SANGHEILI: Cultural Index

SANGHEILI: Cultural Index


The Covenant is a collection of species from
across the galaxy that have all unified under the vision of the “Great Journey”, that
tells the story of the ancient race of forerunners who spread across the starts, built an empire
lasting millennia then ascended to the next level of being. The San’Shyuum, known as
the Prophet’s, acted as the leaders of this holy order and guided the species through
the use of forerunner relics but they were not alone in their council. Alongside them
for the longest time were the Sangheili, the elites as humanity knows them. If the Prophets
were the head of the Covenant, then the Sangheili were the arms, the visible presence of authority
on the battlefield. Until the Great Schism, a sundering of beliefs and morals that tore
the ancient covenant apart and at the centre of it all, the truth. The truth that the Great
Journey was a lie. Hello, Ric here and this cultural index looks
to illuminate the culture of those who fought against and finally alongside humanity, the
Elites of Halo. One of the Covenant’s founding races, the Sangheili originally evolved on
an oxygen-nitrogen world once protected by the Forerunners, much as Earth and many other
sentient species’ home planets had. Because of this, the relics and ancient technologies
left behind by the disappeared race sparked a war with another power, the San’Shyuum.
Ultimately this war ended in an alliance, the restricted use of Forerunner artefacts
and the absorption of the Sangheili culture into the Covenant. The first of many races
that would be indoctrinated into the prophet’s crusade.
The planet Sanghelios is slightly larger than Earth. It has a higher gravity at 1.375G,
two moons (Suban/Qikost) and a variety of climates across its surface, though large
tracks of it are desert like, especially inland where the surface is baked by the three suns.
It does have large expanses of ocean though and many off-shore cities and complexes exist
to supplement the habitable zones of the planet. The species is also well established across
a number of colony worlds, as expected from and interstellar power though many of these
colonies are still unknown. Sanghelios orbits a trinary star system, an
incredible phenomena. The stars are known as Urs, Fied and Joori.
The planet’s inhabitants are divided into continents, regions and states, much like
the topography of Earth and each state is run by a powerful and influential family.
For example, the Elite known as the Arbiter, Thel ‘Vadam was born into the Vadam family,
who held sway over the province of Vadam, of the Iruiru area of the continent Yermo.
The family has long been established as the founders of this province, showing that family
legacy and name carry great weight in Sangheili society and the head of a family or clan is
known as the Kaidon. Often the title is passed to another male in the family in a line-of-succession
style but has to be agreed upon by a council of Elders. The mantle can be challenged by
another who feels that they have a valid claim. This challenge can be resolved in combat,
civil strife or even assassination. In fact, assassination of a Kaidon is regarded as a
legitimate affair, one who sends assassins often does not hide their identity as succeeding
means that they can adopt the mantle, while failure leads them to be executed. The women
among the Sangheili are seldom seen. This is because they are not permitted to serve
in the military it seems. Although they are taught to fight and serve their family’s
honour in the same fashion, they remain planet side for most of their lives.
The Kaidon’s ruling style may vary but is expected to obey the whim of its people though
the voices of those people are based on a sort of meritocracy where the weight of a
familial name is taken into consideration. Each family has its own traditions and a “battle
poem” that is an Iliad-style saga of deeds. As I’m sure is apparent by now, a great
deal of merit is placed on a Sangheili’s ability in combat, its martial prowess and
understanding of warfare. The family name usually carries great weight, however the
children of the elites are taught in equal measure, allowing for even a complete unknown
to rise to greatness. I suspect however that great families often maintained their legacy
with personal lessons and training based upon the tactics that had kept them in power in
the first place, constantly trying to validate their place in society. After all, a meritocracy
rewards power to those who deserve, and none to those who cannot prove themselves.
The military of the Sangheili therefore is present an many layers of a family’s history
with every citizen taught how to fight at some point, regardless of occupation, however
the species eventually was absorbed into the Covenant which simultaneously served to strengthen
them and weaken them as a whole. Essentially, their cultural love of battle led them to
focus more and more on warfare, gradually relying on others to supplement the other
areas of their culture. Technology was reverse engineered from Forerunner tech by the San’Shyuum,
Unggoy to perform manual labour and so on. This would become a problem later on in their
history but for now, the Elites thrived under the Covenant’s Empire.
Many Elites pride themselves not only in their tactical ingenuity, but their personal combat
aptitude. Bladed weapons, especially energy based magnetically-contained plasma blades,
