Hyborian age Picts

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tarkhan bey
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Hyborian age Picts

Postby tarkhan bey » Mon Dec 05, 2011 8:42 pm

I was reading through this months copy of Wargames Illustrated when i came across an article about Commanches.
One line in the article refers to Wichita warriors who would occasionally accompany the Commanches on raids. These were referred to colloquially as Pawnee Picts by the Texicans. I imagine that Howard was aware of this and that this may be why his Picts,unlike the Celtic-ish real world ones, are based on Native Americans. It was something to do with their tattooing, apparently.
Is this news, or did we already know that? :)
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Boneguard » Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:48 am

tarkhan bey wrote:Is this news, or did we already know that? :)
Yes and no.

I didn't know about the Wichita being called the Pawnee Pict; but the fact that the Pict were based on Native American was pretty obvious -for me at least- by the description made of them and the type of warfare used.

And in a Pastiche Conan goes to a big continent to the West where Picts Dwells aplenty...IIRC.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Nyarlathotep5150 » Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:37 am

Same here. I didn't know about the Pawnee Pict thing, but did notice that Hyborian Picts where more Native American than the Historical European Picts.
Howard even pointed out the difference between them in the hyborian age essay, where he said something along the lines of, by the time they entered known history, nothing remained of the Picts except the name.
Personally, I think he did it on purpose. I'm sure he knew about the Wichita, but also, given that Hyboria already had Cimmerians and Nordheimir, he might have felt that adding in the historically accurate Picts would have just been more of the same.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Spectator » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:25 am

I'm also sure REH was aware of the financial success of the The Last of the Mohicans by James Fennimore Cooper. The Amerindian picts as opposed to the Scottish picts was a good choice since allowed another genre of story to be told.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Supplement Four » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:54 am

I'm not so sure. I think a strong case can be made for the Picts of Pre/Post Roman Britian. Woad instead of war paint. The Picts and the American Indians can sound similar in prose description.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby kintire » Fri Dec 09, 2011 12:02 am

Technically, there weren't any Picts in pre-roman Britain.

With Howard's Picts, the presence of animal totems, Native American style names and the absence of severed heads points strongly to Indians
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby steelbrok » Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:40 am

I watched "The Eagle" last night and one tribe, the Seal People struck me as far more like Native americans than Picts
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Supplement Four » Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:32 pm

steelbrok wrote:I watched "The Eagle" last night and one tribe, the Seal People struck me as far more like Native americans than Picts
Yep, and check out King Arthur and Centurion. Both movies are set during Roman occupation of Britain, and both feature Pict-like adversaries (though, they may be called something else. In King Arthur, they are called "The Woad".).

As far as Kintire's animal totems, check out the Aberlemno Serpent Stone. According to one wiki, the Picts were a people in the late iron age, which does pre-date the Roman invasion.

Image



I could defintely see the people in the pics below, taken from those three movies, as what Howard was describing in his stories (rather than Native American Indians).




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LucaCherstich
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby LucaCherstich » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:10 pm

REH was CLEARLY refering to "kind-of-Native-American" Picts in his "Pictish" stories.

It is well known (since REH EXPLICITELY says so in a letter) that he created the Hyborian Age in order to set adventures for a single hero (CONAN!) but set in different historical/geographical contexts (Caribbean Pirates, Tribal Africa, Ancient Middle-East, Medieval War, etc...) without the need for exact historical research.

REH pictish stories are set in a setting which CLEARLY recalls 18th-century Colonial American East Coast.
If you change the name "Aquilonians" with "British" the whole thing is pretty easy to understand....
There's so much in common between "Beyond the Black River" and the Last of the Mohicans...and if it was not "Last of the Mohicans", REH was clearly thinking about that vast background of Early Colonial American stories.
Last edited by LucaCherstich on Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Spectator » Fri Dec 09, 2011 11:12 pm

Supplement Four wrote:I'm not so sure. I think a strong case can be made for the Picts of Pre/Post Roman Britian. Woad instead of war paint. The Picts and the American Indians can sound similar in prose description.
But he intentionally gave the picts Amerindian names, and set it in lush forests, not in scottish highlands.
REH already had his wild-celts: they were the cimmerians.
And he would have known about the financial success of the leatherstocking tales, cmon!
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Supplement Four » Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:55 am

LucaCherstich wrote:REH was CLEARLY refering to "kind-of-Native-American" Picts in his "Pictish" stories.

