Today, we turn our attention to the Okulso Valley. The Okulso Valley is found at the far left end of Shtakamashkan’s antarctic continent as seen in this global south pole-centered map.
Here I have a closer look at the Okulso Valley, home of the Okulso Road, a caravan route linking the Shteko capital of Ksulfesh with the Guyochi capital, Dulsek, via the Eyoth backwater stronghold of Shklafov.
A few things you can see right off, just by looking at the graticule and the north arrow, that somewhere down the line I need to reproject this. For reference, this has a 15 degree x 15 degree graticule, the vertical line near the left side of the image is the equator and the small arc near the center of the right side of the image denotes the 60 degree south latitude. This gets pretty distorted, I know, but I’ll work with it for now.
Now we get down to some detailing of the major cultures in this area. Just to set my little gray cells in motion, I like to consider equivalents in Earth history to cultural regions to start with. For now, I will think of Guyochi as the Roman Empire, with the bay just to the west as equivalent to the Mediterranean. Sorta. Does this mean I can consider Aptamagan as being the Alexandria to some Egypt-analogue? Maybe. Although, to be honest, by the time I get that far over the geographical equivalencies are getting awfully thin. For now I’ll leave that consideration on the back-burner.
Moving east, I think I’ll consider Eyoth as an India-equivalent. Shkorfuk and Shklafov could be on some Ganges-equivalent river, a river of great physical, spiritual and cultural significance that snakes through a variety of different environments.
To continue the analogy with the Silk Road is tempting. Although the east-west orientation of the mountains bordering the Okulso Valley somewhat precludes rainshadow deserts like the Taklamakan, its placement between 15 and 30 degrees latitude places it almost smack under the sub-tropical high-pressure zone(STHZ). On Earth this is a well-developed band of hot deserts. Significant areas of the Okulso valley will likely be desert or at least steppe. Like the Silk road this area should serve both as a barrier to casual crossings as well as a relatively flat highway. One open question is how to explain use of this not altogether convenient overland route rather than the overseas route past the capes of Eyoth and Shteko. My first choice was to have conflict with seafaring island people jealously guarding their watery realm, but the area of shore nearest the Okulso Valley is rather devoid of nearby islands. A little editing could fix that, but I’m not sure I want to do that. Perhaps there is some interaction with the large antarctic landmass extending so close to the equator that makes that area of the ocean particularly violent and stormy. For now I’ll go with that…
For the Shteko culture, I am picturing, initially, something like China, a large, prosperous old empire run by a vast, monolithic and legalistic bureaucracy. With this in mind, I expand my world just a bit by adding a region controlled by the Tsortatrul tribes. These would be considered primitive, barbarous and also rather dangerous by the Shteko. Think Mongols and you won’t be too far off. The Tsortatrul, or people very closely related probably control the southerly coastal region including Shkropagrul and Maktrogush. Perhaps some hardy Tsortatrul warriors are even threatening Zhatamashan and Ghe’athom 8,000 kilometers away. Mustn’t push the analogy too far, but that seems logical enough.
Going back to the little, or not so little, Eyoth city of Shklafov on the Okulso Road, if I were to stick with the Silk Road analogy this would be an area controlled by a patchwork of prosperous Islamic kingdoms rather than Indian. I have decided to keep it as culturally Eyoth, though, although balkanized and politically separate from the coastal Eyoth. Perhaps they have adopted a religion imported from the Tsortatrul just across the mountains. Points of departure from the analogy are important. The Tsortatrul are now not just Mongols, they are a sort of cross between the Mongols and the Arabs. Other than the monotheistic religion ultimately derived from the religions of Ghe’athom and Gdortatun, I’m not sure how different Islamic Mongol squid would be from Islamic Arab squid! And how would Islamic Hindu squid differ from Islamic Turkic squid? This inspires a bit of research. Also, how different would a Mongolian Muhammad with the different psychosexual baggage of a Skavoon be from the one we had. There are a lot of potential points of departure here.
Heh-heh! By extension I also have developed a vague sense of the cultures around the upper right end of the global map.
More generally, going back to my earlier notes on the Skavoon, all of the cultures around the Okulso Valley have a fairly conventional(for Skavoon) take on reproduction and child-rearing. Reproductive activity is fairly trivial and free-wheeling. Mentors and Proteges select each other freely. The area around Ghe’athom(think, I guess of the eastern Mediterranean. Another difference, the Egypt-analogue of Aptamagan is probably not the home of the pharaoh that enslaved the “jews” of Ghe’athom) has more of an islander influence. Reproductive activity is strictly controlled and limited to the temples(!), and the resulting young are segregated and controlled by the religious or political authorities. This is a carry-over from the danger of overpopulation to an island society. On the major continent those verminous young can spread out and be a nuisance to other people in the strait environment of an island, particularly the smaller ones, the young are are a plague on your own house. This leads the island cultures to take more responsibility for the handling of their children. This is still not a “mommy, daddy and the doted-upon kids” kind of thing. The environment children are raised in is more of a cross between a Dickensian orphanage and a modern pig farm. The education of adolescents is less of the personal relationship between Mentor and Protege seen in more conventional Skavoon society and more of the English public school experience from Roald Dahl or Pink Floyd(or the Omen). Again there’s a touch of Charles Dickens here… and the pig farm. The interpersonal socialization of young islanders or Ghe’athomites is far less personal than in other Skavoon cultures. Maybe think of a cross between George Orwell’s Oceania and the Polynesian Oceania more than Israel.
