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Beyond the Wall

Which came first – Khitai or the Great Wall? Only the Ancestors know this for certain and they will not say because even Ancestors must have their secrets but the Great Wall has always been with us, just as the Ancestors have always been with us. It is possible, then, that Khitai and the Wall came into being at the same time or possibly the Wall defined Khitai and made it real. Beyond that, there is no certainty.

Yet... yet we do know that there are two Great Walls. The first was not made of the stones we see now when we gaze to the west. That first wall was made of bamboo and bone, knotted, slotted and slatted together so it was 1,000 miles long and 100 feet high. That first wall was the creation of sorcery, the bamboo cut in a single movement of a single scythe and strengthened with the bones of the enemies of the east who had thrown themselves at the emerging wall in a bid to over-run the eastern lands and defile them. The Ancestors, when restless, whisper something of the demigod who protected Khitai at that time; a vast, foul being who was, for all her ugliness, a protector of our lands. She felled the bamboo and wove the wall and then, when the enemies threw themselves at it in their thousands, she felled them and wove their bones into the bamboo so that the two became indistinguishable. This made our enemies fear us – as they still do – because they witnessed the power of the demiurges and knew that Khitai was strong with its gods and unwilling to brook invasion and oppression.

The wall of bamboo and bone was replaced perhaps 1,000 years later when the demigod had gone and God Emperor Z’xang first ruled. He wished to march soldiers along the Wall so that they could keep watch on the enemies beyond it but it was difficult for human feet to tread the bamboo curtain and anyway, men feared the moans and sighs emanating from the demiurge’s wall, for the dead souls of the enemies were trapped, still, in the weave. So Z’xang commanded that the wall be replaced, mile by mile, with stones but that the bamboo and bones should remain. So the wall of stone was built around the wall of the demiurge, following its pattern but made greater with the towers set at each three mile interval. So now the Great Wall is all of stone but is really two walls, for the bamboo wall is within the stone wall and the tormented souls of the dead are contained forever.

Yet the wall still moans, and forever it will. That is what our enemies should know: come against Khitai and your souls will be trapped within our land for forever. No rest, no mercy, not until the prophets of Yag command that time should end and the Ancestors be brought forth to judge all crimes and atrocities. Then, our enemies shall come face to face with the wrath and justice of our Ancestors!

Jung-Kao, Historian Sorcerer of Khitai, writing in ‘The Great and Glorious Scroll of the Khitan People’
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Dec 14, 17 · OP
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History

The sprawling kingdom of Khitai has been isolated from the rest of the world for as long as anyone in Khitai can recall. The Great Wall throws-up an impenetrable barrier along Khitai’s western border and in the east, the ocean itself defines the extent of the land. The wall spans 1,500 miles, an unbroken, serpent-like barrier of imposing stone lined with guard towers every three miles. To the north the immense River of Yellow Curses separates Khitai from the Desert of Black Sand and Hyrkania; and, within its borders, Khitai is choked with a dense jungle of thick-bowled trees and the all pervasive bamboo which visibly grows as men sit to watch it.

Khitai is distanced from the world around it physically and culturally. This is a deliberate act to prevent its nature from being corrupted by the barbaric ways of the west. The people of Khitai fear and scorn what is beyond their borders, secure in the knowledge (or delusion) that their ways are the true ways and all else is falsehood.

In the distant times, when the Atlanteans ruled the world, Khitai was already old and insular. The Atlanteans, for unknown reasons, never attempted to conquer Khitai although, at the time, the Great Wall did not exist. After the Atlanteans were destroyed and the world fell to darkness, savagery enveloped the land but Khitai was immune to this degeneracy. Perhaps this was when the wall was really built: a physical foe can be subdued readily enough but the sapping of a cultural identity is an insidious thing that must be resisted in different ways.

Later, when the world began its slow climb from the dark times, the nomads of Hyrkania (who bear a passing resemblance to the Khitans) attempted to cross the River of Yellow Curses and seize the territories of the north but found themselves halted by the jungle, which made it tough for their horses and ponies to thread deeper into the country. Strange beasts waylaid warriors and it is said in Hyrkanian tales, creatures arose from the River of Yellow Curses to devour rider and mount alike.

Khitai has never been truly conquered. After the Cataclysm refugees from Lemuria flocked east and were taken into Khitai only to be enslaved and repressed. Thousands of proud Lemurians were treated worse than animals and this situation continued for centuries until the Lemurians took advantage of the squabbling between the Khitan City States and mounted their own rebellion. For a short time the kingdom of Khitai was overthrown but the Lemurians had little hope of maintaining such a tentative position of superiority. The Khitan warlords and their sorcerers, aided by demon gods, drove the Lemurians out of the land, forcing them to migrate westward. This, some Khitan scholars agree, is when the Great Wall was made – to prevent the Lemurians from returning – but a lack of certainty still prevails over the details.

