Kahmari (pronounced /kəˈmɑri/; written कःमारी (and pronounced [k˭ɐmɑːɽiː]) in the Ghansa language) is a large nation in western Vlastach, spanning the domains of Myrantha and Telifog. Kahmari is a very old nation, and one steeped in tradition; the people celebrate the same holidays they have for hundreds or thousands of years, and in many of the same ways. In fact, Kahmari is one of the places on Vlastach where the gods retain the most worship since the Merge. Of course, though, Kahmari isn't entirely static, and even here change does come; landworkers remain rare here, for example, but there are those who take up the mantle.
Kahmari is often called the Hidden Land, somewhat counterintuitively given that most people on Vlastach know perfectly well where it is. The origins of the nickname are obscure; the two leading theories are that either it's a reference to much of its surface being hidden beneath the verdure of the jungles, or that it alludes to other secrets that this ancient land yet keeps.
Geography and Climate
Outsiders often think of Kahmari as covered in dense jungle, its cities islands of civilization embedded in an expanse of foliage. While some of Kahmari may more or less fit this description, it's a far more diverse country geographically than many in other parts of the world realize. While both the eastern and western extremes of Kahmari are covered in jungle (though two discrete jungles with different flora and fauna, called respectively the Maj and the Bhirat), between the two lies an area more temperate, with extensive patches of grassland and deciduous forest. Swampland abounds near the mouth of the Dhurba River, and in certain other parts of the country, and in the western end there is even a small patch of desert. Kahmari also lays claim to some mountains and highlands, the peaks of some of which get extremely frigid. Kahmari has an extensive coastline, having more than ten thousand kilometers of border with the Gloaming Ocean.
The winds in Kahmari tend to blow northward, off the ocean, which in large part accounts for much of the land's wetness. In the far west, however, the winds take on a more southerly direction, though over much of western Kahmari the winds in the two directions tend to mix and cancel and leave the air, most of the time, relatively still. Nonetheless, the proximity of the ocean and the heat of the area, which encourages evaporation, still leave most of western Kahmari moist and well watered.
The native inhabitants of Kahmari for the most part have very dark skin and straight (or rather slightly wavy) black hair, though they vary widely in other aspects. Not all of the Kahmarians pertain to this native type; certainly some people from elsewhere have immigrated, and Kahmari is now home to many people whose ancestors originally came from other lands, and who may be much lighter in complexion. These immigrant ethnicities have settled mostly along the coast and in the center of the nation; in northwestern and northeastern Kahmari, the swarthy people generally associated with Kahmari do heavily predominate.
Even the native Kahmarians do not compose a monolithic ethnicity. In fact the nation of Kahmari formed from the union of two separate nations (now referred to as Acchadi and Jhir), headquartered respectively in the Maj and Bhirat jungles. While they both were dark and cymotrichous, the people of Acchadi and Jhir were not closely related, and there exist significant (average) differences between them. Indeed, the Acchadi and the Jhir each comprised a number of different (albeit related) ethnicities, and while many unfamiliar with the people of Kahmari might think that an Acchadi and a Jhir look alike, a Kahmarian would usually be able to tell whether an individual was Acchadi or Jhir, and might stand a fair chance of ascertaining what more specific ethnicity he pertained to even within those broad groupings. Of course, since Kahmari was founded as a nation—and to some extent even before that—there has been a degree of mixing between the different ethnicities, and certainly there are many Kahmarians who have both Acchadi and Jhir ancestry, even if they may identify with one group or the other. However, in accordance with tradition marriages in Kahmari tend to occur mostly, though not exclusively, between members of the same ethnicity, so there still remain many Kahmarians who can call themselves "pure-blooded" members of a specific ethnic group.
The languages spoken in Kahmari are likewise very diverse, even without counting those brought by more recent immigrants. Historical linguists count at least three entirely different phyla of languages among both the Acchadi and the Jhir, and while most of these are rarely spoken today there remains one phylum from each that is still widely used, each comprising several distinct stocks. Even government documents are routinely printed and government business conducted primarily in two different languages: in Ghansa in western Kahmari and in Nirbu in the east, and in both for documents disseminated throughout the nation and for much of the nation's middle. In certain provinces of Kahmari yet other languages are dominant. Inasmuch as any particular language can be singled out as the closest thing Kahmari has to an official national language, it is Ghansa, but its status as such is quite tenuous at best. Still, when most Kahmari placenames are transliterated into other languages, the foreign names are usually taken from the Ghansa.
Nominally, at least, Kahmari is a theocracy, beholden to the clerics of a pantheon of gods known as the Krtati. In practice, very few people spare much thought for the Krtati, and the ceremonies in their honor have devolved into traditional rituals with little religious significance in the minds of their celebrants. While formally all the political leaders of Kahmari remain priests of the Krtati, for most of them this is now true in name only. This includes the case of the overall leader, the Parachary of Dhuruda. The word parachary translates roughly as "highest priest", and the Parachary of Dhuruda is in principle the head of the church of Dhuruda, the leader of the Krtati pantheon; few recent Paracharies, however, have had any real religious motivations, and they have had no real involvement with whatever vestigial organization of Dhuruda's faithful remains.
