|Universe||The Elder Scrolls Universe|
The Khajiit are a race of feline creatures hailing from the province of Elsweyr, well known for their keen intelligence and agility. While these traits make them superb thieves, Khajiit are also fearsome warriors, although seldom gifted with the skill to harness magical forces. This is not to say that Khajiit do not possess the ability, merely that strenuous training must be undertaken to make wielding magic a serious option, either in passive or aggressive actions.
Physiologically, Khajiit differ greatly from both the varied races of man and mer, not only in their skeletal structure (possessing a tail and digitigrade -toe walking- stance) and dermal makeup (the "fur" that covers their bodies) but in their digestion and metabolism as well. The Khajiit, along with the Argonians, make up the so-called 'beast races' of the Empire, due to their therianthropic qualities.
It is currently unclear whether a successful union between Khajiit and other races may occur, for, while reports of children born of such unions have been noted in the past, no well-documented cases exist.
SocietyEditElsweyr, originally comprised of more than twenty distinct kingdoms, was fashioned into its modern state in 2E 309 when Keirgo of Anequina and Eshita of Pellitine combined their long-feuding kingdoms, sparking a class struggle that briefly threatened to draw outside intervention. The former two kingdoms, each with their own government and nobility, found themselves drawn together, and thus, felt themselves betrayed by their leaders. After a time of civil unrest and war, peace was restored amongst the Khajiiti by the generally non-partisan Mane, Rid-T'har-ri'Datta, who "bestowed to the classes equality under the bi-lunar shadow, dividing their power in accordance with two-moons-dance". What this established, in a more understandable sense, was a rotational power base in which both sides of Khajiiti society, the southern city-dwellers under the nobility and the northern nomadic tribes under their chieftains, shared alternate control of the region based on the phases of Masser and Secunda; the terms of this measure, the Riddle'thar, were overseen by the thinly-veiled dictatorship of the Mane himself.
The Mane, while the unofficial head-of-state, is no more a "breed" of Khajiit than any other is, he is simply unique. Khajiit tradition holds that only one Mane may be alive at any one time; indeed, it is believed among the Khajiit that there exists only one Mane, who is simply reborn in different bodies with the passage of time. Whether this is true or not, there has been no recorded instance of multiple Manes contending for power; if this in turn supports the Khajiiti belief, or is merely the result of the ruling Mane eliminating any potential rivals before they can mature, cannot be determined.
Thus, the Khajiit stand divided amongst two disparate ways of life, those of the southern Elsweyr jungles and river basins being settled city-dwellers with ancient mercantile traditions and a stable agrarian aristocracy based on the exportation of saltrice and Moon Sugar; whilst the nomadic tribe or pride-centric Khajiit of the dry northern wastes and grasslands are, by contrast, aggressive and territorial raiders periodically united under a single chieftain.
In a society such as this, where the source of power is lost amidst so many convolutions, it is widely held that the greatest force amongst the Khajiit is that of the Clan Mothers, who are said to be both a "shifty and elusive bunch". It is they, ultimately, who control both the harvest and refining of Moon Sugar, and thus, they who are seen as the most influential.
Moon Sugar is believed to be "crystallized moonlight" by the Khajiit, trapped in the glimmering waters of the Topal Sea and washed to the sugarcane groves of the Tenmar by the tides, under the guidance of Hermorah. By partaking of the sugar, the Khajiit believe they are consuming, in part, a small portion of the twin gods' - Jone and Jode - eternal souls.
This knowledge, along with the natural narcotic effects of Moon Sugar, drives the Khajiit into fits of ecstasy and abandon, leaving the streets of Elsweyr's major cities full of catmen shivering in the grip of sugar-fits. A particularly potent derivative of Moon Sugar, known as skooma, is often smoked through a water-pipe, inducing upon the Khajiit wild bursts of passion greater than that experienced from raw Moon Sugar; however, the use of skooma leaves its victims addicted for life, and in constant, alternating states of euphoria and lethargy. Nevertheless, Moon Sugar is a daily part of Khajiit life, as well as comprising the chief export of Elsweyr, smuggled out in vast quantities of both raw and refined forms.
