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The Divine Emperor and his eunuchs

Both the institution of the Divine Emperor and the eunuchs are cultural fremdkorper in Charya. Prior to the Charyan conquest of the Matraian empire, the Charyan emperor was a kind of caesar: a military leader first, and a political leader second. The succession was by appointment by the previous emperor.

After the conquest a lot of Matraian institutions were taken over, like the script, the structure of the army, the institution of the judicial magistrate, and the heriditary emperor and his court, and the shamanistic rituals that went with the position of the emperor as a reluctant deity.

The emperor is supposed to be a god who has to weedled in ruling the country. Every full moon he is drawn by his mother (the moon) away from his palace, and his soul is supposed to travel through the void. Shamankas will entice the emperor's soul back to his body with songs, like the Call to the Emperor (in Dutch).

The emperor employs eunuchs to take care of his household, which traditionally includes his two noble Matraian wifes. The current emperor, Rordal Twuindal Sedom'chevir, is perpetually at a domestic war with his wifes. The eunuchs also gather the pleasure tax levied on brothels and wine-houses. Furthermore, they have close connections to the Society, which is a mafia-like criminal organisation that is quite powerful in the city of Broi. They have political power to the extent that they can influence and buy officials from other departments, like the military or the ritual.

The emperor himself is very powerful. If he would want to burn the city, he can, although it's unlikely that he would want it. He can levy taxes and use his army to get them, too. On the other hand, if he would want to favour a certain court official who is not liked by the Chief Eunuch, that official would in all probability get an accident with a week or two. If the emperor falls in love with a Vustlani girl, he can probably induce her to come and live in his palace as his concubine, but he can't marry her.

Charyan eunuchs make sure there are dancing girls available, that there are are enough servants in the palace to care for the Emperor and his family, regulate and order the daily routine of the household, support the first Consort in her struggle against her husband, steal everything of value they can get their hands on and generally scheme and plot in order to get inordinately rich themselves.

Eunuchs are not seen as humans in Charya: in Denden they are called tadan, 'not man', or, but that's vulgar, taman, 'not-prick'. They have to wear blue cotton, and that means nobody else can wear blue in Charya, it's a taboo colour. Eunuchs are 'clean shaven', as they were in pre-revolution China. There have been references to female eunuchs (teyenu) imported from the far east, but those referenes are rare and do not indicate in what manner the female eunuchs differ from a female not-eunuch. Male eunuchs are produced locally, usually in the palace. The eunuchs buy young male babies from the poorer parts of the city, or pick up any boys born to the female servants they can get their hands on.

The whole institution of eunuchs is abhorred by the Charyans themselves, and forms part and parcel of the common fear and dislike they have of the Matraians, who still form a sizeable and recognizable minority in their cities.


© 1999 Boudewijn Rempt - Optimized for Lynx