Lt Murgen?s notes on Khinasi Artistic Culture

DM Tips: Khinasi culture: artistic excellence

This article is an Observation
The contents herein are entirely player made and in no way represent official Birthright history or occurences which are accurate. The characters and events listed are of an independent nature and applied for roleplaying, fictional, speculative, or opinions from a limited playerbase only.

Khinasi » Khinasi culture » Khinasi Culture:Artistic accomplishment

The Khinasi pride themselves on being the most learned and advanced society in Cerilia. They express this pride through their fantastic works of art. To them, there is no difference between art and science. A well designed aqueduct is as appreciated as a wondrously thin, faceted crystal goblet. In all things, an expression of discipline and attention to detail is fundamental to the value of an item. Quality and craftsmanship is far more important than the actual materials. An exquisite statuette in silver will be valued more than an identical one poorly crafted from gold. The Geirhou, which is part guild, part family combine, judge their relative worth to one another by the critical reception of their goods more than the overall value of their holdings.
Advances in many areas are documented below.


The Khinasi have perfected both brick and ceramic tile manufacturing. They have used them to build massive ziggurats, ice houses and food storage buildings, aqueducts and Quanats (underground aqueducts), irrigation systems, dams, and transport canals. Windmills and watermills power commerce, and some large buildings even use spinning roof vanes to draw hot air outside. The Khinasi have perfected dome construction, and more modern buildings are experimenting with double roofs with a void in-between. The wealthy decorate in marble, with balconies for summer. Some houses even have rooms with air ducts under the tile floors for winter, where heated air can circulate. Even the poorest home will attempt to have a small internal courtyard. As wealth and status increase, these courtyards become decorated with gardens and fountains. It is far more important to have well decorated interiors than exteriors, far more important to have well appointed space (quality) over size (quantity). Designs and murals tend to be abstract, as portrayals of living things are frowned upon in their culture.
Another Khinasi specialty is the bath house. Bath houses are common and nearly every permanent settlement will have at least one. These public houses are usually supported by a charitable organization or a Geirhou. They feature both hot and cold baths, and at least one flame room. The outside typically gives indication of the quality of the services inside, but the inside décor is far more refined and beautiful than the inside. Most public baths are single baths, with different hours for men and women. Double ones exist, but only in larger cities.
The palaces and pavilions of the wealthy will also have their own private baths, which were usually located at the end of a greenhouse-like passageway, filled with flowers, connecting the house and the garden.
Architecture also shows a concern with waste. Most of Khinasi lands still favor the chamber pot and sponge. Waste is not discharged into the streets, but captured in large urns. These urns are collected and taken to a site far away from the town and dumped. The dump sites are selected to avoid the waste getting back into their water. In Ariya, the old city has actual waste tunnels under the city, with frequent portholes for people to dump their pots. Several large mansions are experimenting with flowing water to wash clean a special fixture and move the waste into the tunnels.


The sheer varieties of foods available to the Khinasi astound the Brecht or Anuirean visitor. While beef is the main passion of the Khinasi, fruits, vegetables, and pastries covered with preserves fill out their diet. Spinach peaches, olives, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, eggplant, artichokes, cumin, coriander, bananas, almonds, date palms, saffron, sugar-cane, rice, figs, grapes, lemons, limes, quince, apricots and rice are all readily available. Khinasi cattle are huge, stupid, and fairly aggressive. Nearly every part of the cattle becomes food- organs, brains, even tails and hooves can be found in recipes. The only exception is the digestive organs- tongue, stomach, and intestines. Sausages, because of their casings, are reviled. Despite their vast shoreline and river system, or perhaps because of it, fish is not seen as a prized food. It is the food of the lower class, cheap. However, highly spiced, uniquely flavored fish are often used as appetizers for larger meals in the upper class.
While alcohol is disdained, unfermented fruit juices, tea and coffee are the main drinks for adults. Even water is often flavored with fruit peel. For children and infants, goats and cows provide milk. Common wisdom holds cow milk to be richer and more flavorful than goat, and commands a higher price. Yogurt is a common ingredient in many dishes and a mainstay in sauces. Honey and sugarcane are both available but the Khinasi pallet prefers honey, drawing distinctions on taste depending on pollen sources.
Khinasi favor many small meals across the day, with only 1 large meal in the evening. The Khinasi kitchen features a wide variety of tools and equipment not seen in other cultures. While a typical Brecht kitchen may feature a cleaver and small knife, one pan, and a pot for the fire, a Khinasi kitchen is well equipped for braising, boiling, steaming, pearling, slicing, flattening, and many other advanced techniques. Meals are events, an opportunity to show off their cuisine.
The Khinasi culture also has promoted a restaurant culture. For public food service, the Geirhou control standards for butchering and serving meat, as well train cooks and household help. They also license tea houses and restaurants, the two main types of public food establishments. Tea houses are the most common. They range from open air café?s to small carts in the shopping bazaars. They provide a quick bite of traditional foods- kebabs, steamed fava beans in the pod, rice rolls of spicy vegetables, pastries, and the like. They also provide the favored strong Chai teas, fruit juices, and flavored waters. In most places, drinks are served in simple ceramic cups. In Ariya, however, it is common practice for people to carry their own cups and bowls, an expression of their cleanliness obsession.
There are many formal restaurants in Khinasi lands, though they tend to be found only in large cities. These are places of high cuisine, with waiting lists in the months. If you need to ask the meal prices, you should not be there. Here, dining itself is an experience, with multiple dishes, the finest place settings, and entertainment. Much of the Sayim for an individual Geirhou comes from the restaurant they run, and the people who frequent it.


