Xanian customs and etiquette govern the social behavior of the Xanians across their homeworld and throughout their empire. Much of Xanian etiquette is influenced directly by their religion, Zheani, with considerable portions of their social behavior codified within the religion's holy book, the Zhantana. Whereas human etiquette varies wildly based on one's homeland, region, class, and tribal affiliation, Xanian etiquette is followed by all members of the species, with a single social code applied throughout the Xanian species. Interestingly, very little about Xanian etiquette has changed throughout history, with ancient social customs still regarded as current within Xanian society today.
Common values and practicesEdit
Eating and drinkingEdit
In spite of their predatory nature and violent culture, the Xanians have superb table manners, and expect the same of others. All meals begin with a Xanian form of saying grace, thanking the host for the effort they put into assembling the meal. When dining at a formal event, the Xanians pass out the food by sex, age, and rank. The eldest apex in the family with offspring is served first, followed by the second youngest and second highest-ranking apex in the family. Then the eldest or highest-ranking nadir in the family, typically the first wife of the patriarch, is served. Then the apexes and nadirs are served according to their age and status in the family, and ending with the children with the sons being served first, followed by the daughters. However, in more informal settings, the father of the household is seated and served first, and the rest of the family may join in thereafter.
Because of the nature of Xanian physiology, the Xanians have traditionally eaten with their hands, with nadirs known to use their lengthy claws as utensils. However, with the introduction of eating utensils, forks and spoons are more commonly used during meals. There are no restrictions on how one may navigate about the table or the food, but it is commonly accepted that using one's tongue to grab food off of the table is unacceptable and tacky. Grabbing food off of one's plate is also considered to be in poor taste and discouraged. Chewing with one's mouth open is regarded as a gross sign of disrespect and considered to be an extremely bad manner. All members are expected to finish all of their food, with removing as much meat from the bones as possible. Licking one's plate is considered a sign of respect, as it indicates that one has been fully satisfied by the meal.
When eating soups or finishing foods with large amounts of broth, it is acceptable to use one's tongue to drink the reminder of the meal. Lifting the bowl to one's face is not considered improper, if one simply prefers to drink directly from the bowl rather than use their tongue as a drinking straw. It is uncommon to see a Xanian eating or drinking outside, or moving while consuming something. Typically, they will either remain in a single area while they eat or drink, or move someone else to eat their meal. The Xanians have no restriction on speaking of repulsive topics during a meal, and will usually share stories of wars or events with gruesome details, as the others taking part in the dinner will carry on eating their meal. When leaving a meal before one is finished, it is considered to be a good manner to excuse one's self from the table.
Gifts and gift-givingEdit
Greetings and body languageEdit
Because of the dangerous nature of Xanian society, body movement is taken very seriously by the Xanian population, as any move could be that of a striking blow. Greetings therefore revolve around the concept of goodwill. Xanians traditionally introduce themselves by crossing their arms over their chest and bow slightly, a way of showing they are humbling themselves and do not intend to use their claws to cause physical harm, as well as indicating they seek not conflict by bowing to such a point they cannot see what the other Xanian is doing, putting themselves at their mercy. Xanians in closer relationships or known colleagues, welcome one another by placing taking hold of the other's head while touching foreheads, a way of showing trust in the other by allowing them to grab the most sensitive part of their body and coming into close contact with one another. Handshakes are not commonplace within Xanian culture, though Xanians interacting with humans prefer this method of greeting, given its universal acceptance within human culture. Shaking one's head is uncommon for the Xanians. When saying yes or no, no visible response is expected, though a slight non-verbal nod of agreement is permissible. However, when disagreeing with something or someone, a verbal, non-visible response is expected.
Eye contact is a touchy issue in Xanian culture given the Xanians predatory nature. When speaking to superiors, Xanians are expected to look down or look away, as direct eye contact is seen as a provocative action linked with aggressiveness. When speaking outside of formal events, eye contact with superiors is permitted. When speaking to peers, eye contact is seen as respectful, and a sign of equality between two members of the same rank or status. Touching others or coming into their personal space is not seen as a form of rude behavior. When in familiar circles, closeness is expected and returned in kind. When speaking to superiors, a respectable distance is maintained, usually two arm-lengths away from the individual. Touching an apex one is not familiar with is considered a gross violation of his personal space, largely due to the reproductive and leadership role of the apexes, and the threat of them being harmed by a stranger. Kissing is viewed as a form of compassion between friends and relatives, though practice exclusively between apexes and nadirs or nadirs and other nadirs. Kissing between apexes is viewed as unacceptable. Between nadirs, especially relatives, a deep kiss is considered the most respectful form of greeting.
