Lt Murgen?s notes on Khinasi Culture: Courtesy

DM Tips: Khinasi culture: courtesy

This article is an Observation
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Khinasi » Khinasi culture » Khinasi Culture:Courtesy

The most outward and public expression of Khinasi culture is its courtesy. From the most powerful noble to the lowest peasant, people treat each other with respect and care. How you treat others outside of your station is considered a reflection on you, not them. ?Your grace shines upon me? is a high complement to give, saying that their behavior and attitude towards you is a great honor. This attitude is clearly shown in several areas.


Cleanliness is seen as an expression of courtesy. Being clean, means not offending another with one?s odor. For men, this means washed and combed beards, clean and neat nails, and clean feet. Hair and beard grooming, manicures and pedicures are often offered as services in the bath houses. This need for cleanliness extends to the content discussed by the men in the bath houses. Courtesy dictates that anything controversial is not discussed. Pools of water are no place for arguments.
For women, bathing is even more involved. Baths are also beauty salons where facial, hair and body care is available alongside herbal treatments of certain conditions. A woman's body is beautified and her soul restored at the bath. After a good bath session, women feel literally purged of all her cares, her kindness and generosity restored.
Children accompany women to baths, from their first formal 40 day bath until their last bath the day before their 7th birthday. After their 7th birthday Awakening ceremony, girls and boys are allowed to attend baths in groups, at the sex-appropriate times.

[top]Coffee Culture

The serving and drinking of coffee has a profound effect on Khinasi customs, political and social interaction, and hospitality traditions. Khinasi coffee is derived from a special strain of bean, carefully roasted and special spices are added during the roasting process to infuse the beans. While individual regions have their own unique blends, cardamom and Avaonalia are always found amongst the spices. Coffee is prepared in special open pots, holding only enough for 2 cups of coffee. The coffee is either ground to a fine powder, or floated whole in the cold water. A sweetener, typically honey, is added to the cold water. Since the pots are small, they can be sweetened to suit the individual. Preparing coffee to the desired sweetness without being told is considered to be a great talent. Such knowledge is a valuable commodity amongst wives of certain social circles.
The coffee is rapidly heated until it begins to foam. The foam is skimmed off, and distributed to both cups. The coffee is then removed from the heat, tightly capped, and left to steep. Sweetness and bitterness is determined by how long it steeps. Finally, it is set to the fire once again and brought to a steam. Then it is poured into the cups. This is a complicated process that must be accomplished rapidly, as the small pots boil and cool quickly. It is seen as the duty of the wife of the house to train the girls of the house in the proper techniques for serving coffee. Prospective husbands judge a woman's merits based on the taste of her coffee. Small things, such as the lack of foam when the coffee is served can cause a hostess, and thus her house, to lose Sayim.

Coffee is the second pillar of social life for the Khinasi. The first is the Temple and the third the baths. Women will host formal coffee parties as often as once a week. There women of their social circle discuss events, their husbands, their children, and dine on fresh fruit and pastry. These events are held at one?s home, and often on a rotating basis. They are small groups, and to be invited into a circle is a great honor. For men, the coffeehouse is center. Coffeehouses serve much the same role as taverns in Brecht society. It is at the coffeehouse that money and politics are discussed and deals made. It is a place where commoners and nobility mingle without clash. It is a place men go to get away from their wives. It is a place for games and entertainment. It is at the coffeehouse that the majority of bards, comedians, poets, and actors ply their trade.
While Khinasi do not favor games of chance, they do prefer games of skill. Polo is the regional sport, and various teams are vehemently supported. Backgammon, tiles, and tabledisk are common games. Tradition holds that the penalty for losing these games is limited to the loser footing the bill. It is customary to drink coffee only with your right hand. Since most people would wield weapons in their right hand, holding a cup makes one civil. A coffee cup is always held by the handle, and sipped from one side. Courtesy dictates that one should not drink while speaking, or while others speak. Mastering the ebb and flow of a conversation around coffee is something non-Khinasi struggle with.


It is a commonly held belief outside of Khinasi lands that they do not dance. This is true in Ariya, but false in many other regions of Khinasi lands. They just do not dance with members of the opposite sex. Many festivals feature dancing, and ring dances are the most common style. A ring of men will dance, surrounded by a ring of women, then the women will dance and the men watch. Some dances will have the two rings interweaving as they move about. It is common courtesy not to stare at dancing members of the opposite sex, but the line between watching the group and focusing on an individual is often a matter of perception.


Haggling over goods and services is an art form in Khinasi lands. People expect some give and take when making deals. It is so common that to not haggle is seen in certain parts of Khinasi lands as a slight to the opposite party. It implies that he does not know how to judge the worth of a product. Even when haggling, a certain level of courtesy needs to be maintained. One does not insult the haggler or the product directly, though comparisons to other similar products are acceptable. One does not raise their voice or get angry; lamenting and feigning shock are well respected. The crowd should not be excluded from the negotiations; in fact playing to the crowd is encouraged. In all, it should be good natured competition that insures an equitable solution and goodwill for all around.

