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Normally, they are shorter than Humans. Ferengi have orange-colored skin, enlarged skulls, sharp teeth and wrinkled noses. Internally, they have a four-lobed brain that cannot be read by telepathic species and have ascending ribs and upper and lower lungs.
Their most distinguishing feature is their "lobes" which are large ears giving them extremely good hearing. Male lobes are generally larger then females. Their sensitivity makes them vulnerable to pain and other problems like tympanic membrane which can be fatal. The Ferengi heart rate is faster than that of a Human and they appear to have a rather strong immune system which allows them to have lifespans that could exceed over a century.
Society and Culture
Their culture has roots which were similar to many other species, filled with wars, violence and greed. However, they managed to avoided the majority of the aspects of an evolving culture and their history was notable for the absence of such atrocities such as genocide or slavery which often make make them feel superior while in front of other species. The culture grew slowly out of its early stages by introducing an economic system that developed their bartering systems to one of the leaders of interstellar commerce.
The Ferengi frequently idolize businessmen who have been pillars of Ferengi society for millennia unlike other civilizations who idolize warriors or politicians. The tendency led to the merging of business and political fields in their culture with the near universal application of the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition as both a financial and personal code of ethics. The Ferengi also recognise the Five Stages of Acquisition: infatuation, justification, appropriation, obsession and resale. The Ferengi have also recognised this in other species, Earth's Wall Street is recognized with near religious reverence by them. The Ferengi desire for profit has led to inventions that spread across many species of the galaxy that included holosuites, synthehol and Slug-o-Cola.
Role of Women
Their traditional laws are highly sexists and patriarchal by the standards set by many civilizations in contemporary times. Unlike Federation, Romulan or even Klingon societies, the females are barred from the majority of society including the government and business. Laws and traditional social values relegate females to the level of property. Women have no valued role in society apart from the propagation of male heirs.
Like everything else in their culture, Marriage was a business contract, signed between the prospective groom and the bride's father, in which the father leased his daughter to the groom for a set period, generally for about five years for a fee on the birth of a son. In addition, they were not allowed to wear clothes, leave their home without a male escort or speak to strange males. Their role as caregiver to the male children of the family is strictly defined. They were expected to teach their children the rules of acquisition and soften their food for them by chewing it first.
By the 24th century, females made over half of the population and a significant majority began to realize that exclusion of females from business represented a loss of commercial opportunities. Due to a movement led by a prominent female Ferengi and the current Grand Nagus, developed with the goal of reforming cultural traditions that had excluded that part of the population. Although initial signs seemed less by promising by 2375 with the ascension of a more progressive Grand Nagus the likelihood of further reforms seemed inevitable. Due to the long-standing ban the acquisition of profit by females, any female wishing to engage in commerce had to bury the evidence of their involvement in a transaction or appear as a male.
Rituals & Traditions
One of the few Ferengi ceremonies that bestow (free) gifts on someone would be when Male Ferengi are introduced to their world on their Naming Day.The Ferengi Attainment Ceremony is the time in Ferengi tradition that an individual becomes old enough to make their own decisions. During this time, a young Ferengi would use personal items of sentimental value, auction them and use the proceeds to raise capital for their first venture.
Ferengi greet one another by putting their wrists together, hands apart, and fingers curled inward, equivalent to the old Human custom of shaking hands. However, when two Ferengi have agreed a deal, they place the back of one hand against that of the other, and pull it away to the side quickly, as if to signify mutual distrust and understanding.When in some form of service or submission, Ferengi are commonly known to bow very slightly, face up, and makes the same hand gesture that is used in greetings. The cultural connotations of displaying open hands are echoed again in the "obscene" gesture of a person waving empty hands above their head.
Furthermore, A Ferengi entering a home of another Ferengi was required to pay an admission fee of a slip of latinum for each person and must sign a waiver acknowledging responsibility in the event something goes missing.They also have a tradition of plea bargaining. If a Ferengi requires something, especially of importance and it has been taken by someone, the one responsible can give something that that the victim requires in order to have their item returned.