The natural propensity towards Moon Sugar has lent a certain "sweet-tooth" to the Khajiiti, the food of Elsweyr invariably being sweet; candies, cakes, puddings, and sugar-meats are the staples of the Khajiit diet, each generously sprinkled or taken in part with Moon Sugar.This relationship between religion and cultural practice goes deeper than appearances suggest. According to legend, the Khajiit and their deities are bound up in the Lunar Lattice, no less than the famed Liminal Barriers, the tendency of Mundus to remain discrete from the Sea of Oblivion and the force that keeps the Daedra out of Nirn. In this way the Khajiit, Moon Sugar, Lorkhan's Moons, Lorkhan's Heart, and White Gold Tower are all related, as all play a part in shaping the fundamental structure of the mortal plane.
The typical bipedal Khajiit dresses in an ample shawl of brightly-colored cloth, known as a budi, for defense against the harsh rays of the sun. This shirt is tightly fastened in braids down the right side, in order to prevent any part of the torso fur from being seen, as the exposure of such in public is deemed both offensive and unsightly. In battle, those who walk upright traditionally don medium-weight armor in battle, exquisitely fashioned from loose-fitting leather overlaid with lacquered and highly-burnished metal plates. While leather caps are generally preferred, those with the means to procure such will often don helms of fluted silver. Furthermore, most Khajiit bedeck themselves with jewelry, trinkets, and tattoos; the latter holding both important cultural and religious significance, being used not only as decoration, but also as a mark of their race, tribe, and the gods of their worship.
While the majority of Khajiit prefer to use their razor-sharp and retractable claws as weapons - most being practitioners of one of the numerous forms of Khajiiti martial arts, among which Goutfang, Whispering Claw and Rawlith Khaj are the most popular - many have mastered the use of the sabre, scimitar, dagger, and longbow. Such mastery, among other things, may be seen among the male Khajiits' names, through which they display their status in life with the prefix; though care is always taken, for the use of two titles is perceived as the result of either great pride or ignorance.
Religion and OriginsEdit
A monomythic society, the Khajiit are led in their beliefs by mysterious figures known as "Clan Mothers", whose duty it is to disseminate the cultural myths among their kind, and who maintain autonomy from the Mane and the disparate tribal leaders.
On the origin of their species, the Khajiit believe that life originated with two litter-mates, Ahnurr and Fadomai, who gave birth to the first cat, Alkosh. To Alkosh was given the guardianship of time, and whose birth prompted Ahnurr and Fadomai to bring forth further life into the world, thus they created Khenarthi, guardian of the winds; Magrus, guardian of the sun; Mara, guardian of love; and S'rendarr, guardian of mercy. In time, Ahnurr and Fadomai wished to share the happiness they felt in life with further children, and so, Fadomai gave birth to Hermorah of the tides, Hircine of hunger, Merrunz of destruction, Mafala of the Clan Mothers, Sangiin of blood and life, Sheggorath of insanity, and many others.
It was then that, seeing so many among them, Ahnurr decided that further children would only steal from them their own happiness, and thus decreed that he would give birth to no more. He was, however, thwarted in this by Fadomai, who was persuaded by Khenarthi - who had grown lonely in the realm of the winds - to give birth to further children, and this she did, bringing forth Nirni, the majestic sands and lush forests, and Azurah, the dusk and dawn, as well as the Moons and their Motions.
It was at the time of her birthing that Fadomai was caught by Ahnurr who, angered at her trickery and disobedience, struck her. She, fearing for her life and children, fled with them to the Great Darkness and hid, giving birth to her final child, Lorkhaj. Having been born amidst the Great Darkness, the Khajiit believe that Lorkhaj's heart was filled with such, and thus was the Great Darkness made aware of itself and then known as Namiira.
There, amidst the darkness and surrounded by her children, Fadomai came to the realization that her death was near and set the moons, Jone and Jode, in the skies to guide her children and protect them from Ahnurr's wrath. She gave also to Nirni her "greatest gift" proclaiming that she would give birth to as many children as Fadomai had; at this, Nirni was pleased, for she saw that of all Fadomai's children Azurah, with whom she bitterly fought from their first breath, had been left with nothing.
Protected by the Lunar Lattice, the children of Fadomai left, save for Azurah. Into the silence and void their absence caused, Azurah approached her mother and was then given her gifts in the form of three secrets. She was told to take one of Nirni's children and change them, making them the fastest, cleverest, and most beautiful of creatures, naming them the Khajiit; second, that they must be fashioned as the best climbers, to climb upon the winds of Khenarthi's breath and set Masser and Secunda aright, lest they fail; lastly, that the Khajiit must be the best deceivers, able to hide their true nature from others. Then Fadomai died, and Azurah left to join her kin.
