Ah, the hair juju, my hair tokens! The most beloved and the most identifiable of traditions of the feline folk. The tradition is an outgrowth of our culture. We’re a nomadic bunch and moving around a lot precludes the collection of “knick-knacks”. So a tradition of portable “knick-knacks” evolved, combining our own love of object d’art as well as our tendency to memorialize important moments, people or events. I shall explain how one acquires the hair tokens but please bear with me, for we first go into a short segue of the culture of feline folk in general with an emphasis of how my pride, the Taanmrow did things (and will again I vow!).
I was raised as a member of an extended kin group, parented by elder siblings, cousins, aunts and grandfathers as per usual among feline folk. Depending on the tribe, either fraternal or maternal extended kin groups exist. My tribe favored maternal kin grouping though occasional fraternal groups existed.
Only full hunting members of the pride are permitted to begin families. But with a busy set of hunting parents, how do the kits get raised you ask. That is left to the elders—older siblings from previous litters, cousins, and the true elders, the grandparents and great grandparents. Once a kit is weaned, a mutual gravitation eventually occurs where a young kit chooses a primary mentor and vice versa. Sometimes primary mentorship is shared between two elders—an adolescent, but older cousin to teach hunting and field skills and a great grandmother to teach lore, history and wisdom, probably to both youngsters. These elders usually give first hair tokens.
The first token a kit receives is the clan token. Every clan has its own distinct token and one of the earliest things a kit learns is clan identification by token. The Taanmrow’s clan token is a small black stone skull. The skull identifies us as fierce warriors who kill many enemy and feasts at that kill. I received mine from the hands of my beloved cousin, Silsila, when I finally learnt the identifications, the usual time toreceive clan membership.
Outside the clan token, further tokens stem from personal interactions— congratulations on a particularly fine kill, attendance at a trade fair, exchanged between friends or lovers and other things of that nature. Tokens are never heirlooms and are never passed down. One exception has been noted.
The Taanmrow became nearly extinct nearly seven years ago. A group of marauders attacked our settlement late one night, surprising the pride and killing nearly everyone. At the time of the attack, Silsila and I were out in the fields where she was teaching me night tracking. When the attack came, Silsila went into action, ordering me into hiding and rushing back to fight. Being an adolescent of 17, she had been trained to fight from the age of five onward and had been seeing both battle and full-scale hunts since the age of 15.
From where I crouched, I could see the settlement burn and the screams of the dying. An eternity passed and finally dawn began to break. I crawled clear of the cover and walked into hell. I cannot speak for the absolute horror that sweeps over me. The Taanmrow glories in the mass destruction of the enemy and that deadly force had finally been visited on us. It was not so glorious. I found Silsila’s broken body outside our family’s tents, armed with spear still. I sang the songs, took the clear crystal from her still-billowing mane and tied it into my own short ruff before I buried her and the others.
It took a long time.
I have two final tokens. The first is a trade fair piece I found. A crude, mass-produced orange house cat, its saving grace is that it expresses simple good cheer and happiness, lifting my spirits and reminding me of innocence. The second is a golden coin, my first earnings (that I didn’t spend on food or writing materials). An odd off world piece, its inscribed with images of gods and books and mysteriously inscribed with “Mardi Gras”, though the gold is good. I have asked around about this phrase and done some research on it in the Seeker’s Library and have yet to identify what this means.