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In 7193 AG, all known Zensunni in the Imperium ended their hajra when transported to Arrakis. This was organized in deep secret by the Spacing Guild, when they brought them from Ishia, Rossak and perhaps Harmonthep. This served the purposes of both sides: it gave the Zensunni a home on a world where they would be too difficult to dig out. It also gave the Guild a permanent entree to Arrakis and its spice.
The Guild ensured that the Zensunni were established deep enough inside the desert far from those settlers already on Arrakis (concentrated chiefly in Arrakeen, the seat of government). From that point on, the Zensunni recognized themselves not as a religion but as a people, and they called themselves "Fremen".
Then, while villages and cities grew and water resources increased, the discipline that marked Fremen society was forgotten and individualism became socially accepted. Leto II Atreides imposed restrictive policies, empasizing learning only agricultural skills in his pastoral empire. He also cut communications and interstellar travel to provide a feudal piece.
Eventually the Fremen grew soft and more isolated from each other, with less enemies. Once the struggle for survival was removed, they lost their will to live.
In 12758 AG Leto II declared them an endangered population and his Fish Speakers moved them to the Fremen Museum which replicated the ancient sietch ways. Leto treated them as his playthings, nurturing them but while constraining the scope of their lives.
Casual clothing favored tones of yellow, green, blue, crimson for trouser and jerkin. Formal clothing required a black/buff cloak of merino wool. Women tended to choose earth tones, sand-color or beige. They wore tilsam's or medallions with religious themes. Older men wore chains with rings symbolizing the water rings they won in battle, and a small turban or scarf.
Men's trousers were made of a merium-weight brocade weave, while women's of a fine cotton (like the expensive sheer cotton from Loomar). Wemen wore a guimlik and a sheer gown, the entary. Children wore a tshka under the jacket.
In house they wore heelless slippers or boots. Women in dressier occasions wore a high-heeled boot of soft kidskin.
Women also wore water-rings as jewelry at the waist, braided into the hair or as part of a headdress, attached with sheer veil.
Also, Fremen's eyes were blue-within-blue, as an effect of spice addiction.
The Fremen broke away to pursue an ultraconservative way of life according to the ways of the fathers. During the first days of their exile on Arrakis, they used to sacrifice virgins, a practice that briefly returned during the rule of Leto II Atreides.
Dune was a planet which by nature promoted self-sufficiency and individualism. While farming is a social activity, survival on Dune was depended on hunting and gathering, favoring the strong individual; while a cold climate drives people closer for survival, arid climate means that some survive while others die. In short terms, the necessity of life-and-death decisions does not promote social ties.
Each tribe was commanded by a Naib who had absolute authority of life and death. However he could be challenged if his rule was unacceptable.
The core of their society was the sietch. Many sietches existed on the planet, and one was capable of containing thousands of people. The sietches did not have a close contact however and each individual did not care about how many other sietches besides his, existed.
The Fremen spoke a language descendant of the Arabic of Terra. They were highly conservative and believed it to be a treasure that they ought to preserve and it would be a sin to spurn it with other tongues since it preserved the wisdom of the fathers.
Fremen children were raised by their individual households and not communally, but every adult in a community accepted some responsibility for their welfare; the nearer relationship to the child's parents, meant greater obligation.Chani Kynes</ref>
Independence was encouraged in all sietch youngsters so that they not burden the tribe. The Fremen had learned centuries earlier that weak, dependent children could jeopardize an entire sietch by demanding time and attention their parents could not spare, while contributing nothing to the tribal welfare.
The earliest lessons Fremen children were taught was that wasting water, in any form, was an unpardonable sin, and thus crying was not allowed since it wasted the body's moisture.
A Fremen was educated from childhood till maturity by all members of a sietch in order to maintain the water principle. A way to train and educated their mind and way of thinking was the Riddle Game.
Pardot Kynes started the first formal sietch schools, dreaming an ecosiociological change and taught about vegetation, snow, rivers, lakes and other things that didn't exist on Arrakis. Paul Muad'dib during his rule converted their culture to a militaristic and young Fremen started to learn interstellr assault tactics in the Arrakeen War College.
The Fremen ate only two meals, a lighter on rising and a heavier at dawn with dessert, like a tabara. During the night no more food was eaten, except a drink or coffee after a nap.
The donkeys provided them milk, made into butter, cheese and kvetch. They were provided fruits (dates, figs, apricots, portygul, Caladanian melon) vegetables and nuts from nearby villages. There were also terraform planting areas and high-altitude temperate zones where they could gather some.
Menstruating women followed a special diet which reduced the water level of their bodies, minimizing therefore the water loss and protecting from a dehydration shock.
In 10169 AG Sietch Tabr was a the place where the first attempts to raise corps with chromoplastic-lined pits, dew collectors and other means. The first plants to be cultivated were coffee, tabaroot and vegetables from Salusa Secundus which lasted for a small harvest in 3 seasons.
The plantings expanded to other sietches and other species of vegetation in secrecy. Dew collectors could help the growths survive for one year with only pollination necessary by humans. Trained children usually cared for these gardens.
Following Arrakis' planetary transformation, crops could be easily raised as on any other world.
Minutes after a baby Fremen was born the amniotic fluid was saved and distilled and was then fed to thee infant by its godmother (usually one of the mother's best friends) in the presence of a Sayyadina; this feeding was the baby's first, given before it was returned to the mother to nurse.