With this knowledge Azurah watched as Nirni, eager to give birth to her children, approached Lorkhaj to whom she appealed to create for her children a dwelling; this he did, and yet the Great Darkness in his heart forced him to deceive his siblings so that they were trapped in the new place with Nirni. However, while many perished in this, many fled to become the stars, and those who remained punished Lorkhaj by tearing out his heart and hiding it deep within Nirni, so that he would be with her whom he had done the most harm to for all the ages to come.
Thus amongst the new world of Lorkhaj's creation, Nirni came to give birth to her children, who were many, but wept bitter tears for her favorite - the forest people - who did not know their proper shape. It was at this time that Azurah came forth and comforted her, taking some of the forest people and placing them in the deserts and forests of Nirni. There she fashioned them in many forms, one for each purpose they might need, and having done so, named them the Khajiit, teaching them the secrets entrusted to her, and binding them to the Lunar Lattice.
In speaking the secrets, the first was heard by Y'ffer, who told Nirni of Azurah's deed. Nirni, in retribution for her changed, and now lost, children made the deserts hot and sands biting, and filled the forests with water and poison. Finally, to separate her beloved children from those of Azurah, she allowed Y'ffer to change those who remained so that they would always be of the mer, and never beasts, and named them Bosmer. From that moment forth, the two were eternally separated and, as with their makers, were bound in animosity one with the other.
It is via this story, passed down by the Clan Mothers, that the Khajiit explain not only their origins, but their bind to the moons and strife with the Bosmer. While correllations with the gods of other religions may be drawn - most notably between the names associated with each (Azurah and Azura, Alkosh and Akatosh, Lorkhaj and Lorkan, et cetera), the Khajiit maintain their version of the world's genesis as the only pure rendition.
Contradictions to this explanation of Khajiiti origin have been raised by Imperial scholars, who purport that the Khajiit are descendants of a race of great cats of the desert regions of Nirn, backing their claim with the fragmented letters of Topal the Pilot - the earliest known Aldmeri adventurer, after whom the Topal Sea is named - which reference both quad- and bipedal cats:
"The cat demons of four legs and two ran the river's Length, always keeping the boat in their Green-eyed sight, hissing, and spitting, and Roaring with rage."
However, even this obscure evidence may yet be debated, as Pelinal Whitestrake - leader of the Elven Pogrom - slew many thousands of the Khajiit, during the same era, under the mistaken impression that they were "another strain of Aldermi" so closely did they resemble such.
The Khajiiti pantheon encompasses a myriad of gods, both temporal and otherwise, a fraction of which are detailed below. Of the dark spirits, or dro-m'Athra, who are represented by the inverse phases of the moons, the Khajiit do not speak.
Alkosh Dragon King of Cats / God of Time A cultural hero, and one of the earliest gods among the Khajiit culture, his worship was co-opted during the establishment of the Riddle'thar, although worship of Alkosh as a deity continues to flourish among Elsweyr's desert-blasted regions. Most commonly depicted as a fearsome dragon with feline features, the Khajiit typically describe Alkosh as "a real big cat". Popular myth among the Khajiiti holds that he repelled an early Aldmeri pogrom of Pelinal Whitestrake.
Azurah Goddess of Dusk and Dawn Sister to Nirni, the plane and goddess upon which the Khajiiti dwell, Azurah is the goddess to whom the Khajiit attribute both their current form and the mysterious tie between them and the Lunar Lattice. While she shares many characteristics with the goddess of Azura of other cultures, she is a separate entity, and makes few appearances amongst Khajiiti myth apart from that of their origin.
Baan Dar The Pariah Regarded more as a manifestation than a formal god, Baan Dar is the personification of Khajiiti cleverness and the wit engendered of long-suffering on their part. He is commonly attributed with that genius which lends itself to the creation of last-minute plans to foil the machinations of the Khajiit's foes, man or mer.
Khenarthi Goddess of the Winds Little is known of the worship of Khenarthi, whom the Khajiit hold to be the Goddess of the Winds, whose breath sustains her kin, Jode and Jone, on their path through the sky. She is also credited with aiding the Khajiit with swiftness.
Jode Big Moon God One aspect of the Lunar Lattice, Jode is revered in a unique manner by each sub-species of Khajiit, as regards their aspect at the time of the Khajiit's birth.
Jone Little Moon God One aspect of the Lunar Lattice, Jone is revered in a unique manner by each sub-species of Khajiit, as regards their aspect at the time of the Khajiit's birth.