At around the time of the Lemurian rebellion, Khitai claimed all of the lands from the northern Taiga forests to the edge of the Kambujan jungle. The Khari warlords of the northern city states claimed, perhaps falsely, that Khitai was the centre of the sprawling Khari empire that once challenged the mighty Atlanteans on equal terms. The Cataclysm had sundered the empire but Khitai was still its heart and the Khari warlords were dedicated to re-establishing it. The Khari fell to the Lemurian rebellion and in their place, more warlords and would-be emperors arose.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Dec 14, 17 · OP · Last edited Dec 14, 17
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The Middle Kingdom

The bickering between the various city states and their ruling elites eventually coalesced into a period known as The Years of the Middle Kingdom. This saw power concentrated into the hands of the rulers of Khitai’s Rolling Plains, which came to regard itself as the central or middle, kingdom of the Khitai nation. The common regard was that the city of Shau Lun, then the greatest city of Khitai, was also the centre of the Khari Empire – even though the extent and purpose of the Khari Empire was unknown. The Middle Kingdom saw Khitai forge the cultural identity it exhibits in Conan’s time, even though the Years of the Middle Kingdom were relatively short-lived. Sorcery became an established practice and even sanctioned by the rulers of the Middle Kingdom and the first demon gods were summoned. The cultural practices of Khitai were defined and codified in the Seven Books of Wisdom and Grace and the social hierarchy that still perpetuates was formed. The practice of isolationism from the west, despite the Middle Kingdom considering itself the heart of a great (yet mythical) empire, became the accepted state of being for Khitai.

The Years of the Middle Kingdom lasted for just over a century but the cultural advances it championed led to its destruction. The cultural solidity established through a burgeoning bureaucracy allowed the city states to develop their own institutions and armies. Political divisions supported by the practice of sorcery created increasingly powerful dynastic units and inevitably, the city states fell back into warfare. The Years of the Middle Kingdom ended when Paikang rose against Shau Lun and Shu Chen and sacked both cities, installing its own rulers in the place of the hereditary powers. The Middle Kingdom dissolved as power shifted east to Paikang and the wisdom of the Middle Kingdom became absorbed into the greater ideals of Paikang’s ambitious rulers.

The Paikang Power Struggles

Now the dominant city state of Khitai, Paikang wasted no time in ensuring that the rest of the vast country followed its lead. Other city states were permitted to continue on their own courses as long as Paikang’s position as the ruling power of all Khitai was recognised. Paikang became the seat of the God Emperor with Khu Yang the first God Emperor of the Khu dynasty. Some city states rebelled but this was a token resistance soon crushed by the armies of Khu Yang engaging in the Bamboo Defeats that saw six decisive battles being waged – and won – in the course of six days.

Naturally enough Khu Yang had his own opponents in Paikang and over the course of 100 years the Khu dynasty was challenged by a variety of competing interests – from both within and without the Khu dynasty. Khu Yang was himself poisoned and replaced by his insane cousin Khu Fong who decreed that all women were tradable possessions and all children no better than frogs. His madness contributed to the decline of the Khu dynasty as a power, even though three more Khu God Emperors ascended to the Jade Throne. The entire line was eventually extinguished when the Yu-Yhai dynasty summoned the demon god Oorlong and wiped-out the entire Khu family in a single, bloody purge.

The God Emperorship was fiercely contested for a century or so with Emperors being acclaimed and then either deposed or killed with frightening regularity. In this tumultuous period Shau Lun grew once again in power and sent its own people into the Paikang struggle. Through clever inter-marriage and stealthy power-broking, the Hun-We dynasty established itself and managed to unite the warring families of Paikang through a combination of threats, rewards, sorcery and judicious murder. The God Emperor Hun-We Pau ruled over a peaceful Khitai for six decades but refused to shift power back to Shau Lun, despite forceful representation for the old Shau Lun kingmakers who had effectively engineered the Hun-We dynasty’s ascent to power. When Hun-We Pau achieved the somewhat startling feat (so the sorcerer scribes say) of transcending the mortal to become an Ancestor God, power passed to the Yah dynasty, which still maintains power (albeit of an uneasy kind) across Khitai.

