The Ni-Kunni are one of the primary bloodlines of the Amarr Empire. A former slave race from the poor planet of Mishi IV, the Ni-Kunni quickly adapted to life in the Empire and only a small number remain slaves. The Ni-Kunni are characterized as cunning traders, skilled negotiators, and hard-working merchants.
Ni-Kunni tend to be shorter and somewhat more wiry than other races. They tend to have intermediate skin tones, with some having quite dark complexions. Their hair ranges in color from dark black to light red and is typically straight, thick, and heavy. They usually have dark eye colors, though light blues and vivid greens do occur and are consider quite attractive traits among the Ni-Kunni.
Ni-Kunni men tend to have rather craggy faces, with many lines and creases, and are readily identifiable by their rather prominent noses. Indeed, among the Ni-Kunni, a large nose is a traditional sign of virility and masculinity, and several bawdy jokes have sprung up around Ni-Kunni noses. The men also have high cheekbones and rather sunken cheeks.
Women tend to have a much softer appearance than men and are less readily identifiable simply by appearance. They have somewhat round faces and large eyes. Young women tend to look older than they actually are, while older women tend to look younger, giving them a somewhat timeless appearance.
Few records remain of the original settlers of Mishi IV. Though several ruins dating to prior to the collapse of the EVE Gate have been uncovered, much of the data has been destroyed through millennia of sandstorms and looting. Thus little is known of the character of the people who chose to settle the resource poor Mishi IV, nor their motivations in choosing the planet.
Despite this, there exists some scant evidence that has led to many popular theories. The most prominent is that the Ni-Kunni's ancestors, much like those of the Amarr, were religious extremists looking to start anew in a new world. This theory posits that Mishi IV was selected as a place free of temptation and full of hardship, forcing the settlers to be of stern moral fiber.
Whatever the motivation of the people, it seems likely that Mishi IV was in the early stages of terraforming attempts when the EVE Gate collapsed. The geological record paints Mishi IV as a much drier place with a thinner atmosphere capable of sustaining only extremely hardy life roughly 20,000 years ago. Around this time, several water-rich asteroids and comets struck the planet within the course of a few years. These strikes provided roughly half of Mishi IV's current water and thickened the atmosphere considerably.
It seems likely that the early settlers had planned on further terraforming the planet, only for the EVE Gate to collapse and cut them off from the resources necessary to do so.
Following the collapse of the EVE Gate, the Ni-Kunni's ancestors numbered in the tens of thousands. As the remaining pre-collapse equipment broke down, they regressed to a stone age level of technology. The survivors of the collapse were forced into a nomadic lifestyle as the planet's surface stabilized following the impact events. They moved from one temporary source of water to the next, harvesting what they could from the rugged native plant species and supplementing their diets with what imported livestock had survived.
As millennia passed, the planet's surface began forming proper oceans and biospheres. Roughly 8000 years ago, the first permanent settlements on Mishi IV since prior to the collapse began to form. Early settlements formed around permanent bodies of fresh water, a rare commodity. These settlements began relying on agriculture for food production, causing a population boom.
Most settlements emerged in a habitable band that stretched from the subtropics to just outside the poles; the tropics were beset with inhospitable heat and had little drinkable water. They remained relatively isolated from each other, as the distance between permanent water sources was generally vast. This was a double edged sword for the Ni-Kunni; little warfare was waged between distant settlements, but trade, innovation, and genetic diversity was stifled.
While the majority of the planet's population remained nomads, traveling from seasonal pool to seasonal pool, it was from these settlements that innovation in Ni-Kunni society was born. Technology slowly moved from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. While life among the nomadic Ni-Kunni remained unchanged, city-dwelling Ni-Kunni became dominated by the rise of local warlords.
These warlords were known as water barons, as they raised armies to conquer and control the permanent potable water sources on Mishi IV. While these water barons were autocratic rulers and often subject their people to great cruelty and hardship, they also provided a necessary stabilizing factor, keeping violence from erupting over water and other resources.