It is well known (since REH EXPLICITELY says so in a letter) that he created the Hyborian Age in order to set adventures for a single hero (CONAN!) but set in different historical/geographical contexts (Caribbean Pirates, Tribal Africa, Ancient Middle-East, Medieval War, etc...) without the need for exact historical research.
I know about the letter and so forth. I just choose not to think of them that way. Even the Aquilonian fort names give the Last of the Mohicans vibe away.

Here's something about Howard and the Picts that those reading this thread may be interested in seeing...



The Picts were an especial favourite race of Robert E. Howard and are mentioned frequently in his tales, having a continuity from the Thurian Age tales of King Kull of Valusia, where they are his allies, to the Hyborian Age of Conan the Barbarian, where they are the mortal enemies of the Cimmerians (who are actually descended from the old Atlanteans though they do not remember their ancestry or old alliance). Howard also wrote tales about the last King of the Picts Bran Mak Morn set in real historical time, and they figure commonly as enemies of Cormac mac Art. Of all the races and civilizations in Howard's writings, the Picts are the race or civilization with the longest history; Picts appear even in the story Valley of the Worm, set long even before Kull, where Picts help the protagonist Niord battle a giant snake and a creature that resembles a shoggoth, and in stories set in the early Middle Ages. Howard gave the Picts a sense of continuity between different ages by making Bran Mak Morn a descendant of Kull's ally Brule the Spear Slayer, and then describing how the king's soul had been affixed to a black stone statue worshiped by the medieval Picts. The status of the Picts and their civilization generally declined over time; the Picts of the Thurian Age were far more sophisticated than their primitive, brutish descendants.

Howard's Picts are said to have originated on "islands far out on the Western ocean"[1], and gradually migrated into the Mediterranean area. At one time they spread across large areas of the world, but gradually vanished except for several splinter groups. Although some of these groups lived in remote jungles and southern continents, the most prominent body of Picts settled in the British isles, where they displaced a supposedly mongoloid race that had been the initial residents of the isles (though their origins were elsewhere). This previous race sought refuge underground, and over long millennia they evolved into stunted and hideous creatures, who were the initial subjects of tales concerning elves and dwarves, as described in the Bran Mak Morn short story Worms of the Earth.

The Picts were in turn displaced some thousands of years later by the invading Celts, and driven northward into Scotland where they interbred with a tribe of 'red haired barbarians,' resulting in a genetic shift toward diminished height. Following subsequent Roman, Breton, and Saxon invasions, the Picts too sought refuge underground, just like the natives they had displaced before.

An interesting point is that, in the Hyborian age stories such as Beyond the Black River[2], when they populated the Western edge of Europe and share a border with Aquilonia, which tries to push them further west to colonize new provinces, the Picts show clear native American influence, in their appearance, dress, armament, manner of conducting wars, and even the place names of the new Aquilonian provinces. It is hard to tell whether this is a case of inconsistency on the part of Howard, or a throwback to their earliest origins and savagery, as the Picts who Conan battled during the Hyborian Age are definitely more primitive and savage than those Kull knew many millennia earlier. The story Kings of the Night, in which Kull is summoned forward in time to help battle a Roman army, references a decline of the Picts after the age of Kull, specifically noting the Picts lost the skills of metalworking. The Picts described in stories such as the Dark Man, set in the early Middle Ages, portray the Picts as more primitive yet, with a Neolithic level of technology such as flint arrowheads. These Picts are clearly a people at the last stages of decline, and are living as a hidden tribe of savages of whom their neighboring Norse, Scottish, and Irish peoples are not aware.

