Place of Animals in the World:
is no question that the respect for and fascination with animals is one
significant thing that sets Bergonian civilization apart from all
One major anthropologist stated that "the archaic
Bergonian felt surrounded by animals," saw the world as
"a colossal dance of the animals," and "wrapped animals up in his conception of God."
The 64 Shufrantei Gods were often animal-like in
nature and image, like many Egyptian Gods.
motifs have worked their way into all manner of arts & crafts
in all eras of Berg history. Animal symbols proliferate in
Berg literature, poetry and divination.
saw the Universe as a hierarchy of
being, with the Trinitarian God at the apex, angels below,
then Mankind, and finally the animals at the pyramid's base.
Even the Hindus & Buddhists who profess compassion for
animals, relegate animals to an inferior position. Hindu reincarnationists believe that people with crappy
karma come back as lower animals. By contrast, the Bergonians preserved (along with the Clan system)
a huge chunk of hunter sensibility from the hunter-gatherer stage
of development. To them, the human world was a reflection of
the animal world. Within this sensibility, animals co-own the
The ancient Bergonians abjured from hurting animals--
and clan traditions required respect and compassion for all animal life. One who
injured an animal (except in legitimate hunting and for defined pests) committed a grave crime. The traditional law of
Shufrantei prescribed death as the punishment for murder-- and that meant murder of animal
as well as human. The rule against harming animals received reinforcement from
the popular superstition that animal spirits could cause great harm to a human (sickness
and madness). The Bergonian rulers set up hospitals for sick and wounded animals, as
did Asoka, the ancient Buddhist emperor of India.
Bergonian philosophers who pondered the
nature of cognition and the human mind often started from a
comparative premise, which required examination of the nature of animal cognition.
Even in ancient times Bergonians recorded observations of animal
behavior in the wild, leaving to us a variety of writing that can only be
called scientific. Noting the significance of sensation in cognition,
the philosophers concluded that human
thought and animal thought were similar, inasmuch as both depended on seeing
and hearing. From their observations of animal behavior they also
concluded that animals possessed memory of experience, which also implied
cognitive similarities with humans.. On the other hand, speech was unique to humans,
to the extent that human thought depended upon words, it differed from
Meat and Vegetarianism
the rule against hurting an animal the ancients recognized an exception of killing for
food, and so Bergonians were never rigidly vegetarian. The tradition of the
ancient banda class had strong hunting as well as warrior
lodge brothers together went on
ceremonial hunts. But the ethos concerning animals required a rule of
conservation, which required a hunter to either eat what he killed or give it
to someone else to eat. So the ceremonial hunts ended in ceremonial
feasts, with enough meat to feed the servants and other commoners.
The hunter, like the hunters of other
archaic cultures, prayed generally to the animal "mana" at the beginning of
the hunt. They also prayed to the soul of the specific animal when he slew it. They murmured
the prayer when they drew the bow, and they repeated the prayer when they
reached the felled prey. Herders had
special relations with their flocks of sheep and goats, and they could slaughter them for
meat, but only with prescribed prayer. No proper Shufrantei believer could eat meat
that hadn't been reverently treated, a little like Kosher. The rules here applied less
strictly to fowl, and the prayers for birds were short. Fishermen
only had to murmur a prayer to Fashei, goddess of, well, fish.
Priests & priestesses, as well as any other person who
wanted to "draw close to the Gods," refrained from eating meat or
handling it. Many but not all sects refrained from using
leather products or anything else made from an animal's
body. The presence
of meat in a temple profaned it. These rule were part of the ritual
separation between the warrior (& noble) class from the priestly class. The
holy men and women who retreated to the forests also abjured
entirely from meat, as did the very holiest of devotees who
remained in the towns and villages.
Thus vegetarianism became a
cloak and symbol of holiness. People in medieval days would
say of someone, "he no longer eats meat," as a way of
commenting on his newfound religious devotion.
Cruelty to Animals
In colonial times the European
cruelty to animals horribly offended the atrei
(natives). Europeans typically
treated animals brutally and, at best, indifferently.
The Portuguese settled the
Amota region built corridas and "fought" the bulls they brought with
them. Natives living in Amota often rioted when Portuguese settlers held bullfights, and many bold youths attacked the corrals to
the bulls (as in other places they stole horses). Much worse (but definitely more effective), natives occasionally
bullfighters. Civil conflict erupted in Amota in 1824 over an attempt by
people (descendants of conquistadors) to organize bull fights after a lapse of several
decades. More substantial economic issues, such as the survival of
large estates (latifundias) from colonial times, insured that the civil
long and bloody, but the atrei militias flew a flag depicting a bull.
