... - Origin
... - Ethnic and tribal identification
... - Interbreeding
II. Biological attributes
... - Skin pigmentation
... - Hair chromacity
... - Iris chromacity
... - Sexual dimorphism
...... - Height and weight
...... - Sexual organs
... - Prominent body types
...... - Male
...... - Female
III. Racial stereotypes
... - Slavers
The Selian people, or Selian race, sometimes incorrectly though with acceptable reasoning called the Ephyral race, are a distinct subset of Europeans of haplogroup I, tracing ancestry and descent to the geographical region known as Selia, and sometimes as the broader Selian Peninsula, though this distinction is more one of cultural preeminence as ethnic Selians are not populous to any significant degree in the territories north of the Freehold. Across the world they are famed both culturally and racially; culturally for their philosophical and technological innovations in politics, science, architecture, morals, ethics, seafaring, economics, and society, and racially for their widely renowned unique physiology.
Perceptions of the Selians vary wildly. To some, they have been fellow explorers and settlers, holding next to no cultural affiliation to their ancestral homeland and existing as part of a larger civic identity. To others, arguably more so, they have long been a source of dread and fear as pirates, slavers, bandits, but also as conquerors and rulers, with Selian-ruled empires (varying from whether the elites were Selian or indeed the mass of the population) being found at many times throughout history, including the expanded Kingdom of Arconia and its successor states, the Bronze Age Nymaedian civilisation (a confederation of independent city-states rather than a unitary state), as well as kingdoms and sovereign states established in foreign lands by colonists and explorers such as the Crimean Selians, North African Selians, the Selians of southern Italy and Hispania, and so on.
The modern day Freehold is the second largest of any Selian-ruled state, surpassed only by the empire of the Arconians before fracture, though it has been far longer lasting and politically stable. Commonly called Ephyra for the city that founded it, and viewed as a direct successor to the Ephyral city-state, the identity of Ephyral retains only in part an ethnic and tribal identifier, but mostly now a civic identity, the adoption of non-Ephyral both foreign Selian and non-Selian alike into the broader 'tribe' of Ephyral. Because of this, despite the fact Selians comprise only around a quarter of the total population, Ephyra is considered the worlds only Selian nation.
The Selian people are believed both by historical evidence and by the cultural retelling to be autochthonic for all intents and purposes, known to have originated inside Europe, though whether the distinct Selian group actually came into its form as is currently understood in Selia or before movement to the region from elsewhere in Europe is dubious, with evidence suggesting both, perhaps indicating multiple waves of migration by the same emerging distinct group. These waves may also account for the location of settlement in Selia, with the later waves settling more north and displacing non-Selian tribal communities. This theory however has not been substantiated, and it is believed that the common tribal breakdown of Selians emerged long after distinctive Selian civilisation began to emerge in the 6th, 5th, and 4th millenniums BCE, perhaps during the Selian Dark Age, or having been exaggerated during said period from previous, more subtle distinctions during the Bronze Age.
Regardless, the Selians of Selia proper more than others hold the largest amount of ethnic homogeneity within their blood, as colonists (especially in the east) were known to interbreed to some extent with Selianised natives, as well as the natural occurrence of mixed-parentage offspring in times of war, through banditry, kidnapping, and rape, committed by all sides. Slavery might be the most common historic way of interbreeding, with the import of foreign females from dozens of nations and tribes for domestic and inevitably sexual use, as well as the capture of Selians as slaves by enemy powers. Inter-breeding between Selian Ephyral and other citizen groups on a consensual marriage basis is uncommon however due to the cultural emphasis on the importance of autochthonism. Including not just the eternal binding to the land and all of its bounty by a given native people, but the freedom of their descendants from admixture with foreign peoples. However due to even internally acknowledged social complexity on the matter of geographic origin vs national identity, the view is varied, and some families will engage in marriage with a citizen family of non-Selian descent so long as the potential suitor or bride is deemed fitting on their own merits, whilst some families (particularly of the aristocracy) will be more reluctant or refrain entirely. This is mirrored on the other side, with some non-Selian citizen families idealising marriage to a Selian family, being indifferent, or even being reluctant and evading of it.
