Face-painting customs of the Venrafivía period.
Anthologica Universe Atlas / Academia / Department of Creativity / Face-painting customs of the Venrafivía period.

? Rhetorica Your Writing System Sucks
posts: 1258
, Kelatetía: Dis, Major Belt 1
Face-painting customs of the Venrafivía period:
an overview with examples from the Mota argoculture.

Although it has hitherto gone almost entirely unmentioned, ritual facepainting is a key part of traditional Lilitic culture. Like many activities, the Lilitai promote it to the level of an art; each ship in the fleet and each artist thereon has her own take on the same general pattern, and these can be critiqued comparatively. In general, such facepaints are only worn for a matter of hours, though during special observations such as Goddesses' Week or the Love Festival, some may be re-applied and worn all day. Conflating the matter is an ambiguous boundary with both everyday cosmetics and stage make-up worn for dramatic presentations; it is not uncommon for Lilitai to wear pigment in various symbolic patterns on their cheeks, ears, or foreheads, quite contrary to the customs of the other post-human populations they later encountered on Thet.

To understand the following patterns, it is helpful to know a bit about Lilitic colour symbology (which I'll be writing up soon); the gist is that blue colours are considered cerebral, green is adventurous, pinks and purples are sensual or dreamy, and fiery orange/yellows are courageous. The boundaries are straightforward, e.g. red suggests determined lust, cyan is intellectual ambition, and so forth. There is a full list mixed in here.

The designs shown reflect the traditions aboard the Mota c. 300 LILPO, relatively early in the fleet's history.

Faces Akasha.png
Rostyaëkía Akasha1
A simpler, earlier style of facepaint rooted in Ksreskézaian theatre make-up. It is taken to represent the suffering mother, Rostyaëkía, the little-understood guardian goddess of the Rotomem. The eye/cheek makeup was meant to invoke stylized crying (though in a very different way from Vendúta patterns; see bottom) and captured a rare moment of grief by Rostyaëkía at the death of the Ksreskézai, towards whom she is otherwise generally quite contemptuous.2 Typically this patterns appears worn by the general public at appropriate remembrance festivals, such as early iterations of Broken Mirror Night, the Hunt of the Roots, and the Coma of the Exodus-Revival (in which case Akasha cries not for the Ksreskézai themselves, but for those who could not endure without them.)

Faces Ama.png
Amezría Sogezris
A pattern popular during Jemesselía, the week-long Festival of Love. Emphasis on the lips and nose-tip belie the pattern's erotic intent, and ear-tip colouring is also common. The heart symbol on the forehead was often drawn inverted and may be replaced with various other coded sensual images, especially the dream pattern appearing on the Tshayéanivía and Neptarlesha designs.

Faces Atshani.png
Atshani Lôndúezría
The starwatcher pattern is worn primarily by priestesses during public gatherings. As the stars (Atshai) were one of the many astrological forces perceived as influencing the fates of the fleet as a whole (and sometimes even specific individuals), representing their vision as omnipresent, even when the ships were distant from any actual celestial bodies, was a key task in maintaining the authority of the regime of oracles that flourished in the wake of Sarthía's mythology.

Faces Gelohezria.png
The skirmisher or warrior design was often placed on high-ranking military officials before battles or military-related oracular consultations, and could be called a sort of war-paint. It is considered a somewhat politically sensitive design to wear as it evokes Atvôdslefa Salkza, a hero of the radically conservative Mitradzhethíasa. Inappropriate use of the Gelohezría design, such as when attending a wedding ceremony, is a powerful insult, and there are at least three major plays that rely on a berízía gelohezris (the accidental warrior) as a trope.

Faces Neptarlesha Klinuris.png
Neptarlesha (Klinuris)
A funerary mask. The green hue denotes the interest of the deceased in adventure, although it is often favoured because of its association with nature (as the Lilitai bury their dead in greenhouse gardens.) The four-pointed star on the forehead invokes the afterlife indirectly: it represents dreams and creativity, and Neptarlekína (the afterlife) is an infinite space thereof.

