Tarthan Ethnicity in Zheng-Kitar | World Anvil


The people of the arid land of Tarthus, rich in iron and tyranny


  The dark-skinned people of the Kingdom of Tarthus-Tetsu as well as the island of Khyarmani and its offshore Atoll, the Tarthans are a people from a harsh, unforgiving array of landscapes - from the harsh deserts of Tarthus-Tetsu to the hot, muggy swamps of the southern parts of Khyarmani. They tend to organize themselves into rigid societal classes from their Pharaonic Leaders to the very lowest slaves, and are known for their incredible construction projects - the massive pyramids of Tarthus-Tetsu are some of the greatest wonders of the world.   They are incredible warriors, as well - thanks to the incredibly rich iron supply of Tarthus, their warriors have ample supply of incredibly solid metal with which to fight - thus making the legendary shrouded warriors of Tarthus some of the most deadly and agile combatants in all the world, fighting with their thick iron curveblades that can slice through even metal with deftness and speed.  


  The Tarthans tend to be dark of skin - sometimes incredibly so. Their skin can range anywhere from dark tan to a deep, deep black, and they take grooming and their hair is often long and braided or styled in some way - their hair tends to be darker colors such as black and brown most commonly, but other colors such as sandy blonde, gold, or other lighter colors are rare but not unheard of. Their eyes tend to be golden, steel-grey, or other metallic colors - and very rare, without pupils altogether, which is seen as a sign of divine favor.   They tend to wear white or other light-colored clothing, typically loose-fitting robes or other garments that leaves much of the chest and skin revealed due to the extreme heat of their homeland so that air may freely blow through their skin- though the head is almost always covered by a covering of some kind, from a simple white wrap to very expensive gold and silver-encrusted headdresses. They also are suprisingly emphatic about appearance and hygiene - typically, the cleaner and more well-groomed people are, the better off they are or are seen in society, and the unwashed, unclean, and ungroomed tend to be the bottom rungs of society.   The upper ranks of Tarthan society tend to decorate their faces with eyepaint and facepaint, using black inks to daub their eyes with eyeliner and other ritualistic designs - and they tend to have very ornate clothing, headdresses, both often adorned with precious metals. Their gear and carried items are almost always similarly encrusted as well.  


  The history of the Tarthans is a relatively long one - the first ancestors of the Tarthan people can trace their lineage back nearly 4500 years ago, during the Advent of the Spirit Kings. Their first ancestors were given life in the harsh deserts, bogs, marshes, and swamps of the Island of Khyarmani and the offshore Atoll by the spirit kings, and since their creation they have slowly risen to prominence, establishing several civilizations that have risen and fell all on their own, giving the Tarthans a long and storied one that is considered long even to them in the context of their own culture, with several Eras for their own history.   They have had entire Pharaonic Dynasties rise and fall, and most recently there has been a lineage of feared "Undead Kings" that have preferred to take the titles of "High Lord", whether in an attempt to disguise their cruely and conquests or their supposed undead nature, is unknown.   Though they began their history in the sandy deserts of Tarthus-Tetsu, but in the thousands of years since they have spread throughout the island of Khyarmani and the offshore Atoll to become the native ethnicity there.  


  Many others, mostly outsiders, look at the numbers of tombs and mummies that the ancient and modern Tarthans left behind and continue to create and believe them to be obsessed with death - the ornate funerary masks, the intricate and elaborate pyramids, sarcophagi, and more can all contribute to this belief many others have about Tarthan culture - but this is not so. In reality, they are obsessed by life and its continuation rather than having a morbid fascination with death. The tombs, mortuary temples, embalming complexes, and mummies they produced and continue to produce are a celebration of life and a means of continuing it for eternity - to the Tarthans, death is simply part of the journey of life, marking a transformation after which life continues in another form.   The Tarthans also believe in martial excellence - the harsh environs of their homelands have ensured only the strongest survive in the face of the adversity there, so to this end both strength and dexterity are favored there - furthering merely one is not enough to survive the harsh conditions of their home. Even the lowly slave must be both strong and agile to survive, to say nothing of the elite Pharaonic Warriors who guard the God-Kings of the Tarthans. This makes their warriors some of the most dangerous and wily in all the world - for with their giant iron curveswords in hand, they have conquered vast swathes of land in the name of their leaders.   Their culture tends to place them into a hierarchical class-based system - and most Tarthans believe their rulers to be direct agents of the divine - God-Kings and God-Queens that rule them from on high as agents of the beyond, divine beings to be obeyed at any cost, as radiant and shining as the sun. Uniquely, they also believe that the land of their home is deeply tied to their personal salvation - most Tarthans have a strong fear of dying beyond the borders of Tarthus or their home island or atoll - if they serve in a military or similar campaign, they often make provisions to return their bodies to their homeland, for they believe only the sands and soils of their home, blessed by the gods, is capable of ferrying their spirits to the afterlife. Burial anywhere else, most believe, is tantamount to being condemned to non-existence.   Not only are the Tarthans ahead of their time in terms of construction and innovation, but many incredibly works of art and architectural wonders trace their roots back to the Tarthans - water clocks, massive construction projects, glassworking, irrigation, metallurgy - many of these concepts flourish where Tarthans are, and they are an incredibly culture of craftsmen, though their larger scale projects are usually built on the backs of slaves. Their ironworking and metallurgy especially is among the best in all the world, and Tarthan Iron is some of the most sought after metal in the world - famed for both its strength, cutting power, and durability and dexterity.   Because of this devotion to their birthlands, Tarthans tend not to be well-traveled, but exceptions do exist when the burning curiosity of adventure overpowers the cultural stigma keeping them anchored to their home. Nonetheless, their academies, libraries, temples, and more are some of the most wondrous and ancient in all the world, and their ports see visitors from all across Zheng-Kitar, come to study beneath the great Tarthan masters or alongside them in their ancient halls.
Naming Conventions
Tarthan names are strange and hard to pronounce, mostly following ancient egyptian naming standards. They have no surnames - they referred to themselves as their name plus a title or epithet, usually denoting their place of origin or, to the notable or vain, a title. Usually, only rulers or extremely powerful/important figures have actual surnames - each tailored uniquely for them, so are not listed here.
Male Names
Ra-thos, Anebni, Ptah-ases, Akhekh, Senet, Nechtu
Female Names
Isi, Anta, Uatchit, To-meri, Kema, Hem-su-isi


