I've been thinking for some time about my understanding of Half-Elvish
culture and architecture. It all clicked for me several days ago when
I saw some artists renderings of a Pre-Classical Maya city called El
Mirador, located in Northern Guatemala. I realized that I wanted the
Half-Elvish City of Fiorae to look like something found in Maya
settlements like Chichen Itza, Xcaret, Xel-Ha, or El Mirador. There is
something simultaneously earthy and airy about these places, probably
because the Maya seemed to like building up as much as out.
Expanding that concept to mesh with the other concepts I have for the
Half-Elves, I imagine them as an amalgam of many North and Central
American peoples, including the Iroquois Confederacy of New England
and the Caddo of Texas, the Lakota, Comanche, Cheyenne similar nomadic
tribes of the Great Plains, and the Hopi, Zuni, and Navajo of the
Southwest, and the Maya, Inca, and various -ec tribes of Central
American (Aztec, Toltec, Olmec, etc).
I guess I am going into too much detail at once. There are so many
tribes to choose from, so I am just trying to choose ones I know
something about. Individual Half-Elven tribes or nations have slightly
different cultures and architectures, of course, so there is a place
to use all these various different cultures.
The biggest design idea I want to present here is the way Half-Elvish
settlements evolve. They all start as small, nomadic communities (like
the Lakota, Cheyenne, Comanche, etc). These communities are small and
mobile. They feature mobile homes and even mobile temples -
roundhouses, tipis, etc. Heavy trades like blacksmithy wouldn't be in
evidence here. Light trades like fletching, tanning, and light
weaponsmithing using wood, stone, and bone. Of course, the 'higher'
scholarship of these communities is not limited by their technology.
The oral traditions of these communities is very strong. The class and
faction cross-section would be fairly narrow.
As they evolve and their population density rises, they evolve into
rooted hunter/fisher/farmer communities like the Iroquois, Caddo, or
Navajo. These communities build their structures to last. They are
solid and liveable, but not true cities. Materials vary based on
environment. Woodland communities builld longhouses or hogans.
Mountain communities build their homes and shops on top of cliffs or
right into the sides of the mountains, where possible. These
communities do feature heavy trade, such as metal working, as well as
the lighter trades. Their scholarship as at least as advanced as that
of the nomadic communities. Their class and faction cross section
would be broader, but still somewhat limited.
The largest settlements are built like Maya or Aztec cities or the
Anasazi city of Chaco in the Southwestern US . These, of course, have
a little bit of everything. They are built of stone.
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