Bergonian Animal Life,
including species unique to Bergonia.
Clan System, based on animal totems.
info on animal cruelty issues.
man and woman, the Gods gave
the facile tongue, command of fire, and the hammer and knife. But the Gods as well
gave great gifts to each of the animals, sublime and majestic gifts, oft hidden
from us, just as ours are oft hid from them. The Gods have cursed us with minds disturbed and fractured, while the animals
they most surely did bless with whole minds, in need of neither contrivances
nor illusory balms."
--the Prophet Ierecina, 185
If we measure worth by love and hate, we would
find no creature better than a dog, and none worse than a man."
Prophet Krathnami, 995 A.D.
Christian notion that God gave Man
dominion over the world blasphemes Him. Why would God punish the animals with such a
cruel master? Likewise, if Man were made in God's image, then God
himself must be
cruel and insane. What reverent worshipper could ever entertain such
thoughts about the Lord? What intelligent man could ever worship such
a man-like god? After considering these things, you will readily
conclude that God did not give the world to man, but rather that man seized
it and things in it from God."
Pelai, 1634 A.D.
Practice love first on animals, they are
suffering, the animals are our equals"
"But ask now the Beasts,
And they shall teach thee;
And the Fowls of the air,
And they shall teach thee,
Or speak to the Earth,
And it shall teach thee."
ran to the cattle in the field to tell them the gospel about Jesus Christ,
but they said they already knew.
on describing what
he did when he received the gift of speaking with animals.
Policy regarding Animals
Even now, the deliberate wounding or killing of an
animal in Bergonia merits a mandatory jail term of at least three months, as well as
mandatory psychological examination and supervision. This is appropriate considering that
psychologists worldwide unanimously note that children who torture animals (and set fires) are
likely to become psychopaths.
Bergonians consider vivisection and
animal experimentation-- especially for mere commercial product testing-- another form of
psychopathy, although the proscription against animal testing in medical
research is not absolute. This remains controversial. All
animals in laboratories fall under the jurisdiction of the
Environmental Police, and a rigid set of standards have evolved
governing their care and use. All experiments involving
animals require the filing a plan pursuant to the regulations, and
independent auditors from the Environmental Police have the power
to enter premises, inspect records observe procedures.
In recent years the Harmony Party has
prevailed upon Congress to outlaw the import of cosmetics whose
manufacturers employ animal testing.
It is also now against the law to import any
animal not native to Bergonia without a permit. Animal smuggling
of any form requires a jail term of at least one year.
Many local governments have set up
new animal clinics, with very
inexpensive neutering services. The clinics take in unwanted
or abandoned animals.
Public policy in many cities
tolerates stray animals. Like many other cities around the
world (Rome, San Juan P.R.) many Berg cities tolerate large
numbers of stray cats in archaeological ruins and the old city
centers. The local clinics send volunteers to bring in the
strays and neuter them.
When the Europeans arrived in the
1500s, Bergonia had no horses. But that had not always been
the case. Bergonia's geographic isolation insured some
interesting evolutionary tangents. The most fascinating of
these was the irutle (Min.)/karei (Nac.)-- the
Bergonia horse, a miniature version of Eurasian horse. In
the evolutionary process, this creature evolved from the North
American Mesohippus, with three toes on each foot. The
irutle also had three toes, though it put its weight on the
stronger center toe, like the Merychippus, the creature that
evolved from the Mesohippus, and from which the Eurasian horse
evolved. The irutle was a small creature, standing only
three feet at the shoulder.
For millions of years ago herds of
the little irutle galloped over the grasslands of Bergonia.
With its small size it also grazed in the forests as well as in
the open country. Then homo sapiens arrived, and the little
horse became prey. By the time the first cities appeared the
irutle was already severely diminished in number. Some
zoologists theorize that the irutle was already on a slow
demographic decline that would have ultimately ended in
extinction, even if humankind had never reached Bergonia.
They theorize that Bergonia's big carnivorous cats had just enough
of an advantage to ultimately kill them all off. But instead
humankind did. Ancient Bergonians hunted the irutle for food
and for sport. Even the earliest written records describe
the irutle as very rare, so we can guess that the species had been
threatened long before civilization. The Shufrantei
protected the irutle by a religious rule, but this was too little
The last known irutles existed in a
single captive herd, owned and kept by the ruling dynasty of the
Second Ceiolaian Empire. The civil war that brought down the
dynasty ended with a conflagration in Ceiolai. The horses
were kept within the walled Tufralan, and when fighting and fires
consumed the Tufralan the horses were killed. This was in
466 AD. This was, at least in documented history and popular
imagination, the extinction of the Irutle, although for many
centuries afterwards people in the wild country reported seeing
Bergonians Fell in Love with Horses in Colonial Times
Europeans brought horses to
Bergonia-- first the conquistadors, then the settlers.