Lorkhaj The Moon Beast Held between admiration - for his great deceit and cunning - and contempt, Lorkhaj is easily identifiable with the tales of Lorkhan, and among the Khajiit is credited with the creation of the mortal plane.
Mara The Mother Cat / Goddess of Love The Goddess of Love, to Mara is attributed all the passion of the Khajiit. Nothing is known of her worship among the Khajiiti.
Merrunz Ja'Khajiit Comparable to Mehrunes Dagon, Merrunz is an eternally-young god of cat-like form; thus, as a kitten, do the Khajiit explain his natural tendency to rend and destroy the world around him.
Rajhin The Footpad / The Silent Walker The thief-god of the Khajiiti, legend holds that Rajhin grew up in the Black Kiergo section of Senchal. In life, Rajhin was the most infamous burglar in Elsweyr's history, said to have stolen a tattoo from the neck of the Empress Kintyra as she slept. After his death, Rajhin was inculcated among the Khajiit gods, to serve as an example to them of cleverness and adroit ability. His blessing is most often asked for before undertaking activities of a less-than-lawful nature.
Riddle'thar Two-Moons Dance / The Sugar God The cosmic order deity of the Khajiit, the Riddle'thar was revealed to the citizens of Elsweyr by the prophet Rid-Thar-ri'Datta. The Riddle'thar is more a set of guidelines than a single entity, although it has been known that some of his avatars appear as humble messengers of the gods to those in need.
S'rendarr The Runt / God of Mercy Nothing is known of S'rendarr, save that the Khajiit revere him as the God of Mercy.
Sheggorath Skooma Cat The God of Madness, Sheggorath is easily identifiable with the Imperial Sheogorath, the negative effects of Skooma and Moon Sugar being attributed to his presence among the Khajiit.
Khajiit are each subtly bound to the Lunar Lattice, a mysterious force entitled the ja'Kha'jay in their native tongue. The Lunar Lattice determines the form a Khajiit assumes in life, according to the phases of Masser and Secunda at the time of their birth; while Khajiiti newborns appear incredibly similar to one another at birth, their future form becomes clear in a matter of weeks. This is due in part to the fact that, although born smaller than the children of either man or mer, the Khajiiti mature at a significantly faster rate.
It is imperative to note that while the Khajiit derive their natural form from the moons of Nirn, their peculiar tie to such is in no way related to lycanthropy, for, unlike that disease, it is neither contagious nor temporal. A Khajiit will retain its form of birth throughout their life and the moons, although they affect in what form the Khajiit will be born, do not affect it after that. Furthermore, there are no known shape shifting Khajiit.
The Imperial-commissioned Pocket Guide to the Empire states that there are "more than twenty" forms of Khajiit, however, to date, only those that follow are known to exist.
The following details that information specific to each separate "breed" of Khajiit.
Similar in many ways to the Bosmer, although generally of lesser stature. In order to avoid being mistaken as one of the Bosmer many Ohmes tattoo their faces to resemble a feline-aspect. The Ohmes is the most common form seen outside of the province of Elsweyr, taking advantage of other races' preference to their appearance to serve in positions of ambassadorship and trade. Note: Possible The Ohmes most likely the type of Khajiit in Arena.
Similar to the race of men, save for their short, light-colored fur, the Ohmes-raht may easily be mistaken as men at a distance. Unlike the many other species of Khajiit, who walk, like cats, upon the balls of their feet, the Ohmes-raht walk upon their heels. The Ohmes-raht are most likely the type of Khajiit in the games Daggerfall.
Similar to the Suthay-raht in all respects, save that they are of lesser stature.
Similar in height and build to the race of man, the Suthay-raht are one of the most common races of Khajiit. Their coloring ranges from dark brown and orange, to light yellow, both with and without stripes and spots. Suthay-raht are often referred to as "Ja'Khajiit" by those of other races; this appellation often strikes the Khajiit as odd, said title being one of their names for the god Mehrunes Dagon ("Ja'Khajiit" would literally mean "young Khajiit" or kitten, and the Khajiit call Mehrunes Dagon this "for what is more destructive than a young cat?"). Note: The majority of Khajiit encountered in Redguard, Morrowind and Oblivion are of the Suthay-raht strain.
Sub-species of Khajiit determined by Lunar Lattice (ja'Kha'jay): when moon Masser is waxing and Secunda is full. Similar to the Suthay-raht in appearance and bi-pedalism, however they possess greater stature and strength.
