Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pellatarrum: Burial Rites for Dwarves

Burial Rites: Dwarves
Part 2 of "Dealing with the Undead"
by Demonic Bunny

The dwarves have had a troubled relationship with death. Of the elder races, they are the only people who lost their immortality upon their arrival on Pellatarum, a price which the dwarves paid willingly in exchange for sanctuary and the chance to create a dwarven utopia.

On the elemental plane of earth, dwarves had a tendency to go into petrified hibernation for extended periods of time (sometimes centuries), and the process of death for dwarves is reminiscent of this hibernation. In the early days of Pellatarrum, the dwarves continued this trend.

Before the process of petrification would fully set in, the body of a deceased dwarf would be set in a flattering pose, and then dressed in finery that would not rot away in a few centuries. Generally, this meant ritual armor made from treated metal and semi-precious stones like jade, and armed with metal weapons, axes and swords that in a thousand years would remain as sharp and shining as the day they were made.These “statues” would then be deposited in waiting-halls filed with rows upon rows of dwarven warrior-statues, waiting in silence and darkness.

Over time, however, this practice struck the dwarves as increasingly macabre, such that there was a cultural revolution in dwarven burial customs. While they did not disturb the already finished halls-of-waiting (dwarves consider it highly improper to disturb the dead and the sleeping), for a while anything but the most spartan burial was considered the height of social faux pas. Since that time, dwarves in their home cities have been buried in small (but deep) stone alcoves cut directly into the bedrock itself, and sealed with an unmarked stone plug. Dwarves who die outside their city-fortress are temporarily buried in stone coffins, and then transported home in yearly caravans. Even today, caravans leave dwellings all over the world, heading for the Dayspire carrying their cargo of stone coffins, their departures timed such that they will arrive at the end of the year for a proper burial.

These days, however, the reactionary measures have mellowed somewhat. Dwarven tombs are often inscribed with their names and frequently retell some of the greatest deeds of his or her life. These deeds might seem odd to non-dwarves, though, for the inscriptions of dwarven tombs rarely tell of great deeds in battle, but instead generally refer to their advances in craftsmanship. Regardless of how trivial the advance is, or what other feats the dwarf had accomplished, dwarves revere the art of smithing over all other things.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting shift in custom.

    Also the expense of caravaning a heavy stone coffin would be a part of the burial custom and preparations.  Though its probably cheaper than the halls of waiting method.

    Also neat the taboo of not disturbing the dead or sleeping.


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