Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

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Shas'O Bentu'nan
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Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#1 » Jul 25 2017 09:00

Good morning lore masters!

I am interested in discussing art within the empire and wanted to see if anyone has any cannon resources or ideas. Gathering information on the topic hard, as searches with the words art bring peoples wonderful artwork up in spades, but nothing in universe... well little.

I do know older tau codex enteries my home sept of Elsy'eir has been mentioned to be the artistic center of the empire known for poetry, artistry, and creativeness. Also Shadowsun blows up a statue of farsight, which means some tau made a statue of public figures at somepoint.

So to help guide the discussion there are a few points to consider.

WHO Is artist a profession within the empire? Is it specific to certain castes?

WHAT which mediums do the tau use? Specifically poetry is listed, but do the tau make statues, paintings, or music? What scale do we find art, are they small works by individuals or massive collaborations?

WHY for what reason do the tau make art? Do they do it for expression and are given freedom to produce whatever they want? Are all works a form of propaganda and artistic expression is suppressed in favor of a specific message? Do T'au even have a sense of asthetics or a desire to express themselves at all?

So let me know what you think!

Will we see a lone firewarrior creating poetry while resting on his devilfish durring downtime?
Perhaps a group of earth caste work to make massive statues to honor heros of the empire.
Maybe artistic expression is only for the elite and ethereals design it and have the other castes make it for them.
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Arka0415
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#2 » Jul 25 2017 09:35

I can help a bit with the "who" part!

The short answer would be, most artists come from the water caste. Remember that earth/fire/air/water aren't builders/soldiers/pilots/diplomats, it's actually much more nuanced. The water caste also includes businesspeople, merchants, artists, negotiators, traders, all sorts of professions.

For art that is fundamentally about artistic impression (poetry, song, painting, etc.) that would likely be the domain of the water caste. For art that is fundamentally about size, scale, and grandeur (architecture, monuments, etc.) then the earth caste would likely do that.

Many cultures here on earth have conflated art and warrior culture (particularly Japan, which the Tau are modeled after), so we could definitely see fire caste soldiers writing poetry or making sketchbooks, or even writing war literature once they return from campaign.

Anyway, long story short, the Tau DEFINITELY have art. There is freedom of creative expression, and the mixing of cultures probably results in unique blends of artistic tradition.

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Doombringer
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#3 » Jul 28 2017 12:14

Once upon a time, I'd have been inclined to agree with both of you.

Our first depiction of tau art was in Kill Team, a subtle filigree that adorned the walls and floors of tau architecture called fio'sorral. It was thought that this unassuming artwork was representative of tau society: unobtrusive, modest, and nuanced in a way that it was hard to appreciate without due consideration and contemplation of its deeper meaning.

In recent years, however, we've had varying examples and depending on the author, writing poetry is either a common past-time or is a crime punishable by death (for non-fio). Even freedom of expression is up for grabs these days, considering tau are variously praised for their candor or ordered to commit suicide for doing so.

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Arka0415
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#4 » Jul 28 2017 12:40

Doombringer wrote:In recent years, however, we've had varying examples and depending on the author, writing poetry is either a common past-time or is a crime punishable by death (for non-fio). Even freedom of expression is up for grabs these days, considering tau are variously praised for their candor or ordered to commit suicide for doing so.


There have been plenty of junk novels. Tau are fundamentally open-minded, dynamic, expansionist, and have a unique aesthetic sense. Art and freedom of expression (while respecting the hierarchy) have definite places in the Empire, no matter what the weird new novels say, I think.

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Shas'O Bentu'nan
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#5 » Jul 28 2017 09:00

Well then lets parse out some points and see what we think.

Im going to assume that arts like poetry are common amoung all castes as an activity durring downtime. The next thing to consider is the ability to share and censorship.

If, say, a firewarrior wrote a piece of poetry that s/he felt was of high quality. What avenues (if any) does this person have to share it?

Then, would there be any form of censoreship. Would it be censored for content (say in the poem it refences an etherial being killed) and/or the meaning (and he deserved it!).