Under the direction of the water barons, the first major industry on Mishi IV emerged. The planet was resource poor, but many settlements began mining out the scarce metal deposits. Copper was most abundant, though tin, silver, gold were not uncommon. Through some quirk of its formation, Mishi IV had very little iron content in the upper crust, so iron mining was not a frequent occurrence.
Irrigation allowed for the establishment of more remote settlements, which led to the creation of roads, and the beginning of extensive trade between major cities. Much of this trade was facilitated by the nomadic peoples, many of whom switched from traveling from oasis to oasis to hauling goods over great distanced between the cities.
While there was little technological advancement during this period, it was a time of tremendous cultural, artistic, and religious growth among the Ni-Kunni. The ancient Ni-Kunni practice of wind dancing emerged in this period, as did the reed flute and kahlif drums. Artisans produced exquisite stone carvings and records abound of intricate and extensive sand sculptures. The first Ni-Kunni novel, ''The Shamar of Sutan'', was written during this time, though it only exists in fragmentary form today.
Several major religions emerged and spread during this period. Though much information on them has been destroyed and suppressed by the Amarr, enough artifacts and records remain to paint a detailed picture. Prior to this era, religion was fragmentary and tribal, varying greatly between settlements and nomadic clans. The religions tended to be shamanistic, polytheistic, and unstructured.
The largest religion, practiced primarily in the cities, was monotheistic, arising out of an older, polytheistic religion that came to be dominated by a singular sky god. Among nomads, polytheism persisted, though practices became more ritualized and strict. One of the more widely held beliefs among the nomads involved the worship of a trinity of gods; one of the sun, one of the desert, and one of the oases. Numerous smaller, less-important religions rose during this period as well, though much knowledge of them has been lost.
Arrival of the Amarr
Eventually, technological innovation caught up with cultural innovation and the Ni-Kunni began to enter an industrial phase. Though hampered by the lack of iron and thus steel, the Ni-Kunni developed numerous strong and advanced brass and bronze alloys. The introduction of the steam engine caused an explosion in industry and soon massive, steam-powered factories began to spring up across the globe.
This led to a further movement toward the cities, as more and more of the nomadic people traded in their difficult subsistence living for permanence and safety. As the population grew to over a billion, the cities swelled. This increased population put strain on potable water resources and the water barons began facing challenges to their rule for the first time in centuries.
The full impact of this industrial revolution on society was never realized, however, as the Amarr Empire arrived.
The earliest of the Amarr ships were under the purview of the 51st Exploration Corps. These ships captured a number of nomadic natives and employed them as translators. They found the nomads easy converts, as the Amarr had plentiful water and seemed to the nomads to be nothing more than the fabled water angels of their myths. It was from these nomads that the Ni-Kunni got their name, the term being a corruption of the word the nomads used for their own people.
The city-dwelling Ni-Kunni, however, proved to be more resistant to change. The water barons, seeing an end to their long reigns, fought against the coming Amarr. An early landing crew was massacred and sacrificed, leading the following ships to massacre the entire city-state and declare the entire ethnicity worthy of no more than destruction and eternal slavery, leading to the eventual destruction of their very identity.
Despite these early difficulties, the Amarr soon found willing converts. The Ni-Kunni, used to harsh life on a desolate planet, found the harshest of Amarr fields and mines to be life as usual, while the virtually unlimited supply of water guaranteed they would not rebel. Within a generation, the entirety of Mishi IV had been conquered by the Amarr and virtually the entire population had been enslaved. Additionally, the Ni-Kunni found the Amarr religion similar enough to their own beliefs that they quickly accepted the new order as their own.
Slavery and Emancipation
Thanks to their swift adoption of the Amarr way, the Ni-Kunni did not suffer harshly under Amarr rule. While the Amarr stamped out many of the less desirable cultural practices, they found that the Ni-Kunni did most of the work themselves.
Ni-Kunni slaves proved to be loyal, hard working, clever, and dutiful. Most of all, they were deeply religious. Liberal Holders began freeing particularly devout Ni-Kunni slaves almost immediately; some of the most prominent Ni-Kunni families in the Empire can claim to have been enslaved for no more than a generation.
