Howdy! I’m collecting everything that I have written in one, easy to search post. I’ve got a couple reasons for this. One is so that you, dear reader, can use Ctrl-F to search up an article easily if you know what you are looking for. I also find this way easier to read than Tumblr’s autogenerated archive, and I suspect I’m not the only one. On a more personal note, I also want to have all of my work collected in one location so that an prospective employers can browse through what I’ve written in one place. If you are or ever might be interested in freelancing as a writer of any type, I strongly encourage you to do the same. If you don’t think you’re writing is good enough, practice and you may surprise yourself. Your words can literally move mountains, so don’t sell yourself short!
The Dogon tribe in Western Mali is one of the oldest tribes in Eastern Africa.
They are known for their traditional mask dances and statue carving.
Dogon people are good in math and astronomy. They discovered without any form of telescopes that the star Sirius has a double star.
There religion is based on two major principles. Honour the spirits and the ancestors and the believe in Ama, the Creator. The mask on the picture is called Kanaga and the dance simbolizes Ama creating the world with Heaven (two upper ‘arms’) and the Earth (two ‘legs’). This story varies from village to village.
This is the most popular and sacred mask they have. Every man has to carv his own Kanaga.
Along with traditional dances, ceremonies include honouring the ancestors and spirits, offerings and animal sacrifices.
Their tradition is in severe danger because of the Islam. Most of the inhabitants in Mali are Islamic and with the pressure of more and more extremists rising, they have to abandon their Culture.
Dogon use tourism to keep -as they call it- the masks alive. When they stop using a mask it dies with the spirit in it.
“Within many tribes, masks have and continue to serve an important purpose. Masks possess pluralistic function in their use for war, storytelling, relationship-building, and spirituality, to name a few. Masks are used in ceremonies to transcend place, time, and self-identity. Frequently, the masks are not masks at all but rather living and breathing entities…” – Naomi Bebo
A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century. Legend has it that the Mudmen were forced to flee from an enemy into the Asaro River where they waited until dusk to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. The Asaro still apply mud and masks to keep the illusion alive and terrify other tribes.
The mudmen could not cover their faces with mud because the people of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with this alleged poison, they made masks from pebbles that they heated and water from the waterfall, with unusual designs such as long or very short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths.
Today I thought I would go over the various races and peoples of the Monster Hunter world, as they can be easily glossed over or even missed entirely in the games, and they are pretty important to understanding the lore of MH.
There are four major groups of intelligent races in the Monster Hunter world: the wyverians, the troverians, the humans, and the lynians.
Lynians are small, bipedal creatures with tribal, rather low-tech societies. The lynians are comprised of three separate species:
Felynes are the most well-known of the lynians. They are small cat-like people, typically beige in color with brown markings, although a rainbow of colors and a variety of markings are possible. In the wild, they live in small villages with their close cousins the melynx. They do not appear to have written language, but they do pass down tales and stories orally, and they do paint pictograms and symbols onto rocks and other surfaces to mark and decorate their homes. They’ve also been known to construct crude statues in cat-like shapes by piling up rocks and boulders and painting them. Sometimes altars can be found in their villages in front of one of these statues, with offerings of fish and other goods piled around them, but aside from this, little is known about their superstitions or religious practices. A felyne altar found in MH4U.
Their villages can be found literally everywhere, from frozen tundras to volcanic caves, as the felynes themselves are extremely hardy and resourceful. They tend to burrow into the sides of cliffs to make their dens, although they are capable of constructing buildings with wood, thatch, clay, and other found materials.
A felyne and melynx village in the Dede Desert, displaying typical rock face construction, as well as cat-face pictogram paintings.
Of the lynians, they are the most integrated into human and wyverian society. They are typically considered the lowest caste in society, and are sometimes denigrated for their mannerisms, like meowing when talking (yes, unfortunately racism, classism, and other forms of bigotry are alive and well in the Monster Hunter world.) They usually take on service or labor jobs such as cooking and cleaning, selling items, or working as farm hands or blacksmith’s assistants. Of course, the most dangerous and most glorified profession for them is that of Palico, being hunting companions for human and wyverian monster hunters.
