|Manator: A city and empire of red men, north of Bantoom, and
about 22lo west of Gathol, which is the
nearest country. The Manatorians are an ancient people, having neither
firearms or fliers. Jetan is the national passion, and it is played on
a giant field with human pieces battling to the death.
~ Huck's Barsoom Glossary: ERBzine 0078
Cristian: Hello Den.
Happy New Year, with some delay. It's the Barsoomian demographer speaking.
Den: Hello Sildan, always good to speak to you. I hope I didn't embarass you by quoting and referencing you?
C: I've noticed you wrote something very interesting about the cult of Komal, and that you were pissed off to have skipped it initially.
D: LOL. Well, slightly embarrassed, and somewhat bemused.
C: And then it struck me you didn't attack the religion of Manator, although you did notice it wasn't a part of the Iss network.
D: I didn't think I had enough of an insight into their religion to say anything for sure. My impression was archaic superstition .... although now that I think of it, the talk of Corphals suggests a spirit haunted/demon populated world. And there may be other interesting things.
C: True, for Komal, there are some linguistic hints and the characteristics of Lotharian psychology and history that helped you to deduce many things. The details were scarce but all you said made sense into a system.
D: LOL. It was a mighty house of cards wasn't it? But fun to write.
C: So, what do we have for Manator?
Total, if one-sided, isolation, and no belonging to the Iss cult. But racial conformity to the mainstream Barsoom.
D: And a massive slave economy? That's interesting in and of itself. You'd think if they were taking slaves from their neighbors, that they'd absorb ideas and technology. ie, they'd inevitably be much more mainstream. Hell, if they were making regular war on their neighbors, they should be much more mainstream.
Interesting, now that I think of it. Do you think that their slaves are principally home grown? Or perhaps that Manator gathers its slaves from outlying small communities that are as backwards?
Hmmm. Yes, now that you mention it, Manator is worth some serious examination.
C: No Tur presence.
D: Peculiar indeed. But it makes sense. The fall of the Tur Cult was likely synonymous with the fall of the Orovars. Take God out of your religion, and what do you have? A Demon haunted world.
Manator may actually be a society nominally adherent to Tur, but one in which Tur is so remote as to be almost irrelevant. Instead, day to day life is plagued by demons like Corphals, and guarded by 'saints' like supernaturally empowered Jeddaks. It might be close to the supernatural world of saints and angels, demons and witches of the medieval period.
C: Although the Middle Ages were in fact less superstitious than the Renaissance…but let’s go back to Manator: Culture of plunder and war, "us against all others".
D: Very clearly its a post-cataclysm society that emerges. I think the interesting thing about Manator is not that it is based on plunder and war, it is archaic after all, but that clearly, other more mature Martian societies have not moved beyond that.
C: Massive slavery but with quite significant possibility of integration of the social body for the enslaved.
D: Yes. Slavery makes a lot of sense in terms of where the Manator society comes from. But I'm inclined to wonder about the nature of Modern Manator slavery. I'm starting to suspect that the vast majority of Manator slaves may be multiple generation slaves.
C: Mummification on massive scale and "coexistence" of the mummies with the living, on their balconies, at the gates or as counselors to the king. But not much obsession with death and gloom though, quite the opposite.
D: An extreme form of ancestor worship? Ancestor veneration appears frequently as a thread in many of the other books. The Manators seem to have taken it to an extreme. But its not a unique extreme. There were the lifelike mummies in the ruins of Korvas that John Carter encounters in the Giant of Mars. And I think that Llana of Gathol or one of the other books may have featured a society that employed extensive mummification.The observation that despite the prevalence of mummification, that the Manator aren't particularly gloomy is quite interesting.
C: The royal palace as a deposit of the country's prestige even more than other royal residences of Barsoom. The king is often seen as a superstition-linked character, in addition to his usual dynastic prestige.
D: Again, strongly reminiscent of medieval societies. In medieval society, the king was often seen as an agent of god. It was believed that the king's connection to god was so strong that he could literally heal people with a touch.
C: A lot of people allowed to go mounted through the palace: this is a very significant detail, since only a strong aristocracy can allow such displays of individual vanity: in autocracies everybody has to crawl or kowtow to the royal boss, including ministers and old lineages. This seems at odds with the prestige of the king. But at the final we see this prestige to be very much removable, though perpetuated within the same lineage.
D: Very interesting point. It also suggests that the supernatural quality of the Jeddak may be either a transferrable quality, or that forms of this power may be transferrable.
C: Belief in shape-shifting magicians seems to be quite important if not central.
D: 'Who Goes There?' Shapeshifting devils suggest a society where members are afraid of enemies from within. There's a dichotomy at work. You have to trust your mates, trust your leaders to survive. But at the same time, that trust always rides the knife edge of betrayal. There's a cognitive dissonance there. How do you cope with something like that? You invent a situation where there are 'shapeshifters', hidden infiltrators - communists in the 1950's, nazi or Japanese sympathizers in the 40's… and shape-shifters in more superstitious societies.
C: All this, within a quite typical, if archaic, Red culture.
Let’s see further: Death games, but using a "mainstream" setting - the arena and the jetan. Could you make some good essay out of this?
D: You know, maybe I could. Let me read it over, think about it, and take a shot. I'll see about sending you something.
C: Unlike the Komal thing, all this doesn't seem to have any bounding substance. But Komal also seemed just a litterary game until you came to analyze it.
D: I'm flattered.
C: Some "deranging" questions about the functionning of the religious structures upon Barsoom:
How were the Yellows integrated to the Iss system if their dead were taken to the Caves instead of the River?
D: Clearly they were integrated into the Iss system. I assume that the talk of the River was seen as metaphorical or supernatural for the Okar. They may have even derided those silly Reds with their literal river journeys as superstitious.
In writing about Greater Barsoom, I've identified Gulliver's and C.S. Lewis' river based death journeys as offshoots of the Iss cult. I suspect that the Therns, especially in the northern hemispheres, were forced to make theological adjustments.
After all, in medieval Europe, there was a substantial 'travel' of holiness. According to medieval legendry, the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, wound up in France. Meanwhile, the young Jesus travelled through England with his uncle, Joseph of Arimithea. Pieces of the true cross, nails, and visitations were all over Europe. Essentially, if the holy land is unreachable, then new holy lands or holy sites, like Lourdes or Rome or the Vatican, come into being.
C: Besides, letting Yellow pilgrims or dead to descend the river was a no-no since this gesture would have made them known to the world: some boats full of dead could wash on the shores, some passers-by could notice them on the river...
D: Good point.
C: How could the Blacks be pirates for so long if the craft of flying was known only for a millenium upon the planet, meaning a local lifetime? They wouldn't have been able to go out of Omean without ships... Unless they used tunnels, of which they did have. But ERB doesn't mention any legend about them being subterranean, as they normally should have been believed to be originally, meaning for the first 99,000 years without flying machines. Even if we espouse my idea of a much shorter Barsoomian history, the problem still remains, even if it’s 9,000 years “only”…
D: How far back to airships go? My impression is that they were around for a very long time. But that has its own complications, doesn't it.
Very interesting question though. How would they have even colonized Omean, much less gotten in and out regularly, much less practiced regular piracy, without airships? Does this mean that airship technology was available (though perhaps not universal) during the fall of the Orovars? I'm inclined to suspect that this was the case.
As for the tunnels, well, that's explainable. It's likely that they concealed their tunnels. After all, any tunnel might well be the gateway to Omean. Instead, they'd probably take to the canals and waterways, operating as ambush predators.
D: I took a look around, and I have some preliminary thoughts and observations.
Manator's society seems to strongly parallel the society of Orovars in Horz. This goes down to dress or undress, headgear, and customs.
Particularly notable, the emphasis on embalming and preservation of the dead shows up in Horz in Llanna, both as a contemporary feature of that relic Orovar society, as well as ancient Horz, and in the dead city of Korvas.
The practice seems connected to ancestor worship, which is described as a universal religion on Mars, and which appears to be a contemporary faith or following. However, I'm not sure that ancestor worship or ancestor veneration achieves the status of a religion, it may be an article of quasi-religious faith, compatible with other faiths. The practice of embalming seems to have been a feature of the Orovars and died out in modern times, except in isolated areas.
Although the Tur faith is never mentioned directly, there is some linguistic cues to suggest that these people are or were Tur worshippers. Mana-Tor or Mana-Tur is another example of Tur showing up in place names.
Meanwhile, Tur also shows up in Personal names, notably the Jeddak, 0-Tar, and the great jed, U-Thor. Its noteable that with respect to Corphals, Jeddaks, and perhaps Jeds are attributed supernatural powers. So the naming of two of the most royal rulers as variants of Tur suggests that the Tur faith remains active on some level. The son of 0-Tar is A-Kor, Kor or Kar appears to be a Tur derived word.
Much is made of the supernatural entities called Corphals. The nature of Corphals is unclear but we can ascertain the following facts:* Corphals are either humanlike physical creatures, or they are non-material creatures capable of assuming human guise.So what does all this mean? Possibly, that Corphals may actually have existed. If we accept that Corphals, in the folklore, are material human-like beings with remarkable abilities, then what are they?
* They are able to control the weak and the criminal, suggesting some form of mental control or psychic possession. This may imply that Corphals inhabit the weak, or it may simply be that they are able to dominate.
* Corphals can also control and dominate the spirits of the dead. They are literally ghost wranglers. In particular, they have an affinity for tormenting the spirits of the evil deceased, such as O-Mai.
* Only a Corphal may capture a Corphal. The implication being that Corphals are susceptible to
capture and caging. The implication is a material being.
* A Corphal may only be killed by a Jeddak, presumably a living Jeddak, since Corphals torment the spirit of O-Mai.
* The notion that a Corphal may be killed by physical act also implies a materiality to it.
* Ghek the Kaldane appears to be able to exercise powers of psychic domination which are recognized as Corphal-like.
