Selupa Culture & History
The Selupa are a people of the zuna race originating from the eastern coastal area of the Izoi continent of Elta. They have a moderate sized empire that also stretches across the sea to the western coastal regions of the Naga continent. Historically, they are one of the few peoples in the immediate vicinity of the Tosi that has maintained sovereignty in the face of the dominating forces of the Tosi.
Science and Technology
The Selupa are best known throughout Elta and beyond for their advanced technology and understanding of science. Over the centuries, they have carefully and meticulously collected information, designed technology, and put their inventions to various practical uses. Several inventions that quite notably saved their civilization from obliteration by the Tosi were the primitive submarine and the use of firepower for the first recorded time in the history of Aeniith. The knowledge of these abilities has been a fiercely guarded secret of the Selupa government, and even though the Tosi found various scrapped pieces of submarines and Selupa guns, they were never able to replicate them. Their technological advantages were arguably the only factor that allowed the Selupa to win the war with the Tosi, who were seeking to occupy and colonize their sea-side territory. The Selupa were severely outnumbered, largely due to the already mighty size of the Tosi empire—as a result, the Tosi were able to use many enlisted soldiers from other vassal states in addition to their own Tosi troops. The Tosi had considerably advanced battleships, but they were not prepared for the onslaught of Selupa submarines that lurked low around and below their ships. The submarines would rise suddenly and throw bombs onto the ships or shoot small cannons into the hull to sink them. Even though the submarines could not dive very deep, they were sufficient to seriously impede the Tosi ships, which were coming across the channel between the Izoi mainland and the island where most of the Selupa territory was at the time. The Selupa troops also were specially trained to use muskets and handguns designed by government engineers, whereas the rest of the population was kept totally ignorant of such inventions, a precaution the government took in order to prevent leaks to the enemy.
The Selupa have also developed technology that has led to advances in medical science. In the years after a major plague in western Elta, Selupa scientists developed an antidote from extractions from a local fungus that grew only on the north end of the Selupa island. This was sold to countries across Elta to treat the disease. Not only did this bring a lot of revenue to the Selupa government, which it needed at the time, but it created many alliances with other zuna nations across Elta. These alliances have remained solid, and this, coupled with their advanced technology in general and history of cunning leadership has made the little nation of the Selupa a force to be reckoned with.
The Selupa have in the past also bought technological knowledge from the Karkin clan the uʎei (and possibly traded, although there is no evidence that an uʎei technology came directly from the Selupa), who are known for their advanced medical techniques, especially those involving replacement limbs.
The Selupa government has been a totalitarian regime since shortly before the war with the Tosi. This was a change from the former constitutional monarchy. The totalitarian rule was mostly an implementation of absolute necessity for self-preservation, since if the Selupa had not controlled their populace during the war, it was thought, there would inevitably be leaks of information and/or other forms of treachery from amongst their own people, and this was a risk that the Selupa absolutely could not afford, being as small and relatively low on resources as they were in comparison with the giant Tosi empire.
The transition from constitutional monarchy to totalitarian police state was quite interesting. The change had the full consent of the monarch, Inamula Sma Kole, and in fact, it was her idea in the first place. She realized that her current administration and the current set of laws would not be sufficient for getting the country through this massive war, and she instituted an emergency governmental system based around a centralized state consisting of hierarchies of decision makers whose plans were to be fiercely enforced—in effect, martial law. Even as the war passed on and the Selupa eventually came out on top, the government remained the same, and the people were not opposed to it, since this was the system that had saved them from almost inevitable oppression from the Tosi, who, unlike the Selupa totalitarian agents, would exercise great cruelty in their reign. Thus the new Selupa government remained in place with majority consent from the populace, marking a massive shift in power that was remarkable in its lack of internal conflict and violence.
The origins of the Selupa are debated, both amongst themselves and abroad. One theory is that they were prehistorically a part of the Tosi genetic population that split off to pursue the opportunities that the sea offered to the east. This might explain why the Selupa had lived for so long without being wiped out by the Tosi, even long before the Tosi ever attempted such a thing—the Tosi would have seen the Selupa as distant cousins and therefore they would not have wanted or tried to attack them for their resources. This theory is naturally not very popular with the modern Tosi, who have officially rejected this idea, as they do not wish to be associated with their former enemy and certainly do not wish to think of themselves as somehow related to them by blood or culture, despite their geographical proximity.
Another theory is that the Selupa actually originated from amongst the tribal regions of the Naga continent and came across the sea to inhabit the islands of eastern Izoi and nearby. This theory was supported by several new archeological discoveries in Naga by the modern Selupa colonists now living there; ancient texts have suggested remarkably close similarities in primeval religious practices, including the unique worship of flower- and plant-based deities, which is not found anywhere else in Elta. Some Selupa colonists now living in Naga have formed certain cultural connections to some of the peoples native to Naga because of this theory, and lots of new supposed evidence as been uncovered, though some scientists say such “evidence” only makes sense when based on the assumption that the Selupa did originate in Naga, not vice versa.
