The warrior ethos alive in the USA  today


Bergonian History

The Banda Warrior

How the Banda were organized  --  The Banda's Credo -- 
The Banda's education
  --  How the Banda behaved  --  How the Banda fought  --
Varieties of Banda  -- History of the Banda 


In the Nacateca language: panitei.  The Minidun borrowed the word and it became BandaThe European languages adopted this word.

The Banda warrior class
formed the backbone of
Shufrantei culture.  

The banda class dominated Bergonian history for over a thousand years.  The Banda figure-- clad in black kilt & black tunic, sporting headband embroidered with clan & lodge symbols, made fierce with red, gold and black face paint, armed with characteristic sword & dagger, and in most cases bravely eschewing armor-- has cut across centuries of Bergonian imagination to the present day.  

In fact, only the banda in pre-Shufrantei times typically dressed in this austere fashion.  Only the banda in pre-Shufrantei times (before 250 BC) were free men of arms, self-sacrificing heroes, bound only by honor.  In later times, with the rise of Shufrantei, the banda became immensely powerful and thus institutionalized, so that by the time of the Two Empires the banda were professionalized, institutionalized and politicized.  During this time "banda" meant as much "officer corps" as anything else, and since the two empires were essentially military creations, "banda" also meant "ruling class."  During the Medieval period, banda distinctiveness faded into the banal preoccupations with political power, trade and wealth, and preserving the status quo.  There was nothing noble or heroic about them. and "banda" became a label for the aristocracy, so that finally the term ceased to have any real meaning.  By 1000 AD, "banda" had become a term of historical relevance only.

All banda of all eras looked to the Book of Anger as the central expression of their common values.

The Banda Credo:

"Defend the temple, defend the clan, defend the weak," summarizes an ethos of loyalty and service that shaped generations of rulers and soldiers.  This slogan has been quoted, cited, pondered, commented and elaborated upon, questioned, mocked, recited, revered, and sung over the centuries, probably as often as any other single phrase in all Berg history.

How the Banda were organized:       

Every banda warrior belonged to a lodge.  The lodge house was the center of banda social and ceremonial life.  Typically all the members of a lodge were of the same clan.  The warrior attended ceremonies at the lodge house, and he could always seek shelter there.  When war came, the men from a lodge all went to the same regiment.  

In every respect the banda were organized along clan lines.  Their schools, lodges and regiments were all organized according to clan affiliation.  The clans were thus strengthened and given vitality by the banda organizations.  In particular the clans derived vitality from the banda lodges.  Many of the lodges could trace continuous lineages with lists that went back more than a thousand years, and form an important source of ancient genealogies.  It was through the organization of the banda that clans became politically significant.  For example, the men of one lodge house would remain connected and loyal to each other, wherever their individual careers might take them.  Likewise, the men of one lodge collaborated with lodges of the same clan in neighboring cities and regions. 

In armies soldiers also organized along clan lines.  It was common for platoons and squadrons to consist of men of the same clan, with a commander of the same clan.  If not enough men of one clan were present to form a whole unit, they would be paired in a unit with men of one other clan   In some case, whole regiments were formed of men from a single clan, and they boasted of it with boisterous singing and with flags bearing their clan signets.

How the Banda behaved:

Seiudun was the ancient Bergonian etiquette for respectful conversation (sitting round a small tea table) between adverse and possibly hostile, possibly armed men (and women).  This arose out of the ancient panitei warrior ethos that required politeness, verbal restraint and etiquette, and ceremonial greetings and exchanges.  One always kept his temper, until another man broke one of the rules, when then raging righteous indignation became appropriate.  The banda code was not unlike the rules of Chivalry, somewhere between them and the colder Bushido that governed Samurai.  One acted calmly, quietly and gentlemanly.  One did not insult or molest women.  One did not offend the sanctity of temples.  One did not offend the Gods or the earth spirits and demons. 

The Education of the Banda     

Every Shufrantei child went through a clan initiation ceremony to mark the fourteenth birthday.  Immediately after the initiation ceremony the select boys passed directly into the banda academy sponsored by their particular clan.  There they learned the sword and dagger, how to move, parry and fight, how to wrestle and fight by hand, and how to survive and live in the field.  Most students had attended temple school before their fourteenth birthday, and there they learned to read and write; in banda academy they were made to read the classic works of Shufrantei civilization, including the Analects, the Mineoathi, the stories of the Gods, and the Book of Anger.  Priests visited the academies to give religious instruction.  Some students were taught special skills, such as the bow, poisons, mathematics, engineering, and map reading.  The students typically graduated on their seventeenth birthday.  Upon graduation they were tested on their fighting skills and rated.