like the infamous energy sword are trained with constantly and with the utilisation of
personal shielding and cloaking are actually viable weapons in a firefight. There are many
orders and chapters of warriors, both within the structure of the Covenant and outside,
that carry a great deal of honour to serve in.
Starting at the bottom, there are the Minors. Due to the species based caste system of the
Covenant, even the lowest elite outranks most others around him, often leading squads into
battle. Proving themselves victorious many times earns them a promotion from Blue to
Red armour, and the status of veteran, a major. Ultra’s wore white armour and were considered
commanders in the field, assigned to run operations and specific missions. Those in command wore
Gold and included ship captains and generals. Above this were the ranks of high command,
Shipmasters, Fleet Masters, Field Marshals and the like wore the purple of the Covenant
and were often termed Zealots by UNSC f orces. The Supreme Commander oversaw fleets of ships
and was responsible for all operations conducted within. At the very top, is the Imperial Admiral.
These officers answer only to the Covenants High Council, if you’d like to know more
about the Covenant’s ruling structure, there’s a cultural index on the San’Shyuum already
you might want to take a look at too. As mentioned, the entire Sangheili social structure is based
on personal ability, it is safe to assume those at the top are very capable of defending
themselves, hence the reason even the Sangheili Councillors bust out energy swords and wield
plasma rifles. There were many other divisions, such as numerous
stealth and reconnaissance branches, often equipped with specialist equipment, such as
jump-packs and active camouflage. The Covenant also adopted the Sangheili tradition of the
“Arbiter”, a judge-warrior of the elites, feigning respect for their customs by repurposing
it as an instrument of the Covenant, until branding it a role defined by failure. By
far one of the most coveted positions was that of Honour Guard. Only the best soldiers
were selected to guard the councillors and the San’Shyuum themselves. The handing over
of this responsibility to the Jiralhannae was therefore considered a great insult by
many Sangheili, even if they never voiced their concerns and a sign of the beginning
of the Great Schism. After leaving the Covenant, the Arbiter, Thel
Vadam became the de-facto leader of the Sangheili after his alliance with humanity was tentatively
established. He recreated the “Swords of Sanghelios”, using the title of an ancient
sect of Kaidon warriors who had initially led his people into the Covenant, a period
of great change for the species. A stable political structure for the Elites is yet
to emerge as currently they are in the midst of establishing a new way of life removed
from the Covenant. Several factions, including the Servants of Abiding Truth oppose the Arbiter’s
efforts to establish a new government. Theologically, many Sangheili are also unsure
of their place. The exposure of the Great Journey to be a fallacy has exposed the weaknesses
of the race, their over reliance on the technology and species of the Covenant so the backlash
is understandable. Before the Covenant, the Sangheili seemed to hold their ancestors in
high regard, telling tales like the Ballad of Kel’Darsam, First Light of Sanghelios,
who is the son of the Sun-God Urs. These stories are all that remains of their native religions
and suggest a pantheon based around natural elements such as the Sun and demi-god like
individuals. Names carry great power in their culture and
to be nameless is the greatest disrespect they can bestow upon an adversary, as they
did with humanity. This cuts both ways however as insults like Squid-head and even the term
Elites aim to strip away the identity. The first name is a birth name, given to them
by their parents. As they age, they receive a “badge name” made from their family
name, or province name, a descriptive and a suffix such as double “e” to show military
service and “ai” and A I to represent a great swordsman. Other titles can be included
in a name but are very rare and usually reserved for very special individuals such as Fleet
Masters. Overall, the meritocracy of the Sangheili
is what defines their culture but fundamentally could be their undoing. Without the support
of the Covenant and the power that they had enjoyed under its umbrella, a society based
on military aptitude begins to fall apart without a substantial infrastructure of civilian
industry. This is the state the Sangheili find themselves in currently, trying to rediscover
and redefine what it means to be a Sangheili, not just to be seen as the Covenant’s Elites.
Hey, perhaps if you know a Sangheili, you could show them this video to help, right?
Thanks for listening to this cultural index. Most of this deeper Halo lore is there, but
in typical Bungie fashion, you have to go digging for it. The next index might be something
a bit different for Halloween. So rather than the cultures of sci-fi species, let’s look
at something more menacing. Let’s look at either the feared force the forerunners fled
from, the Flood. Of the Biggest, baddest threat to Trek’s individuality the Borg Collective.
Votes are in the comment’s below, I’ll try not to forget to post them again, and
I’ll see you next time for a villainous version of the index. Thanks again and Wort
wort wort!

