Regions of Cardassia: Peoples and Lands by Nerys Ghemor

It's easy to assume that the Cardassians themselves are as uniform as the armor worn by their military...but to do so is to ignore the diversity that still manages to thrive even under one of the most repressive Alpha Quadrant regimes.

Explore the regions of Cardassia Prime and learn about the people who call it home...

Categories: Meta, Essays and Everything Else Characters: None
Genre: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions Background Information
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 2478 Read: 2057 Published: 20 Feb 2009 Updated: 20 Feb 2009
Story Notes:

Written from an in-universe perspective for non-Cardassians.

Please note that the Cardassian makeup from TNG: "The Wounded" is regarded as completely canon in the Sigils and Unions universe, whereas other continuities may dismiss this difference as simply being evolution in the makeup.

1. Regions of Cardassia: Peoples and Lands by Nerys Ghemor

Regions of Cardassia: Peoples and Lands by Nerys Ghemor

There are three main regions and ethnic groups on Cardassia. In the Hebitian days, the differences were much clearer in terms of culture, dress, and language; however, following Tret Akleen's (Ilojan transliteration: Tret Aykliyn) consolidation of the Cardassian Union, all territories were required to adopt a single language which for the most part was derived from one widespread through the planet's dominant region.

Still, even on a very united world, Cardassians proved very loyal to their ancestral homes and lands, due to the tendency of three to five generations to live under one roof, so many still do identify with the region of their birth.

That said, these days, the only way you will typically be able to determine a person's region of origin is by appearance or that person's statement about where they live. Though there are small clues to be had from accent or a person's name (which originally Akleen wished to force people to change to fit a Rivçalda mould but was talked out of this by his advisors), unless one actually travels to Cardassia, noticing the accent tends to be uncommon due to the standardized nature of the outlying colonies (settled after the centralization of the Union) and the intense pressure on military officers, as they rise in the ranks, to adhere to standard speech.

Upper and Lower Rivçal (adjective: Rivçalda)

This is the most populous group by far, and the one that most people picture when they think "Cardassian." This is in part due to the sheer population density of the Rivçalda, as well as the fact that in pre-Cardassian-Union days, their nations were extremely active in colonization efforts due to financial and other resources--this has exaggerated an already notable population advantage to the point where many foreigners with only casual knowledge of Cardassia have never seen a non-Rivçalda.

In ancient Hebitian days, the Oralian Way originated in Rivçal, in the city of Lakariy'ane [Lakarian City] and spread worldwide from there. It is also the language of one of the greatest pre-Union Rivçalda nations that was eventually enforced upon the Cardassian Union as the standard tongue for the entire empire. It is also Rivçalda kănar that many people think of when picturing the drink--a thick, dark brown, almost molasses-looking drink. Even the typical fashion that we see Cardassians wear [in the main Sigils universe] is Rivçalda in origin.

Rivçalda typically have a cool grey cast to their skin, with varying levels of hue that can become almost white in those from the northernmost regions of Upper Rivçal, such as in the area of Lakat where Gul Tayben Berat (and quite possibly Elim Garak, which led to their being confused for each other on one occasion) comes from. In other areas, particularly the south of Lower Rivçal, the cast of the skin can be quite dark, such as with Legate Tekeny Ghemor. In almost all Rivçalda, both upper and lower, macroscales tend to be sharply defined on the eye and the ear/jawline ridges, as well as down the sides of the neck. Height and build are quite variable depending on subregion.

As the Rivçal regions continue to be the most financially-influential on Cardassia in addition to the most populous, notable Rivçalda are quite numerous and include people such as Garak, Berat, Pa'Dar, and Dukat from Upper Rivçal, Tekeny and Alon Ghemor, Entek, and Damar from Lower Rivçal.

In the divergent history of the Catacombs of Oralius universe, Rivçal is home to much greater language and cultural diversity, ranging all the way from a culture closer to what we've seen in the main Sigils universe to the nomadic tribes of Kurab and Rhevakiy in Lower Rivçal, with their own distinctive customs, languages, and manner of dress. The Kurabda, for instance, typically dress in a manner reminiscent of the Bedouin or Touareg tribes of Earth.

Nevot (adjective: Nevotda)

Cardassians of Nevotda origin appear very similar to the Rivçalda except for a few small differences: their skin generally takes more of a "warm grey" cast with a darker preponderance of hues than the Rivçalda, particularly on the jaw ridges. This hue is often described by Cardassians and foreigners alike as "shale-grey" even though it never actually becomes that dark. There are also differences in the facial structure, though the extent to which this is actually noticeable varies. The eyes tend to be very dark brown if not almost black. Because the ridging and scaling patterns are generally very similar to the Rivçalda, however, foreigners may not necessarily recognize that the person they are speaking to hails from Nevot rather than Rivçal.