Perhaps the greatest thing for Ni-Kunni freedom was the discovery and conquest of the Minmatar. Coming less than two centuries after the Ni-Kunni were enslaved, the Minmatar outnumbered the Ni-Kunni, providing Holders with a massive influx of labor. Additionally, the Minmatar were uniquely rebellious and obstinate, making the rather pious Ni-Kunni seem more ready for emancipation by comparison.
Though it was not a massive release, the Ni-Kunni gradually were freed from slavery over the centuries, until the vast majority of the population had become free men.
Less than 1% of Ni-Kunni in the Empire remain enslaved. At the same time, even fewer have managed to emerge from the ranks of the lowest commoners and attain some measure of respect and prestige in the Empire.
Most Ni-Kunni in the Empire serve as artisans, traders, priests, or military. Many cities in the Empire have their own Ni-Kunni districts, where the oldest families lord their prestige over lower, poorer families. The most wealthy Ni-Kunni tend to be traders, while those with the most respect among Amarr are those who have served in the Navy.
A large number of Ni-Kunni have become parts of the Amarr criminal underground, being overrepresented there compared to their True Amarr and Khanid fellows. They tend to make good smugglers and their shrewdness makes them exceptional criminal leaders.
Those who remain enslaved tend to be criminals, heretics, revolutionaries, and malcontents who have been enslaved as punishment. Depending on the severity of the crimes, these punishments can carry on to unborn offspring and even family in rare cases.
The largest population of Ni-Kunni remains on Mishi IV, which has undergone additional terraforming under the aegis of the Amarr. The planet remains resource deficient, however, and is neglected by the Empire in general. Additional large populations live in Tash-Murkon space, while relatively few live in Kador or Ardishapur holdings.
Small communities of Ni-Kunni live in the Gallente Federation, typically sticking to their own districts in major Gallente cities. These communities tend to be tight-knit and distrustful of outsiders, but are generally well liked for their strong work ethics. A small population of Ni-Kunni living on Caldari Prime were forcibly relocated following the Caldari Invasion.
While the ancient Ni-Kunni had a rich and varied culture, it has mostly been erased by the Amarr. Though there remains some differentiation among Ni-Kunni based on ancient ethnicities, modern Ni-Kunni view themselves as one culture and bloodline rather than several different tribes as the Minmatar do. Despite the homogenization of Ni-Kunni culture, some significant differences remain between them and the greater Amarr culture in general.
The pre-contact Ni-Kunni practiced a variety of religions. The majority of these were minor ones, practiced by isolated communities and families. Much of them had died out by the time the Amarr arrived and those that did not have mostly been erased by the Amarr. Two large religions have left enough behind that they are well known and studied by historians.
The nomadic peoples of the deserts and steppes practiced a polytheistic religion that revered three primary gods and many smaller ones. The main trinity were gods of the sun, of the desert, and of the water. The sun god was portrayed as a cruel tyrant that scorched all those who did not offer obedience, opposed by the life giving water god who strove to protect his followers and deliver to them a bounty of life. The desert god was neutral in the conflict, serving as a balance between the two; often suffering under the sun god's rays, but also refusing to give up too much of his domain to the water.
Their shamanistic rites were highly ritualized, primarily involving the discovery of water. Many rituals were aimed at divination and reading omens in the clouds. The prophets of the nomads were highly regarded for their ability to divine where water could be found. They were so well respected that even the water barons of the cities, who were primarily monotheistic, would employ them to read their fortunes.
The city-dwellers were mostly monotheistic, worshiping a sky and rain god. Much like the nomads, the religion revolved around water and rain. The sky god was portrayed as a distant and fickle deity who demanded bribes and sacrifices from his followers before he would answer prayers.
The religion used sacrifices extensively in their rituals. The majority of these sacrifices were material, using inanimate effigies. However, animal sacrifice was common, particularly during major holidays. Human sacrifice was recorded as well, though it was relatively rare; most Ni-Kunni would go a lifetime without seeing a human sacrifice.