We call Hun-We Pau the Grand Ancestor or Pau-Lung-Shu, because he became the Living Ancestor, passing from the realm of the mortal and into the realm of the Ancestors without first having to negotiate the veil of death. When we die, our mortal concerns are shed and we lose all interest in the mortal world and those within it. Our souls become Ancestors who look upon the mortal world and provide only the vaguest guidance. Before Pau-Lung-Shu the Ancestors could not guide us correctly, even though we mortals revered them. When Pau-Lung-Sue came into being in the world beyond the veil of death, our Ancestors were enlightened because he brought with him mortal wisdom to balance the immortal wisdom. So was harmony established and so we revere Pau-Lung-Sue as the Grand Ancestor and name the great feast day in his honour.

Jung-Kao, Historian Sorcerer of Khitai, writing in ‘The Great and Glorious Scroll of the Khitan People’
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Dec 15, 17 · OP · Last edited Dec 15, 17
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Khitan Born

Characteristics of the Khitans

The Khitans are an oriental people and they display markedly different physical characteristics to westerners. As they are isolated from the west by the Great Wall and very few venture into the wider world, the Khitans seem to be highly exotic when compared with the Caucasian races. The following characteristics are the most evident,

Complexion: The Khitan complexion carries a slightly yellow tinge leading to some westerners terming the Khitans ‘The Yellow Men’. In the north of Khitai, the complexion is lighter; in the south of the country the skin is darker and almost bronzed. As Khitans age, their skin develops impressively deep lines and wrinkles which, amongst the southern Khitans, creates a leathery appearance to the skin.

Eyes: Like most oriental people Khitans have an epicanthic fold (that is, a fold of skin that covers the inner corner of the eye) and usually only a single crease to the eyelid. These ocular features lend the characteristic oriental appearance more so than any other facial feature. In the north, a double crease in the eyelid is more common (though still rare)

Nose: The Khitan nose tends to be broad and flat compared with that of westerners. In the north of the country noses tend to be longer and are less flattened whilst in the south and east, particularly amongst the jungle and swamp dwelling communities, the nose is slightly wider than normal.

Hair: All Khitans have dark, straight hair that grows luxuriantly, particularly in the north. The colour ranges from very dark brown through to raven-black. Hair is traditionally worn long in both sexes but neatly tied and secured with a variety of fixings (plaits, crossed sticks, ribbons and so forth). Beards are seen as somewhat uncouth in polite Khitan society although moustaches are considered to lend gravitas and importance. Amongst the learned classes it is common to shave the forehead into a tonsure; removing the hair laterally back to the crown and then wearing the long hair plaited to hang down the back. Hairstyles are commonly used to denote rank and station, with the highest placed in society possessing the most elaborate hair arrangements.

Stature: Khitans are typically shorter than westerners. The average height of a Khitan is 5’5” for males and 5’0” for females. Some from the north are slightly taller than this but generally very tall Khitans (above 5’9”) are a rarity. The general stature for Khitans is a proud, upright posture, especially amongst the higher classes of society. Peasants, when in the company of the higher ranks, adopt a natural, deferential stoop to emphasise the social division.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Jan 27, 18 · OP
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Language

The predominant Khitan language is called Mandirand it has both high and low forms. High Mandir is the language of the bureaucracy, aristocracy and artists. It is a fast, fluid tongue with an emphasis on vowel sounds with few hard consonants.Low Mandir, the language of the street and lower orders, is a coarser, even faster language that uses abbreviated forms of High Mandir and sounds clipped compared with the high tongue. It is forbidden for the lower orders to speak in High Mandir although written communication can be conducted in High Mandir especially in official documents.

In the south of Khitai, the Min language is common. Min has but one form and is functionally very different to Mandir, with a mixture of vowels and hard consonants. A Min speaker will struggle to make himself understood to a Mandir speaker and vice versa and the diversity of Min dialects can make even native Min speakers unintelligible to each other depending on their region.

Merchants and traders have therefore adopted a trade cant, known as Fu, which mixes Mandir and Min and is used only for commerce. It is a peculiar sounding tongue but allows the language divide to be bridged by those merchants who travel widely.

Both Mandr and Min use ideograms rather than individual letters in their written forms. An ideogram conveys single words but also whole expressions, including tense, inflection and emotional weight with thousands of ideograms making-up both Mandir and Min tongues. The written forms of both languages flow from top to bottom and from the right to left. The ideogram style is a mixture of hard and soft lines, often crossed, with swirls, dashes and dots used to convey tense, emphasis and emotion. High Mandir, in its written form, is an artwork and the scribes of the Paikang bureaucracy are trained in calligraphy to ensure perfection and clarity (but not necessarily brevity) in every document created.

In the towns and cities, literacy is commonplace; beyond them, in the wilder areas of the country, most Khitans are functionally illiterate.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Jan 29, 18 · OP
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Dress

The Khitans use two fabrics in their clothes: silk and cotton. Linen is rarely used and leather is reserved for functional items only (such as armour).

