It's time for another Qadira preview!
Although residents of the Inner Sea region often think of Keleshites as a monolithic people, the reality is a lot more complex. The Empire of Kelesh has made efforts to encourage a unified Keleshite identity, but talking about "Keleshites" as if they were a single culture (which residents of Avistan, especially, tend to do) is about as accurate as talking about "Avistani" (which residents of Casmaron, to be fair, also tend to do). Just as the Chelaxians tend to have very different cultural practices from the Ulfen and Varisian customs and history differ greatly from those of the Shoanti, the various cultures that make up the Empire of Kelesh have widely varied practices and histories. The average resident of the major cities of Kelesh is of mixed heritage, but in less urbanized areas, people still practice traditions that date back five millennia or more.
Qadirans tend to think of themselves as Qadiran first, Keleshite second, and whatever other ethnic identity they may claim third, but those histories still shape their identities and practices.
There are six peoples credited with creating the Empire of Kelesh, corresponding to the seven virtues Keleshites believe they exemplify—the seventh is the unified Keleshite identity, though rumor has it that there was once a seventh culture that has been erased from the historical record.
Althameri: The once-nomadic Althameri tribes founded the Empire, and still form most of its noble class and merchant houses. Althameri still hold to their tribal identities, and many still live in deep desert holds and practice traditional ways, including a unique form of Sarenism. Most of what people outside of Casmaron consider "Keleshite" comes from the Althameri culture; even Keleshites with no Althameri descent often imitate Althameri dress and practices as a sign of prestige. The virtue associated with the Althameri is zeal.
Althameri use a first name followed by a matronymic indicated with the prefix al-. For example, Yaqib al-Marah is Yaqib, son of Marah. They may include a tribal identifier when introducing themselves to other Althameri, but most city-dwelling Althameri consider this information private. If needed, they may append their city of residence or birth to the end of their name distinguish themselves from another individual with the same name.
Most Keleshites who do not strongly identify with another ethnicity follow this naming convention.
Illustration by Eric Kenji
Aishmayar: The Aishmayar were an ancient, settled culture when the Althameri were still nomads eking out bare survival from the harsh deserts. Famed for their pacifism and dedication to the arts, they were the first people conquered by the Althameri. Their lack of written records has caused them to become an enigmatic founding myth in Kelesh. Though only a few noble families can prove Aishmayar descent in contemporary Kelesh, it is common for artists, actors, and socialites to claim it to enhance their status. The virtue associated with the Aishmayar is grace.
The Aishmayar generally used a string of names, the first given to them at birth, and another two to four earned throughout their lifetime based on achievements or personality characteristics, such as Nur-Iqar-Shamah. Particularly desperate celebrities sometimes effect an Aishmayar name, but doing so is generally considered gauche in the extreme.
Khattibi: The Empire of Khattib once occupied a large swath of the territory now controlled by Kelesh, especially the jungles and rich farmland of Casmaron's southern coast. They are famous for feats of physical engineering and their great libraries, but their inability to match their physical infrastructure with similarly robust social systems caused them to overextend and become a tempting target for Keleshite conquest, especially as they controlled the trade routes that brought goods from Vudra and Tian Xia into Casmaron. The vast majority of the citizens of Kelesh are primarily of Khattibi descent. The virtue associated with the Khattibi is inventiveness.
Khattibi names originally put an individual's family name first: Sadikci-Darya is Darya of the Sadikci family, though in recent centuries it has become more common to reverse the order, e.g. Darya Sadikci.
Mideans: The other great empire absorbed by the Keleshites was Midea, which warred with Khattib for most of its existence and claimed many of the port cities of Khardaji Bay. The Midean love of efficiency and organization inspired an unprecedented financial system that includes some of the oldest still-operating banks on Golarion. Mideans are enthusiastic patrons of the arts and the oldest families are devoted to civil service. The virtue associated with the Mideans is elegance.
Mideans tend to use personal names followed by a patronymic or family name, such as Mizha ibn Illiar, but as with the Khattibi, they increasingly drop the prefix, e.g. Mizha Illiar.
Susianam: Known as the People of the Tides, or Susians in Taldane, the Susianam are believed to have begun wandering Casmaron after a disaster destroyed their homeland. The clergy of their moon god go veiled and are accompanied by tattooed bodyguards. Though they are now a rare minority, the Susianam contributed both many of the irrigation systems that allowed Kelesh to bridge the harsh deserts between arable areas of Casmaron and founded its navy. The virtue associated with the Susianam is adaptability.
A Susian generally goes only by a first name, though the clergy sometimes bestow epithets upon other members of their faith, which become part of their names.
Tzorehiyi: Believed to share ancestral roots with the Althameri and Kara peoples, the Tzorehiyi still prefer to live in the steppes and grasslands of Casmaron. Their tribes control security for most of the trade routes and provide most of the agricultural labor that supports Kelesh's major cities. The virtue associated with the Tzorehiyi is honor.
The Tzorehiyi tend to use a first name followed by their tribe's name, such as Nerzad Batgui.
More Introductory Kelish!
Since people seemed to like it last time, here are a few more Kelish words—these are terms of endearment and forms of address.
Little dove (term of affection for children)
Little falcon (term of affection for children, especially mischievous/bold ones)
Spice of my life (term of affection)
My sun (term of affection, considered blasphemous/profane)
Forms of Address
member of imperial family
kinsman/kinswoman (used not for actual kin, but for fellow Keleshites, fellow tribespeople, etc. to emphasize a connection, generally in the presence of people who don't share that connection)
Hope you enjoyed this preview! Stay tuned next week for a glimpse of the patronage subsystem! :-)