In more informal settings, the Xanians tend to have more relaxed body language. Nadir sisters and relatives seeking to speak confidentially will wrap one leg around the leg of the other, almost in an intimate embrace, coming close enough that whispering is possible, as well as allowing onlookers to see that they do not wish to be disturbed. Such behavior by the apexes is not known, as apexes believe that one must not hide what he wishes to say if he must, or that he will not risk saying in public what ought to be known in private. Universally, nadirs tend sit with their legs spread apart, believing that they have nothing which must be hidden away, and take pride in their sexual openness and proclivity. Instead, Xanians view such posturing as acceptable and "lady-like" as the term would go in human culture, and often with their legs spread apart as far as possible and genitals uncovered. Taking offense to this or looking away (or not acknowledging their posture) is considered a gross form of disrespect. As a whole, the Xanians lack what could be considered "romantic body language". Nadirs believe that they can have sexual intercourse with anyone anytime, and apexes simply do not care about romantic adventures to bother with such techniques.
Dress and groomingEdit
Xanian clothing is generally lightweight and comfortable, befitting the desert climate the Xanians have been accustom too. However, the Xanians do not require the same protection from the elements as humans have required, and their clothing thus tends to be far more revealing. Apexes typically do not wear shirts during informal settings, but they are expected to remain decent. As they are regarded as the "vessels of creation" for their reproductive role, the Xanians believe that apexes must remain covered and protected, leading to more restrictive dressing customs for apexes. Nadirs on the otherhand, wear clothing which by human standards, would be incredibly provocative. Sheer garments and stockings, skin-tight leotards, and general nudity are all accepted by the Xanians as normal options for the nadir population. Because of certain biological aspects of nadir physiology, the often times continuous flow of nadir sexual fluids leads to clothing being discarded during informal settings in lew of nudity, or generally relaxed during formal occasions.
The Xanians view hair as a form of maturity, with most Xanians wearing their hair long or braided. Most apex Xanians wear their hair in braided forms, and regard facial hair as one of the highest expressions of adulthood for an apex. Apexes braid their beards into locs, and tend to attach golden jewelry to the ends of each braid, with additional pieces added as a way of indicating their social and political rank in Xanian society. All apexes avoid having their hair cut, as well as having it unbraided outside of cleaning their hair, as both are considered forms of effemininity. Xanian nadirs have a wider range of options with their hair, know unlike that of human females. The majority of Xanian nadirs were their hair long, with most either updoing their hair or keeping it in place with headbands and barrettes for younger nadirs. Unlike the sub-Saharan humans who they most look like, Xanian hair is not corse or wiry, and tends to be easier to work with. Curly hair is the most common hairstyle with Xanian nadirs, followed by long, straight hair, usually popular with elder nadir and members of the priesthood.
The Xanians view of axillary (underarm) and pubic hair revolves around the concept that they exist for a reason. Therefore, the Xanians do not remove either, as a matter of course. Xanians as a species are incapable of growing abdominal hair, and somewhat view it with disgust. Apexes do not shave either their underarms or their pubic hair, and consider both a sign of virility and vitality. Nadirs universally prefer to remain unshaven, instead keeping their pubic hair trimmed yet highly voluminous, but remove underarm hair for aesthetic reasons. Like apexes, nadirs view pubic hair as a sign of maturity, and find enjoyment in showcasing it with either low-cut undergarments or sitting with their legs spread apart. As a whole, the Xanians tend to regard the lack of body hair with youthfulness and weakness, and generally lack respect for those without some form of hair on their bodies. Many Xanian officials have even been known not to deal with humans lacking facial hair in any official capacity, regarding them as "lacking the status of an adult needed to speak to one".
A unique aspect of the Xanians grooming habits is that of self-grooming via licking, originating from the Xanians nature capability to remove dirt and grim from their bodies. The barbed tongues and corrosive saliva of the Xanians is more than enough to remove most forms of debris from their bodies. The shortage of water on Zhakar's arid surface necessitated the need for the Xanians to resort to such forms of cleaning themselves, and though modern technology has largely eliminated the need for this habit, the Xanians still prefer the more efficient and less wasteful method of licking. As befits their status, apexes do not groom themselves, but have a dedicated host of groomers who clean their bodies for them. Nadirs of notable stature tend to have the same treatment, though possess far fewer personal groomers. The average Xanian must groom themselves, though the length of their tongue typically makes it easy to reach most areas of their body. For harder to reach areas, they must rely upon another member of their family to groom them, or go to a groomer to clean their body for them.