Even the poorest hovels will attempt a garden in its courtyard. It may only be herbs for cooking, but someone in the home will make an effort to grow them in a pleasing manner. As wealth increases, so does the scope, variety, and scale of one?s garden. Gardens are considered one of the most intimate places in Khinasi society, and to be invited to view one is a great honor. It is seen as the heart of the family, and is tended with great care and forethought. A recent fad amongst the nobility of Aftane is crossbreeding tulips for new varieties. A gift of a hybrid is prized. Khinasi culture frowns upon painting or sculpture of living things, so flower arrangements and living plants serve that role in upscale homes.

[top]Glass and ceramics

Temperature control and a steady hand is critical to delicate pottery and glass, so nothing shows the Khinasi fascination with craftsmanship as well as their glass and pottery. Stained glass and wafer thin glassware, optics and telescopes, sturdy teapots and coffee boilers, all proudly display the artistry and craftsmanship of their makers. In fact, some Geirhou are so renowned, that mere mention of their name is seen as high praise. Ceramic tiles and ceramic mosaics are everywhere, used for their color and durability to decorate exterior spaces.


A much larger portion of the Khinasi people are literate than most other cultures. More about this will be discussed later. But the large demand makes manuscript illumination, calligraphy and paper production, highly sought after. Most libraries are still privately owned or funded. It is rare for all but the wealthiest to open their libraries to the public, but some institutions do. The Great Library of the Swords, owned by Swords of Avani, has over 600,000 manuscripts, tapestries, and tablets. Research is done by staff of experts for a fee, but visitors are welcome to look about the library at its artwork. The subjects covered by the texts include medicine, astrology, astronomy pharmacology, psychology, physiology, zoology, biology, botany, mineralogy, optics, chemistry, physics, mathematics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, music, meteorology, geography, mechanics, hydrostatics, navigation and history.
Khinasi use paper where the rest of Cerilia uses mainly parchment. A wide variety of paper colors and thicknesses are available. Bookshops, copyists, and illustrators can be found clustered around these large libraries, or even contained within them. To give an original from your library is a high gift, but to give a copy is a welcome, cherished gift. Illustrated texts are the most individual and artistic. It is a generally accepted practice that the text of a book is sacred, and must be copied exactly. The illustrations and marginalia, however, are the playground of the copyist.


The body and its functions are documented, if still not completely understood. The Khinasi as a whole possess more understanding of health. It is their belief that most of their daily health needs can be provided by nature, and that magical intercession by Avani is only needed in the direst of circumstances. As such, apothecaries play a key role in the overall health of society. They provide numerous and wide-ranging health aides in small villages, traveling caravans, and large urban centers alike. In their shops can be found scented candles, natural plant oils, sunburn ointments, antiseptics and analgesics of all sorts.

