There is a tradition in some cultures – I don’t know the term anthropologists use to describe it – in which people give gifts that they fully expect the recipient to someday pass on to another person. The concept is that the gift itself is not expected to be consumed; rather, the giving of it is a way of expressing respect and good will. It’s a nice thing to do, and it creates a bond between recipient and giver. Theoretically, in such a system, gifts could change hands rapidly, generating lots of bonding and lots of good will, but it seems that there is also an expectation of retaining the gift for a decent period of time.
This system constitutes an economy, and I could use it in Siboot. Given the circumstances on Kira, gifts should have no physical value; their value should be strictly symbolic. In the harsh conditions on Kira, a strict egalitarianism must be obeyed; nobody can be wealthier than anybody else. However, it is acceptable to acquire a small number of pretty trinkets or mementos.
I see two classes of such gifts. The first would be decorative items, such as necklaces, rings, pictures to decorate a home, and so forth. These could be troublesome because the possession of such an item does constitute a potential source of trouble. If a barter economy develops, then all sorts of conflicts could arise, conflicts that are too dangerous for the health of the community. So I’m not sure that I want such items to be tradable. Perhaps, upon a person’s death, his possessions become the property of the Shepherd, who immediately doles them out in as equitable a way as possible.
The other class of gifts are items whose value is entirely symbolic. I have come up with just three examples so far:
Old Tayran Coin: It’s several hundred years old.
Fossil from the Veliko Extinction
Bead that Siboot made for a Jomkar girl
It’s difficult to justify many possible items. For example, anything of utility would have to be recycled, so we wouldn’t have that many artifacts from Siboot left as keepsakes. Some of the remaining artifacts, such as old photos, would be community property and would be displayed in some common area as a means of building community spirit. I could come up with some obsolete things or items made useless by having been worn out.
Perhaps a lock of Siboot’s hair – but that would be deemed community property, wouldn’t it?
Perhaps an old flashlight once owned by Siboot but now useless because all the old batteries have been worn out.
A phonograph record? Casette tape? CD – that might still have some utility.
How about a note scribbled by Siboot?
A stuffed animal that Siboot had brought to Kira, but was now too old and fragile to be used.
A small book of poetry Siboot had owned.
A key to Siboot’s locker in the times when personal property was important on Kira.
A broken plastic chemoya (used for personal grooming by Ripis) owned by Siboot.
A cheap pen that Siboot had used, now out of ink.
A pottery shard from an archaeological dig in ancient ruins in Habinda.
Twelve items so far; that’s a pretty good collection. Enough for everybody to have at least one.
These gifts can also be used as reparations for a betrayal. The giving of a gift bestows honor – higher pPower from all characters – towards the recipient. It also reduces the pPower from all characters towards the giver. But it gains pGood from the recipient toward the giver and might induce them to forget a slight.