The Kurundasti Tej [ku run ˈda sti ˈtɛdʒ] was the empire created by the Tžuro upon their conversion to Jippirasti. It is one of the most successful empires in the history of Ereláe: it first conquered the entire Tžuro and Lenani areas, Pronel, and Edinel, and then worked with Caďinas to destroy and occupy Munkhâsh, and finally conquered Skouras.
The Tžuro, traditionally prone to internecine strife, learned the value of unity when expelling the Lenani from their traditional homeland, Burilenan, the southern Lenani steppe, in the 1100s. Each summer the princes would elect a king and fight together, slowly pressing southward into Skouras and westward against the Mei. None of this disturbed their traditional friendly trading relationship with the Skourenes; some Skourene city-states (notably Papliopagimi) even hired them as mercenaries.
Kurund was born in 1549, the nephew of Afmal, the prince of the Majindi fsava (lineage); in the matrilineal Tžuro system, this made him one of the prince's heirs. Afmal converted when he was twelve, and Kurund took the new faith very seriously, studying the scriptures and taking long and arduous treks in the desert to listen himself for the words of Jippir. He heard him, and they were simple and clear: "Do not strive after things of the earth. Seek no wealth, no wife, no glory; strive after Me only, and you will receive these things from My hand."
Kurund decided that these words were not only for himself but for all Tžuro. He went to other lineages, especially those contemplating war with another lineage, and preached peace. This did much to defuse tension between pagan and Jippirasti lineages, especially as many early followers of Babur took the prophet's words as an incitement to convert their brethren by force. In 1581 Afmal died, and Kurund became leader of the Majindi; he concentrated on making alliances with other lineages and raiding Mei and Lenani tribes. He became known for both his courage and his generosity to allies; the most powerful Tžuro lineage, the Čikranda, reciprocated by inviting him to marry one of its princesses, Jintab.
In 1592 the Tžuro princes named him king; his campaign agains the new nation of Mei Ros was so successful that the next year the princes made the arrangement permanent, creating the new title of atej— pledging their unity, with the understanding that their military force would be directed outward.
Kurund was happy to oblige, first invading Mei Ros and occupying its eastern marches. After this, the pagans wanted to strike south into rich Skouras; the Jippirasti preferred to attack Munkhâsh, considered the realm of Jippir's opposite Kulig. Kurund persuaded the pagans that the Tžuro were not yet strong enough to conquer Skouras; he therefore spent the next decades reducing and then converting the Lenani.
In the Tžuro kinship system, there was no expectation of fidelity; a man didn't even know if his wife's sons were his own. As atej, however, Kurund was able to keep Jintab with him, and was therefore sure that her son Adubum was his as well. He clearly favored the boy over his nephew and heir Burudusi.
On Kurund's death in 1623, the Majindi naturally insisted that his heir Burudusi become atej. Burudusi was Jippirasti, but he favored the pagans— perhaps as revenge for his uncle's neglect— and he turned the formidable Tžuro army south. The Skourene cities proved much tougher than expected: the Tžuro knew how to fight other nomads, and even how to overrun weak agricultural states like Mei Ros, they knew nothing about siege warfare, and Skourene cities were built to resist long sieges.
They were willing to experiment, however, and to use the expertise of engineers from captured cities— Gasibur and the towns of Lake Lenan. It took four years, but Papliopagimi, the northernmost Skourene city, fell in 1630. Burudusi punished the city for its resistance by razing its walls and temples, and killing its entire Senate and most of its remaining soldiers. This example was enough to induce Sokandeli to surrender; Miligenḍi did not, and when it was taken in 1631, it received the same treatment. When Ṭisuram's army was defeated in the field, its senate surrendered as well.
Burudusi now controlled the greater part of Skouras proper, and the looting was tasty indeed. He and the other princes appropriated Skourene merchants' palaces, and whatever else they wanted... subject only to the religious stricture that any women they took had to be converted first to Jippirasti.
In his last years Burudusi turned his attention to the rich delta cities led by Iṭili, but was unable to capture them.
On Burudusi's death in 1644, the princes were ready for a change; they named Adubum atej. Adubum changed his named to Attafei 'almighty', and redirected the Tžuro against Munkhâsh. He challenged the pagans with a wager: if Munkhâsh was defeated, they must convert to Jippirasti; if not, he would abdicate and they could return to the conquest of Skouras.
The Caďinorian emperor Ervëa was already at war with the Munkhâshi— and his back was against the wall; his capital Ctesifon was under siege. Attafei's invasion came just in time to relieve the pressure. Over the next years Ervëa pressed steadily eastward, Attafei northward, reaching the Mišicama sea in 1650. Without hesitation Attafei plunged into the swamps of the ktuvoks themselves; afraid but awed, his men followed.
