Ceremonial Attire

The basic components of the Tlor Thakal, or Vulcan ceremonial attire, vary little from person to person. They include a hat, shirt, vest, boots, hip-length robe, and a long skirt for women and a pair of pants for men. Every Vulcan possess a Tlor Thakal for use when participating in important gatherings or rituals. Given the formality of most Federation Council and governmental meetings, Tlor Thakals are a common sight and often what most non-Vulcans think of when thinking about Vulcan attire.

The history behind the Tlor Thakal provides important insight into Vulcan motivation. Early in Vulcan's violent history, the position of messenger was despised. The messenger's job was to run back and forth across battlefields, delivering his or her warlord's threats and insults to enemy warlords. Those regularly chosen for the job were the mentally handicapped and those who did not wish to fight. In the eyes of these early Vulcan warriors, to not fight was to blaspheme the gods. To them, pacifistic creatures were lower than the lowest animal in a dung heap.

This animosity toward messengers often caused their deaths, both on and off the battlefield. To safeguard his messengers and to satisfy his rather sick sense of humor, one warlord made all of his messengers dress in costumes designed by his jesters. The costume was called 'The Uniform of Deep Thinkers', or Tlor Thakal. Although the messengers were no longer mistaken for the enemy, they now suffered beneath the weight of the robes and Vulcan's oppressive heat.

When Surak ventured across the sands to negotiate peace, he did so in a Tlor Thakal. Physically strong, he wore the heavy robes with such dignity that those who saw him could never again consider the Tlor Thakal to be a costume of fools. Surak chose to wear the ropes out of respect for the messengers, calling them the real Vulcans. He also extolled the Tlor Thakal as a way to ignore the body and concentrate on the mind. Whenever Vulcans don the Tlor Thakal, they remind themselves of Surak's life and his devotion to peace and logic.

While remaining true to the spirit of the original, the Tlor Thakal of recent times has changed to suit the more appearance-conscious world of interstellar diplomacy. One noticeable change is the use of a wider range of colors. Besides the traditional black and gray, many Vulcans now wear blue, purple, maroon, and light gold robes.

The fabrics used have also changed over the centuries. Very seldom are the robes woven from the spines of Crying Plants as they once were. Vulcans are artistic weavers and they use fabrics such as Hesperian Wool and Talfarra Gem Weave to great effect. Recently, some Vulcan diplomats have even had quotes from Vulcan philosophy embroidered down the vest of their Tlor Thakals and other formal robes as an additional reminder of Surak and his teachings.

Jewelry is another aspect of the Vulcan diplomat's appearance. Placed upon the brim of their headpiece is a Telc Vul, or Home Stone. The Telc Vul is a gem or crystal common to the region where the wearer was born. It is treated with great respect and reverence.

Vulcan artistry in metals is considerable and the belt of the Tlor Thakal displays some of the finest examples of this skill. Fashioned from precious metals such as gold, silver, or odrazinc, the belt sports a wide buckle with an intricately sculpted geometric design or version of the family name.

Vulcans place little emphasis on rank and will never brag about their importance. Nevertheless, Vulcan society has found it necessary to be able to distinguish those in important positions from the rest of the populace. These dignitaries wear a Kelca Shev, or Badge of Position, which usually takes the form of a large pendant or embroidered design worn upon the chest. The design of the badge is usually a symbolic representation of the wearer's occupation or his or her name in stylized letters. Many Vulcans who wear the Kelca Shev find it to be a great imposition on their privacy and wear their badges only during official functions or when seeking favors from another.

Many people are familiar with the IDIC, the pendant that represents the Vulcan concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Related to the IDIC, but more personal, is the Sosona-nome. The Sosona-nome is a necklace consisting of a subtle arrangement of stones, precious metals, and sculpted symbols that typically carries more importance to the wearer than the IDIC. The word Nome means All in Vulcan. In their philosophy, the word encompasses the various ideas about how beings perceive the universe.

