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Pochteca

by hughpierre

Career

Qualifications

Anyone is capable in engaging in petty commerce, but families of pochtecas have monopolized domestic and foreign trade. You can say that there are 3 area sets required to advance to the higher tiers.
  1. Competent Selling Skills
  2. Knowledge of Foreign Commerce Laws
  3. Familiarity in Espionage Tactics
Pochteca are not to be confused with tlanecuilo or local traders or traders of lesser social standing and lesser wealth. Skills required of any pochteca (no matter how lowly) include knowing how to read and write, do numbers, and knowing two or three additional languages.

Other Benefits

  • They live in their own designated districts in the major cities of the Alignment, and of course, in the capital city.
 
  • Each pochteca group is ruled by experienced elders who are no longer able to travel the long distances.
 
  • The elders would represent the pochteca before the emperor, conduct their own ceremonies and would administer their own form of justice among this elite merchant class; separate from direct imperial authority.
 
  • Male pochteca children attended elite schools alongside the children of priests and minor nobles.
 
  • The pochteca have their own religious observances and pray to their own gods without the assistance of the regular priests.
    • Malinalxochitl
    • Yacatecuhtli
    • Zacatzontli
 
  • On long journeys they were their own priests and were also their own fighting force.
 
  • Exempt from manual labor and personal service.

Perception

Purpose

Pochteca are a small social class who facilitate long-distance commerce across the valley and beyond it.

Social Status

Due to pochteca wealth and importance to Sang military strategy, they enjoy a high social status. Just beneath the nobility.

Demographics

Pochteca have always been a class of the Sang. With specific rules and benefits associated with them that have grown as Sangsalgu as grown. However, there have been situations where these benefits were road blocks for state integration into the Triple Alignment, on account of the existing merchants in the new city, who are influential and do not want to be displaced by the sang pochteca. These have always been, without fail, the messiest issue of integration:
Do the sang pochteca take precedence during deal makings so Sangsalgu can have central control.   Or should the outside merchants established in outside cities be incorporated into the Pochteca class throughout the alignment with all the benefits that come with that, for the sake of unity.
  Gradually, non-sang were allowed to enter the pochteca class and their total was about equal to the ethic sang pochteca. Until, after the Wight War and then later incorporating the cavern cities of the Bad Step all at once, did help to prop up the damaged economy but the original pochteca families and groups were themselves struggling to pick themselves up again.   As a consequence; Sangs, Teiks and Teeks are less numerous compared to the Step Merchants and all the rest home to the territories in Dragonsgrave. Regardless, they are still, by-far, closer to Sangsalgu than the rest of them and therefore, more politically influential as a whole and wealthier per family unit.

Operations

Provided Services

The roles of the pochteca class have expanded greatly with Sangsalgu's rise. They serve in many functions and diverse industry for the betterment of the empire and themselves.

Politics

(Pochteca Teucnenenque)
These travelers of the lord are a high tier diplomat with years of travelling/foreign experience that makes them perfect for this role.  
(Pochteca Tlanamacani)
Judges, scribes and lawmakers who see to industry prices, cases of disputes, instances of theft, and taxation. Tlanamacani are normally the elder pochtecas and unable to travel, but continued to act as administrators and representatives of a pochteca guild or community to the speaker's court .  

Military

The economic power of the pochteca is strongly tied to the military power of the nobility. It cannot be denied.
(Pochteca Naualoztomeca)
Spies or disguised-merchants who travel with great wealth and resources to obtain the best products of foreign lands and bring the best possible information about distant city-states.  
(Pochteca Teyahualonime)
Warrior Merchants are those who do double duty and guard those caravans led by a merchant-general known as the Acxotecatl.  

Economics

For those not embroiled in the mess of politics, there are several levels of merchants who just partake in trade.
  1. (Pochteca Teucnehnenqueh)
    Dealers who trade exclusively on behalf of the nobility in luxury goods in exchange for the excess tribute the noble got from the tributary provenances.
  2. (Pochteca Tecouanime)
    Slave merchants are quite often the richest of their class due to their direct links to priestly rituals and sacrifice.
  3. (Pochteca Lyahqueh)
    Merchants stationed in very distant and far-flung outposts. They help open new trade routes as well as warn of impending danger that might close in on the empire's borders.
  4. (Pochteca Tlaquixtiani)
    Wholesalers trade between the travelling caravans and the local markets in a city-state.
  5. (Pochteca Tlanecuilo)
    Retailers handle the day to day business of selling goods to the locals in the tianquiztli or local markets.
  6. (Pochteca Oztomeca)
    Oztomecatl are the typical long distance trader who may stay and operate within the huge borders of the Triple Alignment without trading intermittently with closer pochteca groups. They are dedicated towards finding the exotic far-away trading sites and are most famous and admired for daring as far as the Brine Marshes, the Floodlands and even the Cold Swamp.

Dangers & Hazards

The Empire's military doctrine says that merchant spies are sent to gather intelligence on the enemy's political situation and field tactics. However, this is a strategy that became familiar to more than a few of Sang's neighbours. As a result, pochtecas hoping to operate in specific cities do so incognito, even if they are not employed by the state.


Cover image: Aztec Marketplace

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