Bergonians had always been very kindly disposed to all animals--
much more so than any Eurasian people. All Bergonian
languages apply personal pronouns to animals. From the very
beginning horses-- their impressive size, their very evident
intelligence and feeling, their mighty speed-- fascinated the
Bergonians. Every native wanted to see them, touch them and
A much enjoyed poem from the 1600's records one
native Bergonian's reverence for a particular stallion that
unfortunately belonged to a white settler, which-- whom-- he
addresses with a love almost passionate. The atrei
is heart-stricken that the European has ownership and sovereignty
over the object of his admiration, and that he decides to sell it.
It is not surprising that
colonial Europeans made jokes about unnatural liaisons between
atrei and horses.
Significant Case of European Cruelty to Horses.
July 1634 the English magistrate in the town of Carlisle, a town
of English settlers in the Crown Colony of Harler (in southeast
Berg, now in the state of Serpei), issued a warrant against a
farmer named Geoffrey Liddy. Mr. Liddy had stabbed a native
man named Sejun Parishigir, a flamboyant character who was
apparently something of an actor, a carnival entertainer and a
regular nuisance on the streets of Carlisle. Parishigir
survived the wound to his gut and came to court as a witness for
the Crown. The court transcript, which has been preserved, begins
with a short spat where the judge made Parishigir remove the
orange bandana he had tied around his head.
Liddy had a defense—the
brown-skinned man tried to steal his horse, and he merely used his
blade to stop the theft. A man had a right to defend his
property, he argued. When Parishigir freely admitted
to the attempted theft, the Magistrate dismissed the charge
against Liddy and instead instituted a charge against him.
Parishigir claimed that he tried to
steal the horse because Liddy had maltreated it. He first saw the
horse tied up outside a store where the English traded. The horse
was thin, ribs visible, coat lusterless, and marred with open
sores and the wounds and scars from whipping. The English judge
immediately ruled this an irrelevant point, but Parishigir,
apparently a very assertive defendant, pressed on with his
explanation that he stole the horse out of kindness to it.
He claimed that the horse spoke to him. Europeans then sometimes
held that such claims by natives proved witchcraft or demonic
alliances, but most of the time Europeans cautiously stepped
around such claims, not sure if the native speaker meant it in
some metaphorical or poetic manner, or perhaps even ironically.
This judge charged Parishigir with witchcraft. He was burnt
horribly at the stake.
Other such things occurred in
colonial courts during the 1600s and 1700s, but this incident
provoked a popular outcry among the atrei of the region.
something of a martyr among the local atrei, and although he
disappears from history we know that the locals commemorated
him by tying orange scarves around their heads. There was a
wave of horse thefts across Harler Colony. One later account
claims that as many as two thirds of the estimated 1556 horses
owned by Englishmen in Carlisle were stolen. While most were
either recovered or given back, a local bandit was known to have
ridden with 248 of the horses inland to the dry Bushenrelu
region where he sold them to a warlord there. The warlord, named
the equivalent of "Water Darter," began wearing an
orange scarf tied around his neck. He founded the first native
cavalry troop and successfully fought off the English.
Long after Water-Darter went to his
death in battle in 1655, his cavalry persisted. They called
themselves the Orange Riders. A few of its officers fanned
out across the Ifuno, the one part of Bergonia not yet mastered by
the Europeans, with horses, and in time a tradition of atrei
cavalry fighting began all across the Ifuno Plateau. It
became the habit of atrei cavalrymen to wear hats with orange
hatbands. Horse-theft became a regular part of atrei
resistance against Europeans.
Infantry in the 1800's and now.
Bergonians soon ranked among the
best horsemen in the world. In its very inception, under the
guidance of Peislei, the Bergonian army created units of mounted
infantry, in addition to cavalry. They soon became its most
deadly fighting force on land. In 1867 two thousand mounted
infantry without warning crossed the border and attacked the last
British colony in Bergonia. They routed the stunned British
soldiers and forced a mass surrender. The commander of this
force, named John Rarsa, became such a popular figure throughout
Bergonia that he later became president and then dictator.
It was observed that these soldiers would not leave their wounded
horses on the field of battle.
Of course horses are obsolete as
weapons, but the armed forces never completely disbanded the
mounted infantry, keeping a number of regiments for parades,
public ceremonies, competitions, and the like. These
"infantrymen" are trained exclusively as show horse
equestrians, and the regiments tour the country to put on
exhibitions for an adoring public.