Sub-species of Khajiit determined by Lunar Lattice (ja'Kha'jay): when moons Masser and Secunda are waxing. Larger and stronger than the Cathay, the Cathay-raht are often described by non-Khajiit races as "jaguar-men". Whether this implies that the Cathay-raht are a spotted breed or not is unknown.
Little is known of the Tojay, save that they abide in the southern marshes and jungle regions of Elsweyr, as well as the Tenmar forest.
Nothing is known of the Tojay-raht.
A quadrupedal form of Khajiit, the Alfiq is, in many respects, similar to a common housecat. Although diminutive in form, the Alfiq retain the keen intelligence of the Khajiiti, possessed of the ability to understand the spoken word of others, although unable to respond.
Nothing is known of the Alfiq-raht.
Little is known of the Dagi, save that they abide in the southern marshes and jungle regions of Elsweyr, as well as the Tenmar forest.
Nothing is known of the Dagi-raht.
Quadrupedal, the Pahmar is similar in appearance and size to a tiger.
The Pahmar-raht is similar to the Pahmar in appearance, although larger and possessed of a fiercer disposition.
Larger and slower than the Senche, the Senche-raht are also possessed of a shorter body-span and straighter legs. The average Senche-raht stands as tall as two Altmer and can weigh more than fifty. Like the Senche, Senche-raht are also employed as steeds, notably in battle, whence they earned the title "battlecats" from Imperial troopers.
One of the greater forms of the Khajiit race.
A Mane can be born only under a rare alignment of Masser and Secunda when, according to legend, a third moon appears in the sky. In olden times, the Khajiit would shave off their own manes in deference to the Mane, braiding them into locks that he would incorporate into his own, gigantic mane. Over time, as the population grew, this ritual became impractical. Thus, while all Khajiit continue to remove their manes in deferential respect, they do so largely as a symbolic sacrifice, disposing of the shorn locks. The current Mane, however, continues to wear the braids of his own tribe, as well as those of his Warrior Guard, which encompasses hundreds of Khajiit. In fact, so weighted down by the hair of his kinsmen is he that the Mane cannot move without aid, and travels about the countryside by means of a Cathay-raht supported palanquin.
Ta'agra, the native language of the Khajiit, is poorly understood by those of other races; this ignorance may be attributed primarily to the lack of Khajiit literature, the Khajiiti people making use of an oral method for the preservation of their history. Consequently, few scholars have access to the scripts necessary to translate Ta'agra, and the natural disdain Khajiit share for inculcating foreigners into their culture forestalls any chance of learning the tongue from a Khajiiti citizen. That much having been said, the following encompasses those words found in Ta'agra for which an accurate translation has been obtained:
* "Jo" means "wizard". * "Dar" means "thief". This appellation is not meant to imply a criminal, but rather, one who is clever, or else, particularly gifted with their hands. * "Do" means "warrior". This title is rarely used by modern Khajiit, save it be for the Mane's personal guards, and masters of Goutfang, Whispering Claw, and Rawlith Khaj. * "M" or "Ma" means "child" or "apprentice". Khajiit also use the word to imply one who is a virgin. * "J," Ji," or "Ja" means "a bachelor" or "young adult". In the common vernacular, it means one who is young and lacks experience. * "S" means "adult" or "an adult". * "Ra" and "Ri" are used to imply great status, "Ri" being the highest honorific among the Khajiit, used by leaders of cities or tribes. * "Dro" means "grandfather" and is meant as a sign of respect. * "Khaj" means "desert". * "-iit" is used to state where one lives, and is also used to define one's job. * "Va" means "to be". * "Rabi" is used to define ownership, as well as being the title for a style of shirt commonly worn by Suthay-raht. * "Thjizzrini" means "foolish concepts," the closest translation of "rules" possible in Ta'agra. * "Ri'sallidad" means "martyrs", but is used only in the case of those martyrs deserving special honor. * "Vaba" means "it is". * "Ja-Kha'jay" the "Lunar Lattice", occasionally translated as the "Moonstrings" by foreigners.
The title "khajiit" is derived from the Ta'agra-ish words "khaj" and "-iit", a literal translation of which would be "one who deserts" (where "desert" in this case is the noun, /ˈdɛzə(ɹ)t/, referring to a dry place, and not the verb, /dɪ'zɜ:(ɹ)t/, referring to abandonment). The Khajiit themselves, however, point out that the only action of value that may be taken in a desert is to walk; as such, a proper translation would be "one who walks in the desert". For this reason, "khajiit" is translated in short-hand as "desert-walker", and thus are many Khajiit known.