One aspect the two religions had in common was the belief in angelic creatures that regularly brought water to the people, until a great disaster drove them away. While some Amarr theologians have connected the story of water angels with the Scriptures' stories about the sefrim, most researchers posit that it is a cultural memory of regular off world water deliveries that came before the collapse of the EVE Gate. Some historians have suggested that the ease with which the Amarr conquered the Ni-Kunni was due in part to these legends, claiming the Ni-Kunni identified the Amarr as the returning angels and thus willingly subjugated themselves. There are some records that small numbers were convinced of such a thing, but evidence for a mass surrender is scant.
Modern Ni-Kunni adhere fairly strictly to the orthodox Amarr religion. Many attend church services with the greater populace with True Amarr priests and rites. However, many Ni-Kunni follow private rituals that, while not at odds with the orthodox religion, inject some aspects of the old Ni-Kunni religions into them.
In Ni-Kunni dominant communities, these aspects become pronounced. Ni-Kunni preachers commonly bring aspects of the old religions into the modern Amarr faith. Though such things are not approved of by the Theology Council, they are relatively benign modifications and are not expressly forbidden.
Common adjustments are the extended usage of water in blessings and prayers, an injection of traditional Ni-Kunni music into psalms, and an inclusion of ritualized dances. In Ni-Kunni dominant churches, sermons can erupt into relatively cheery music, with a swirl of skirts and veils. Ni-Kunni marriage ceremonies tend to have the most differences compared to Amarr ones, with a much more pronounced focus on mutual amity - even extending to the participants' former potential partners - than is normally found in alike Amarr ceremonies.
As with all segments of Amarr society, a small number of Ni-Kunni are drawn to the Sani Sabik faith, primarily because of the promise of equality with Amarr. Among them, the water used in classic Ni-Kunni rituals may be replaced by blood. Similarly, a small number of Ni-Kunni have fallen in with the Equilibrium of Mankind.
Ni-Kunni tend to have large families. This is a tradition that stretches back to before their subjugation by the Amarr. Because it allowed for a constant influx of new, young slaves, it was a practice encouraged by Holders and has been reinforced to this day.
It is a point of pride among Ni-Kunni to sire many offspring. A typical family might have five or more children. The eldest tend to be the most favored; elder children, regardless of gender, are groomed to take over family trades, while younger children are frequently apprenticed out to other Ni-Kunni craftsmen or are sent off to join the church or the military. Among more well-off families, the eldest often inherit the family business and are given the best schooling, while the younger children are looked at primarily as opportunities to marry off into better-off families.
A common misconception is that the Ni-Kunni were widely polygamous prior to Amarr contact. While it is true that polygamy was practiced and accepted by the Ni-Kunni, it was not nearly as widespread as assumed. In truth, only rich and powerful men were capable of supporting multiple wives. The water barons were famed for their large harems, but the majority of city-dwellers had only a single spouse; though perhaps a wealthy merchant could wed two or three women.
The practice was more common among the nomadic Ni-Kunni. Small groups might have a single elder with several wives, while larger clans might have several prominent men with multiple wives. The other men in the clan would be expected to undertake the dangerous tasks of scouting for water, fighting off enemies, and traversing the desert for supplies. In this situation, women found it beneficial to be married to the elders, who were spared the risky tasks and would be present in their camps more frequently.
It was, however, the water barons and tribe elders that tended to be in direct contact with the Amarr conquerors, thus fueling the stories of widespread Ni-Kunni polygamy. Regardless of the truth, the concept of polygamy has colored relations between Ni-Kunni men and women to this day. It is not uncommon for a young Ni-Kunni man to have several prospective wives vying for his attention and ultimate affection.
The majority of Ni-Kunni families keep accurate genealogical records. Distance from the last enslaved ancestor is a point of pride among Ni-Kunni, with the oldest and most prestigious Ni-Kunni families having only been enslaved for a single generation. It is viewed as a point of familial piety, the logic going that those who were freed sooner must have been more in touch with God than those who remained enslaved. The pressure of belonging to a family with a long history can be so much that a Ni-Kunni man might take the family name of his wife if her family has been free for more generations than his.
