December 18, 2011

Hari Ragat: Blood and Honor


Much of Vijadesan law is founded on the warrior’s self-reliant, violent code and the need to reconcile it with the ideal of a peaceful and harmonious community. Thus the most basic tenet of the law: compensation or vengeance. A large part of the datu’s role is to mediate between conflicting parties, brokering meetings and helping to negotiate compensation terms.

The honor price of a person is set according to their status. Under the code of Rajah Matanda, compensation is measured in tahils of gold, or an equivalent in valuable commodities such as rice, porcelain, silks, etc. etc.

Refusing to pay compensation, or failure to deliver the agreed price, is grounds for the aggrieved to take matters into his own hands and seek satisfaction by slaying the offender, seizing the offender’s property, or seizing the offender and his dependents and putting them to slavery. When this happens, authorities are expected to stand aside and allow the offended to exercise his rights.

In practice, however, a datu or rajah must stand ready to put an end to the violence when they judge that sufficient satisfaction has been taken. Refusal to accept the ruler’s word on this is an insult to the honor of the ruler, who then has the right to demand compensation for himself – easily a ruinous amount – or take satisfaction from the recalcitrant party.

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