How To Blend Cultures (Without Making Impossible Mixes)

This is a guide specifically about fantasy worldbuilding. WWC gets a lot of questions around “I’m mixing two cultures together, how do I do that?” and this is to explain both how to do that and when you very much should not.

For starters, you should avoid blending empires with their surrounding properties, especially if there is recent political strife along those lines. This is why Japan/China/Korea (or even China/Tibet) mixes should not be done. For more information on that, take a look at Research:Large to Small Scale, Avoiding Homogenizing East Asian Cultures, & Paralleling Regions Appropriately.

Next up, mixing Greece/Rome with far-flung cultures gets a little bit eyebrow raising. Unless it was a direct trading partner/conquered property, Greek/Roman cultures do not mix with non-European cultures. The Greek empire only went to the Northern regions of India at its very peak, and that is limited to the ancient world. Rome stopped in the Middle East, so, again, you don’t have the cultural backing for a mixing of anything outside of its borders. 

Depictions of Rome and Greece in ancient literature shows other ancient cultures found them quite backwards, and were adverse to mixing with them. By many standards they were very backwards, and it’s only Europe (and, as an extension, America) that revered them to the extent they do. Asia and Africa had no reason to see them as advanced, because they made many more technological advancements than either. North America and Oceanic cultures hardly interacted with either, and had both their own technological advancements+ cultures closer by to borrow advancements from, instead. 

Outside of that, cultures are born out of the environments that made them. As a result, places with wildly dissimilar climates and resources pools will not be able to blend harmoniously unless you’re taking a modern analogue society where globalism has happened. This is plain old because resources only travel so far, and people are more likely to build culture around resources they have easy access to (even well-established trade links can lead to people re-creating things: Han purple and Egyptian blue point to an ancient trade link, but they were made with local materials processed differently).

Roman architecture exists because the Romans had access to copious amounts of concrete materials/marble and lived in the Mediterranean, which got very hot summers, heavy rains, and not a whole lot of cold. As a result they created structures that worked for this, which included open airways, pillars, easy to clean floors, shade, and ventilation. Places that lack these resources will not be able to replicate Rome.

Their resource pool was very specific to their regions, and there’s a reason Rome had the rule that anybody who did’t live like Romans were slaves: it was really hard to live like a Roman, and they wanted their slave pool as large as possible. 

Different cultures with different resources formed in wildly different ways, and might not even have anything similar to Greece or Rome. Because of this, you need to look really close at why culture developed the way it did. If it’s because they had extremely dissimilar resources pools, it’s wise to not blend the cultures (or at least not think they’ll look anything like their original cultures) 

Which brings me to value systems. Cultures put value on different things. Each culture ends up with a base philosophy for what they esteem and how they use resources, which proceeds to influence how it develops. Architecture has meaning to it. So does what colours you use in different applications. Because these things are sacred and/or practical for certain social orders. “Sacred” in cultures ends up becoming a shorthand for “this ritual helps us survive.”

There is no such thing as “aesthetic” when you get down to the root of each single item, because that aesthetic has a practical purpose. There is also no such thing as a “solely religious reason” under the same logic. Cows have become sacred in most varieties of Hinduism— because cows (and oxen) have been the main farming animal in the Indian subcontinent for millennia. They provide milk for sustenance, power for ploughing fields, and dung, which can be used as a floor polish and, when dried, a source of fuel for fire that gives off a more even heat than wood. As a single provider for crucial elements of agrarian life, their sacredness developed from their practicality. Having cows roam freely meant absolutely everyone could have access to an efficient cooking fuel.

Chinese brush painting has meaning. Jade sculpture has meaning. Pagodas and sloped roofs and gates have meaning. The philosophy, environment, history, and present circumstances of a culture is built into every. single. little. thing. about that culture, meaning you cannot just change it out.

Unless you learn the very root of culture, their values and stigmas and honours and shames, you cannot modify it accurately. Cultures survive because that was the best way to respond to the world at the time. A long-standing culture such as China’s has to be functional and incredibly well suited for the environment, otherwise it would not have survived. There is something about Chinese culture that works extraordinarily well for it to perpetuate itself, and you cannot disrespect that.