Selian mythology tells of a more dramatic origin than simple evolution and migration, instead in reference to a pact with the gods, to maintain peace between the mortal and the immortal, as even today, the more devout followers of the Selian religion hold in mind the promise of sovereignty without end by the chief god Ishax unto the Selians in exchange for the maintaining of proper ritual and cult, in order to fuel the power of the gods satiated by worship and sacrifice. Themes of fire and blood feature prominently in this mythos, and whilst it certainly provides more of an explanation for the physiological abnormalities exhibited by the Selian people, it does not constitute an argument to this end.
The ethnic and tribal breakdown of Selians is quite complex, but for the purposes of simplicity and designating origin, the Ephyral state has demarcated a number of accepted ethnic groups of Selians in addition to the culturally accepted four main tribes. These tribes are the Kolkosians, the Rhyosians, the Iosorians, and the Panyrians. Evidence for tribal unity or division along these lines tends to be sketchy. As the tribes were denoted primarily by linguistic variations, though with mutual acknowledgement of autochthonism to their own territory, each of these four tribes were internally divided along many hundreds of smaller tribal affiliations, the largest of which were themselves divided again, such as the Arconians, a sub-group of the Kolkosian tribe. On the other hand, alliances and hegemonies dominated by certain individual city-states routinely but not exclusively fall around these tribal lines. The Kohore League for example, headed by the Panyrian tribe of Sparakos, included many city-states and colonies of Panyrian origin but not exclusively so.
Of the four, the Panyrians are regarded culturally and historically as the latest arrivals to Selia proper, and regarded by some as a smaller tribe of the Kolkosians in the north which grew large enough to constitute its own identity. It's believed the Panyrians came into conflict with the Rhyosians and the Iosorians, replacing the Rhyosians as the dominant tribe of the Kohore Peninsula, driving the remainder of the Rhyosians of Selia proper into central Selia. This replacement however achieved a level of high cultural similarity between the Rhyosians and the Panyrians despite long-term periods of war between the two most significant states of the Classical Era, Sparakos and Ephyra.
The Iosorians, primarily island-dwelling in any case, retained much of their historic territory and own colonies, whilst Asia Minor would be rigorously colonised by both Rhyosian and Panyrians in a contest for power, whilst Kolkosian tribes remained in the north. This is a very simplistic demarcation of tribal borders and the reality is much more complicated, as in some cases, smaller sub-tribes might simply switch language group to be identified with a new broader tribe, or be physically and demographically replaced by another. The Lykosian tribe, named after the legendary Lykos I of Ephyra, is known as an autochthonic Rhyosian tribe however, and it is believed modern High Ephyral traces descent from Rhyosian Selian. In the modern era, these broader tribal origins matter little, although groups of Selian colonies usually share a collective ancestry to a specific tribe or leading city-state, which certainly to some extent influenced and continues to influence the cultural development of said colonies in comparison to their sister-cities founded by other tribes. To this end, whilst most Selians do not identify by any of these four tribes regularly, they are used when the topic of long-term ancestry is raised in conversation, and many Selians are at least aware to which of the four they historically belong. Because of tribal interbreeding, this is usually traced solely through the male line. If a citizen traces his male ancestry to the Panyrians, it matters not if the women of his line came from all three of the other tribes or from non-Selians altogether.
Ethnic designation is as culturally impacting as tribal, as Selian and other citizen colonists would usually, either inadvertently or as a means of pacification, adopt elements of the culture of the people inhabiting the land colonised. As the people of lands varied, this produced different mixes as new places were explored. The most common terms used by the Ephyral state to denote culturally defined ethnic sub-groups are; Ephyral Selian (not to be confused with Selian Ephyral, which denotes all citizens of Selian ancestry - Ephyral Selian denotes the culturally defined ethnic group of citizens including non-Selians living in the heartland and northern provinces), Asian Selians (Anatolia), Mesopotamian Selians (Iraq), Levantine Selians (the Near East coast), Caucasus Selians (Caucasus), and African Selians (North Africa). Other historical groups included the Crimean Selians. However this cultural group was extinguished during the Russo-Ephyral War of the late 18th century, which saw the destruction of the independent Selian colonies in the Crimea by the Russian Empire, and their annexation into Russia. The population was culturally and ethnically assimilated long term, though depopulated following many thousands of death during the war, as well as enslavement and escape.
