Ndok

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Ndok is the name given by convention to the descendants of the Ndak who inhabited Latsomo; the word is simply the reflex of "Ndak," reflecting its pronunciation in the early 1st millennium YP. The Ndok called their language (as of 250 YP) Ndok Aisô, which simply means "[what] the Ndok speak."

This article will give dates first in the standard YP format preferred for Akana studies, then in the native Ndok system (abbreviated LN for Loida Ndok, "year of the Ndok") which counts forward from the beginning of the reign of Terakan.

Overview

As the civilization in Kasadgad declined drastically, the center of gravity of the Ndak sphere shifted to the middle Aiwa (NA Oigeu) and lower reaches of the Bwimbai (NA Gêp'oi or Gôp'oi). The people living there found themselves encroached upon by barbarians from every direction -- the Habeo, the Mohudza, even unfriendly Ndak cousins from further afield -- and the cultural response was an enshrinement of the large, fortified city (mos), looming on a hill over the countryside, protecting the local peasantry from the infidels. Tsinakan's words ballooned to holy significance: strike the heathen down. By 900 BP (ca. 1050 LN) the old city of Ngkeladadn (NA Ngahêxôldod) was the largest city in the entire Edastean sphere, ringed by multiple layers of walls and bristling with the spiky pinnacles of temples; the Ndok were the great innovators of architecture in Peilaš during this period.

In understanding this culture we should note that the distinction of Ndak vs. Ndok has been made after the fact; to the Ndok these were the same word and the same people. To them, their cousins further up and down the Aiwa were also "Ndok," as well as the Kascans and Dāiadak in a looser sense (if they were referred to as "Ndok," it was usually with qualifiers: "Delta Ndok," "Mountain Ndok," etc.). The Fáralo, however, were seen as a scion of the Faraghin -- though it was understood that, strangely, they spoke a corrupted form of Ndok. To differentiate, the Ndok would sometimes refer to themselves as "Lasomorans" (in various forms; the Ngah. word is o-Wôltseubeule).

A sense of cultural unity kept internecine warfare among city-states to a minimum; the largest war on record was between the cities of Oigôp'oibauxeu and Akôdaig in the late 600's, but even this was concluded by treaty fairly rapidly, with great feasts held to celebrate the renewed peace.

Each city-state worshipped a pantheon of gods, a collection of old Ndak deities and deified kings; by 200 BP (ca. 1750 LN) the "Big Three" of Ngahêxôldod had gained in influence among all the rest: Aitol, the Sun, Ngadagoi, the Moon, and the great king Êtsdehad (NT Tsinakan), now identified with a comet that appeared every 43 years. In addition to these, the old Mother Goddess, Op'euseu (NT Ombási), was worshipped universally, thus completing a quartet.

At a time when their former brothers to the east and west were falling prey to strange evangelizing faiths, the Ndok kept up the old program of polytheism, king-worship, and human sacrifice. Any misfortunes befalling the spiritual traitors were taken as adumbrations of divine wrath.

Dynasties of Ngahêxôldod

This section to be rewritten

Social Structure

Society is ruled by two equal and parallel classes: the nobility (o-idau), who run the military and govern the countryside, and the clergy (o-keldeu), who run temples and institutions of learning, and are the de facto governors of the cities. Membership among the nobility is passed through the bloodline, and the patriarchs of the families are the army generals. Noble status (gek'oitsoi) is not tied to wealth or land ownership, and there is no division of tiers within the nobility. The royal family is the noble family which has currently been sanctioned to rule by the other families. That the current royal family will continue ruling indefinitely is respected in theory, though in practice assassinations and uprisings are frequent, whenever the other nobles decide a regime change is in order. The king rules officially over all the commoners (o-aip'oi), but to the other nobility, the royal family is their social equal.

