The giants came from an unknown land far beyond the Boeric Ocean, and were and still are an enigma to most other races. They reached the islands of Par Vollen and embarked on a conquest of the human territory there. The people there were a primitive society, and were quickly conquered. The cannons of the Qunari dreadnaughts laid waste to the mainland, striking first into Rivain and then Seheron. The Qunari were disciplined and possessed superior technology, and thus the people were no match for them. There was little resistance as they marched deep into Tevinter for ten years during the First Qunari War.
But they were not there to kill or destroy. They were there to indoctrinate. In the lands they occupied, they divided children from their families and sent adults to learning camps for indoctrination in their religious philosophies. Those who refused to obey were forced into indentured servitude, or sent to mines or concentration camps for labor, where they often perished of sheer exhaustion or starvation. Any who resisted were slain, instantly and without mercy. Many who converted claim they were treated well and given a large amount of trust provided they followed strict Qunari codes and laws. They were finally repelled in 7:25 by an Exalted March by both the Chantry and the Imperial Chantry. The key to their victory was the Circle of Magi. The Qunari disdain for magic had not prepared them for its advanced potential. By 7:84 Storm, the Qunari army had withered and was ready to make a truce. All sides -- with the exception of the Tevinter Imperium, who they have been at war with for about sixty years -- gathered on an island off the coast of Rivain to sign a peace treaty: the Llomerryn Accords.The horned race is known itself as the kossith, but the populace of Thedas mistakenly refer to it as the Qunari. Qunari means “people of the Qun,” and this includes any non-kossith who follow the teachings of the Qunari. Therefore, any race could be Qunari, and any who abandon it are Tal'Vashoth. Before they embraced the Qun, they were a barbarian people prone to violent rages. The Qun made these barbarians into thinkers, planners, and technicians. The Qun was written by the Ashkaari Koslun, and defines the role of everyone and everything within the society of the Qunari, regardless of whether it is spiritual or mundane. Thanks to the Qun’s teachings, this society is now a model of efficiency and order. This order rests on unity, so no deviant beliefs would be tolerated again. Contact with their original homeland was intermittent at best across the northern ocean before it finally ceased altogether two centuries ago. Several ships have been sent home to restore contact, but they have not returned. The Qunari are resigned to the fact that they are in Thedas to stay.
Every aspect of the Qunari’s lives is dictated by the Qun, which they follow unquestioningly. They see it as their moral duty to forcefully “educate” those who do not comprehend (as for Qunari, the Qun is not “believed” but is “understood”). To the Qunari, the Qun is the true sense of morality, and all societies that reject it will live in debauchery and suffering. To bring these societies to the Qun is to liberate them from their own self-inflicted torment. For this reason, even Qunari attempts at trade with other races and nations are done to size up potential opponents. The soldiers of the Qunari are prepared to wage war throughout their entire lives as part of their attempts to “enlighten” other races in regards to their philosophy. The Qunari do not believe in deities. They find the concept of invisible omnipotent beings laughable. They place religious focus on the divine moral structure of the world, not divine beings. However, they tolerate deism in the populations they convert, as they view their inhabitants as just beginning the path to enlightened self-knowledge, and that they will eventually discard their superstitions.
The Qunari view their whole society as a single creature: a living entity whose health and well-being is the responsibility of all. Each individual is only a tiny part of the whole, a drop of blood in its veins. Important not for itself, but for what it is to the whole creature. Duty is paramount in Qunari culture; society’s well-being is the responsibility of all. The antaam -- the military -- is regarded by the Qun as the physical parts of the body: the eyes, the ears, and the limbs of Qunari society. They are what outsiders meet, giving the false impression that all Qunari are male soldiers. To truly “meet” the Qunari, one must visit their cities. That is where the mind and the soul dwell. In Seheron, Par Vollen, and Kont-aar, one can see the Qunari in their entirety; there the unification of the Qunari into a single being is most apparent. Workers, whom the Qun calls the mind, produce everything the Qunari require. The soul -- the priesthood -- seeks a greater understanding of the self, the world, and the world. Everyone and everything has a place, dictated by the Qun, in which they work for the good of the whole. It is a life of certainty and equality. Qunari cities are extremely organised. Houses are identical and arrange along perfectly orthogonal lines. The fields are well-tended and communal. They do not have currency and do not buy, sell, or trade with each other. "Merchants" have the job of making sure goods are distributed appropriately.
