For example, let's say that you are currently your parents' child. The Zdjętzami believe that while you are currently your parents' child in this life, perhaps in your previous life you were the parent, your father the child, and your mother, your lover. While relationships change per lifetime, the threads that make up the tapestry stay the same colour, but merely craft a different image.

This in turn also means that love, any kind, is very open and accepted, and sexual intercourse can be merely used to show that love. While we may not think of it as a way to express platonic love, to the Zdjętzami it makes little difference. A hug is the same as a kiss, and to share a bed it to bear one's soul and true self to all those that you hold dear. While we may pass around compliments and words of support, they go all in to reassure a friend that they love them.


Pregnancy:
The Zdjętzami tend to have secluded burrows where they can “give birth”, but it's not how you would expect, as the Zdjętzami birth large eggs. The eggs are approximately 3-4 times the size of an ostrich egg, which already fills a grown man's hand. The Zdjętzami lay 2-4 of these eggs after a single Tam'nýer―a''n day, and wait 2-3 more days for them to hatch. The Zdjętzami take turns watching over the eggs, as if on watch duty, so everyone takes a turn and there are a mandatory 2 people on watch at all times, because as soon as the eggs hatch, the children, despite being pretty well developed are born blind and extremely susceptible to cold. Their horns are also somewhat gelatinous until they've had a couple days to solidify.

 

Reproduction: Whether the Zdjętzami can breed with any other race is unknown.


Diet:
When it comes to food, the Zdjętzami are strictly carnivores. This is due to their religious views though as they believe without an iota of doubt that they are helping other creatures on their journey through their lives but killing them and using them for food, and their hides, if applicable. A useful death is a good honor to them. They will even light scented fats, and place flowers and herbs in honour of a day's hunt to help send the animals on their journey.

As for what creatures the Zdjętzami eat in particular, it varies. They are not a picky race though. Be it Faeries of the Sea, Gyfw-t or insects, they are all worthwhile foods.

Homes:
The Zdjętzami are a secluded race, happily choosing to reside in a harsher environment amongst the ruins and monuments of their ancestors. Ultimately, they believe that they should need no other homes as it was good enough for them new, as it is wearing with time. Essentially, because it housed them previously, (their belief in reincarnation), it is and forever shall be their home. Each generation however may perform upkeep if they so choose, but show the bones of the past to recognize how they progress as a people.

Their structures are massive, daunting and a feat of engineering that is more or less swallowed up by desert. It doesn't matter if it's an outpost in the middle of nowhere or constructed on a mountain, their structures are nothing short of monolithic. That being said, the Zdjętzami are clearly a race that make enough room for an individual to have enough living space if an individual prefer their own space, or if an entire city desires to live within close enough range to everyone else, but still have their own designated living quarters.

Clothing:
Clothing does not differentiate between genders for the Zdjętzami and stays very simplistic in design. Whilst indoors and sheltered, safe from the potential sand storms or tumultuous ebbing and flowing tides, the Zdjętzami wear thick sashes of fabric that are woven into the top of large wide skirts that drape over their feet, whilst their torsos remain free of fabric so as not to 'disfigure' their natural markings upon their chests.

When venturing outside however, is when they seem to take more care of their clothing. Over their skirt, they will wear a loosely fitted robe, usually sleeveless, that will tie into a hooded and long sleeved cloak. The sleeves are akin to that of a kimono so that they can carry what they need to without being encumbered by a backpack, for example. The reason why the robe and the cloak tie into each other (at the inside shoulder seams) is so that no matter the wind, the clothing will not rip off and stay connected and safely secure on the person, creating breathable yet protective layers.

Shoes:

When it comes to shoes, Zdjętzami have a weird physiology as they stand on the ball of their feet naturally, so if nothing else, they wear heelless shoes made of bark. This permits the shoes to be pliable, yet sturdy and to protect the pads of their feet from the heat of the sand, which is the most important part and reasoning for them to wear shoes in the first place. Whilst inside their expansive homes, and thanks to the shade, it is rather cool inside, and therefore they ignore the existence of shoes entirely.

Jewelry:

When it comes to jewelry it won't take one long to notice that all Zdjętzami jewelry has a banded motif to it, be it rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets – doesn't matter. This is in part to signify the strength of one's determination in general and retaliation to spiritual negativity and/or evil spirits, but also to show how many time an individual has conquered an evil within themselves. For instance, if someone was born with a penchant for cruelty, and in their older age they have turned kind, they have conquered a piece of intrinsic evil, further taking a stand against the spirits that intend harm. Children who are raised by someone with a mean streak, can inherit the banded jewelry of said parent and claim it as their own as well, as it shows that they have stood in adversity to a form of evil.