Khitan clothing is divided into three main types. The pien-fu is a two-piece ceremonial costume consisting of a tunic-like top extending to the knees and then either a skirt or trousers extending to the ankles. The k’ang-p’ao is a one-piece garment extending from the shoulders to the heels, common amongst the peasantry. The shen-i is a cross between the pien-fu and the k’ang-p’ao; it consists of a tunic and a skirt or trousers but the tunic and the skirt are stitched together and form one piece like the k’ang-p’ao. Consequently, the shen-i is the predominant form of the three types.

All examples of Khitan clothing are characterised by wide and voluminous sleeves and a very loose fit. The tunic and trousers (or tunic and skirt), use the very minimum number of stitches for the amount of cloth used. As the main clothing forms are relatively plain in design and structure, embroidered edgings, decorated bands, draped cloth or silks, patterns on the shoulders and sashes are an ornamentation.

Darker colours are preferred to lighter shades, so the main colour of high-ranking and ceremonial clothing tends to be dark with bright, elaborate tapestry designs and ornamentation used to offset the darker colours. Lighter colours are worn by the common people and peasantry but sometimes by the higher orders household use. The Khitans associate certain colours with specific seasons: green represents spring, red symbolizes summer, white represents autumn and black symbolizes winter.

Armour

Only nobles and ranking soldiers are permitted to wear armour. Leather forms the basis and most warriors tend to wear only a leather cuirass with either bronze or turtle shell plates stitched onto it to form an overlapping design. In battle, shoulder plates and guards for the upper legs are also worn, with thick padding used for the lower legs. The arms are typically unarmoured so that mobility is unrestricted.

The richest nobles or most prestigious warriors, such as those of the Imperial Guard, wear Mountain Armour. This is, again, a cuirass of leather but the scales are iron or steel and shaped to form the Mandir character for the word mountain, hence the armour’s name. Mountain armour is strong, flexible and does not restrict mobility. Those who own it prize it and tend it with the love and care it needs to prevent against rust. Skilled armourers who can maintain and repair Mountain Armour form a part of every self-respecting noble warrior’s retinue.

Helmets are generally a leather, iron or steel cap, sometimes supplemented by bronze, iron or turtle shell scales (which form a skirt to protect the back of the neck and the ears). The richer designs are extremely elaborate, adding horns and other decorative flourishes designed to impress and reflect rank, rather than to scare or intimidate.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
NY0KLwG.jpg
Posted Jan 29, 18 · OP · Last edited Feb 23, 18
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Khitan Social Hierarchy

Although Khitai presents itself as a unified nation under the control of the God Emperor, it is, in fact, a loose and frequently fractious collection of small kingdoms, each with their own agendas and designs upon the highest seat of power in the land. A kingdom can be as large as a province or as small as a city state; much depends on the ambition and political will and expertise of its ruler and the level of support he commands from the nobility.

Khitan society is highly stratified. The position of one’s birth is generally set for life although, in some exceptional circumstances, mobility between ranks is possible, if an individual impresses the right people and distinguishes himself in some way.

The four classes of society are, in order of precedence:

Zhou

The Imperial Court. Those who claim a relationship, either directly or indirectly, with the God Emperor or God Emperor’s family. The Zhou class therefore includes a variety of kings (either appointed or self-proclaimed) and the Ministers of the Imperial Court who, as direct servants of both the God Emperor and the state, are all elevated members of the Zhuzou.

At the top of the Zhou hierarchy is the Emperor, also called the Huangdi, who is backed by seven counsellors. Some believe the Emperor is but a figurehead and the seven counsellors make the decisions but the common belief is that the Emperor occupies the status of a demigod, at the very least. The seven counsellors are three huang(god-kings) and fivedi(sage-kings). The emperor title is passed from father to son, although not necessarily the oldest son. Also, Khitan politics allow for changes in dynasty so emperors can also be replaced by successful rebel leaders. Generally, royal or official titles from one dynasty are not carried over to the next dynasty. Otherwise, titles are hereditary for up to 26 generations.

Members of the Zhou class are entitled to hold or administer armies, official rites and to establish officially recognised clans and dynasties.

Positions within the Zhou

God Emperor: The Emperor of Khitai rules as a god-king. He is the head of the cults in Khitai, so he usually has sorcerous powers in addition to his noble lineage. His power derives from his lineage, so it falls to him to make sure his ancestors are worshipped by the people as gods. If the people feel he is no longer supported by the ancestors or the spirits, he will be overthrown.