Both leaders were fighting far from home, and progress was slow. It was not till 1667 that the last ktuvoks surrendered. Munkhâsh was destroyed. Attafei collected on his bet: 200,000 Tžuro converted to Jippirasti on one day. The entire nation could now collaborate on looting its new territories.
While Tžuro attention was focussed on the north, Skouras breathed easier. The Skourenes spent much of their reprieve fighting each other, but finally they moved against the Tžuro, and liberated the cities of Papliopagimi— by 1649 they had pushed the Tžuro back where they had started. In 1670-80 they even felt safe enough to resume their internecine wars.
Attafei returned to the south, conquered Mei Ros in 1675, and though in his eighties, he patiently made plans for the reinvasion of Skouras. He died outside besieged Papliopagimi in 1683.
The term Kurundasti, literally "listening to Kurund", dates from this time, but it was not applied to the Tej; rather, Attafei applied it to himself as a sign of his following his father (better, it was implied, than his legal heir Burudusi).
The conquest of Skouras
|1593 - 2375|
Attafei's nephew Kutaj took over the campaign. The Tžuro now had access to Eynleyni infantry and Mei archers, but the campaign was still slow going. In ten years they had occupied most of the rural hinterlands of Skouras, down to the Namal and the outskirts of Guṭḷeli, but most of the major cities were unconquered, except for Papliopagimi (1692) and Meŋeland, conquered in 1694, the year before Kutaj's death.
The new atej was Busiŋgal. His first move was to the east, where he easily conquered Ḍareşam (1697), which under the name of Jaešim became the center of administration for Feináe. His next great victory was Engidori, in 1704, which he renamed Jippirim. He now concentrated on what seemed the weakest Skourene cities, Ṭisuram and Sokandeli; now that he held Jippirim, these were also the hardest to supply. It took five years to capture them.
A bolder strategy was needed. Busiŋgal decided to strike at Peligi, the capital of half of the alliance which face him— the other half was based in Gurdago, inaccessible across the sea. He led an enormous army overland to Ṭisutra where the allied army faced him (1711). For a month the two sides jockeyed for position— the Tžuro wanted to fight on the plains, the Skourenes in the hills.
In the meantime Busiŋgal besieged Ṭisutra. The Ṭisutranda executed a sortie to attack the Tžuro miners and siege engines; and their fellow citizens in the Skourene army rushed to join them. The Skourene commander foolishly followed after them. The Skourenes attacked in disorder, on Busiŋgal's choice of ground; they were massacred. Ṭisutra was lost, and Peligi fell two years later.
And there, for a generation, things remained. Gurdago held onto its possessions in the Gelihur peninsula. The war continued at a slower pace, with reverses: Ageşoram was lost for a time, Kuḷiŋibor temporarily gained.
The last major conquest was Guṭḷeli, in 1784; this was enough to discourage Gurdago from further support, but the Tžuro did not really press forward. There was unrest in Lenan to deal with, and Axunemi counterattacks; reducing the last Skourene cities didn't seem to be worth it.
Rebellion was another matter. When Imuṭeli rebelled in the 1730s, it was razed to the ground, and its population relocated to Jippirim.
The conquest of the south nearly exhausted the Tžuro; troops occupying eastern Munkhâsh had to be withdrawn. Fortunately, the nearby Qaraus had converted to Jippirasti; they were known as the Karhindi, Ver. Carhinnoi. The Karhindi were happy to take over eastern Munkhâsh and the eastern ktuvok marshes as their own empire.
From conquerors to rulers
Jippirasutum have always prided themselves on never forcing their religion on conquered people. In some ways, this was a crueller policy than forced conversion. Conquered people were freely plundered, conscripted into armies, used to work the fields as serfs. Rebels were murdered en masse. If a merchant clan recovered enough to regain some of its wealth, it was plundered again.
The generation of the conquerors had to die off before new policies could be contemplated. Pressed by both Jippirasti teachers and new converts, the atej Gešulam perceived that he was presiding over a ruined, declining nation. He declared that the merchants were under his protection (1751), and set up an organized process for accepting and then protecting Skourene converts. Jippirasti morality was devised for a nomadic people; the clerics slowly adapted it to fit civilized life, largely by absorbing or re-creating Skourene institutions. Land appropriation was declared a form of property theft; looting was prohibited; justifications for contract law and mercantile fraud were teased out of Babur's scriptures. Finally, in 1785, an advisory senate (mafali) was created, though it was limited to converts.