Learn the “why” of culture. Learn how it came to manifest and the reasons behind its manifestations. Study the geography and resources available to the people at hand. Know a culture so well you can explain how it works in real life and how your world’s history parallels the circumstances that created a similar culture in fantasy.

Only then will you be able to pull it off with respect.

~ Mod Lesya

Here comes some basic setting of my Bodyguard AU

Just some rough notes from early stage for the au, hope these may clarify some confusions about the storyline :)

§

  • Lance was the prince of Altea, Allura’s younger brother, also the new paladin of the blue lion. He was also a talented pilot but was repressed to prove his capability all the time due to his royal position.
  • Keith was one of the Blade of Marmora. After allying with Altea, he was designated as Lance’s bodyguard. He was a Galra orphan who raised by BoM, also a great fighter pilot.
  • Altea was fighting Zarkon Empire for years. Zarkon Empire was once Altea’s closest ally.
  • King Alfor has been dead for 3 years(before Keith and Lance met), so Allura took charge of the kingdom afterward.
  • In the time that Altea wasn’t destroyed, but the former paladins were seriously wounded or even dead in a severe battle against Zarkon Empire so it was necessary to find new paladins to fill the vacancies.  
  • They later discovered that the new paladin of the red lion was going to be Keith. Hunk (Altean, apprentice in royal kitchen, best friend of Lance)was for the yellow lion. And the rest of the paladins were found after a spaceship from Earth (which carried Shiro, Pidge, and Matt) crashed on Altea.
  • Lance and Keith met and spent a year together before the said battle.

Lance liked Keith, like “a lot”. Not only because of the similarity of their age, he also was one of the few subordinates or the only Galra who treated him like a normal person instead of a royalty. For instance, he always bickered with and was even being rude to Lance in private. Though he still called Lance the prince in most of the time, the way he treated Lance was already a close(or “protective” in his case) friend would do. Lance enjoyed the dynamic between them, the delight slowly turned into endearment when he started craving to spend time with, touch, even kiss Keith. After realizing that the heat in him actually was love, Lance told and showed Keith how he felt. However, it caused complications for Keith. He indicated that they weren’t meant to develop this kind of relationship because of the huge difference of position between them. Although the words indeed hurt Lance, he knew Keith was giving an excuse to keep him from loving a man who might die for him anytime. He was pretty sure Keith felt the same way as him because as Lance said, “those eyes tell everything.” Anyway, Lance still took chances to seduce or show affections to Keith, wanting him to love him back at some point.

§

The timeline of the arts I drew so far is all before they became new paladins, a.k.a. that heavenly year for klance✨ I might do some art after they went to fight on the frontline, their relationship would change rapidly in that time.

reaxeons  asked:

I searched in a lot of tags already but was wondering if there was a specific tag that would go more in depth for black hair in post-apoclyptic settings. I only found one post. I'm specifically looking for care and maintainance of 4b hair, and styles that would be best for a fallout universe situation, as well as styles that would be most likely based off of the 1950's and what to take into consideration when one goes from having the means to take care of hair to suddenly no clean water

Black Hairstyles for the Apocalypse II: Post-Nuclear  

For a situation like the Fallout game universe, post-nuclear with limited/no clean water, I can only reinforce what has already been said in Black Hairstyles for the Apocalypse; a character with afro hair would need those dependable protective styles on lock down (braids, dreadlocks, etc. look up and take your pick of protective natural styles), more so with little to no safe water to dip her head into.  

AFRO HAIR CARE RESEARCH

Everything you read up on regarding afro hair’s needs is still relevant; Black hair generally needs lots of moisture and protection.

Afro hair routines tend to involve a lot of water, oils, gels, butters and creams. You mention the character’s hair type is 4b, but hair type isn’t even the most important factor when it comes to Black hair maintenance. 4A, 4B, AC, or a mixture of– these numbers are more of a general assessment of what that hair type looks like, needs and reacts, but every individual is different. Hair width, density, and porosity is super, if not more important. Research, research, research. This information is quite accessible nowadays.

