The Jade State of Yong Ping [永平] more commonly referred to as Yong Ping is a electoral oligarchic state made of the Five Ministries, each headed with their own Minister charged with keeping peace and balance in the State. Yong Ping is a mix of Proto elves and humans, with the occasional dwarf or orc residing within its borders. Located along the coast in between East and West of Xin Zhou (known as Almaris), the bustling Capital is home to Li-ren and Oyashiman cultures alike. Hailing from Ai-Zhou, the Jade State was founded by the main family clans of Li, Chen, Tianrui, Watanabe, and Masamune. The nation was created as a place of refuge from the ongoing wars back on the Ai Zhou peninsula, with its denizens seeking escape from the tyranny of the crumbling Li Dynasty. Now a prosperous trade city with a strong emphasis on preserving culture and peace, the Jade State of Yong Ping boasts its role as the home of Huajiao, and its many off shoots such as Shidoism as well as the Oyashiman worship of Kami.
Yong Ping’s culture is an interesting melting pot of the Ai-zhou subcultures together. Certain shared values are emphasised, such as loyalty to family and honour to one’s ancestors. In fact, one can find such values imbued in the social hierarchy of Yong Ping where elders are respected by the younger generations, with those in higher standings or older age taking care of those younger than them in a parental manner.
Otherwise, the myriad of different traditions which coexist together such as the Li-ren, Oyashiman, Salamduel, and Tungkhijin, each retain their own intricacies which display the uniqueness of each culture.
This being said, the people of Yong Ping take great pride in their cultures and whilst welcoming and courteous to outsiders, will immediately take offence if one insults their traditions. A great effort is made to collectively celebrate and retain such practices as seen in the myriad of festivities, language lessons, and showcases of arts and music constantly keeping the Capital bustling.
List of Cultures:
The Li-Rens practice a variety of religions, primarily Huajiao and Kami worship as well as Shidoism. These main practices; Huajiao, Kami worship, and Shidoism each take a different approach to inner wellness and pursuit or rebirth and the after life. Whilst these are the State recognised religions, citizens are allowed religious freedoms in private spaces so long as it doesn’t disturb the peace.
To become an individual that is connected to the world and enlightened to the true cycle that has the world’s peoples reborn continually, an individual must liberate themselves from the cycle of rebirth that has encompassed the land through the following of the Eight Noble Paths of the Huajiao religion. By following these Eight Paths, one can release themselves from the cycle, attaining the height of one’s existence by ending one’s ignorance and one’s rebirth - The true goal of the Path.
The Eight Noble Paths:
Right View (正見 Zheng-Jian): To accept all actions have consequences, to embrace your karma, and be resolved that death is not the end of it. This is called right view.
Right Thought (正思惟 Zheng Si-Wei): Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.
Right Speech (正語 Zheng Yu): Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech.
Right Action (正業 Zheng Ye): Abstaining from killing, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from sexual misconduct. This is called right action.
Right Livelihood (正命 Zheng Ming): To avoid any life that brings shame. To avoid causing suffering to sentient beings by cheating them, or harming or killing them in any way. This is right livelihood.
Right Effort (正精進 Zheng Jingjin): To eliminate evil and unwholesome mental states that have already arisen. To generate wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen. This is right effort.
Right Mindfulness (正念 Zheng Nian): To contemplate the body as body, resolute, aware and mindful. To put aside worldly desire and sadness. To contemplate feelings as feelings. To abstain from craving the four contemplations of body, feelings, mind, and phenomena. This is right mindfulness.
Right Concentration (正定 Zheng Ding): To have control over your own mind with iron discipline. To be able to focus on anything. To detach from sense desires and unwholesome states. This is right concentration.
The Kami; an infinite amount of spirits that embody the land, dwelling within every aspect of nature - from the smallest blade of grass to the highest mountain. While the Kami are infinite, a number of them are elevated to greater status and worshipped broadly as a pantheon through which they are venerated at numerous shrines across Oyashima that are dedicated to them.