The Tsortatrul are far more conventionally Skavoon than that. Reproduction is controlled and limited to the temples(or would that be mosques) of the Tsortatrul and the young would be raised to adolescence in a restricted communal setting, but would-be Mentors go to the temple(mosque) to adopt young Skavoon and raise them in a fairly conventional(!) manner. More than any other Skavoon culture, even the islander and Ghe’athomite, genetic ancestry and genealogy are important to Tsortatrul culture.
The Shteko, for their part, are a highly urbanized and legalistic culture. After bureaucratic positions, mercantile trade is the most highly respected calling for a Shteko. The Shteko have a complex code of laws for just about every activity including trade. Although some laws are binding, with harmful or fatal penalties, most of the legal code is maintained more by social pressure and custom. People don’t go to a lawyer to determine the law on a iven task for fear of penalties, but because they want to know the right way to do it.
Most people in Shteko live in urban apartments(or for richer tradespeople, compounds). Even most farmers live in small villages near their densely-packed irrigated fields. Goods, materials and foodstuffs are traded in town center markets, often quite raucous places.
Social mobility among the Shteko is quite extreme. As with any conventional Skavoon culture, the blood ancestry of a prospective employee is quite irrelevant, and, in fact, unknown. Even the identity of a persons Mentor is not considered when determining the status of a young adult Skavoon(although the sort and level of skills learned from the Mentor will have an effect on the Protege’s performance). Performance on tests is paramount! These tests are, of course, controlled by an extensive and byzantine bureaucracy. Or set of bureaucracies. Generally, the Skavoon goes fresh from his Mentor to the Ministry of Education to take a test of general competence which determines what sort of specializations he might legally qualified for. After that, he must choose from a set of available positions and thence go to the appropriate ministry controlling that vocation for further testing. If found qualified by the standards of the appropriate ministry, he will go on to work in that field. Otherwise he(the use of gendered pronouns is of course solely owed to the limitation of the English language. I’ve gotten tired of saying, “it”) must select a different profession and test for it at the appropriate ministry. If there is one word for the Shteko it would be, “appropriate,” or, “proper.” Actually, “propriety,” is probably the word for the most important Shteko virtue.
The Eyoth, whether the traditional Eyoth of the coastal regions or the more Tsortatrul-influenced Eyoth of the Okulso Valley mosques are determined in their social and professional status by the status of their mentors. In the valley, their status is also affected by their genealogical heritage. Potential Mentors in the Valley Eyoth culture may only adopt adolescents of socially appropriate parentage.
On the whole, the Eyoth culture is largely settled and sedentary. Their wars over the last several centuries have been mostly of a defensive nature not for conquest. Eyoth religion, even the Tsortatrul-influenced mosque culture of the valley kingdoms is not expansionistic, although the valley mosques see no problem in using proselytisation to voluntarily convert individuals. Coastal Eyoth religion is more ethnic at this point in history and they do not see conversion as appropriate. Traders are the exception to this rule. The majority of caravan traders along the Okulso coastal region from Gdlapok to Shkropagrul are of Eyoth origin, usually in the pay of Shteko or occasionally Guyochi trading houses.
The Guyochi Empire is probably the most diverse culture of this region. It is actually a collection of different societies held together by military and political power backed by a state religion. Some of the member polities of the Guyochi Empire entered it voluntarily, either through a sense of cultural brotherhood with Dulsek or because the perceived an advantage in joining with the larger empire. Most, however, joined the empire through conquest or due to their fear of the unstoppable legions of the Guyochi.
In most cases, the conquests of the Guyochi have a measure of local cultural autonomy. For the most part the emperor and his ministers in Dulsek don’t care what is done in the provinces so long as the taxes are paid, the temples are maintained and the altars are supplied with their sacrifices.
The Guyochi are the youngest and the most aggressive culture in the area around the Okulso Valley(possibly the world). Most of their aggression and territorial expansion is directed towards the west, away from the Okulso Valley, though.
I think as the next step in the caprice-driven micro-macro-micro workflow I seem to be using is to work out the global astronomical-climatological attributes of the planet Shtakamashkan. In order to know better just what kind of societies are going to arise in the various regions I need to know this planet’s position in it’s solar system with respect to its sun. Given that this planet is largely Earth-like, I can tell you that coastal Eyoth is going to be fairly tropical and the western Tsortatrul is going to probably be a fairly cold desert, but in between… That’s a question that I need to answer.
Thank you for your attention,