Whatever the prehistoric origins of the Selupa, their written history can be dated back to about 6000 years ago from the present. Their earliest civilization was that of a group of theocratic city-states, each based around the worship of a certain deity. The rulers were seen as the incarnation of these deities and thus their rule was followed invariably by the populace, since they were ultimately devoted to the city’s deity.
Over the centuries, the theological aspect of the government seems to have petered out, until the theocracy transformed into an absolute monarchy, wherein the monarchs were given “divine right” to rule, but were not themselves seen as incarnations of deities.
It was then that the three revolutions occurred. The three revolutions are referred back to throughout much of the future documentations as the main points of fundamental change in Selupa culture and value. The first was the revolution against the monarchy ruling under “divine right”. The royal family was ousted and one of the leaders of the revolution replaced the queen, denouncing rule by divine right. The monarchy remained absolute, however, in the sense that the monarch directly created her own laws and there was no such thing as a constitution. The idea of the divine-given right to rule, though, was abolished. It was after this that the individual power of the monarch was addressed more directly—the queen did not receive her right to rule from the divine, but rather she created it herself, and she herself was the source of her own power. Over the years, this ideal mutated and become applicable across the culture and society in general—the idea of individual power born of itself became more and more popular and ingrained in the collective psyche of the Selupa people.
The second revolution came three hundred and fifty four years later. The public view of religion had steadily gone downhill since the fall of the “divine right” aspect of the monarchy. Power was steadily taken away from religious figures and temples and shrines were desecrated throughout the Selupa lands. Thus it was named in later ages the Revolution of Moilutyel (the fall of the deity). The religious orders of Hanana and Smolui (twin celestial deities) had long held a lot of political power, long past the fall of the divine rulers, but now they had fallen out of popularity, since they had been exercising a lot of power over land and resource rights, which was angering the peasant population as well as the people who depended on fishing for their livelihood. Thus the buildup of the second revolution was quite long, though it sped up drastically at the end before exploding into chaos.
This revolution was the bloodiest in Selupa history, wherein tens of thousands of priests, priestesses, and other religious figures were slaughtered. This is considered the major point in the fall of the influence of institutionalized religion, its importance enduring centuries later.
The third revolution marked the fall of the absolute monarchy. The royal family was imprisoned by a group of nobles who were angry because the monarchy had severely diminished the authority historically granted to the nobility over certain lands that they were to control. The current monarch, the king Snalujuve, had revoked much of this power from many petty nobles on the grounds that they refused to give up the resources from these lands to be sold by the monarchy to foreign buyers in order to accrue more money for the royal treasury. The nobility, however, had command over their personal armies and were at the time much more powerful militarily than the royal army, so theirs was a relatively easy victory. They did not kill Snalujuve, but stripped him of his absolute power and demanded that he sign and accept their constitution, which the called the Treatise of Equity.
The Selupa have a long history in silversmithing. On the Selupa home island there is an large amount of silver ore which is mined at several locations across the island, and even onto the mainland. The tradition of silverwork is passed down through families, and one’s skill in art is considered a tribute to one’s family and teachers.
Wearing silver jewelry is a traditional way of showing wealth, influence, and style. Before the Selupa’s breakthroughs in more advanced technology, a way to show that one was either very skilled or wealthy enough to employ someone else to make silverwork at a cost was the main way of showing power and status. It wasn’t only those who were of noble descent either; simply wearing the jewelry was enough to show that, one way or another, the person was talented, rich, or crafty (in the case of successful thieves) enough to be wearing the silver they were now.
Actual techniques in silverwork varied greatly over time, as new methods in metallurgy were developed and styles and aesthetics changed over the decades. However, there is some general symbolism used in silver art that remained more or less unchanged throughout Selupa history.
the spiral : the spiral is often used as a motif pattern for borders and edges of designs, but also sometimes as a central theme in jewelry and other artwork. It is classically symbolic of continuity, wholeness, unity, longevity, and also as a sign of universality of power. In the latter sense, a noble or a rich person might wear this symbol to demonstrate that they have influence over a lot of areas of society or a wide girth of control.
the arrow : often this is a symbol of military power or strength in general. Also it is used to denote assertiveness or dominance. This symbol was originally popular in long, triangular earrings, in later years commonly worn as a pendant. The stone akeliu is associated with the arrow, so designs with arrow elements are sometimes also embedded with akeliu cabochons.
the circle : this is a universal Selupa mark of peace and benevolence. It is usually worn by religious figures or public leaders to indicate their goodwill toward the populace. This is often combined with the spiral in the case of public leaders.
the hands : the hands are traditionally representative of the female identity, especially since the Selupa idea that the female mind is inherently more sharply connected to the universe and aware of the world outside the mind than that of the male, which is considered to reside within itself, withdrawn from the world.