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[Blogging] The Legend of Blah Blah: Gerudic Culture
22 Feb 2011 by hinoseijin

Religion

Personally, I don’t actually see the Gerudos as religious people.  As they live in the desert, I would think that gathering food and water, especially water, would be higher on their list of priorities.  But that’s not to say that the Gerudos are not in need of spiritual guidance every now and then.  After all, they do have the Spirit Temple hidden away in their Desert Colossus.  However, I think it would be rather foolish to assume that they share the same religion as the Hylians; the Gerudos are, after all, a separate race, and as such would have a different culture.  In my imagination, the Gerudos have a single goddess, the Goddess of the Sand, whom they name Hathera Ragefire.  Gerudo legends do not claim Hathera to be a creator goddess; rather, she came to the Gerudos while they were all separate tribes fighting over water and other precious resources.  She unified them under a single queen and taught them how to best survive the harsh desert climate before leaving them.

 

The Gerudos do not have many religious ceremonies.  The major events that actually require the Spirit Temple are when the new queen assumes the throne, when a child comes of age, and when there is a death.  However, there is only the one permanent settlement near the Desert Colossus, where the queen lives and where the military might resides.  The remainder of the Gerudo race is still broken off into nomadic tribes, and many of them are far from the Desert Colossus.  For these tribes, they must either sculpt statues of Hathera that can be easily transported, or find a site where a statue of their goddess can easily withstand the elements.

 

Gerudos do not pray to Hathera for protection, for food, or for water; they know that they must rely on themselves for these things.  However, they may pray for insights into personal problems, or for Hathera to guide the souls of their dead into a peaceful afterlife.

 

Though not overly religious, there are clerics who reside in the temple to carry out coming of age ceremonies, and each tribe has one or two clerics themselves.

 

Although they cremate their dead, there are no religious overtones to it (asides from prayers of guidance for the soul).  The Gerudos do not bury their dead so scavengers will not eat the bodies.

 

Racial Values

Given that females heavily outnumber males, Gerudos are generally aromantic; as such, marriage among the Gerudos is extremely rare.  With the need to, for lack of a better word, share males between themselves, Gerudic women cannot afford to feel jealousy over who is spending the night with whom.  They’re actually more likely to compare notes, and there are no cultural taboos about openly discussing sex, a fact that gives the other races the impression that the Gerudos are nymphomaniacs who do not care for the sanctity of marriage.  However, they are wrong on both accounts.  While the Gerudos do not form romantic relationships themselves, they do recognize that the other races do, and they realize and respect that marriage is a sacred bond between two people.

 

And while the core value of the Gerudos does involve reproduction, it is not the act itself which features heavily in Gerudic culture.  Rather, the most important thing to every Gerudo is family, particularly children.  The whole family is involved in raising a child.  If you insult one Gerudo, you insult her sister, mother, grandmother, daughter, and any other family member she possess as well.  Abandoning your child is tantamount to treason and will result in banishment if you haven’t already left the desert.  Gerudos who are close friends may actually legally adopt each other as sisters.

 

While a Gerudo male may help raise a child (typically as a brother or uncle), traditionally fathers are not officially recognized (except under certain circumstances; see Leadership below).  In most cases, it is impossible to tell which male fathered which child anyway.

 

In the desert, not every child survives.  As such, Gerudos come of age much sooner than the other races; they are recognized as adults once they turn fifteen.  At that point, they are trained to use weapons, even if they do not join the guard.  There are other predators in the desert, and every Gerudo is expected to know how to defend herself and her family should a wild animal attack.

 

Leadership

The Gerudos as a whole are led by a queen, who is succeeded by her oldest daughter (or son, should she for some reason not have a daughter; if rule falls upon a king, then he will temporarily take a “wife” until he has a daughter, who will take over the throne when she turns twenty).  The queen may be advised by others, but her final word is law.  However, her laws typically go towards the protection of the Gerudo race.