Crown Prince: The heir apparent to the throne, the Crown Prince is normally the eldest son of the Emperor and the Queen Consort, although this is not always the case. The Emperor usually consults his high ministers for advice on who to name the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince is not named a Yixing Wang (and loses such title and lands if he already is one) but lives with the Emperor. The position is dismissible at the whim of the Emperor.

Tongxing Wang: The wang is the title for a prince – he is essentially a king but of the same family as the emperor, usually sons or brothers of the emperor.

Yixing Wang: The wang is the title for a vassal king who is from a different family than the emperor, usually a gong with so much wealth that he declares himself a wang.

Zhuhou

Beneath the emperor are the nobles. The nobles are ranked as follows: gong(prince); mingongor kung(duke); hou(marquis); peh (earl); bo(count); tszi(viscount); and nan(baron). If the noble actually governs a place, the place name is also in his title. The eldest son of a consort inherits the title from his father, retaining the same rank. Other sons from the consort, as well as from concubines and mistresses, are given titles one rank lower than their father. These nobles rarely have a place name in their titles. Dukes are required to render assistance to the emperor in an emergency. Many of these titles are granted for military merits, not blood-line merits. Thus it is easier for a Khitan to multi-class into noble than most races.

Nobles own land, raise taxes and pledge allegiance to a member of the Zhou: all members of the Zhuhou pledge allegiance to the God Emperor but in reality, the most important allegiance is with the member of the ruling Zhou for the area. Zhuzou in remote areas wield almost complete authority over their subjects; it is rare for the Zhou to become directly involved unless a significant petition from the lower orders is raised against the Zhuhou for the region. This allows the Zhuhou to behave almost like kings in their own territories and such behaviour is generally condoned as long as the Zhou’s interests are not under threat.

Positions within the Zhuhou

Gong zi:A gong zi is any son of a king no matter what his rank or title actually is.

Gong: The Khitan equivalent of a duke or prince, a gong rules a large domain with an impressive number of troops.A gong is at the top of the Zhuhou class.

Hóu:A hóu is the Khitan equivalent of a marquess. This is also the title of lesser sons of gongs.

Bó: The equivalent of a count or earl, a bó follows the hóu in precedence. This is also the title of lesser sons of hóu.

Zi:A zi is the Khitan equivalent of a viscount. This is also the title of lesser sons of bó.

Nán: A nán is the Khitan equivalent of a baron. This is the lowest rank of the Zhuhou. This is also the title of lesser sons of zi.

Note: Any female member of the Zhuhou is simply called gongzhu, which means princess. The only exception is the Queen Consort of the Emperor. The social ranking of any particular gongzhuis the same as her husband or a step lower than her father.

Qing

Beneath the nobles are the gentry, the Oing. These are often court officials assigned to the nobles, generals (qingche duwei), commanders (qi duwei), officers (yunqiwei), and knights (enqiwei). The lesser sons of barons are also in this rank. Any member of the nobility or gentry can be called gongzi. High ranking Qing resemble Zhuhou in many respects but their foremost occupation is with the defence of the realm. Again, all Qing swear allegiance to the ruling Zhou and to the God Emperor, but are also answerable to the Zhuhou for their actions. Only the ranks of Qing and above are entitled to carry weapons.

Positions within the Qing

Qingche Duwei: The Qingche Duwei are members of the qing (gentry) and rank below the Zhuhou nobles. They are comparable to generals who have been decorated in battle.

Qi Duwei: The Qi Duwei are members of the qing (gentry) and rank below the Zhuhou nobles. They are comparable to a Commander of a Knightly Order.

Yunqiwei: The yunqiwei are members of the qing (gentry) and rank below the Zhuhou nobles. They are military officers and adjutants.

Enqiwei: The enqiwei are members of the qing (gentry) and rank below the Zhuhou nobles. They are equivalent to a knight.

Han

The Han or Low Class, is divided into two. Ranking beneath the Qing are the gentlemen or Daifu. These are professional vocations such as physicians, teachers and merchants. Scholars with the Noble Blood feat are usually of this rank. Also, the lesser sons of the gentry are of this rank. Court officials assigned to the gentry are also members of this rank. Members of the Daifumay also be merchants and servants. Khitan caravans trade with Kusan,Turan, Stygia, Meru, Vendhya and Iranistan. Their caravans are loaded with jade, cloth-of-gold, silk, lotus blossoms, domesticated jungle animals, gold, silver, spices, charms, amulets, porcelain figures and vases and many other works of Oriental art. These caravans and a few exiled Khitans are the only contact with the West.