Ni-Kunni tend to collect in large neighborhoods filled with other Ni-Kunni. While there are certainly those who break the mold and live with commoners of other bloodlines, these are considered the exceptions rather than the rule. Most communities are part of the dominion of True Amarr Holders and tend to be neglected because of this. While this keeps the communities in a shabby state, it also affords them a degree of freedom not present in mixed and True Amarr-heavy cities.
Because the majority of Ni-Kunni are of the lower commoner classes, these communities tend to be on the poor side, with a few notable families holding dominion over the others. This relationship bears many similarities to the greater Amarr societal structure, with the wealthy families taking the role of surrogate Holders over the poor.
The most prestigious of Ni-Kunni families are those who can trace their free lineage back the furthest. A few of the oldest families were enslaved for only a short period; this proof of piousness earns them a great deal of respect and influence over other Ni-Kunni. The oldest family in a community can wield tremendous influence over their neighbors, regardless of other social factors.
While there is no legal authority given to older families, it is often a matter of practicality. Those who have been free the longest have had greater opportunity to claw their way up the Amarr social ladder and thus have more wealth, connections, and secular power than those who were more recently freed.
A typical Ni-Kunni community will be dominated by a few wealthy families. These families often own several businesses and thus employ many other members of the community or purchase their goods in order to export and sell in other locations. Even those who are not directly employed by the wealthy families can find their lives influenced by the larger families. A mechanic who displeases an impressive client may find his competitors suddenly receive the business of the men who worked for the displeased client, while an average artisan who impresses a wealthy merchant can quickly move up in the world compared to more talented but less fawning craftsmen.
The majority of the Ni-Kunni remain in the lower end of the social spectrum, even those who have emigrated out of the Empire. Part of this is due to the restrictive social ladder in the Empire. However, the Ni-Kunni fill many important niches in the Imperial economy that True Amarr view as mildly unsavory.
Most Ni-Kunni perform some form of manual trade, work that is considered beneath many Amarr. Many of the base trade goods in the Empire, such as furniture and clothing, were created by Ni-Kunni hands. Virtually the entirety of the Empire's carpet industry, for example, is in Ni-Kunni hands, though under the nominal aegis of the Holders who own the businesses.
The Ni-Kunni have also managed to integrate themselves firmly in the Empire's economy as merchants, to the point where they are renowned in the Empire as shrewd deal makers and enterprising traders. In even the largest Amarr cities, Ni-Kunni can be found owning and working in a myriad of mid-level shops, restaurants, and markets. While the most high-class establishments are firmly in Amarr hands, the common True Amarr will find himself dealing with a Ni-Kunni businessman just as frequently as one of his own kind. Because of their vaunted reputation, many Holders employ Ni-Kunni as economic advisers.
A few ambitious Ni-Kunni have become known as free traders. These adventurous men and women act as a vital pipeline between the Empire and the other nations. Though legally subjects of the Empire, their constant movement across borders has afforded them a great deal of freedom, though denied them the permanence and roots their kin enjoy. The lifestyle also brings risk from pirates and the enemies of the Empire, though it brings great rewards to those who are successful.
For those Ni-Kunni who seek less material wealth and crave acceptance from Amarr society as a whole, the main paths are by joining the Amarr Navy or becoming a priest. The Amarr Navy is filled with Ni-Kunni veterans who have been on for multiple tours. Ni-Kunni make up a good portion of the Navy's leadership, with several admirals of Ni-Kunni heritage. While not as brave as Khanid or sturdy as Kameiras, Ni-Kunni soldiers are loyal and hard-working, frequently serving in dangerous positions that others would turn down.
Ni-Kunni priests are rarely prone to the zealotry of the Khanid, but make up for it with a deep, unshakable religious dignity that makes them well regarded by their fellows. Unfortunately, they retain the stigma of being relative newcomers to the Imperial fold, thus few are given prestigious assignments. Rare is the Ni-Kunni priest who ascends to the post of Theology Council justice or is given leave to preside over a holy day in Dam-Torsad. Many are sent to border worlds and foreign territories as missionaries or work in relative obscurity in small community churches or far-flung monasteries.
