The Banuk are a human tribe in Horizon Zero Dawn. The Banuk are a nomadic tribe, native to the mountains north of the Sacred Lands. Made up of fearless hunters and mysterious shamans, they are constantly trying to prove their worth against increasingly stacked odds, and favor this over engaging with other tribes.
The Banuk are a nomadic tribe and their simple shelters are similar to tipis, made of long wooden poles and covered with painted canvas. Banuk settlements include little more than tents and fire pits.
The Banuk's simplistic lifestyle is not due to lack of intellectual capacity, but because of their views that always deem any hardship as a challenge of one's ability. As a result, they prefer to improve the ways they know instead of devising new ones. When Aram explained the concept of long term solutions that the Carja are accustomed to, the Banuk he was traveling with were disdainful of the idea.
Tribespeople live in small, mobile groups of hunters called weraks. Each is led by a dominant chieftain along with the counsel of a shaman. Chieftains may be challenged for control of their werak, initiated by throwing one's spear at the chieftain's feet. Such challenges involve a head-to-head competition in which the chieftain and the challenger race to kill specified machines, marking their completion by launching a balloon. As an added level of difficulty, the challenger must launch every balloon first or be eliminated. Placement in a werak is earned through completion of a trial which must be faced alone. Passage of this trial grants one a place in the werak. Outlanders are also allowed to take part in such challenges.
Despite living in groups, the Banuk are highly individualistic and value independence. Each member of the group must prove that they possess the will to survive alone.
The Banuk are notable for their use of colorful dyes for decoration. They use these pigments for dying their clothing and objects, and for painting. Their geometric designs can be observed on the canvas used for shelter, and on mountainsides. The designs appear to have spiritual purpose, for either protection or another meaning. The paintings in Ban-Ur have existed for generations, being continually repainted; to edit or paint over them is considered sacrilege.
Banuk society is lead by shamans who often participate in "medicine hunts" and claim to be able to sense the presence of nearby machines. These shamans occasionally have machine parts sewn directly into their skin. Shamans are typically responsible for stripping parts from machines brought down by hunters, thanking the machine spirits before doing so. The most renowned shamans form a group known as the Conclave which meets yearly in a sacred location known as Malmstrom.
The tribe has general knowledge of the glyphs left by the Old Ones, but they prefer to record history in song. Their oral tradition includes a large volume of hunting tales.
The Banuk faith revolves around the "Blue Light," the light seen in machines' eyes. They believe that the Blue Light is the essence of life and harmony. The Blue Light animates the machines, its chosen vessels, but struggles to survive in the hearts of humans. Shamans will often thread machine cables through their skin in hopes of better containing the Blue Light in their bodies.
The Derangement has been interpreted as the machines growing angry with humans, causing the Blue Light to start fading from the world.
Due to their isolationism, the Banuk are often deemed to be just as mysterious, primitive, and savage as the Nora tribe. While Banuk traders do occasionally visit Meridian, they seldom stay long enough to satisfy the curiosity of the Carja. They do not appear to readily welcome travelers who visit their lands, and expect visitors to construct their own shelters and hunt and cook for themselves.
At one point, a Carja scribe by the name of Aram set out to study the Banuk in their homeland of Ban-Ur. While he found the landscape to be quite beautiful in its own way, he despised the cold climate and was puzzled by the odd customs of the natives. He found their relentless pursuit of challenges most odd, as did the Banuk once they learned of the Carja's own customs.
- Kikuk's Killers
- Owl's Watch
- Thunder's Daughters
- White Teeth
- Banuk Child
- Banuk Observer
- Banuk Shaman
- Banuk Villager
- Banuk Wanderer
- Young Banuk Hunter
- White Teeth Hunter
- The colors of Banuk clothing are inspired by the geothermic pools in Yellowstone National Park.