Gnome

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Trade Tongue:
Image:Gahijo_Kedan.png
("Gahijo")

Gnoma albescens



Gnomes are a species of sentient hominid from the Hajasith, whose origins are in the Iravn badlands. They are the sole living species of the genus Gnoma.

Contents

Distribution

A significant number of gnomes (about 1 million) still live on the Ghêreda's flood plain in the middle of the Iravn, but they have expanded throughout the Hajasith except across the Rimwall. They maintain several other high concentration areas (totaling 3.5 million), as well as numerous nomadic populations and a disproportionate representation in cosmopolitan areas (these last two categories are hard to sharply delineate, but they compromise an additional 5.5 million gnomes between them).

Physical Characteristics

Gnomes are the smallest living hominids. Females range from 110 to 135 cm and 22 to 40 kg. As is standard to dolicocephalines, sexual dimorphism is slight, males average only about 3 cm taller and 4 kg heavier.


Due to the rough terrain where they evolved, where climbing and digging are as important as running and jumping, gnomes have a slightly "top-heavy" appearance compared to other hominids: their legs are relatively short and their shoulders and arms are proportionately more powerful, though they are much less robust than dwarves.

Gnomes have skin with a golden cast to it. Their brown hair ranges over a variety of shades, light to dark, with occaisional red-tinted hair. Their hair starts to lose pigmentation early in adulthood, making grey hair a physical marker of adulthood. Like elves, gnomes have the distinctive dolicocephaline range of eye colors: brown, yellow, green, and blue. Gnomish hair is generally fine to medium, and straight or slightly wavy.

Other Trade Culture species are often confused by the age of a gnome. They have child-like statures and curiosity; but their hair turns grey early in adulthood. They remain energetic until quite old, but they generally develop arthritis in their hands in middle age; but not in other joints. Their skin is often weathered, but tight and unwrinkled; except for at the corners of the eyes and mouth, where deep crow's feet and smile lines are common. All this combines to create a young-old image that often bemuses others.

Life Cycle

Gnomes have the whole complex of life cycle traits characteristic of dolicocephalines: short gestation period compared to eurycephalines, altricial young, high infant mortality rates and long life spans.

Gestation Period: 190 days

Skull Fusion: 3.5 years

Base Infant Mortality: 1 per 5 live births

Weaning: 3-8 years, average 4.75 years

Physical Maturity: 16-20 years

Life Span: 110 years

See the Life Cycle Key for definitions of characteristics.

Cultures

Are you a Gnome? A Gnomish Culture Test

While all hominids are neotenous (i.e. they retain child-like traits into adulthood, particularly increased ability to learn new behaviors), gnomes are the most extreme. This is partly chance, and partly because they have not increased in size as much as other hominids. But mostly it is because adaptability and creativity throughout adulthood was the strategy by which gnomes adapted to the extreme variability of their homeland.

This combines with the the knowledge the gnomes have gained through their association with the kobolds to make them overall the most innovative of the Trade Culture species in the recent era.

Because gnomes have started their expansion out the Iravn only relatively recently, and because they have maintained extensive contacts between population areas through the large portion of the population which is mobile, the gnomes are currently more or less culturally unified.

The portion of the population which is culturally distinct from the main gnomish culture mainly consists of the more traditional gnomish cultures in the remoter areas of the Iravn. These areas are also nearly the only place where fully "native" gnomish languages are still spoken.

By default the word "gnome" ("gahijo") in Trade Tongue refers to the main group of gnomes, who interact extensively with the Trade Culture and speak Trade Tongue as a native language.

The Gnomish dialect(s) are the most distinctive of any of the Trade Tongue, due to borrowing from older gnomish languages, as well as a high degree of naturalization and innovation the gnomes have brought to it. Many gnomish names of places and people come from older gnomish languages, but these are rarely analyzable by modern gnomes.

Clothing

Standard clothing consists of

In Children and Adults:
Loose pants. Generally in earth tones; e.g. browns, red-browns, greys etc. Generally made from linen, wool, or leather.
White Shirt. Close fitting with sleeves just past the elbows. Usually made of linen, or wool for cold weather. Particularly expensive versions may be made of cotton, or even silk.
Children only:
Vest, worn over shirt. Usually made of linen, usually colorful. (Bright colors are generally associated with childhood among gnomes. This is probably a semi-concious extrapolation of the fading of adult's hair color.)
Adults only:
Loose coat, worn over shirt. Generally dark-colored: black, dark brown, dark blue, etc. Coats are usually thigh- to knee-length. Common materials used are tight-woven wool, leather, linen, or for expensive versions, cotton or silk. Length, weight, and material vary by use and style. In cold weather linen jackets are quilted, and cotton and silk are often velveted. In summer, "coats" may be extremely light, or even webbed.