 

While the queen and her family are treated as royalty among the other races, her relationship among her fellow Gerudos is often more informal than not.  Only her right to lead the Gerudo race sets her apart from the others, and she will often treat her fellow Gerudos as equals.

 

Trade Items

The main trade items are dyes, providing the other races with colors than can only be found in the desert.  Pottery is offered as well, as Gerudic pottery is made to be durable.  Sometimes, they may dig up small cacti or other desert plants to give to the other races.  If offered a good price, they may part with one of their horses, but it is not often that that happens.  If they have nothing else to trade, they will use whatever rupees they have earned to buy what they need; however, as their economy is mostly bartering, they rarely have any rupees to spend.

 

In return, the Gerudos will receive inks and parchment, being rare materials in the desert itself, as well as any cloth they cannot make themselves.  They also receive extra metals and firewood.

 

Food

Living in the desert, Gerudos eat several animals that the other races would hardly ever think of to it, including scorpions, spiders, and beetles.  They’ll also eat snakes, lizards, and small mammals.  Gerudos have herds of goats that they get meat, milk, and hair from.  They also breed chickens for food as well.

 

Literature/Language

Being a largely nomadic race, and one that lives in the desert, books are rare.  Though Gerudos are taught to read and write, it is mostly for keeping trade and tribal records.  Legends, stories, and histories and passed along through oral traditions.

 

The Gerudos, of course, have their own language, which they mostly speak.  The royal family and guards are required to know the Hylian’s common language.  The closer the tribe is to the rest of Hyrule, the more likely it is that someone will know how to speak Hylian.

 

Music

Gerudic music consists primarily of violins, flutes, drums, and vocals.  There is a tribal feel to it, as well as a somewhat oppressive, yet uplifting, feel to represent the desert they choose to make their home in.  Songs celebrate life and the family, or they tell the history of the Gerudos.

 

Fashion

Clothing can either be made out of goat hair or softened cactus threads.  Boots, gloves, and armor are made from toughened leever hides.  While the legs are typically covered, arms, chests, and midriffs are bared on women, and males will either go shirtless or wear only a vest.  In tribes that are farther away from the rest of Hyrule, it is not uncommon for the women to go topless as well.  Purple is reserved for the royal family and the guard; otherwise, clothing tends to be light browns, light oranges, light greens, or white.  Hair is typically kept short, and men usually shave off facial hair.  Traditionally, female members of the guard and the royal family grow their hair out and gather it into a high ponytail.  Jewelry is rare, and not often worn or made; any that is made is often used for trade.  Jewelry is most often worn by the queen and the princess who will inherit the throne, and even then only for visits to or from visiting leaders.  As Gerudos believe in a natural beauty, they wear no make-up.

 

Symbolism

When Ocarina of Time first came out, the symbol of the Gerudo race was a crescent moon and star.  Later re-releases changed this as the original symbol was similar to the Islamic symbol.  And, with all due respect to the Islamic faith, I think that’s a real shame, because I would think that any civilization living in a desert would choose the moon as their symbol.  After all, the desert is cooler at night, and while the Gerudos have adapted to survive the high heat, I’m sure they would still appreciate the night air more.  So I’ll meet the Muslims halfway and make the Gerudos’ primary symbol a full moon.

 

However, the moon is not the only symbol in Gerudic culture; the Spirit Temple is filled with switches that take the form of a grinning sun, which must be activated by reflecting sunlight off of the Mirror Shield, or a mirror.  And the presence of the sun throughout the temple is understandable.  After all, the sun is still a major factor in Gerudo life.  They would be quite right to use the sun as a symbol of their desert life.

 

History

As the Gerudos are primarily concerned with surviving the desert, they do not show up much in Hyrulean history.  The most famous Gerudos are Ganondorf, Koume, Kotake, and Nabooru, noted for their involvement in Ganondorf’s attempts to claim the Triforce.

 

I have no clue when I’ll get the next article up, but I will continue discussing cultures within Hyrule.  I’m thinking the next race will be the Sheikah, but feel free to leave a comment saying which race you’d like to see next.
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