The country began to prosper again; indeed, it surpassed the late Skourene states, plagued by war and fearful of change. The elimination of inter-city trade barriers and the problem of competing scripts simplified trade, while the Jippirasti presence in the north allowed travel and trade in this direction.
The Kurundasti remained zealous and conservative in religious matters. They allowed elaboration of Babur's rules (e.g. further detailing the 35 types of istuja, uncleanness or sin), but prevented speculation or theological discussion. Kurundasti literature consists mostly of exhortations, prophecies, history, and hagiography. The richness of Old Skourene literature was forgotten, except for practical matters, especially medicine and alchemy. Alchemical experiments led to the discovery of distillation— though this created only trade goods and secret luxuries, as the teachers almost immediately declared distilled liquors to be istuja.
Rebellion on the steppe
The adaptation to sedentary life created a cultural gulf between the rulers of Jippirim and their nomadic relatives. The first ateje tried to retain their steppe cred by raising their children back home, but Gešulam was the last atej to do this.
Babur's scriptures are full of praise for the nomadic lifestyle and disparagement for the soft, corrupt Skourenes; it was profoundly disturbing for the nomads to see the ateje, supposedly the embodiment of Jippirasti virture, become rich and civilized and clumsy with horses. Worse yet, the tej's teachers and courts seemed to be swallowing pagan ideas and watering down the concept of istuja. And who let the Skourenes pretend to convert?
A religious pretext was needed, however; ironically, this was a campaign by the city clerics against fsava totems. Jippirasti was still a minority religion among the conquered Skourenes, and converts needed to distinguish themselves from pagans; they therefore adopted Tžuro dress, taught their children Tžuro, ostentatiously followed Jippirasti taboos (e.g. no pets, no shellfish), and burned pagan artefacts. It was profoundly embarrassing to see nomads come into town with totems that looked suspiciously like pagan paraphernalia. (The nomads found this scruple baffling: they had precisely thrown away the gods from their totems generations before. E.g., the Čikrand totem no longer had the skull of a hawk representing the hawk god, only a sheaf of hawk feathers.)
In 1875 Buručam convinced the princes of the steppe to repudiate Jippirim. This led to a brief war, which Buručam decisively won— but he pointedly stopped at the edge of the agricultural fields, refusing to be drawn into the temptation of ruling peasants.
Buručam insisted on being named atej; this bothered some of the princes— didn't the teachers warn about dividing the Tej? Perhaps the city clerics were on to something about those totems, too. In 1895 Lenan rebelled (this was also an expression of Lenani ethnic resentment against the Tžuro), and in 1920 the western steppe followed. These areas accepted the spiritual authority of the tej in Jippirim, but had no interest in his secular authority. (In this they followed the Carhinnoi, who considered themselves part of the Tej, though this had little practical import for them.)
Now that there were two teje they needed names; they simply took the names of their founders, becoming the Kurundasti Tej and the Buručandi Tej.
In Jippirasti histories the later Kurundasti teje are depicted as swollen nonentities, never leaving their palaces, ruled by protocol and shadowy clerical enforcers. In fact the teje were not immobile, but they were increasingly irrelevant: they had little interest in administration, which they left to the Senate, and in turn their own fundamentalist religious preoccupations were uninteresting to their country.
The Carhinnoi greatly expanded their empire, conquering Lenan around 2050. This pushed the Lenani into the Naraji kingdom; the Naraji attempted to make them submit to their authority, and the Lenani destroyed their army. This unsettled things quite a bit in the north; the Kurundasti ended up losing much of their Mei subjects to the new state of Sevisor; but they were also able to push the Buručandi out of upper Skouras.
All the great empires of Ereláe were in a mutually reinforcing downward spiral. The barbarians were pressing hard against both Eretald and Xengiman; this disrupted trade networks established since the time of Attafei. Agricultural communities could no longer rely on far-off capitals to protect them; they became insular and self-reliant, and this in turn weakened the great cities further. And regions not directly threatened by the barbarians resented the levees and taxes needed to resist them, and drifted away if they could. The Kurundasti were unable to prevent the Namal and Feináe separating in this way (the latter as the Buŋkavi Tej).
The Lenani were formed their own tej by Tokruj around 2150. His successors took it as their mission to reunite the Jippirasti, this time under Lenani leadership. Under their great atej Žigral they nearly succeeded, ruling the Lenani steppe, Edinel, Pronel, and upper Skouras. By 2304 the Kurundasti Tej was reduced to lower Skouras. (Two ateje managed to bestir themselves to climb on horses and face Žigral; both were captured and killed for their trouble. Their successors stuck to their palaces and hoped that the fortifications of the cities would hold out.)