Howard's descriptions of the later Picts portray them as very small in height, squat and muscular, adept at silent movement, and most of all brutish and uncivilized, quite unlike the Picts of Kull's day[3] . They painted themselves with woad, much like the historical Picts, and lived in very large caverns, some natural and some artificially expanded. They had a custom of burning enemy prisoners alive, a ceremony usually presided over by their druid-like 'wizards' or priests, whom Howard portrayed as having a twisted philosophy and mindset produced by many years of hatred, in direct opposition to the Pictish warrior-king Bran Mak Morn, who attempted to restore the Picts to their honourable place in the world and drive out the Roman invaders.

Bran Mak Morn's mindset was very unusual for his time and location, because he favored an alliance of the 'native' British populations, including the Picts, Bretons, and Celts, against the Romans, in a setting when each of these tribes fostered an intense hatred and mistrust for all the others. Robert E. Howard also mentions that some warriors among the Picts could assume the forms of wolves, in the manner of werewolves, on their own free will. These Picts were a 'race' with whom Howard felt the most affinity, and for this reason they were one of his favourite subjects, despite being almost wholly fictitious and deviating from historical fact.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby LucaCherstich » Wed Dec 14, 2011 11:25 pm

Interesting issue.
I've read REH' "Worms of the Earth", "king of the Night" and other Dark Ages/Viking/Celtic/Pictish stories by REH.
It is clear that the picts depicted in those stories are quite different from those of the Hyborian Age, which were their predecessors (at least in the fictionl Hawardesque chronology).

However, as a matter of fact, the picts of those stories are not meaningful for our discussion. In fact, it remains that REH's Picts of the Hyborian Age are clearly meant to appear like Native Americans and explicitely recall Native American elements.

The coastline Picts in "Black Stranger" clearly recall Caribbean Indios from old pirate stories, because that was the genre REH was imitating.
The forest Picts in "Beyond the Black River" clearly recall Hurons & Mohicans from colonial stories, because REH was imitating the feeling of early colonial America.

It must be also reminded that we are not dealing with historical accuracy (something which REH was not able to follow) but we are dealing with fake historical evolutions which REH created in order to let his stories work the way he liked.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Supplement Four » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:52 am

Regardless of the "proof" of the American Indian influence on the Picts during the Hyborian Age, I am definitely not the only one who prefers the influence of the ancient Britian Picts rather than those from America.

I just finished reading one of the Dark Horse Conan comics where the mighty barbarian fought some Picts, and those guys defintely do not remind me of American Indians.

The same goes for the Picts in the Age of Conan MMO. Those Picts look more like the pictures above than your standard American Indian.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby LucaCherstich » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:27 am

I think you are free to do what you like!

Sometimes REH himself was not consistent with what he wrote before...
It's true he firstly set his world with "the Hyborian Age" essay and he then wrote stories...
...but REH was not Tolkien. He was not a maniac creating a very fixed and highly detailed world.
REH' Hyborian Age is continuosly shaped according to the kind of story he wanted to write.
Pastiche authors did even worse....

...so I think nobody should complain if you prefer to have Dark Ages Picts.
It's just not the REH' original vision of Hyborian Age Picts in the original stories...but who cares as long as you have fun?
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby kintire » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:21 pm

Regardless of the "proof" of the American Indian influence on the Picts during the Hyborian Age, I am definitely not the only one who prefers the influence of the ancient Britian Picts rather than those from America.
What exactly are you trying to say? That you prefer to pitch Hyborian Age Picts as the historical ones? Then why the quotes around "proof"? Or are you saying that because you don't want the Picts to be like Amerindians, Howard can't have meant them to be?

REH based his Picts on the Amerindians. That doesn't force you to do the same, your games are your own.
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Re: Hyborian age Picts

Postby Supplement Four » Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:18 pm

kintire wrote:What exactly are you trying to say? That you prefer to pitch Hyborian Age Picts as the historical ones? Then why the quotes around "proof"? Or are you saying that because you don't want the Picts to be like Amerindians, Howard can't have meant them to be?
I'm saying that the evidence is strong that Howard meant to write a story about the American Frontier, set during the Hyborian Age, with the Picts taking the place of the indians. But, just because that may be true doesn't mean that the Picts should mimick or even look like American Indians. I can see that others have taken a similiar approach as mine, as evidenced in the depiction of the Picts in different Conan media.

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