Below the gentlemen are the lower Han orders. First are the yeomen or Shi,who are minor court officials assigned to the gentlemen, as well as the lesser sons of gentlemen. Often this rank is awarded to commoners who perform valorous deeds for the Emperor or the kings. The Shi are farmers and craftsmen directed by the nobility. The farmers work land owned by the nobles and must give up a ninth of their produce to the government. The craftsmen make weapons, tools and clothing as directed by the nobility.

At the very bottom of the heap are the Shumin, the peasants. Peasants are, for the most part, workers of the land and are beholden to all higher ranks.

Positions within the Han

Daifu:Daifu are the ranks of scholars, teachers, merchants and physicians: the gentlemen.

Shi: Shi are Khitan artisans, farmers and craftsmen.

Shumin: Shumin are the commoners of Khitai, the common peasantry and rabble.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Jan 29, 18 · OP · Last edited Jan 29, 18
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Women in Khitai

Khitai has a more enlightened approach to the role of women than in many western nations. Whilst women are, traditionally (and certainly in the lower classes) mothers and home-makers and are expected to be deferential to men, they can achieve status and import of their own. No profession is closed to any Khitan woman, even the military ones and many learned scholars, bureaucrats and physicians are female. Women therefore enjoy an almost equal status to men and are more than mere chattels but there is no question that Khitai is a male dominated society.

Any female member of the nobility, save for the wife of the emperor or a king (who are called queens), may be called princess or gongzhu. She may also incorporate any place name she is associated with into her title. Even women can be become generals in this culture. The spouse of a princess, unless he has a title of his own, is given the noble title of fuma.

Etiquette

The demonstration of position within society is immediately apparent through bearing, dress, quality of residence and the language spoken. Lower positions within a class must always defer to higher positions and lower classes must always defer to higher ones in all matters. Lower orders must always bow to the higher ranks and when in the presence of the God Emperor (a rare occurrence), everyone must prostrate themselves until the God Emperor gives the permission to rise.

Lower classes are forbidden to openly disagree with the opinions and decisions of a higher class, no matter what the consequences might be. The appropriate etiquette for handling disagreements is to lodge a formal spoken or written petition with someone of a higher rank than the person with whom one disagrees. A petition outlines the disagreement, formulates the reasons, proposes the alternative argument and proposes the solution. If the arbitrator of the petition agrees with the petitioner, he can, if he wishes, overturn or over-rule a judgment. If he does not, then the petitioner must accept the situation and is forbidden to argue the case further. It is thus rare for Khitans to argue or disagree in public, creating a sense of a highly polite, ordered, society. In reality, Khitans disagree as vehemently as any other society but their methods of expression are very different, even if the emotions behind them are the same as anywhere else.

Courtesy is of prime importance to the Khitan. Even the lowliest peasant is entitled to a certain degree of courtesy from his betters and this is what the Khitans believe places them above the uncultured savages of the west.

All Khitans believe in justice, which is not the same as freedom or equality. Justice is the justice of the Ancestors, which means receiving that to which one is entitled according to one’s station and through one’s deeds. Justice is therefore predicated on expecting no more and no less than one’s entitlement. Denying what a man is entitled to is injustice; denying one’s position is unjust. The Khitan notion of justice includes the concept of hospitality but precludes charity. A good and just Khitan is hospitable to anyone who comes to his house or who seeks help; but hospitality does not automatically grant entitlement. A peasant seeking refuge in the house of a noble will be welcomed but will be given a stable floor to sleep on, bread to eat and water to drink. It is not the peasant’s right to expect more but neither is he expected to accept anything less.

In their general outlook Khitans are open, as honest as their station entitles them to be and fond of laughter at the right times. Despite their aloof demeanour and almost painful attention to courtesy, Khitans can be welcoming and good company but maintain a calm reserve when the situation demands it. They are not prone to irrational outbursts or violent rages. Khitan anger manifests itself as a short rebuke followed by a dignified withdrawal. Khitan happiness is the abundant use of sly wit, subtle jokes as dry as the desert sands and a playful chiding that echoes the earthy humour of the monkeys of the jungles. Vulgarity and lewdness is disdained but every Khitan harbours a bawdy streak that emerges slowly in the right company and circumstances.

Foreigners

Foreigners and viewed with suspicion and disdain. Every Khitan knows that foreigners brought disaster to the world and that Khitai was blameless. While all around was chaos and savagery, Khitai retained its civilisation and developed it. Foreigners, particularly westerners, might have worked hard to attain some semblance of civilisation but they remain little better than barbarians, for all their wealth and pretentions towards culture and learning.