My favorite natural hair site is www.naturallycurly.com/. Pinterest has an addictive mash-up of natural hair tips, info and DIY solutions too. Note that doesn’t mean everything is relevant to your character, or even accurate so i’d check with other sources on any information you find.

Important Takeaway: Water to moisturize + Oil to keep it in.

Hair needs water (or water-based moisturizer, typically referred to as leave-in conditioner) to moisturize, and oil to seal it in lest it deplete rapidly (take it from me; my hair gulps down any bit of moisture it gets). 

Most oils do not moisturize by themselves because it cannot penetrate the hair shaft (save a privileged few like coconut oil).

Research key terms: natural hair + moisturizing/sealing, L.O.C. method

If your character has a protective style in most of the time, i’d also be researching “natural hair care with [x].” Though hair needs lessen, they do not disappear.

SOLUTIONS IN NUCLEAR APOCALYPSE

Depending on what resources can be scraped up, there may be opportunity to make or find items that would work as extra hair protection that add and seal in moisture, or even a silk scarf or bandana for extra coverage and for sleeping.

Whether a character does come across these things is mostly out of their control, so the protection that comes with a long-term style like braids is the main tool they’d have to rely on.

As for the 1950s: If this is America, you could look up African American hairstyles in the 50s but the popular styles you’ll see will likely be unfitting for the apocalypse, especially one of this nature. Straight, loosened-textured looks for afro hair won’t thrive well and will be sweated out to one’s natural state quickly, plus their hair weakened from the straightening process. 

However, there were some braided styles popular in the 50s (unspecific to Black people) that could be done for afro hair and would serve as protection. 

For example: the “crown braid” comes up a lot in a quick search (See the image above). Not sure how much one would care to style their hair to stay “with the time’s” in this situation, but that’s for you to work out.

SUMMARY:

Protection is the key here. Reliable long-term styles like braids that tuck in the ends endure breakage and tangling way more than any free-flowing style. It’s that low manipulation and vulnerability to the elements (and hands) that’s key.

For other maintenance questions, do your research and see what you come up with in terms of what the character may scavenge and make do with.

~Colette

Describing New Settings

Hey friends, Abby here with another writing post! Today I’m coming at you with tips on introducing new places through your character’s eyes — how to do it effectively and naturally, without overwhelming your reads with every little detail.

It’s often hard for readers to pick up on the exact appearance of a place upon the first visit, which is why this isn’t something you should aim for. Try to think of it through the filter of your own mind; if you walked into a museum you’ve never been to before, you wouldn’t expect yourself to remember every single detail, so you shouldn’t hold your readers to the same “standard”. So what would you remember?

What Draws the Eye?

Maybe they walk into someone’s bedroom and the walls are bright green. That would be pretty hard to forget, don’t you think? Most bedrooms don’t have bright green walls, so that’s something you’d probably notice and expect the next time you went into that room. Or maybe you notice how generic the room feels because there’s not much of a personal touch. These are all things you’d come to notice about a room when you enter it; we tend to look at everything holistically before picking out the smaller details. Keep that in mind when you’re writing your character’s very first impression. These could include (but are not limited to):

  • Stand-out wall colors
  • Lots of or very little “personal touch”
  • Clutter or lack thereof
  • Flow of the room (Does it seem to go well? Does everything seem to direct the character towards a certain view?)
  • Anything that would be drastically different from what the PoV character considers “normal”

That last one ties in especially when you’re picking out the smaller details. These are the things you might want to hold off on describing all at once, but introduce them slowly to give the reader more of a feel for the room. Details your character might include (but, again, are not limited to):

  • Any technology, like a computer on the desk
  • Minor similarities or differences between the new place and what the PoV character considers “normal”
  • Anything that might define the character who owns the place, if they’re in the story at all
  • Things that pop or sparkle or somehow draw the PoV character’s eye when they’re looking around
  • Things that pertain to the PoV character’s interests
  • Any collections (for example from my room, Taekwondo trophies and belts, or books)
  • Anything other characters in the room would draw attention to

What’s Important?

