A guide to using this information in-game - a Mhun outside of Moghedu might know a lot or a little, depending on whether they were raised within Mhun culture or by other Mhun. If not, then it's likely that little to none of this would be relevant to them, but to a more insular Mhun family it might well be the case that much of this is common knowledge. Mhun who live in Moghedu, who have left it, or who have been exiled would probably know a lot of this. Otherwise, discretion is probably key, as the Mhun have historically been a pretty closed culture and a lot of this information would only really be accessible to someone who's fluent in Mhun. Entesh, untesh!
Historically, the single unifying leader of the Mhun people has been the Great Mhunna. In the absence of this leader, caste leaders tend to rule over their various dominions, with Mhun priests and craftsmasters commanding the most sway in what closest resembles an informal, republican system of governance.
This system of governance existed informally largely because periods of Mhun independence have been short-lived, with the race generally falling under the dominion of one southwestern empire or another.
There have historically been five castes: Miners, Soldiers, Crafters, Merchants, and Priests. This order reflects the prestige which these castes command in Mhun society at large, as well as the ways in which the Mhun value ingenuity and cleverness - the less intellectual an occupation, the less value it is considered to hold. Whether this reflects an original Mhun value, or is the result of the Mhuns' common role as physical labor to their rulers and oppressors, is difficult to tell.
Ever since the Nesventian reformation and the advent of Mhun independence, a Mhun nation-state has formed in the Siroccians, ruled theocratically by a single High Priest and the Priestly caste. Much of the informal caste system has thus been formalized, with caste leaders authorized to carry out discipline and law within their own castes - incidents between castes are handled by the Priests.
In the modern day, the castes are defined as Laborers, Military, Crafters, Merchants, and Priests, and their duties have expanded to meet the growing needs of the Mhun civilization.
The Mhun ancestral faith concerns itself with seven Spirits, although the word 'Spirit' does not properly reflect the depth and scope which is commonly attributed to these deific figures. Each of the Spirits encompasses a different sphere of influence, and are held to be equally powerful and equally necessary to the multiverse's functioning. The seven Spirits are:
- Laasen, who governs stone, and who is patron of the Miners.
- Promentesh, who governs the act of creation, and who is patron of the Crafters.
- Mheribus, who governs death and darkness, and who is patron of the Soldiers.
- Lokhanni, who governs wisdom and cleverness, and who is patron of the Priests.
- Haddeneh, who governs wealth and bounty, and who is patron of the Merchants.
- Cheshehe, who governs the cold, the damp, and the life-giving waters.
- Mhuinnah, the first mother, patron of earth, who gave birth to the Teshen and the Mhun.
It is this faith, and this refusal by Mhun society at large to accept the Gods of Sapience, that has proved so definitive of their ongoing oppression - the Mhun refer to the Gods of Sapience as 'Keepers', out of the understanding that their own Spirits were usurped and cast down.
Given the centrality of faith to the Mhun identity, along with the historical Mhun willingness to accept converts to the Mhun faith, it makes more sense to consider 'Mhun' as a category defined by both race and religion. Though converts have been few and far between, there have historically been those who have undertaken it.
In the modern day, however, Moghedu forbids converts, and has set down strict, formal guidelines which restrict Mhun identity to those who are Mhun by birth alone - these same laws distinguish between Mhun born in Moghedu, and Mhun born elsewhere. A Mhun who leaves Moghedu is not permitted to return unless explicitly authorized by the Priesthood; it is very rare that this authorization is extended.
The main schism that exists among Mhun concerns the canonicity and the nature of the last Great Mhunna, Nesventesh. Among Mhun who live outside of Moghedu, she is largely considered among the same category as other Great Mhunna, a ruler and a reformer who led her people to freedom. The Mhun of Moghedu, conversely, ascribe divine significance to her - she is, to them, proof of the Spirits' existence, and herself a Spirit - the Mhun Spirit of war and bravery. Thus, in Moghedu, eight Spirits are worshipped - outside of it, where the faith is held, a mere seven.
