The /bo’kisig/ (Early Bokisig, - all following phonemic transcriptions refer to the Early Bokisig language) empire descended from hunter-gatherer tribes that had been populating the savannah since at least approximately PS7,000. The survival of the tribes, who at that time were speaking a precursor of Early Bokisig, was under constant threat not only by nature and foreign foes, but also internal fighting between tribes and clans. The common language provided a bond, and a common enemy provided urgent impetus for some sort of unification: Around PS8,000, an offshoot of the Txabao people from the desert to the west of the highlands and mountain range ventured onto the territory peopled by the Bokisig.
Warring age Edit
In these wars, referred to as /mɛ.ʔu.at/ (struggle away [from the established order]”), the hunter-gatherers were no match for the camel cavalries of the Txabao, and the latter managed a series of quick conquests. The camel – or rather the name of the Txabao camel-deity <Neidu> – also was the source for the exonym in Early Bokisig for this invading people: /nedu-ki/, “camel-people”.
By around PS8200, the tribes had been fully pushed into the Southeastern half of the savannah, and a kingdom called /ne’dusu/ was formed in the western and northern part. However, the success of that kingdom was short-lived; while the savannah provided richer game, namely the hadrosaurids called /a’bomhiz/ (“ground-shaker”) in Early Bokisig, they lacked the experience and skill set necessary to successfully live off the lands of that savannah. The kingdom had overstretched itself and had to rely on plundering and even keeping camels for food.
Meanwhile, by around 8,300, the Bokisig people lands had regrouped in the southeast and established fortified settlements in this land as a confederation of tribes in retrospect referred to as /bokisig/ (“gathering of nomads/hunters/gatherers”; this confederation also gave its name to the later empire and its people). Furthermore, they combined their invention of the wheel with domesticated camels – either caught in the wild, after they had escaped the Neduki, or captured directly from the latter – to construct and field camel-drawn war chariots, which finally gave them an edge over the /neduki/ forces.
Thus ensued the successful yet bloody wars of reconquest called /’bo.ʔat/ (“struggle to get back towards [the established order]”, during which a large swathe of land up to the highlands in the west was won back, and most of the remaining /neduki/ fell back to a small kingdom in the north of the savannah and south of the desert to the north of it. Those /neduki/ who fled back to their ancestral homeland, the desert to the west of the highlands and mountain range bisecting the continent, brought with them the Bokisig invention of the wheel, spurring huge growth of the Txabao civilization in the Western deserts of the continent.
With the external threat of the Neduki all but disappeared by around 8350, the confederation now covering almost the whole savannah was more susceptible to in-fighting between tribes and clans, as evidenced by the uprisings of the clans /sehinsig/ (around 8425) and /keʔohu/ (around 8450). Such full-blown civil war, however, did not recur after the successful suppression of these revolts – this may be at least partly due to the introduction of large-scale exogamous marriage between clans, based upon a development that had already taken place on a smaller scale in the southeast as a means of strengthening bonds between tribes, as stable relationships had been a prerequisite for being able to muster up the resources to successfully defend the land and make use of new technologies to then lead the reconquest. In addition, the loose-federation system then put in place for peace time respected the fierce independence of the individual tribes and clans.
Age of the confederation Edit
During the age of the confederation (ca. 8350-8800), lifestyle and technological changes occurred, though they were resisted by some groups. The assimilation of those conquered /neduki/ people who did not flee or were forcibly driven out varied between tribes, with wholesale enslavement at the one end of the spectrum and almost complete assimilation at the other. Only in some larger hubs strategically placed at crossroads of trade and transport routes did a culturally distinct diaspora remain; it was this diaspora that also enabled commerce with the nascent Txabao trade power to the west through mountain pass roots. This role was so crucial that it even resulted in the Txabao numbering system being used for trade and business purposes well into the late age of the confederation, after which the system merged with the native system.
Domesticated camels, brought into the area by the /neduki/, were adopted by most clans as beasts of burden (pulling carts as well as riding), and some sort of basic agriculture was adopted in the more fertile areas. The areas where population had concentrated around fortresses during the wars experienced urbanisation, and it was around these fortified cities that advanced agriculture was pursued most intensely. In particular, this was the area to the southeast of the “big river”, with the population concentrating around the fortress-turned-city ɛg.’pɛs.sot (AUG-stone-shelter) since the days of the great wars.
Inspired by the now-widespread use of camels, attempts at domesticating the /abomhiz/ - who had until then been equally feared, venerated and hunted– were made, but this was a venture fraught with failure until the discovery of rich iron deposits in the western highlands and mountains propelled further technological advances.