100 thoughts on “SANGHEILI: Cultural Index

  1. I hope one day you cover the Zerg from star craft. And their four strages of development from primal, to over mind, to brood war/ queen of blades , after the death of the fallen zelnarg Amon and the disappearance of Kerrigan.

    And speculat on eace

  2. The Borg and the Flood are almost exactly the same. One uses biological means to assimilate other organisms while the other uses technological means. Both seek perfection and are nearly unstoppable juggernauts in their respective universes.

  3. Zealot is more of term/designation for higher command in the covenant covering shipmaster for larger vessels, generals, supreme commanders (fleet commanders), zealot (the position for the acquisition and protection of forunner artifacts), field marshal (a ground commander who answers to a supreme commander, being incharge of an entire planetary operation, but can run their own spec ops missions with zealots under their command as we see in halo reach) but these postions are tiered (lowest to highest) in command structure being
    General / ship master
    Zealot
    Field marshal
    Supreme commander
    And so on

  4. Borg.

    You're in for a wild ride though, since the Borg have fragmented memories of their most ancient times and it's hard to tell what happened when in their history. I will caution you that the current Borg are not the same Borg from the past, they have went through multiple iterations throughout history depending on what was required to survive or achieve a goal, for example, they occasionally used a Queen to "bring back to the fold" any Borg who disconnected, which is their purpose.

    They also have a history with the V'gir entity, though it remains uncertain what this is, some say V'gir created the Borg as an extension of itself which then later went Rogue and evolved, some say the Borg just admire and respect it in the same way they do the Omega particle, but in Star Trek Online and perhaps other expanded universe material(not sure) they created their Unimatrix Command ships to resemble V'gir, said ships being used to strengthen the connection to the collective over vast distances. Another interesting historical interaction with the Borg is that of the Preservers, who created the things known to us as the Doomsday Weapons in order to stop the rapidly expanding Borg from assimilating their "children" races. Obviously at some point these ancient automated weapons broke and went nuts, though for all we know the planet Kirk saw one cleansing may have somehow had Borg on it.

  5. well both would be cool at some point but there's nothing on The flood but there's loads about the borg on YouTube

  6. The Flood just because I'm sick to death of the Borg heard WAY too much about them. Be nice to have something different.

  7. Speaking for the Borg, I find it funny that their ideals are more akin towards communism and the like. Where individuals are mere pawns.

  8. I have to say,I really do hate the new elite design. It's just off. They're more heavier,slower,and just…well they're more like brutes. I mean they have to shift their entire body forward just to do anything.

  9. Wait i thought elites grew up not knowing who their parents were so that they could prove themselves through skill and knowledge instead of their families reputation?

  10. the elites where a very intelligent species the prophet wanted to keep the technology alone but the elites wanted to reverse engineer it and learn how they worked that's what was also in the write of union

  11. I love your Cultural Index videos! However, there are some words you seem to have particular difficulty in pronouncing. This time it's the word "Covenant" Think of the word cover as in to cover something up.. The O is substituted for a U when you speak it.
    It doesn't come up in this video, but I'm binge-watching your index playlist so this one comes up a few times.
    Nictitating: you say it a bit like nictitiating. This might just be a font issue from your source material etc – I don't know. Break it down and you get nick tit ate ing. I hope this makes sense. Sadly I'm one of these people who get really annoyed about things like this. I'm going straight back to my corner now. please feel free to roast marshmallows on my overdone corpse!

  12. The perfect item from human culture to give to a Sangheili as a gift: A copy of Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" translated to Sangheili.

  13. Like any other race, they simply wanted to survive and in reality, the Covenant stole their culture and identity which they have yet to discover. John had done much for them and they hold the Spartans in high regard hence the alliance. However this is a case of "yes we freed them" but they have to discover who they are again, and it could take a LONG time. Earth help would probably be appreciated, but not accepted as that would show the Earth and UNSC that they were not worthy of the inheritors graces (humans). They don't understand that often many humans give of themselves with NO compensation or favor warranted as this is alien to the Sangheli. Service is honor to a Sangheli while the honor of giving oneself is honor in the eyes of humans. They must learn this for themselves (reminds you of the Prime Directive of Star Trek) despite being highly advanced.

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