I imagine both are handled together. Art that is produced has the leway to be as expressive as you can reasonably expected to have in the 41st melenium (if you said something along the tune of 'down with the empire, long live farsight' I am sure punishment would be swift). However the state media would only perliferate content that is of high quality AND fits the empires goals. So if you made something with disagreeable content it would simply not be shared, but you still have the right to make it.
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TauMan
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#6 » Jul 28 2017 06:43

Shas'O Bentu'nan you sure can come up the best topics!

One thing at a time then.

The Arts in General
  1. Earth caste - Any art of the plastic arts: carving, sculpting, stone masonry, pottery, wood working, tailoring, dress making, etc.
  2. Water caste - Fine arts: - instrumental music, vocal music, dance, painting, calligraphy, illustration, opera, orchestral music, fiction writing, poetry

Multi Disciplinary Arts (just a sample)
Now having said this there are wider categories of art that contain multiple disciplinary arts.
  1. Architecture: predominately earth caste, but might have some water caste members who specialize in fields like visual design and painting
  2. Journalism: predominately water caste, but probably has a role for earth caste technicians - camera, lighting, set design, sound, and make-up
  3. Theatre/Opera/Ballet/Cinema: both earth and water caste. Actors, writers, directors, musicians, dancers - water caste. Set designers, lighting, prop makers, costume makers - earth caste.

Traditional Arts and Folk Arts (again a sample)
It's most likely that each caste has it's own traditional art forms that still survive to the present
  1. Fire caste: Martial arts as art - horsemanship (Spanish Riding School of Vienna); archery, swordsmanship (like kenjitsu); and maybe a fire caste calligraphy that is associated with swordsmanship (China, Korea, and Japan), falconry.
  2. Air caste: Birdsmanship (Hey aren't there giant Rocs on T'au?), dance, music, singing, racing birds
  3. Earth caste: traditional architecture (folk style of building), pottery, story telling, wrestling, dance, making traditional musical instruments, drumming (Japanese Taiko - Chinese Dragon drums)
  4. Water caste: dancing, epic poetry, entertainers, (like geisha but both male and female), jugglers, acrobats, puppetry (Java shadow puppetry - Noh puppetry); Courtiers and Courtesans (very traditional).

Contemporary Art
Here you can go anyway you want.In the Into Silence series Calmsword has a fire warrior using gravity waves to create a moving sand sculpture.

Your Question About Censorship
FYI I subscribe to the "Tau don't kill Tau" theory, and so I can't ever imagine any Tau wishing harm to another. Even if there was a sense of oppression or injustice, the thought of killing Tau would be to much to bear. However, there have been over the centuries,ways of expressing resistance towards "The Man". During the long struggle against British colonial rule in Ireland, many a song was sung about Cathleen ni Houlihan, who was a stand in for Ireland itself. Starting in the 1920s, Nigerian writers used the image of the Abiku, or changeling child, as symbol of resistance to the British rule. In other words, talk or write about one thing, when you mean another.

Consequences
I don't know, but it sounds like you have new topic for another discussion thread: "Tau: Crime and Punishment?". I for one don't believe the Tau have jurisprudence or a legal system as we would understand it. Try looking at my post about the novel Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier in Tau Language Concordance by Lyi'ot.

TauMan
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Shas'O Bentu'nan
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Re: Empire of color, the artistic endeavours of the T'au

Post#7 » Jul 28 2017 10:13

Crime and punishment? Good idea for next weeks T'au culture topic.

While I do subscribe to the tau don't kill tau thought, I must add an qualifier: treason or corruption will absolutely be delt with quicky and decisively. With all the dangers from rebellion to genestealers, the empire would collapse if it did not deal with some threats harshly. So Im sure decent and free speech go a long way for the tau (certainly much further than the IOM), there are limits.

Also what of mass media? The tau do not seem to have any degree of independant enterprise, so that means any large scale media outlet is by default state run. So the Tau will have very
Limited options to consume art.

It makes me wonder about genre. With all outlets, for say, music run by the state, is there much variety at all? Would all tau music fit a narrow ethnic genre with minor variations? Or would the subject races like the Kroot's own cultrual art influence what is popular and make new genres? (Now I'm imagining a kroot punk rock group with a tau EDM track).

I'm unsure what is most fitting of the Tau... maybe each sept has its own tollerances making no answer wrong.
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