  "Nek" - A vulgar term for sex. The Tarthan equivalent of 'Fuck'.   "Tk Ptah!" - An exclamation of surprise, shock, exasperation, etc. Pronounced "Tek Puh-tah".  


  "Henu" - A general, flexible tarthan word of praise. Literally translated as "Praise", but is often used as a general affirmative or compliment when someone does something right or cool. Also used as a powerful rallying cry by the Tarthan Military.   "Bakhm" - A unique Tarthan compliment that roughly translates as "Slave", but which more accurately means "Laborer". A compliment similar to calling someone an honored veteran, or more generally 'one whose suffering has brought prosperity". An honorific attached before the names of those you wish to pay deferential respect to, and show respect for their years of labor, service, and/or sacrifice.   "Weathered" - A compliment used to refer to one's ruggedness or perceived life experience. A compliment to one's skill, rugged appearance, and also potentially the weathered, leathery look of one's skin from years in the harsh desert sun.   "Amenheran" - A compliment that has only recently entered the Tarthan lexicon, that has colloquially come to mean "Like Amenmeses". A paragon of Tarthan Virtues, an all around good person, and one who you recognize as having others' best interests at heart. Though an extremely flattering compliment, Amenmeses himself is said to dislike it, calling it 'idolatry'.   "Treasure" - One of the highest, most honored compliments a Tarthan can give. Can be used to refer to beauty, personality, or everything about a person - and indicates great, immense respect, love, and/or admiration.   "Rugman" - A compliment that traces its roots back before the rise of Amenmeses, to when times were extraordinarily tough and resources were scarce. Refers to one who is extremely giving, generous, kind, and caring - someone who is willing to give others everything if they think them in need. Refers to the old 'rugmen' who would set up rugs and 'shops' in a town square, giving away what little excess they had for free to help their communities endure the ancient famines that once ripped through Tarthus.  


  "El Kalb" - A Tarthan insult translating as "Of dog" - the go-to insult that's somewhat equivalent of calling someone a "Bitch". Insinuates one descends from a dog or that their mother or father were naught but dogs. A serious insult when spoken to those one doesn't know, and can get one punched.   "Water-Spewer" - A Tarthan insult used to refer to someone who is wasteful in one way or another, or a general waste of space. Also can mean one who lies excessively.   "Seasonal" - A Tarthan insult used to call someone wishy-washy, or to otherwise indicate one who does not commit to things. One who comes and goes as the whims and seasons change - one who cannot be relied on.   "Yousseffi" - A Tarthan insult used to call someone naive, foolish, and the like. A tarthan name that has come to be an insult after an ancient children's fable of "Youssef of Amari", in which a Tarthan warrior named Youssef beds a desert Lamia, believing her promise of sparing his village an attack if he was to do so, only to be taken prisoner and made to watch as the Lamia led a monster attack on his village now that he, the watchman, was away.   "Dirt" - A massive tarthan insult. Insinuates one is similar to dirt(Not sand), and thus not worthy or incapable of being buried on Tarthan Soil(And thus being denied entrance into the afterlife). The harshest way to call someone scum, trash, etc - will absolutely provoke violence. Quite literally, suggests one is anathema to the entire Tarthan way of life. Sometimes used to refer to foreigners, though still considered rude.   "Sandsailor" - A Tarthan insult used to refer to those who are extremely individualistic and independent(Qualities seen as undesirable in Tarthus), typically to the extent they leave their families and villages behind, often pursing 'adventure' or 'heroics'.   "Skull-smasher" - A more lighthearted Tarthan insult used to refer to foreigners and those they perceive as being unneccesarily afraid of Necromancy. Insinuates one is too superstitious and afraid, but is not too rude and often used in a joking way to persuade others to "man up".  

Turns of Phrase:

  "He's/Its all nek and nek" - A cheeky play on the foreign phrase 'Neck and Neck'. Used to refer to someone who is excessively horny, degenerate, or who cares only about sex. Can also be used to refer to a situation that's ridiculous, lewd, or otherwise unbelievable in some way.   "Em Hotep" - A common Tarthan phrase used in greeting and parting. Roughly translates to "In Peace". Wishes one not only peace, but also happiness.   "May you rot in soil far afield" - A Tarthan curse wishing eternal oblivion and refusal into the afterlife onto another.   "Well, Taoan it is not" - A phrase used to mean "Things could always be worse". Stems from a deep seated cultural distrust and dislike of The Gāngtao Migrant Fleet, whom the Tarthans see as too anarchic, chaotic, and free-spirited. Also used to refer to an item that is poorly-made or ramshackle.   "A head in sand cannot find gold" - A tarthan phrase that roughly means one is too close to a situation to see it fairly, or alternatively "One will never find what they do not look for".   "As the silver in the Suncradle" - A tarthan phrase used to refer to something impossible, nonexistent, ridiculous, or otherwise silly and nonsensical.


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