Low-level telepathy is well established from Princess of Mars onwards. However, for the most part, nothing much is done with it. John Carter proves able to pluck unguarded thoughts from the vizier of the Atmosphere plant, no one can read Carter though, and rather little is made of it. A seer is used to recover the thoughts of dead men in Zodanga. Some of the therns machines, if I recall correctly, are telepathically activated. As is the 'mechanical brain' in Swords of Mars. The Kaldanes have taken telepathy and elevated it to a higher level of mind control.
So clearly, there are psychic talents on Mars, and psychic talents of various levels. So, a person able to read the minds of those weaker, able to control people, and who is vulnerable only to the strongest willed (normally, the communities leader or jeddak) could well exist or have existed.
The supernatural aspects? Tormenting and controlling spirits? Perhaps out of the question. But remember that in Princess, a Zodangan seer is able to read the thought or memory traces of the recently dead. Such an ability, to the untutored, might well seem like communing with spirits.
So what are Corphals? Possibly, a mutant hidden strain of Barsoomians, now exinct. Or possibly a sect or cult or secret society of unusually talented individuals, now extinct. Possibly the Corphals were simply a sub-group of the Thern cult.
Anyway, so it goes.
Manator lacks firearms and fliers, but there's a paradox here, in that Manator preys upon other societies which do have firearms and fliers. According to the book, the Manatorians take their slaves by ambushing passing caravans, mostly from Gathol. So how could they get away with this without at least firearms. And having acquired enough slaves, wouldn't they acquire eventually, knowledge of fliers and firearms, and presumably the technical savvy for manufacture?
It may simply be that the Manatorian territories lack the key natural resources to construct fliers and radium bullets. There are several other Barsoomian societies that lacked fliers. The Phundahls, the Kaolians (initially), the Invak/Onvak and the Green Men. Pankar appears to obtain its fliers relatively late in its history, and secondhand... its not building its own. Okar controls the buouancy ray, but did not employ fliers.
So, it may be that obtaining fliers requires key resources and perhaps an industrial base. The Manatorians may be able to reproduce an industrial base, but lacking the resources within their territory, they're out of luck.
Barsoomian societies which lack these resources, or the industrial base may well normally be able to trade for them. But given that the Manator do not engage in trade, and their acquisitions are mostly slaves and caravan plunder, they may simply not have the resources.
They probably don't need fliers. The record suggests that their countryside is isolated. They appear to be shielded from Gathol in the east and from the south by torturous broken country, ravines, impassible lands and treacherous air currents with no good landing areas.
So, based on that, what would they need or use fliers for? Communication and transit between their own cities? Possibly. But there'd be no aerial threat to them, and therefore no need for an aerial defence.
The same holds true for firearms. Given the number of Gatholian (and other) slaves, it seems reasonable that if the resources existed, they'd have acquired the technological ability to have firearms. So why don't they?
I'd argue that they probably do have firearms, or at least, that they have a small quantity of them... probably under the direct control of the Jeddak. But firearms seem to be kept from the general population, and the general military, and used exclusively for raiding and slave taking missions... otherwise, without firearms, I can't see them taking out entire caravans equipped with such weapons, without leaving a single man escape.
The lack of firearms within the society as a whole, may be a social or cultural decision, along the lines of Japan's abandonment of firearms. It may be a key form of social control, monopolizing the really fatal weapons to a small elite. Or it may be a simple poverty of resources and raw materials. They may simply have a limited stock or supply of radium for ammunition. Remember, most Barsoomian nations can probably obtain supplies by trading, if they don't have their own sources. The Green Men who are not traders, are extremely nomadic and can probably satisfy their radium bullet needs by travelling widely and utilizing normally marginal sources.
My suspicion is that the Manator are probably not as backwards as they seem. They've got a highly traditional society, yes. But they're probably well aware of fliers, firearms, Helium, Gathol, etc. Manator scholars and craftsman are probably as well informed as those of the mainstream of Barsoom. What they don't know is most likely the result of arrogance.
Geographical isolation provides security. Unlike just about any city in the mainstream, Manator's ancient walls have never seen a modern siege with fliers and firearms, it has never been sacked or burned. If you don't burn or blow up a city, then there's not a lot of impulse to tear down old buildings and put up new ones. Construction becomes incremental and difficult, rather than wholesale and systematic. Thus, a city of old style, lacking modern defenses and upgrades, and with a crowded polyglot architecture.
Rather than being an archaic medievalist Barsoomian society, their closest analogue is likely 18th or 19th century Japan. A nation of splendid isolation, whose geographical barriers enable it to indulge the luxury of archaic ways.
Den: Here are my newer ideas.
"I warn you, woman, if you be one of those horrid Corphals that by commanding the spirits of the wicked dead gains evil mastery over the living, as many now believe the thing called Ghek to be, that lest you return E-Med, O-Tar will have no mercy on you."
THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE CORPHAL IS A SORT OF NECROMANCER OR GHOST WRANGLER.
"What foolishness is this?" cried the girl. “Even if the fabled Corphals existed, as none but the most ignorant now believes, the lore of the ancients tells us that they entered only into the bodies of wicked criminals of the lowest class.”
HERE THE SUGGESTION IS THAT THE CORPHAL IS A SPIRIT WHO POSSESSES THE WICKED. THE REFERENCE IS VERY CLEAR TO PHYSICAL POSSESSION, IMPLYING THE CORPHAL IS A FORM OF SPIRIT.
"And you know so much of Corphals, then," he cried, "you know that while no common man dare harm them they may be slain by the hand of a jeddak with impunity!"
THIS ATTRIBUTES MAGICAL POWERS TO JEDDAKS. IT ALSO SUGGESTS THAT CORPHALS MAY NOT BE SPIRITS, SINCE THEY CAN BE SLAIN, RATHER THAN EXORCISED OR DRIVEN OUT.
Tara of Helium could scarce restrain a sneer as she answered the ridiculous accusation of witchcraft.
THIS IS THE MOST REMARKABLE REFERENCE, SINCE IT EQUIVOCATES CORPHALS AS A KIND OF WITCH. A CORPHAL THEN IS A HUMAN OR PHYSICAL BEING WHO IS ABLE TO AFFECT FEATS OF NECROMANCY OR POSSESSION.
"So ancient is the culture of my people," she said, "that authentic history reveals no defense for that which we know existed only in the ignorant and superstitious minds of the most primitive peoples of the past. To those who are yet so untutored as to believe in the existence of Corphals, there can be no argument that will convince them of their error—only long ages of refinement and culture can accomplish their release from the bondage of ignorance. I have spoken."
LARGELY A DISMISSAL OF CORPHALS AS FOLKLORE, THIS SUGGESTS THAT SOME OR ALL OF THE ATTRIBUTES OF CORPHALS MAY BE SPURIOUS OR MISINTERPRETATIONS OF OTHER PHENOMENA.
And U-Dor brought several who recounted the little that was known of the disappearance of E-Med, and others who told of the capture of Ghek and Tara, suggesting by deduction that having been found together they had sufficient in common to make it reasonably certain that one was as bad as the other, and that, therefore, it remained but to convict one of them of Corphalism to make certain the guilt of both.
CORPHALS HERE ARE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD TO EXIST IN PLURALS OR AS CLUSTERS. THERE’S NO INDICATION THAT THERE’S ONE CORPHAL AND TWO VICTIMS. RATHER, ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH A CORPHAL MAY WELL BE A CORPHAL. THIS MAKES THEM RESEMBLE FOLKLORIC WITCHES, WHO TEND TO CONGREGATE IN CLUSTERS, RATHER THAN DEMONS OR SPIRITS WHO ARE SINGULAR ERUPTIONS.
"And you!" said O-Tar in cold accusing tones. "Already have I been told enough of you to warrant me in passing through your heart the jeddak's steel--of how you stole the brains from the warrior U-Van so that he thought he saw your headless body still endowed with life; of how you caused another to believe that you had escaped, making him to see naught but an empty bench and a blank wall where you had been."
CASTING ILLUSIONS, BY IMPLICATION, IS A POWER OF CORPHALS. THEY CAN MAKE A NORMAL PERSON SEE WHAT IS NOT THERE. NOTE THE PHRASE ‘STOLE THE BRAIN’, THE IMPLICATION IS OF A FORM OF POSSESSION. THE CORPHAL HAS NOT CREATED AN ILLUSION, BUT HAS TAKEN OVER THE MIND OF THE VICTIM, SIMILAR TO TAKING OVER THE BODY.
"Ah, O-Tar, but that is as nothing!" cried a young padwar who had come in command of the escort that brought Ghek. "The thing which he did to I-Zav, here, would prove his guilt alone."
"Let my first ancestor be my witness, O-Tar, that I speak the truth," he began. "I was left to guard this creature, who sat upon a bench, shackled to the wall. I stood by the open doorway at the opposite side of the chamber. He could not reach me, yet, O-Tar, may Iss engulf me if he did not drag me to him helpless as an unhatched egg. He dragged me to him, greatest of jeddaks, with his eyes! With his eyes he seized upon my eyes and dragged me to him and he made me lay my swords and dagger upon the table and back off into a corner, and still keeping his eyes upon my eyes his head quitted his body and crawling upon six short legs it descended to the floor and backed part way into the hole of an ulsio, but not so far that the eyes were not still upon me and then it returned with the key to its fetter and after resuming its place upon its own shoulders it unlocked the fetter and again dragged me across the room and made me to sit upon the bench where it had been and there it fastened the fetter about my ankle, and I could do naught for the power of its eyes and the fact that it wore my two swords and my dagger. And then the head disappeared down the hole of the ulsio with the key, and when it returned, it resumed its body and stood guard over me at the doorway until the padwar came to fetch it hither."
PHYSICAL OR BODY POSSESSION IS ALSO APPARENTLY AN ASPECT OF CORPHALISM. NOTE THAT IF THESE EVENTS ARE BELIEVED TO BE CONSISTENT WITH CORPHALISM (AND NO EFFORT IS MADE TO REFINE THIS TESTIMONY INTO SOMETHING DEEMED TO BE CLOSER TO CLASSIC CORPHALISM) THEN THE POSSESSION NEED NOT BE ‘DEMONIC STYLE INHABITATION’ BUT RATHER, REMOTE POSSESSION AND CONTROL.
