The Payav were distinguished by the six digits on their hands (with two thumbs on each hand), their elongated necks, and tattoos painted all over their bodies. The tattoos were a form of family marking, with similar designs being used on all members of a family. The number of tattoos an individual had indicated their status in society. They were completely hairless from bottom to top, including no nose hairs or cilia in the ears to filter out air pollutants or dust, making them highly vulnerable to such things and could die unless they took precautions. (TOS - Mere Anarchy eBooks: Things Fall Apart, The Centre Cannot Hold)
Like most other humanoid societies, the Payav separated out into different groups, or tribes, some of which evolved into nation-states, while others seemingly maintained more of an ethnic identity rather than a political one. Among those tribes that continued to exist into the modern era were the Alangabi, Domtos, Nehdi, and Norrb.
They had a form of greeting where one individual holds out their hand with the left palm facing upward, right palm downward, and another individual places their palms on the first one's, holding the gesture for a moment. They also considered showing teeth when smiling a major cause for offence. (TOS - Mere Anarchy eBook: The Centre Cannot Hold)
Over the centuries, the numerous factions of Payav had many quarrels and armed conflicts between them. At the end of a fierce global conflict circa 2200, the combatants founded the Zamestaad, a unifying body similar to the United Nations on Earth, where all of the nation-states sent representatives to preserve peace and unity.
By 2264, the Gelta nation-state had successfully built and tested their first warp-capable vessel. This attracted the attention of the United Federation of Planets, who sent an investigative team undercover to study the prospect of Mestiko's admission into the Federation. Around the same time, the Payav's Atmospheric and Astronomic Council began receiving data that a rogue pulsar was going to enter the Mestiko system and deadly x-rays would cause untold damage to the planet.
Nathan Apohatsu, of the Federation contact team, made contact with Mino orDresha, the chief scientific advisor to First Consul Flen etHamwora, and they discussed the threat from the pulsar several times over the next eighteen months. In 2265, etHamwora discovered the secret meetings between Apohatsu and orDresha and requested that the Federation please help his world, and although helping them would contravene the Prime Directive, he advocated Federation assistance.
Six months later, Professor Lindsey Cameron had designed and built six probes that would hopefully deflect the deadly rays from the pulsar, and the probes were carried there by the USS Enterprise. Meanwhile, the Payav had learned of the danger to their planet and began to panic and riot all over the planet. However, as the time drew near, the Payav went into emergency shelters to hopefully survive with their loved ones.
Unfortunately, one of the probes malfunctioned which destabilized the network, and even the Enterprise's attempt to act as a conduit could not save Mestiko from the brunt of the radiation. Millions of people were killed, but with assistance from the Enterprise, the injured were treated, and with the arrival of many Federation aid ships, the Payav began to rebuild their world. (TOS - Mere Anarchy eBook: Things Fall Apart)
- See also: Mestiko.
By the 2370s, at least one Payav was serving in Starfleet. (TNG - Slings and Arrows eBook: The Insolence of Office) In 2381, another, Ensign Sonol, served as an engineer aboard the USS Enterprise-E. (TNG novel: Losing the Peace)
The Payav year was roughly three-quarters of a Federation standard (Earth) year. The Payav also measured time in "seasons", a period approximately three to four standard months long, although this unit seemed to fall out of usage following the Pulse.
- This is based on a reference in Things Fall Apart, where the six month period between the prologue and the story proper is described as being "almost two full seasons".