The Kabu, more sentient elephants

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Torco
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The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Torco »

A few threads on this board, in particular the one about the Tembo, have made me want to revisit my own sentient elephants.

A quick contextualization: this world is a smaller rocky planet called Suenu, inhabited by humans, slon and a bunch of other animals. I don't know if there are more sentients in the planet yet. This planet is somewhat less massive and its sun a bit more orange. Standing on this world, the first thing you'd notice is that things weight a third less than you're used to, and that the day keeps dragging on and on: you'll have to wait about a month for the night, and when it comes the sky will be a remarkable light show: there is no milky way but there is a few really really bright stars, and a lot of the sky is dim swirls of colour, as the solar system in question is smack dab in the middle of a planetary nebula. There's more clouds in the sky too, and some of them seem to be fantastically high up.

The region where the Kabu live is near the center of a very large continent which has a large sort of olympus mons kind of thing: the air is thinner and cooler than in other places, and the landscape is dominated by gently-sloped mountains and sparsely wooded savannas. pale golden grasses swing in the winds by the road, which is to you looks like a broad avenue which cuts through the rolling hills in a remarkably straight path. to your right there is a Slon: a large elephant with short tusks and a thick, muscular trunk, not a lot in the way of ears and an overall less chunky constitution than the elephants you're used to. he's wearing a colorful headdress that covers his neck and wooden shoes on his broad elephant feet. his voice is deep and slow, and his eyes move around intelligently inside his large head which is as tall as your entire body. He's pulling a simple two-wheeled cart, as big as your bedroom, full of all sorts of large odds and ends: you can distinguish bags of grains and nuts, barrels, a crooked and thick spear, a giant pickaxe with a relatively short handle and a very strong chest which probably has valuables in it. he greets you casually as he passes you by on his way, his footsteps thumping rhythmically.

The Slon are a species of proboscidean mammal, the order of mammals to which elephants, mammoth and mastodons belong to. They are notable in Suenu for being a sentient species, having developed various languages, sophisticated cultures and technological traditions. The slon are similar to elephants in the way that humans are similar to orangutans and gorillas: the same basic body plan of four flat feet on thick legs, a thick and large torso, large head with ears, tusks and a trunk: compared to terrestrial elephants, however, they’re longer-limbed and more muscular and they're alsoo covered in a thick coat of wool. Slon are also just larger than many other types of elephant, at 5-8 tons and 4-6 meters tall, though they’re not the largest elephant-related mammal on the planet.

Perhaps on account of their body size these wooly sentient elephants are also very longevous. It is common for elders to reach 180 years: they just don't get cancer, and age rather late in their life. Unlike some humans, the Slon never fully went for sedentarism: it’s possible that their adaptation to subsist on a wide range of vegetation makes it easier for them to just walk away and find food, though they themselves will often claim that to sleep under the stars and to roam the world is a psychological need that is inherent to their kind. It is very common for Slon societies to normalize or even prescribe a lifestyle of moving around, changing occupations or territories or families or cities every couple of decades, and living thusly seems more common amongst them than humans, whom not infrequently live their entire lives in a single settlement and occupation.

Slon are also, as a rule, kind of matriarchal: at least moreso than their human neighbours. they have, as has been elsewhere metioned, very low population densities even amongst the most productive farmers because they need to eat 30.000 kilocal per day or so. For humans, that’d be around 10 weight kilos of nuts, 20 kilos of grain, or 50 kilos of parsnips. lucky for the slon, they make better use of food than humans, especially of the parsnips, being able to digest all sorts of tough plant tissues that we humans cannot. In addition, they can eat foods we cannot, including shrubs, grass, most leaves twigs and bark. They tend to enjoy fatty, sugary and starchy foods, as does everyone, but they consider various types of bark delicacies, and will happily eat hay the way we eat simple raw carrots or a hard landbrot. these tougher foods are less delishus but an important source of protein and minerals for them: Slon mothers often cajole their kids to eat their bales of alfalfa. (is that a word in eng? wikipedia says it's also referred to as lucerne)

The Kabu are a specific group of Slon which live in this region: they're relatively sedentary farmers who build vast works of engineering, and their lands tend to be sprinkled with roads, canals, dams and tunnels. They live in small villages of six to a hundred people, hamlets really. These are made up of houses, warehouses, and various other industrial buildings (you know, kilns, mills, forges, places where you turn trees into planks, workshops, etcetera). the buildings are generally of wood and brick construction: they will put up thick beams of shaved lumber and build a truss on top of it, or if they’re feeling fancy a vaulted arch made of brick. add some waterproofing, and throw earth a layer of earth on top of the whole thing: the earth helps with thermal insulation and is also kind of an aesthetic thing for them. waterproofing is generally various layers of tar, wax and clay laid out in overlapping patterns. the resulting buildings remind one of barns, though even bigger and quite prettily decorated. Kabu tend to cover their walls in things: tools, decorations, and all sort of things hang from their walls.