NOTE THAT IN BOTH THE CASES WHERE THE BELIEF IS THAT THE MIND IN ONE INSTANCE, AND THE BODY IN THE OTHER IS SEIZED, THE VICTIM RETAINED THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS. THEY WERE SELF AWARE, ALTHOUGH UNDER MALIGNANT POWER.
THIS WAS ACCEPTED BY THE JEDDAK AND OTHERS AS PLAUSIBLE, AND THUS, WE CAN ASSUME ITS CONSISTENT WITH THE FOLKLORE OF CORPHALS.
ONE INTERESTING THING IS THAT GIVEN THAT IN BOTH PHYSICAL CONTROL OR MENTAL SUASION OR ILLUSIONS, THE VICTIM RETAINS HIS OWN MIND, SIMPLE THINGS LIKE INTIMIDATION, COERCI0N, BLACKMAIL, EXTORTION OR PRESSURE TACTICS MIGHT, AFTER THE FACT, BE INTERPRETED AS CORPHAL DOMINATION.
THIS AND THE 'CLUSTERING' IMPLIES THAT CORPHAL LEGENDS MIGHT BE CONNECTED TO OR INSPIRED BY SECRET SOCIETIES OR GANGS WHICH CONTROLLED VICTIMS THROUGH BLACKMAIL OR OTHER MORE CONVENTIONAL NORMAL TACTICS.
O-Tar looked long at U-Thor, but he made no reply. Then he turned again to Turan. "If one be a Corphal," he said, "then all of you be Corphals, and we know well from the things that this creature has done," he pointed at Ghek, "that he is a Corphal, for no mortal has such powers as he. And as you are all Corphals you must all die." He took another step downward, when Ghek spoke.
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, AGAIN. NOTE OUR COMMENTS ON CLUSTERING MAKING CORPHALISM RESEMBLE WITCHCRAFT OR SECRET SOCIETIES, RATHER THAN DEMONIC OR GHOSTLY MANIFESTATION. IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT THOSE WHO WERE VICTIMIZED BY THE CORPHALS POWER, THE MAN WHO HAD HIS BRAIN STOLEN, THE MAN WHO HAD HIS BODY CONTROLLED, WERE NOT SUSPECTED OF BEING OR BECOMING CORPHALS. THEY RETAINED THEIR STATUS AS VICTIMS.
THERE WAS NO IMPLICATION THAT THEY COULD OR WOULD BE POSSESSED, OR THAT THE CORPHAL SPIRITS MIGHT JUMP TO OR INHABIT THEM.
"Wait!" he cried. "The life of your jeddak is in my hands. You believe me a Corphal and so you believe, too, that only the sword of a jeddak may slay me, therefore your blades are useless against me. Offer harm to any one of us, or seek to approach your jeddak until I have spoken, and he shall sink lifeless to the marble. Release the two prisoners and let them come to my side--I would speak to them, privately. Quick! Do as I say; I would as lief as not slay O-Tar. I but let him live that I may gain freedom for my friends--obstruct me and he dies."
CORPHALS ARE CLEARLY UNDERSTOOD TO BE DANGEROUS TO JEDDAKS. THE JEDDAKS STEEL MIGHT SLAY THEM, BUT JEDDAKS ARE VULNERABLE. THERE SEEMS TO BE A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP OR ANTIPATHY BETWEEN CORPHALS AND JEDDAKS.
OTHER SWORDSMEN ARE INEFFECTIVE. THIS LEADS TO A QUANDARY, HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH A CORPHAL? PRESUMABLY, IF THEY WERE AS POWERFUL AS INDICATED, THEY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN CONTAINED OR IMPRISONED AT ALL.
THE IMPLICATION IS THAT, UNSTATED, THE MANATOR MUST HAVE FESTOONED THEIR CELLS WITH ALL SORTS OF ‘MAGICAL CONTAINMENTS’, HEXES AND SIGNS, GARLIC OR SILVER OR WHATNOT.
"This be as good as any place," he said. "No one comes here. Never have I been here before, so I know no more of the other chambers than you; but this one, at least, I can find again when I bring you food and drink. O-Mai the Cruel occupied this portion of the palace during his reign, five thousand years before O-Tar. In one of these apartments he was found dead, his face contorted in an expression of fear so horrible that it drove to madness those who looked upon it; yet there was no mark of violence upon him Since then the quarters of O-Mai have been shunned for the legends have it that the ghosts of Corphals pursue the spirit of the wicked Jeddak nightly through these chambers, shrieking and moaning as they go. But," he added, as though to reassure himself as well as his companions, "such things may not be countenanced by the culture of Gathol or Helium."
THIS IS EXTREMELY INTERESTING. NOTE THE TERM: “GHOSTS OF CORPHALS.” IF CORPHALS CAN HAVE OR LEAVE GHOSTS, THEN THEY CAN’T HAVE BEEN SPIRITUAL OR SUPERNATURAL BEINGS, BUT RATHER, PHYSICAL BEINGS. OTHERWISE, NO GHOSTS. A SPIRITUAL/NON-MATERIAL BEING WOULD BE EQUIVALENT TO A GHOST, IT COULDN’T LEAVE A GHOST. BUT LET’S CONTINUE...
AGAIN, THERE'S AN IMPLICATION OF A SPECIAL CONNECTION BETWEEN JEDDAKS AND CORPHALS. I DON'T THINK THAT CORPHALS, OR THE GHOSTS OF CORPHALS, WOULD WASTE 5000 YEARS TORTURING AN ORDINARY SHMUCK.
"To the chambers of O-Mai the Cruel I traced them," squeaked I-Gos. "There you will find them where the moaning Corphals pursue the shrieking ghost of O-Mai; ey!" and he turned his eyes from O-Tar toward the warriors who had arisen, only to discover that, to a man, they were hurriedly resuming their seats.
HERE THE REFERENCE, BY THE SAME GUY AT LEAST, IS TO REFER TO GHOSTS OF CORPHALS AND CORPHALS INTERCHANGEABLEY.
"Listen, then, O Jeddak, and judge us with leniency. We followed the two slaves to the apartments of O-Mai the Cruel. We entered the accursed chambers and still we did not falter. We came at last to that horrid chamber no human eye had scanned before in fifty centuries and we looked upon the dead face of O-Mai lying as he has lain for all this time. To the very death chamber of O-Mai the Cruel we came and yet we were ready to go farther; when suddenly there broke upon our horrified ears the moans and the shrieking that mark these haunted chambers and the hangings moved and rustled in the dead air. O-Tar, it was more than human nerves could endure. We turned and fled. We threw away our swords and fought with one another to escape. With sorrow, but without shame, I tell it, for there be no man in all Manator that would not have done the same. If these slaves be Corphals they are safe among their fellow ghosts. If they be not Corphals, then already are they dead in the chambers of O-Mai, and there may they rot for all of me, for I would not return to that accursed spot for the harness of a jeddak and the half of Barsoom for an empire. I have spoken."
HERE THE CORPHAL IS REFERRED TO AS A ‘FELLOW GHOST’, UNDERMINING THE NOTION OF IT AS A PHYSICAL BEING.
"Only a Corphal may capture a Corphal," growled one of the chiefs who had fled from the chambers of O-Mai.
ANOTHER SUPERNATURAL ATTRIBUTE. THE NOTION OF CAPTURE IMPLIES PHYSICALITY OR MATERIALITY. HOW DO YOU CAPTURE A SPIRIT?
"Fool!" cried Turan. "Know you not that in the veins of this woman flows the blood of ten thousand jeddaks--that greater than yours is her power in her own land? She is Tara, Princess of Helium, great-granddaughter of Tardos Mors, daughter of John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom. She cannot be a Corphal.
THIS IS AN INTERESTING REFERENCE TO THE BEGINNING, WHERE CORPHALS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE LOWER CLASS ANDTHE WICKED. HERE TURAN SEEMS TO BE ALLEGING THAT THE NOBLE BLOODLINE PRECLUDES CORPHALISM. PERHAPS THIS IS A HINT THAT CORPHALISM IS PASSED ON THROUGH HEREDITY. OR PERHAPS THIS IS, AS TARA WOULD INDICATE, A CLASS ALLUSION. UPPER CLASS PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO BE WITCHES OR CORPHALS, THEY HAVE REAL POWER.
OVERALL, THEY SEEM LIKE VAMPIRES. THEY APPEAR TO BE MATERIAL BEINGS IN THAT THEY CAN BE CAPTURED, KILLED BY STEEL, AND LEAVE GHOSTS BEHIND. THEY APPEAR TO HAVE CONNECTIONS TO BLOODLINES, OR PERHAPS TO SOCIAL CLASSES OR GROUPS. ON THE OTHER HAND, THEY HAVE SUPERNATURAL IMMUNITY TO MOST WEAPONS, THEY ARE CAPABLE OF POSSESSION OF MINDS AND BODIES OF THE CONSCIOUS AND UNWILLING, THEY HAVE MASTERY OR CONTROL OF GHOSTS AND CAN TORMENT OR PURSUE GHOSTS. THEY CAN USE THEIR MASTERY OF GHOSTS TO TORMENT THE LIVING.
NOTE THAT BELIEF IN CORPHALS WAS NOT CONFINED TO MANATOR. BOTH TARA AND GATHAN ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE BELIEF, INDICATING THAT IT IS WIDESPREAD. BOTH DISMISS CORPHALS AS SUPERSTITION, BUT INDICATE THAT THERE IS SOME PERSISTENCE OF BELIEF AMONG LOWER CLASSES. MANATOR IS UNUSUAL ONLY IN THAT OFFICIAL BELIEF IN CORPHALS EXISTS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS.
GIVEN THE PROXIMITY OF MANATOR TO BANTOOM, IT IS NOT OUT OF THE QUESTION THAT SOME OUTLYING RENEGADE KALDANE MIGHT HAVE WOUND UP IN THE REGION. PERHAPS EVEN A COLONY. THE ABILITIES OF KALDANES MIGHT WELL HAVE INSPIRED CORPHAL LEGENDS. OUTSIDE OF MANATOR, OF COURSE, WE MIGHT HAVE OTHER KALDANES BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LEGENDS.
