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The Temple of Qunayir

Cats at peace

One of the many temples on Temple mountain in Broi is consecrated to Qunayir, the cat-goddess. There are not many Gods devoted to animals who have risen to these heights, although small, furry gods are a perennial favourite of the people, and especially of the childeren. But there's a small temple devoted to the Red Fox, Muyil Yalstay, who is favoured by lower palace servants, and of course one consecrated to Hanumir, the Great Ape, who is especially revered by the military.


Hanumir and Muyil Yalstay are personified by their animals, but Qunayir is, or was, a lady. The story goes that twenty-four generations ago, about six hundred years, the cat of a rich merchant, Yundiai Penna, got lost, broke its leg and was found and fed by one the poor, slightly demented and often homeless ladies who feed the cats in the alleyways of the city. Every great city has many of those.

However, Yundiai Penna learnt that his cat, according to tradition a large red tom, was taken care of by this lady, and in turn, he took care of her, out of gratitude. When she died he erected a small monument with a statue in her honour. When listened to, deceased Charyans can easily become holy, if not godlike, and the old and ugly lady became the beautiful and helpful Goddess of Cats. Since no-one, she least of all, remembered her name, she came to be called Qunayir.

Nowaday, the descendants of Yundiai Penne, who still hold the post of Great High Priest in the Temple, maintain that their fore-father was a high civil servant, and the current incumbent holds the post of Titular Procurer of the Imperial Table Salt, which is a very lucrative sinecure, as it entails buying certified good quality salt for the personal use of the Emperor.

First Tom

First Tom

The Goddess

Qunayir is still an active godess, who takes an interest in the life of the living. She's quite good-hearted, and will help young children in distress to find her temple, if she thinks they are cat-persons and will be amenable to her service.

Her statue in the Temple is that of a beautiful lady in her thirties, surrounded by cats. She often appears a cat, often as a small kitten to very young children, but also as a friendly, somewhat doddery old lady. To adolescents she often appears as a very alluring, attractive and mysterious woman - some maintain that this was the way she looked when an living young lady, and think she's been a courtesan banned from the emperors court. She often warns for future trouble, she can give some protection and can guide people to the safety of her temple.

The Temple

The Temple of Qunayir is nowadays served by a handful of High Priests. A temple on Temple Mountain generates a large income, and the High Priests are rich, and so is life in the temple. Up to two-score acolytes live in the temple to do some chores and learn the literary languages, but there are about a hundred servants to do the real work in the kitchens and around the grounds. The acolytes are taught by High Priestess Tala Zipurdam: the other High Priests merely celebrate the daily Service. There is a secretary to do the administrative work, leaving the High Priests free to contemplate the mysteries of Qunayir.

The Temple on Temple Mountain is situated near the abandoned temple of the Nine Teleg (about whom nothing is known), and the temple of the Rice Goddess Mirilir, a bit aside from central Procession Road. The relations with Mirilir are excellent, a fact which is often, not entirely facetiously, explained by the gratitude Mirilir feels for Qunayir in keeping the mice down, and Qunayir feels for Mirilir in providing such an excellent hunting ground.

Kitchen MistressKitchen Mistress

There is a large courtyard, a temple hall with several small chapels to the side, where there are small statues of aspects of Qunayir guarded by pensioned priests, and a large statue of Qunayir. At the back there are about forty small rooms that are used as studies for the High Priests, vestries, store and lumber rooms, and two large dining halls, one for the High Priests and one for the acolytes. At the back of this there is large courtyard surrounded by the kitchens, store rooms, a dormitory for the acolytes, a bath-house and a gallery. The high priests live in a couple of small villas on Temple Mountain, at the north side of the Temple.

The cult

The current high priest is still of the Penne clan, and is named after the founder of the temple. The Priests know certain mysteries and have secret powers, which the acolytes are supposed to learn during their stay in the temple. With some exercise, servants of Qunayir can listen to cats, and ask them for favours. When in danger they might be able to appear as cats to the outside world, and have cat-like abilities, like climbing, seeing in dark, and clawing. And they will have cat-like behaviour, like washing when embarrassed, or an intense desire to hunt or sleep. Some would say that they can really turn themselves into cats. Likewise, servants of Hanumirzi and Muyil Yalstay are supposted to be very near to apes and foxes, themselves.

Often, a certain cat will adopt a particular acolyte, and who is chosen by the current First Tom of the temple as personal human, will be the first acolyte. Ones personal cat can be very helpful, but also quite annoying, as when the small girl Murxao was adopted by a gray tom, who found her quite attractive when she was temporarily a cat...

Outside Temple Mountain

Everywhere in Broi there are small shrines to the Qunayir, with a priest who has been in the Temple, and they work for the people as good as they can. And for the local cats, of course. Charyans are not much inclined to institutional charity, although they will give freely to the beggars they meet in the street - after all, you don't know when you will be sitting there yourself. The temple of Qunayir is not unique, though, in its charitable work: there are a few others.

It is both through the frequent personal divine intervention of Qunayir and the activities of the local shrines, that Qunayir is quite well known and likes, especially amongst the common people.


© 1999 Boudewijn Rempt - Optimized for Lynx