The overall power of the Parachary of Dhuruda is limited by Kahmari's great diversity; the nation is divided into thirty provinces of varying cultures and traditions, and while the Parachary of Dhuruda and the rest of the national government do enact some overarching laws, most of the business of governance takes place at the provincial level. Each province is ruled by a parachary devoted to a different god, each supervising a contingent of mahacharies—"high priests"—who fill various positions in the provincial cabinet and govern smaller divisions of the provinces. In this respect, the Parachary of Dhuruda is like all the others; he too rules a specific province and has a cabinet of mahacharies under him, but as Dhuruda is the head of the Krtati so his Parachary has dominion over the others—at least, this was the original rationale for the arrangement, though as the religious component of their rulership has faded this has now become mostly a matter of convention. There still remain in the traditions and other features of each province, however, some hints of the portfolio of the god to which its government—and the province itself"is ostensibly dedicated.
The means of choosing the parachary varies by province, as does the length of his term. Formerly, each parachary was designated through some sort of special ritual linked to the god he served. While vestiges of these rituals remain, in most provinces they are now fairly superficial, and most paracharies are elected democratically. This includes the Parachary of Dhuruda; formally, only citizens of his province can take part in choosing the parachary, but this technicality is circumvented by allowing citizens of other provinces to select exactly who gets to cast the votes. In most provinces, the paracharies still nominally serve for life but can be recalled by the populace if they become too unpopular. In practice, in most provinces the parachary will "voluntarily" step down from his position after five years, though he may be elected again, which means in practice the paracharies serve five-year terms. The quinquennial abdication is not legally required, but a parachary who doesn't resign after five years is likely to be recalled by the people for his presumption unless he's extremely popular.
Due to its extensive shoreline, Kahmari does a brisk trade in marine goods, including fish, shellfish, and seashells and products made from them. Furthermore, the Maj and the Bhirat yield many exotic flowers, fruit, spices, and perfumes that are sold elsewhere. Some Kahmarian wizards practice esoteric magical techniques little known in other lands, and produce singular talismans that are also exported to other lands. One of Kahmari's best known exports, though one responsible for only a relatively small part of its income, is that of cotchwood, a specially treated kind of fibrous material that peels into thin but strong, transparent sheets.
While Kahmari is not a wealthy nation, it does manage to keep itself relatively self-sufficient. Between the bounty of the jungles; the rice, sorghum, and goa beans grown in the land between them; and the plentiful harvest of the Gloaming Ocean, the Hidden Land has no shortage of food, and its varied terrains also provide most other necessary resources, including stone, wood, and brick for building and and jute, alginate, and red silk for textiles. However, it does import some luxury goods not produced locally. Kahmari also imports considerable metal, even though this may not be necessary—the Utaraga Mountains in northern Kahmari are believed to contain valuable minerals, but have been little exploited.
Despite its extensive trade relations, Kahmari tends to have little interaction with its immediate neighbors. Relations with Sueili are cordial but somewhat cold; Kahmari tends to see Sueili as possessed of an annoying feeling of superiority, while Sueili sees Kahmari as a chaotic disaster in the making best kept at a distance. Gaharum poses a bit of a problem for Kahmari in that its residents frequently try to cross the border illegally into the Hidden Land; while Kahmari is sympathetic to the plight of Gaharum's poor, and does give them some financial aid, it can't reasonably absorb all the people who want to flee there. As for the nations on the other side of the Utaragas, they might almost as well be on the other side of the world for as much traffic as there is between them and Kahmari; the mountains are a barrier not easily passed. The only neighboring nation with which Kahmari has any significant conflict is Xala Kes; the two nations have an ongoing border dispute over a piece of territory just west of the Malnada River called the Nassadh.
Arguably, Kahmari actually has closer relations with some nations with which it doesn't share a border. Kek and Iamo are major trading partners, with much commerce with the former nation occurring over the Gloaming Ocean, and the latter taking place largely overland, across trade routes that cut through Gaharum and several nations farther east, and underground, through broad tunnels through Vlastach's interior. Somewhat surprisingly, despite their large geographical separation, Kahmari does considerable trade with Keneval; this is established mostly through magical translocation.
The magic of landworking, in such common use in much of Vlastach, in Kahmari is little employed. Though in some parts of the nation it is in more use than others, and there are some communities, and even some entire provinces, that might qualify as Grower, Kahmari as a whole is definitely a Crafter nation. Overall, the country as a whole does seem to be moving in the direction of becoming a Grower nation, but it's far from being there just yet, and given Kahmari's typical social inertia it may be centuries yet, if not millennia, before it gets there.
Though landworking is rare, however, magic in general is not; elemental magic is widely known and used on Kahmari, and elemental mages relatively common. In fact, there are parts of Kahmari where elemental magic is in greater use than almost anywhere else on Vlastach, and Kahmari probably has more elemental mages than any other country in the world. (This is partly due to the size and population of the country, however; Kahmari's number of elemental mages per capita is still relatively large, but exceeded by Gevelo Dar, Ludor, and Scigritti, and rivaled by Caphavia and Kek.) Not only that, but Kahmarians have, over the years, developed some arcana of their own, some of which are secrets barely known outside individual provinces. The most widespread native Kahmarian arcana are gudarech, which involves drawing complicated glyphs that hold magical power; and bukkana, a strange sort of magic that somehow involves casting spells through animal calls, but no one knows exactly how many others might exist.