What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

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TauMan
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What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

Post#1 » Jul 22 2017 11:03

Dear Tau'fann
This is in response to two other current discussion threads Can Gue'vesa take part in Ta'lissera? and Children of the Tau'Va. Can Gue'vesa take part in Ta'lissera? is self-explanatory; but Children of the Tau'va, covers the topic of child rearing, education, and age and maturation levels of Tau children.

The subject of Ta'lissera came in up in both discussions. So I am starting this thread to open up the discussion on the topic.

The Oath of the Ta'lissera Ceremony
"By the power of my blood and the blood of my fellow fire warriors. I pledge that we shall forever be bond as brothers. My life is your life, your life is my life. What we do now we do together. I have no place but inside the band and all that I do from this moment is in its name." From Codex: Tau, copyright © 2001, Games Workshop Ltd.


The sept symbol is then carved into the chest of each the fire warrior in the ceremony with the bonding knife, and then they all drink a bowl of hot ky'husa.

The Significance of Ta'lissera
Vre'myar looked into the faces of his two fellow fire warriors, his new family. They had fought together for eight years and he knew their strengths and skills of both better than they did themselves. Today they had survived their second Trial by Fire and unanimously decided that the time was right to perform the bonding ritual...' From Codex: Tau, copyright © 2001, Games Workshop Ltd.



What we Know About Ta'lissera
  • Ta'lissera can translates as both communion and marriage
  • Only the Fire caste and Earth caste have Ta'lissera (as established from the first codex forward)
  • Bonding knives are ceremonial weapons and no intended for combat
  • Not just battlesuit teams, but a squad of fire warriors, or an entire cadre can be bonded in ta'lissera

My Take on Ta'lissera
This is only my opinion but I believe the Tau like humans bond together in groups, and like humans, bond together in larger communities. However, they bond easier and connections are deeper than for humans. So, in this sense the communal nature of their society is a much a result of biology, as it is of culture and socialization. And that any group of Tau,given enough time, will "bond together". To ta'lissera specifically, in mine opinion (as in the example quoted above) the ritual of bonding in some ways, merely a recognition of what has already occurred.

Your thoughts Tau'fann?
TauMan


EDIT: Added description of the other discussion threads.
Last edited by TauMan on Jul 23 2017 10:29, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

Post#2 » Jul 22 2017 09:46

Given the hooves, I'd say they're herd based, so communal groups would make sense.

Also, given the nature of their society, from what few sources I've read, they seemed to have government run crèche, and no defined family units, or traditional marriages, as we would understand it. This would tie in with the idea of the Tau'va, as lines and divisons would be seen as anathema to the Greater Good.

Two things occur to me; first that a Ta'lissera bond would be particularly important, if the above is true, as the idea of family would at once be unknown and important. Given that only the earth and fire caste have it, this to me implies that these Castes have and had far stringer familial ties in the past. And that points to the next point.

I think there is a high likelihood that the Ethereal caste may look down on and frown upon the bond. The whole greater good ideaology is very communistic/socialist in nature. It would appear to want to remove all differences between individuals, and anything that could cause conflict within Tau society. But likely it was determined to be beneficial to those castes, and were thus left in place, rather than disrupt them.

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Re: What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

Post#3 » Jul 23 2017 12:31

jukebox wrote:Given the hooves, I'd say they're herd based, so communal groups would make sense.

Also, given the nature of their society, from what few sources I've read, they seemed to have government run crèche, and no defined family units, or traditional marriages, as we would understand it. This would tie in with the idea of the Tau'va, as lines and divisons would be seen as anathema to the Greater Good.

Two things occur to me; first that a Ta'lissera bond would be particularly important, if the above is true, as the idea of family would at once be unknown and important. Given that only the earth and fire caste have it, this to me implies that these Castes have and had far stringer familial ties in the past. And that points to the next point.

I think there is a high likelihood that the Ethereal caste may look down on and frown upon the bond. The whole greater good ideaology is very communistic/socialist in nature. It would appear to want to remove all differences between individuals, and anything that could cause conflict within Tau society. But likely it was determined to be beneficial to those castes, and were thus left in place, rather than disrupt them.


I think you're a bit off with some things... Hooves would be one of the least useful characteristic to judge extraterrestrial beings, they were prairine hunters iirc. Without knowing the state of T'au fauna before tau species as we know it evolved, probably the only thing you can deduce from it is that their ancestors didn't live on trees.

The ethereals might have their own families and look down on Ta'lissera as a poor replacement of it. And while the whole empire is very collectivistic, it doesn't try to remove all differences, they banned intercaste breeding(presumably to keep those differences, you can ofc look at it as "genetic slavery") and readily accept new species into the empire, as long as they keep helping the war efforts, they can kinda do whatever they want on their territory, don't even have to fight directly, which tells you something in a galaxy at war. Sure you can paint them as the bad guys (Farsight ftw), but for the galaxy standards, they're cool :D

But yea, they have "government run crèche" today and only for 2 castes, it probably means they didn't evolve that way. If you have any hunter/gatherer society, it has to be by laws of nature a small, cohesive group traveling through nature as it devours the resources a place can offer(this would be something like 250 people tribes where every1 knew every1 else, for humans before neolithic revolution), only with agriculture and animal domestication can you have larger societies.

