Lilitic art ultimately goes back to a Ksreskézaian fascination with the grace of the human form. The artists amongst the Oksete who had access to Slokdtabasa were quick to occupy themselves with using their would-be servants as media in their work, adorning the girls with novel textiles, jewellery, and elaborate dance routines. Superficially, this might appear to be an enviable role amongst the enslaved (many of whom performed bureaucratic and menial tasks), and in many cases it was seen that way, but truthfully the models led some of the most difficult lives of any of the Slokdtabasa, receiving very little reprieve from their duties as objets d'art; some were even still expected to perform the more typical duties of housekeepers and governesses in addition to their artistic responsibilities. Dances, rituals, pantomime and tableaux frequently called for upward of a day of perfectly-coordinated movement or stillness, a curse aggravated by the poor quality of Ksreskézaian recording technology (and the resultant fondness for live performance.)
When the Ksreskézaian empire fell, it became clear enough to the Lilitai who had not lived as models that the Fertinenivíasa (women of the arts) were culturally quite unlike their newfound sisters. The concepts of survival and self-reliance had come to mean very different things to them, and they were at first very poor at retaining a sense of independence and self-direction. This greatly diminished their likelihood of surviving the initial shock of their masters' deaths, an already grim prospect.
The word Fertinenivía is a compound of four elements: ferte (art) + in (class of arts) + ní (possession of the arts) + ivíu (possession-of-the-arts-being). This is a term of exceptional respect, analogous in construction to stillanivía, the term used for oracles, prophets, and other greatly perceptive voices of religion. While at one time many professional terms were constructed this way, most contracted the "enivía" part to just "ía".
The Fertinenivíasa who survived contributed greatly to Lilitic art and culture, teaching their sisters and daughters the principles of art, and many Ksreskézaian forms and concepts, most of which were transformed in their new context. They did not teach only the performance arts with which they were so accustomed, but also visual art, music, sculpture, architecture, and industrial design. Only a few of the ancient styles and motifs were poorly represented in the first century (although they were preserved as fringe considerations.) Most notably, the new art eschewed such strict formalism for more loose expressionism, although by contemporary Terran standards, early Lilitic artistic endeavours consisted mostly of crude experimentation with the fossilised traditions of Ksreskézaian forms.
One topic—the tale of the Lilitai from forging to the present—dominated much of the early years of Lilitic art, as it was a story that had never been told before in full, and the liberated people yearned to both tell and hear it. They focused instead on innovations of presentation and perspective. Over time, this boiled down to an increasing realization that any form, and any content, could achieve greatness if the execution and message are both remarkable, and it is on this aesthetic axiom that all subsequent Lilitic art is built.
As artists, the Kreskézai were greatly preoccupied with delicateness and intricacy; their origin as a warrior culture meant that subtle forms did not come naturally to them, but (paradoxically) that they were still quite given to detecting slight differences and subtle cues in their environments and opponents, and had very keen senses. Inspired by contact with other cultures and by nature on their own world, they pursued forms with such precision that it pushed the boundaries of their abilities to distinguish one work of art or performance from another.
As the Fertinenivíasa only gave form to their works, they did not have a very deep understanding of Ksreskézaian writing. Although it, like the Oksete themselves, was capable of invoking very powerful emotions, the performers were largely blind to the literary history that inspired the plays and rituals in which they acted; some read the related stories, but few were well-versed in the literature as a whole. This knowledge was instead transmitted via former journalists like Sarthía, who had written for Ksreskézaian audiences and hence needed to make appropriate references.
While prolific, the old literature focused primarily on themes of state loyalty, fantastic tales of heroes and the demons of powerful emotion, and philosophical schisms. These were not very interesting topics to the early Lilitu writers, and as they had no audience familiar with the old canon, the material was essentially abandoned. Influence in early Lilitic writing comes primarily from the story of the exodus, although it was perhaps the first art form to branch out from this theme and examine other stories. Other early stories (and in particular the writings of Sarthía) emphasised moral standards, often combining these two principal foci.
When the Fertinenivíasa introduced their talents for careful stillness to the other Lilitai, one of the first questions raised was why the Ksreskézai had bothered to create such contorted people in the first place rather than simply carving statues. The performers explained that a significant part of their art came from being a part of the work itself; by becoming a component of the message, they were perfecting themselves as a means of conveying a pure idea. This concept held great sway over the new generation of fertethíasa (artists), who set about accommodating the notion in more humane forms. Where the Fertinenivíasa had sought to convert their beings into reflections of aesthetic and message, the fertethíasa wove their lives and stories into their creations, a period that coincided with the gradual diversification of Lilitic art subject matter, through digressions into personal accounts. Still, the idea of self-alteration in the name of art (a powerful one) persisted, but few if any desired the involuntary suffering forced upon their aunts and mothers.
It began humbly—piercings, jewellery, tattoos, hair-shaping and colouration, unusual clothing. For a while, an unusually thorough fashion industry thrived, a theme that later re-emerged as the phenotype respecification epidemic in the third millennium of the old Thessian calendar.
Eventually, however, with advances in magic, the Lilitai discovered reversible inanimate transformation spells. Around these formed a new tradition of the tableau, where willing subjects would be suspended for weeks or even months at a time, used in art installations on display in galleries, and then returned to their normal forms. It is through this manner of magic that Venakoa extended her life so unnaturally. Many subjects without the ambition to live the life of a traditional Fertinenivía, even those outside of the tshilda social gender may still choose to partake in such a piece simply for the experience.
An important development came when magic progressed far enough to allow those frozen forms to be temporarily and safely altered (permitting kezelekhtekía). Lilitai began experimenting with different material appearances, caricatures, abstract forms blended with the real, and even fragmentation.
Stasis art created quite a moral panic when it was first introduced to the other species of Thet, as it was difficult to accept an art form that appeared to be so similar to voluntary suicide. Indeed, non-reversible forms of magical self-alteration are considered lethal by the Lilitai and hence the products of an unhealthy mind; fortunately this latter attitude has thoroughly prevented the use of dangerous transformations in art.