In Surak’s time, expressions of heritage, family affiliations, and ties to ruling dynasties were of great importance in establishing identity. House and clan symbols were worn on robes – much as they are today in Vulcan ceremonies of family and state. In the far-distant past, clan and dynastic seals were stamped into clay as official signatures. Some of these seals can be seen, along with samples of ancient clan embroidery, in the T’Sar Museum in Shi’Kahr. In addition to symbols and seals, color was also used to identify house and clan, much in the same way that tartans have identified Scottish clans on Terra for centuries. As on Earth, blue was a difficult and costly color to produce in fabrics, and on Vulcan it was particularly prized and reserved for only the ruling dynasties. The name Tolaris (t’olara’es = “of the honorable blue”) doesn’t make much sense unless one is familiar with Vulcan’s ancient ancestral traditions. The main element of the name, lara’es, originates from the name of a dazzling blue desert bird, the lara. The robes of this dynastic house were dyed to evoke the hue of this bird.
Many Vulcan names still in use today make reference to clan affiliation. Some examples include Solek (s’oluhk = “from the snake clan”), Salok (s’aluk = “from the fish clan”), T’Mir (t’sai maat-irak = “lady of the distant clan”), and T’Mihn (t’sai maat i’ni = “lady of the copper clan”). In the first two examples, “clan” (maat) is implied. The word maat was so commonly used with personal names that over time it became a contraction. Today M’ is a popular prefix in Vulcan name elements. The Clan of the Snake and the Clan of the Fish derived from totem animals, which were important resources, as was copper for the Copper Clan, whose descendants still manage a mine in the Al-Stakna Mountains. The name M’Fau (maat fau = “clan that rides”) is another good example that boasts of privileged resources, namely dzharel, Vulcan’s equivalent to mustang-like horses.
The names Sevennin (s’fen-igen “from the sky-seal”) and Sofek (s’ofek = “from the honorable staff”) point to the First Dynasty. Sevennin refers to the Sky Clan, who for a millennium controlled the vast Kalrenta Plateau in Gol. All edicts, bills of sale, and early ship manifests from the clan bore their official seal. The element fek in Sofek is believed to refer to the scepter ruling lords bore during the First Dynasty.
Not all ancestral names are associated with ruling houses or boast of prized resources. Some bear witness to insurrection and struggles against oppression. Names such as Selv (s’el-veh = “from the free one”), Strom (s’trufemu = “from the martyr”), Salet (salatik = “indigenous/native”), and Solen (s’oleh-nau = “from the honorable nineteen”) all recall violent times of take-over, oppression, and revolt. This last name was a puzzle to scholars until an ancient manuscript shed light on nineteen revolutionaries who lead a revolt against a warlord in Duveh. All were martyred.
One name, fortunately, speaks of a coming together of peoples. T’Rehu (t’sai rehu = “lady of the three”) is thought by most scholars to refer to the three tribes that inhabited the Viltan Flats in the polar region of Tat’Sahr. Other instances of tribal alliances have occurred throughout Vulcan’s history. The best-known and largest of these were the te’Vikram. I’ll focus on the naming traditions of these nomadic tribes in my next post.