[top]Language and Cursing

The Basarji language lends itself well to long, rolling strings of curse words and phrases. Few comments are held as truly taboo; appearance, career, intelligence, odor and sexual proclivities are often fodder for expressing one?s true feelings for another. As mentioned below, cursing contests are used in some areas of Ariya to resolve minor disputes. That said, there are a few areas that are considered off limits. A person should never insult the past generations of another?s family; a person should never intimate that a man?s children are not his; a person should never question an unmarried woman?s virtue. One should never curse at a member of the opposite sex, though it is acceptable for women to curse at other women. Violating any of these common courtesies is likely to escalate the conflict to violence.
Similarly, speaking in grandiose, glowing terms about others is seen as giving them honor. A person should never brag about themselves, or their prowess at anything. Instead, one should always compare themselves unfavorably to someone seen as a paragon of that particular virtue.


Smoking is a common habit for both sexes. Variety and cut are the appropriate characteristics to discuss when purchasing tobacco. Khinasi never smoke rolled tobacco in any form, they exclusively uses pipes. Pipes range from simple clay pipes to tall, ornate, glass water pipes. When exhaling, smoke is never blown outward. It should always be directed towards the ground. Blowing smoke rings and other shapes, or exhaling through the nose, is considered crass and uncouth.

[top]Visitors and Guests

Hospitality is another highly praised art form, and one that is almost entirely under the control of the wife of the house. As such, it is the main path for affirmation of her abilities. The Khinasi expression ?Men are the Family, Women are the House? expresses this eloquently. When someone calls at a Khinasi home, they will be ushered into a small seating area to wait for the man of the house. No matter what time of day, they will be offered something to eat and drink while waiting. Custom dictates that this should be something small and inexpensive, produced with little fuss.
But in practice, it is a chance for people to demonstrate their wealth by showing what they consider ?inexpensive?. Typically, they will offer milk or juice in the mornings or tea in the afternoon, accompanied by pastries. These pastries tend to be small, but quite artistically crafted and decorated. It is good manners to compliment their appearance upon seeing them, and their taste after the first bite. If a meeting with the man of the house occurs, the lady of the house hopes to see her pastries carried into the meeting and commented upon by the men. Meetings generally call for coffee.
One should be careful if they have more than a few visits to make in any given day. The chai tea and coffees served by the Khinasi people carry a great deal of stimulant power.
In game terms, a Fort save to avoid becoming shaken for 1-12 minutes would be called for after 4 cups in any given 8 hour period, with a DC of 10 +1 for each additional cup.
Guests are distinguished from visitors once they stay overnight. It is Khinasi custom to stay with a friend rather than in some inn. In many smaller settlements, there are no public accommodations at all. Guests are treated with the utmost respect and civility, given the finest food and drink available, and generally catered. This lasts until the morning after the third night. Custom dictates that a guest should depart after this time, or else offer to return the courtesy of the hosts by serving as they need. It is a proper way to show respect to the people who are looking after you. Most Khinasi understand this custom, and serve gladly. This can be problematic for non-Khinasi to understand. However, larger villages and cities have ?visitor districts? to cater to outsiders- even if it is as simple as ?pitch your tents on THAT side of the hill.?
Khinasi people tend to be very shy around others until they have dined at least once with them. A first mean can be a key gauge of how cultured a person is, and their sensibilities. This is particularly true of non-natives, who are judged harshly against Khinasi cultural courtesies.

[top]Superstitions around Courtesy

Many of these superstitions have their roots in either fair play or wanting to protect the health of the people around you.
  • While yawning, your mouth is to be covered. Otherwise it is considered that you are trying to steal the breath of life from the people around you.

  • Scissors cannot be passed from hand to hand. You are seen as handing your fate to another. Instead, they are set on table to be retrieved.

  • Scissors should never be left open, or you invite conflict (crossed swords).

  • When somebody has the hiccups, it is believed that someone is speaking of you. If you drink a cup of tea and they stop, they have spoken well of you. If not, then they have spoken ill.

  • Cloth on anybody cannot be sewn, or you wish something to pierce their skin. It should be removed to be fixed.

  • Do not step upon the threshold of a door, or you invite slander into the house.

  • Do not sit upon a threshold, lest you risk laziness upon them.

  • Soap should never be passed from palm to palm, but placed upon the top of the hand.

  • When shopping, to toss the payment for the goods down upon the table before the goods are removed is a sign of respect, and will bring the seller good luck.

  • Leaving your slippers or shoes being upside down overnight is to invite sickness into the house.

  • One should not remove their hat until invited to do so by their host.

[top]Food Superstitions

Since the sharing of food and drink is so central to the culture, many regions have superstitions regarding eating and food. Below is a sampling:
  • One should not cross their feet or legs while seated at the dining table. It shows disrespect to the table and it is considered as the sign of wishing famine upon the house.

  • Whenever quince is abundant it is said that winter will be long and harsh.

  • When giving milk to someone, a small green leaf is put into milk; otherwise it is believed that the animal will stop producing milk.

  • Giving yeast for bread is a sign of wishing to share one?s good fortune with another family. To do so after evening prayer, however, is to invite ill fortune.

  • It is ill-omen to boil water without purpose.

  • It is believed that anybody who finds clover with four leaves will bring luck to him/herself.

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