An Introduction to Trisban
by Freddie Clegg
The Republic of Trisban
Poised between two worlds
Trisban is a tiny republic, set geographically and culturally between the western world of materialism and the eastern world of mysticism. Geographically Trisban is on the edge of large continent, locked in by ranges of high mountains at its back and rocky coasts stretching for hundreds of miles on either side which have allowed it to become the pre-eminent port in the region.
The country is little larger than its capital city, the port, and a small area of flat low lying land now given over to an international airport with a demanding and, for passengers, terrifying approach between mountains on one side and the tower blocks of Trisban’s less desirable housing district. However, in spite of its small size, Trisban has a long history as a successful trading centre between the two worlds.
Trisban has always been a mixing bowl of cultures. As a result it has developed a tradition of respect for privacy and personal freedom so that residents are protected by state controlled media censorship and a society with a high toleration for what ever goes on “behind closed doors” so long as it does not interfere with the social order or trade.
Trisban is a secular society, tolerant of different religious beliefs and of none. The state carefully avoids legislation with any religious aspect and while some religious groups have tried to claim that aspects of the local culture show conformance to their beliefs, the Trisban Government consistently refuses to establish any state religion or to recognise religious organisations in legislation.
The Social Framework
Trisban is a traditional society with a strong hierarchical nature. There is a respect for age and authority which leads to organisations and a political system in which those at the top decide and those lower down do. Unkind observers have suggested that the national motto of Trisban should be “Jump? How high?” but this national tendency has created a largely stable society and one in which the service economy is highly developed. For example, although not large and offering little as a tourist destination, the service in Trisban’s hotels is renowned for the hospitality and helpfulness of their staff.
Some consider Trisban to be a country divided along sexual lines. It is true that men and women have very different roles in society and they spend most time in the company of their own sex. However while roles for men and women in Trisban are distinct, there is a strong tradition of equality of opportunity for each group and respect by each group for the other’s value to their shared society. Trisban has always prized the contribution made by women to the home, the family and cultural life. In their turn, Trisbanian women, cherish the security and serene existence that comes from their place in Trisban society. The male role in Trisban society has traditionally been that of the provider and it is Trisban men that have created and now sustain the trading economy on which the wealth of the nation is based.
Trisban has a vibrant, democratic, political system and the roles of men and women are enshrined in the country’s constitution. Uniquely the country is run by two parallel parliaments with women responsible for domestic and social affairs in the Trisnette and men responsible for economics, defence and international relations in the Trisnarch. Trisban was one of the earliest countries to adopt universal suffrage with women voting for their representatives in the Trisnette and men for their representatives in the Trisnarch. Five women from the Trisnette and five men from the Trisnarch form the country’s cabinet with legislation being approved by the President who is elected, conventionally for life, by the Trisnarch. Although the position of President is an elected one, the position of Principal Lady (the President’s official wife) is an hereditary one (see below).
The ideals of respect for privacy are extended to the political process. Although the results of political debate are widely reported, both the Trisnarch and the Trisnette meet in secret so that views can be freely exchanged, deliberations undertaken and conclusions reached without external manipulation of political decision making by lobbying groups and those with special interests.
Women In Trisban Society
In Trisban, women have always aspired to marriage as being the highest possible attainment and have sought to develop the talents, demeanour and appearance that will make them attractive to a potential husband. Trisbanian women believe themselves the equal of the men in every respect, although they also feel that they are uniquely able to contribute to certain aspects of life in Trisban and that the importance of their role as wives and mothers requires and justifies the way that society in Trisban manages the relationship between men and women.
The pursuit of a husband has always been seen as the first priority for a young Trisbanian woman. Arranged marriages were unknown and women were expected to find their own life partner unaided. Women embraced this mission with fervour and it is still an important part of a Trisban woman’s life, although now, because of changes in Trisbanian society other practices have emerged. Trisbanian fashions for women evolved to support these aspirations and Trisban national dress reflected this, focusing on clothing that would present a woman attractively to a potential mate or their current husband.
In typical traditional Trisban dress, for example, a well dressed Trisbanian woman would be wearing a high necked white blouse with a tight, dark waistcoat embroidered with gold thread. The waistcoat would be cut to emphasise the breasts which were further enhanced by the use of corseting to reduce the waist size. A long skirt of heavy taffeta material would be worn. This would be fitted tightly around the hips and buttocks, down as far as the knees restricting the ability to walk but then flaring out below the knee. High heeled shoes were common, further emphasising a feminine walk enforced by the skirt. Fashion has always been heavily influenced by styles seen as attractive to Trisbanian men.