Piercings:

Piercing of the ears is mandatory and purposeful thanks to their beliefs. If pierced, as soon as safely possible, the metal of the earrings, to them holds magical properties of protection from bad spirits and negative energies. The mindset is that it is better to be pierced by loved ones, yourself or those of you're own race, than to risk being 'pierced' by enemies. To the Zdjętzami and thanks to their belief system however, these enemies are of a more spiritual nature than true physical enemies.

Marriage:
Because the Zdjętzami are so open with their acts of love and compassion, marriage is not a practice they partake in. In fact, if one ever brought up the idea of marriage, the Zdjętzami would most likely be extremely perplexed, and possibly find the idea of such a structured union offensive. Why try and put a net around love, and define it so rigorously? Is it not better to love one and all as much as possible?

Death:
When it comes to death for the Zdjętzami, this is pertaining to their most sacred belief system, as they worship death and the process of life, the journey to the afterlife and all the lives they will have. Needless to say, the Zdjętzami are perfectionists when it comes to handling death rituals, but before we delve into that there's an important bit of their culture that needs to be divulged first and that's how they deal with those of their race that are disabled or have aged too far to function properly.

The disabled are killed as soon as possible after birth or when noticed. They are however given the highest honour when it comes to a death ceremony. Believing that this life, their past lives and lives to come, are an experience and Tam'nyer-a' is actually a place for their souls/spirits to learn lessons through this life, this species lives quite openly to ensure that they come across as many learning curves as possible.

Allowing the dead to move on to their next life as fast as possible, seeing as the Zdjętzami believe they are attached to their flesh during this life, makes defleshing common practice to the Zdjętzami. Defleshing is the act of separating flesh and muscle tissue from the bone. Of course before this process begins, they wash the flesh thoroughly, and once the bones are clean, they wash the bones thoroughly as well. Sometimes the skulls will be collected and mandibles will be detached in order to make lanterns, symbolizing that their loved ones, though moved on, guide them through the rest of this life and are still part of them.

However, with skull or no, these skeletons are usually glued in a kneeling position, hands resting on the femurs, and kept like soldiers outside temples or their massive homes, being a graveyard above ground.

THE ARTS

Traditional Music:

The main instrument of the Zdjętzami is the Crwth & the Guzheng (Gu Zheng).

The Zdjętzami, as everything in their culture, is based upon soaking up experiences, and making music is most certainly included in that. Thanks to their physical build however, and their long digits (phalanges) the Zdjętzami tend to have a special place in their heart for plucking, strumming and bows. The sensation of it reverberates the very music they create through their fingers and through the rest of their body. This resonates more so with the Zdjętzami as well because they actually have hollow bones in parts of their body.

An example of their plucking music:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An example of their 'bow & string' music:
 

Traditional Dances:

To the Zdjętzami slow and steady wins the race. They are extremely emotional through actions, descriptive as well, and this translates most especially to their dance. It is slow, and tells a story. It is not for the love of movement, but for the need to communicate. To describe as best as possible a story from the most open point of view so that all can understand the lessons within and attach to it emotionally. 

In contrast to how the Zdjętzami usually dress indoors, they are usually fully clothed when performing. It is assumed that this is due to their belief that their god Bezăv lives in shadow, and their clothing can create many. Putting his manifestations in a performance is vital, as it battles the Nothingness and keeps away the spirits, creating a sense of safety so that those performing can 'lose themselves' in the story they perform.

MENTAL HEALTH

Depression:
For the Zdjętzami there is only Bezăv and the Nothingness, and it is the Nothingness that they fear. While Bezăv is their constant guardian through Shadow, Life, Death and everything they may see or touch that is “Living-but-Voiceless”, (think the ocean, the wind, the ground, etc), the Nothingness is more or less the antagonist in this narrative.

The Nothingness is ultimately depression; boredom, a lack of motivation, emotionally weighed down. That's because it is “the death of oneself whilst living”. It is believed to be caused by evil spirits, small but by the millions. Think spiritual microbes clinging to the flesh causing one's energy and aura to mold. Once it has overtaken a person's spirit, it infects the flesh. It is for this reason why piercings are so important as they act as a shield against this infestation of the flesh.


Hope:
The Zdjętzami's view about something that we tend to view as extremely good, hope, is actually rather cautionary. In stark contrast to the rest of Tam'nýer-a', who even start their day off with the Hour of the Cusur'galli (Hope), the Zdjętzami view hope as a potentially deadly form of arrogance.

In truth, the Zdjętzami have a mindset towards hope that not only is it a form of arrogance, or that it breads arrogance, but that hope defines a person, or a society as having a passionate inability to face reality. In layman's terms, hope is rose coloured glasses to the Zdjętzami, and that is why it is dangerous, abhorrent to some even, and seen as a risk for death.

Taking into consideration the Zdjętzami's belief about The Nothingness, the reliance upon hope is also interpreted as something that can ultimately lead to the Nothingness taking over, because if hope is diminished in someone they tend to fall into a depression. Into the Nothingness.

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