A dark side of the Ni-Kunni can be found in their prominence in the Amarr criminal underworld. Many of the qualities that make them exceptional merchants and traders make them skilled smugglers. Border running in particular is relatively popular among the Ni-Kunni and is even considered a somewhat honorable, if dangerous, vocation in the poorer of the Ni-Kunni communities. Some of the Empire's most notorious crime lords owed their existence to Ni-Kunni smugglers.
Indeed, many of those crime lords were Ni-Kunni themselves. Many crime syndicates are headed by Ni-Kunni businessmen, who use their mercantile savvy to protect and hide their illegal enterprises behind legitimate facades. Ni-Kunni make up proportionally more of the underworld's leadership than any other bloodline in the Empire.
The ancient Ni-Kunni practiced many disparate rituals and sports that would seem more at home with the Minmatar than the Amarr. The majority of these have been stamped out and little evidence remains of their existence. A few have survived to modern day, transformed by centuries of Amarr influence into acceptable activities.
The most prominent ritual is that of wind dancing. Considered one of the high arts of ancient Ni-Kunni culture, it is today viewed as a rather rustic tradition by most proper Amarr. The dance is believed to have evolved from the great gusts of wind that would whip across the barren steppes of Mishi IV. Ni-Kunni dancers would don billowing and colorful cloaks, skirts, and veils and whirl in motion with the wind, creating a rapidly shifting barrage of colors likened by some observers to a fireworks festival. Eventually, the dance took on a theatrical quality, being used as an abstract storytelling method by the Ni-Kunni. Both men and women took part in the events, with men wearing reds, oranges, yellows, and browns, while women donned more flashy blues, purples, and pinks. Today, much of the theater has been discarded. The dance itself, however, remains a relatively popular activity, especially among young Ni-Kunni, who take it up as much for the artistic expression as for the exercise. In areas without natural wind, such as on space stations, large fans are often used to create swirling, contrasting breezes which add to both the difficulty and the intricacy of the dances.
While most Ni-Kunni music is taken from traditional Amarr sources, it has been injected with ancient Ni-Kunni instruments and timing. The Ni-Kunni favor wind and percussion instruments, particularly flutes and tambourines, over the bowed string instruments and brass favored by the Amarr. This tends to make Ni-Kunni versions of psalms more lively and fast-paced than the traditional performance. Additionally, the harmony favored in Amarr music is frequently discarded for an emphasis on melody and rhythm.
Secular music is not especially popular among the Ni-Kunni, even compared to the Amarr Empire at large. Thus few Ni-Kunni musicians have managed to penetrate the Egonics charts, though a small industry of Ni-Kunni musicians have begun taking Gallente pop songs, replacing lyrics with religious messages, and adapting the music to traditional Ni-Kunni instruments. While it has not caught on to a great degree, it has been well-received by some liberal Amarr music critics.
Sports are important to the Ni-Kunni, though less for their value as spectator exhibitions than the opportunities presented for gambling. Though gambling tends to be viewed with a sour eye in Amarr culture, it has a surprising popularity among the Ni-Kunni. They view it as a relatively harmless vice as long as it is moderated, seeing it as no different than a Holder enjoying a glass of wine before bed. Despite its frequency, the cultural pressures keep Ni-Kunni from becoming addicted or ruined. Most Ni-Kunni wager small amounts, often among friends and community members, as opposed to betting with large sports books or criminal enterprises.
Mind Clash is the most popular spectator sport among the Ni-Kunni, who frequently enjoy making mercantile metaphors with the game, even when such comparisons are not particularly apt. Several Clash Masters were Ni-Kunni, though none have achieved a huge level of fame outside the Ni-Kunni community.