Faces Sabta.png
Gelohezría Sabta
A more complete (and yet also minimal) pattern than Gelohezría, Warrior Victorious is worn at celebrations following military engagements by all, at general celebrations by military personnel, and occasionally by Mitradzhethíasa at weddings. Unlike Gelohezría, it is not a war-paint design, and tends to suggest feverish support for a positive development, despite its muted overall appearance.

Faces Stillanivia.png
The Oracle of the Goddesses design was worn by most oracles and high-level priestesses, with substantial variations between ships and cults. The mixture of swirling curls recalls the shape of the letter D, which is the key consonant in the interrogative particle (later da) and prominently figured in the shape of the question mark. This represents the power of the religious establishment to answer and generate questions, as well as representing the Winds (i.e. the winds of fate.) Occasionally it is worn by the general public as a show of support (and faith in religious powers) during difficult times.

Faces Sarthidta.png
The Student of Sarthía design is a less-gnostic or even atheist complement to the less-ceremonial aspects of the Stillanivía design (above), and represents faith in the ability of the careful-minded to direct the outcome of difficult situations. The entire design represents a pair of paintbrushes, such as those used for writing large or important documents.

Faces Tshayeanivia.png
The Oracle of Tshayéa design has its roots in the unique traditions of the cult of Tshayéa, which told fortunes in very different ways from other cults. The forehead pattern is a particularly grand representation of the four-pointed star of Tshayéa, intended to look invitational—literally, as consultations with the Oracle generally consisted of LSD-like dreams experienced by the consultant following physical intimacy with her in the vicinity of powerful hallucinogenic vapours. More minimal versions, which omit the forehead markings, would adorn her aide-priestesses. These designs were typically worn permanently and often tattooed into the skin, and would be removed at the end of the Oracle's career as a future-predictor using magic.

Faces Venduta.png
A pattern worn during grieving, often for days or weeks at a time. The forehead symbol represents the crisis; in this case, it is a broken collar, usually signifying a lost or dead partner. Tragic characters are occasionally portrayed with their skin permanently stained by many reapplications of this design.

1. Also spelled 'akadzhíra,' both meaning "non-slave."
2. More savvy readers may note an external inspiration.
? Torco Learner of Stuff
posts: 220
, Conversational Speaker message
pretty pictures
pretty designs
these do seem rather elaborate: what instrumental are they painted unto people's faces with?

I'll probably have something more substantial to say upon reading the post =P
? Izambri Left of the middle
posts: 904
, Duke, the Findible League
I have nothing constructive to say except that I like that they have a funerary mask (funerary traditions interest me, concerning both real cultures and conworlds). From an aesthetic point of view I like Sarthídta the most.

Oh, and definitively this comes to mind!


? Rhetorica Your Writing System Sucks
posts: 1258
, Last Kelatetía of Scotland
quoting Torco, Conversational Speaker:
pretty pictures
pretty designs
these do seem rather elaborate: what instrumental are they painted unto people's faces with?

It's actually just a simple oval paintbrush (khristíu); the Lilitai use their own (human) hair, so typically the bristles are very soft unless they have been specially treated beforehand.

quoting Izambri, Marquis, the Findible League:
I have nothing constructive to say except that I like that they have a funerary mask (funerary traditions interest me, concerning both real cultures and conworlds). From an aesthetic point of view I like Sarthídta the most.

The Sarthídta design sort of came about by accident, I was thinking "how can I incorporate the stylized brush motif in a facepaint pattern?" and it sort of just happened. I have a lot of loose notes about funerary stuff; I should probably write it all up...

...and, yes, there are some influences from Amidala, Warcraft, geishas, henna, and a bunch of other things. I always really liked the idea of a vertical mark on the lower lip, for some reason, as in Amidala's makeup; it'll probably appear in the next one I do.