"The Culture of Hotaji Oasis" There is a village of the Hotaji tribe stretched around the picturesque eponymous oasis. The ancient traditions of the tribe was fully preserved thanks to deep isolation from the outside world. Hence the architecture of the village and many other elements of ancient culture survived to this day in this Divines-forsaken place. The gods of Hotaji are very similar to their traditional images, which further strengthens the assumption of their ancient origin. The use the word "Tomo" for their gods, which means "nature", "law". All gods together are called "Ratomo" ("strong laws"), and the chief deity of their pantheon, the ancestor of all other gods, is also named Ratomo, which can be translated as "Great god". The current head of the pantheon is Ramangai, sun god who grants life. His right hand is young Tomei, who's helping the souls of the dead to find their way into another world. Utatori is the secret keeper who separates the permitted knowledge from the forbidden. The great warrior Ransei protects from the enemies and guides hunters to strike a sure hit. Mo-G'yetang, Ransei's brother, is the patron of all skilled men. Ratomo's wife is Tavadotomo, our familiar goddess of fertility and sky, not quite different from her modern version. She is assisted by beautiful JitÅndo, the goddess of art and harmony, and the wise goddess Tuenara, the Hearthkeeper. Kept aloof are Noroigura, trickster god who is treated as the cause of all troubles, and evil Syatokashi, the master of storms, hurricanes, and droughts, the one who wishes to sow only destruction. The elder of the tribe, the only one who knows our language, has told me this legend. "At the beginning of time we all, the gods, the people, lived on a large flat boat in the midst of the waves. It was because there was only one small island in the sea, which had not enough space to even one family. However, everyone lived happily. Chief Ratomo and his wife Tavadotomo gave life to other gods and men, and sharp-sighted Ramangai saw to it that the sun was not too bright and not tortured anyone with thirst. But then the greedy Noroigura decided that the life was not good enough, and the pitching was too severe. He persuaded the skilful Mo-G'yetang to dismantle the ship and build from it the large multi-tiered Pagoda on the island. This place was named Hotaji, and everyone began to live there. "But the evil god Syatokashi sighted the Pagoda from afar and decided to devour anyone who lived there. The seer Utatori revealed the plan and warned the wise mistress Tuenara. Tuenara judged that it was necessary to break the Pagoda, before Hotaji was found by Syatokashi. She persuaded the beautiful JitÅndo to share a night with the great warrior Ransei so he would agree to destroy the Pagoda, because it was possible only to his strength. Tavadotomo caused rain to slow down Syatokashi, as Ransei came to the Pagoda and was going to strike it with his sword. But he was impeded by Noroigura who felt sorry for the Pagoda, and the sword pierced Noroigura's heart. Noroigura didn't die, because at the time no one knew the concept of death, but his spilled blood softened the island soil, and the Pagoda collapsed. Without the old boat, everyone was going to sink down and would have lived on the sea floor, but the greedy Noroigura grabbed one of splinters, and the other gods and men followed his example when they saw that he is a-floating. "For long years, men-of-hotaji drifted slowly on the waves. During this time the god Tomei was born to JitÅndo and Ransei. Tomei didn't know a happy life yet, and therefore he decided to lead the oldest and worthiest people to the sky, believing that the better life awaits there. Many years later, the waves drove men-of-hotaji upon the far shores. The Hotaji, with no Ratomo left among them by this time (even Tomei was spending more and more time at the sky), went deep into the desert, deciding that they will be able to hide there from the devastating Syatokashi. Besides, everyone was heartily sick of pitching. Since then, they live near the oasis, which gives everything necessary for a happy life. And no one is building pagodas more than two palm trees in height."