Melynx are the close cousins of felynes, and are noted for their black and white fur with black and pink markings, although other shades exist among melynx palicoes. They wear handkerchiefs and pouches made of woven green grasses, and carry their cat paw staves. Melynx are known for their thievery, as hunters are well aware of their tendency to attack and steal items without provocation while out in the field. Because of this, they’re often labeled kleptomaniacs, and are far less tolerated in human and wyverian society than felynes are.
It is my theory, however, that the label of “kleptomaniac” is misplaced. Kleptomania is a compulsive disorder, marked by an overwhelming urge to steal just for the sake of it. While it is known that they are aggressive thieves out in the field, even to the point of stealing from other melynx, they do not attempt to steal or attack hunters if the hunter is visiting their villages, and they apparently do not attempt to steal from members of their own village (else the felynes would likely not tolerate them either). Thus, I believe that the melynx one encounters out in the field are actually members of raiding parties, and that this is how the felyne and melynx villages are able to survive in such varied and extreme locations: by raiding other felyne/melynx villages, raiding human/wyverian villages, and attacking hunters for supplies and to obtain offerings for their altars. (Note that in the villages that do have statues and altars, those statues and altars are almost always the drop spots where you can go to try to reclaim your stolen items if a melynx makes off with them.) So, rather than being compulsive thieves who steal just for the sake of it, I believe melynx are actually very purposeful in their stealing.
Felynes and melynx both share of a love of a plant called “felvine”, inspired by the real world silvervine, a plant of Asian origin with strong catnip-like properties. Hunters can exploit this, either by carrying felvine on them to entice melynx to steal it rather than more valuable items, or by using it to craft felvine bombs. When used on a monster (or another hunter, hehehe), a felvine bomb draws all nearby felynes and melynx with it’s enticing scent, and they will attack the target in a frenzy. If the bomb goes off on a felyne or melynx, they will become extremely intoxicated, to hilarious effect.
A kind hunter gives her palico an entire felvine plant, how generous!
Shakalakas are the last group of lynians, and are more distantly related to felynes and melynx. They are small, green-skinned, goblin-like creatures, known for always wearing masks and for their dancing. Cha-cha and Kayamba of MH3 and MH3U are the only shakalakas known to have willingly interacted with human society, otherwise shakalakas tend to keep to themselves. They are extremely aggressive, attacking hunters who wander too close, often by popping out of holes in the ground to ambush them. They live in very primitive tribal societies, with little to no known architecture, or writing, (and no art aside from their masks.) Each tribe is headed by a larger King Shakalaka, who often wears a flaming barbecue spit for a crown and attacks by hurling fireballs and swinging wildly with his club (which is usually a haunch of meat). Young shakalaka often change their masks, but upon entry to adulthood, go off on a quest to find the one mask that they will wear as an adult.
Shakalakas are never seen without their masks on, and are very adept at changing masks extremely quickly so as to not allow their faces to be seen.
Cha-cha celebrates with a dance at the end of MH3
Humans are the second-most technologically advanced race in the Monster Hunter world, and are rather self-explanatory. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, and are the most populous race in the MH world (well, more populous than wyverians, at any rate, it’s unknown how they compare to lynians.) They tend to be considered roughly in the middle of the social ladder, with lynians on the bottom and wyverians on the top. Most monster hunters, and all player characters in the games, are human. Although quite capable of technological innovation in their own right, a lot of human technology is borrowed from wyverians.
Troverians, (土竜族, literally “Earth Dragon Tribe”) are the latest addition to the races of MH, having only been just introduced in MH4 and MH4U. As such, there is extremely little information on them. They’re pretty much the dwarves of the MH world. Given their Japanese name, it’s likely that they are related to wyverians, but exactly how is not known. Their only known village is Harth, from MH4/MH4U. They are a short and stocky race of extremely industrious blacksmiths, miners, and builders. Although quite adept in their own right, they revere wyverian blacksmiths for their skill, and claim to have learned blacksmithing from wyverians in the distant past.
The wyverian village of Cathar
Wyverians (竜人族, literally “Dragon People Tribe”) are probably my favorite race in MH (although the cats are hard to resist, not gonna lie.) If troverians are the dwarves of MH, then wyverians are the elves. They have long pointed ears, 4 digits on their hands and feet, and have extremely long life-spans, possibly to the point of immortality, although that is not confirmed. (The only confirmed age for a wyverian that we have is Treshi, from MHF2 and MHFU, who is 350 years old and still kicking.) All of this stems from the fact that they are evolved from wyverns, despite their rather human-ish appearance. Some of them are depicted as still having scales on their hands and feet, and as having sharp, black, claw-like nails. Although most have light skin, wyverians with darker skin do exist.