A major fact in unifying the tribes of the confederation was the link between religion and power. All the tribes shared a general polytheistic belief system that was referred to as /xiʔosaku/, but there were differences regarding the significance of both specific deities and religious office holders. In the tribal hierarchy, there already was a lot of overlap between religious office and leading or supporting positions. Once the political landscape had changed to a confederation between city-states and other entities under firmer central leadership (at this time, from the de-fact capital in the East, /ug.pɛs.sot/), religion also become more organised, although it kept a number of decentralised features. Under influence from the marriage system, which had so far been based on exogamous marriage outside one’s own tribe, developing into a moiety system, the religion split into two distinctive branches, which were considered to complement another – a compromise to satisfy as many adherents as possible under a “big tent” religion with a semblance of choice.
The two branches are /kasa/ (“eternal language”, “language of the gods”) and “/xiʔosaheku/ (“the fact of being puzzling/mysterious”). All the faithful belong to only one of the branches, and marriages are only allowed between adherents of the opposing branches; children attending religious schools are allowed to choose their faith upon reaching puberty, with the possibility of switching later one single time. The choice is “locked in” upon marriage – or the decision to pursue a religious office. Which religious offices are available and the selection process for them depends on the branch.
Political landscape during the time of the confederation Edit
While the urbanisation in the east was the consequence of forced fortification triggered by the Txabao wars, its advantages – namely a more organized approach to agriculture, and relative security – resulted in population growth.
Therefore, tribes in the west also slowly began to adopt it during the age of the confederation; however, the western half was still primarily inhabited by societies with either an elected or hereditary chieftain (/pim/) as head, who reported directly to the confederation’s leadership. None of these political entities could be fully considered hunter-gatherers nor fully nomadic anymore, and all had begun to build capitals and other settlements.
Religiously, the western tribes usually followed one branch or the other as a whole (which, due to the exogamous marriage system based on religious branches mentioned above, thus required inter-marriage with other tribes). A good number of them were also quasi-monotheistic in their worship of a primary deity, such as for instance the Keohu, who adhered to the /xiʔosaheku/ branch and dedicated themselves to worshipping solely Ke. Notably, they were not only one of the bigger chiefdoms, but would probably have been the by far the most populous had it not been for their failed rebellion against the rule of the confederation, due to which they had to supply a huge proportion of their able-bodied men and women to the standing army of the confederation. One purpose of this standing army was to protect the western and northern border regions still threatened by the /neduki/ - this force was referred to as the Sixsabom (SG; edge-warrior), Sixsabomsig (PL), Sixsabomkom (edge-warrior-forest; term to refer to either the whole of the border forces, or a specific contingent; later also used to refer to the borderlands geographically).
In the southeast, a capital that represented the confederation’s centre of power and whose administration lay in the same hands like that of the confederation itself had formed around the fortress of Ugpɛssot. The surrounding lands had the highest concentration of tribes in the whole of the confederation, given that it was here that the whole population had been forced to concentrate during the long war against the Neduki. Four of the six remaining major chiefdoms held headquarters there, also controlling more or less of the lands around these fortified cities; only the Keohu and the Isaz had completely moved back to their homelands in the West and North, respectively. Two more had gone back to repopulating their original homelands, while at the same time holding on to those fortresses, whereas the other two focussed their expansion on the Southeast. The native population of this area was largely assimilated to these stronger chiefdoms or moved towards the coast. The only tribes indigenous to the area that also began to urbanise were the Sehinsig and Atbata.
Structure of the confederation Edit
The first man (or woman) in the confederation was the /saɣop/, who commanded the standing army defending the confederation against external threats. Collecting and recruiting the necessary supplies and able-bodied men and women from the tribes and chiefdoms was the responsibility of tax collectors and marshals, named by the Saɣop. The holder of the position was initially elected by the individual chiefdoms, with each chieftain casting one vote, and seen as little more than a ceremonial role during peacetime. The names of the first few Saɣop are lost to history, but the records refer to all of them as capable commanders with no remarkable involvement in other politics; they also indicate that, as a symbol for their serving the interest of the whole confederation, they gave up their tribal name for their elected term of 10 years each, after which no re-election was possible. Later on, the role became an appointment for lifetime, but it was still customary for a Saɣop to submit themselves to a public trial after lost military campaigns, and to stand down after successful ones.
The role of the Saɣop became more important during the uprisings between 8425 and 8450PS, and from these civil wars on, most of the names of the Saɣop are known. The rebellion by the Sehinsin tribe was brutally crushed by a Saɣop given the by-name /ʔugatki/ (AUG-war-person, i.e. “great warrior”; NB that /ʔatki/ is used only in names, while /sabom/ is normal word for “warrior”), while that of the Keohu resulted in a prolonged civil war between that chiefdom and the standing army led by /zahɛ mazsotmog/ (“Mazsotmog [“child of the west”] the Second”; so there must have been one earlier Saɣop with that name). After achieving a narrow victory, he showed magnanimous restraint in dealing with the Keohu chiefdom – only the remaining warlords not already slain in battle were executed, and the population was forced to give up no more than around a third of their lands as well as required to provide a larger quota for the standing army; the Keohu chiefdom even kept both its active and passive suffrage in the Saɣop elections.
