Monday 1 February 2016

Central Asian traditional fashion for gamers

Mongolian wrestler:
Mongolian man in traditional wrestling gear.

I suspect that one reason why Central Asia has been so little used in RPGs is that most people simply have no idea what it's supposed to look like. This is not a trivial issue. Most communication in RPGs is verbal, and efficiency within it is at a premium, because if the GM has to drone on and on to describe something then all the players are going to tune out: so it's really, really handy if GM and players share a common stock of visual shorthand images. If your GM says: 'Suddenly, a barbarian warrior leaps out and attacks the knight!', then you know what to imagine: some dude who looks like Conan just jumped out and tried to whack some dude who looks like Sir Lancelot. 'The wizard hurls a lightning bolt at the ninjas!' translates as 'Some guy who looks like Gandalf just zapped a bunch of other guys in masks and black pyjamas'. Everyone knows what to visualise. Everyone is on the same page.

Central Asia, though... what does that look like? I guess most people probably have some kind of mental image for 'Mongol warrior': a kinda Asian-looking guy with a black beard on a horse. (But what kind of armour is he wearing? Is his hair long or short?) Beyond that, though, familiarity peters out. Saying 'you see a bunch of guys dressed like Tajik horsemen' just isn't going to have the same communicative efficiency as saying 'You see a samurai warrior' or 'you see a dwarf with an axe'.

So: here are some images of people from Central Asia, wearing more-or-less traditional dress. So that you can pick one, and point at it, and say: 'My character (or 'the woman you just met', or 'the men who are currently attacking you', or whatever) looks like that!'

Kyrgyzstan horseman.  Presumably pretty much what Ghengis Khan would have looked like.:
Kyrgyz horseman in riding gear.

A Turanian man in traditional dress.:
Turkic man in traditional dress.
Kuman-Kipchak archer.:
Cuman archer in wargear.
A Yakut shaman from the district of Verchne-Kolymsk. Note the fringe or veil obscuring the shaman's eyes.    Photo: Lissner - Man, God and Magic:
Yakut shaman in ritual regalia.
Turkmenistan. with Akhal Teke horse:
Turkmen man in traditional dress, with traditional dog on traditional horse.

Russia The Itelmen are the original settlers of the Kamchatka Peninsula which is opposite Alaska. You may therefore notice similar ethnicity to the First Nation peoples. @
Buryat woman in traditional dress.
High-status Mongolian woman in traditional dress.
Kirghiz woman in traditional costume; Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia:
Kyrgyz woman in traditional dress.

Azerbaijani traditional costume Traditional headwear is my favorite:
Azerbaijani woman in traditional dress
Kazakh woman in traditional dress.
Tajikstan. Central Asia.:
Tajik woman in traditional dress
Uzbek woman:
Uzbek woman in traditional dress.


Tartar man and women in traditional dress.

Kyrgyz couple in historical costumes.:
Kyrgyz couple in historical dress.