The variations between the groups, both cultural ethnic and tribal, are relatively minor, but noticeable. Iosorian sub-culture for example tends to value a trait of boldness in male suitors who present themselves to the father of an eligible daughter. By contrast, the three other groups regard any such move as an affront to the authority of the woman's father as her rypios, and instead value those suitors who wait until the declaration of the young woman's eligibility for marriage. On ethnic lines, African, Levantine, and Mesopotamian Selians are all known for the cultural acceptance of unwed women wearing the head-cloak reserved for married women in Selia proper and other communities. The cloak acts as a sun-shield in this instance, and does not serve the utility of recognising which women are wed and which are not as is common in Selia proper. None of the differences between the groups however is large, and causes little if any cultural conflict between Selians, as over the millennium and a half of Ephyral rule, all citizen living in the borders of the empire regard themselves as belonging to a single cultural and identity group as a paramount; Ephyral.
As referenced in ethnic and tribal identification, the Selian cultural value of autochthonism has limited to an extent either in line with in-group preference or to a degree beyond it the rate of ethnic interbreeding. This however most exemplified by the homogeneously Selian aristocratic ruling class, as it is known historically as well as today that marriages and reproduction has occurred between Selian citizens and non-Selian citizens, most commonly in the partnership of Selian male and non-Selian female, with most marriages in such an event being with Thracian and Illyrian descended peoples, Roman descended peoples, and a smaller variety of others including Armenians, Arameans, Assyrians, Arabs, as well as foreign born citizens who migrated and naturalised such as Washingtonians, Cermans, and a number of European peoples.
The vast majority of Selians today trace their descent clearly back to the Nymaedian Period, before the main extent of Selian colonisation and therefore supporting common ancestry for all Selians primarily to southern Selia, though with some descent to the Selian inhabitants of the northern half of the country lying outside of Nymaedian influence. Admixture with other peoples has always occurred to some extent, mostly amongst the lower classes, but historically most commonly between other Selian tribes, as enough of a tribal identity existed to make such a distinction. Breeding of this sort in the upper classes occurred for purposes of dynastic marriage, whilst in the lower classes, familial and political gain was not discounted as a motivator, but the greater concern was simply the strong inter-familial network, and the bride or groom therefore valued on their own traits and merits.
Classical Era Selian colonisation, and secondary Ephyral colonisation has seen the most diverse interbreeding, though limited in some cases. Arab occupied territories saw the least amount of interbreeding through marriage due to religious issues. The same factor is also the reason for a lack of Selian-Jewish admixture, though the smaller Jewish population makes this marginal. Instead, those that trace descent from Arabs and Selians both (as well as Jews) can most likely deduce the reason as being war-time rape or enslavement by either side of the opponent's females. In colonies, the initial settlers would often constitute a ruling class unto themselves, ruling over the natives they colonised. Because of this, freedom from admixture was ironically practised most in the colonies than in the heartland. However, as the wealth gap within the growing Selian population widened and the natives became Selianised, lower class colonial descendants saw less cultural objection to interbreeding.
As lineage is traced through the father due to Selian patriarchal and patrilineal rule, it is typically the ethnicity of the father that denotes the publicly acknowledge ethnicity of the child, although if the percentage becomes less than even on either side then typically it is the highest concentration of one side that denotes ethnicity. Aversion to interbreeding is not a uniquely Selian concept however, it has simply been incorporated culturally though the idea of autochthonism. Other groups, including those conquered by Ephyra or colonised by Selians, held similar aversions and an in-group identity which can be assumed relaxed similarly along class lines as time progressed, with native local elites upholding more or less the same attitude to foreign admixture as the Selian ruling classes, forgoing this for dynastic or political reasons, as well after the monarchical era, political marriages continued and still do occur, and with local native citizen elites, the aversion to admixture is often ignored for political gain by both sides; the Selian elite typically for the purpose of gaining a client and dependent, whilst the native sees advantage in a Selian patron.
This aversion to admixture is largely what has allowed historically small ethnic minorities in Ephyra to survive through blood if not through language or culture, such as the Romans. However conversely, lower-class admixture and the continuous advance of colonisation inwards to foreign lands has left regions like Anatolia largely absent any native people who are not Selian.
The Selian people are renowned globally, following greater international contact, as well as historically locally for their unique physical characteristics, at least when manifested to the extreme as is common within the Selian aristocracy and ruling classes. The physical attributes of the Selian people has been utilised as a means of mockery or denigration as is manifest with the traits of other races. These traits are variable in their genetic strength, with some being lost in perhaps one to two generations of interbreeding, whilst others take far longer to be lost. The physical variations do not just extend to the immediate exterior on observation however (these are the most famous traits however), as the Selian people do exhibit a sexual dimorphism more pronounced than in other races.