After achieving this compromise, Zahɛ Mazsotmog resigned, but not without issuing a list of recommendations to be considered by the electors choosing his successor: to prevent attacks by external threats in this time of weakness for the confederation due to the ravishing civil war, the gods should be appeased by greater focus on religious worship, and trade ties strengthened by giving the capital the power to negotiate trade on behalf of the individual chiefdoms; to avoid future rebellions, unity should be strengthened by giving the office of the Saɣop more political power; and last not least, to implement these policies, there was nobody better suited than his daughter /bomhu/ (thunder-person), so she should be elected in his stead. It was a bold move, but successful, and Bomhu was elected narrowly, notably with the support of the Keohu delegate.
Compromise between Fire and Sickle (/senɛ dasomhu biso/) Edit
One of the new policies Bomhu introduced to realise her father’s vision was one that not only saved a religious tradition from likely extinction, but also had a huge impact on the agriculture of the whole country. The religious office of the /sehu/ (fire-builder), from the Xiosaheku tradition, had customarily been the ceremonial keepers of fire, the only one permitted to handle that essential yet dangerous power; in the wake of societal and technological development, this restriction had, however, become untenable a long time ago. Therefore, the Sehu had over time been forced to fulfil a solely ceremonial role.
Since the advent of agriculture, slash-and-burn had been the cultivation method of choice for the Bokisig people: areas with high tree density were turned into family-owned plots of land by controlled burning, and these were used until the soil was exhausted, at which point the family moved on, and the land was allowed to recover and regrow. The distribution of the lands was traditionally negotiated between families within tribes and chiefdoms, but in the wake of the population growth during the early years of the confederation, this had frequently given rise to disputes. In order to forestall such disputes in the future as well as strengthen an old religious office – while also centralising power - Bomhu decided that the Sehu should now govern all matters regarding land use and controlled burning.
Not only the political manoeuvre, but also the theology made perfect sense. The compelling religious logic justifying the change was that the Sehu traditionally had been the arbiters of the use of fire, that precarious gift from the gods, and that the soil and trees were ultimately subservient to the fire. Giving laypersons, who on the one hand had not undergone the ritual training like the Sehu, and on the other hand had a vested interest in when and where to slash-and-burn, any say on the use of fire for agriculture was naturally prone to anger the gods. And this was something that could not be risked, lest they send down heavenly sparks to let fires spiral out of control or, worse even, retract their divine gift by call all means of making fire back to heaven, leaving humanity bereft of artificial sources of light and heat.
Some time later, when the conflicts arose between tax collectors and Sehu, and the dual pressure of tax collectors and Sehu on farming families resulted in widespread discontent, it became apparent the policy needed some fine-tuning, to more clearly delineate the respective rights and responsibilities. This is known as the Compromise between Fire and Sickle, which soon became the term to refer to the whole policy and all the associated changes.
The Atbata dynasty (8597 - 8720) EditFor somewhat over two centuries, the presidency of
the confederation kept changing hands between rulers from different chiefdoms and families; rulers came to frequently issue recommendations for their successor, which were traditionally given more weight if the ruler stepped down while in good stead with most of the chief-electors. A full hereditary monarchy was, however, not established until the early 8600s, when the Atbata chiefdom, named after the clan of the same name, made their way to power.
When the almost thirty-year reign of Namhɛ Mazsotmog (IV) was ended by his death after a long sickness, the chief-electors were not entirely unwilling to follow the late ruler’s recommendation to elect his wife Listo as his successor, though there were some misgivings about once again voting for a member of the same house, especially one that looked set to rule for a very long time, being healthy and just on the cusp of adulthood. When, however, only ten days after her husband’s death, a freak accident involving a hadrosaurid claimed the life of the young queen-to-be, rumours were rife in the capital about how this could have happened – yet it was generally agreed upon as a sign by the gods, and Zahɛ Lisheki, from the house of Atbata, was elected instead of another relative of the former president.
