Tarka have a very broad aesthetic sense. They have binocular vision and can see a full spectrum of colors, so both two–dimensional art like painting and mosaics and three dimensional arts like sculpture and architecture are highly developed.
The Tarka have a strong sense of beauty and exercise it freely in their art, architecture, and mechanical engineering. They feel that if a thing is worth making, it is worth making beautiful. Their shipwrights take pride in the creation of each vessel, and they do not regard any ship of the line as a solely utilitarian vehicle.
The warriors aboard any given ship would feel naked and shorn if they were not flying their colors. It is the Tarka way.
Music, Poetry, Literature and Theatre Edit
Tarka have many musical traditions and hundreds of varieties of dance which range from historical re–enactments involving hundreds of costumed players to intimate exchanges between two Tarka — the only Human equivalent might be the tango.
What sort of community arts a Tarka can enjoy depend largely on his social class. Tarka who speak gutter dialects also enjoy gutter arts, for example — burlesque dances, broad physical humor and plays, films & broadcasts which focus on lower–caste Tarka as the heroes/heroines. These usually include a good deal of bloody violence, mocking of one's superiors and jokes about sexual misadventure and being intoxicated.
Higher caste Tarka would be expected to enjoy more refined and literate theater, music and opera that glorify the ruling castes and celebrate their historical triumphs, and stories about the lives and loves of the upper castes. Usually these characters agonize over the difficulty of finding love and success when confined by a world of rigid rules and expectations, etc etc...
Of course, as in any caste–oriented system, there is a good deal of "slumming" that goes on as bored higher–caste Tarkas sneak into the clubs and theaters of the gutter castes to enjoy their free and lively culture.
One genre of Tarkasian literature consists of guides on handling changed males. These have been written over several centuries, and are often traded between Tarkasian and Human females for similar writings. The Tarka equivalent to Niccolo Machiavelli was a female called Sara Jodok. The title of her famous work on politics and the architecture of power was called "Var Kona", which was written in Urdu Kai in a poetic form known as thaa'du–kao, "fortress verses". In general thaa'du–kao poetry is written or recited by men and women walking a patrol beat or stationed to a wall, and as such the subject matter tends to be things that are of interest or concern to common soldiers, while the metrical beat is that of the march.
As an aside, Tarka of the military castes have been known to enjoy Human literature and have apparently adopted the ancient Greek lyric poet Archilochus as an honorary Tarka...
They are well aware of the old stories of ancient Greek warriors who went into battle carrying heavy shields — in order to retreat these men had to throw down their shields and run, or the weight would slow them down and get them killed. Accordingly, many Greek mothers would send their sons to war saying "Either come home carrying this shield, or lying upon it" — i.e. do not shame your family and run from battle like a coward. Die rather than retreat or I will disown you. (The Greek phrase for this is He tan e epi tas, and can be found here)
The Tarka military caste often hears such nonsense from their own commanders, families and non–caste members. Thus their common soldiers have a keen appreciation for the reply that Archilochus made when he wrote these lines:
I don't give a damn if some Thracian ape struts
Proud of that first–rate shield that the bushes got.
Leaving it was hell, but in a tricky spot
I kept my hide intact. Good shields can be bought.
Ship Art Edit
There are limits to what can be allowed within the strictures of military code. The scale patterns on a combat ship are somewhat analogous to military dress on the body — they indicate a certain egalitarian ideal and enforce a uniformity of purpose. They also make your own vessels easy to recognize in the heat of battle.
However, in the realm of imagination, the greatest variation of Tarkasian painting styles would be seen on civilian transports or pirate ships — a canvas where the individual artist, his clan and his caste would have greater freedom of expression.
Opera, Anyone? Edit
Tarka would have no problem singing the pitches of a Human opera so long as it was a part for baritone, bass, alto or contralto. A Tarka singer might have difficulty shaping certain words though — their teeth and tongues are arranged somewhat differently than a Human being's. There would most certainly be an accent! But the singing would be relatively easy. The difficult part would be getting a Tarka singer to stand still during arias as Human opera singers do — a Tarka's natural inclination would be to dance while singing, interpreting the words with the body as well as the voice. Putting a Tarka diva on–stage with an otherwise all–Human cast would be somewhat disconcerting to all concerned.
Entertainment and Pastimes Edit
Tarka have a thousand varieties of dance, but for various social reasons they put great emphasis on arrangements in which an individual displays his/her personal skill, grace and agility. They also enjoy most of the art forms that Humans recognize, including great varieties of two–dimensional art, weaving, sculpture, etc. Most Tarka are avid gamers, and Tarka warriors in particular are fond of games which stimulate strategic thought and involve dice. As a humorous aside — there are over 300 known martial arts styles among the various Tarka castes, including several "forbidden" arts to be practiced by non–warrior castes.
Tarka of all castes and walks of life keep pets, and are especially fond of pets which assist them in their jobs, and pets which resemble themselves in some way.