The primary symbol used to represent the Qunari as a people is a triangle, symbolising the triumvirate of body, mind, and soul. The body is represented by the arishok (the military). The mind is represented by the arigena (the craftsmen). The soul is represented by the ariqun (the priests). This triumvirate governs all of Qunari society by acting as the three pillars, leaders in all matters: the Arishok leads the armies, the Arigena leads the craftsmen, and the Ariqun leads the priesthood. All three are the head of their respective paths, working in unison to complete the whole of Qunari society.Tamassran (teachers) raise all imekari (children), give them their general education, and evaluate them. They are officially assigned their roles at 12 years old. The Tamassran determine the imekari’s roles through tests. For example, Qunari soldiers are expected to be strong, disciplined, and stoic, adhering without fail to the tenets of honour and duty as defined the Qun. Tamassran also control the selective breeding program. Qunari have been bred for specific roles for a very long time. Rather than parentage, it is more of a pedigree. Breeding doesn’t determine the assigned task, however. If a Qunari was bred to be a soldier, but turns out more intellectual, the Tamassran may stick him in the priesthood, researching weapons technology for the Ben-Hassrath, policing the populace, or something else, depending on what role needs to be filled by someone with their specific traits. Qunari believe the genders are inherently better at certain tasks; for example, no matter how much aptitude a male shows for management, he would never be as good at it as a female, and therefore it would not be considered efficient to put him into a role where a woman would serve better.
Qunari don’t associate mating with love. They feel love and have friends. They form emotional bonds with one-another, but do not sleep with each other to express it. And if they do, they re-educated by the Ben-Hassrath. If such a thing occurred and produced a child, it would go to the Tamassrans; the Qunari do not needlessly waste people. Qunari do not have family units, and do not marry or choose partners. They don’t even know to whom they are related. A Qunari’s “family” are his or her coworkers.
Qunari society is based upon learning as well as military might. Few of them speak the Trade Tongue used by most Theodosians, and even fewer speak it well. In a culture that strives for perfection and mastery, to possess only a passable degree of skill is humiliating, and so among foreigners, they keep quiet out of shame.
All Qunari are defined by their social role, which is supposed to be a defining part of a person’s nature, unchangeable and fundamental. All of them have a tool -- an asala, meaning 'soul', and that is, literally, what it is considered to the Qunari -- that signifies their role in Qunari society. They consider them part of their worthiness, extensions of their role and duties. For soldiers, those tools are always weapons. Losing this tool brands the owner soulless and they would be executed on sight by the Antaam. When a Qunari dies, the corpse is but a husk, and is given no special treatment, and is disposed of efficiently. But the asala is always gathered up, to be passed on to another Qunari.
They do not use names to identify themselves, instead, their identity is their job title, differentiated by rank and task. What might be considered a name is merely a string of genealogical information used by the Tamassrans for record-keeping. The Qun teaches that all living things have a place and a purpose, and only when they are in the correct place and in control of their own self may the being attain balance. When balance is lost, suffering follows. Mastery of the self, therefore, is the first and greatest duty.
Asit tal-eb is an important concept in the Qun. It literally translates to “It is to be.” It is the idea that everything and everyone in the world has a nature, and these things come together to form a proper order. It is every individual’s choice whether or not they act according to their nature and the nature of the world, or oppose the proper order and fight against themselves and the world. The individual is not truly individual, but a part of a whole, a drop of blood in the body. Their own nature contributes to the larger nature of the world, and so their struggle against self-balance disrupts the balance of the whole, thus hurting themselves. Due to this, society is not considered artificial, but part of nature.
According to the Qun, those born with magic are at a terrible disadvantage: demons can always rob them of their self. They are called saarebas, or “dangerous thing,” It is the accusation and acknowledgement of being a mage. They must be carefully controlled by an arvaarad, literally “one who holds back evil,” because they cannot truly control themselves. The evil is not the mage, but the loss of the mage and his/her self, and the suffering that would inevitably follow. The saarebas are pitied and honoured, for striving while under constant threat from within is truly selfless, the highest virtue of the Qun. They don a set of heavy pauldrons with chains attached, hiding their faces beneath a metal visor attached to their horns, which are sawed off. Their lips are stitched together; it is unknown if this is ritual, or done forcefully. Qunari mages are kept in pens, and if they are found performing forbidden magic, their tongues are cut out so that they may not corrupt others of their karataam (group of mages controlled by an arvaarad). They are controlled by a device, held by an arvaarad, that functions much like a golem control rod, and they are not allowed to speak save grunts and growls that the arvaarad can understand. Saarebas are allowed no other purpose than to be led. If he or she loses their lead, they must die as a demand of the Qun, or risk corrupting others.
