Image credit: Noel Nichols on Unsplash
The “Crimsons” had built their civilization on a yet to be mapped chain of tropical islands and it had thrived for more than 4 centuries.
Their relative isolation from the rest of the planet produced their most striking physical trait for although their skin tones varied, their hair was universally undeniably flaming red.
As legends evolve from partial truths, they had come to recently attribute their happiness and success more or less directly to this part of their appearance and now that once infrequent explorers happened upon them and had given them their current superficial name, they were embracing it more and more.
They were, by all standards, happily and productively ‘primitive’. Their children were raised by small community ‘parental pods’ each of which shared an identical cultural pride and common ‘spirit’ but this was incrementally starting to include a subtext of worship of the perceived magical property of their red hair. They also maintained excellent health and longevity due to ritualized attention to their diets and promoted, most fervently, the values of justice, honor, and humility.
They were ruled by a priestess who was like a queen in the requirement that she needed an ancient genetic lineage connecting her to former priestesses in order to reign. All had worked well until a necessary excavation for burial purposes revealed an ancient artifact. Priestess, Avea, claimed it immediately and refused to allow any ‘commoner’ to study it.
When Avea studied the ancient ‘time capsule’ she made a most unsettling discovery. Within the almost pristinely preserved contents was a skull. On the skull six long chestnut brown hairs remained attached and an ancient text in their own language lay beneath it. The text read like an ‘owner’s manual’ about a proper diet. It also promised their cohesive long-lived prosperity if they would adhere to the three principles of justice, honor, and humility. But nowhere was hair color mentioned! This could pose a problem to the newly established reverence for their common immutable characteristic and might just cause division among their communities who were unevenly committed to that ‘modern’ idea. Avea wisely realized that she held her people’s future directly in her hands.
On the third day, the priestess revealed her impression of the contents of the sacred artifact to the people in a speech declaring a day of celebration once a proper shrine could be erected to hold its content. She repeated the text but never mentioned the startling forensic evidence.
As Avea placed the skull on a pedestal in the newly built shrine at the start of their national holiday, she plucked those chestnut hairs from it letting them fall among the chaff at her feet. Division caused by any emphasis on appearance, simply wouldn’t be good for anyone.