Another round of A-to-Z Blog Challenge, and we are now on B. Only seems like yesterday I was on A. Yeah I know, lame joke. Today is B and I am doing Bestiary and Balkinization. I’m sure if you’ve played enough video games you’ve heard of the first one, but the second one might come off as “What?”
As always, I will discuss the two topics and then find a way to connect them together. You will decide if I accomplished that or failed with your comments below.
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I have heard many pronunciations for this word. I’ve heard Best-iary, Beast-iary, Bes-iary…
Whatever your preference, it is simply a collection of animals, birds (often seen as different than animals), and some rocks. It was popular in the Middle Ages and often times contained moral lessons on each animal. It was often a book used to show the morals and values of the culture while at the same time detailing known animals. Some bestiary even showcased mythical animals as well. Even being tied to religion such as Christianity.
Much of what was found in these books were believed to be true. Some information were later discovered to be scientifically accurate, though most was conjecture by the authors.
There are many popular ones out there you can use for your story, whether you decide to use an established one or make your own. If you are doing a Fantasy series, might not be a bad idea to create your own. For an example of a Bestiary, check out Aberdeen Bestiary.
For more info on Bestiary, check out Sara C. Snider’s A to Z Blog Challenge dedicated to Bestiary.
Balkinization is a term used to describe a region or state that breaks itself into smaller regions or states and becomes self sufficient. Often times it is to form their own government and be hostile to its neighbors, but it can be used to create smaller states of a larger whole.
The term originated in the 19th Century, named after the Balkan Peninsula. Originally ruled by the Ottoman Empire, between 1817 – 1912, it went through dramatic changes that shattered the nation and splintered off, to combining together. Check out an example from 1800-2008
As fun as that animation is, it is easy to forget how much death and suffering came due to Balkinization. The Balkans are not the only example of this, another being Germany. By 1871, Germany was one nation, prior to that, it was 39 smaller states. Prior to 1790, it was 360 smaller states.
Despite these rough examples from the Balkans, to Germany, and even the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia; there are elements where this is a positive thing. Such a city having different districts. To an extent, New York can be considered Balkinized, in the fact that there is Chinatown and SoHo.
How does this relate to writing? Often times it is easy for writers to design a land that has one ruler and everyone follows that one ruler. There are examples of this kind of government, but it is not the only option. Having a land that is separated into smaller states, such as regions or Providences can work to your advantage. Allowing Dukes or Governors the ability to control a section of land for their own needs while still obeying the needs of the King and Country.
Bestiary & Balkinization
We are essentially talking about two different things here, one being a book on animals (and some rocks) and another talking about the division of people. Yet, there is a common thread here…culture. Culture, in its easiest form is people. People in the views of their Values, Morals, Artifacts, Conventions, and Institutions.
Often times we want to be around people like ourselves and in that group grow xenophobic in how we treat others outside our group. In culture, we need ways to teach our way of thinking. Books are often a good way of doing that, but places like church are good ways of seeing people of our community and see how they act, and to hear their viewpoints.
When designing your culture, take these elements into consideration. Perhaps your Kingdom or futuristic world has but one higher government but there are smaller states that take care of themselves. But how do they view the world around them? Perhaps there are types of books they have to help them.