Foreigners are not banned from entering Khitai – indeed they prove useful for trade and as mercenaries – but any foreigner abroad in Khitai is regarded with suspicion and a certain level of distrust. It does not matter how trustworthy or hardworking a foreigner might be, he is still, at heart, a barbarian. The word of the Khitai, no matter what his station, will always carry more weight than that of a foreigner, unless the Zhou have declared that foreigner to be ‘enlightened’ (meaning he has demonstrated exemplary trustworthiness, honour or courtesy that even the God Emperor recognises the veracity of his word)
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Feb 23, 18 · OP · Last edited Feb 23, 18
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Trade and Economy

Virtually all merchants are of the Daifu rank of the Han class; the act of trade and commerce is considered a low endeavour for the Zhuhou and the Zhou and so mercantile activity is left to the Han, as is befitting of their station. Successful merchants can become extremely wealthy, depending on what they trade but they generally will always be Han Daifu – gentlemen but never gentry.

Khitan caravans trade with Kusan, Turan, Stygia, Meru, Vendhya and Iranistan. Their caravans are loaded with jade, cloth-of-gold, silk, lotus blossoms, domesticated jungle animals, gold, silver, spices, charms, amulets, porcelain figures and vases and many other works of Oriental art. These caravans and a few exiled Khitans are the only contact with the West. Thus, the bulk of trade is internal but even internal trade is fraught with difficulty. Khitai is a huge country with countless competing interests. Huge swathes of uncivilised land divide the mercantile centres of Paikang, Ruo-gen, Shaulun and Shu-chen and these areas are plagued by bandits, robbers and highwaymen. Any merchant worth his salt hires bodyguards and only the most foolish trust to fate. Caravans therefore tend to be an amalgamation of merchants who are bound for the same area. Pooling resources means the ability to hire more and better bodyguards and a typical caravan might contain 10 or more merchants, their employees, their pack animals and then a guard contingent.

Khitai produces many, many things of value to its internal and external markets: jade, cloth-of-gold, silk, lotus blossoms, domesticated jungle animals, gold, silver, spices, charms, amulets, porcelain figures and vases of all descriptions. The jungles, in particular, yield many valuable commodities: rare herbs with medicinal benefits; flowers that are used in dyeing,perfumery, cosmetics and textiles; strong, light woods (including the hugely versatile bamboo). Khitan metals include brass, copper, tin, iron and steel. The quality of Khitan iron and steel is, however, poor and so this is a commodity Khitan traders seek to import from the west (although no Khitan would ever admit the poor quality of these metals to a foreigner!).


In addition to the caravans that move throughout Khitai and the lands west of the wall, Khitan junks ply the coastal waters of the east, the many rivers cutting through the interior and occasionally, sail north to Hyrkania. Once Khitai was a more ambitious sea-going power but its isolationism has diminished that ambition and so its ships remain in territorial waters rarely venturing more than a hundred miles away from the eastern coast. In the past, though, it is believed that Khitan ships reached the lands of the Unknown West and brought back many treasures, which now reside in the vaults of the God Emperor.

The general economy of Khitai is based on three coins; the golden sai, the silver daoand the copper hin. The currency is based on the number 12 with 12 hin equalling one dao and 12 dao equalling one sai. Hin are small, square coins stamped with the crest of the God Emperor on one side and a Khitan animal on the reverse. Dao are half as large as a hin and similarly stamped but with the symbol of the consort on the reverse side. Gold sai are palm-sized coins that are carved rather than minted and thus of considerable value. Although a single sai is worth 24 hin, they are rare indeed and the preserve of the very wealthy. Most transactions are therefore conducted in hin and dao and both coins have a hole in the centre, allowing them to be strung onto thongs that are then worn attached to the sash.

Most cities and towns deal in coins but out in the remote settlements barter is prevalent, with goods and services traded on a like for like basis. Aside from barter and coinage, gems are a popular form of currency, particularly jade, beloved of the Khitan, which is valued in the number of sai a piece of jade equals.

Slavery

Slavery is common throughout Khitai. Slaves are either Khitans condemned to it as part of a punishment for crimes or are foreigners captured in battles against the Hyrkanians. Once, slaves were treated with a reasonable degree of respect but the rebellion by Lemurian slaves now means that all slaves are treated with contempt and suspicion. Cruelty (beatings, poor rations and in many cases, sexual abuse) is common: slaves are propertyand not an especially highly valued property at that.

Only the Zhuhou and above may own slaves although the Han Diafur can be granted the permission to possess no more than one or two slaves by someone of the Zhuhou class. Despite the Khitan respect for justice, slaves are utterly denied either respect or courtesy. For a Khitan to become a slave is the ultimate in shame and he can expect to be completely disowned by his family and friends as a result.

Slaves are given a new name reflecting their station – and this well be something derogatory, focusing on a facial feature or particular habit. Some slaves are referred to simply as ‘Ono’ (the Low Mandir word for slave) without even the luxury of owning a name. For them to use their previous name is a transgression punishable by a beating.

