The Tarsin culture is very traditional, with a great deal of importance placed on symbolism and rites of passage. Many of these are derived from the philosophy that the rules of the Circle and upholding the balance between tekk and tikedi is of utmost importance for the world to stay peaceful.
Bond necklacesEditBond necklaces are worn by most Tarsin adults. They consist of a leather cord attached to a metal ring which is in turn adorned with a number of tekk teeth. They are fashioned on the day that a mated pair become official, and each tooth symbolizes an immediate family member.
When a child is born, a tooth is added. When a family member dies, a tooth is removed and placed at the grave marker during the burial.In the rare cases of a pair's separation, a tooth is often removed as if the partner had died, but it is instead buried in the desert. The same can happen if a family member is exiled, but some choose to keep the tooth attached, despite the owner's absence, especially if they feel the exile was an injustice.
There is a superstition that a lost or cast off bond necklace will inevitably bring about the owner’s death. According to the belief, it is perfectly acceptable for a mated pair to separate, and for the “surviving” half to mourn while his or her mate still lives, and even to begin a new relationship. While most modern Tarsin no longer believe that the act of losing or throwing away a bond necklace is necessarily an omen of death and there is much less tolerance for separation on those grounds, some still insist on it.
It is likely that the belief arose because of an earlier fable of the tekk’s tendency to acquire a piece of clothing, jewelry, or other article from a tikedi that is marked for culling.
All Tarsin tikedi earn and wear earrings as symbols of status and achievement. Each is a black ring, always worn in the right ear and close to the head. They are given by the Kantreska during the annual festival, after the first (and sometimes only) rain of the year. The ceremony is public and well-attended. Once earned, the earrings cannot be taken away for any reason. They are as much a part of the wearer as the achievement to earn it was. There are three to be earned.
The Age RingEdit
The easiest and most commonly worn earring is the Age Ring. It is plain and smooth, and worn as a mark of basic survival, earned when a Tarsin youth reaches the age of decision at twelve years. While it is typical for a Tarsin kit to spend several more years with his or her parents after this ring has been earned, the ceremony when it is presented stresses the need to begin considering a future, including independence, serving the community, and finding a mate.
The Hunter’s RingEdit
The next earring is common, but a few never acquire it. It is notched twice, and emphasizes the balance between the tikedi and the tekk. The Hunter’s Ring is given after a Tarsin has successfully slain a tekk on a village hunt and returned with the most useful parts of the carcass to serve the community. The challenging requirement is that the Tarsin in question has to have landed the killing blow. A hunting team will encourage those who have yet to earn the ring, but they can’t force it.
The Servant’s RingEdit
Earning the final ring is a simple challenge for some and an impossibility for others. Unlike with the other two, it must be requested before the worthiness to wear it is proven. This last ring is of braided metal, and it is earned when one has found one’s place in serving the people by discovering and carrying out one’s calling. Tarsin consider a calling to be different from and far superior to just a simple job. It is not only a task that one can do, but the task that one was born to do, and the ring is only granted when that task is claimed and turned to use for the betterment of the many. There are many Tarsin who never earn the third earring, either because they do not recognize their calling, believe they do not have one, or because they have not yet sufficiently come into their title and used their skills for all.
Skull masksEditTarsin Kantreskas wear skull masks as a mark of their special station. They are fashioned based off of the facial bones of a very young, very small tekk - often a runt abandoned at Crater's Edge - and worn by the Kantreska of each tribe, particularly during official ceremonies or when dealing with outsiders to the tribe or community. Some, like Jacind Ardeana, wear it only when necessary. Others wear it as often as possible, as it is the ultimate symbol of status among the Tarsin.
A broken mask has long been considered an omen of bad luck, although the superstition is outdated even among the elders of most tribes, and often disregarded.
Kantreskas and LeadersEdit
In the deserts, there is a Kantreska in charge of each tribe or community, and he or she is responsible for all of the most key decisions for the group. Hunts are often organized by the Kantreska, negotiations with other tribes and other nations are settled, disputes are sorted out, and generally order is kept through the actions and decisions of this individual tikedi. He or she is recognized by a distinctive skull mask that is worn for all official events. In order to become Kantreska of a Tarsin community, one must be a member of that community and be chosen to compete in a series of trials to determine readiness and prove worth. The winner of the competition becomes the Treskashek (in essence, the Kantreka-in-waiting). Once the current Kantreska steps down due to age or illness, or dies, the Treskashek becomes Kantreska. Until then, he or she assists the Kantreska's duties as practice.
Council of EldersEdit
In established communities such as Oros or Gessick where families have had generations to build their influence over others, the elders - heads of prominent families and leaders of the religious ceremonies - hold an informal but powerful sway over the Kantreska. They act as the voice of the people, and while no Kantreska is bound by any law to heed them, it is generally considered wise to hear them out and consider their opinions with care.