Among more traditional Mhun, the acceptance of the Sapient Gods is one of the more serious transgressions a Mhun can make against their people. Nonetheless, many Mhun who live outside of Moghedu have taken on more continental worship, either splitting their attentions between the Sapient Gods and the Gods of their ancestors, or forsaking their ancestral faith altogether. Attitudes toward ancestral heresy can vary greatly, even within members of the same family. One thing upon which nearly all Mhun are agreed, in the modern day, is that no self-respecting Mhun joins Bloodloch - this is considered one of the worst kinds of treachery.
It makes little sense to consider Mhun culture as being significantly separate from their religion, given what has been mentioned before. In Mhun culture, the Mhun people, the Mhun race, the Mhun faith, and the Mhun identity have unparalleled emphasis placed upon them, to the point where one of the few unforgivable acts is to betray one's own race to non-Mhun. This is one value that remains consistent both inside and outside of Moghedu and among Mhun of all stripes, though as with any sufficiently large group of people, there are exceptions which prove the rule.
Other elements of Mhun culture have been forgotten or stripped away, save for the religious core - Mhun cuisine tends to amount to whatever can be scrounged from the ground and which fulfills the requirements for edibility outlined in their holy scripture. Worms, moss, and hardtack are common elements, though snakes, insects, and small reptiles have historically been common fare. In order for food to be considered edible, it must be 'decided' and prepared by one of the higher castes - a Crafter or a Priest, most typically. When spices can be acquired, they are used liberally, a tradition which arose in an attempt to disguise the taste of spoiled food.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, their brutally oppressive circumstances, Mhun have come to place a great value on cleverness, resourcefulness, and ingenuity, and have historically served as crafters, scouts, and agents of the various empires that have enslaved them. The Mhun language, being full of loans from other southwestern languages, tends to be constructed in a roundabout, unintuitive fashion, the better to prevent outsiders from gleaning their true meaning.
It is highly possible that some of the earthen observances of the Mhun people were influenced by similar Hlugnic rites, the ancient Dwarves being worshipers of Dhaivol and therefore focused upon the earth as well. One of the most important phrases in the Mhun language is "Entesh, untesh" - here meaning "From the earth, to the earth." Though the allusion made is grim - that Mhun are fated to return to the earth sooner rather than later - its meaning is ultimately defiant, meaning that there will always be Mhun rising up as well.
This bleak but ultimately hopeful statement serves as an apt summary of Mhun culture and the Mhun attitude toward life. Mhun humor is dark, biting, and often defiant, rife with puns and word games. There is also a strong generational divide between those Mhun born before the year 421 MA, and those who were born afterward, who did not live before the coming of the eighth Great Mhunna, Nesventesh. Older Mhun tend to have a bleaker, more guarded outlook, while younger Mhun, not having been born at a time in which the Mhun were under the influence of Bloodloch, tend to exhibit a less cautious attitude.
Mhun culture in Moghedu in the modern day tends to be very strict and regimented, perhaps owing to a long history of the same being imposed by outside forces. Telepathic monitoring by the Priesthood is commonplace inside of the mountainhome, to the point where students are often nudged to pay attention to their lessons by disciples. This pervasive telepathy also serves as one of Moghedu's main defenses, and insurance that no outsiders will break in - and conveniently, a means of controlling the Mhun populace at large.
Owing to the relative isolation in which the castes work, and the Priesthood's monopoly on thought and information inside of Moghedu, corruption runs rampant, but this is structured in such a way that it's only truly apparent to outsiders. In spite of this, there is a strong warrior culture, and a strong thread of xenophobia that is encouraged in all Mhun from birth - the extreme measures are justified through a culture-wide paranoia that outsiders will try to come and slaughter them again.
Details on phonology, vocabulary, and basic patterns are included below - bearing in mind that as a rule, Mhun is a subject-object-verb ordered language. Though historically it has been written in a vowel-minimal, consonant-heavy script, this orthography has only recently made a resurgence. Mhun can also be, and often is, written using Common letters instead. Even in this Common form, however, Mhun letters are still used in place of numbers, the base seven system being a cultural quirk and a point of pride for many Mhun.
Basic vocabulary: http://pastebin.com/WAPUU9C0
(Note: This indicates, incorrectly, that the word 'nhu' means 'no'. This word should be understood to mean 'nothing' or 'none' instead.)
How Mhun deals with yes/no questions: http://pastebin.com/8CNv92zm
How Mhun deals with letters/numbers: http://pastebin.com/Kai1MU6d