In the past the enthusiastic pursuit of husbands by Trisbanian women has resulted in periods of social unrest. The practices of some women, aggressively pursuing possible husbands, threatened the social order. As a result the women of Trisban together established the practice of veiling in public so as to prevent such behaviour disrupting society. However, while this solved the problem in public, Trisbanian households are renowned for the female intrigues and plotting that go on behind the façade of polite society.
In spite of their traditional primary interest in marriage and the home, Trisban women also pursue careers, enjoying equal opportunity for jobs and equal working conditions. Women tend to take up positions in businesses run by other women or in those parts of the public sector run by the Trisnette (Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education and so on). Because of the strongly hierarchical nature of Trisban society women in the workplace are expected to conform to the wishes of their managers without demur but men experience the same.
The importance of marriage and the pre-eminence of their husbands are both recognised in the way that women are addressed formally. Alissa, the wife of Dacha Hannish, would be addressed formally as “Hannish Wife Alissa” on the first occasion and subsequently “Hannish Wife” (unless more than one of Mr Hannish’s wives were present. Before marriage a similar form of address is used but with “Daughter” and the name of the father being used. Informally and, especially between women, first names are commonly used although it is common to refer to “Wife Alissa” too.
Women in Trisban society are highly respected for their contribution to society and to family life. This is demonstrated by the Trisbanian Presidential Family. Whereas the President is an elected post the position of Principal Lady of Trisban is an inherited one passing through the line of the first daughter of the principal wife of the president. On acceding to power, the president takes as his wife whoever is Principal Lady. So although Presidents come and go, the office Principal Lady demonstrates the essential continuity of Trisbanian family life. Of course if the President is already married at the time of his accession he is free to retain his current wives and concubines alongside those of the Presidential Household. Historically conflict between the President’s original and official wives have fuelled many instances of intrigue within the President’s household.
The Trisban Economy
Trade & Traders
The Trisban economy is primarily based on trading. Originally it acted as a trans-shipment port between the great traditional empires of the east, such as Vippon, and the emerging powers in the west. The wealth generated by this trade was translated into the ownership of shipping lines and eventually into Trisban becoming one of the leading ports of registration for ships throughout the world. In exchange for highly favourable fees and limited regulation, vessels registered in Trisban have to make at least three calls in the port of Trisban each year. This has stimulated trade and wealth in Trisban and it has also reinforced the position of Trisban as a melting pot of cultures. In the port of Trisban you are as likely to see a Vipponese shogun, a Himbayan trader in plants or one of the strange new western immigrants, attracted by Trisban’s favourable taxation system.
Communications & The Trisban Economy
A hundred and fifty years ago, Trisban also became a focus for the global telegraph system as communications followed the shipping lanes. Telegraph cables linked Trisban with all the major trading nations and at one time almost all world telegraph traffic passed through the communications hub in Trisban. In recent years this has allowed Trisban to expand its influence on world trade by becoming the global centre for trading of shipment futures.
Trisban : Culture & Customs
Privacy Freedom & The Family
Trisban culture and customs are dominated by the three key features of Trisban life; the respect for privacy and personal freedom, the importance of the family and the tradition of trade.
Respect for privacy was at the heart of the annual Trisban masked carnival. The Trisban carnival is said to have grown up as a celebration of the oncoming of Spring. Men, robed and masked as representatives of winter, and women, robed and masked as representatives of spring, come together in a festival where behaviour might well be licentious but never threatens the stability of the social order. The only rule of carnival is that husbands do not ask their wives what they have done and wives do not ask their husbands what they have done. The tradition of the masked attire of the carnival was used as the rationale behind the introduction of veiling in response to the Marriage Riots.
The importance of the family as the core of stability for Trisbans is reflected in Trisban culture and the Trisban legal and political system. It is behind the division of political roles between men and women and the focal point played by the Presidential Family in the national life. For example the birthday of the Principal Lady is always a national holiday, whereas that if the President is not. Trisban families are open with children being brought up by the extended family with other wives of the father and other husbands of the mother all likely to be involved in child raising. It is also a powerful testament to the significance of marriage that women rioting over potential husbands could cause the large changes in behaviour seen after the Tresnette decrees following the Marriage Riots. In Trisban culture, parents and children attend the same events and as a result there is no segregation of “adult” or “children’s” entertainment, parents exercise their own discretion about what is suitable and those producing books or theatre, TV or cinema performances would only think to present shows that could be viewed by the entire family. In recent years an “underground” of more adventurous media has started to emerge but their activities are regarded with suspicion by most Trisbanian’s.