Some believe that the pieces of in the necklace can be rearranged or completely altered to suite the wearer. If this is true, then the Sosona-nome may be an attempt to express the wearer's personal vision of existence in metal. Certain pieces in the large necklace are recognizable as small Telc Vul stones, Telca Shevas, and words or phrases from Vulcan thought. All Vulcans probably have a Sosona-nome given to them just after their Kahs-wan, the test of an adolescent's maturity. Although Sosona-nomes are worn only at private ceremonies marking births and deaths, Ambassador Sarek and an increasing number of Vulcans have been seen wearing their Sosona-nomes in public. Although not forbidden, this has caused the Vulcan equivalent of a scandal among the older and more tradition-bound Vulcans.

If it is true that what a Vulcan wears is a personal choice, then what can be learned from their choice in clothing? Some believe that relations between Vulcan and Vulcan communities on other worlds in the Federation are weakening slightly and that this can be seen in those raised on worlds other than Vulcan wearing more flamboyantly colored Tlor Thakals instead of the traditional somber hues.

Others say that there is a Vulcan crisis stemming from their involvement in the Federation. Perhaps the destruction of the Vulcan-crewed USS Intrepid several decades ago was the start of sentiments that Vulcan is too involved in the Federation. This might explain why some Vulcan diplomats in the past have shunned contact with other races outside of scheduled meetings. If Federation involvement indeed is the bone of contention, this Vulcan controversy would resemble the issues raised by the old Terran Return League.

Still other Vulcan specialists have asserted that the aforementioned concerns are but symptoms of a single, deeper, issue. They say that the real issue dividing the Vulcan people is whether or not the Vulcan people are losing their identity. Vulcans are becoming concerned about the marked lessening of what were once strict rules of conduct. Vulcans born and raised in the company of other races are exhibiting shocking behavior, which could be seen as a sign of the resurgence of emotionalism. If Vulcan adolescents of today sometimes laugh, what of the children of tomorrow? Will future Vulcans rediscover the attractions of passion, or of violence? These questions are vitally important to Vulcans.

A great deal of this debate centers around Ambassador Sarek and his family. His marriage and his son both were seen as challenges to Vulcan society at the time. Sarek's life has been well publicized and such attention, though unsought, may be seen as a further insult to the Vulcan way. His opinions on the Federation have long been known and his papers are required reading for those looking for the spirit behind the Federation.

His famous speech at the Babel conference made Sarek a respected leader of planetary sovereignty. He has also championed the cause of Vulcan communities on other worlds in their dealings with Vulcan. Abandoning his Tlor Thakal for longer robes, Sarek also wears his Sosona-nome in public. All of these factors together seem to have made Ambassador Sarek the target of disapproval by any Vulcan feeling his or her culture threatened as the nexus or instigator of the degeneration. It is curious to note that the younger Vulcans have begin to wear long robes, apparently in the tradition begun by Sarek.

As noted before, the Vulcan people have been long admired for their ability to retain their composure and sense of logic. Whatever the cause for the internal troubles, both in the past or in the future, there is little doubt that it will be resolved without any public discord. This means that we are left to scrutinize the attire of Vulcan diplomats and officials to discern what is truly going on in Vulcan society.


Surak was born into a Vulcan that was one of perpetual violence and destruction. Surak's remedy for this continuous warfare was C'thia. Although C'thia is modernly translated as logic, this translation is woefully insufficient. The best way to describe what C'thia is would be reality-truth. C'thia is the truth about the universe and the way things really are instead of how we would like them to be. It deals with both the physical and non-physical realities.

Vulcans who embrace C'thia believe that if the truth is ignored, affairs will not be prosperous. This reality-truth doctrine is the very reason why Vulcans find lying offensive. They believe it perverts the purpose of speech, which is to accurately describe the world.

Many confuse C'thia as the practice of suppressing or rejecting emotion. This view is inaccurate in that the meat of Surak's argument is that if one expects their emotions, one can move beyond them. This notion is known as arie'mna, or passion's mastery, and is commonly mistranslated as a lack of emotion by other races. Arie'mna means a Vulcan does not allow emotions to control him, but controls them instead. It is by this that the Vulcans have managed to find peace.

