In the Nacateca language: panitei.
The Minidun borrowed the word and it became Banda.
The European languages adopted this word.
The Banda warrior class
formed the backbone of
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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