How the ancient Banda fought:     

In ancient times, in the beginning, they valued speed, finesse and flexibility.  They disdained battlefield formations.  They generally believed that eighty superbly conditioned warriors could (a) cover long distances overland with light weapons and no armor, (b) approach with stealth and surprise, (c) attack with focus, skill and lightening speed, (d) if needed, withdraw with the same lightening speed and utterly disappear.  This they called the "attack of the cat."  Such a group of banda could overcome greatly superior numbers.  

Typical banda carried a sword and dagger, though some of them were expected to attain proficiency with bow and arrow and serve as archers.  In the early days of Bergonian history they had no metal other than bronze, but in the Imperial era iron came into common use.  In fact, the pioneering use of iron in making weapons gave the empire building states the advantage that guaranteed victory.  Some banda preferred the itle-- the Bergonian tomahawk or mace, a polished wooden club with bronze or iron blades imbedded in the end.  Some specialized in the javelin, but the pike was always regarded as a pedestrian weapon suitable only for a common conscript..

The banda valued the honor that attached to one-to-one combat, and often paired up on the battlefield.  They usually used the sword or other long weapon to disable their opponents, often by swinging low at the legs or high at the head, and then finished them off with the dagger, held in the left hand.  The cockiest of them wore no armor, daring their opponents, but rarely did any of them wear any armor other than a round helmet, a leather jacket sewn with chain mail, and pieces of iron strapped to the forearm with leather straps.

In later centuries, with the rise of empires, the banda became the officer class for imperial armies (and for the armies of independent states who heroically resisted the empires).  In this era they learned that stout forts and masses of soldiers (commoners trained and commanded by banda officers) gave effective defense against the "attack of the cat."  The legions of the Imperial Age were very much like the armies of ancient Rome.  They fought wars by engaging large armies in pitched battlefield fighting, with the fighting ending when one army either retreated or was destroyed.  Here they had specializations, with the fighting force of heavy infantry, light infantry and archers receiving support from corps of engineers, cooks and stewards, scouts, intelligence officers, not to mention the battalions of auxiliaries, lightly armed men who served as porters for the remainder of the fore.

The banda's amulet represented his power, and his heavenly warrant to use it.  The amulet evoked the myth of the first warrior and recalled the founding of the Ancita warrior class. 

Varieties of Banda:      

The original Ancita warrior was truly an all-purpose warrior, skilled in the use of the sword, dagger and bow, as well wrestling, scouting and tracking, and hunting.

Some banda became Feticinai-- warriors specifically committed to avenging or punishing a sacrilege.  In the days before Ierecina, the great prophet, there were many competing sects that engaged in desecration of each other's temples.  The feticinai avenged such acts, and they avenged murders, rapes and other serious crimes.  The mark of a feticinai is that he took a specific oath, that he never accepted compensation for his services, and he painted his face with warpaint as an emblem of the oath.  After Ierecina wiped out all the religious differences, the term feticinai was applied to private revenge killers and romantic revolutionaries.  As a practical matter, there were no real feticinai after the establishment of the two great empires, with governments that discouraged private justice.

Gudazhes were the Bergonian version of Ninja.  They even wore the same black clothing, for nighttime and shadow camouflage.  They were assassins, masters of stealth, and prowling spies.  They were know for their superb athletic conditioning.  Their training typically included martial arts, stick fighting, throwing knives and stars, scaling walls, cat burglar skills, picking locks, scouting and surveillance, gymnastics, poisons, invisible inks, cryptography, tracking, forensics, dsguises, and the medical aspects of killing.

A small number of banda became banda-scribes, who engaged in collecting information and other intelligence work, encrypting messages, and keeping records.  some of these handled the carrier pigeons that ancient Bergonians again and again tried to cultivate.

In the Subanei era, when the Ancita warrior formed armies, the banda split into a class of common warriors who would stand on the front line and a class of commanders.  The common bandas command squads of non-banda soldiers recruited or conscripted from among the peasantry, leading into battle.  In essence, during the era of the Two Empires, the banda class evolved into the professional officer corps. 

History of the Warrior Class     

In ancient times (circa 1000-300 BC) the various proto-Nacateca peoples of Western Bergonia, including the Ancita, originally hunters (deer, boar, wild sheep) and shepherds (sheep and goats), with limited grain and orchard farming performed by an underclass.  The huntsmen's obsession with honor and the herders' feuding gave rise to clan-based lodges of warriors. 

