(Hello! I'm a longtime poster/lurker at CBB, ZBB and conworlds.com. I was told about this place by Travis B. it's always nice to get more feedback.).
Saltha started out trying to expand the language of the lizard-folk of the game Ultima: Underworld, and from there I started building a world for them. At one point it was one of the factions for a trading card game/minitures game hybrid thing, that will likely never actually see the light of day.
A Brief Biological Description
Adult Salthans stand slightly shorter than an average human at about 5'6", though because of their bone structure they tend to slouch slightly foreword. Their skin is a scaly green. Salthans have a tail that protrudes from just above their buttocks, and extends to the ground. They sexually mature around the age of 10. Salthan males have a row of spikes on their heard that extend from the crown to the back of the head. Salthan females, being non-mammalian do not have mammary glands.
Near the beginning, Saltha was a series of independent city-states, cities until the unification in 5920 KG. For almost 6000 years various kings ruled. Then the final upheaval that brought out the great revolution in 1 NG ended the reign of kings forever, and ushered in the new Republic as it exists today.
Saltha was until recently a very isolated country, partly because of geography, and partially from a very isolationist government, until opening of the border shortly after the civil war and the end of the 100 years war. Traditions and customs of Saltha did not have a chance to have any outside influence, and so instead were mostly formed from the religion of Santh, but also is influenced by the cold-blooded people's adoption to survive in the harsh hot climate of the desert.
The traditional way of greeting is to raise the hands to mid-chest level parallel to the ground, palm upward and then give a sort of bobbing bow of the head, keeping the head upright and dripping the neck foreword and down. Showing of the palms as a greeting come from when an old and abandoned practice of branding swindlers or bandits on the palms as punishment was used. So showing ones palm is a way of saying "I am honest". The traditional spoken greeting is "Dika Esha" (Or Dika Eshi when addressing a female, or adding the -ny affix to either to make it plural.). This means literally "Greetings, friend".
Sticking out ones tongue
A common thing that humans would generally find insulting is when a Salthan sticks out their tongue. To Salthans this gesture isn't insulting at all, and is very natural. It is a sign of submission and pacifism and can mean both “I mean you no harm" and "I will do as you say".
Putting ones hands out palm down, except maybe to a child is considered fairly rude, and is a patronizing gesture. Pointing with the index finger with the hand as a fist is seen as an obscene gesture to Salthans. Salrthans tend to gesture with all of the fingers extended.
The nudity taboo in some ways in Saltha is much less strict than other countries. It is considered acceptable for young children under the age of ten to wear little or no clothing at all, generaly wearing as most a simple loin cloth when working or going to school and nothing when playing. This is a sort of reminder to them and a sign to others to keep doing whatever chore they are on, or to pay attention in school. There is a strong cultural taboo for children to speak to those so-clothed, because they may be distracting them from work they should be doing. To be allowed to be unclothed is to say "you are free to play". Because biologically a female's chest is the same as a male's, they never had a reason to develop a norm for females covering their chest, as in some human cultures, and so both sexes are just as likely to go bare-chested.
The traditional clothing of the Salthan people for adults is a long sleeved robe called a Hoshi (Ho-shee), and then the Skata, a sleeveless robe that fits over it. Finally it is tied with a Tosha (a belt with a triangle shape cut out.). Pants, an item brought in from the human culture are also somewhat popular, modified with a hole for a tail.
Both male and females who are married or betrothed to marry wear a sort of cloth over their belt.
This is less a cultural aspect so much as a biological need. Because Salthans are cold-blooded, it is necessary for them to regulate their blood temprature. It is very common for shops to have a indoor and outdoor counter that they move to between the day, and stalls have a roof that can be opened. Likewise, school houses are built in a way to let sunlight in, or an alternate area for teaching outdoors.
Bathing, Cleanliness and Purity
Salthans find cleanliness very important; in fact you could almost say it's an obsession. There are many practices and laws around this, most dating from the beginning of the culture at the beginning of the first cities between 2500 to 2000 KG.
Bathing in this culture is different than the way most others practice it from the human culture I am from. In this culture a Salthan never ever just gets in to the tub, but instead they thoroughly wash themselves first with soap, rinse completely and then get into the bath of hot water. This means that soap and grime is kept completely from the water.
In a home, it is customary to wash the feet of adult guests when they enter a home they are staying at. It is also a custom for all the children in a house to not just “wash up” before dinner but to take a bath. These two rituals comes form two main reasons. One is the practical one that the streets are dusty, and a traveler’s feet are going to be dusty, as it is with children who are playing out doors all day. The second is the religious aspect as part of the mandates of their religion called Santh which is practiced by a majority of Salthans.
