The Contract of Salt

The Contract of Salt refers to the tradition of hospitality. When a person is invited into another s home and takes advantage of their hospitality a contract of sorts is formed. Whilst technically the contract is only in effect when the visitor has taken salt from the host it is usually considered to be in effect should the guest eat or drink anything, even if it does not contain salt, during their visit. It is considered to be very rude for a host not to offer a potential guest salt and rude for the guest not to take it.

So strong is the Su'ndari belief in this tradition that a thief who accidentally ingests salt during a burglary is likely to leave without taking a single object.

The Guests

The contract requires that the guest not do anything which would harm the host, to ensure that the host is not harmed by his or her actions and to help with the defense of the homestead should it be required. The guest is obliged to leave after three days unless a new agreement is made with the host. The contract is not renewed each time the guest consumes salt.

The Host

The host is required to offer shelter, food and protection to their guest until they voluntarily leave or three days have passed. Should a guest be invited to stay longer the household is responsible for negotiating a new agreement with the guest.

Special cases

Midwives and healers are considered to be covered by the contract of salt until another household takes over the responsibility of housing them. They are subject to the normal responsibilities as a guest and are expected to depart should their presence cause their host to suffer.

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