Many Ni-Kunni teams have tried their hands at Splinterz, but there has been little success in the Caldari-dominated sport. Physical sports, especially contact ones, remain rather unpopular among the Ni-Kunni, particularly as participants. Ni-Kunni in general pride themselves far more on their mental acuity than physical dominance. However, due to the endurance and flexibility benefits of wind dancing, there has recently been a surge in Ni-Kunni marathon runners and gymnasts.
Ni-Kunni cuisine is heavily based around the native species on Mishi IV. Because the planet is so harsh and the waters are quite salty, Ni-Kunni food tends to lack variety, and has yet to catch on with other cultures and culinary experts. Ni-Kunni food tends to be quite hot as well; complaints tend to center around the overpowering of natural flavors with an abundance of salt and spices.
Vegetable dishes typically involve tough cacti that have either been dried or soaked in vinegar or brine. Hot peppers are a favorite of Ni-Kunni chefs, so much that outsiders tend to believe that everything cooked by Ni-Kunni must contain the ingredients. Meat typically comes from the several hardy Mishi reptile species. Several insect species are also collected for food.
Popular Ni-Kunni dishes include Spiced Mishi Cabbage, a dish prepared by soaking the Mishi cabbage in brine overnight and then chopping it into a slaw and mixed with hot peppers, and Roasted Steppe Skink, a Mishi lizard with succulent, but salty meat that has been compared to a cross between beef and a fish. Stir-fried Al-Dehr Beetles Over Millet is a popular dish for feasts, with the crunchy beetles considered an excellent source of protein and calcium.
Ni-Kunni clothing resembles Amarr clothing in general, with a mind toward simplicity and function over form. This matches well with traditional Ni-Kunni dress, which tended to be breathable and concealing, protecting the wearer from heat, the sun, and sand storms. Clothing tends to be in dark, muted colors, with browns and grays especially common, though Amarr gold is a common embellishment.
For men, the robe is considered a regular, every-day garment. Worn traditionally it does not have a hood, but many adopt a more mainstream Amarr style and add one. Those who eschew a robe typically dress conservatively in a pair of trousers and a simple tunic. While the head scarf was common among ancient Ni-Kunni, it has fallen nearly completely out of favor in modern culture, and is typically only worn during ceremonies such as weddings.
They typically wear their hair close-cropped and in simple styles. Beards come in and out of fashion with the years, though long beards are typically seen as inappropriate. Among ancient Ni-Kunni, they were impractical in the Mishi climate and thus have remained unpopular to the present.
As age is considered a sign of power and importance in men among many Amarr, Ni-Kunni frequently go through lengths to make themselves appear older. Many color their hair gray and use cosmetics to add wrinkles and lines to their face.
Women similarly mostly adopt a muted Amarr style. However, unlike the head scarf with men, women continue to wear elaborate veils. Traditionally, the veils were used to protect wearers from sandstorms and heat, but as modern Ni-Kunni women need not worry about such things, the veils have grown far fancier. Lace veils with intricately embroidered patterns are popular even among the lower classes. The veils typically cover only the eyes and bridge of the nose, though longer veils are used in religious ceremonies.
One particular custom of Ni-Kunni women that has survived since ancient times is the practice of applying dots and whorls with dark makeup, typically around the eyes and on the cheeks. These can be quite detailed and numerous, with some women changing the patterns every day, making sure never to repeat the same one twice.
Women usually wear their hair long, though in a much greater variety of styles than men. Braids have been adopted from the Amarr, though a specifically Ni-Kunni style involves gathering the hair at the back of the head, applying a stiffening product, and fanning it out like the tail-feathers of a pheasant.
Jewelry is uncommon among both sexes. It is considered ostentatious and flashy, not befitting a Ni-Kunni of substance.
Integration with greater society
In the Empire
Despite the ease with which the Ni-Kunni merged with Amarr society, the fact remains that they are generally regarded as second-class citizens within the Empire. While possessing the same legal rights as True Amarr and Khanid, the Ni-Kunni are essentially viewed as lesser, baser individuals as a whole. The stigma of being the most recent slave race to be fully emancipated remains, though it is slowly declining as more and more Minmatar are freed due to Imperial edict and the favor of liberal masters.