We don't know anything about their pre-industrial sexuality, did they restrict reproduction when resources were thin, if so, in what way? Or did they reproduced as they could and killed any excess population in wars with other tribes? Were they able to swing wildly on the r/K spectrum as environment changed, as humans could? We know each caste was separate for a long time, but that itself doesn't mean anything other than genetic differences...

We only know their offsprings require less care than humans do, (also I have a vague memory of them always having 3 children of same gender in one pregnancy, but I couldn't tell you where this comes from). And that they aren't mammals. This points to having lesser focus on immediate family than humans, but still much stronger than any other "animal". We could say human mature at 15-16, even if this would take only 4-5years for tau, a family or tribe structure is still needed. Something like need for closeness( or family, etc.) wouldn't disappear all of a sudden when "the government" introduces their mandatory schools, the Ta'lissera most likely replaces either family, or the small tribe in which their ancestors lived, something they've lost from earlier times.

Also I have one other theory why the ethereals introduced the crèches... They could gestate any number of tau they want in an artificial wombs, and pass them as "your parents died in combat" children to the crèche, without any1 knowing they're doing this. Very convenient for the ruling class, especially if most of your soldiers didn't want to reproduce at all, or only few times per life at a time when you want another sphere expansion fleet. This would also be the reason they could afford to treat their females exactly the same as males in war, as you wouldn't care if the dead soldiers were male or female in that situation. Though keep this as pure fan fiction, the low parenthal investment with 3 children per year per woman might entirely suffice, even with heavy losses...

EDIT: Cleaned some words to more clearly state a meaning, ie. "species" instead of "race" when differentiating kroot/vespid/etc. from tau, "race" is more equivalent with "caste" in this context.

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Re: What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

Post#4 » Jul 23 2017 08:12

The Tau Concept of Family
I don't want to re-what I posted on Can Gue'vesa take part in Ta'lissera?; but you check my post on that thread from July 21st, and there are quotations from Fire and Ice by Peter Fehervari; Shadowsun: Last of the Line of Kiru by Branden Campbell; and a reference to Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier that support the idea that Tau do indeed have a concept of family - even a lone family lineage in the case of O'Shovah and O'Shaserra.

I think of Tau society as a series of concentric circles, which are in fact larger and larger connected families, starting with the nuclear family → extended family → tribe → clan → caste → school/academy → cadre → ta’lissera → sept →empire

Things to think about
  • Just because you leave one "family" to join another "family", doesn't mean you are no longer part of our original "family".
  • Ta'lissera is a tribal ritual, if it still exists why can't the idea of family? Or why can't families or clans still not exist? Most likely they do, again see my post of 21st July.
  • Being raised in a crèche doesn't mean you don't have still have a family. After all on an Israeli kibbutz children spend most of their day in a "communal" childcare/school setting, but they still have families.
  • We don't know what a crèche looks like, but it certainly not limited to the fire and earth castes. Although, there might be some differences from caste to caste, and even from sept to sept.
  • We don't know what family size is for the Tau, but it is said that the population of one Hive City is larger than that of an entire Tau Sept. So limiting population is part of their propagation programme.
  • There are no cloning programmes for the Tau - that would be the Death Korp of Krieg, who have the Vitae Womb process that creates replicants like in Blade Runner
  • Propagation programme doesn't mean they a) don't have families, or b) still can't have children otherwise.

Some other thoughts on Ta'lissera
  • Ta'lissera, or something very much like it, has probably been around since before the mon'tau.
  • If the ethereals didn't approve of it, than in the somewhere in the last the thousands tau'cyr since they arrived, the would have done away with it.

Last Thought
Since ta'lissera also means marriage, would male and female members of a ta'lissera be brothers and sisters, or husbands and wives? (Again we're back to family) Look up adelphic marriages :crafty:

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Re: What is Ta'lissera? Cultural and Personal Importance

Post#5 » Jul 25 2017 05:12

Tauman wrote:Only the Fire caste and Earth caste have Ta'lissera (as established from the first codex forward


Just a quick point of order, the Ta'lissera was never explicitly stated to be exclusively a Fire Caste and Earth Caste thing. The mention of it in the background piece on Tau language and culture in Codex Tau states that it is "... most commonly found within the ranks of Fire Caste Warriors and Earth Caste work teams..." which suggests that it is entirely possible that Air and Water Caste teams also perform it, just not as frequently as the Fire and Earth castes.

Indeed, a strong argument could be made for the Air Caste also practising it. Much like the Fire Caste, Air Caste Tau mostly operate in highly dangerous environments and situations in high-risk capacities (even if they're never directly involved in conflict, space travel can be a very hazardous job even with a ton of high-tech safety measures) where you often need to trust in and rely on fellow team members for survival, so they'd probably develop similar levels of camaraderie and closeness among one another, especially in the case of starship crews where fellow crew-members may be the only constant company for Kai'Rotaa on end during lengthy voyages.