The clergy are both holy men and administrators. Membership is based on an intensive scholarly education. The clerics and the nobles are mutually exclusive; therefore the young men that study to enter the clergy are drawn entirely from wealthy (and mostly urban) commoners. Clerics are exclusively male; they can carry on a normal family life at home while the family remain commoners, except for the upper tiers (o-xunok) who live in appointed palaces and do not marry (and must divorce their wives if previously married; she is then supported by a pension), though they may keep a large array of concubines of either gender, or both. Organization is hierarchical, proceeding from low-level clerks, through scribes, then various levels of prelates, to the high priest of the city. The high priest lives in a complex attached to the main temple, and in Ngahêxôldod this outstripped even the royal palace in grandeur.

Rural priests outside the mos (o-unoi) are not part of the clergy, and answer to the local nobleman.

The commoners comprised the bulk of society, encompassing everyone from the peasantry to craftsmen to common criminals. Merchants became a major force after the spread of markets to Latsomo in the mid-1st millennium BP; by 200 BP they represented the richest layer of the commoners. Urban-dwellers (o-ageu) considered themselves socially superior to the rural villagers (o-gesanô), but this was not carried through descent or enforced in any organized way. Rather, the urban-dwellers maintained various verbal and behavioral shibboleths that could be used to socially exclude immigrants from the countryside (nonetheless, many of these made successful lives in the cities anyway, often via criminal careers).

Slaves (o-ngeksis) were a special class, drawn mostly from captured enemy soldiers. Since they could only be kept by the nobility and upper clergy, and social mores required they be treated well, they enjoyed rather nicer lives than most of the commoners. However, they bore the risk of being selected for human sacrifice.

After the fall of Ngahêxôldod, various social changes crept in: some permeation of nobles into the clergy; or alternatively, attempts to take power away from the nobles entirely; acceptance of women into clerical positions, and thereafter dynasties of high priests being carried out by bloodline. There were increasing numbers of adherents to Etúgə and Anaitism, and in fact Etúgə dominated in the eastern cities by 400 YP; in these cases the clerical hierarchy remained even as it adopted a new religious practice. There were various flirtations with republican government, inspired by Lesfora in the east, and a functioning republic had coalesced in Oigop'oibauxeu ca. 750 YP.

Human Sacrifice

The practice of oisaxud would occasion the mutterings about the barbarity of the Ndok, especially among their Etúgə neighbors. Mostly the Ndok would sacrifice cows and sheep; humans were only called forth on special occasions and in times of duress. They could be sacrificed to any of the principal four deities, though Op'euseu and Êtsdehad accounted for 95% between them.

The chosen sacrifice was always an adult male from the slave class, volunteered by his owner. He would be taken to the city's temple complex and ritually prepared for three days - ablutioned, fed well, anointed with oils and cow fat. After this period he was briefly exhibited to the public (on a platform in the front of the temple), and then taken back in to be clubbed over the head, kneeling before a statue of the deity.

In slang usage the chosen one was said to have met his doom "suckling at Op'euseu's breast" or "sucking Êtsdehad's cock."

We should note that the Ndok did not view being sacrificed as barbaric or disgraceful, even if it wasn't something you looked forward to - comparable, perhaps, to being drafted for military service.

Personal Names

These observations are based on Ngahêxôldod in the period 382 BP to 277 YP except where otherwise noted.

Commoners are identified by a single personal name. These are drawn from a fixed pool of about 25 names for men and somewhat more for women. The male names are drawn either from originally Ndak Ta nouns and adjectives denoting animals, positive qualities, or the colors "red" and "black", and a few of non-Ndak origin; or from the formulation "first son," "second son," etc., though by 300 BP these no longer corresponded to the actual order of sons. The first class are formed from the first syllable or first two syllables of the source word plus the diminutive -le, the most common being Mpoile (from the NT for "fish"), Goile (from "rabbit"), Ilkile (from "black"), and Kole (from a non-Ndak root). The most common of those based on birth order are Ngiged ("second son") and Mak'ed ("seventh son"). There is much regional variation; for example, the name Ngkoile (from "egg", "seed") is associated with Oigop'oibauxeu.