The Selian people possess a naturally light skin colour, possessing the genes SLC24A5, and SLC45A2. Because of genetic relation to the Scandinavian people, it is believed that the Selian population developed lighter skin at least 8000 years ago, similar to southern Scandinavian populations, and that this potentially predates migration into Selia, or occurred sometime during the migratory waves.
This lighter skin colour is striking for the location of the people, as surrounding populations possess darker, though not dark skin tones. A mutation within the genes providing the lighter skin colour however has had the result of heightening Selian resistance to UV radiation, though this is not infinite of course. The Selian people have not seen any notable darkening of the skin since arriving in Selia, and have retained much of their physical qualities. The skin colour of the Selians is approximate to northern European populations, and comes in both warmer and colder tones.
However, the description of pale is sometimes applied to the Selians, initially given unto them by their darker skinned neighbours, and eventually passing into common usage and an idea that the Selians are a pale people. Though not inaccurate, it is relative, as the average Selian and northern European will possess indistinguishable skin tones.
The hair colour exhibited by the Selian people is the first of the major distinctions exhibited from other peoples. In its most extreme, Selian genetics will produce a hair colour which from birth is essentially white, or pale silver in colour. It is unknown whether it is the hair colour or Selia's mineral resources which gave the land its name, as Selia (Selea) means "land of silver" in High Ephyral, derived uncertainly from the noun selion, meaning the metal, or selenka, the colour.
From a distance the hair serves as the most visible indicator of Selian heritage, although it does not exclusively come in white-silver, as many Selians also exhibit silver-gold hair, as well as light and rarely, darker blondes. It is the hair which is the weaker genetic trait, resulting in a common idea that those who possess the more white-silver hair are the most Selian in terms of ancestry. Because of this, it is the Selian ruling classes and elite families, maintaining their traits through incestuous marriages, that exhibit the white or pale silver hair in abundance.
With the exception of the eyebrows (which tend to be darker than the rest of the hair), this hair colour tendency manifests in all hair in Selians. However the only noteworthy type would be pubic hair, as it is common for Selians both male and female (as well as non-Selian Ephyral citizens) to keep their body free of hair, though with selective preference to the pubic region (if not shaved, then well-kept). Despite its more distance-friendly distinctiveness, it is not the hair of the Selians which has earned them the most fame, especially as it can easily be lost with just two generations of interbreeding. Regardless however, it remains a famous trait of the people, and in slaves contributes significantly to their cost.
It is the stereotypical eye colour of the Selian people which has commanded interest, attraction, fear, and discomfort, varying by situation in non-Selians. The Selians are vastly known for being the only people in which the manifestation of a purple iris is common. Like with the hair, the intensity can vary, with the eyes being as dark as violet or as pale as lilac before diffusing into the other colours seen in Selians such as blue, and rarely green. It is believed the purple is a mutation in the blue-eye gene which, on top of producing its more unusual hue, also manifests higher genetic resistance. It is more common than the minority-held white / pale-silver hair, and whilst no direct correlation has been found for intensity and social aristocracy, there is a prevailing stereotype of stronger blood producing violet over lilac.
It is by this trait that the Selians have been most identified, typically by referenced as the 'purple-eyed people', with people often being interchanged for traders, slavers, conquerors, or explorers depending on the interaction had with the people who met them. Due to it being far more prevalent than its hair counterpart, it is the presence of purple eyes that denotes above all else, Selian heritage.
In some foreign lands with a Selian minority, the eyes and sometimes the hair have been incorporated into ideas of more exotic attraction. This is most true in Washington, which hosts the highest number of Selian-descended people.
As members of the human species, the Selian people exhibit sexual dimorphism mentally and physically between males and females as every other people do. Like all peoples, this dimorphism forms the rule but can be subject to exception. The fact that some women are taller than some men does not invalidate the rule of greater male height than female. Perhaps more than other nations, this physical and sexual dimorphism has social and cultural consequences, as Ephyra is stratified along the lines of sex as well as class, holding males and females to different obligations, responsibilities, and affording different rights. This had led to accusations of sexual discrimination against women on the basis of immutable characteristics.
The actual question of cultural female equality however has varied answers in the Freehold, and it is the sexual dimorphism of the human species that is often cited in support of policies and ideas.