The invertebrate, naturally aquatic hanar can’t support their own weight in “normal” gravity. When interacting with mainstream galactic society, they rely on contra-gravitic levitation packs that use mass effect fields. Their limbs can grip tightly, but aren’t strong enough to lift more than a few hundred grams each. Hanar do however produce toxins, and in their natural environment they're apex predators.
Hanar are usually pinkish/violet in colour. However, a shuttle crash on the colony world Ineth resulted in a unique situation for a number of hanar colonists; turning their skin blue. A freight shuttle carrying 32 tonnes of Miprocom-427, an aquatic fertiliser produced on Ineth, once crashed into the ocean planet after a mechanical failure in one of its primary thrusters during take-off. The majority of the Miprocom spillage was cleared up by emergency teams but some did leak into the local ecosystem. The effects of large-scale Miprocom pollution were unknown at the time, but soon an obvious side effect came to light. The effects were not permanent and dissipated in time.
Hanar have two sexes (male and female), but no real concept of gender. The sexes are essentially indistiguishable, both biologically and culturally. Young hanar, or "polyps", bud off and are protected/sheltered by the parents.
Hanar tend to sleep in water. In a tank, they just settle on the bottom. With a current, they hold on to something nearby so they don't float away. While asleep, hanar are vaguely aware of their surroundings, having evolved to look out for warnings of approaching danger from their active fellows.
The hanar communicate using sophisticated patterns of bioluminescence, which other species need machine assistance to translate (though many drell apply genetic modification to their eyes in order to perceive higher frequency flashes, allowing them to understand the hanar). Hanar raised within their traditional cultures always speak with scrupulous precision and extreme politeness. Most hanar take offense at improper language, and must take special courses to unlearn this tendency if they expect to deal with other species. They revere language as a gift from their deities, the Enkindlers - which are often viewed as synonymous with the Protheans.
Hanar languages reflect that the hanar sense of the existence of the individual is lesser than that in races like humans or asari. It’s not that the individual doesn’t exist -- indeed, the majority of hanar religious traditions are led by a charismatic individual -- it’s that the plurality is given more importance. (Those that rule are aware that they rely on the confidence of the hanar under them, or the hanar will just leave). The one is a part of something larger than itself, and language reflects that.
Psychology and Beliefs
The hanar have two names, a "face name" and a "soul name". The face name is used as a general label, for use by strangers and acquaintances. The soul name is kept for use among close friends and relations only, and tends to be poetic.
Actors, like merchants in medieval China and barefaced turians, are not entirely trusted, because essentially these are individuals who change their face name freely, which could wind up leaving them without a face, thus exposing the soul.
Hanar are extremely polite, almost to a fault. They never refer to themselves in the first person with someone they know on a face name basis: to do so is considered egotistical. Instead they refer to themselves as “this one”, or the impersonal “it”. It’s only around those who know their soul name that they ever use the first person. Even when flustered or angry, a hanar will still maintain exquisite poise, and will remain formal even with those it wishes dead.
Fish, mostly. Hanar catch fish live (their tenticles secrete toxins), or eat processed and often pre-liquified seafood. They eat via a form of osmosis, so most prepared food resembles soup or is very flaky. Thanks to the drell, there is a style of Kahjian food that is more relatable to those with jaws. Styles vary from dome to dome, but the drell have adapted very well to artfully perparing the many arthropods Kahje has to offer. Some examples of hanar food fish:
Droll Observations Within Casual Argument, from Ineth.
Fistossitoksok from Belan
Flimmshimmishin: A favourite of Laykalar.
Ghostly Weavings of Morning, from Halo of Light.
Pleasant Eatable Circles, from Kahje
Speckled Bolts of Cloudlight Under The Swell, from Kahje.
The Most Illuminated Senthoslin's Fluctuating Bluefish, from Kahje.
Hithchis brine is a hanar condiment.
Hanar 'nations’ fall along ideological lines rather than geographical, although hanar do like to group with like-minded individuals. Depending on size, they’re classified as traditions, sects or cults. Hanar are perfectly fine with a dictator, so long as it works. If anyone feels it doesn’t work, they’re completely free under Primacy law to leave and start their own cult, and if they’re charismatic enough, bring others along. The Primacy prefers this to the messy business of rebellion.
The Illuminated Primacy is essentially governed by The Sacred Congregation Of The Most Holy Office Of The Doctrine Of The Enkindler Faith, although its full name is only used in official documents - the Office of Doctrine becoming an accepted colloquialism, as it doesn’t bring the Primacy’s anationality into doubt.