Not all of Vulcan, however, practices C'thia at the same level. There are some who do not practice it at all. Some adhere to certain aspects and do not heed others. This does not make them wrong or in error, however, as often times the concept of C'thia and arie'mna must be done on a personal level. For the most part, however, all of Vulcan life is affected in one way or another by C'thia and it is apparent in laws and the governing of the society as a whole.


Vulcan heritage is rigid and is not often willing to give up on "what it perceives as its own prerogatives and rights." Indeed, it is far less willing to give up on any of its perceptions at all. At one time less than five percent of Vulcans leave their planet that they sometimes call ar'Hrak, or the Forge. Although this amount continues to increase over the decades, many Vulcans never see the universe outside of their own homeworld. Many have not taken the initiative to observe and experience the other member worlds of the Federation first hand and there is even today a small minority of Vulcans in Starfleet.

Vulcans are largely misunderstood by other races. Many believe that 'all' Vulcans practice logic to the same degree and level. Although logic is at the foundation of modern Vulcan society, it is like any other religion or philosophy practiced amongst a myriad of other cultures and species across the galaxy. An individual takes what they want or need from it. The root of this misunderstanding can be linked to the institutionalized misinterpretation of the word arie'mnu. Most other races translate this to mean lack of emotion or suppression of emotion and would leave one with the impression that Vulcans do not experience emotions. This is untrue.

What arie'mnu means is passion's mastery and shows that instead of being controlled by emotions like some other races, Vulcans control their emotions. Vulcans love, experience sadness and joy, and even laugh and cry. These displays of emotion, however, are a very private thing and not likely to be witnessed by others. Vulcans do not talk openly about their emotions either. When confronted about the way they feel about something, they will either change the subject or find a way to express that logic dictates their emotional state to be irrelevant to the matter at hand. An example of this can be seen below:

A human reporter asks, "T'Praire, don't you feel angered about the proposal before the Federation Council for a federal weapons factory to be built here on Vulcan?"

T'Prarie says, "An outward display of an ugly emotion such as anger would in no way aid in the cause to make the Council understand this to be against the Vulcan culture. Any argument made in anger could very well be made just as effectively in peace of mind."

Vulcan history has made it clear that the Vulcans were once indeed very addicted to emotion and violence. The smallest leniency in maintaining one's discipline can not be afforded in the minds of many Vulcans because there is no such thing as a little bit.



Kahs'wan is the ritual of maturation that all Vulcan children must endure. This rite is held when the child is thirteen years old. In this ritual, the young Vulcan must find and subdue a lematya, an omnivorous animal found in the wilderness of Vulcan.


One of the predominant schools of thought on Vulcan. Kolinahr professes the need to purge all emotions in order to obtain pure logic. One of the harsher schools of thought, those who follow this path believe those who fail to obtain Kolinahr should be shunned for their inability.


Arranged marriages are a common custom among Vulcans. It is traditional to be betrothed as a child of seven years and most marriages are arranged between two families for political or social reasons. The betrothal of the two young children is called a kunat-la ceremony and is it here that a Vulcan High Priestess fuses the minds of the two children so that at the proper time they are driven into plaktow, or the blood fever. The plaktow is the sign that the Vulcan is entering the time of Pon'Farr during which he or she must mate or die. The link forged during the kunat-la ceremony is what drives the two to meet and often guides them on where to find the other.

It is the role of the pele-ut-la, or chaperone, to mediate any meetings between the betrothed. This is usually the duty of an uncle of one of the children, but if an uncle is not present, the pele-ut-la may be appointed for the child.

Before the kunat'la ceremony, the child must eat a tono'pak berry every hour as a symbol of the childhood that will shrivel away and die, to be born into the heart of a young adult.

This mental bonding as children does not promise a successful joining, however, and there remains the possibility of kali'fee during the kunat-kali'fee ceremony at the time of the first Pon'Farr.

At the time of first Pon'Farr, it is the right of the female to choose a champion to battle for her in a toriatal, or challenge to the death. If invoked, it becomes the right of the victor to claim the female for himself or release her.

Even with the possibility of the challenge, the Vulcan divorce rate is much lower than that of such races as Humans who choose their own mates and claim to marry for reasons of love.