Salthan philosophy and religion focuses on idea of purity. This is in the two aspects of exterior purity in ritual washings and physical punishment.
This takes place regularly at the end of every month in the Salthan calendar. Salthans see a regular physical discipline (corporal punishment) of children as part of this cleaning and as a means of teaching self-discipline as mandated in their holy book and is just as important, or ever more important than the outward cleaning. They see it a way of cleaning the inside, the soul from the wrongs they have committed, and restoring the Silse, or purifty. They see this Silase as an physical object, that can even be stolen with magic, or tricked out.
Some humans have given the undue impression of Salthans being cruel who wantonly beat their children and this is most definitely not the case. Like humans, the salthans see the posterior as the proper target for punishment, and it is considered thoroughly wrong to strike a child anywhere else.
The scheduled punishment for children is administered by a parent and consists of a few quick hard strikes on the bare bottom of their children with the hand or a switch. Adults administer a few strokes on their own backs. It is something they believe saves from or at least forestalls a harsher judgment from their God.
The focus focus on physical punishment also goes into the relm of criminal cases. Prison is never used as a punishment of a crime and instead the person works off their debt or for more violent crimes they are flogged.
Bathhouse and Bathing Customs
The city has many public bath houses around the city, and along the street are public fountains not very far apart from each other for cooling off. The fountains were basins raised on a wall about 10 feet tall, with an extended pump handle to release the water. These fountains were built when one of the first kings ruled thousands of years ago, and are still used today. It is a common sight to see adults pouring water over their hot heads or children showering in them to keep cool. All major cities have a number of bathhouses
The customs of bathing in the Saltha are a bit different than a simple shower or soaking in a tub like most humans do.
Many bathhouses are segregated by sex, though there are still a number of non-segregated bath houses. Many bath houses that are segregated by sex also have private baths for families. It is not uncommon for young children (under 10) to enter a changing room or bath area with a parent of the opposite sex.
The smaller ones will have a cold and hot bath. They will also have a sun room, a roofless alcove with a low, slanted wall to the East and West for drying off. Large bath houses in big cities will have in addition a bath of hot sand, and/or an exersize room.
In a bathhouse, you go in to changing room and undress and put your clothes on a shelf. In the next room is the big tub of hot water. It is considered polite for adults to cover their pubic area when walking around the bath house with a washcloth. You do not get in to the tub right away; instead you first go to one the side to one of the faucets and take soap and a washcloth and scrub thoroughly, then rinse off. This water is not heated.Then the bather gets in to the large hot tub.
Traditional Salthan City House
A Salthan City house is two stories Tall. On the first floor is a large room for eating and cooking. There is a large table, a stove and a sink. In the back is a door to the bathroom. The bathroom has a drain on the floor with a faucet over it. In Saltha, the bathing custom in Satha is to wash up first, and then get in to the hot tub and soak. Upstairs is one large room. Smaller rooms are made by hanging fabric walls. On the floor of each "room" are mats. Here there is a door leading out to the balcony that has a staircase leading to the roof. Larger houses of richer people will most likely have a walled outer courtyard as well.
Food, eating and Hospitality
Salthans pride themselves on their hospitality and generosity. It is part of Salthan custom to fulfill any wish of their guests by a guest, within the law and ethics of the culture. This may only be revoked by informing the guest before the guest steps over the threshold of the host's house. When a guest enters a home, the host (usually the lady of the house) gives the guest a small piece of bread to eat there. It is considered bad luck to enter a house with an empty stomach. The seating of a guest conveys a silent message of the attitude of the person. The place of most importance at the table is the one near wall opposite the door. The lady of the house always sits to the man of the houses left, with the guests sitting opposite as best as possible. Whoever is the head of the guests should sit opposite the man of the house If the host says "Sit by the door" Then his attitude is that of superiority, he will treat you politely, but you should not ask for any great favors. If he tells you to sit by the far wall, then he will sit by the door. This is a place of inferiority, he at the more dangerous place of the door. For families and close friends most time he will say "sit anywhere."
