The Yakhat are a group of nomadic herders who live (after the events of the novel Storm Bride) north of the river Prasa, between the White Teeth Mountains and Azatsi's Fingers. They are considered one of the "slow" peoples, which average lifespans in the range of 200 years.
This page contains spoilers for Storm Bride! Don't say I didn't warn you.
History of the Yakhat
The earliest oral histories of the Yakhat describe them living in a humid, marshy region far to the east and the south of where they currently live. There they made their homes on the few hills and ridges in the marshland which were not submerged during flood season. A region of higher elevation suitable for year-round habitation was known in Yakhat as a Ban, and they referred to their homeland as simply "the Bans" (Yakhat: Banan).
The Bans were the only parts of the marshland which were inhabitable year-round. During the rainy season, the water levels in the marsh rose and turned the Bans into isolated chains of islands which could only be reached by boat, while during the dry season the water level fell and travel between the Bans on foot became possible. The Yakhat raised small numbers of cattle and practiced fishing, weaving, and small-scale horticulture on the Bans, feeding the cattle on the grasslands that opened between the Bans in the dry season, and on quick-growing marsh grasses during the wet season.
The Yakhat were not notably warlike during this period of their history. This came to an end after the Bans were attacking during a festival, after which the Yakhat were driven off the Bans to the fringes of the marsh. A man named Keishul, one of the refugees from these attacks, claimed to have been visited by the Power Golgoyat, and he rallied the Yakhat to strike back against their attackers, then led them on a series of campaigns which brought them to the steppes which lay north and west or their original homeland.
It's not clear why the Yakhat didn't resettle on the Bans after this point. Their traditional history says that Keishul spurred them on, claiming that Golgoyat did not wish to return to the Bans. It has also been suggested that the attackers had begun to drain the marshes in order to support intensive agriculture, rendering the Bans unsuitable for the traditional Yakhat lifestyle. Whatever the reason, the Yakhat instead adopted the nomadic habits and large-scale cattle-herding practices of the steppe peoples, which they maintained for roughly the next hundred years. During this time they remained exceptionally warlike, continually attacking neighboring tribes, trade caravans, and the frontier cities of the settled empires.
Eventually the Yakhat became such a nuisance that the other steppe tribes allied to force the Yakhat away. During one of the battles with this alliance Keishul was killed and his son, Keshlik, assumed command. Under Keshlik's leadership the Yakhat retreated to the north and the west over a period of several years, until they crossed the Gap through Azatsi's Fingers (killing that region's native inhabitants, the Guza) and descended onto the high-altitude plains north of Prasa.
The Yakhat quickly came into contact with the Prasei, a settled people living in the coastal lowlands and along the Prasa river valley. They raided Praseo trade caravans and settlements and eventually sacked the city of Prasa. However, after the sack of Prasa a woman named Saotse under the guidance of the Power Oarsa was able to convince Keshlik that an ongoing war between the Prasei and the Yakhat would lead to the downfall of the Yakhat and Keshlik's personal ruin. Keshlik and the Yakhat tribal leaders subsequently made peace with the Yakhat, and the Yakhat settled into a more-or-less peaceful nomadic existence on the high plains. (These events are depicted in much greater detail in Storm Bride.)
Culture and society
The Yakhat are divided into eleven tribes, which originally reflect the eleven Bans on which the Yakhat lived. After the shift to nomadism, the tribes were relevant as a form of social and military organization.
|Tribe name||Original Home||Notes|
|Chalayit||Chalay Ban||Largest and most influential tribe|
|Khaatat||Khaat Ban||Ceremonially important tribe, home tribe of Keishul and Keshlik|
|Lougok||Louk Ban||Traditionally employed as scouts|
Each tribe governed its internal affairs with a council of elders, one of which was nominated as the "speaker" for the tribe in inter-tribal councils. During the period of active warfare, Keishul (and later his son, Keshlik) was granted the title "Leader of the Yakhat War Bands" by the speakers of the tribes, which gave him unique dictatorial authority over all military actions by the Yakhat, and by extension over the movements of all of the Yakhat encampments.
After the Yakhat made peace with the Prasei under Keshlik, the title "Leader of the War Bands" fell into disuse, and government of the Yakhat reverted to the councils of tribal elders.
Gender roles and marriage