Na'Tha'Thhya is the ritual performed by a Vulcan who anticipates his or her death is near. In anticipation of death, a Vulcan will whisper into the ear of a close friend or companion, preferably of the same gender. Upon their death, this act releases their katra, or soul, to the designated individual. This individual is then charged with the responsibility of returning to Vulcan so that the deceased's katra can be returned to the ancestors and their knowledge and experiences will not be lost to the ages. If for some extraordinary reason a katra is separated from one who still lives, a fal-tor-pan ceremony must be performed to reunite the katra and body. This procedure is very dangerous both to the person who is currently holding the katra as well as the person to whom the katra is to be returned to.


Pon'Farr is the time when a Vulcan feels the undeniable urge to return to Vulcan to take a mate or die. It is a time when increased seratonin levels in the body cause the mind to abandon all logic in pursuit of this goal. Pon'Farr follows a cycle approximately seven years in between each incident and it an involuntary function of the Vulcan body.

Vulcans who as children underwent the kunat'la, or the ceremony in which a Vulcan High Priestess fuses the minds of a young Vulcan couple in what is best described as a betrothal, will have a drive to meet with their intended for the purposes of carrying out their marriage. If a Vulcan is unwed and unbetrothed at the time of their Pon'Farr, he or she may invoke the kunat so'lik to declare his or her desire for the one they have chosen to be their mate. After this declaration is performed, a kunat kali'fee ceremony must be performed.

While the time of Pon'Farr is not the ONLY time a Vulcan can copulate, it is a time when a Vulcan MUST copulate or die.


Ta'al is the ritual greeting Vulcans use when seeing one another. A Vulcan will raise his or her hand, holding the digits spread out so that the second and third are touching and the fourth and fifth digits are touching.

When used in greeting, it is common for the initiator to say 'Live Long and Prosper' to which the other responds 'Peace and Long Life.' When used in departure, it is common for the initiator to say 'Peace and Prosperity' to which the other responds 'Live Long and Prosper'. As with most greetings, there are many variations to this, but the common thread and meaning is the same in all of them.


The wedding begins with multi-directional processions leading into the place of 'Marriage or Challenge', or some other appropriate or appointed place as needed or desired. These processions include several bell ringers carrying chimes and bells, an array or half hooded Vulcan males, the friends and family of the two being joined, and any other invited guests present. It is of note that off-worlders are seldom invited to ANY Vulcan ceremony, and only the rare exception takes place on occasion. The array
of male Vulcans, referred to as athletes, are present so that the bride may choose a champion to kill her intended mate should she reject him as part of the ceremony. Trailing at the end of the processions is the High Priestess who is carried on a chair by several acolytes. As the last of the various processions enter the area, a muscular hooded Vulcan male bangs a great gong to represent the beginning of the ceremony. The Priestess then rises from her chair and throws a bit of incense into the lava pit if at the place of 'Marriage or Challenge' or into a suitable replacement burner if elsewhere.

The Priestess then makes her way to the dais and silences the crowd. She then raises her hand in ta'al and says "Our way of bonding comes down from the time of the beginning. It is our Vulcan heart and soul. He who denies the kunat-kalifee denies the plaktow and the pon farr and everything that is Vulcan." She may then make additional remarks to describe the events thus far the families of the bonding couple, or some other logical statement appropriate for the occasion. The childhood bonding of the kunat-la must then be tested by the Priestess or kunat-kalifee can not be sanctioned. She then looked to the groom and inspects him to ensure the plaktow is upon him.

If he is deep in the plaktow, she will say: "Your blood burns! This is good. Stand, <Groom's Name>." A calm will encompass the groom and he will stand tall. The Priestess will then turn to the bride and, if she is not deep in the plaktow or has managed to maintain her discipline, ask: "<Bride's Name>, do you burn?" If she is indeed in the plaktow, she will respond: "I burn! My eyes are flame, my heart is flame!" The groom will then step towards the bride and say "We meet at the appointed place." To this, the bride will respond with "At the appointed hour. We live in each other's thoughts."



