Hairstyles in Sacaan

[This was originally published on my Patreon]

A very short worldbuilding post this time (I reserve the right to edit and expand on this one later), but one that’s probably a wee bit overdue – how Sacaask culture treats hair, and why Mortimer’s the only straight-haired person with short hair in the main cast.

In Sacaask culture, long hair’s considered the norm for all genders. Most folks who don’t have tight curls wear their hair tied back in some way, with low queues/braids/ponytails very common for masc-presenting folk and more complex styles generally (though not always!) reserved for more fem-of-centre presentations. Braids and headscarves are both used to keep hair out of the face for manual work, and those who’re travelling and know they won’t get a chance to bathe for a while will often braid their hair into what would, in our world, be called a french or dutch braid, keeping it tight to the scalp and out of the way until they get the chance to wash it properly. Wearing your hair loose isn’t a cultural faux pas, per se, but it tends to read as very casual – the equivalent of having your sleeves rolled up and your waistcoat/top button undone.

Short hair in folks who don’t have tight curls tends to be read as signifying one of three things – you’ve recently been very ill, you’re a convict, or you’re a priest.

As in our world, cutting off someone’s hair without their consent is a significant violation and not something that’s done lightly. In the case of convicts, it’s part of the punishment (as well as, admittedly, serving a practical purpose when it comes to lice and other issues), where in the case of those too ill to consent, it’s a decision taken only if not doing so would significantly impact the health of the patient or stop them recovering. Priests are a different matter, inasmuch as they choose to cut their hair as part of certain ceremonies and rituals. It’s a sacrifice, and it’s respected as such.

In terms of our main cast, Mortimer’s short hair coupled with his missing arm and his mannerisms would immediately read to most Sacaask folk as ‘recently invalided-out soldier’, and they’d react to him as such. Viola’s braid says ‘practical’ and ‘traditional’, where Archer and Fest’s low ponytails read pretty much the same as a short back and sides does in the UK. Sabbat’s loose hair reads ‘casual’, as does Amelia’s when she’s not got it braided or otherwise done up (Amelia’s also reads ‘young’ when coupled with her dress sense, which she absolutely uses to her advantage).

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