ANOTHER SOURCE MIGHT SIMPLY BE EXTRA-ORDINARILY GIFTED PSYCHICS, PERHAPS A PARTICULAR VARIETY OF PSYCHIC TALENT EMERGING IN STRENGTH. THE REFERENCE TO TARA’S BLOODLINE PRECLUDING HER BEING A CORPHAL SUGGESTS THAT CORPHALISM MIGHT HAVE BEEN A HERITABLE TRAIT, PASSED DOWN THROUGH FAMILY LINES OR WITHIN CERTAIN SEGMENTS OF THE COMMUNITY.
AS TERRIFYING AS THE CORPHALS MIGHT BE, EITHER IN FOLKLORE OR REALITY, THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT THERE ARE UNRESOLVED CONTRADICTIONS. THEY SIMPLY CAN’T BE AS POWERFUL AS THE FOLKLORE, OR THEY COULDN’T BE CONTAINED OR STOPPED AT ALL. THE FOLKLORE MUST THEREFORE HAVE AN ELEMENT OF UNRELIABILITY OR EXAGERATION.
VULNERABILITY TO CORPHALS IS SEEN AS A MATTER OF WILL. TARA SAYS THAT THE WEAK WILLED OR CORRUPT ARE MOST VULNERABLE. THE CORPHALS CAN ONLY BE KILLED BY STEEL, BUT ONLY BY JEDDAKS STEAL. IT IS THE QUALITY OF BEING A JEDDAK, EITHER NOBILITY, OR WILL THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE. IN A SENSE, THE FOLKLORE IMPLIES THAT JEDDAKS ARE IN SOME WAYS, SUPERNATURAL CREATURES OR SUPERNATURALLY GIFTED.
MY OWN TAKE ON IT IS THAT THERE'S PROBABLY AN ASSOCIATION BETWEEN JEDDAKS AND WILLPOWER. IF THE CRIMINALS ARE THE WEAKEST WILLED IN SOCIETY, THE JEDDAKS ARE THE STRONGEST WILLED.
PS: The Manator culture apparently subscribed to the Iss faith after all, just like everyone else. Note the following passages:
"Let my first ancestor be my witness, O-Tar, that I speak the truth," he began. "I was left to guard this creature, who sat upon a bench, shackled to the wall. I stood by the open doorway at the opposite side of the chamber. He could not reach me, yet, O-Tar, may Iss engulf me if he did not drag me to him helpless as an unhatched egg."
"May Iss engulf me" is a reference to being submerged or immersed. Iss is a sacred river that is travelled to reach heaven. Being engulfed would either be prematurely put upon the river, or swallowed by the river so as to never complete a journey. Either way, contextually it speaks to knowledge of the Iss faith.
It's also used as an oath of truthfulness, and not lightly. Thus, it implies that the Iss faith is the standard. Further...
"O-Tar had slumped down upon his bench--suddenly he looked shrunken and tired and old. "Cursed be the day," he cried, "that saw those three strangers enter the city of Manator. Would that U-Dor had been spared to me. He was strong--my enemies feared him; but he is gone--dead at the hands of that hateful slave, Turan; may the curse of Issus be upon him!"
Issus is the God, the incarnation of the sacred river Iss. He curses in the name of the dominant god.
The implication, therefore, is that Manator subscribed to the Iss faith, just like everywhere else. Did they travel upon the sacred river? Possibly. Although Manator was geographically isolated, there are clearly pathways through the cliffs and gulleys to the outside world near caravan and presumably canal routes. Alternately, the Manator may well have had their own little sacred river/canal/water body and burial ground.
As I understand it, Manator's geographical barriers are on the south and east, its' open country is oriented north. It's also in the high northern hemisphere, so I suspect that most of its waterways are either oriented towards the north pole, or are run offs from the cliff/ravine systems. It probably doesn't have a natural geographic connection to the Iss river/canal network.
So, my bet is that like the Malacandrans, and like Gulliver Jones Hither and Thither, they've got their own mini-sacred river. Or, possibly, they're connecting to the same network as Gulliver Jones peoples.
It is almost certain that news of the fall of the Iss cult has reached Manator through slaves. However, the religion may still be pretty viable and alive in this region. There might even be a colony of Therns still keeping the faith.
Alternately, the obsession with Corphalism would not be healthy for any Thern caught in disguise. Although not stated, its clear that in this society, any stranger is a possible suspect of Corphalism. The folklore of Corphalism implies both clusters or groups, and coercion of unwilling bodies and minds. This pretty much paints a bulls eye around the secret cult of the Therns.
The emphasis and fear of Corphals makes for a paranoid culture. Secret societies, particularly mystery cults with delusions of grandeur, do not do well in paranoid cultures.
What about the Tur Cult? I think the linguistic evidence suggests that the Tur cult was originally present and dominant. The persistence of Tur in high born or noble names implies that it may have survived in some form as an upper class faith.
The implication of supernatural powers for Jeddaks might be responsible for the persistence of 'Tur'ish names.
But the most interesting thing is that the implication of supernatural powers seems unique. Not only do Jeddaks have a unique supernatural ability to kill Corphals, but there's a pronounced legend of the ghost of a Jeddak tormented by Corphals for 5000 years. That's no ordinary ghost.
What this means is that unique on Barsoom, the Manator Jeddaks (and perhaps Jeds) seem to combine both temporal and spiritual powers, secular and supernatural authority.
So let's add it up. We have a society steeped in the Iss faith. But we also have a superstitious, paranoid society which would be hell on the secret agencies of the Thern cult, and would probably be prone to rooting out that cult. We've also got, spiritual/supernatural authority vesting itself in the Jeddak.
So, its a wild stab in the dark here, but I think that rather than being part of the mainstream Iss Cult, the Manator Iss Cult was a sect or splinter. Like the Church of England splitting from Rome, the Iss of Manator probably split off from the Therns, who were rooted out under an anti-Corphalism crusade and came under the nominal control of the Jeddak and temporal leadership.
The Therns probably wouldn't be too happy. But the Corphal hysteria would prevent them from successfully re-establishing control. And anyway, its an isolated backwater area of little economic value or political influence, so they might well ignore it.
It's even more likely to be a splinter sect, if the Manator have their own local holy waterway/ repository of the dead.
So, what's an Iss Cult without the Therns? It's basically, the entry level Iss faith, without all the hidden architecture of mysteries and elevated knowledge that the Therns represents. The Manator Iss cult would be a popular faith, more or less like the Tur faith, with everything above ground. This might mean that the faith here would have an easier time surviving, after the collapse of the Therns.
C: I will discuss the ideas later, but for now, I have just one observation: the Manatorians embalm their dead on a mass scale, and I-Gos is very old, so you see, no pilgrimage for them, so no real Iss cult…
Of course a society that practices ceremonial taxidermy is not going to be tossing its corpses down any sacred water body!!!
God, that's so obvious. I'm such a dunderhead.
This means that the Iss faith is either a minority or marginal religion here, whose tenets are not widely followed or honoured. Or it means that the Iss faith's tenets have been so dramatically modified, with the sacred river journey and sacred river being rendered as entirely metaphysical or symbolic, that we've departed the Iss cult and we're looking at a schismatic or heretical Iss faith.
Its noteworthy that a palace guard swears by Iss to the Jeddak, and the Jeddak himself invokes the curse of Issus. This suggests that the Iss faith and its tenets are respected and adopted at the highest levels of authority and status. Let's face it, it means a different thing when Jeddaks swear on Iss, rather than just slaves. So, I'll conclude that the Iss faith is the dominant religious mode for the Manators.
But definitely, it's a heretical Iss Cult, probably pretty antithetical to the Thern Cult. After all, the Sacred River as a reality was essential to the Thern's command and control system, it was their communications grid, their trade and commercial lifelines, their key to travel and rule.
A heretical Iss faith that says 'no thank you, the river is a spiritual journey, but we'll just keep the physical bodies' would basically be taking itself out of the Thern grid/network. Local Therns or church agents wouldn't be able to communicate or coordinate with the central office.
C: Hello again.
Very interesting ideas, and kind of parented to my own. Great minds join in the spirit...
Putting together all the information in the past mail, I also put order in my ideas. And inspiration came and made me scaffold my own theories, while I was waiting for your answer.
The Manatorian religion is a State-domesticated shamanism, not unlike the Turko-Mongol one. Manatorians themselves are not unlike the Turks after the conquest of Byzance.
D: Interesting. I agree with you that it’s a state-domesticated religion. Several times we catch people saying "The Laws of Manator are Just", not as a conversational statement, but rather in the form of a ritual liturgical announcement. This implies a state theocratic bent.
The statement itself is not overtly religious, but the manner of presentation, the ritual nature of the pronouncement, and the 'call and response' sort of framing are all heavily suggestive of religious ritual tradition.
C: The Corphals must have been some Lothar-like materializers of illusions, in which they were far better than the average, in a very old time when these things were not known otherwise than as magic. Of course they had to be the shamans of the community.
D: The only thing I'll add here is that the Corphals, it is very clear, were outcasts. They weren't high status individuals, priests and shamans leading the community. The were found among outliers, seen as threats, and associated with the most marginal elements.
Now, its possible that there were social inversions, and the Corphals began as community Shamans and then found themselves as underdogs.
C: The ancestors of the Manatorians must have been nomadic plunderers in the ancient prairies before the big drying of the planet. They were warlike and egalitarian, the most prominent of them had the right to appear mounted in front of the king. The king was very powerful but had to respect this freedom of his henchmen. He was also immediately removable if believed to be coward.
The shamanism of these people was pretty much like any other, with nature forces-worship and ancestor worship.
D: I recall the fate of O-Mai the cruel, who appears in folklore to have simply been terrified to death. Cowardice in this case removed the supernatural power which allowed him to vanquish Corphals, and allows them to torment him through the afterlife.
