What They Were

Most anyone who's had constant contact with the Zingari knows that they are a centuries-old trader caravan steeped in ancient layers of deep-knit traditions. Archaic practices such as arranged marriages, a system of elders and matriarchs, a secretive air around outsiders and other such things were the norm. They have always been a strong, fair and durable people, and they prospered on Pern. But now, with the Oldtimers coming forward and the return of Thread, the old ways have been threatened.

What They Are Becoming

The Zingari are a colorful people, vibrant in both dress and personality. Though the Elder Zingari try to cling to archaic traditions, the younger Zingari folk are trying to clear the path for newer ones. Their leader Willimina has already started by allowing non-Zingari into the caravan, something that has been considered taboo for as long as anyone can remember. Zingari were not to fraternize beyond business or marry outside their own people. Baomos, Willa's father, broke trader tradition by settling the mother clan down in Igen Weyr and "binding them to the rock", so to speak. Willimina and Tallel have appealed to the Elders and abolished their archaic marriage traditions. Zingari may marry whomever their hearts desire now.

What They Offer

The Zingari offer a wide variety of services, from the practical to the whimsical.
On the business end of things they offer jewelry, food, teas, clothing, linens, costumes for masques and balls, glass-works, alternative medicines offered by Zingari healers, whiskey (they are renowned for this), and on the sly, they hire out spies for political purposes and for dirty work.
On the entertainment side of things they offer a carnival-like environment with games, shows, and food. This includes play-acting, dancing, knife throwing, acrobatics, fire shows, illusions, fortune telling, music and song, contortionism, and much more. And for a price, you can hire a male or female Zingari escort for the evening.

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Trades Within the Caravan


Trades are taught to the children in a loose-form way. For the first eight Turns life, they are taught a bit of every skill. They are observed during this time and steered toward whichever trade they show aptitude in. All are trained in the arts of performance, dance, and song, though not all do well in these areas.

In most caravans the young are also taught to pickpocket and beg. Marks are marks and most traders aren't picky about how they get them.

Coming of Age Ceremonies


All young Zingari go through a coming of age ceremony, given when the elder teaching the young decides they are ready (usually between 15 and 18 Turns of age). All participating in the test must fast and meditate the day before, having a vigil they must sit (and not fall asleep during) that night. The next morning they are given various tests to perform based on whatever trade they have been taught.
Then, in the afternoon after a brief and small lunch of bread and wine, they must give a grueling recital of Zingari history, law and tradition. If by the end of the day the participant has passed all of their tests, then they are considered a full fledged adult.
They are given 2 runners, a wagon, any tools pertinent to their trade, and their knot, proclaiming their status within the caravan. Woman are traditionally given a small dowry in addition to all of this.

CARAVAN LEADERSHIP

Caravan leadership within the Zingari is inherited by the firstborn child of the leader, no matter the gender. Younger siblings may only inherit if the leader finds their eldest incapable and disinherits them, or in the case of the death, or Impression upon a dragon of the firstborn child (or, rarely, the execution of the entire leading family and a takeover by force).