In normal times these men hunted and herded and bossed the evolving peasant class. But periodically they gathered together at their clan lodges, where they trained, ate and drank together.  As a firm rule, a lodge fraternity consisted of men of the same clan.  When a feud started or a regional war began, they assembled at the lodge house carrying swords, daggers, itles (tomahawks) and bows, and together marched off singing their clan anthems.  Among the Ancita people, the clan-based banda lodges became the ruling class, with the assembly approval of a chief.

Nearly every lodge affiliated with a temple, and each lodge resolved to protect the holy things of the temple from thieves and other lodges.  The histories from these ancient times record that warriors from nearby Lasa city-states made sport of raiding Ancita temples, thus spurring on the militancy of Ancita banda..  Sometimes, even the various lodges when feuding struck at each others' temples.  "Where you put your value, your enemy will strike."  (Likewise the spiritualist aphorism, "When you put your value in nothing, you become invincible.") 

In time the Ancita warriors repaid the Lasa with conquest, and soon their lodges planted colonies in the Lasa cities, thus creating networks of warrior affiiations.  Altogether the banda controlled about twelve-thousand square miles of fertile land cultivated by peasants.  Political power now belonged to a permanent leader, called the tieri, who governed at the sufferance of the assembly of lodge chiefs, and who depended on obtaining their oaths of allegiance, and so he was weak and ruled more tentatively than any king in Eurasia. 

Then came the Prophet Ierecina.  By the sheer compelling power of his charisma he united all the Ancita warrior clans, and then harnessed their collective strength to spread and institutionalize his new faith.  He provided a spark and a wildfire broke out that raged across the land.  The Ancita banda attacked and conquered the numerically stronger Ceiolaian Empire that dominated all eastern Bergonia, and in time they spread Ierecina's faith to all the civilized lands in Bergonia. 

Throughout this explosive phase, the banda retained the cellular structure of the local lodge house.  As the class expanded and spread out across the land, individual lodge brothers marched together in a battalion of fellow clansmen.  They could always find clan brothers among the hundreds of other lodges.  They and their brothers planted "colonies" in the conquered cities and towns, and recruited from among the native population who had converted to Shufrantei.   It came to pass that the first thing any traveler wanted to know when he arrived in a new town, no matter where in Bergonia, was information about the locally powerful banda lodges-- which clans did they represent (a traveler might go on to the next town if his own clan was not among the powerful), and whether they feuded, tyrannized or ruled well.

This was the beginning of Shufrantei Civilization that in time extended from the west coast, across the central plateau, to the east coast. In both the imperial and medieval eras, the banda had become the institutional upper class of all society.  This domination obtained from coast to coast, coexistent with Shufrantei, so that in all Minidun and Nacateca areas the banda had a monopoly on political power in all the states.   Their lodge houses grew from simple, austere mud brick affairs to elaborate two story brick buildings, built around central courtyards with verandahs, appointed inside with rich, elegant furnishings.  The law of Imperial and post-Imperial states explicitly recognized the banda as a distinct social order, with superior status and special rights and powers.  It was, for example, a felony for a commoner to assault a banda, but a banda who assaulted a commoner only had to pay a light fine.

By now millions of peasants lived on the land, producing surpluses to feed the cities and armies, all under control of the banda class.  Dotting the countryside were great manors where noble banda families lived.  They controlled the surrounding peasant villages and had a right to a share of the peasants' harvest, as did the banda-controlled state.  In fact, banda had become almost synonymous to what Europeans understood as nobility.  There was one big difference: the son of a European nobleman by right became a nobleman too, but the son of the Bergonian banda only had the right to attend the banda academy, and the incumbent was free to name as heir any male kinsman who suited him.

Some banda dwelled in cities, where they ruled as well, so that none other than a banda could serve as mayor or police chief of a city government, or serve on any city council, or control any quarter. 

In medieval times the banda academies became more like boarding schools or finishing schools than like where boys would learn to fight and kill.  Much of the martial and weapons training in the banda academies was by now a formality.  These school taught literature, geography, history, Shufrantei religion, engineering and agriculture. 


.  The warrior class remained the dominant political class in Bergonia up into the Medieval Era, when finally non-banda nobles gained equal status.  The last vestiges of the Banda class were wiped out at he beginning of  the Tan Era.



Click, and then click to enlarge:

Detailed Map of Bergonia, 700-1500 AD

Detailed Map of Ancient Bergonia:


Detailed Map of Imperial-Era Bergonia:

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