As for the shamanism, note my original comments in Religions of Barsoom. I speculated that all original religion would have been animist, or nature worship.The world composed of and ruled by spirits. Gods come about through the establishment of societies. Ancestor Worship is a staple of established stable sedentary societies.
A nomadic warrior culture would tend to retain the animist or nature-worship flavour, but inevitably, contact with more civilized cultures would give them a case of Gods. On the other hand, I don't see Ancestor Worship becoming established until they settle down.
C: They must have been ethnically inclusive, but fierce assimilationists, a bit like the Arabs. Despite their aloofness, they developed a very average looks while continuing to have a separate culture.
D: Hmmmm. I tended to see their culture forming during the cataclysm, since they seem to clearly have connections to both modern Barsoom (language, games, hierarchies etc.) and to ancient Orovar traditions. My thinking is that they were lucky enough to find a long term stable and secure bastion, and so they dropped out of the subsequent cultural evolution.
C: Their shamanism resisted "Tur-ism" and their isolation was already in place when the Iss cult appeared.
D: Despite the linguistic fossils in place and personal names? I think that Tur-ism did business here. I note that Tur-ism was a pretty natural outgrowth of the evolution of animism and pantheism into god worship and polytheism which eventually lead to monotheism. We saw a lot of comfort in the polytheistic German and Viking cultures in eventually accepting monotheistic Christianity.
For the proto-manatorians, it might not have been all that big a deal. They believed in a Sun Spirit. Someone comes along and tells them that the Sun Spirit is a big deal, bigger than regular spirits? Okay. Then later they get told that the Sun Spirit is the ruling or super-spirit? Okay.
C: They appear to be acquainted with the Iss cult - no wonder, with all the slaves they take from the Iss-faithful polities, especially Kaol - but do not appear to bow to it as much as to their superstitions.
D: My own thinking is that the Iss Cult was already established and spreading rapidly when the Manators became isolated. So it’s possible that their faith might even represent an early archaic form of the Iss faith... from before Doctrine got purified and the Iss followers were trying to win by compromising with other religious and social traditions.
Yet it does seem to be the keystone faith for invocations, curses and oaths. I'll agree though, that the Iss Cult of Manator doesn't have nearly the strength that it had in other regions... possibly because of its far more metaphyisical or symbolic overtones. Nor does it seem to offer much protection against supernatural terrors.
The weakness of the Iss faith in Manator is seen in that when you meet a Corphal, you call a Jeddak rather than an Iss Priest.
C: Besides, they mummify their dead and keep them on the balconies instead of sending them on the Iss, and I-Gos appears to be much older than the 1000 years allowed for the faithful of Iss- he obviously didn't take the pilgrimage; besides, since they are isolated they can't really send pilgrims down the Iss, logically...
D: Big forehead slap, once more. You're absolutely right. The mummification means that they've ditched or never adopted the river journey as a real pilgrimage. My speculation as to whether they had an alternate river, like the Oyarsa or Hither versions of the Cult, or whether they were able to undertake a pilgrimage to the main grid was simply unfounded.
C: Since they inhabit more towards the dry grasslands of the northern hemisphere, it means their transition towards the state that is theirs at the moment of the action in the Mars books was smoother than for the average, like for Gathol. They managed to conquer an old city and stayed there, and changed from a Mongolic-like culture towards an urban one but the warlike situation they had forced them to remain in touch with their old wild ways.
D: Yes. I tend to see them as establishing their city state very very early. There probably are not that many Barsoomian cities older than Manator
C: Unlike the Turks though, the Manatorians had no Islam to totally transform their spirit and no big territory to expand upon. They remained heathen tribal plunderers, but sedentary urban ones. Why their mummy-obsession and their horror of Corphals?
The city they conquered must have been one keeping a strong Orovar flavor thanks to its isolation, of which flavor they took some. The "mummyfilia" they have must come from there. Also, nature-worshipping must have fallen into disgrace after the collapse of the ecosystem. Only their ancestors seemed to still be with them since their people still had its way and nobody had ever defeated them. So the Corphal shamans summoned less and less the gods of nature and more and more exclussively the ancestors. These facts could only help their taste for mummies.
D: Agreed. Mummyfilia seems to have been a staple of Orovar society. In Llana of Gathol, we learned that the people of ancient Horz, even as far back as the era of Oceans, practiced mummification. Ah, but coming back to the Corphals, the reference to them is that they summoned the spirits of the weak, the corrupt, the cowardly. The Corphal tradition seems antithetical to mummification and ancestor worship.
C: And then the Corphals must have tried to turn the system into a shamanistic theocracy, maybe they engaged into gruesome sacrifices and practices and terrorized the population. They fought the monarchy and despite their powers they somehow lost. Maybe the king of those times was a powerful Corphal himself and knew all their secrets.
D: Possibly. But my perception is that the Manator society still has elements of a theocracy, or at least, unifies both temporal and supernatural powers.
C: Anyway the king won, and of course proclaimed the Corphals to be monsters and outlawed them. Because of their excesses and the quite prosaic Martian human nature, together with the private character of the ancestor-worship, nobody cried over them. The king remained the only officiant, meditating in the company of the embalmed ones.
D: Nice observation there. The King's communing with the embalmed remains of the dead is suggestive of a form of communion with the dead that recalls the corphals control of spirits. But I don't think that this sort of thing is confined to the King - I-Gos the mortician talks about sitting in a room enjoying the company of his ex-wives. I suspect that its a common thing to commune with the remains of your family and lineage.
It's probably quite gauche to attempt to commune with corpses outside your family or lineage. The Corphals, in this sense, are pirates. They're literally ghost molestors, persecuting malign or unattached or vulnerable spirits. Also, given that they attack ghosts, they've clearly severed the connection of the dead to their remains. So corphalism seems highly transgressive in this respect.
C: From time to time some king was using atavistic powers which fact increased his renown as magician or devilish character. But the sacred character of all that decayed over time since there was no more material terror or mass rituals. Only superstition remained. This being said, it is to be remarked that the dead became even more present in the life of the living, since they were spectators of everyday life from their balconies. This exposure of the dead was probably another result of the spiritual evolution of Manator, a placebo for the loss of mistery and sacrality.
D: Interesting. One suggestion I'd make, however, is that for suspicion and fear to be so high, there has to be something driving belief in Corphalism. If nobody ever sees or hears a witch, belief fades away. People here are terrified of corphals and truly believe in them.
This is one of the reasons why I suspected that Corphalism is their social immune reaction to Thern secret societies.
C: As for the deadly Jetan and slavery, we know all Barsoom uses slaves and many polities have gladiator-like fights. But only Manator appears to hold such fights under the form of Jetan. Since they lack great deal of the mystery of the Iss cult, they must make up for this loss by ritualizing what they have at home.
D: If they were a nomadic warrior society, the game would reproduce this in symbolic ritualized form.
C: Also, they probably make a difference among themselves by judging who's the boldest, and this is measured by who captures the biggest number of slaves. Otherwise, it would be quite illogical for them to have as many slaves as they appear to have. Their whole social body appears to be in precarious equilibrium because of this.
D: Slave expeditions take place every three to six years. The typical MO appears to be elaborately tracking and then ambushing an entire caravan. It's a major, almost an industrial, undertaking.
The Manator seem to approach slaving the way New Englanders approached whaling, rather than the way tribesmen approached slave raids.
C: Otherwise, your observations on the psychological aspects of corphalism are ok. If we think of it, our jasoomian sorcerers can me pretty multilateral in talents too: shapeshifting, possessing, dematerialising, marginality etc. - all these do exist as deemed qualities of theirs in the public imaginary. Sorcerer or demon, it's sometimes blurred upon our orb as well. And yes the kings were sacred upon our world too.
And yes, the majority of the slaves of Manator must be home-grown. Barsoomian polities are not that big, as I showed in my memorable and monumental essay. A million missing would show big time on any of them. I guess that Manator must have been a sort of half caste society. The origin had a big importance, but the progression was possible although controlled.
D: “Memorable and monumental”… well, well…No modesty here, ;) LOL. I agree though, it was a truly excellent essay, absolutely first rate, and a pleasure to read.
C: What do you mean? I really am a very modest person. I’m the humblest man alive…heheh…
I suppose the question is how the Manators became Iss Worshippers, given that the linguistic evidence is that they were originally Tur worshippers.Your suggestion that Iss came in through captured slaves is intriguing. But I don't know that I buy it. Is there any precedent for a slave based religion taking over an entire society? Mostly, low status religions stay low status... the rest of society, the higher orders and ruling classes avoid the stink of commonness.
There is Christianity, but my impression is that Christianity in the Roman era was more of a middle class mystery cult, and one which coexisted with other mystery cults, including Attis, Mithra, Dionysius, and Gnosticism. And the middle class
Christians were inveterate social climbers.
I suppose that Iss worship could have come up through slaves, providing that at least some of these slaves were able to convert high status persons, including Jeds or Jeddaks. So we can't rule it out.
C: Good observations. Yes, Christianity was more "middle class". And it even was a spiritual refuge for the middle class in front of the patrician imperial religion. But so could be Iss for the Manators. After all, Islam spread in Africa by merchants - a class quite frowned upon in many ancient societies - and besides, in Manator, jeddaks often take concubines from the noble captives, and their offspring is considered as good as a legitimate one if the individual is worthy. Noble captives seem to keep some of their prestige.
D: True, but noble captives do best when they abandon their old traditions and embrace those of their new society.
And true, Islam spread through merchants, at least in some parts of Africa, and merchants are often a frowned upon class. However, the role and importance of merchants varies from one society to another, and on some occasions, even where frowned upon, they can be quite influential.
I think we can make distinctions between societies where the merchant class wielded status and influence, and societies where they formed a cultural ghetto. But I suspect that's well beyond the scope of this discussion.
On the other hand, I don't think we could rule out early Thern missionaries or missionary work.
Interesting question: Was the Manator Iss faith once a part of the mainstream Thern church and became schismatic? Or are we looking at a sort of parallel faith loosely inspired by but not directly connected to the original? I'm thinking of the Rastafarians, the Tai Ping, or the Polynesian 'Christian' Cargo Cults, all of which founded full scale religions arising out of distorted fragmentary encounters with their original inspirations, and which were unique enough to be full fledged cults of their own.
