Unseen Academicals - Revelation!

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Postby rockershovel » Wed May 25, 2011 11:21 am

there is no information about how widespread the practice of humans adopting dwarf customs and status might be, so there's no way to tell.

However Nanny Ogg's putative dwarf ancestry, Casanunda's activities and Carrot's generally-accepted dwarf status and probably clean-shaven appearance combine to suggest that there is a generally-understood ettiquette covering the matter.

Carrot doesn't carry an axe, either, although dwarf officers in the Watch appear to carry axes rather than swords for cultural reasons. There is no mention of Pepe having one. Grags don't appear to carry axes, at least the deep-down sort, and nor does the 'modern' grag in 'Thud!', at least as far as can be told.

So, I'd suggest that both beards and axes are cultural icons which can be modified or disregarded as the occasion demands; whereas from various comments by both Pepe and Carrot, making the necessary observations and rites is very much compulsory.

Which all fits in with dwarf society being essentially Jewish in character. You can be born one, and you will always be one; or you can become one by conversion, although the degree to which this is accepted varies. Their marriages are monogamous and contain various contractual elements; it would be interesting to know if their households are matriarchal, since their women are certainly not discriminated against or constrained legally.



Minty Rocksmacker is clearly female and known to be such, and her silky beard is specifically remarked upon. I'd tend to regard the whole 'Minty' issue as one of those continuity glitches which have been simply dropped for the sake of subsequent plots, though. Casanunda could also be in this category.
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Postby dune » Wed May 25, 2011 12:14 pm

I don't think you can really use a term like matriarchal or patriarchal to describe dwarf society, since gender does not really play a role. In the undergrad thesis I wrote about this subject I argued that dwarf society as a whole is strongly masculine with feminine aspects being suppressed, but that individual dwarfs are relatively free. There is no prejudice against women since no one knows who the women are.
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Postby One Man Bucket » Wed May 25, 2011 12:22 pm

The Copperhead dwarfs are a lot more accepting of femininity than Uberwald dwarfs so that might be part of it. Copperhead has also got Gloria Thogsdaughter from Soul Music and Carrot made reference to dwarfs grandmothers in Guards! Guards!. I'd say they acknowledge that some of their lot are female but not to the extreme level that Cheery and Sharn are pushing for.

Been a while since I read Thud but I'm pretty sure Ardent/Argent attacked Bashful with an axe so grags certainly know their way around them even if they're not permanently attached to them like other dwarfs. Bashful is a pretty reformist type of grag so his axelessness is just another one of his controversial actions plus it introduces dwarf kung fu/karate.
In addition grags/deepdowners have bodyguards and other people to do their mining for them so they have no need to carry axes for self defence or to get in a bit of mining.

As for beards I'd say there isn't any meaning* attached to the length or style of your beard so long as you have a beard. Vimes was surprised at Ardent's neatly trimmed beard because he doesn't have much dealing with the dwarf lower classes. Shaven dwarfs are either an iconoclast like Casununda, someone who has no other dwarfs to judge him like Mad or a human and they seem to get a free pass probably because most humans can't grow an impressively dwarfish beard.

I'd say the dwarfs who mated with humans are likely oddities like Casununda in that they show more interest in coitus than the average dwarf. Such a dwarf would be unlikely get satisfaction from other dwarfs so they go to humans.

* - the Companion mentions dwarfs being able to tell where you're from by the way you style your beard so I guess there's that.
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Postby rockershovel » Wed May 25, 2011 1:19 pm

I'd assume that becoming a grag is a process which takes time and hence, a grag would presumably have carried an axe at some stage.

Does Carrot come from Copperhead, or is that known?

I'm most intrigued with the idea of writing a graduate thesis on dwarf society. I'd have thought that it was too incompletely realised for that, with quite a few details being essentially jokes ( like the elaborate cod-Scandinavian patronymics ) or just inconsistent because TP hade a better idea later on. Their society is clearly clan-based, so someone muct be the head and there must be something which identifies a specific clan.
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Postby One Man Bucket » Wed May 25, 2011 1:31 pm

Carrot is from Copperhead.