The majority of Ni-Kunni live in ethnic neighborhoods and communities, relatively separate from the other Amarr bloodlines. These communities typically make up parts of larger Amarr cities and settlements, thus are not wholly segregated, though they are typically the poorer and less-well maintained districts. Even the more wealthy Ni-Kunni tend to remain in the Ni-Kunni districts, whether due to a sense of obligation or a desire to avoid discrimination.
Those Ni-Kunni not dwelling in ethnic communities tend to be viewed with veiled disdain by other Amarr. While liberal or gregarious Amarr may show no bias against them, the more conservative and traditional elements of society typically see Ni-Kunni neighbors as nuisances rather than boons.
This is oddly contrasted with the vital role the Ni-Kunni play in the Empire's economy. This importance is nearly universally acknowledged, at least subconsciously, by True Amarr. Most Amarr deal with Ni-Kunni on a daily basis, whether as the owners of local shops, sources of manual labor, or skilled craftsmen.
The typical attitude of a True Amarr toward a Ni-Kunni could be summed up with the thought, “I welcome them when I need my vehicle fixed, but I wouldn't want to live next door to one.” Some view the Ni-Kunni as greedy and tricky, and they often get the reputation of swindlers and criminals.
Despite such prevalent biases, the Ni-Kunni hold a deep respect for True Amarr, striving to become accepted as equals in truth as well as name. The high number of Ni-Kunni in the Amarr Navy is a testament to the desire to be seen as honorable and pious members of Amarr society.
Outside the Empire
There exist several large communities of Ni-Kunni who have emigrated to the Gallente Federation. These immigrants typical retain their religion and thus become even more isolated than in the Empire. However, they frequently strive to recreate ancient Ni-Kunni ways, often adopting traditions that have not been widely practiced by the Ni-Kunni for over a thousand years. Ni-Kunni neighborhoods in the Federation often appear as if someone scooped up a part of pre-contact Mishi IV and deposited it on another planet.
One prominent community that lived on Caldari Prime was forcibly relocated following the Caldari Invasion. It is rumored that the Caldari Navy mistook them for a missionary settlement and removed them to avoid complications with the Empire, though the Navy has been silent on the matter.
Ni-Kunni Holders are virtually non-existent. The few that exist are restrained almost exclusively to the Aridia region, with most having dominion in the Mishi system. The Ni-Kunni homeworld is graced with a Ni-Kunni overseer, the world having been granted to a wealthy and prominent merchant family following the promotion of the former Holder to a richer domain closer to the Amarr Throne Worlds. Several subordinate Holders are also Ni-Kunni.
Ni-Kunni Holders tend to be far more conservative and traditional than Amarr Holders in general, in order to combat the notions that they would disgrace the Empire with their primitive ways. Most Ni-Kunni Holders view their positions as tenuous and ready to be snapped away by ambitious True Amarr at the first sign of weakness or heresy. As such, they can be far harsher on their own kind than an Amarr Holder might be, in order to appear free of bias.
However, because of the Ni-Kunni work ethic and diplomatic ability, Ni-Kunni Holders frequently manage to be more wealthy and influential than True Amarr Holders of similar status. Scholars of Imperial politics frequently predict that Ni-Kunni will become significantly more prominent in the Amarr nobility in the coming centuries, with a minority even considering a far-off time when a Ni-Kunni family might one day rise to the position of Heirs.
As Pod Pilots
Ni-Kunni are one of the Amarr bloodlines that has taken to the capsule most aggressively. Free of the typical societal mores that hold back Ni-Kunni from advancement along the Amarr social ladder, Ni-Kunni pod pilots take on a variety of roles, much like other pod pilots.
Many Ni-Kunni pod pilots come from the ranks of the Navy, while others have transitioned from border runners, and a large group of former merchants have been able to buy their way into capsuleer academies. Those Ni-Kunni that remain loyal to the Empire typically fall into one of two categories; those who take their abilities as God-graced and thus brandish a fiery sword for the expansion of the Empire, and those who use the opportunity to expand their mercantile reach and become rich traders.