In the year 8611, Zahɛ Lisheki fell victim to an assassination. It was first suspected that a relative of Listo out for vengeance over the Atbata’s presumed theft of the crown was responsible, and riots erupted in both the latter’s stronghold Atbatahɛ Sot and the capital; but an enquiry led by a Kasaki (scientist-priest) named Kibeɣ brought to the light that a disgruntled former lover was responsible for the killing. Still, it was agreed by the electors that a neutral ruler would be the best solution in the current heated and paranoid political climate, and so Salis, another Kasaki, was elected as Saɣop. Quite surprisingly, five years afterwards, he resigned, and recommended Lishepim Atbata as his successor. The election was a shoe-in, as the Atbata had just before managed to ally themselves with multiple electors, paving the way for a hereditary monarchy, though one that would require a careful balancing act by the rulers.
Up until that time, the northeastern lands had been poorly explored and only very thinly settled by Bokisig tribes for multiple reasons: the desert stretched further out from the Kadolekom (ka-dole-kom, meaning: eternal-mountain-forest) mountain range, leaving less land that could be used as hunting (and gathering) grounds; freshwater was a lot less readily accessible, making the area somewhat more inhospitable for both the tribes themselves and their food sources; and the Bokisig tribes were generally not very fond of the ocean, or even coastlands - which, to make matters worse, in that area were quite ragged.
Under Uzhɛ Legtopim Atbata, the Tatasbo Lolo (Seawards Journey) to finally claim this area began by first establishing strategic strongholds in the 8630s, then connecting them to the rest of the empire by the Sɛsotsu Duma Agudo (meaning: road that goes through the North/Desert; or simply Northern Road), a route that led from the westernmost reaches near the Kadolekom through the Nedusu kingdom in the desert – not part of the Bokisig empire, but associated, and despite rebellions from time to time considered fairly safe - to the newly-acquired northeastern areas; furthermore, the road branched off at Kasotbo Donɛdo (literally meaning: junglewards angle, i.e. crossroads that leads to the south; or simply Southern Crossroads).
The area was not completely unpopulated; there were both ethnic Bokisig and unrelated hunter-gatherer tribes in the area, but neither the population density nor the technology level in the interior was very high, and it was not very hard for Uzhɛ Legtopim Atbata to convince all of the inland tribes that life under the confederation would be a better choice than resisting. The populace of this region was assimilated similarly quickly, and so the non-Bokisig languages as well as the Bokisig branch that had developed here were lost - except for some villages on the coastline, where the more adventurous Bokisig had settled centuries ago, dedicating themselves primarily to fishing, sometimes even exploring the fearsome ocean further. The most successful of these seafaring Bokisig had reached and settled the eastern shore of the Great Bay, which was still unreachable for the Bokisig by land for more than a millennium to come, given the impassable northern jungle blocking any easy access. As the Bokisig remained uninterested in the ocean, contact with the East Bay peoples grew sporadic and all but ceased soon after the integration of the northeast into the confederation.
The end of the Atbata dynasty Edit
The end of the Atbata rule could be seen as the sum of multiple military failures, multiplied by the factor of the growing dissatisfaction amongst the other chiefdoms and houses, who had become more and more unhappy with hereditary rule, mostly because it was not them with the crown on their head and the ability to pass it on to their offspring. In the early 8700s, Saɣop Uzhɛ Lishepim set out to quell the unrest, namely by conquering new lands; his target was the Northwestern Desert Kingdom of Nedusu, successor of the first Txabao kingdom east of the Kadolekom range. While it had for a long time been a subservient vassal of the confederation in all but name, recently there had been signs of more independent growth and aspirations, encouraged by trade ties with the Txabao to the west and discoveries of iron sources in the desert that rivalled those the Confederation itself had unearthed in the highlands at the westernmost edge of the Keohu chiefdom.
The Nedusu campaign was a disaster, and Zahɛ Lishepim returned humiliated, having been forced to sue for peace under unfavourable terms. There were voices urging a return to the “old ways” of the Saɣop subjecting themselves to a public trial where the failures would be assessed, and they were growing louder each day Zahɛ Lishepim kept up the appearance of “business as usual”. He might well have got away with appeasing some of the frustrated parties, but his failure to act quickly was too much for the Isaz, who inhabited the area bordering on the new lands in the Northeast the conquest of which had been one of the main achievements of the Atbata rulers. After this conquest, the Isaz had seen themselves cheated, as the newly-gained territory had been made a constituent of the confederation in its own right - albeit one where each of the chiefdoms was able to re-settle unhappy peasants while still gaining a large part of their taxation – as they had regarded these lands as their birthright, given they had had to single-handedly defend the confederation against any incursions coming from there, and also had already had some established relationships with peoples in the border areas. When the whole area was integrated into the Confederation, they had grudgingly accepted all of those previous efforts being reset to zero in the Grateful Settlement of 8672, which reduced the levies they had to provide the confederation to a token amount - but now their unhappiness erupted in open rebellion, and Sa’abomhiz Akmɛhihin declared the Isaz territories, including the whole Northeast, independent.