Trade in Trisban is an essential feature of local culture and the Trisban national heroes are the great traders of the past rather than generals or politicians. For example, pride of place in the main square of the city of Trisban is given to a statue of Terinath Forem, the voyager who first journeyed both west and east, founding the trade routes on which Trisban’s wealth was built. The statue showing Forem standing on the prow of his sailing vessel staring out down the main boulevard leading to the harbour towards the harbour stands immediately opposite the parliament building, between the two houses, the Trisnarch and the Trisnette. On its base is the inscription “This Is Why You Rule” to encourage Trisban’s law makers to remember the importance of trade.
The Evolution of Veiling In Trisban
From Headscarves to the Burqa
The first practice of veiling in Trisban began as a response to the Marriage Riots of forty years ago when street fighting broke out after the festival where, each year, women seeking husbands paraded through the main square of Trisban. Afterwards where meetings of the Tresarch were disrupted by groups of women pursuing representatives as potential husbands. These two events were seen as deeply shocking by a Trisban society unused to social disorder.
In response to the riots, the women’s council of the Tresnette issued a proclamation calling on all women that wished for social order to support the practice of covering their faces in public in order to avoid the risks of giving rise to further incidents. This was widely seen as a necessary measure to promote order. It succeeded and won wide support across Trisban from both the women and the men.
Initially veiling was based on the use of scarves to cover the head and lower half of the face. Women wore this with every day street-wear but even this measure failed to reduce the incidents where women would confront men in public, pursuing them and seeking their approval. As a next step, by the 1970’s, Trisbanian society adopted the practice of women wearing an all covering robe, the abaya, with a veil that covered all but the eyes.
However, this still proved insufficient. Fashionable robes with decorated head pieces or veils clearly differentiated women of wealth and power. Women anxious to pursue husbands developed elaborate eye make-up that, even through the narrow slit of their veils, promised flirtatious company and possibly erotic delight. Men, competing for those women that they thought most alluring, wealthiest or most influential, became involved in riots and other forms of social unrest that threatened to upset the stability of Trisban families.
The answer came in 1985 as a result of the actions of Disanya, Principal Wife of the tenth life time president of Trisban and a formidable champion of women’s central role in promoting social stability in Trisban. At the coming of age ball for her twin daughters on their eighteenth birthday she presented them to the assembled guests in a new form of plain black robe where their eyes were obscured by a simply embroidered grill, the burqa. As a direct consequence of this act, full face veiling became immediately fashionable and the practice of wearing a dark, single-coloured robes and a full face veil was soon widely adopted across Trisban. Women wore the burqa or the abaya with a full-face niqaab veil according to their choice. Of course fashionable women still found ways to show their wealth and taste in the quality of the cloth, the embroidery around the eye panel of the burqa or on the hem of the robe but the focus of fashion changed from ostentation to restraint. The result was that the stable social order so desired by the majority of the women of the country was established. The practice of keeping the face fully covered in public was enforced by legislation in the Trisnette two years later. The date of Dasanya’s ball has been celebrated for the last twenty years as a date of liberation by Trisbanian women.
Although legislation only relates to the wearing of the full face covering in public places, when women are at work, at restaurants, or in the street, conventional society has followed this lead and women have taken to wearing the veil at private social occasions. Among close friends, women might wear a face veil that leaves the eyes uncovered, once in the home of their host rather than the burqa or the abaya and a full face niqaab but only the most bohemian would dream of being unveiled on such an occasion.
Women are as anxious to be seen as fashionable in Trisban as anywhere else and so seek to find ways of expressing fashion (and rank or wealth) within the legal constraints. This has resulted in the use of rich fabrics and embroidered detailing although, because of social constraints, this detailing tends to be very discreet and often overlooked by men who don’t notice these things. Until now, no legal restrictions have been imposed on fashion detailing on robes or veils because, to date, the measures taken have avoided any repetition of the Marriage Riots.
Women do not normally wear the veil at home but the tradition keeping the body entirely covered is widely observed even in the home. The one exception to this is the bedroom where a woman might well choose to veil as part of bedroom play with her husband or lover. Here short, semi-transparent, or highly decorated half-face veils are common.