Furthermore, the Air Caste have a long history of co-existence and collaboration with the Fire Caste - remember that their direct ancestors, the Fire and Air tribes, were close allies on Pre-Etheral T'au. Thus it's not entirely unreasonable to assume that there would be a degree of cultural overlap between the two as various customs and traditions were appropriated and assimilated through acculturation, and that the Ta'lissera would be part of that. Finally, given that Sister Verity, who was the in-universe author of the background piece, admits to not having many dealings with the Air Caste, it is entirely likely that she simply never encountered any bonded Kor, assumed from her experience that this was the norm and consequently under-reported the practice.

As to the Ta'lissera itself, I've been giving some thought about it recently in regards to how it would likely interact with Tau characters.

One of the many television series I enjoy watching is the paranormal drama Supernatural, and one of the core themes the show explores is the significance of family. The significance here is in the particular familial bond between the show's two main protagonists, Sam and Dean Winchester, who share as part of their characterisation an extremely close connection stemming from their family ties as brothers. Recently a big thing I've taken away from the series is that the interactions between Sam and Dean are likely a very good approximation of what a Ta'lissera would look like in practice. Indeed, were a Tau to watch Supernatural without any additional background information on human cultural and social norms, I imagine they would probably assume quite quickly that Sam and Dean were Ta'lissera bond-mates (they'd probably also conclude that Sam and Dean have a very odd self-centred view of what contributing towards the greater whole means, but that's the Gue'la for you). The ideas of family, of a core of your closest and deepest compatriots, sharing a fundamental, close connection with them, something that goes beyond just familiarity and friendship, and being ready to commit - and sacrifice - everything for them if need-be, that whole 'no-one left behind' mindset - that's what a Ta'lissera is about.

When I was in high school a film I had to analyse for English class one year was Freedom Writers. In it, the film's main character - a schoolteacher - gets the students of her class to write down their experiences and feelings in journals, and there's a scene where she's reading them. One of the lines in them, conveyed by voice-over, always stuck with me:

"Me and [character's childhood friend I've forgotten the name of] were like two fists man, one army."

Which feels to me a lot like how a Fire Caste warrior might talk about a Ta'lissera bond-mate. Again, the idea of being totally in sync with your team-mate, on a level that goes beyond normal friendship, is important here.

In regards to marriage, I've never really felt like it was a good comparison to the Ta'lissera. My own take is that Sister Verity fumbled the translation of it, and in reality marriage isn't actually an accurate description. This mainly comes from the fact that 'marriage', in the English language at least, often has somewhat heavy sexual connotations, while I see the Ta'lissera as something that would be almost entirely platonic. Sure, there might be romantic or sexual relationships within a bonded team, but it's not really the main focus of the Ta'lissera in the way that it is for, say, Christian marriage. Instead, I feel like the Ta'lissera would be closer to a kind of mutual adoption, if that makes any sense - the team members effectively adopt each other into their own family. Now at a basic level this is sort of how most marriages work, but connotations and charged words are important here, and I imagine Tau in a Ta'lissera bonding would view each other more as siblings than spouses (indeed it's likely that there'd be more than a few Tau who would see sexual relations with a Ta'lissera bond-mate as tantamount to incest). So I guess what I'm saying here is that my vote is for Ta'lissera members being brothers and sisters.

The other big difference with marriage (or Christian marriage at least) is that Tau in a Ta'lissera aren't effectively folded into an existing family - instead, I see the Ta'lissera as forming a new unit of relationships independent of existing family ties.

Finally, there is one last element of importance to the Ta'lissera that seems to have been overlooked so far - it is a method of coping with loss and death. Here are the closing words of the Ta'lissera as described in Codex: Tau:

Codex: Tau, pg. 61, 'Bonding Ritual' wrote:The group linked hands and, in unison, said, "Let all bear witness to this Ta'lissera. Like the eternal circle, these bonds shall never be broken. For as long as one of us remains alive, so too do the others. There is no one Tau above another, all are as one and the whole shall be greater than the sum of its parts."


This is performed between each member getting a diagonal slash across their palms with the bonding knife and the previously mentioned bowl of Ky'husa. Take a look at those words again, and the language used. The Ta'lissera bond is a connection that transcends death. If you're part of a Ta'lissera, then your bond-mates are always going to have your back, always, even after they've passed away. Thus, as long as one member of a Ta'lissera is still alive, their bond-mates are never really gone.

This is also reflected in the effects a Ta'lissera has on Fire Caste teams. A bonded team will always be able to regroup even if it's below half-strength, because in the minds of the Fire Caste warriors in it they never really dropped below half-strength in the first place - their fallen teammates are still right there watching over them in spirit. Sure, their physical bodies might be destroyed, but their memories, their personality, their little quirks and idiosyncrasies, everything that made them them remains, and as long as even one Ta'lissera member survives, they'll live on where it really counts: in here (taps over heart).

For a species with a naturally short lifespan like the Tau, that kind of reassurance would likely be a very powerful thing. It also explains why Ta'lissera rituals are so common among the Fire Caste, as their job by its very nature requires them to face death on a very frequent basis.

So that's my two cents on the Ta'lissera for what it's worth.
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