They are the most technologically advanced race in MH, as most tech in the world was either invented or at least improved upon by them. Their style of blacksmithing is so complex it is usually assumed to be impossible for other races to master it, thus the majority of blacksmiths in the world are wyverian. They are usually at the top of the social ladder, often having high-ranking positions, especially in the Guild, but can also be found as merchants and occasionally even monster hunters.
Wyverians are extremely variable in their appearance, even having some rather extreme differences in their anatomy. Young wyverians tend to be roughly human-sized, while old wyverians tend to be very short, almost felyne-sized. And then there’s “His Immenseness”, Dondruma’s Great Elder, who is absolutely gigantic.
An elderly wyverian scholar, a human hunter, and the Great Elder side-by-side for size comparison.
Their size differences are never really explained. The giant wyverians are said to only come about once every 1,000 years, although why and how are unknown. It seems likely that wyverians grow relatively normally (albeit much more slowly than humans) up until adulthood, and then begin to grow shorter past “middle age”. Maximeld of Cathar points to the possibility of their slow growth, as he seems to have a relatively mature mind and enough experience in his profession to give any adult human a run for his money, but a very childlike body. Likewise, the Jumbo Chief, who is described as “middle-aged” is a bit shorter than his younger brother, the Grand Guru of Cathar.
All of them have long pointed ears, although some have ears sturdy enough to point outward or backward, while others, like the Great Elder above, lack the strong cartilage required for that, and simply have floppy ears. Earrings are a common decoration, among both male and female wyverians, and tend to be more common in the ones with floppy ears (which leads me to wonder if their ears became floppy because of the weight of their earrings.)
Most wyverians, particularly the smaller wyverians, but also the Great Elder and the Jumbo Chief, have digitigrade legs (again harking back to their wyvern ancestry.) However, some wyverians, like The Man and the Cathar village children, are depicted as plantigrade instead. “Digitigrade” means a creature that walks on it’s digits, or toes, like a dog or a cat (or a wyvern). “Plantigrade” means a creature that walks on the soles of it’s feet, like humans, apes, or bears. This is really not a minor difference, and how a species with such extreme variance in anatomy came about isn’t really explained (aside from, ya know, saying “lol Capcom just wanted to use motion capture without having to redo the legs”, which is the likely explanation. :P)
Digitigrade vs plantigrade legs in wyverians
Wyverian language (which is a gibberish language invented by Capcom, and, despite having some consistency as far as sound goes, cannot actually be translated, unfortunately,) can be heard in all the songs in the MH games that contain words, including Moonquake, Eternal Words, all the songs sung by the Diva/Songstress in Dondruma, and White Fatalis’s battle theme. Despite claims on the internet, none of these songs are written in any actual real-world language that can be translated. (Although it would very cool if they actually formalized Wyverian, like Star Trek’s Klingon or Tolkien’s Elvish languages.)
Ikuko Noguchi, both the voice of and inspiration for the Diva, singing “The Departed Ones”
And that’s it for now! If there’s a particular topic you’d like to see in a future post, feel free to drop me a note. Thanks for reading, and may your hunts always be multicultural!
“Gerudo” is actually not the name of the Desert Tribe in the Zelda Universe;
This is taken directly from the “Holy Handbook,” Hyrule Historia. The translation, as seen above, reads “Geldo’s Typography.” This means that the “Gerudo” are, in fact, supposed to be the Geldo.
Because there is no letter “L” in the Japanese language, or, rather, L and R sound phonetically similar, “GEL” would sound like “GERU,” hence the mis-translation between Japanese and American copies. However, with it plainly spelled out, using the Geldo’s own alphabet, it becomes clear.
Of course, what does this mean? Does the name “Geldo” have some special significance? Is the Sand Goddess’ name Geldo, or something similar, like Gel? What other words are mis-translated? Could the Garo tribe from Majora’s Mask is supposed to be “Galo”? This opens up a whole new world within the Universe to explore.