Thinking out loud, I'm betting that Christian history was full of these 'Bastard Christian' offshoots. Mormonism, arguably is one, and the Medieval Cathars were probably another. The organized Church probably swept most of them up, cleaned up their doctrine and incorporated them, or simply stamped them out of existence.
By the same token, the worldwide Thern Church probably enforced a kind of uniform standard on most of the world, with allowances here and there. I imagine that they must have been pretty aggressive about it, if they could bring the Okar into the faith.
But Manator seems to be a genuine heresy, whether it originated that way or devolved later. So either it broke away from the main church, or it successfully resisted efforts to be integrated into the main church.
C: I bet on "Rastafari-Cargo-Iss" in the case of Manator. And Christ became one of the Buddhas in the East, long before the official missionaries from Rome showed up.
D: I did not know that... about Buddy Christ. I'm, curious, what, besides intuition (which I respect) do you rely upon to go with the Rastafari-Iss rather than Thern Missionary approach? Anyway, let’s pursue our line of reasoning: Several times we catch people saying "The Laws of Manator are Just", not as a conversational statement, but rather in the form of a ritual liturgical announcement. This implies a state theocratic bent.The statement itself is not overtly religious, but the manner of presentation, the ritual nature of the pronouncement, and the 'call and response' sort of framing are all heavily suggestive of religious ritual tradition.
C: Accurate and just is your observation, o Den... sorry, O-Den. But I don't think the infatuation of the Manatorians with their state cult goes beyond the cult of Rome for example. Chinese divinized their state and order and way of life much more, although the cult itself was less important socially: you could be a good Chinese without being Confucian, while you could not skip the burning of incense before Cesar without risking a trip to the lions...
D: I don't think we know enough to really place Manator on the spectrum of state cults. I do think we agree that its likely in there somewhere. The only thing I'll add here is that the Corphals, it is very clear, were outcasts. They weren't high status individuals, priests and shamans leading the community. They were found among outliers, seen as threats, and associated with the most marginal elements.
Now, it’s possible that there were social inversions, and the Corphals began as community Shamans and then found themselves as underdogs.
C: Absolutely the same I want to show. Don't forget the medieval sorcerers used to be the pagan priests of old... And medieval sorcerers are mostly old women or Jews or heretics whatever, the scapegoat par excellence.
D: Well, I think that medieval sorcerers were more mythical than real. But the fact that attributions or folklore of medieval sorcerers made them Jews or old women suggests a discontinuity with pagan priests and shamans.
C: Not necessarily so, shamans could have been mostly women, there are hints of that in the legendarium. As for the Jews, it’s a question of projection, you know, it’s quite usual to project the shadow of a past evil upon some more present nemesis. Besides, tribal religions are tricky concerning sacrality. The Greeks used to say "we'll win this battle if the gods do not interfere". Many American Natives regarded homosexuality as a necessary trait for a good shaman. The Nordics too, and this was the reason why the tribe witch had to be a woman for even the gods were in danger to turn gay if they studied magic... Besides Wotan had the quite unflattering name of "god of the hanged ones". Many gods had disgusting features. Etc.etc. Features that came from the desire of the pantheist beliefs to include light and shadow within the same personification. And which the monotheistic religions regard as a proof of the demonism of politheism.
D: Interesting stuff… Anyway Ancestor Worship is a staple of established stable sedentary societies. A nomadic warrior culture would tend to retain the animist or nature-worship flavour, but inevitably, contact with more civilized cultures would give them a case of Gods. On the other hand, I don't see Ancestor Worship becoming established until they settle down.
C: Yep, true...
D: I tended to see their culture forming during the cataclysm, since they seem to clearly have connections to both modern Barsoom (language, games, hierarchies etc.) and to ancient Orovar traditions.
My thinking is that they were lucky enough to find a long term stable and secure bastion, and so they dropped out of the subsequent cultural evolution.
C: Also pretty much what I meant.
D: I note that Tur-ism was a pretty natural outgrowth of the evolution of animism and pantheism into god worship and polytheism which eventually lead to monotheism. We saw a lot of comfort in the polytheistic german and Viking cultures in eventually accepting monotheistic Christianity.
C: But Hinduism resisted. To change to monotheism, you just need the men to be too good for their religion. Viking or even Greek religions were too weak for the spirits of the peoples who believed in them. There was no big "spiritualizer" of the ancient myths among the Norse or Hellenes, to make them stick to a more complex interpretation of these old stories. The Greeks made their spirit drift away from the religion into the phylosophy.
Whereas in India, the polytheists were very refined and willing to fight, and the people was quite passive in this respect (no Luthers among the Vaishyas), so the school of the Vedanta and big thinkers like Nagarjuna gave headaches even to Hegel. He gave his best to refute them. Great minds like Schopenhauer or Guenon surrendered to the Vedanta. I don't see the passing towards monotheism to be some necessary evolution...
D: You are absolutely right. Evolution isn't an inevitable stepladder, and pantheism or animism doesn't necessarily give way to polytheism and thence to monotheism. It's a logical evolutionary progression, not an inevitable one.
That said, the polytheism of Hindu society, while robust, had its own problems. It faced at least two major challenges in Buddhism and Islam, both of which supplanted it politically at times, and both of which stole large numbers of followers.
C: Actually Hinduism came back and destroyed Buddhism. Something Christianity was never able to do. Even Hegel had difficulties as I said. As for Islam, this one helped itself a lot with sharp reasons, but mostly long and metallic ones...
D: Point taken. LOL But back to the gods…
Even more significantly, the polytheist gods of India were a pretty cannibalistic bunch, devouring each other and rendering formerly separate gods and heroes as avatars and aspects of other gods.
I'm wondering though, if the persistence of polytheism in India was as much a factor of the political and economic structures of Indian society as the superior resilience of their particular religions.
It strikes me that polytheism may do best in an environment of a multitude of non-hegemonic states... the era of the Greeks, Phoenicians and Early Romans for instance. Once you've got a dominant hegemonic state, there's a political impetus to support that state with a monopolistic or monotheistic religious order. Even the Egyptians experimented with Ra as a monotheistic deity under Akhenaton. In this view, Rome was in its imperial and post-imperial phases, headed towards monotheism.
On the other hand, an established monotheistic church would also do quite well where you have an absence of organized states at all. The situation which describes the fluid situation of medieval Europe after Rome.
India's polytheists may well have found themselves a sweet spot, enough diversity and local power that they could withstand monotheistic challenges.
C: You said “Despite the linguistic fossils in place and personal names? I think that Tur-ism did business here.'' - very true, big forehead slap for me here. Still it must not have been that important outside of the royal house since most people stick to superstitions. After all, even the so-old christian Greeks still throw things in the sea for Poseidon before taking the boat. And in India, the common people worships, in many cases, divinities that are much more primitive than the highly symbolic and sophisticated official gods. Methinks the commoners are always one step behind the more elevated, even among the polytheists...Besides the Tur cult probably fell into disgrace before it took roots into the local ethos. Must have been the Cataclysm. Even before the stabilization of the situation of Manator into what we know today.
D: Well, the royal house strikes me as pretty superstitious itself. I don't see Tur-ism as all that incompatible with local superstition, particularly since Tur-ism as a faith probably evolved out of the same sort of spirit traditions that gave rise to superstition. As for Poseidon, exactly my point. Superstition and Christianity co-exist quite easily. I see no particular reason why a Tur faith, particularly one that is far from its original area, wouldn't either be hospitable to superstition or exist side by side with superstition. Good observation about the level of elaboration of the gods following the social class, too… My own thinking is that the Iss Cult was already established and spreading rapidly when the Manators became isolated. So its possible that their faith might even represent an early archaic form of the Iss faith... from before Doctrine got purified and the Iss followers were trying to win by compromising with other religious and social traditions.
C: Possible indeed… As for the superstition of the royalty, it’s simple: transfer of mentality. As Turism declined and isolation grew, a new infusion of popular superstition
entered the royalty.
D: Actually, that sounds about right. I'm sure there's something cogent to say about the rise of superstition and magical practices balanced against the decline of formal religious spirituality, but it escapes me right now. Yet, going back to the Iss cult, it does seem to be the keystone faith for invocations, curses and oaths.
C: Yes but, once again, what if it is a "cargo-cult"... You said once: ‘’I'll agree though, that the Iss Cult of Manator doesn't have nearly the strength that it had in other regions... possibly because of its far more metaphyisical or symbolic overtones. Nor does it seem to offer much protection against supernatural terrors.The weakness of the Iss faith in Manator is seen in that when you meet a Corphal, you call a Jeddak rather than an Iss Priest”. Guess we must take both positions into account for the final essay.
Besides, I might have the proof the Corphals are older than Iss: if there are such things as "ghosts" of them, they logically aren't in Dor! They have to be independent of Issus, for otherwise they would be drawn to the sacred valley after death, even if just to integrate a silian, wicked as they are...So their prestige has to be older than Issus', even if downgraded. As for the jeddak as only match for them, well, kingship was older than Iss too... Their conflict must have predated Iss.
D: Excellent point!
D: Let’s delve a bit more on the mummification aspect: Mummification was persistent well into the era of declining oceans. It was a continuous practice for Horz, for instance. And Horz would have hung on well into the period of decline.
In the Giant of Mars, Korvas is a dead city on the dried sea bottom. This tells us that Korvas' day was well after the retreat of the oceans. But Carter finds lifelike mummies there.
So mummification probably persisted for a long time, well after the passing of the Orovars and into the early ages of the red race. It seems to have been a logical extension of ancestor worship traditions, which might explain its durability.
It was probably eventually stamped out by the Therns as a heretical practice.
I wonder if the Phundahls practice mummification? Or for that matter, the Toonols. Ras Thavas scientific traditions of surgery and suspended animation may be offshoots of the mummification tradition. And, for that matter, the Pankors tradition of freezing bodies may have had similar roots.