Basically dwarfs have a business or something and their premises are referred to as a mine even if it's not really a mine. Thus Shatta is as much a mine as Mr/King Ironfounderson's literal mine is. The head of said mine is referred to as the King but he isn't literally a king and I doubt the position is in any way hereditary. I assume every mine has some grags among them and the King may very well be a grag himself. Since Deepdowners tend to own mines they tend to be Kings and the Low King is chosen from these dwarfs based on various things mentioned in 5th Elephant.
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Postby rockershovel » Wed May 25, 2011 3:59 pm

I'm sure that the term 'King' is referred to somewhere as being more correctly translated as 'Senior Engineer'.

How the appointment is made, I couldn't say but I'd assume that it would be a matter of being brought up to the role, or rising from the ranks, since it's clear that a high level of both technical knowledge and knowledge of dwarf mining law is required.

The whole knockerman/grag thing is interesting. It's quite true that gold mines often have gas control problems, as do coal mines, and most dwarf mines seem to be one or the other. I've never encountered the idea of burning off pockets of gas by exploding them, though
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Postby One Man Bucket » Wed May 25, 2011 8:46 pm

It's not clan based but rather based on people joining up with some financial expedition and any family they have either stay in the same business, create their own business or join another dwarfs business.A mine is a community but it's first and foremost a business.
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Postby dune » Thu May 26, 2011 8:38 am

Hm....there is some competition between different Dwarf groups though?
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Postby One Man Bucket » Thu May 26, 2011 1:39 pm

dune wrote:Hm....there is some competition between different Dwarf groups though?


In 5th Elephant they were described as going to war with each other in the past and they clearly compete for the spot of Low King. I suppose they compete for contracts to buy whatever materials they mine
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Postby raisindot » Fri May 27, 2011 1:18 pm

One Man Bucket wrote:Carrot is from Copperhead.

Basically dwarfs have a business or something and their premises are referred to as a mine even if it's not really a mine. Thus Shatta is as much a mine as Mr/King Ironfounderson's literal mine is. The head of said mine is referred to as the King but he isn't literally a king and I doubt the position is in any way hereditary. I assume every mine has some grags among them and the King may very well be a grag himself. Since Deepdowners tend to own mines they tend to be Kings and the Low King is chosen from these dwarfs based on various things mentioned in 5th Elephant.


The entrepreneurial dwarfs in AM don't consider themselves to be owners of "mines'; they recognize that their businesses aren't mines at all. Since the idea of living underground and working in a mine is so engrained in the history and traditions of the dwarfs the AM dwarfs often feel that they're not real dwarfs, which is why they often fall under the sway of reactionary "deep downers" who expouse a return to the "old ways." No self-respecting dwarf would every try to claim that his business is a "mine."


And there's nothing in any of the books that says that all every owner of a mine is a king or that each has grags. There's only one king of the dwarfs; the low king. The king himself does not have to be a grag; it's quite clear at the end of Thud! that Rhys is not a grag because he lets the two opposing grags resolve the Koom Valley issue, both verbally and physically.
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Postby raisindot » Fri May 27, 2011 1:25 pm

rockershovel wrote:
However Nanny Ogg's putative dwarf ancestry


??? Where did you get this from? Her family line goes back hundreds, maybe thousands, of years but there's no dwarf ancestry in it.
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Postby deldaisy » Fri May 27, 2011 1:30 pm

I always thought Nanny Ogg had a little bit of dwarf in her.

Well.... she did have a romantic fling with Casanunder didn't she? :wink:
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Postby raisindot » Fri May 27, 2011 1:32 pm

rockershovel wrote:Which all fits in with dwarf society being essentially Jewish in character. You can be born one, and you will always be one; or you can become one by conversion, although the degree to which this is accepted varies. Their marriages are monogamous and contain various contractual elements.


I agree with this. I once posited on the Alt.fan.pratchett groups that the dwarf society of Uberwald in The Fifth Elephant was modeled after Chasidic Jews, who are very traditional, conservative, base their society on ancient laws, venerate wise men, believe in the holiness of words, and suppress the expression of feminine identity.

Pterry responded to this message by saying that he really hadn't modeled the dwarfs on Jews, but on religious communities whose cultures are based on laws (which includes both Judaism and Islam).
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Postby Ogg » Fri May 27, 2011 4:31 pm

Interesting reading I must say. I've just reread UU and imo Bengo Macarona was portrayed as very much a ladies man.
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Postby Dotsie » Fri May 27, 2011 5:14 pm

Apart from being gay, you mean?
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