Alongside the gods they worship, the Oyashimans have a wealth of folklore and mythology that spans centuries. These include various spirits and supernatural forces that are not given worship and reverence in the same way as the Kami are. These include beings such as Namazu, the Yūrei, which are the restless and oftentimes vengeful spirits of death deprived of a peaceful afterlife and the Yōkai, demons, monsters and spirits who range from anything from malevolent in nature to simply mischief-makers or beings that bring good fortune to those who cross their paths.
It is, in essence, a non-religion in the sense that there is no mandate or codified scripture admonishing its followers for failing to live to a specific purpose. Worship in Taikyō is made of two parts; the realization of one’s self through discipline, duty, virtue and loyalty and through the ritualism in which the Kami are exalted.
The philosophy of Shidoism rests in the idea of doing one’s best to be morally good and achieve true inner peace through mindfulness. To be good to one another and free of suffering through the teachings of Huajiao and Kami. It is an off-shoot of the two main religions, taking more from the ancient religion of Hua-jiao than the other two more modern counterparts.
A multitude of languages are spoken in Yong Ping due to the multiple subcultures that reside within its borders. For ease of communication, a combination of each language with common-tongue is used to get the general message across, with basic greetings and farewells usually done in the speaker’s mother tongue. Some of these languages include:
The Oyoshiman, much like their Li-ren neighbours, beholds an entirely unique native tongue. However, having never been influenced by the Hou-zi, it remains to this day as it’s own completely separate dialect with very little influence from the outside. The language remains almost completely obscure to those not raised around it, the Oyoshiman being a strictly homogenous group, secretive in certain aspects of their culture. However, the language would still employ bastardized loan words from the Li-ren, made to better fit their syntax, and employ their mode of writing of characters.
Naming within Oyashiman society is confusing to an outsider, a more fluid concept alternatively organized to most foreign cultures.The Family name, coming before one’s given name, and the entire name its self being used more so to denote one’s social status and affiliations than as the self identity denoter that is most common, thus taking on a more fluid form within Oyoshiman society. One might change their name with their most recent rise of rank, or to distinguish a change in allegiance, and upon one’s death a posthumous name would be given to be used to then later refer to said person.
Throughout their history, Yong Ping has held the Arts in high regard, with rich arrays of different cultural practices that have been slowly cultivated over the eons into an art form. A combination of its subculture’s artistic practices, Yong Ping’s arts mostly revolve around their appreciation for the cultivation of the Self, with inward reflection and expression of emotions as an outlet given their conservative society.
Many citizens of Yong Ping write using a brush made out of horsehair, dipped in ink ground from an inkstone. This way of writing is highly dependent on the steadiness of one’s brush as many variations of script style can be created just from a change in the pressure exerted when writing. Script styles vary from war-like and valiant to smooth and flowing, sometimes blending characters together to create a deeper impression. It is believed that one’s calligraphy reflects one’s true spirit.
Tea ceremony is a long and lengthy ritual reserved for guests of the highest esteem. It begins with the careful selection of the dried tea buds and preparation of the tea set. One must note the difference between Li-ren Tea Ceremony and Oyashiman Tea Ceremony, both of which are held in equal regard but the processes themselves contain significant differences.
As the recipient of a tea ceremony, there are certain etiquette guidelines you should follow. When you watch the person brew the tea, remain still and respectful with your questions. When you are served tea, accept with both hands to reciprocate respect, and always appreciate the fragrance of the tea first before taking a sip.
There are distinctive differences in dance styles performed by Yong Ping citizens. Depending on their subculture, the movements can vary greatly. For example, the Li-Ren dance style involves the whole body, using their long sleeves, fans, or soft swords as props to emphasise the beauty of the dance in a series of acrobatic twirls and leaps often requiring excellent technical expertise.
Meanwhile, the Oyashiman style of dance is more reserved, movements measured and self-contained to fit the lyrics of whichever song it is accompanied to. The use of fans as well as one’s arms with the stamp of one’s feet emphasises the idea of expressing as much as one can with as little movement as possible.