Part of the idea of mummification, or preserving bodies, is that the owners might need them back.
Llana of Gathol referred to extensive folklore of reanimation... the belief that if the body could be preserved well enough, that death might be forgotten. I could see this sort of core belief giving rise to traditions in both Toonol and Pankor.
C: I don't remember any detail for the Phundalians mummifying things....
D: Neither do I. It might be difficult for them, since they're on the edge of a swamp... too much humidity. But it’s clear that they are Iconophiles. They worship or venerate a number of physical representations of Tur. So it’s not unlikely that they venerate their ancestors either with mummification, or perhaps by commissioning statues or figurines of them.
C: Some swamps preserve very well.
D: No, these are bogs, not swamps. The Toonolian marshes are not acid piles of sterile humid detritus, they are a very lively ecosystem…
C: Ah, ok… But back to the main idea, I think the Orovars were more attached to their terrestrial envelope, whatever their phylosophy was. The Phundahlians must have been from the other races, and as polytheists-turned-dogmatic-monotheists, they must have a quite "dust must return to dust" vision. The Orovars must have invented Tur but I have a feeling that passive dogmatism was not really their thing, for maybe they had this lingering idea of the Lion-totem that you explained so well with Lothar and Komal. Since they were the best embalmers, the idea of the return of the soul to the body must have come to them, not after them.
D: Agreed. We know from Llana of Gathol that the embalming or mummification tradition stretches all the way back in Horz to when it had oceans around it. This means that it was well established at the time of the height of Orovar civilization, and in the cultural and political capital of that civilization.
C: And what means such a marvelous event as the body reintegration by the soul? THE SUPREME TRIUMPH OF THE WILL. Have you read Frobenius, with the ritual hunting of the lion as demostration of the supreme will? Anyway, no common measure with the dumb dogmatism of Phundahl. If the Orovars were Turists, they must have been very different ones from what we see now.
D: Haven't read Frobenius, but quite an interesting reference. I'm pretty sure that Phundahlian Turism is quite different from what it was back in the day.
Phundahlian Turism has all the earmarks of a collapsed faith, the multitude of incarnations, the immense and unwieldy volume of doctrine, the obsolete beliefs. I think that what we are seeing in Phundahl is a kind of ecumenicism of refugees, the different Tur sects putting aside their differences and merging their doctrines in a last ditch effort to preserve their faith.
The result, of course, is a cult which is so unwieldy, so hidebound and irrational, that it is simply incapable of making a comeback.
Interestingly, if we look to Lin Carter's Colonial Mars, there is some indication that Tur-ism, or aspects of it, may have continued to survive in the remote and barren regions.
C: What about the matter if the Toonols practice mummification? Well, I don't think so. They are reputed to be agnostic or atheistic. Ras Thavas could be a proof it has become just a more pronounced scientific interest.
D: Okay, the Toonols are agnostic or atheistic now, but what were they before? How did they get to be so agnostic, particularly on a Mars which was otherwise devoted to Iss.
My thinking is that the Toonols were also probably Tur worshippers, and that they went down the same road as the Phundahls. Indeed, its likely that the Toonols and Phundahls were the same people.
I think that what happened was that even as their Tur-worship became impossibly unwieldy, the Toonols were forced to continue to deal with an outside world. In particular, they had to deal with Iss as a competing faith. With home grown advantage, the Tur-cultists were able to discredit Iss theology, but could not answer the easily pointed out contradictions in their own faith. Eventually, both faiths simply died off, and the Toonols became agnostic. The remnants of religious tenets became fodder for materialist inquiry and analysis.
In the situation of taxidermy, I'm reminded of medieval prohibitions on cutting up corpses, and the way this retarded understanding of anatomy and surgery. Here, if the Toonols preserved an ancient Orovar tradition of taxidermy, I think that their shift towards materialism would have left them with dissection of the dead as less and less a sacred or religious duty, but increasingly as a materialist pursuit. As any Doctor will tell you, cutting up dead people systematically is the first step to operating on live ones.
So, I'm speculating that Ras Thavas is the culmination of a Toonolian tradition of surgery and medicine which may have begun with the de-mystification of the Orovars art of mummification.
C: In order to give you a similar example, in Transylvania, from the competition between Catholics and Lutherans and Calvinists issued a mass attraction to Unitarianism in the 17th century, and this "neo-arianist" Christianity turned today into the most agnostic of the spiritualities that come from Christianity. So it's possible for the things to have occured the way you say. Or maybe, the Toonols split from the Turists by trying to simplify things, the orthodoxes got harsh on them and they migrated to the other end of the marshes and gave up faith totally as a complete rejection.
D: That works too. Either way, I'd see the Toonols as originally Turists who have utterly lapsed.
C: You also think that for that matter, the Pankors tradition of freezing bodies may have had similar roots, but they don't seem to do this to their own dead, nor to dead, period.
D: Well, the dead don't thaw out and walk around. But if you're out there trying to preserve your dead, freezing them in the ice fields would be an obvious thing. Indeed, in Gulliver Jones, the dead are eventually frozen in the ice fields at the end of their river journey.
We know from Llana of Gathol that 'reanimation' or preserved dead returning to life is part of the lore, so Pankars may simply be playing on that tune.
C: You said: ''Part of the idea of mummification, or preserving bodies, is that the owners might need them back. Llana of Gathol referred to extensive folklore of reanimation... the belief that if the body could be preserved well enough, that death might be forgotten. I could see this sort of core belief giving rise to traditions in both Toonol and Pankor.'' - yep, true, but here's the trick: it's not a belief, for as we see in Llana, it's actually true! No dam' means to be metaphysic, upon Barsoom!
D: ROTFL. Yep, its a tricky place.
C: Here is more about your ideas: you said ''Ah, but the reference to Corphals is that they summoned the spirits of the weak, the corrupt, the cowardly. The Corphal tradition seems antithetical to mummification and ancestor worship.''- again, the Orcs were Elves once... sorry the sorcerers were pagan priests once. And weird creatures at that, even in the eyes of their believers.
You also said ''Nice observation there. The King's communing with the embalmed remains of the dead is suggestive of a form of communion with the dead that recalls the corphals’ control of spirits. But I don't think that this sort of thing is confined to the King - I-Gos the mortician talks about sitting in a room enjoying the company of his ex wives. I suspect that its a common thing to commune with the remains of your family and lineage.''- yes but I-Gos just enjoys dusty stiff company, the jeddak is communing with the illustrious lineage for the harmony in the polity. Both commune, but here on Jasoom too, Augustus was praying to Romulus ( whom meanwhile had turned into the god Quirinus, protector of Rome), while the peasant Simpletus Vulgaricus was praying to his ancestor Stupidus Rednecus. Big, big difference...
And again, ''The Corphals, in this sense, are pirates. They're literally ghost molestors, persecuting malign or unattached or vulnerable spirits. Also, given that they attack ghosts, they've clearly severed the connection of the dead to their remains. So corphalism seems highly transgressive in this respect.''- yes but the pagan gods of Earth are often tricksters, remember? So would be their priests. Besides this would be the proof of the precedence of Corphalist shamanism upon Iss, and of it keeping the first place in the Manatorian minds whatever the official religion was, or had been at some point.
Also, ''Interesting. One suggestion I'd make, however, is that for suspicion and fear to be so high, there has to be something driving belief in Corphalism. If nobody ever sees or hears a witch, belief fades away. People here are terrified of corphals and truly believe in them.This is one of the reasons why I suspected that Corphalism is their social immune reaction to Thern secret societies.''- good point here, and in harmony with the "infiltrator" theory.
Another idea of yours: "If they were a nomadic warrior society, the game would reproduce this in symbolic ritualized form. Slave expeditions take place every three to six years. The typical MO appears to be elaborately tracking and then ambushing an entire caravan. It's a major,almost an industrial, undertaking.The Manator seem to approach slaving the way New Englanders approached whaling, rather than the way tribesmen approached slave raids." - very very interesting observation. Do you know what this looks most like? Two possibilities: the "flowery wars" of the Aztecs. And the ''Gerkekh" of the Mongols. Except, they were taking slaves, no chattel for the gods nor targets for training. But we approach the Mongol ways again...
As a digression, people seem to die like flies in Manator... I-Gos is a multiple widower. The falsely-naturalized guy from Gathol that helps the heroes has his lover kill her own husband, then pretending to have died, the actually dying herself. There's the deadly Jetan thing. Besides most of the mummies seem to be of adult, not old, people, although Manatorians don't take the pilgrimage. And so on, while we know there are no illnesses upon Barsoom.
Methinks they kind of enjoy stabbing each-other like crazy, another "triumph of the will'' thing. In return, this provides with some free spaces for some slaves to integrate the social body, from time to time.
D: Well, assassination is common elsewhere on Barsoom, as John Carter makes clear. One feature of Manator society is that it does not make war as other Barsoomian societies do. Helium has dust ups with Zodanga, Jahar fights whoever. Manator fights no one. Its slave raids are bloodless commercial enterprises.
So... I assume that they've had to, as a traditionally warlike Barsoomian society, had to find and formalize all sorts of alternatives to war. Like Jetan games with real knives.
C: Well, I hope you find some inspiration from this material too. It's been an excellent discussion.
Oh, and PS:
The Iss cult was not a "pure, orthodoxely followed" religion, even in its pre-Carter time: for example, in A Princess of Mars, the guy from Helium that infiltrates Zodanga what's his name, he swears upon some lunar divinities. Well, these should logically have nothing to do with the Iss cult! This is even pre-Tur stuff! So, what of it?
D: First of all, about the pre-Tur stuff: Missed that. But you're quite correct. We should expect to find fossils of prior religious traditions all over the place, even buried in Tur and Iss theology. And in fact, we do.
I'm reminded of Brackett's 'Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon' which alludes to the continuing existence of some form of moon cult. Brackett doesn't get into it much at all, but there's a very loose implication that the moon cult is also connected in some fashion to canals. And of course, the 'Mad Moon's name in Brackett does seem to reference Iss at least vaguely.