As the baby drank, it was the godmother's duty to say to it, Here is the water of thy conception. In this way, the child was seen as having been tied to its parents by the bond of water, as well as being tied, by extension to the rest of the tribe.
Cowards, weaklings, and other such undesirables were never given the opportunity to clutter the gene pool; as further insurance, children born out of wedlock were left in the desert, a sacrifice to Shai-Hulud.
A Fremen was educated from childhood till maturity by all members of a sietch in order to maintain the water principle. A way to train and educated their mind and way of thinking was the Riddle Game. Education concerning issues such as menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing was considered too vital to be left to the individual parents. At puberty, the girls were taken on a week's retreat (hajra) by the Reverend Mother of their sietch, during which the special functioning of the female stillsuits was explained to them, the ingredients and preparation the moisture-reducing diet during menstruation, the birth-control method of their mate counterparts, and the most reliable means of determining the most fertile days during their cycle.
On their return to the sietch, the young women were welcomed as new adults and received their own yali in their parents' households. More responsible tasks were assigned them, and they were considered eligible for marriage. Those selected by their Reverend Mothers during the last day of the retreat were also considered eligible for the Sayyadina.
Young males, or wali, were those yet to meet another male in mortal combat. Those could not marry since the only men who would father children would be those who had already proven themselves capable of survival. At that, or some other point, the male Fremen was given a Fremkit.
A menstruating woman would be put on a sophisticated diet which dramatically decreased the body water level. This not only lessened the amount of moisture available to be lost, but also dropped the level gradually to avoid a sudden shock. Stillsuits for women included a third processing unit for reclaiming the water of blood. Eventually the menstrual cycle gradually lengthened and even leveled off at 56 days. Menopause, was considered a passage nearly as important as puberty. It was customary for a woman's mate, children, and friends to gather for a small party celebrating the safe completion of her fertile years.
When a Fremen died, the body had been run through the deathstill under the supervision of d Sayyadina and body fluids contained in a bag. A formal memorial service was conducted so that his shade would leave in peace and visit no harm on the tribe at the rising of the sunset on the evening of the death.
All the members of the sietch would gather around a mound made up of the dead's belongings and water bag. The naib would speak first reminding the others mat the moon rose for their lost comrade and would summon the spirit away that night. He would then declare himself a friend of the deceased, describe a time when he had personally been helped or taught by the dead person, take one item, and claim certain items for the deceased's family and the crysknife, which would be left with the remains in the desert.
The other members of the tribe would follow the procedure. A Sayyadina came forward last for the water bag to verify its measurement and to turn the water rings over to the appropriate person.
The tribe then chanted a prayer committing the spirit and their destinies to Shai Hulud. The sietch watermasters took charge of the bag and poured into the communal basin with the entire tribe serving as witnesses. The dead was honored thus by preserving the living after them survive with their fluids (dishonored members would never be afforded this honor).
The counters for water released by the bodies of Fremen who had died a natural death, or by those of strangers found in the bled who were treated as a water-gift from Shai-Hulud, were consigned to the care of the sietch's Naib and considered held in common by all the people. Those tallying the water once held by enemies killed in group combat were similarly treated.
The water was the scarcest and most precious element on Arrakis and it was carefully collected from any source imaginable and consumed carefully. It was considered unlucky to leave free water standing unused unless stored in one of the sietch's evaporation-proof basins.
Every ceremony involving water was conducted or supervised, by a Sayyadina (Fremen priestess) initiated in the rites and trained in their practice. In the event that no Sayyadina was available, it was permitted for the female in the group with the greatest knowledge of such matters to be temporarily consecrated into the office. Common pools of water were kept in sietches for all its members to drink from.
Water was even taken from the newborn's amniotic fluid or bodies of the dead. Each pre-dawn dew gatherers with scythelike dew reapers, gleaned the available moisture from whatever plants grew near the sietch; then they earned the morning's harvest to a Sayyadina to receive her blessing before carrying it to the tribe's communal basin.
As the water was consumed, the head of the family chanted: "Now do we consume that which will one day be returned for the flesh of a man is his own, but his water belongs to the tribe "
The communal pool provided the sietch with water daily (although less than a liter for a family of ten). The Sayyadina distributing the water to the head of each family gave her blessings, and prayers of thanks were offered to Shai-Hulud. Other bodily fluid was recycled by the stillsuits or in the reclamation chambers of a family, whence it was re-distributed before retiring for the night.
Water Rings were metallic counters that represented the volume of water released by a body processed through a deathstill and also possessed great social significance, helping to regulate much of the interaction between the sexes.
Water was also seen as the ultimate bond between individuals whether or not they belonged to the same tribe. For instance, a person from one sietch who saved the life of a member of another was owed a water debt, not only from the person saved but from their tribe as well. The water bond was considered a heavy burden, and was paid and cancelled as quickly as possible.
The water of one group's dead, if shared with another, also created a bond this one indissolvable. Once such a sharing had taken place, the two groups were no longer seen as distinct, since water, once mixed, was impossible to divide.
Equally, if one could force or convince a stranger or enemy to drink of his blood, he became Wadquiyas with the tribe: joined to them as one of their own, and safe from having his water taken unless he offended the tribe. Because of this custom, no Fremen would ever attempt to wound an enemy in a fight by biting, no matter how a certain victory would grant to him).
Pledges of loyalty to a single person, (e.g. to a naib of a tribe), were also made in the name of the water of the individual. A tribe's pledge to its leader did not end, nor its acceptance of the new leader's rights begin, until the funeral service for the dead naib was completed and his water free.