The interior of a Kabu home will consist of, at least, a fireplace, hearth or chimney -generally placed in a corner of the dwelling, bedding (which takes up a lot of room, obviously), and a place to store valuables, generally a sort of closet well stocked with shelves and boxes of various types. Kabu will not keep a lot of food in their homes, as it provides a place for insects and mice to live, but they will always have a few tightly packed bales of dry hay, a crate of nuts or a barrel of honey nearby if they get peckish: as a rule, the Slon don't have a strong concept of meals, and will eat or not eat based on if they're hungry rather than if it's tea time or lunchtime or whatever. Additionally there will be a few raised daises that function much like our tables (the Slon don't need tables because their trunks, unlike their hands, are good at operating near the ground: we, by comparison, must raise the ground up if we want to manipulate many things at once). The walls will be lined with paper, and the windows made of waxy paper too, which lets in some light. The ground is often just dirt with some stabilizing agent like wax or tar, but fancier dwellings are floored with brick or shale. wooden floors are expensive and therefore rare, but they're worth it in colder climates.

The Kabu's attitudes towards gender are both kind of egalitarian and restrictive: they have this idea that gender is very important and that it is the place of women to do this and that, and the place of men to do these other things (I don't use 'bull' for male and 'cow' for female or anything like that cause these are, well, people: elephant people, but people nonetheless). However the particular division of labour their culture prescribes is a lot more egalitarian, perhaps even lopsided towards matriarchalism. In Kabu society the role of women is, as in many human cultures, to take care of the family, rear children, cook and clean, but also, crucially, to farm. this was less relevant in the mostly hunter-gatherer times of the Kabu nation, but these days most of the food they get comes from farming and, so, the status of women as risen alongside agricuturalism. some old grandmothers tell stories of culture hero women who in various ways persuaded the menfolk that farming is good, actually. Crucially, this means for the Kabu that land belongs to women and is inherited from mother to eldest daughter (or sometimes split amongst daughters). The menfolk themselves, on the other hand, are supposed to concern themselves with war, politics, culture and crafts: the manliest thing is to be a father to many children, satisfy one's woman, ready oneself for war should it come and be a master of two or three crafts: for example training as a carpenter, builder and businessman (or, say, a scribe, advisor to a chieftain and ranger).
Last edited by Torco on 18 Jul 2021 16:48, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

Really good stuff, Torco. I can really tell you thought through the details on this species to make a real complete picture with all the variation of human beings.

I wonder what kind of foods these guys make. I imagined the Tembo as being master salad makers, with all kinds of different sauces and leaves and stuff
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Torco »

Thanks! It just so happens I had worked some of the gastronomy of the Kabu.

I'm somewhat less certain of this, but what I did to figure out what they eat is first think about dietary preferences in general: for humans, there's a few spectra that I think are relevant: more vs. less calorie dense (honey to celery) and hardest vs. easiest to eat (peanut husks vs. fruit juice, say). peanut husks are so hard to eat that some people think they can't eat them, you have to chew a lot, and they're dry and mostly composed of things you actually cannot digest, namely fiber. For the Slon, the entire spectrum is moved towards the hard to eat side, such that they'd have no problem with peanut husks (hell, probably no problem with the whole peanut plant) and their peanut husks are, well, barks. Still, barks and hay are relatively rich in stuff which the elephants need, such as proteins and probably minerals and stuff: at least some barks are bound to be nutritious, and so, "salad" (which for us is low-energy, hard-to-eat food) would for them be a bowl of bark and twigs.

Slon are, perhaps surprisingly, not strict vegetarians: earthbound elephants aren't either, aside from the reports of elephants eating people -they probably didn't do it out of hunger- they eat their fair share of bugs (which is inevitable when you're that size and eat that amount of vegetation, there's bound to be some crickets or something in there). Bugs are an excellent source of protein and fat, and as their ancestor's bodies were modified by evolution (and some other, more intelligent forces forces) they became better and better at digesting animals. These days, they farm bugs as well as plants, feeding them bigger animals -and the flesh of their dead, in a highly controversial ritual many of them disavow.