Brackett also elsewhere notes that in the 23rd century (or whenever) there are mysterious ruins on one of the moons...
Lin Carter's Martian stories note that the Moons are now barely visible with much lower albedos, but that they form a key feature of a Martian astrology.
But there’s another thing I want to discuss more about. You said: “Besides the Tur cult probably fell into disgrace before it took roots into the local ethos. Must have been the Cataclysm. Even before the stabilization of the situation of Manator into what we know today.”
Hmmm. What's your basis for this? My own impression, from the depictions in Mastermind of Mars, is that the Tur Cult was probably widespread but in decline before the cataclysm.
One of the notable things about Tur worship in Phundahl is the endless varieties of Tur worship, sects and subsects. Either the Tur faith never managed wholesale doctrinal uniformity (unlikely, given the Turgan and the implication of a literate priesthood tradition), or the Tur faith by the time the cataclysm rolled around was well into schisms, much like modern Christianity today... with the Catholic Turs, Reformed Turs, Baptist Turs, Mormon Turs, Tur Witnesses, Episcopalian Turs, etc.
My own view is that I think Manator was originally a Tur worshipping society, through and through, particularly in its early days when they were picking out baby names and city names, but that the faith was probably well into decline by the time the Cataclysm showed up.
You seem to be arguing that the persistence of superstition implies that both Tur and Iss are relatively recent add ons, and that the Corphal superstition represents a relic of Pre-Tur religion or spiritual beliefs? So, as I reconstruct your argument:1) First comes the tribal religion, incorporating Corphals and Shamanic traditions. The Corphals may actually be inversions of Shamanic traditions.Hmmmm. Thinking it over, I'm not disagreeing with this model at all. I think that my differences are mostly ones of shading. Was Tur a light shallow interregnum faith, or was it a longer lasting, deeper tradition. Was the Iss schism a cargo cult, or a breakaway sect or some sort of primeval compromise.
2) Then Tur comes along, but it may not have sunk terribly deep, confining itself to ruling classes.
3) Then Iss, in some form, comes along, and supplants Tur, establishing some sort of schismatic version of the Iss faith co-existing uneasily with the remnants of the tribal religion which is now a lively superstition tradition.
You also said: ''Yes, it does seem to be the keystone faith for invocations, curses and oaths but, once again, what if it is a "cargo-cult"...”
D: It could be. It's clear though, from the reference to being 'engulfed by the Iss' that they've got at least some idea of doctrine.
I dunno. Am I missing something? How can we distinguish between a cargo cult, a schismatic faithor a primal compromise.
Actually, thinking it over, a schismatic faith would have started or at one point or another established a relatively pure doctrine, wouldn't it?
In which case the ancient tradition of taxidermy would have been long banished. The schism or departure from doctrine would not have revived an ancient defunct tradition, but would have established new and crazy rules.
So the persistence of taxidermy implies that Manator's Iss-ism was never mainstream, or they'd never have continued that tradition.
So, either we've got a cargo cult, or we have a thern cult established in the early days before doctine got pure or when doctrine was far more willing to compromise.
And that's as far as I can take it. Any arguments to bring it down on one side or the other?
By the way, interesting that on a desert world, a nation like Manator would have some notion of being 'engulfed' by waters - it implies drowning or flooding, does it not? I don't think I'd seen that particular construction with respect to other references to Iss in the mainstream cult.
It strikes me that Manator is a northern hemisphere nation, and we know from observations that while the southern hemisphere polar cap is stable, the northern hemisphere cap expands and contracts dramatically. This implies a more lively hydrological cycle in the north. Quite possibly, canals are dry for much of the year, and are prone to flash flooding in the spring.
Thus, for Manators, the metaphorical journey upon the Iss carries a risk of being 'engulfed', dramatic events, circumstance, can sweep the unwary off the shores, out of their lives, and into the river from which they cannot return. Instead of Iss being the stately passage to the afterlife, it is potentially a dangerous interface between life and death.
We do know that in the mainstream cult, the souls of the unworthy eventually end up in the silurians that live in the waters of Dor (and I suppose, by extension, of Iss). So the notion of being engulfed within Iss implies that your soul doesn't make the journey to heaven, but you're stuck within forever as some sort of underwater worm or serpent.
It also implies that the Iss passage (even though it is spiritual in nature) might not be continuous, but might be a periodic thing, subject to seasons or auspicious time periods. Perhaps this made it easier for the taxidermy tradition to hold on.
And it strikes me that this sort of perception of Iss as an erratic, dangerous and perhaps episodic or seasonal spiritual conduit does a good deal to reinforce the social order.
After all, in the mainstream Iss cult, salvation consists of riding down a stable river, living a virtuous life for its own sake, not connected with temporal authorities per se. In the notion of a more turbulent Iss, I think that there's a hidden message that in addition to virtue, obedience to higher orders, officers, leaders, the captains of the social ship may be necessary. The Iss is a dangerous road to salvation, and you have to rely upon your betters to lead or guide you.
It's not an interpretation that the Therns would have necessarily endorsed, since it might hive off power or influence to temporal or earthly elements. But it does tend to reinforce the power structure and philosophy of a state religion.
I'm also willing to bet that the nature of the 'Turbulent' or 'Erratic' Iss also encourages superstition and quasi-superstitious traditions like Astrology.
What do you think?
C: It’s a very good complement to what I said, and I think we have a nice Manatorian history of religion here… but what of the Corphals older than Iss thing. And what you said yourself after reconstructing my theory, about schisms and stuff.
D: My problem is that I can only go back so far, and then I can't distinguish between Cargo Cults and Missionary Cults.
Perhaps after a certain point the distinction is meaningless. After all, the Chinese Tai Ping took its start from a local who was educated by Christian missionaries, and the Latter Day Saints guy came out of the Christian mainstream. In both cases, its startling how each religion sprang out of true doctrine and almost immediately radically diverged to become literally indistinguishable from a Cargo/Rastafari Cult.
Conceivably, there's no way to know the origins of the Manator Iss faith, except to observe that there must have been some form of contact or inspiration from the mainstream Iss Cult.
By the way, don't put too much faith in Corphals. It's clear from Tara of Helium that the folklore or superstition of Corphals is widespread. Both Tara and Gahan of Gathol know what Corphals are and what their properties are. At their upper class levels, they consider it merely base superstition, still practiced by the ignorant. But this tells us that belief in Corphals is widely distributed and still somewhat live. Manator's Corphalism is distinctive only in the intensity of the belief. ie - More people believe it more fervently and at higher levels.
C: Manatorians look like Romans to me, with mummies. More than like Chinese. Quite secular and slightly irreverent - they don't take I-Gos for a guru or something, they rather deride him and his work, at a point someone swears on the false hair of the Therns, etc. Their respect for the Jeddak melts like a jellyfish in the sun once suspected to be a coward.
Yet they quasi-worship Manator. They risk their lives for it in the games, the games being, like in Rome, a reenactment and assessment of their political order.
Chinese were far more ritualistic and convinced of the sacrality of their things. Without getting brutal. Who knows, maybe they were not brutal because they were convinced and respectful enough.
D: Very true, and very perceptive.
C: I don't remember exactly what timeline I assigned to this stuff, but it's written on the second email about the theme. I said something about Manatorians occupying Manator sometimes at the very beginning of the cataclysm. And they must have been shamanistic, while old Manator must have been more along "triumph of the will" Orovar stuff.
D: Well, yeah, but I never quite got a handle on your reasoning behind the timeline.
By the way, why do you argue for the Manatorians occupying Manator at the beginning of the cataclysm?
Myself, given the fact that they're ethnically red, that they speak the common language, and that their culture contains most of the traditional common motifs of the red civilization, I'd be inclined to put them in the later period of the cataclysm, after the red culture had dominated but before it completely gelled. My own view, again, is that I think Manator was originally a Tur worshipping society, through and through, particularly in its early days when they were picking out baby names and city names, but that the faith was probably well into decline by the time the Cataclysm
C: Look at Istambul. It was Greek, and called Constantinople. Then it became Turkish, and got...another Greek name: Istambul comes from "eist en polein". It was the capital of the sultans but the population was 60% orthodox and monophysite and 10% jewish. Only 30% muslim. This changed only with Armenian genocide and Greek deportation. Names and boss religion tell nothing of the popular religion.
D: I dunno. It strikes me that you can read local history into place names somewhat. For instance, here in Manitoba, I can point you to places called Battleford and War Lake. Europeans never had wars here. Instead, these were sites of conflicts between Cree and Dene, or Cree and Ojibwa, where local names got translated literally by the Europeans.
Looking for hints of Cree or Ojibwa names in places can tell you about the distribution of population. There are towns called 'St. Rose du Lac' and 'Lac Du Bonnet' which tell us first that there was a French influx of settlement, and also about the importance of permanent water sources in dry land prairie. There are limits, of course. Things are getting constantly renamed, new words push out old. But linguistic fossils are a genuine thing, and can offer judicious clues.
C: True, nevertheless, it’s not a perfect indicator…
What else to say? Your thing about the fearful evocation of Iss… The fear of water might come from the particularities of the weather, indeed. I've heard that more people get drowned in the deserts rather than die of thirst. Indeed, deserts can see very serious flash-floodings. Manator is said not to have cultivated fields. Well, I hypothesized they cultivate everything within their walls which are told to be very long. But it might also be that Manator is like Rajasthan, a flourishing savanna for three months a year and a desert for the remainder. Our heroes might have reached it while it was the dry season.
D: Well, they've got to have cultivated fields somewhere, its a pretty substantial population to stick in a desert.
C: Anyway Manator must have a very stable climate and water regime since it's such an old and routinely archaic-stable polity. Which means its religious mentality has little chance to stem from the stress of the climatic variation. It's not a society which has had many crises. Therefore the feeling of crisis vehiculated by the hints of Iss-faith can come only from the situation of the religion itself.
D: I'll have to kick that around.
As always, a pleasure.
Here our dialogue stopped.
But boy, we did a quite sizeable work of religious history for a Barsoomian polity.
I hope you all ERB fans will enjoy the reading.
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