Initially Vulcan was not the xenophobic, logic bound society it is today. They were hospitable to strangers and other races as opposed to being afraid or 'cautious' of them. The ones Vulcans feared most were their neighbors, with whom they were in constant competition over resources like food, water, and shelter. As a result, Vulcan's embraced the possibility of finding new lifeforms with great enthusiasm, pondering the possibilities of economic exploration. Being a desert planet with little resources of it's own, the idea of discovering another planet or alien race presented many benefits.

The first non-Vulcan lifeforms the people of Vulcan would encounter were the Duthulhiv pirates. Hailing from an Orion star system, the pirates took advantage of Vulcan hospitality and the desire for contact had by the Vulcans. They quietly observed Vulcan for quite a while before they sent their first message over radio frequencies to the Vulcans. When the Vulcans received the message, the pirates were welcomed as honored guests and greeted by a party of dignitaries which consisted of various Vulcan leaders. When the pirates arrived, however, they came with an invasion force and took the dignitaries present hostage in order to ransom them.

The pirates made a critical error in judgement by believing that Vulcan was at peace, and therefore unarmed, due to the united front presented by the delegation at the reception party. Vulcan, however, was at it's most hostile period in history with many conflicts temporarily halted just to greet the Duthulhiv pirates. Many died, both Orion and Vulcan alike, as the pirates were brutally massacred. The Vulcans then sent a mental warning all the way to Etosha and Duthul, home of the Duthulhiv pirates, so
that no others would be foolish enough to try an invasion of Vulcan again.

The event with the Duthulhiv pirates tore Vulcan apart. S'task, a student of Surak (the father of Vulcan logic who was fortunate enough not to be present in the delegation due to circumstances beyond his control), left Surak's peaceful ways. He felt that the only way to overcome such violence in the universe was with violence. He and a large number of Vulcan clans left the planet in generation ships. It is from S'task and his followers that the formation of the Rihannsu (Romulan) people would begin. With S'task and his followers gone, Surak's teachings of peace and logic spread until they became an integral part of Vulcan society over the years.


Vulcans are named differently than are most races. Their names usually consist of one to two syllables and five letters. Male names often begin with an "S" or "T". Many, in honor of Surak, will name their sons names beginning in "S" and ending in "k". Female names usually begin with a "P" or end in a vowel sound. The " T' " prefix common to most female Vulcan names merely denotes marital status. It is used on women who are betrothed or married.

Vulcans do not have surnames or last names. Instead, they are differentiated by the name of their father. For example, Mr. Spock's name is Spock cha'Sarek or Spock child of Sarek. The individual is further differentiated by House which is differentiated by clan, like so, Spock cha'Sarek house of Surak clan of the Eye.


There are many things that are very personal to a Vulcan. Things he or she must not talk about. For instance, a Vulcan can not talk about the way he or she experiences A'Tha or the details of a mind-meld or about sexual gratification. He or she can, however, talk about these things in general or in the way they may pertain to the universe as a whole and not to themselves or someone else personally or specifically. There is a seal of privacy on all issues that are considered taboo by Vulcan culture.

It is the practice of asking someone of the Vulcan culture if you can ask them a personal or private question before making such an inquiry. If permission is granted, the question may be asked.


Like Humans, Vulcans too have complex philosophical and religious beliefs. C'Thia, or Logic, is often mistaken for 'the' Vulcan religion and in some senses it can be viewed as such. The principles of logic help to dictate Vulcan behavior for the most part. There is, however, also a belief in a'Tha. A'Tha is the direct experience of the creator being or force; what a human would refer to as God. The Vulcan experience of the higher/supreme being or force, however, is very different than the Human experience. Whereas Human belief in a creator being requires faith, the Vulcan belief does not. This is so because Vulcans experience a'Tha directly and constantly. Each Vulcan's experience, however, is vastly different and extremely personal.

When described, a Vulcan will explain that their personal experience can't be described because it is a constantly changing experience. "As your position in space/time changes; a'Tha must change as well." As in most monotheistic/dualistic religious beliefs and philosophies, there is an opposing force to a'Tha which is 'entropy' corresponding to evil as described by Human culture.

