The Bayakans are the people of Community. The Heart Chakra – centered in the chest and represented by the color green – is the energy source related to emotions, compassion, equilibrium and well-being. Physically, heart energy represents vigor; attributes associated with it are passion, devotion, loyalty, and connection.
Physically, Bayakans are among the most diverse of all Erdan societies. Generally dark-complexioned, skin tones may range from a light tan to an almost purple-black; hair color ranges from dark brown to black, and may be wiry or wavy; facial hair on men may be full or sparse. Some Bayakans from older communities on Usi Island average only eight hands tall; those from The Crane average twelve hands tall and heavy; and some mainland Bayakans average thirteen hands tall and thin. All Bayakans wear sarongs of various styles, although visitors to countries with harsh climates often wear what has come to be called “mock-bayak” – local clothes with coverings and trim in traditional Bayakan patterns.
Bayaka comprises a huge island chain and mainland communities that were colonized long ago. The Wide Range protects the region from the cold weather of the Mountward Wastes; the warm currents of Mother Sea make Bayaka a tropical region, full of thick jungles and lush savannahs surrounded by hot beaches. Bayakans have long used the sea and the internal waterways for communication and trade, and are considered the finest sailors on Erde.
The Bayakan islands have been united, at least for trade, for almost as long as there has been an emperor on the Wax Throne; the innate predilection for community building that was manifest in the earliest Bayakan societies allowed them a long period of growth and development with little internal strife or struggle. As a result, Bayaka has a longstanding and sophisticated system of ruling councils, allowing for centralized decision-making in regards to commerce and foreign policy, yet extensive localized autonomy for all other matters. The political structure has always been matriarchal, with local hereditary chiefs selecting representatives to the various councils. Besides the matrilineal privilege of the chiefs, there is an almost completely flat social structure.
Despite the long internal peace, Bayaka still remembers its ancient conflicts with the Haan and Attika, and maintains a strong universal militia, and its merchant marine can in an instant take on the role of the Bayakan Navy.
While Bayaka has several large trading centers, most of the population still lives in small villages, closer to the land than anyone except perhaps the Hirokoa; the lush vegetation and abundant sea life in the region support the populace with little need for advanced agriculture. Bayakans have easy access to and readily adapt new technologies from the Haan lands and Central Erde, but only as necessary; they maintain an uncomplicated lifestyle for the most part. The Bayakan inclination toward community building expresses itself in trade and diplomacy; Bayaka has trading outposts in most ports and several inland population centers on the mainland, and Bayakan diplomats have been present at – or have brokered – many of the major peace accords of the last millennia.
Bayakan religions are usually a form of unpersonalized animism; for Bayakans, there is no difference between, for example, the god of the sea and the sea itself, or the monkey god and any monkey: each plant or animal is both a separate unique organism and an avatar of it form. In this model, plants are most often used as the focus of the seven energies, or juju, in worship or healing rituals: cinnamon for root juju, saffron for sacral juju, ginger for solar plexus juju; seaweed for heart juju, eucalyptus for throat juju, lavender for third-eye juju, and jasmine for crown juju. Bayakans also treasure the dolphin, the animal that they feel has the strongest connection with heart juju, and most government documents and important artifacts are in some way marked with a dolphin image or motif.