Long hair is a social marker of adulthood. Adults wear their hair past the shoulders, in a range of lengths. Children's hair is kept shorter, ranging from close-cropped, to the middle of the neck. This is a cultural practice which accentuates the biological adulthood marker of greying hair among adults.

Two pieces of jewelry have historically been almost universally used as social markers and display among adults: cufflinks and hair clasps. Cufflinks are usually polished or enameled wood, or cloisonné and may or may not be colored or decorated. Hair clasps are always colored and decorated, and are made of painted wood, or may be enamel or cloisonné. Both are occasionally made of ceramic, though generally not for everyday use. Decorations are either stylized or abstract designs. In formal situations a gnome may wear a hair clap whose designs mark social affiliations: primarily company, and in some cases family or lineage.

The coloring of the hair clasps, and cufflinks if they are decorative, have customary meanings. The hair clasps of unmarried adults have white or very light-colored background, or sometimes polished silver, with designs in any color. Married adults have a background of generally blue, though it can shade out in either direction to effectively red or green. The background for widows and widowers is any grey that can be distinguished from the coloring used by an unmarried, and in addition to materials used for other hair clasps, are sometimes made from bleached wood. For both married and widowed adults decorations are often colored by whether the individual has children. A gnome without children will use white, black, or silver. A gnome with children will use red, yellow, or gold (or blue if the background is a different color).

A few generations ago, an adult gnome would never be seen in public any less than impeccably in accordance with these standards. In the past century, though, these codes have become noticeably relaxed. Most conserved are the most important social markers. Still almost universally conserved are those of adulthood (long hair and the coat vs. a child's short hair and vest), and of marriage (the blue hairclasp). But in recent generations, the cufflink has lost most of its significance, and may be of any color, or absent.

Most innovated, unsurprisingly, is in the appearance of unmarried adults, both within and separate to the old markers. Unmarried adults are still marked by long hair and coats, but the styling of each has become less constrained and more innovative, and some young adults do not wear a hair clasp. In addition, other forms of decoration have been adopted, mostly hair ornaments, but also necklaces and finger rings. Bracelets are sometimes worn, but only with unconventional jackets that do not cover the wrists. Piercing and tattooing are generally disfavored, but are starting in this generation to have a small presence.

Economy,

A relatively high proportion of gnomes make a living off transporting and trading good made by others. But gnomes are noted for two products: teas and honey, though in both cases they tend to be their own best customers.

Tea

The saying goes that gnomes have been drinking tea since they first figured out how to boil water, and before that they just chewed the leaves.

Gnomes remain the leading producers of fine teas in the Trade Culture. Particularly the Hajasith/Cities of Ghêlth, Tîflîn, Kvarîn, and Nîvl.

Goblins are also notable producers of teas , but they tend to produce higher bulk, lower quality.

Honey

Gnomes are also extremely fond of sugars, and keep bees whenever they can.

Gnomes came by their sweet-tooth because of the very low sugar content of their ancestral diet in their prehistory in the Iravn. There are very few fruits, and only a limited range of vegetables in the scrub of the Iravn. Most of what sugar there is appears irregularly with rains, and doesn't keep well.

Luckily, some other animals have the same problem, and the solution of the honey-ants came to be the the solution of the gnomes. Honey-ants are nectar feeders, but the flowers they feed on only bloom briefly after the rains, so the ants must quickly build up stocks and store them while waiting for the next wet spell. They store the nectar as honey, in the bodies of some workers who became many times larger than normal, full of honey.

The gnomes would dig their way down to the nests (sometimes as much as 3-4 meters below the surface) and harvest honey-ants and eat them as is, as a delicacy. Many gnomes in the Iravn still do this, particularly those farther out into the badlands.

But once the gnomes spread from the Iravn they encountered bees, originally harvested, and then domesticated by the humans in the Eladîri savanna. Gnomes have since developed new strains of honey bees and the gnome cities of Lefvn, Torvl, and Nîvl are the largest producers of high quality honey in the Trade Culture.

But bees still do not thrive in the Iravn, so Ghêlth remains a major importer of honey.

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