Foods Udesknask is finely chopped vegetables (and sometimes meat) wrapped in a large edible leaf (such as grape leaf), fried and usually served with a vinegar sauce to dip. Relsekashas is a spicy soup usually made with chicken. shasashaseka is a thick stew-like fish soup. Shasulnal is a loaf of bread with fish baked in the middle Nalsshas is breaded fish Ushrelnal are bits of a spicy bread served with Lefnakshasha, a olive oil based dip. Shekshasa is raw salted fish, marinated in lemon and lime, and with other spices. Shas shoke is a fish "sausage". Asa Shoke is a beef sausage
Drinks Gilesshase is a drink made of fermented sugercane, simular to what humans called "rum" Relshashe is a liqueur made from a sugercane drink base flavored with black berries and hot peppers Hodnaksashe is a wine made from the fermented from of the Sudnin cactus. Chersashe is a wine that is fermented with an insect (usualy a desert cricket) inside it. Girelgishu is a wine fortified with gilesshase, giving it a "hot" flavor. relnakshase is a flavored spirit made from gilesshase and a black tea. Lykeilesholse ("Lykei's tears" is a cocktail mixture of a barley-like drink served with salt brine
The Salthan Calendar
The Salthan calendar is divided into 15 months. The first 14 months each have 25 days and have 5 days in a week. They only have one weekend day a week, but have it more often with 73 weeks in a year.
The final month has the left over 15 days, meaning it has 3 weeks instead of 5. The first day of the year is the vernal equinox or first day of spring, around late march. Since it is different each year the Salthan calendar would change in comparison with our calendar every year depending on when the Equinox is.
Trading and Gift Giving
Gift giving is a common way of restoring to balance friendships, extended family or business ties when one perceives the relation is breaking down. Generaly it is only rude to turn down a gift from a reletive, or some one one sees on a regular basis, (about average of more than once a month).
When a boy reaches coming of age, and become as Uagia (which means literally “neither great nor small”) it is mandatory that he become part of a society group. Which group the child joins is basically random, dependent only on which groups have fewer members. The child has no choice of what group he will join. These groups teach the boys the basics of combat and tactics, using a weapon called a Uagikathe that is padded on the end with an animal skin. These societies are much like warring factions, opposed to each other. Members of one group is allowed to attack those of another society that they meet, and do not even need to declare the attack and may ambush them. This means that a society member boy must be on guard at all times. Sometimes when two boys see each other on the street they will recognize the other as a member of an opposing society and have a sort of impromptu duel. The padded weapons reduce the risk of injury, though the occasional minor injury does occur.
Salthans enjoy numerous sports including foot racing and wrestling. The most popular national sport is nenksadache, which involves two teams that switch off between guarding a goal and trying to move a leather ball into the goal.
Some young males, as a way of identifying themselves with a counter culture simular to the human "punk" culture trim the spikes on their heads down so they no longer have points, or even sometimes removing the spikes completly (There are no nerves in the spikes, so it doesn't hurt)
Uselkalka (Tragic plays)
Plays portraying historical tragedy, with many on the time of the last king of Saltha, Kakel and his abuses of the people before they overthrew him. These may be very hard to follow if you don't know the language. Also these plays often depict graphic brutal violence.
Asausa (Group dance)
Literally means "dance, circle or cycle of life." and always contains elements that represents a birth or rebirth, a change or coming of age and death.
Sanagisany (Group Comedies)
Literal meaning is "all together". It is a comedic songs, most are legends about foolish people. The songs have parts or choruses that the audience joins in on.
Often times a man is the head of multiple households. It is a sign of status to be head of more than one household that many poorer men cannot afford. On average a wife will bear around four children, as that is considered a desirable amount. However, it is not uncommon for a man who is “stuck in the middle” who can afford to raise more children, but cannot afford to support another household to have as many as six children.
There is no such thing as individual ownership. Items belong to everyone in the intersecting groups, even if one person is the only one who can really use the item (like a toy would only be used by a child).
A man who has multiple households may own partially the things in all the households he is head of, but he cannot transfer objects or even permit use of an object belonging to one household to the other since it is not wholly his, unless the entire household agrees to trade it to the other.
An object may only belong to one social or household group at a time, so an object may not belong to say two families at once. The one exception is if it designated as public and all can use it. Once an object is designated public it cannot be made to loose this status, except through a vote of a majority of the senate.
Ceremonies - The Seven Stages of Life
The Salthan has a series of rituals connected to each major step in life, which is divided in to seven parts.
A woman who is going to give birth is taken to a private location secretly. No male is told where she is, even her husband. Word is sent to her family immediately after the birth, but she stays secluded for about two weeks. After which time she returns to her family, and a feast is prepared and the child is introduced to the family and local community.