[top]Metalworking and woodworking

While most of the renowned metalworking of the Khinasi is channeled into their martial steel, they also have a fascination with miniatures of tin and copper. Small, highly detailed replicas of military soldiers, ships, and machines of war are highly coveted by male children and men alike. It is not uncommon for a wealthy family to honor its passed war hero?s by giving those close to them small replicas of the deceased in their arms and armor. They are cherished heirlooms. Along the coast, wooden models of ships have a similar place in the hearts of the male population. Young boys are often seen playing with their favorite toy Dhow in the baths. Heads of the house take solace in meticulously crafting scale models.

[top]Textiles & Weaving

Rugs play an important role in society. Small prayer rugs are used during temple ceremonies. Large rugs are used to define and separate areas in large open homes. Even small shacks with dirt floors will use rugs to attempt to bring some civility to their home. These rugs use numerous colors and patterns, some bold and basic, some intricate. Abstract patterns are favored by Khinasi.

For clothing, a wide variety of materials are available, from silk, cotton, and wool to heavily brocaded and upholstered fabrics. Henna, woad, and madder grow naturally here, providing sources for brilliant yellow, blue and red hues. Here again, the emphasis on quality over display is prevalent in Khinasi society. Khinasi dress in bright colors, tastefully harmonized.

[top]Performing Arts

The Basarji language is considered by many to be the most perfect language for poetry. While some say it is harsh and throaty spoken, it flows well sung. Music is well developed in Khinasi lands, with advanced keyboard and stringed instruments, double reeds, and tone drums. It also features harmonies and counter-melodies, and many musical structures unheard of in more ?primitive? music. Music and poetry accompany almost all important rituals and festivals. Even the poorest village, merchant ship, or caravan will have songs around the fire at night.

[top]Personal Hygiene

The Khinasi have elevated simple bathing and grooming to high art, particularly in Ariya. The items that are used in the bath are similarly artistic and objects of beauty in and of themselves, and quite profitable for the providers. Either the bath house itself, or building surrounding it, provide a wide array of goods and services to the bathers. These often included cleaning and storage of bath towels.
Soaps are typically formed of a base of natural, jade green soap. They are melted down and mixed with rose oils and fruit essences, then molded into animal or flower shapes, and painted with a water-based paint.
Families have a pair of 'bath baskets', the larger one for the men, and the smaller for the women. Bath baskets came in several varieties: fat and round baskets of wicker inlayed with silver, bronze or copper, decorated with reliefs depicting nature. These baskets reflect the status and taste of the family. Carried within the basket are the individual?s soap, combs, mirrors, jewelry boxes, and rubbing and lathering mitts. The soap dish was a lidded metal container with a handle on top, oval-shaped, with holes in the bottom like a sieve. A metal container in the shape of a pumpkin was used for keeping jewelry after getting undressed in the bath. Bath mirrors meanwhile were oval or round with wooden or silver frames. Combs and brushes were made out of silver and ivory, with various animal hairs.
Special shoes are often purchased for the baths. Called clogs, they were carved out of wood in special shapes and decorated using various techniques. Being quite high off the floor, they ensured that the bather's feet never came into contact with the soapy water.
The towels used in baths were many and varied, particularly for women. Thin bath towels were woven in plaid designs and adorned with various types of embroidery. The highest-quality towels were woven in Bursa. After bathing, women wrapped themselves in several towels, the biggest one around the waist, the middle-size one around the shoulders and the smallest around the head. After the hair was toweled dry and combed, a gauze-like white turbanette was wound round the head to absorb any remaining moisture. After dressing, the towels were placed on the bath mat and bundled up. The bath mat served to separate the bather from the floor while dressing and undressing.
Fresh fruit, fruit juices, and flavored waters are often served in the baths.

Tags for this Page

Similar Pages

  1. Khinasi Culture:Courtesy
    By AndrewTall in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 02-02-2009, 04:36 PM
  2. Khinasi Culture:Family
    By AndrewTall in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 02-02-2009, 04:35 PM
  3. Khinasi Culture:Honor
    By AndrewTall in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 02-02-2009, 04:32 PM
  4. Khinasi Culture:Grace
    By AndrewTall in forum Main
    Comments: 0
    Last Post: 02-02-2009, 04:32 PM


Posting Permissions

Posting Permissions
  • You may not create new articles
  • You may not edit articles
  • You may not protect articles
  • You may not post comments
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your comments
BIRTHRIGHT, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, D&D, the BIRTHRIGHT logo, and the D&D logo are trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and are used by permission. ©2002-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.