Member No.: 2
Joined: 15-April 11
life and culture in escovaoverview
It can be said that there are two sides to the Escovan identity. There is the one side-- the side that has existed for hundreds of years, the side that claims descent from the original waves of immigrants all those years ago. This side is easy to identify. It is the side that follows the religion of the land and holds a proud tradition of seafaring, fishing, and military service. It tends to be seen more in the middle and upper class, affluent, and socially active.citizens
Then there’s the other side. On this side, one finds the Refugees, the recent immigrants fleeing the war on the Mainland. This side is also easy to identify. It is characterized by a hodge-podge of different religions, beliefs, and value systems. It is not so much a culture but a myriad of cultures. It tends to poorer, uneducated, and those pushed into the peripherals. This side lives within its own quarter of the city.
To understand Escovan culture, one has to keep this contrast in mind. While the Citizens of Escova range from low income families to the wealthiest of the wealthy, they tend to be better off-- at least in most regards. On the other hand, while the Refugees might count a handful of rich and affluent members among them, the vast majority is poor and segregated, living in squalid, almost slum-like conditions in Kyha and Maristheum.
Comprising approximately 80% of the populace, the Citizens of Escova are the descendants of the initial wave of immigrants who arrived anywhere from seven hundred to approximately one hundred years ago. They are the men and women who have built the land and claim it as their own. They are mostly followers of Pryism, the dominant religion of the land. They practice burial at sea and have a strong affinity for the ocean. refugees
Such a large group of people is hard to quantify in a few words, but the Citizens run the gamut of social classes. One will find a small percentage of poor, a large middle class, and a small fraction of the very rich. On average, the men tend to be educated, informed, and socially active. They know very little of glass ceilings, and they understand Escova and the way of the land. Women in this group are not necessarily educated, but they are socially active and aware. Education is a matter of choice, with the vast majority of educated women either being daughters of rich men sent to monasteries or priestesses of the Pryist religion. Regardless, like the men, they are allowed their aspirations, and they understand their place in society.
Military service is a strong tradition within this group, and most families have at least one serving in the army. Escova may not have been attacked in recent memory, but raids by pirates, unfriendly neighbors, and scouts are not uncommon. To combat these threats, the army (including the navy) is well-trained, disciplined, and active. It maintains a strong presence in all major settlements and operates remote outposts on all islands.
Fishing and trade are some of the primary professions chosen by this group. However, Citizens are not limited to these professions. They dominate in all walks of life, from merchants, to craftsmen, to politicians, even Mages. Most trades count Citizens as their most influential members, while the politics of the land are almost exclusive to this group.
Due to the nature of the world, the Citizens do not look a certain way. In some instances they may be more fair-skinned and possess lighter eyes, but one is just as likely to find Citizens of darker skin and eye colour. What unites the Citizens is a common heritage, not a common look. Religion unites them, their history unites them, even their food and songs. Their unity is in their outlook-- not their appearance.
As far as opinion on Refugees goes, the Citizens tend to be divided, with some supporting the integration and assimilation of the group, while others urge the government to send the foreigners back. Others voice support for society taking on (or at least accepting) the cultures and outlooks of the Refugees into their own social fabric. They fear the Refugees are being treated unfairly and being kept on the peripherals of society. This group is relatively small, but is growing more and more vocal-- but then, so are the groups advocating force against Refugee law breakers. They insist a lot of Refugee customs and traditions are 'un-Escovan' and must be eradicated.
The other 20% of the population are the Refugees. This group is new to Escova, with the vast majority arriving within the past twenty-two years. They are men and women who have fled the Mainland due to a devastating war taking place there. Cramming into boats and ships, they sailed across the oft-perilous Sea of Atros to find safety in Escova.
But for all the safety they found, they also found discrimination. Many originally planned to return to the Mainland when the war ended, but with that hope dimming, they’ve made Escova home-- and this concerns the residents of the land, the Citizens.
The Refugees come from hundreds of cultural backgrounds. From tribal societies to enlightened civilizations on the cutting edge of technology, they have their own languages, their own religions, and their own ways of doing things. In fact, before moving to Islands, many were at war with one another. But now, in Escova, they are forced to live together, congregating in what has come to be known as the Refugee’s Quarter. In Maristheum, the Refugee Quarter is on the South-Western edge of the city, and almost exclusively populated by Refugees. In Kyha, the Quarter is found near the Northern shore. In both places, the conditions are the same. Poverty is high, as is crime. Brothels, gambling dens, black markets-- all these are found in the Refugee quarters, along with safe-houses for outlaws and criminals.
For the Refugees, there is definitely a glass ceiling. They tend to be underemployed, less educated (at least in the Escovan sense), and generally poorer. Jobs are hard to come by, especially outside the Refugee Quarters, and increasingly institutionalized racism has forced them deeper into their own societies. Over the past five years, the Quarters have become more and more insular, practically cities within themselves.
Of course, this causes deeper mistrust.
The vast majority of Citizens feel that the Refugees need to integrate better. They should learn the language, adopt Escovan customs, and be more socially active. Refugees, on the other hand, complain of being marginalized by all sectors of society. Jobs are harder to find, and few Refugees manage to secure positions in government or within the upper echelons of the Mages Guild. Some refugees continue to cling to their traditions, even if they are incompatible with Escovan society. Others hold out in the hopes that they will eventually return. Regardless, times are getting tense, and isolated instances of violence have begun to occur.
Escova is about to change. For better or for worse-- the two groups must decide.