Life and Society:

The Tembu are one of the most widespread peoples in Orisha. They are also one of the wealthiest.

Tembu enjoy highly stylized wooden statuary over other forms of art, and nearly every family owns at least one statue. All Tembu shrines, even family shrines, feature prominent statuary dedicated to the orisha. Gold jewelry is also common amongst the Tembu, but as a way of demonstrating wealth rather than for artistic reasons.

Most Tembu like to show off their wealth by wearing colorful clothing such as the dashiki, as well as prodigious amounts of gold jewelry. Some extremely wealthy Tembu women wear so many gold necklaces they cause permanent damage to their shoulders, making them appear to have elongated necks. Luckily, the Tembu consider long or heavily textured necks a very attractive feature and indicative of nobility.

Tembu eat a wide variety of dishes, but most of their diet consists of stewed lentils, millet, and other grains served with a ubiquitous flat bread called injira. On special occasions they will eat meats. Wild animals (fried baby crocodile, stewed monkey, etc.) are considered delicacies and find their way to the tables of many Tembu nobles.

The Tembu like to fight with axes (battle or throwing) and large shields. They often ride elephants into battle, and Tembu elephant archers are the major military might of Orisha.



Many Tembu rituals involve the use of statues. For example, when Tembu need to swear an oath or seal a contract, they will pound a nail into a magical statue called a nail figure to magically seal their words. Rituals such as these have caused other cultures to mistake them for idol worshipers.






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