Today a veil that covers the face fully and an all covering robe in a single dark colour are worn by all adult (over eighteen years old) women at all times in public. In public, women are required to wear a robe that completely covers the body and they must wear gloves. In the work place, women generally wear a garment that is less voluminous than a full robe (more like a jilbab) but keeps the arms covered and they wear thin gloves. The only exceptions to the legislation are certain protected occupations where the wearing of a veil is judged to interfere with an individual’s ability to do their work. This includes the police force, where women police officers where a half face mask, for example.
From a legal perspective the workplace is considered “private” and women are free to unveil although they rarely do and in an office for example where most women veiled but one chose to show her face there would be considerable social pressure on her to conform to the norm. There are many areas for possible confusion between public and private and such issues can be challenged in the courts. Since the Ministry of Justice comes under the jurisdiction of the Trisnette many judges are female. This has caused what some consider bias in some of the findings of the courts when they handle cases of this kind. Cases are tried in the Public Morals Division of the Trisbanian High Court. Guidance on compliance with the regulations is issued by a Government Department, the Veiling Commission.
As in other cultures younger girls often wish to dress like their elders. In Trisban, young girls ape their elders by wearing a half-face veil or by improvising a veil from a scarf or other cloth and while this is thought amusing for the very young, once a girl reaches puberty (but before she comes of age) the practice is frowned on and a girl is required to wear a head covering like the hijab. Recently a number of schools have banned all girls under eighteen from wearing the veil with their school uniforms in response to the increasing trend for girls wishing to appear “grown up”.
Trisban Behind The Veil
One of the results of the introduction of veiling in Trisban has been the growth of the so-called “seraglio culture”. Many men believe that women take advantage of the anonymity given to them by veiling to intrigue at political, dynastic or family matters, arranging things to their benefit and on occasion trespassing into matters that are more properly the concern of men. Men complain that they often feel that their lives are in some ways being manipulated by cabals of the women of their household and neighbouring households and suspect that women move from household to household without their knowledge or permission as would be required by convention. However, considerations of privacy mean that such suspicions are rarely voiced and never pursued.
Women enjoy equal opportunities for employment in Trisban although it is unusual for a woman, especially once married, to seek work outside the home. There are, however, a number of high profile Trisban women in business who, of course, veil in their workplace. There has been some question as to whether this gives women an unfair advantage over their male counterparts in business negotiations but
There are also suspicions that women use the veil as a way of hiding their involvement in illicit relationships either before or within marriage. However since, so far, no man has been prepared to admit publicly to being harmed by such behaviour there has been no suggestion that such action, if it occurs, is detrimental to the stable social order that veiling brought in.
Love & Sex In Trisban
The introduction of veiling into Trisban society resulted in significant changes in the way that wives meet husbands and husbands meet wives.
Marriages are often arranged by parents and while marriage cannot occur before the age of 18, betrothals can be undertaken prior to veiling. Marriages may be mediated by friends, colleagues, and professional marriage brokers.
Veiling is only legislated for in public places, although social conventions have grown up extending its use to anywhere a woman might encounter men. However men are often persuasive in getting a girl to go “all the way” before engagement, teasing her into revealing her face. Women also may unveil illicitly in pursuit of a man although this might be secretly admired by a girl’s friends this would certainly be looked down on by wider society.
Recently Trisban has had a number of “speed-dating” events where veiled women have been matched with men.
Women have become practised in conveying their allure through the spoken word, men have developed skills in divining the suitability of a woman from her reputation and her spoken words.
The Trisbanian Marriage
Relations between men and women in marriage follow patriarchal lines. Women expect to be subservient to men within their marriage just as younger women accept the direction and authority of older ones. Trisbanian families are strong believers in the importance of order and women accept that if they are judged to have fallen short of the ideals of the head of the household then measures to return the family to balance may be needed. Women may be subject to curfews by their husband or may be confined to their household. In all things the authority of the head of the household is, in the end, without question. Although this could be seen as sexually discriminatory, in fact it is only a reflection of Trisban’s hierarchical society. Children are subject to their parents and staff subject to their managers in much the same way.
Men are allowed considerable latitude in the treatment of their wives to ensure that they conform to social norms. If a husband sees good reason he can punish his wife, provided such punishment is proportionate to the offence. He could choose not to allow a woman to appear in public without some form of speech restriction in place or might require his wife to be shackled or to wear a chastity device. The extent of control that a man can exercise over his wife in the privacy of their marriage is a balancing issue for a woman considering marriage. On one hand it is a socially desirable state, on the other she does in real ways surrender herself to her husband. In many ways the husband becomes a replacement parent for the wife at the time of the wedding.
