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Shet'la, literally meaning Age Marks in Melodian refer to a coming-of-age rite common in Nui-tan culture involving tattoos. The tattoos vary from person to person, but typically follow a few specific rules. Shet'la are very common in Nui-tan society, with most adults possessing some marking attributed to the rite.

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A typical Shet'la marking on a male, note the use of the right arm and the lack of colored ink.


The markings attributed to Shet'la typically follow a few traditional rules.

  • The marking typically appears on an arm, and may extend unto the back. Markings on the legs are not as common, but are known to exist.
  • The markings are traditionally mono-chrome, in thick, black ink. The most traditional are solid bands around the arm, although the design may show some variation per the personal preference of the one being marked.
  • Men are typically marked on the right side of the body, while women are marked on the left.
  • Markings are typically at least a half-inch wide. Larger markings are considered more honorable, and more common among military personnel and conservative cultures.
  • Piercings are rare, but may be substituted in lieu of tattoos for those with lower pain tolerance, or medical conditions which would contraindicate taking the risk of a tattoo procedure. Prime Minister Trenta i-Harendo possessed ear and nose-piercings, usually filled with studs. This was because her poor respiratory health made the process of getting tattooed more strenuous.
  • Even rarer are those with both tattoos and piercings. Prime Minister Evan Isaci had a traditional tattoo on his right shoulder and back, but further possessed piercings in his earlobes, the apparent result of "a drunken dare" during his time in the military.

Traditional Meaning

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A semi-typical Shet'la marking on a female. In lieu of solid black banding, this person has chosen more geometric designs. Small deviations from traditional markings such as this are generally considered acceptable in modern-day Nui-ta.

Traditional Nui-tan apparel tends to be loose and flowing, due to the hot climate. In ancient Nui-tan culture, "coming-of-age" was not determined by one's chronological age, but by when they were deemed by their clan elders to be mature enough for the duties of adulthood, such as military service, marriage, or occupational work. Due to the easily identifiable placement of markings, as well as their placement being a mark of having come-of-age, Shet'la were the distinguishing factor between a child and an adult.

When the second Monarchy was established, and Vincentius di-Amori I was placed on the throne, his age of 16 years became the de facto, and later legal, age of adulthood within the nation. Since then, cultural expectation is that the marks be conferred at that age, which coincides in much of Nui-ta with college entrance or entry into the military.