Culture Composites: Jernizan

I have small stockpiles of images collected from various places on the web that I use as references for my cultures’ looks.  Since I’m starting to composite some of the pics for my artist friend to look over, I figured I’d share them here too.

Jernizan is a kingdom that has had a lot of influence on the world in the past, but isn’t seen currently in the books.  There are a few Jernizen characters in book 3 as part of Blaze Company, but at the moment it’s mostly off the map, as seen here:

Book1FullColorScaleJernizan being just a notation off to the west.

However, since it’s the folder I decided to sort first, it’s the culture I’ll address first!

My humans are descended from skinchangers — what you might call shapeshifters, were-creatures, etc.  All of the skinchangers had different territories back in the day, and the land that is now Jernizan started off as territory occupied mostly by Lion, Horse and Bull-folk clans.  Lion is the dominant strain now, and the social order is based largely on that fact, as are some of the Jernizen’s fashion choices.

Women have short hair — doing that lioness thing.  And yes, just about everyone in Jernizan is blond(e).

Men, on the other hand:

Lion’s mane!  More or less.  And yes, I know that’s Chris Hemsworth.   It’s easier to find male celebrities than male models.

The men’s clothing style (though quite variable) includes a bit of pirate puffy-shirt-ness:

Quite a mix, I know, but Jernizan is a large kingdom.  Most of it is flat plains or gently rolling hills, where you will see the more cowboyish types (ignore the guns — no guns here).  Herders, hunters, raiders live there.  Clothes are leather and horsehair and some of the grass-based cloths.  To the north are the Thundercloak foothills, where you will find the old fortresses and the new stone cities, where all the fancy folk live in their fancy-ass versions of the plains garb.  To the south are the swamps, where less-couture versions of the lady in the middle live — fisherfolk, bandits, lizard people.  Then the coastal cities, where you get a lot of merchants and an even larger amount of pirates.  Again, no guns.

Take the cowboy and pirate outfits as just a general impression, by the way.  When I get around to actually having characters trek through the territory, the details will probably change.

The idea of the women’s garb is a bit firmer, though.

They may be lionesses by blood, but the women of Jernizan have largely been tamed — at least the city-dwelling ones.  White or pastel dresses, corsets and sashes, also headbands and headscarves are the norm, and while there is no specific ban on Jernizen women wearing breeches, you won’t find a city-dweller doing it.  She might have leggings under her dress but she wouldn’t go without the skirt-part.

In the countryside, women wear roughly this same sort of thing, but in a working style, and usually tuck their skirts up into their sash to create a makeshift pair of pantaloons.

Jernizen women can ride, herd, hunt and fight just like the men, but they’re not supposed to when the men are around.  The society is distinctly patriarchal and polygynous, and while women do not need to be escorted by men, they are not supposed to go anywhere alone; most preferably, they will move in packs with their children and sister-wives.

This is not impractical.  Jernizen society casts out more men than it enfranchises; men compete viciously for money and status, and those who gain will assemble a harem of women while those who lose get none, and may end up maimed or exiled.  Fathers compete with their sons, brothers with brothers, and since a single father can have dozens of children, many young men who grew up in privilege find themselves outcast once they hit their age of majority and become a threat to their fathers.  So there are always bandits and raiders and pirates and thieves: men (and some few women) pushed to the fringes by the whole of society, unable to claim any land, resources or mates except by force.

The government tries to turn those pirates and raiders away from itself and toward its neighbors by instilling a sense of patriotism despite mistreatment — a sense that these outcast young men are still Jernizen even though they’re barely tolerated within the towns, and that they are better off taking resources from enemy kingdoms than insulting the crown.  This has an iffy level of success, but as bandits and raiders are forced to live on the fringes of Jernizan, they still provide a nice buffer of expendables between the enemy kingdoms and Jernizan’s interior.

Let’s see…  There are varying styles of homes, of course.

As primarily lion-blooded and thus predators, the Jernizen put much more effort into herding horses and cattle than farming.  Herders travel in caravans and live in yurt-type structures, which can be quite lavish depending on the family.  City- and fortress-dwellers live in cities built mostly of limestone and marble; you won’t find sufficient wood for building anywhere in the kingdom.  The western edge does touch upon the Border Forest, but that place is fiercely defended.

Well, the swamp-folk do have trees to exploit, but most Jernizen prefer not to go in there:

The coastline is exceedingly shallow along most of its length, with only a few deepwater ports on the southeastern shore.  These are heavily fortified, but welcome Jernizen pirates warmly; they pretend to be independent of the government in Ruyen Tairdren, but in truth they serve it and encourage piracy against the other oceangoing kingdoms.

And that’s it for the slideshow, for now.

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About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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4 Responses to Culture Composites: Jernizan

  1. Erica Dakin says:

    Trust you to stick in a word there I’d never seen before – so polygyny is polygamy, but specifically one man with many wives as opposed to the other way around, right?
    Very interesting! I like the men’s style, shame they’re all blond…

  2. This is a great idea. I hadn’t thought to put pictures together like this. I’m going to do it for my newer novel. Also, I love that you have Chris Hemsworth in there. I’m not usually attracted to blond men, but he’s my exception. Yum!:D

    Also, also…I’m sure you’ve noticed on Goodreads that I’ve started reading your book. (Sorry it’s taken me so long to get to it!) I’m only 23% or so of the way in and it’s absolutely blowing me away! Full blog post to come once I’m done.

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