The Tal’Vashoth are former Qunari who have rejected what the Qun teaches. If a Kossith has never known the Qun, and does not follow it, he or she is not Tal'Vashoth. Just as Qunari denotes those that follow the Qun -- elves and humans included -- Tal’Vashoth denotes those who no longer wish to adhere to its rules. It literally means “true grey,” a reference to the fact that the Tal’Vashoth do not wear the Qunari war paint. It is not uncommon for kossith Tal’Vashoth to remove their horns in defiance, relishing the outcast role the Qunari place them in. Qunari describe them as “beasts with the faces of men.” They not considered part of the Qunari people anymore. They must leave Qunari lands before they are detected and face re-education or punishment. All Qunari are honour-bound to capture Tal'Vashoth (for re-education) or kill them (if they are unable to return them to the Tamssrans).
Why they leave the Qun varies. Sometimes they do not like their assignment, and some have ambition above their station. Or they might be bound by the Qun, and come to resent their place in society, and thus the Qun. Others just tire of a life driven by duty and purpose, and want to live by their own rules. Some want to return to the animistic religion of their ancestors. Often they have no skills to make an honest living, and some continue to cling to the Qun, following their own version. Others revel in disorder and chaos, waging war on the Qun, on order itself. As they are no match for the Qunari military, they attack farms, travelers, and those who stray too far from Qunari protection, looting and killing in defiance. Others ply their trade as mercenaries. To the Qunari, mercenaries are worse than dead to the Qun -- they are a living insult, selling their soul for selfish reasons.
From the QunEdit
Long ago, the Ashkaari lived in a great city by the sea. Wealth and prosperity shone upon the city like sunlight, and still its people grumbled in discontent. The Ashkaari walked the streets of his home and saw that all around him were signs of genius: triumps of architecture, artistic masterpieces, the palaces of wealthy merchants, libraries, and concert halls. But he also saw signs of misery: the poor, sick, lost, frightened, and the hopeless. And the Ashkaari asked himself, "How can one people be both wise and ingorant, great and ruined, triumphant and despairing?"
So the Ashkaari left the land of his birth, seeking out other cities and nations, looking for a people who had found wisdom enough to end hopelessness and despair. He wandered for many years through empires filled with palaces and gardens, but in every nation of the wise, the great, and the mighty, he found the forgotten, the abandoned, and the poor. Finally he came to a vast desert, a wasteland of bare rock clawing at the empty sky, where he took shelter in the shadow of a towering rock, and resolved to meditate until he found his answer or perished.
Many days passed, until one night, as he gazed out from the shadow of the rocks, he saw the lifeless desert awaken. A hundred thousand locusts hatched from the barren ground, and as one, they turned south, a single wave of moving earth. The Ashkaari rose and followed in their wake: a path of devastation miles wide, the once verdant land turned to waste. And the Ashkaari's eyes were opened.
Existence is a choice.
There is no chaos in the world, only complexity.
Knowledge of the complex is wisdom.
From wisom of the world comes wisdom of the self.
Mastery of the self is mastery of the world. Loss of the self is the source of suffering.
Suffering is a choice, and we can refuse it.
It is in our own power to create the world, or destroy it.
And the Ashkaari went forth to his people.
-- An excerpt from the Qun, Canto 1
When the Ashkaari looked upon the destruction wrought by locusts,
He saw at last the order in the world.
A plague must cause suffering for as long as it endures,
Earthquakes must shatter the land.
They are bound by their being.
Asit tal-eb. It is to be.
For the world and the self are one.
Existence is a choice.
A self of suffering, brings only suffering to the world.
It is a choice, and we can refuse it.
A Tale on MagesEdit
An ashkaari walked among the fields once, observing the laborers at work. Flax bloomed all around him, the color of still water. The air rippled like a curtain. As he stopped to examine a blossom, a bee stung him on the hand. The ashkaari turned to the laborer for aid, and noticed for the first time the heavy gloves and coat she wore. As she tended to him, the ashkaari asked why she was dressed so in such stifling heat.
"To avoid your fate," she replied.
"But there are many thousands of bees here," the ashkaari said to her, "and only one stung me. Surely your caution is unwarranted."
"The stinger is always a surprise," agreed the laborer. "But so is the bee that simply passes one by."
A Tale on WisdomEdit
A great ashkaari during his travels came upon a village in the desert. There, he found the houses crumbling. The earth so dry and dead that people tied themselves to each other for fear a strong wind would carry the ground out from under their feet. Nothing grew there except the bitter memory of gardens. The ashkaari stopped the first man he saw, and asked, "What happened here?"
"Drought came. And the world changed from prosperity to ruin," the man told him.
"Change it back," the ashkaari replied.
The villager became angry then, believing the ashkaari mocked him, for no-one could simply change the world on a whim. To which the ashkaari answered, "The change yourself. You make your own world."