Their cuisine consists of insects namely slugs, grubs and other similar creatures. Most partake in the beetle snuff habit, which is a fine powder of dried beetles.
According to their beliefs, the hammer represents sexual prowess. Actual sexual practices are not commonly known but oo-mox, manual stimulation of the lobes, is practiced widely and can be performed by those who were not Ferengi. In accordance with their patriarchal society it was not unusual for them to have female servants who would perform the practice for him in public as a means of pleasure and to communicate his status by overtly he can afford such luxuries. They have rather appropriately demonstrated interest in cosmetic enhancements by way of tooth sharpeners and surgical procedures such as lobe enlargements to accompany the usual copious displays of wealth.
Their written language resembles a flow chart in appearance with 60 degree angles and text coming outward from a hexagon in the center. The central hexagon may be fixed, giving an indication of subject or tense, with the text around it flows, branches, expands and changes. Due to the planet's climate the Ferengi have 178 words for rain but no word for crispy due to it being unknown for them.
The majority of male Ferengi wear a headdress which consists of cloth wrapped around the back of the head. Its actual name and reason for it being worn is currently unknown.
The pursuit of profit at any cost is the guiding principle for all Ferengi. The invention of currency and the concept of profit approximately ten millennia ago Ferengi philosophy started to evolve towards materialism. This principle became so basic to them that it was codified in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition.
Their highly prized values included greed, deceit, distrust and opportunism and all were represented within the rules. They believe in conducting all their affairs under "caveat-emptor" or "buyer beware". Exploitation is a requirement in Ferengi society, The formation of an union is forbidden, and indeed they do not wish to eradicate it but to become the exploiters themselves.
The ultimate goal is to acquire profit the ultimate punishment was the loss of profit. Those that break the law can be punished with the loss of all their assets and property. Those that break a crime deemed serious enough, their own family could also suffer loss of profit, opportunity and even forced into indentured servitude to repay their debts in both literal and philosophical means. The contract is considered a supreme law in Ferengi society breaking it that involved another Ferengi would be a severe crime.
Capital punishment is known among Ferengi but it is not as feared as the loss of their business license. Such an action prevents a Ferengi from conducting business with the offender and virtually banished a Ferengi from their own society, leaving him with so few opportunities that even death may be deemed as preferable to continuing. The Ferengi attitude to dealing in weapons and other technology shows that they regard profit above all else. Though the galaxy has millions of weapon dealers, the Ferengi have an approving attitude towards the profession. Furthermore, the Ferengi attitude toward personal liberty is superseded by desire for profit. Despite, or perhaps because of, never having enduring slavery themselves Ferengi have made themselves willing to engage of slave-trading.
The Ferengi have a fairly robust and detailed religious life, even though the philosophy behind the religion is still rather simple. Like everything else, their religion revolves around the central concepts of profit and accumulation of wealth. Their spirituality flows largely from their belief in the universe as being bound together in the Great Material Continuum. A good Ferengi (one who accumulates wealth and makes profit) is renowned as being able to navigate the "great river" of the Continuum. Such Ferengi are rewarded for their success in interpreting the wants and needs of this life by positioning themselves for success in the next life.
The Ferengi believe that anything you make you can take with you into the next life. Upon reaching the afterlife the Ferengi finds themselves before the Blessed Exchequer, whom they pray to in life, and are evaluated on their profit. A successful Ferengi can bribe their way into the Divine Treasury where their wealth can be used to bid on their next life under the supervision of the Celestial Auctioneers. An unsuccessful Ferengi may find themselves in the Vault of Eternal Destitution never to return. By the end of the Dominion War, over 40% of the population on Ferenginar no longer believed they had to buy their way into the Divine Treasury. Their death ritual prevents autopsy being performed on a deceased Ferengi. It is accepted practice for a Ferengi to auction off his vacuum-desiccated remains after death, providing the opportunity for their loved ones or enemies to own a piece of the Ferengi after his passing as a final opportunity to raise capital for the soon to be deceased.
- Ferengi at Memory Alpha