Although the people of Avistan and Garund see the distant Tians as a single ethnicity (a misconception that Tians reciprocate regarding natives of Avistan and Garund), the people collectively known as the Tians encompass several distinct ethnicities. Most of the Tians who come to the Inner Sea region originate from the Successor States or Minkai on the distant continent of Tian Xia.
Religion varies across Tian Xia as much as its people do; they worship a pantheon of deities whose breadth rivals that of the known gods of the Inner Sea region. Since its introduction by Vudrani missionaries, the church of Irori has spread across Tian Xia, becoming an official state
religion in most nations. Most Tians who have settled in the Inner Sea region have, over the
course of a few generations, adopted Inner Sea religions as their own.
Tians consider family to be of great importance. They have long perfected the art of genealogy, and some can trace their bloodlines back thousands of years. Most Tian royalty can trace their lines back at least a few dozen generations—those who cannot are often exiles or other objects of shame. Family names often have hidden meanings that can even identify where the family originated or who founded it.
Tian dress favors loose clothing, regardless of the wearer’s wealth or social standing. Wealthy Tians wear robelike garments, while peasants and laborers wear simple kilts or trousers with linen wraps, leather jackets, or nothing at all on their upper bodies. Most clothing worn by Tians is colorful, and only the poorest peasants wear undyed cloth. Those who can afford it decorate their clothing with elaborate embroidery, often of scenes from nature or of powerful creatures like dragons and phoenixes.
The five major Tian ethnicities are listed below.
Tian-Dan (Xa Hoi): A time of great prosperity has seen Tian-Dan culture entering what many call a Golden Age, with a corresponding rise of beautifully decorated pagoda temples, colorful outfits, and spice-laden cuisine.
Tian-La (Hongal): In the north and west of Tian live the Tian-La, a semi-nomadic people with coarse, curly hair and lighter skin. They often view the more urban lifestyles of their neighbors as signs of weakness.
Tian-Min (Minkai): The Tian-Min of the Minkai archipelago possess the widest variety of eye color, encompassing various shades of blue, green, violet, orangered, and (of course) black and brown. This society values honor and loyalty greatly.
Tian-Shu (Successor States): The most common Tian ethnicity is the Tian-Shu. The Tian-Shu possess dusky skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and straight black or dark brown hair.
Tian-Sing (Minata): Far to the southeast, the dusky Tian- Sing have a reddish tint to their hair and produce more green-eyed folk. They dwell on the countless shores and hidden lagoons of the vast archipelago of Minata, known also as the Wandering Isles.
Tians tend to be smaller and slighter than people of Avistan and Garund. Men only infrequently grow as tall as 5-1/2 feet, while women often barely break 5 feet in height. Even among the generally thin and narrowbodied Tians, the Tian-Dan and Tian-Sing frequently appear particularly skinny even when well-fed.
In contrast, the northwestern Tian-La generally possess moon-shaped faces and squat, muscular bodies. The Tian-Shu and Tian-Min, as with most other comparisons of Tian extremes, compose a middle ground. Although most Tians have dark hair, children are occasionally born with shock-white or silvery-white hair, which is considered an omen of greatness. Such children frequently become influential leaders and poets of the highest caliber, and families into which they are born receive great honor and frequently an increase in rank and wealth.