The Primacy has a tradition of censorship. The hanar would never actually destroy a piece of artwork. It is, to a certain extent, considered akin to a child, though part of the soul of one hanar, not two. In some ways, this makes it more precious, almost like a spiritual clone. The equivilant of book burning would be an abhorrent sacrilege to many - the downfall of the old Illuminati started with the destruction of words. However, their worldview does allow art to be “put on trial”. The Censors run this court, acting entirely reactively - a concerned citizen who doesn’t wish for a piece of art to be accesible to the entire Primacy must bring the offending item to court. Actively hunting something down amid the myriad millions of words made by the hanar everyday would be impossible.
Censored art is never ‘excecuted’, but ‘imprisoned’. Copies are rounded up and put into vaults for the alloted amount of time - it varies from case to case, depending on how damaging to the public psyche the art’s perceived to be. Since joining the Citadel, the hanar have censored less and less, something some sects are very concerned with.
Relatively few hanar are willing to deal with other species; economic contacts are limited to a handful of trade stations on the Primacy’s borders. Due to this self-imposed isolation and the unique physiology of the race, their economy is small and isolated from the rest of the galaxy. Few standard technologies (designed for bipedal and fingered species) are available in their space, and they produce very few goods that are usable by others.
One of the known products they do export is alcohol. Batarian entrepreneur Edan Had'dah was revealed to have a liking for hanar-produced liquors. The hanar equivalence of alcohol is more commonly called mindfish, and is made from hallucinogenic skin oils of a fish that is a favorite of the species. Batches of this product are found in Citadel establishments like the Silver Coast Casino.
Due to their physical frailty, the hanar employ robo-miners to excavate valuable resources.
The most notable hanar sport is Sarophan’tialamenus, combining dexterity-based gameplay with tactics symbolic of rhetoric and debate. Sarophan’tialamenus was created by a poet-activist in the hanar pre-contact era, “to teach the young the rudimentary rules of language and politeness through play” (which is in fact the translation of the word ‘sarophan’tialamenus’, depending on tone and coloration). It has the distinction among games of not evolving naturally like other sports, but being carefully designed. It was quickly snapped up by the sects in the new Illuminated Primacy and added into almost every curriculum.
Hanar do not permit animal fighting within their culture, believing it makes people less empathetic to others.
The hanar practice a religious holiday called Nyahir or "First Cresting Bloom" which lasts a full thirteen days and revolves around celebrating the gift of speech, which they attribute to having come from the Enkindlers. It is a mixture of contemplation and competition, with the faithful engaged in stylized debates, poetry duels, and other traditional hanar art forms. The winners of these events have their names inscribed in bio-luminescence on the side of Mount Vassla, an underwater volcano at the heart of one of the oldest Prothean ruins on Kahje.
To be a hanar in the Terminus Systems is to be bereft of many of the tools and resources that define the Illuminated Primacy. There are no Compactees - finely honed fanatically loyal weapons capable of removing political opponents as easily as external threats at their masters' discretion. There are no vast, system spanning orbital grids, no colossal defense platforms designed and optimized to tear capital ships to pieces. There is no culturally enforced isolation, no natural barriers and labyrinthine systems of etiquette to hide behind. In short, to be a hanar in the Terminus is to be a member of a physically frail species that requires extensive mechanical assistance to survive outside terrestrial waters, much less endure the rigors of combat with none of the natural allies or defenses that so graced your progenitors.
And yet a decidedly large number of hanar have not only adapted to the Terminus, they have thrived. By and large the children and descendents of heretics, political exiles, and excommunicated sects they are no strangers to struggle and strife nor to defending themselves if the situation requires it (and given the oft unstable nature of extra-Citadel space politics, it frequently does).
Darkly Reflecting Beacon was one of the few hanar arcologies on Omega, the site of a lively hanar-batarian trading market as well as being home to a multitude of extremist Enkindler cults shunned by the Illuminated Primacy. The arcology was entirely depopulated during the Cerberus/Adjutant invasion of Omega, when Major Nassa D'Veyra ordered its contents vented through the waterlocks in order to hinder Cerberus forces.
Today, the arcology is one of the few dry-land examples of hanar architecture and is enjoying a minor tourist boom.
Threads of Note
Stop. Hanar Time.: Are hanar particularly bad at responding to emails? If so, why?