Nevot, in the days of ancient Hebitia, was home to a very powerful empire. When first contact occurred between the peoples of Lower Rivçal and their Nevotda neighbors of the southern continent, it was immediately clear that not only could the Nevotda be useful trading partners--they could also present a serious military threat if provoked.

While the ancient Rivçalda at the time had an aggressively imperialistic culture not unlike that of Earth's Europe, rather than a situation like the discovery of North America, Australia, or travels to sub-Saharan Africa, the situation was much more comparable to what would have happened if medieval Europeans had had Song Dynasty China at its height, as their neighbors. Recognizing that a Nevotda invasion could tear right through their kingdoms until they brought their technology to par, contact between the two powers settled into a tense, though distant trading relationship. Despite the "cold war" between the empires of Rivçal and Nevot, this contact still brought about a technological revolution of sorts in Rivçal. Eventually, in the two centuries prior to the Cataclysm, tensions cooled and these days [in both universes] Rivçal and Nevot are by and large great friends, and very comfortable sharing a world-uniting government with each other.

While Nevot is behind Rivçal in population and economic power these days, having suffered a severe crash at the beginning of the Cataclysm; these days, the disparity is less pronounced. In the days of the Union, a person of Nevotda origin will typically find few to no social hindrances among the Rivçalda majority given the severe repression of regional pride by the government (for it is seen as a distraction to species pride). While not as prosperous overall as the people of Rivçal, there are many well-to-do Nevotda families, especially since Nevot retains some small areas of arable farmland. Those who own such land tend to be very well-off, such as the Va'Kust family.

Many who grew up in the region of Nevot have a slight but noticeable accent--Nevotda vowel pronunciation tends to be crisper, with less tendency to slur or de-emphasize non-accented vowels than the standard Rivçalda pronunciation. As a result, many students of the Cardassian language, whether intentionally or not, tend to speak with what native Cardassians will often identify as resembling a Nevotda accent while learning. Unless a student comes to Nevot or a planet settled by people predominantly from that region, though, this tends to shift as the student learns Rivçalda pronunciation. Still, it is often advised that if a student's native language is relatively vowel-poor, that he or she seek out recordings of speakers from the Nevot region (or better yet, actually enroll in a class taught by someone who is either of Nevotda origin or who has spent an extended time in Nevot) and focus on cultivating an authentic Nevotda accent.

One of the most notable Nevotda recently is Legate Broca, the man who temporarily assumed leadership of the Cardassian Union under Dominion rule. Though this has led to some ribbing aimed at the Nevot region, most of the rhetoric is aimed specifically at Broca himself and therefore has not incited any form of ethnic conflict--and as individuals such as Zebreliy Va'Kust or Sekdain Istep would be quick to remind you, Broca does not represent the people of Nevot any more than Gul Dukat represents Rivçal.

In the Catacombs of Oralius universe, Nevotda culture has retained much more of its distinctive flair--it is fairly common to see a Nevotda man wearing the ruviyal, a robe somewhat comparable to Chinese hanfu dress, and at times during this Cardassia's history, the ruviyal has enjoyed popularity among the populations of Rivçal and Hăzăk as well. One of the most famous Cardassians of all time, in that timeline, hails from Nevot: the First Guide of Cardassia, Yavenn Pretam, a prominent aide to the Castellan at the time, who saw Cardassia through the beginning of the Cataclysm while also preserving democracy and introducing greater religious and societal freedoms.

Later in life, she also founded a university in her hometown of Lourasat that upon her death would be given her name: Yavenn Pretam University. With over twenty campuses just on Cardassia Prime alone, beyond the main Lourasat campus, and others in the worlds of Cardassia, before the Occupation of Cardassia, this was easily the largest and most prestigious religious-based institution of higher learning in all of Cardassian territory.

Hăzăk (adjective: Hăzăkda)

Perhaps the Cardassian ethnicity least frequently seen offworld is that of the Hăzăkda.

The region of Hăzăk is in Cardassia's southern hemisphere and in later Hebitian days primarily relied on an agricultural economy. When the planet's climate shifted, Hăzăk suffered the blow most severely as their entire livelihood was wiped out, taking an entire continent's economic infrastructure with it. This, coupled with the fact that the Hăzăkda had historically been disadvantaged (comparatively speaking) even in the planet's days of plenty, has often hindered the advancement of Hăzăkda in Cardassian society despite constant initiatives by the Detapa Council and even Central Command to alter this situation.