the Kabu would see human salads the way we see something like carpaccio or sushi: i.e. raw high nutrition food with added acid. They eat them, of course, just like they eat porridges and tortillas, but the real staples of their diet are the bale and the soup. their bales are not the crude things we feed our farm animals, of course, they're fancy! making bales is cooking, after all, and so they put great effort into getting the size, ingredient composition and texture just right. picture a bite-sized bale -the size of a guitar body or something- with a bunch of different flowers and types of grass: it's a colourful thing! if you're fancy you'll dip it into some kind of sauce or dip (alioli with spicy beetles is popular, as is fruit jam). They'll put bark. cobs of corn and sun-dried twigs inside for a surprise cruch, maybe put it over a flame for a bit so that it gets a nice, toasty flavour. Soups are, of course, varied, include mushrooms, root vegetables, leaves and grubs for texture, and are generally thick: they eat it with cups they dip into the bowl. They also make baked goods and sweets consisting of nuts and honey, as well as bowls of garlicky worms.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Khemehekis »

Yay for sapient elephants! And I always like thinking about what my conpeople would eat. By alioli did you mean aioli?

*Thinks of the Simpsons scene in which Homer gives a peanut to the shrine of Ganesha at the Kwik-E-Mart, and Apu says, "Please do not offer my god a peanut"*

The two-trunked nuk of the Lehola Galaxy are kind of elephant-like, but all they really have in common is being hoofed quadrupeds with versatile trunks and high intelligence. They're not evolved from elephants of the human bioswath (i.e. order Proboscidea), and their behavior isn't very elephantine.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Torco »

I never noticed some people wrote it aioli! my grandma always said alioli <she taught me the recipe> and I guess my brain always corrected the word to the form I know. but yeah, garlic and olive oil just stirred up until it becomes an emulsion similar to mayo.

I don't think a Slon would be very happy with being offered one peanut: what would you think if like a mouse-person offered you a single amaranth seed? A nice big bowl full of peanuts with some fried onion and now we're talking!

a few open questions on smart big guys in general. I'm having trouble visualizing Kabu architecture: I know the materials they have access to, and it's logical they'd use larger timbers and bricks than us simply cause they can move them comfortably, whereas we need complicated cranes and stuff to handle them, but like... Elephants are fantastically strong, and there's plenty footage of them outright destroying houses in SE asia... so I feel as if they could just bring down partition walls and

what does the board think, open floors? I feel they're kind of barbaric and impractical: humans seem to always go for partition walls whenever they become relatively cheap to build, after all.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

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I never noticed some people wrote it aioli! my grandma always said alioli <she taught me the recipe> and I guess my brain always corrected the word to the form I know. but yeah, garlic and olive oil just stirred up until it becomes an emulsion similar to mayo.

I don't think a Slon would be very happy with being offered one peanut: what would you think if like a mouse-person offered you a single amaranth seed? A nice big bowl full of peanuts with some fried onion and now we're talking!

a few open questions on smart big guys in general. I'm having trouble visualizing Kabu architecture: I know the materials they have access to, and it's logical they'd use larger timbers and bricks than us simply cause they can move them comfortably, whereas we need complicated cranes and stuff to handle them, but like... Elephants are fantastically strong, and there's plenty footage of them outright destroying houses in SE asia... so I feel as if they could just bring down partition walls and

what does the board think, open floors? I feel they're kind of barbaric and impractical: humans seem to always go for partition walls whenever they become relatively cheap to build, after all.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Torco »

I never noticed some people wrote it aioli! my grandma always said alioli <she taught me the recipe> and I guess my brain always corrected the word to the form I know. but yeah, garlic and olive oil just stirred up until it becomes an emulsion similar to mayo.

I don't think a Slon would be very happy with being offered one peanut: what would you think if like a mouse-person offered you a single amaranth seed? A nice big bowl full of peanuts with some fried onion and now we're talking!

a few open questions on smart big guys in general. I'm having trouble visualizing Kabu architecture: I know the materials they have access to, and it's logical they'd use larger timbers and bricks than us simply cause they can move them comfortably, whereas we need complicated cranes and stuff to handle them, but like... Elephants are fantastically strong, and there's plenty footage of them outright destroying houses in SE asia... so I feel as if they could just bring down partition walls and pillars from time to time, and that's very dangerous, especially for pillars. It's not like they're clumsy, much to the contrary, I think of them as very dexterous craftspeople, but I mean, don't you bump into walls from time to time for whatever reason?

so what does the board think, open floors? I feel they're kind of barbaric and impractical: humans seem to always go for partition walls whenever they become relatively cheap to build, after all.
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

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What about paper-like or curtain-like walls that are easy to repair?
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by teotlxixtli »

Creyeditor wrote: 22 Jul 2021 09:00 What about paper-like or curtain-like walls that are easy to repair?
Or perhaps gigantic yurts made from some sort of woven fiber or skins recovered from carcasses?
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Re: The Kabu, more sentient elephants

Post by Torco »

that's an extremely metal way of saying leather
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