Coming of Age/puberty
When a boy or girl reaches thier tenth birthday they are given the best presents. On that day their father or mother (depending on their gender) takes him aside and tells him "secrets": about becoming a man or woman, including about sex and general advice. The child then takes part of a big ceremony. This ceremony is important because it symbolizes the trials of a boy becoming a man, or girl to a woman. Before the ceremony, two large clay pools of water are prepared. One is filled with water that is left over night and reaches near freezing temperatures. The other is filled with hot water (about 100ºF). Taking part in this ceremony is also a good friend of the birthday child, generally of the same gender, who will take part in the same things the birthday child does in the ceremony. Beforehand, both children are naked and are painted over their bodies in paint of different shapes and bright colors (representing earth). These shapes include lines running up the legs from the inside of the foot to the hips. A line from the palm to the arm pit, a star of Santh on the forehead (though this may be left off of those few who do not follow the religion of Santh) and a hand print on the chest.
When the ceremony begins, they stand still naked before the witnesses, a symbol of their state of birth. The birthday child's father generally is the one to perform the ceremony, though it is not too uncommon for the mother to preform the ceremony for their daughter. First the child and friend is thrown into the nearly freezing cold water tub (symbolizing birth and awakening of the soul) and then quickly in to the hot tub (Which symbolizes trials to become an adult, and are both associated with the water element). Because of the quick exchange form very cold water, the hot water feels even hotter. Then those present "give part of their spirit" to the children by blowing at them. (Associated with air) to aid them in the trial. Then the child's parent strikes the birthday child ten lashes with a strap of leather on the bare bottom, and five lashes on the bottom of the friend. (this is associated with the fire element).
The child is now considered "Uagi" or "between greatness", and is given a special new loin cloth to wear. The Uagi will no longer be permitted to be unclothed in public as before. The child choose a new name, that may be a second name in addition to their birth name, or used as the name they choose to be called. Then they have a feast and celebrate!
At the age of 15, a boy is required at least one month training with a weapon (usually short sword and bow.) He is also drilled and taught military discipline (following orders). Girls at 15 are taught first aid and how to shoot with a bow.
While perhaps not every Salthan will be married, 16 is considered the proper time to be married, and it is considered odd for a salthan to be not married by the time they are at least thirty. Most marriages are arranged by parents. A man who is betrothed to a woman will give her a piece of cloth that he puts on her belt, showing she is betrothed.
The whole households of the bride and groom decide on what should be given to the couple to take with them, since things in a household is seen as belonging to the entire household. This is decided by unanimous vote. <Note: This is a bit odd, I'm not sure this makes much sense>
At the wedding ceremony both hold lit candles and the priest washes them. They light a fire with their candles and burn a piece of skin in the fire, symbolizing their unity for the rest of their lives and in the afterlife. Then each puts a bracelet on the other. These bracelets are identical, and there are no others like them.
Descent is traced through both the father and mother .Salthans beleive one's strength comes from the father's line and one's spirit from the mother's line. Spirit is considered a more important trait in women and strength in men, and so t is considered more important to a man to trace his father's line and a women her mother's line,. At the same time, it is still considered important to keep track of both lines, as the secondary traits are still positive to have.
At twenty a man or woman may take an exam that qualifies him or her to serve in the senate if elected. He or she is given a series of hypothetical cases and is asked for his or her judgment on them. These cases are different every year. At this age, the young man or woman usually marries, and is considered accountable to the law.
Old age is seen as a blessing, and an achievement in acquiring wisdom. Starting at 60, the person shares a piece of wisdom at his birthday celebration. This is celebrated every year with a new wisdom learned until the person dies.
Saltans believe that he bodies of the dead should be cremated. They believe their spirits go up to their god Santh in the smoke, and ties in with their beliefs in reincarnation for those who are good.
At the ceremony there is a telling of the life of the dead person before friends and family. But then another ceremony with only the person's closest friends and immediate family where a more honest "bitter truth" (Research Salthan term).
It is considered a grave insult to be buried, or to have a part of the body removed, especialy the head.
It is considered very bad to not be able to carry on both lines from at least one daughter and at least one son, keeping on the line of strength and line of spirit., It is common to have families who have only sons to "swap" a son with a family who has only daughters. They are adopted by the other families, and considered of the other's bloodlines, so both families can carry on both lineages.
Salthans feel very strongly about honor. If they loose honor they feel they must right the wrong in way of restitution and then be purified.
While legal in Saltha is very different than in other places. In Saltha, slavery is completely that of criminal punishment and restitution and paying of debts. it is also very heavily regulated how a slave may be treated. .