In Vulcan belief, there is also the belief of 'The Other.' It seems that this sometimes refers to the creator being and sometimes used in reference to any life outside of self. Vulcans have a profound respect for all other life as reflected in the words of Surak: "The spear in the other's heart is the spear in your own. You are he."

In so far as death is concerned, when a Vulcan dies, he or she releases his or her katra to another. The katra would be analogous to the soul. The one who takes on that person's katra must return to Vulcan with it so that s/he may return it to the deceased's ancestors. The katra is passed on by the dying person whispering into the designated person's ear. It is usually easiest for those of the same gender to take on a katra than for one of opposite gender to take on a katra.


  • The Father of Logic

As is true with most of Earth's martyrs, Surak's birth was one of an exceptional nature. Surak was born to T'Leia via caesarian section on the night that da'Nikhirch, a very bright star in the Vulcan sky, suddenly appeared in the sky next to T'Khut. As with most parents, T'Leia and Stef wanted the best for their son and provided him all that their prominent status could offer. Surak was employed with his father's company for years before his life would suddenly change.

While observing the newslink on Vulcan, Surak received a most disturbing image. It was the desolation of one third of the Yiwa Peninsula as a result of the testing of a new matter-antimatter technology. He found this so disturbing that he disappeared, presumed to be kidnapped by a rival company or clan. Stef notified authorities and pressured them with threats to find his son, who re-emerged days later quite unharmed. Surak would disappear again shortly, rumored to be wandering around studying various religious and philosophical groups on Vulcan. By the time Surak resurfaced again, he had developed his own doctrines and philosophy. He be to write articles on his new found way of life for the news groups. His writings became very popular and well read. Most found it amusing that this man whom had caused so much trouble with his alleged kidnapping, which turned out to be untrue, could write telling them that they should live their lives in peace and logic.

There are some of the earliest writings of Surak.

Ideally, do no harm. Harm speeds up the heat-death of the Universe and, indirectly, your own. More practically, do as little harm as possible. We are creatures of a Universe in which entropy exists, and therefore see no way of escape, but we do not need to help it.

Harm no ones internal or invisible integrities. Leave others the privacies of their minds and lives. Intimacy remains precious only insofar as it is inviolate; invading it turns it into torment. Reach out to others courteously; accept their reaching in the same way with careful hands.

Do no murder. The spear in the others heart is the spear in your own. You are he. All action has reaction. What force you inflict, inevitably returns. The murder of the other is the murder of your own joy, forever.

As far as possible, do not kill. Can you give life again to what you kill? Then be slow to take life. Take only life that will not notice you taking it. To notice one's own death increases entropy. To die and not notice it increases it less, but still does so.

Cast out fear. Cast out hate and rage. Cast out greed and envy. Cast out all emotions that speed entropy, whether it be love or hate. Cast out these emotions by using reason to accept them, and then move past them. Use in moderation emotions that do not cause others pain, for that speeds entropy as well. Master your passions, so that they become a power for slowing the heat-death.

Do no harm to those that harm you. Offer them peace, and offer them peace again, do it until you die. In this manner you will have peace, one way or the other, even if they kill you. And you can not give others what you have not experienced yourself.

Learn reason above all. Learn clear thought. Learn to know what is from what seems to be, and what you wish to be. This is the key to everything; the truth of reality and the reality of truth. What is will set you free.

Resources on Vulcans

The following is a list of good resources of information about Vulcans. This does not mean that every bit of information in these sources are to be taken as cannon here on SNW. They are merely a useful list of resources which can be used to get a feel for the culture and atmosphere of what it is to be Vulcan.

  • "Spock's World" by Diane Duane
  • "IDIC Epidemic" by Jean Lorrah
  • "Vulcan's Glory" by D.C. Fontana
  • "Mind Meld" by John Vornholt
  • "Sarek" by A.C. Crispin
  • "Vulcan's Forge" by Joseph Sherman and Susan Schwartz
  • "Vulcan's Heart" by Joseph Sherman and Susan Schwartz
  • The Way of Kholinar by Last Unicorn Games
  • StarTrek Encyclopedia
  • StarTrek Omnipedia


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