There is both polyandry and polygamy although both parties are required to register all marriages at the time of another. Polygamy is not unusual but large numbers of wives are unusual – a man can only support so many wives economically after all. As for polyandry; it is not so much that it is permitted as that it is not proscribed.
For an unmarried woman to marry she needs the permission (almost always given unless the man is spectacularly undesirable) of her parents. A married woman needs the permission of her husband(s) to enter a polyandrous marriage. A widow or orphan has recourse to a Marriage Court of the Trisnette Judiciary to grant permission. Widows and orphans become wards of the Marriage Court on the death of their last parent or husband. Trisban society sees it as important that no woman should be without parental or marital guidance in case she needs it.
Trisban Family Life
Teenagers below eighteen are as interested in the opposite sex as anywhere else but, because of the hierarchical and familial nature of Trisban society, misbehaviour by those below the age of veiling is unusual. The controlled nature of Trisban society (censorship, no internet access, no mobile phones) means that childhood is more extended than we see in the west today.
Boys and girls able to see each other could possibly result in all the problems that veiling for adult women was introduced to avoid. However, although women are not required to veil before they are 18, they are, by social convention, chaperoned once they reach sexual maturity. No doubt the more precocious find ways to avoid this but under 18 sex is almost unheard of because children largely accept the domain of their parents.
The Public & Private Life Of The Veil
The legislation relating to veiling in Trisban relates only to its use in public. This of course has given rise to considerable debate about what is public and what is private. To try to ensure that the legislation is applied in a consistent manner the Veiling Commission issues guidance (which, because of the compliant nature of Trisbans, is invariably followed).
A recent court case highlighted the problem of public and private. An office in which the women meet only other women is considered private, as is one in a small business where the women and men are all known to one another. Workers in a shop or bank branch serving the general public would be veiled as their workplace would be considered to be a public place. More questionable has been the issue of very large businesses where a woman may work in a department known to all around her but may need to move around the office to areas where she is not known. In a case brought before the Public morals Division of the Trisbanian High Court, the Court decided that a woman would be expected to wear a veil outside her department – in corridors and lifts or other departments, for example. In response to this the Veiling Commission recently issued the pamphlet, “The Veil and The Workplace” which provides guidance for employers and employees on the interpretation of the legislation, appropriate behaviour and the rules that should be followed.
Trisban Attracts The Wealthy
Off-Shore Residents Programme Aimed At Multi-Millionaires
With the growth of air travel and globalisation, the emergence of financial centres in the west and growing manufacturing power in the east, Trisban has found its position as an entre-pot threatened and has had to seek out a new role.
The Trisbanian Government has identified that its unique society and position together with trends in western society offered an exciting opportunity.
Trisban has discovered that it has something unique to offer to rich and famous westerners that were faced with problems in their home countries. As their personal wealth and celebrity status grows, many of them feel that their privacy and business affairs are under increasing, illegitimate, scrutiny. Intrusive paparazzi-style stalking and unwarranted pursuit by tax authorities is forcing entrepreneurs and the famous to reconsider their life-styles. Multi-millionaires whose lives have been placed under the spotlight are seeking locations to set up home where they can protect their privacy and enjoy beneficial tax status.
Trisban has set out to attract the rich and famous, bringing their wealth and skills to the country and has announced a range of measures designed to attract those seeking a tax-efficient, private residency.
Individuals able to deposit a $10,000,000 “residency bond” and investing more than an equivalent sum in property in Trisban or in Trisban businesses can enjoy a flat 5% rate tax on earnings and capital gains. In addition they acquire Trisban resident rights that allows them access to the uniquely discreet Trisban banking system. And when residing in Trisban they are protected by Trisban privacy laws.
Those that have taken up the Trisbanian Government offer find that they enjoy far greater personal freedom than they do in the west. Those freedoms include the ability to enjoy the company of such women as they like without the risk of media intrusion; firstly because of state censorship and secondly because any woman is veiled and so, unrecognisable.
The Government’s initiatives have been welcomed by the Trisbanian people as rejuvenating the economy and Trisban’s status. Under the programme off-shore residents are expected to conform to both Trisban laws and customs. As a result off-shore residents that are women are required to conform to the veiling rule.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Bo_Emp and GhostWriter at Tales of the Veils for technical advice and editing on this outline.
Copyright: Freddie Clegg © 2008
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All Characters, Events & Locations Fictitious
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