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"[Science fiction is] anything that turns you and your social context, the social you, inside out."
- Gregory Benford

Tand  
  A metal sculpture, made in contemplation, which has great meaning for the initiates.  

In The Dragon Masters, a Hugo-award winning book by Jack Vance, a curious race of people called "sacerdotes" inhabit caves in the tiny world of Aerlith. Every adult, to become a full member of the group, must complete a tand.

Deep under Banbeck Scarp, in a cubicle lit by a twelve-vial candelabra, a ... white-haired man sat quietly. On a pedestal at the level of his eyes rested his tand, an intricate construction of gold rods and silver wire, woven and bent seemingly at random. The fortuitiveness of the design, however, was only apparent. Each curve symbolized an aspect of Final Sentience; the shadow cast upon the wall represented the Rationabo, ever-shifting, always the same.
From The Dragon Masters, by Jack Vance.
Published by Galaxy in 1962
Additional resources -

Once the tand is completed, it is examined by a group of elders. Every curve and angle has a relationship to every other. It presages the ability of the young person to follow the Rationale, the strict code of conduct of the sacerdotes.

The novel first appeared in the August, 1962 issue of Galaxy magazine. This marvelous book loses nothing in readability after forty years.

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  More Ideas and Technology from The Dragon Masters
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
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