If a slave is treated too badly, he or she is set free. Also if a slave saves his or her master's life, that slave must be freed. Slavery is currently a very hot topic. There are two ways the government handles dept-slaves. One way is the government rents out the slave, and the proceeds go to the person who is owed the debt. When the debt is paid the slave is set free. The other way is the slave is given to work for the person who is owed for a set period of time depending on how much is owed.
It is a taboo to speak the Santh version of the devil's name indoors (where it will get caught and keep in the house). It is also considered taboo to eat any reptile, since they believe they are a sort of distant relative.
A group in the military, this ceremonial position dates back thousands of years to the time of the beginning of recorded history. Each person represents a clan (Dating back to the tribal pre-king days). If one dies, then another takes their place. Though technically it is a military unit, they are never sent in to battle even in times of war, and live in the capital city. Sometimes the ten are used as a mediator though for disputes as an alternative to using courts.
Common Tools and weapons used by Salthans
The weapons used by Salthans are remarkably nonlethal in nature, stemming from what one might call a preference or a custom of war to take as many prisoners as possible. The practice of taking war criminals from within the country has much died out however, since the crowning of the first king under the unified kingdom and then the ending of the line of kings and the creation of the democratic senate system after the uprising in 3 KG.
One weapon they use is for war is a staff with four hooks on one end. This is used primarily for tripping and disarming opponents.
As mentioned before this is a stick with a skin at the end that is propped with sticks. This is used in mock-combat by children.
A long spear used for combat with a small sharpened tip and a protrusion with two openings, used for trapping an enemies weapon to disarm them. The back end of it is a knob for bludgeoning.
A spear made for piercing and throwing, much simpler in design.
Used both for combat and hunting. Has weights on the corners.
The main religion is a semi-monotheistic religion centered around the god Santh. There are also lesser beings called "divines" (Salthan m. Dosha, f. Doshi. pl. -nai) that are self-suficent but inferior to Santh. Followers of Santh do good works and purify themselves (partly through physical punishment) to obtain purity.
Lyke (Lie-Keh) - Dexterity/Agility
Lyke is a supernatural being that governs the wind. Though the religion of Santh is said to be a monothesitic religion, Lyke is portrayed as a nearly naked female Salthan with cloth flowing behind her on her arms and across her groin area.
Rela (Rel-La) - Power / Power
being of fire and power. He is portrayed as a male Salthan of rock with a cut out head filled with lava, like a volcano and carrying a sword.
Kai (Ka-ee) - Intelligence / Mind
being of knowledge, portrayed as a female Salthan with a large head and carrying a scroll and a sythe.
Kakela (Kak-el-lah) - Constitution / Stamina
being of strength. Portrayed as a stout stubby-bodied Salthan male of stone with a large shield.
Is a being with a duel nature of both male and female that changes at will (and including the physical form). The name in both form means "Beautiful". This being is incredibly beautiful, and is considered the patron deity of actors. Is said she/he is good at pretending and deceiving to attract people, particularly those of the opposite sex into bed with him/her.
Saltha is represented by a layered senate system. There is a senate representing each of the five districts of the country, as well as a higher court. The higher court sometimes calls apon members of the lower courts to serve in them for special cases. A term for a senator is always four years, and there are no term limits. Each senate also has an elected leader which presides over the senate, and acts as the commander in a time of emergency or war. However, every action taken by the senate leader may be vetoed by the senate.
Punishments vary depending on the age of the person and the crime committed. Generally fines are used. Minors may be publicly punished with a switching only after twice being turned over to a parent and then repeating the crime within a short enough time for minor crimes. A child may be punished the first time if the crime is serious enough causing bodily harm. Adults may be flogged.
An adult may be made to work to pay off a debt or for damage he has caused. There are strict laws on how these forced laborers or slaves can be treated and if treated poorly enough may be released. The death penalty is reserved for treason, intentional homicide or rape.
While divoce is discouraged except without a good reason (like with indifelity) it is not illegal. It may be initiated by either the man or the woman. If a man divorces his wife without giving a good reason then he must leave the household possessions to that wife and children. He is in essense severing all family ties with that household. If a woman divorces his husband without a good reason ,then she must give half of her possessions, to be divided amongst the man's other wives and households.
As with most cultures, the first born inherits most of the possessions of his household, receiving half and the remaining male heirs dividing the other half. If a woman dies both the objects in her household and her children are "inherited" by another wife (or divided among the wives) of the man.
There are many political parties. Most tend towards being fiscally conservative and libertarian, though there are some collectivist and authoritarian parties as well.