Are there things in this area that’ll be important later in the book? Take a second to notice these in your story, even if they just get a sentence. Establishing their existence in this place will help you nail the continuity that makes your life a whole lot easier when you’re seeing what went down earlier. Anything in this room can be important in one way or another, and I mean anything. For example, we’ll take two very different things:

  • A pencil and a pad of paper
  • A Swiss army knife

Your character might be needing one of both of these in the future. Maybe they’re writing down the time and place of their next dentist appointment. Or, ya know, maybe they’re fighting for their life against the savage vampire-werewolf-bigfoot hybrid that just broke into their house. Nothing out of the usual, right?

Either way, if your character needs these things at any point, it’s helpful to make the reader aware that they exist somewhere. If your character knows, do your best to convey that information to your readers. Unless you’re using it as a plot device, keeping your readers in the dark can be incredibly frustrating when the knowledge was something trivial.

So, that’s all I’ve got for you today! If there’s anything you want to see me write about in my next post, please don’t hesitate to leave a message in my ask. Until next time, much love! <333

Just made a slew of improvements to your queue, Android users. 

You’ll find them in the latest version of the app.

  • You can adjust the scheduling and frequency of your queued posts.
  • You can rearrange your queue using the “move to top” button.
  • It just looks nicer.

Unfamiliar with queueing? Oh, it’s great. Basically you can set up your Tumblr so posts are published regularly throughout the day, rather than whenever you hit the publish button. Handy thing for you vigorous rebloggers out there.

ferromans  asked:

Hi, i was wondering if you had any tips on how to maintain religion in a post-apocalyptic/otherwise desolate setting. I have a Hindu character and a Jewish character and I want them to keep their religion and remain devout but I also want it to be realistic given the lack of resources etc...

Maintaining religion in a post-apocalyptic setting - Jewish & Hindu Emphasis

A lot of the signs of Jewish devoutness are things you can totally do in a postapocalyptic setting. I mean first of all, you can break any rule to save a human life, so if you’re not supposed to kindle a flame on Shabbat but you have to light a fire to not die, then you’re fine.

But anyway. Shabbat is about rest and renewal, so your character can take one day in every seven, starting at sundown (Friday night if they have a way of knowing what the days of the week were in the Before Times!) to rest, say the special prayers – if they’re devout enough to be “devout” as you said in your question, they’ll know a lot of this stuff by heart – and refrain from the kind of work you do on weekdays. Like maybe if they’re a posthole-digger they don’t dig any post-holes on “Saturday” morning.

Not eating pork, shellfish, rabbit, the back end of beef, and bugs is another thing – but again, people did wind up eating all kinds of whatnot in the Warsaw Ghetto – these rules aren’t meant to be dying over. If they know when Passover is in this world they can leave off eating bread for a week and maybe even cobble together a makeshift seder from memory.

If you have a married woman and she’s Orthodox she can still cover her hair. If she’s not Orthodox this is probably not an issue.

If they have any way of knowing when Yom Kippur and Tisha b'Av are, and it’s safe to do so, they can fast.

Especially if they’re Orthodox, they can start the day with the morning prayers. If this person is Orthodox and menstruating, and there’s water in which to do so, they can say the mikveh prayer while taking the bath after their period is all finished. (I’m Reform but I find comfort in this kind of thing, too.)

If we’re talking about someone who wasn’t raised in the normal world – I was assuming the apocalypse in this was recent, but I mean if they’ve never known normal-Earth – then they might have learned all these things by rote from parents or community instead of from going to temple.