Some of these efforts, however, have been halfhearted--in pre-Union days, the Hăzăkda were sometimes victims of discrimination and mistreatment of varying types, especially in the pre-spacefaring era. First contact between the peoples of Hăzăk and those of Rivçal and Nevot was disastrous, not unlike the first encounters between the British and the Aboriginal people of Australia: the Hăzăkda of the time led a very different, largely non-technological lifestyle, and had had no contact with the Oralian Way as had the people of Rivçal and Nevot. The Hăzăkda population was severely impacted, both socioeconomically and in terms of numbers, and in both universes even though their treatment finally became equitable over six hundred years ago, the damage was done and they represent perhaps 5% of the population of the worlds of Cardassia.

Part of this troubled history has stemmed from the noticeable difference in appearance between the Hăzăkda and natives of Rivçal and Nevot (who are much more similar to each other than they are to the Hăzăkda). The macroscales of the typical Hăzăk native are far less defined than those of the other two groups, and they tend to exhibit prominent ridge patterns on their foreheads and temples. The ear-to-jaw ridges also take on a very different pattern, with additional ridges being seen in the upper ear and the lower-ear ridge flowing less smoothly towards the jaw. Finally, the skin tends to exhibit an almost beige hue mixed in with the usual Cardassian grey (an acceptable description of this tone is "sandstone-beige") and the hair is more likely to exhibit a noticeably brown color as opposed to the black or dark brown common among other groups. Finally--Hăzăkda men are the only ones among the Cardassian population capable of growing facial hair, such as that exhibited by Gul Akellen Macet.

The combination of all of these features often led to rude speculations (all disproven by genetic analysis) that the Hăzăkda either represented a subspecies or genetic throwback, not "true" Cardassians. In fact, the truth is that the population of Hăzăk simply became isolated to their continent in the planet's prehistoric times (much as large landmasses like Earth's Greenland, Australia, and Antarctica are from other major landmasses) and spent thousands of years--perhaps even forty thousand--with no real contact with other regions, allowing them to develop more distinctive features than the Rivçalda and Nevotda, who had more contact with each other and therefore more similarity in features with each other.

In modern times, certain prejudices against the Hăzăkda still exist, even though it is illegal in Union law to treat any Cardassian differently because of the place of their forebears. Though the "different species" and "throwback" theories have been conclusively refuted, terms like "inbred" and other insults similar to the Earth insults "redneck" and "trailer trash" are still not erased from the Cardassian cultural consciousness, insults derived from the low Hăzăkda socioeconomic status, perceived lack of cultural sophistication, and "outdoor"-focused culture (a holdover from their tribal and later agricultural days). Remarks about Hăzăkda appearance are generally regarded as unacceptably crude...though in the rougher areas of Cardassia, one may hear uncomplimentary descriptions of Hăzăkda ridging patterns--most especially about the women.

Hăzăkda success in Cardassian society has therefore been more limited than that of their Rivçalda and Nevotda brethren, though particularly within the military structure, there have been Hăzăkda who have achieved real success, and it has been observed (an observation to which there is much truth) that the people of Hăzăk, once achieving success, show great dedication to helping others from their area succeed and will sometimes go out of their way to mentor and promote other Hăzăkda where possible, though outright favoritism, just like outright discrimination, is banned under Union law. [In the story you will have observed this with the Ghiletz and Trager.]

Hăzăkda kănar, though referred to by the same word as the better-known alcoholic drink, is made from a different plant and therefore has a blue appearance not unlike Romulan ale (which despite common misconception, is not a component of the beverage). Hăzăkda kănar, while still more viscous than the typical alcoholic drink, is not as much so as the more common variety and therefore tends to be more successful with offworlders. In the parlance of Federation colonies near or within Cardassian space, this drink tends to be referred to as "Cardassian pale ale."

Perhaps the most notable Hăzăkda in a position of power is Gul Macet*, accompanied by his first officer Glinn Daro. His former chief of engineering, Glinn Telle, was also of Hăzăk.

*Interestingly, Macet is the cousin of Gul Dukat--and although technically Macet is only half-Hăzăkda, he identifies with that group as one who has been on the receiving end of the appearance-based bias (not to mention a rocky relationship with the Dukat side of his family, with which his immediate family has largely cut off relations).

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