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Vak (: signs) are Ixanian emblems used to decorate and identify a family, clan, or individual. Vak is typically used as the umbrella term to denote all designs of the type, though vandak and vadik refer specifically to emblems representing families and clans. Vak are similar to the European coat of arms and the Japanese mon, both which serve many of the same purposes, identifying family ties and cultural backgrounds. These devices are typically referred to be Western literature as crests, which to are similar to the vak is function.
Vak wre known to have existed in Ixania's past before the Seven Centuries' War. They appeared as markers on goods and clothing to display their points of origin and manufacturer. They soon grew to importance as emblems representing families in combat against their enemies, so as to give credit to those in the fighting. By the seventh century, vak were found everywhere in Ixania, often as tattoos used by the population. They were often times seen on flags, weapons, equipment, armor, and clothing as signs of ownership.
Unlike the heraldry of European aristocrats, vak were not reserved for nobles, and Ixanian commoners used them is everyday life. They were displayed on clothes to show their family origins and clan affiliation. During combat, vak were displayed on battle flags, shields, and army standards, a practice that grew during the N/A period. Guilds, organizations, theater troupes, and even criminal gangs used vak to identify themselves to others, and temples and shines were known to use them too.
Ixanian traditional wear (still the only clothing they will wear), display the vak of the wearer. Almost every Ixanian has one of their own, or shares the one of their family, the most common practice. So Ixanians have been known to make their own following weddings to denote their own family, especially common given the polygamous nature of Ixanian marriage. Few rules exist as to how one is too properly make a vak for themselves, though their designs are generally decided by society.
No definite rules exist on how to make a vak most are geometric in design, sometimes contained within a hexagon, diamond, or triangular piece. They often depict plant, animal, man-made, natural or celestial objects distorted to certains degree. Sharp curves and religious symbols are also used. Vak are essentially monochrome; the color does not constitute part of the design and they may be drawn in any color.
Much like their European counterparts, Ixanian vak may be named by the content of their design, but there is no rule regarding this detail. Unlike in European heraldry, these names are not prescriptive, and vak do not follow the name, instead the name is simply used to describe the makeup of the emblem. Vak tend to change in shape according to events of the holder. Such events as battles, births, deaths, rewards, and punishments may change the appearence of the vak, and thus change its meaning. Only the vak of the Tazen and his/her consort does not change, and only then if an event that effects the entire nation were happen. During times such as these, the major clans of the nation may vote to force the Tazen to accept a change to their vak.
Because the Ixanians are a polygamous society, the size of the families, and in turn clans, grow to excessive number. Thus, maintaining a form of cadancy is often considered rather useful at times to denote family alligence and clan membership in a sea of relatives. "Small" clans may possess anywhere in the region of ten to thirty families, which themselves consist of up to 100-150 member each. Thus, incorporating the vak of the clan in the vak of the family may serve as a way to help Ixanians identify members of their own clan even though the may possess vak of their own. Vak holders may also combine their mon with that of their patron, benefactor or spouse, sometimes creating increasingly complicated designs.
Practically all modern Ixanian families have a vak. Vak are required in most areas of Ixanian life, and when needed, one need only look through a temple registry of their ancestral hometown or region, or speak with their clan elders to find their or their family's vak. Wedding planners, government agencies, caretakers, and morticians often undertake the tasks of properly using a vak for those in question. Vak can be found on shops, buildings, homes, items, and clothing, especially those employed in traditional crafts and positions. Virturally every business will attempt to incorporate their vak into their official logo. Ixanians believe that vak placed on packages for commerical items (such as food, clothing, and devices), lend an air of elegance and refinement to them.
For items that symbolize the family, clan, or a trade, have often been used to design their vak. Warriors may choose weapons of war for their own vak. Women are often encouraged by men to keep their maiden vak to pass on to their daughters, and also as a way of denoting which family or clan they came from, from those from the same group as the men may share the same vak. Ixanian clothing employ vak in large numbers, for they add formality to the wearer. Those going without one are often considered barbaric, refusing to show their alligence, a point of pride in Ixanian society. Their clothing may bear one, five, or even ten vak to identify the wearer. For the nobility, their clothing must bear vak on the sleeves, chest, sholders, sides, and back, so as to denote their house.
In the military, vak are found on the helmets of the soldiers, who still wear the traditional warrior clothing of Ixania. For them, vak denotes the unit of the military branch and regiment they fight for, and that of their commander. Their personal vak can be found as decorations around the large vak of their commanding officer. In Ixania, the usage of vak are not typically regulated by the law. Only the vak of the Tazen and his or her consort may not be used.