It really is that simple – prayer and moments and remembrance. Actually, in my very first book, my characters are stuck in the middle of the woods as the sun goes down for Shabbat. They say the prayers anyway, using the sunset itself as candles. Here’s some art: http://shiraglassman.tumblr.com/post/78112396680/its-shabbat-shulamit-suddenly-realized-out

This, plus living up to Jewish values like tikkun olam (healing the world) and tzedekah (justice) and all that – that’s all it takes to feel like good/satisfying rep to me.

–Shira

As I’ve probably mentioned before, the term “Hinduism” is kind of a misnomer, as it implies that there’s one such thing.  If Christianity or Islam are families of sibling belief systems that share obvious commonalities, “Hinduism” is a huge family of distant cousins, groups of which often don’t seem to have much of anything in common and you just have to take their word that they’re related.  If you look hard, there might be a family resemblance.

I often think about this when confronted with the question of how I’d live my life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland (and this is something I consider with alarming regularity these days).  Which are the parts of my upbringing that are actually important?  What of it have I already jettisoned by choice or changes in circumstance and what more would I?  And what of it is silly garbage that’s going to get me killed by the next band of water bandidos marauding the blasted hellscape that is New New York City?

Anything that you might broadly categorize as a religion has aspects that range from the ritualistic to the philosophical so of course Hinduism is no exception.  I’d posit that extreme ritualism and extreme navel-gazing are both things likely to get you shanked by bandidos so in the interests of survival your character is probably going to want to tread a middle path.  Any rules against eating beef are probably out the window (unless it just makes them sick regardless).  So is strict adherence to doing a morning prayer or yoga, or meditating so deeply you don’t notice the bandidos coming.  On the other hand, there may be good reasons for maintaining dietary restrictions (e.g., you can’t trust that any food grown outside the Safe Zone isn’t deadly).  Meditation can relieve stress and you could probably use some stress relief after the apocalypse.  However, arguably these markers are matters of culture rather than belief (that is, not all Hindus eschew beef or practice meditation; those that do do because they were exposed to the concept somewhere).

This is a hard question to answer because it would really depend what kind of Hindu background this character comes from and how (if relevant) they related to their culture “before the fall” so to speak.  They may identify with one particular deity due to their circumstances (for example, Vishnu, to preserve the world they do have; Shiva or Durga, as a reflection of the destruction that presumably brought about said apocalypse, and from which there will hopefully come renewal; or Ganesh, to remove the obstacles they surely encounter every day).  I should note that were it me in that position, any identification with or invocation to a god would probably be extremely sarcastic: the gods didn’t prevent the apocalypse, why the hell would they help me now?  Again, it depends on the character’s personal outlook.

You might also consider some of the relations elemental factors have to most Hindu rituals and how that might change in this environment.  For example: water, light, fire, and food are all typically revered or at least valued greatly.

- Water is a life-giving resource and many Hindus revere rivers.  In a wasteland, protecting clean and safe water might very well have sacred significance as a matter of literal life and death.

- The divine is often thought to dwell in food and sustenance and gods receive offerings of food at festivals.  You may not be having very many festivals but the value of food may be thrown into stark new focus.

- Does this world lack for sunlight, warmth, or energy?  Orthoprax Hindu priesthood often revolves around keeping a sacred fire.  In a world where flame is the power source of a community, for example, the person who keeps the fire going could very well think of it as a sacred ritual, and maybe that’s a connection to the beliefs or practices they or their family held before.  You can even abstract it a bit more.  What if a postapocalyptic community runs off some relict solar panels?   Some character might see that as very literally depending on the sun for their survival.

If there is one thing that unites most flavors of Hinduism, it’s the notion of dharma, which is hard to translate, but loosely means “order” or “duty,” or more generally “that which is established or held firm.”  So, what about this character holds firm?  I’d say in such an extreme circumstance, devotion or religious practice is more than just throwing out the names of some gods every now and then to remind people of your roots (especially if you keep praying for help and it never comes).  It’s more about how you conduct yourself in relation to the world, and when you reach back into those old virtues ingrained in you by your family, how you exercise them relative to nature and the people around you when literally may not be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow.  It’s not easy but the apocalypse rarely is.

-Mod Nikhil