Yong Ping’s Opera is a peculiar type of theatre and an acquired taste for outsiders. Plays are sung in a whiny, flowing tune that may be unpleasant to those unaccustomed to Yong Ping’s songs. Unlike the Western counterparts, the theatrical works contain archetypal characters signified by the mask or face makeup they wear as well as the gestures they make. Heroes will usually wear a red mask and gesticulate broadly, whilst Villains wear black or green masks and tend to slink around on stage. Many slapstick comedies were also derived from this practice.
Yong Ping’s music exists on a different scale and tone than its Almaris counterparts. It carries a hint of a minor tone and moves in a pentatonic scale (by fives), with a haunting undertone that doesn’t fit on the common musical scale. Songs are often epic ballads or small drinking ditties to be sung whilst playing drinking games. The ballads often are recitations of historical events, seen in their valiant war songs and romantic tragedies, whilst the drinking ditties tend to be coarse in their euphemisms, perhaps learned from the sailor merchants that trade with other nations.
Yong Ping’s economy is one of boundless prosperity and a cornucopia of fortune, mainly based on a variety of arts such as clothing, portraits, cuisine, and various Easterner weaponry. With a fluid tax structure and a multitude of job opportunities, a home can be found for even the most destitute. A hub of trade, for that of citizens and frequent visitors alike, the question is often posed of those wishing for a vacation home to further enjoy the beauty of the Jade State of Yong Ping.
Notable Clans, Famlies, and Houses of Yong Ping
The Li family is an old and esteemed Family with strong roots back in Li-Guo. As the ruling family, many Emperors bore the Li surname, with auxiliary positions in government often coveted by members of this clan. However, as those in power inevitably grew more corrupt, so rusted the glory of the Li household. Eventually, the last Emperor of the direct Li line passed away in the midst of court machinations, leaving the other branches to seize the throne. In a bid to escape the bloodbath, the Second Branch took to the seas in search of a safe haven - Yong Ping.
As a primarily human Li-Ren Family, members of the Li household specialise in medicine and governance, with many of its members taking up mantle in either the clinic or the Cabinet. The family’s sigil is a Lotus, signifying their undying pledge to uphold justice and peace; as well as a warning to its opponents with the Lotus’ poisonous properties. As the Li-Ren saying goes: ‘Ten years is never too long for a Gentleman’s revenge.’ Once the members of this household set their mind to achieve something, it will be done.
The Chens are a notable family mainly comprised of Li-Ren Proto Elves, hailing from Ai-Zhou. Quite markedly the leading family on arts, each member is skilled in a variety of multiple artforms, always striving to up from their last performance. Having aided in keeping from the horrors of the Tai Ping massacre and in founding Yong Ping itself, they have grown to be a family of repute.
Not as widely known, the Chen family are a scholastic family back in Ai-zhou, some branches of the family still living there, though occasionally a cousin might be sent to stay with the main branch for better prospects in life and marriage. Their active roles in the head of some Ministries, while employed in others lead to a heavy art influence on Yong Ping overall, conducting plays, portraits and traditional dance upon the teahouse stage alongside business deals within hearth and home.
The Watanabe Clan is an Oyashiman family with a rich culture, known for their rebellious attitudes. Due to relations with the Li-Ren family known as the Tianrui, the Watanabe strive to bring together the Oyashiman and Li-Ren peoples. Their primary goal is to protect the honor of those who earn their respect. The family bears a strong emphasis on military and strategic might, with all family members, blood and blood-sworn, undergoing a combat trial to earn their place as a Watanabe. The fighting style of the Watanabes is distinct from the traditional honour-bound path of the Bushi; survival comes first and resourceful uses of sabotage are taught to Watanabe children from a young age. Throwing dirt in their opponent’s eyes, striking while their back is turned, leaving spikes on the ground - all of these are acceptable forms of defence.