The Sha'an-Tai are actually an amalgam of 2 separate "breeds" of the same species; the Sha'an and the Tai (not to be confused with House Tai of the Great Houses). The Sha'an and Tai are branches of the same mother-race, but planetary geography separated the two branches and they developed separately for many millenia. Early in their history, they were enemies, but within the past 1,000 years, they have settled their differences (for the most part), and combined into a single race.
That race is comprised of pure Sha'an, pure Tai, and those of mixed ancestry. While there are distinct differences in both the genotype and phenotype of the two branches, they are not separate species, and can interbreed. The genetic and physical traits usually blend, though some are more dominant or recessive than others.
The Sha'an are most readily identified by their color--ranging from ivory to a brownish yellow (e.g., mustard seed). Secondary characteristics include warmer colored eyes--usually in the red and purple range--and three small bone points, like vestigial horns, on their foreheads. It is this last feature that is often used by bigots to show the "demonic" nature of the Sha'an.
The Tai have a skin color that is gray. The colors vary from cool to warm, and from about 20% to about 50%. They tend to have cooler colored eyes--usually in the blue and green range.
All Sha'an-Tai have pure white hair on their heads and (for men) faces. They have no body hair, however. Instead, to deal with friction, their skin has a slightly oily nature which allows the skin to glide smoothly aross itself without causing abrasion or irritation.
Sha'an-Tai are easily influenced by environment and can adapt quickly to even severe changes. This has to do with a very complex and redundant genetic make-up. They have a large reserve of "back-up" genes that can activate within as little as a single generation.
Sha'an-Tai culture is heavily influenced by the long historical domination of the UCT religion. Codes of conduct, law, traditions, even major aspects of language can all be traced directly back to the UCT. Even things as simple as the length of people's hair has religious significance. All hair is worn long. This comes from the tradition of Akai's tail and Kael's knot. When a person dies, their hair is cut and braided in a set of complex braids. These braids are known as Akai's tail. They are given to the closest friends and family who tie them around their writs in an equally complex knot. This is Kael's knot, and is a sign of mourning. The knot is worn until it falls apart. This signals the end of the mourning period.
In addition, those who mourn for someone will traditionally cut a lock of their own hair off, leaving a short piece. This signifies remembrance of a dead friend or relative. It is very common for women who are under nara--who are widows--to wear this memory lock for the rest of their lives. There are also those who wear the memory lock as a sign of allegiance or respect for those who have died in a cause, especially for dead veterans. Even in modern times, it is considered almost perverted for a person to wear their hair short. Some of the younger generation will do this as a form of blatant protest, or just for shock value.
Notes on Naming
Because the Sha'an-Tai are two separate cultures, there are two separate styles of naming. The Tai have names which are similar in sound to the oriental languages of Earth, while those of the Sha'an are similar to the eastern European.
The only oddity is in the family names of the Sha'an. Many of them have two parts, each capitalized, but not separated by a space [MarDamek, CalAerin, OnDorra]. With the blending of the cultures, the two styles of naming have also blended, so some people will have both Sha'an and Tai names [Ki CalAerin].