The Pèá Vágás

(People have been bugging me to post something to remove our new Prime Minister’s visage from the homepage. Well – to quote TISM – bash this up ya ginga!)

As is common among many human-variant species of local probability, the Zurvár use cards (pèá) for purposes of both gaming and divination. The most common set of cards are called the Pèá Vágás.

The Vágás are divided into five suits, corresponding to five elements of the Zurvár creation myth. These are lòtò (boats), katálá (fish), rindû (seabirds), táká (knots) and minak (stars). Each suit has 10 cards, numbered one to five and double one to double five. The double five of each deck is the pèá tálá or “great card” and has its own name and unique symbol…

lòtò (boats) – altáká (The Sun)
katálá (fish) – hì sùim (The Incoming Wind)
rindû (seabirds) – hì piridim (The Outgoing Wind)
táká (knots) – takal (The Takal – the knot symbol that represents the Zurvár people)
minak (stars) – minak tálá (The Great Star)

Each of the suits is associated with a number of elements and ideas, chiefly of use for divinatory purposes, but also featuring in some card games.

Suit Element Positive Aspects Negative Aspects Roles
lòtò
(boats)
Living Things Protection,
Strength
Restriction,
Intimidation
Protectors and Defenders
katálá
(fish)
Water Reliability,
Skill
Dullness,
Fear
Workers and Labourers
rindû
(seabirds)
Air Creativity,
Passion
Arrogance,
Obsession
Artists and Performers
táká
(knots)
Earth Wisdom,
Intelligence
Resistance to
Change, Passivity
Thinkers
minak
(stars)
Light Ambition,
Persistance
Greed,
Treachery
Guides and Leaders

 

The most basic form of divination is to draw three cards while considering the situation one seeks advice on. The first card reveals positives about the situation, the second negatives, and the third provides a balance between the two. Many Zurvár regard this as nothing more than outdated superstition, but a surprising number will still ‘draw the cards’ before commencing a major undertaking “just for luck”.

In addition to the attributes listed above, every card in the Vágás deck is associated with a particular profession. Again this is used for divination, but it is also used in a number of childrens’ games such as motás qudáqurn (‘balanced house’) where the players attempt to assemble a hand of compatible workers to inhabit their ‘house’.

Lòtò (Boats)
1 – Healer/Doctor
2 – Metaphysician
3 – Militia Member/Peace Officer
4 – Judge
5 – Warrior
11 – Scout/Explorer
22 – War Leader/General
33 – Advocate/Lawyer
44 – Ship’s Carpenter
55 – Ship’s Captain

Katálá (Fish)
1 – Farmer/Butcher
2 – Baker
3 – Brewer
4 – Sailmaker
5 – Carpenter
11 – Potter
22 – Weaver
33 – Labourer/Builder
44 – Metalsmith
55 – Boatbuilder

Rindû (Seabirds)
1 – Sculptor
2 – Dancer
3 – Carver/Engraver
4 – Painter
5 – Singer
11 – Musician
22 – Writer
33 – Tapestry Maker
44 – Storyteller/Bard
55 – Creator (an individual skilled in many artforms)

Táká (Knots)
1 – Student/Scholar
2 – Philosopher
3 – Accountant/Business Person
4 – Historian
5 – Researcher/Scientist
11 – Engineer
22 – Architect/Builder
33 – Marine Architect / Boat Designer
44 – Poet
55 – Sage

Minak (Stars)
1 – Messenger/Mail Carrier
2 – Parent
3 – House Elder
4 – Mayor (elected leader of a Zurvár settlement)
5 – Counselor/Adviser
11 – Mystic/Prophet
22 -Lawmaker
33 – Mapmaker
44 – Teacher
55 – Pilot

Pèá Vágás decks may easily be obtained in any Zurvár settlement and vary from cheap, printed pasteboard to elaborately engraved metal plates aimed at the fortune telling and tourist markets.

One thought on “The Pèá Vágás”

  1. A fascinating post, Denys; and sufficiently lengthly enough as to prevent accidental scrolling down to the Minak 4 – Mayor card, also known in some southern variants of the deck as ‘The Abbott’ card. Bless you, my son.

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