Women's names are also drawn from abbreviated forms of Ndak words, these being adjectives denoting calm, feminine qualities, or animals and toponymic features associated with them, and the colors "black", "blue" and "green," all with interchangeable suffixes -se, -da, and -teu. In Ngahêxôldod, -da is dominant; the most common names happen to be Maida (from "cow"), Ndaut'a (from "pure"), and Ilkida (from "black").

People expect to know others with the same name as them, and in informal contexts will differentiate with some nickname or other, and in more formal contexts with a matronymic or patronymic (for females and males respectively), with somewhat complex conditions for when to use which. These are formed by taking the parent's name and dropping the final suffix, and prefixing ta- for the matronymic and ge- for the patronymic. There are some predictable sound changes: ge-Foi, "son of Mpoile"; ta-Sau, "daughter of Ntauda." These prefixes have the allomorphs tog- and ged- before vowels.

Upon joining the clergy, men add an oi- honorific to their personal name, drop any -le (with some sound changes: thus mpoile > oifoi, ilkile > oixilkeu) and switch from using the patronymic to a matronymic.

The nobility use an entirely different naming system wherein names are nonce phrases with transparent meaning, usually an expression of piety or military valor. The formulation "X of Y" is frequent, with members of an immediate family sharing a common "Y." For example: the name of the 13th dynasty king Tait'a-ngop'euseu means "shield of the great Op'euseu", and the name of his son Ntsexa-ngop'euseu means "blood of the great Op'euseu."

Literary Output

The literary form favored by the Ndok is the epic poem (legoitsai), the best-known of these being "The Bear-Worshippers" (detailing the conflict between the Ndak and Faraghin) and "The Fall of the Akan Dynasty." These were both apparently oral works, but come to us in a written form from ca. 1050 BP, just before the Meshi period. They are written in five-line stanzas dependent on complex assonance and are heavily reliant on certain stock phrases and kennings (such as the first epic named above).

The Ndok's obsessively detailed historiography is well-noted, though ironically it seems to have started in the period of Meshi domination – the first and second dynasties of Ngahêxôldod, preceding this, are shrouded in mythology. The first dynasty, in particular, was a period of political chaos, emerging from anarchy and a near loss of literacy. The Meshi gathered and organized what details they could, and began the official annals; this fact was conveniently overlooked later.

From the fourth dynasty (the first after the Meshi), we have an epic detailing the exploits of the Meshi, but this is written in a different style from the earlier texts, and is essentially an embellished form of the official histories. The major output of much of the next millennium was exegesis of Ndak religious texts. Resulting from this we have some discussion of hermeneutics and a primitive metaphysics, but Ndok philosophy is, more or less, a historical dead-end, and the Ndok are not on the whole noted for their intellectual curiosity.

Calendar

Even 2000 years after Tsinakan, the Ndok still use the ancient Ndak Calendar. The year (loid) has eight and a half months (gagêp'eu) of 45 days each, with every other New Year's Day falling on the 23rd day of the additional month. The basic repeating period of the calendar is therefore a two-year cycle (goiloid) of seventeen months. On average, a calendar year has 382.5 days – but since this is still shorter than the solar year of 384.1 days, an extra leap month is added every 30 years.

Each month is divided into six weeks (goitol), which alternate between seven and eight days. The names of the days (aiteu) are fairly transparent; where the connection to an original god or goddess has become opaque, the meaning was reinterpreted as generic, which in turn has led to some archaic-sounding names being replaced with a more common word.

Day Ndok Aisô Meaning Comments
1 aitixa polp'eu day of mystery
2 aitixa uxoi day of healing
3 aitixa agoi day of battle associated with Êtsdehad
4 aitixa êp'eu day of the moon associated with Ngadagoi
5 aitixa boiloi day of the earth
6 aitixa eubeu day of the mother associated with Op'euseu
7 aitixa oigoi day of the divine light associated with Aitol; day of rest
8 aitixa tôxadoi day of protection (every other week)

See also