Given the slave economy, trade in slaves burgeons in Khitai. The shai-rida is the central slave market of Paikang with similar markets in Ruo-gen, Shu-chen and Shaulun. Here, slaves of all types are bought and sold: from the very young to the very old. Fit and healthy slaves are paraded, shackled at the ankles, their hands and heads bound in wooden halters, before the eager crowds. Good slaves fetch hundreds or thousands of sai; poor ones cost only a few dozen.

Slaves are denied any access to justice and it is quite legal to kill a slave – although, given their cost, this is not an everyday occurrence.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
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Posted Feb 23, 18 · OP · Last edited Feb 23, 18
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Khitan Government

Khitai is ruled on dynastic lines: a succession of emperors, all from the same family with power being handed down through paternal lines – however, the dynastic system is not one of primogeniture. The eldest born of an emperor is not necessarily the one to inherit the title and the next God Emperor is either determined by the incumbent Emperor or through a complex process overseen by the Seven God Kings in which suitable candidates are assessed and the various gods and ancestors consulted.

Supplanting a single Emperor is therefore not a guarantee of attaining power: any pretender to the Jade Throne must have the support of the seven God Kings and be assured that the religious selection process will go in his favour. On rare occasions an entire dynasty might be challenged by another ruling family, intent on placing its own lined in charge of Khitai’s fate. In these circumstances dynastic war breaks out, with the whole fabric of Khitan society being forced to choose a side whilst the two dynastic lines clash and vie for power. Naturally enough the punishment for challenging the God Emperor in this way is death and where a challenging dynastic line is concerned, that means the execution of the entire dynasty. Any family seeking to rule Khitai needs to be certain that it can win the struggle or every single adult member of the line is put to death and the children enslaved.

The last known dynasty is the Yah Dynasty. The governmental system in Khitai is similar to that of the Hyborian nations in that it is feudal but instead of being built around the manor the city-state is the basic political unit. Khitai is a land of volatile politics and the God-Emperor can rarely control his powerful Gongs, who swear Allegiance to the God-Emperor and are required to follow his edicts and support the emperor with an army if desired.

The Seven Counsellors

Every God Emperor is supported by the Seven Counsellors: the three huang or God-King and five di or Sage-kings. Despite having the title of king, these counsellors have no land or subjects and are responsible solely for advising the God Emperor and administering the whole of Khitai.

The God Kings advise on military matters: the army, the royal fleet and the Great Wall. The Sage Kings are all sorcerers or sorcerer-priests and they advise on all matters spiritual, religious, mystical and magical. Almost every aspect of the God Emperor’s life is controlled by the Seven Counsellors in some way: they define his duties, manage his diary, advise him of what is happening in the wider kingdom, read documents and transcripts to him and suggest courses of action for him to ratify. The Seven Counsellors therefore occupy the real positions of power within Khitai. They make important appointments, control the exchequer, dictate foreign and domestic policy and administer the law – all in the God Emperor’s name. The God Emperor is, at any time, free to ignore the advice of the Seven but tradition and superstition dictates that this is unwise. The Seven Counsellors are always selected for their wisdom and loyalty; questioning or ignoring their judgement is considered to be offensive to the Ancestors although many emperors have challenged the advice of their Counsellors and found prosperity arose as a result.

It is the Seven Counsellors who decide which of the God Emperor’s children, usually a son, will be handed the title of God Emperor. On many occasions in the past the Counsellors have deliberately selected a young child as the heir to the Jade Throne so that a regent can be appointed – someone who is not entitled to an imperial position but shares the Counsellors’ interests sufficiently to warrant the position of the throne’s custodian until the young God Emperor is old enough to take over the reins. The position of regent grants enormous prestige to the regent’s family, bringing them into the fold of the Imperial Court. It can be a risky strategy for the Seven Counsellors if the regent and his family decide to challenge for the throne directly but it can also be a wise move if a ruling dynasty has no sons or daughters worthy of taking the title of God Emperor and a new dynasty needs to be installed. The Seven Counsellors, naturally enough, are forbidden to become either the regent or the God Emperor. In fact, to become one of the Counsel, all previous allegiances must be disavowed before the Ancestors and a blood-oath taken to uphold the office of the God Emperor. Any Counsellor who went against his oaths would find himself the target of the other counsellors’ wrath and their very soul under threat from the wrath of the Ancestors.
Cha cheòl do dhuin' a bhròn uil' aithris.
[It is no music to a man to recite all his woe.]
NY0KLwG.jpg
Posted Feb 25, 18 · OP · Last edited Feb 25, 18
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