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Kochmaki

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

“Kochmaki” [koch•mah•KEE, sing. koch•MAHK] is also a collective name for various peoples that hail from the steppe, including the Tugars, who harried the early Noriki princes, and the Tamans, who are the world conquerors of the present age. They dwell primarily on the Great Steppe that lies to the south of the forests that are home to the Noriki. Though never especially numerous owing to the harsh environments in which they live, Kochmaki peoples sometimes united in great hordes, and when they did so, they became militarily unstoppable, and could build huge, if not necessarily durable empires. Legend has it that recognizing their potential, King Markos built a gate and sealed them behind the Toros Mountains, believing that their breaking the seal would initiate the end of the world. The Kochmaki managed to break Markos’ Seal long ago, and have been known to outsiders as God’s Scourge ever since.   Physically, the Kochmaki are usually tall and lean, with straight dark hair, but there is a wide variance in eye color and shape, and skin tone, between them. Some are bowlegged due to a life on horseback. Both men and women usually dress practically, in trousers (to aid in riding). In winter, they dress in heavy caftans and overcoats, wool or fur hats, and boots, often looking indistinguishable from Noriki of a similar social class. High status men carry sabers, and high status women wear flowing silk robes and high headdresses that have become popular among aristocrats everywhere (the proverbial “princess hats”).   Consummate wanderers, they are usually on the move, bringing all they have with them, including their collapsible yurts, made of felt. They live symbiotically with their animals, especially their horses, which they ride expertly, covering hundreds of miles a day. They also feed on their flesh and blood, milk them for immediate consumption and for making the fermented beverage kumis and salty kurt cheese curd, and use their hide and hair for clothing and making musical instruments. They trade with outsiders for grain, which they use to produce items like flatbread, dumplings and noodles (the latter facilitating easy storage and preparation for nomads on the move).   As nomads, the Kochmaki prize freedom above all, though herders and householders on the steppe have sometimes come north, to seek employment. Some have settled down in the forested steppe that forms a borderland between the two domains. Some settled forest dwellers, including escaped peons and those referred to as "cossacks" are also drawn to this lifestyle, and flee to border areas, where they set up fortified settlements variously called sloboda, sich, or stan. Additionally, the greater freedom enjoyed by the steppe-dwellers translates into greater equality between the sexes. As Kochmak women are not bound to the home, have freedom to travel, and sometimes become warriors or adventurers in their own right, many women join Cossack communities as well. Along with freedom, the Kochmaki show high regard for physical prowess, especially equestrian skills, wrestling, and archery.   Early on, their ancestors began the practice of raiding Labdy villages, taking captives and enslaving them, and imposing tribute on the survivors. But they also transmitted many skills, beliefs and practices, in including horse domestication and horse sacrifice, the veneration of the sun, and many southern luxury products, including fine weapons of damask steel besides.   Though the the more numerous Noriki expanded at the expense of the Kochmaki in the two centuries after making the city of Dubno their capital, one hundred years ago, they suffered a terrific reversal. An enormous horde of Kochmaki, one million strong and welded together by the Taman tribe, swept through the land. The bogatyrs who had defended the land for centuries were annihilated, and rumors spread that all had been turned to stone. At the head of the horde was the Dread Lord Koshchei the Deathless, and ancient sorcerer who returned after centuries of wandering to settle an ancient score. In short order, all the cities in the land were put to the sword, or forced to surrender and pay tribute. Koshchei imposed a heavy tribute in furs and slaves (especially young women), placed military governors called baskaks over the domains of the various princes and withdrew to his fastness. His Kochmaki intermediaries usually did not intervene in the affairs of the individual principalities directly, provided the tribute kept flowing, and that all the princes kowtowed to their Khan yearly and recognized him as Tsar and overlord. One prince in particular would be chosen as Grand Prince, and given the responsibility to collect the Khan’s (and Koshchei’s) tribute. These princes (though many others besides) in particular style themselves Kochmak begs. They often marry Kochmak princesses, have Kochmak warriors and bogatyrs in their retinue, they dress like them, and imitate their cavalry-oriented martial practices. The Khans, though they have recently turned to the religion of Baha the Rakhman, patronize the Church as an instrument of social control, and protect it from alternate strands of the Gaalite faith championed by the Garipy and Friaziny (though they insist that all priests pray for their Khan as Tsar).   The Kochmak Khans may appear to be absolute rulers to the Noriki and other outsiders, but despite the centralization of power since the establishment of their state, or ulus, the Kochmak preference for a free lifestyle shape their political institutions. Nomadic groups are led by individual begs, or beys, whose obedience to the dictates of the Khan is often no more than nominal. The most important of these beys form a body called the qarachi beys - a consultative and quasi-representative body which the Khan usually cannot ignore.   Given the far-flung extent of their empire and their tribute-based wealth, the Kochmaki hold a great deal of economic power as well. Their capital cities are among the largest in the world, and bring together good and craftspeople from all the four corners. The Khan also mints coins - copper pul, silver altyns and dinars, and their gold counterparts as well. These coins are widely in use throughout Noriki lands as well. The institutions of the treasury (qazna), customs (tamga), and the postal service (yam) are relied on and replicated by Noriki princes as well.

Naming Traditions

Feminine names

Aigül, Aijan, Altynai, Asel, Bakhyt, Bolormaa, Börte, Botagöz, Dariga, Enkhtuyaa, Güljan, Nazgül, Nursulu, Qamshat, Qarlygash, Togjan

Masculine names

Adil, Aidar, Almas, Altai, Arystan, Barys, Batyr, Bolat, Erken, Gesser, Hülegü, Janibek, Möngke, Nurzhan, Özbek, Ruslan, Sukhrob, Temir

Family names

Patronymics are formed by putting uly or olu after father’s name for males, and qyz for females.

Encompassed species
Related Organizations

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