Re: Odal and personal property among the Orlanthi.

From: donald_at_AvFdebBBqKjVJVXtdSKKXL5zFfgWKYVlUb04OrY6AjYCLx-S7j7PU-4NB-VaV79mjLtOB
Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 13:36:21 +0100

Lord Hennamono:
> On 23/04/12 21:25, wrote:
> > Odal property law is potentially incredibly complex with all sorts of shared and joint
> > ownership and possession.
> I don't think it is that complex. We may see it as such because we are
> too hung up on modern concepts of property. Simply put odal is the
> property of the clan.

That's over-simplifing. More accurately it is property held in common by a group of people. It might be a clan, a stead or a bloodline. There are remnants left in English land law such as the concept of common land.

> The clan isn't the chief,

No but the clan chief is the embodiment of the clan. Just as a modern head of state embodies a country. In modern usage that is purely symbolic but it hasn't always been so and in Glorantha such symbolism has a magical effect.

> it isn't the ring, it
> isn't some capitalist notion of a corporate entity. The clan is the
> people. It's like the loaf in the family breadbin - anyone can make a
> sandwich without seeking permission to use the bread because the bread
> belongs to all who live there. Of course, if you use up the bread that
> is selfish - which is one reason why the Orlanthi regard generosity as a
> major virtue.

That sort of thing would get you in real trouble with grandma in an Orlanthi household. We are used to food being cheap and easily replaceable. When grain is ground by hand and dough kneeded by hand that loaf represents a significant effort in terms of family labour. The loaf is odal property of the family (not the clan) but how and when it is used is determined by the grandmother(s) not by who gets there first.

This is where odal property becomes complex - the interaction between possession, ownership and control with multiple groups. A field belongs to the clan. A bloodline owns the right to plough, sow and harvest that field. A carl's family own the crop after paying the chief and the priests their shares. At each level ownership is shared among a group of people but control is usually one member of that group who usually consults with others but may not.  

> So I think property acquired by a PC belongs to that PC unless tradition
> says otherwise (and tradition always trumps everything else, which is
> lawspeaker business) but expectation (also driven by tradition) dictates
> that the PC would offer most (not necessarily all) to the chief out of
> generosity and that the chief (again out of generosity) would then
> redistribute most (not necessarily all) to the rest of the clan.

When the PC presents his loot to the clan chief they are presenting it to the clan not to Olaf Bignose personally. If Olaf then decides to allocate that loot to himself personally he could do so but it would be a bad preceedent and bad politics. Most likely he'll distribute it as best serves the clan as a whole which includes recognising the actions of the PC who brought it.

Donald Oddy


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