“With respect to the horrors committed in the Invasion of 4841, it must be said that the Jiao Qinese are perhaps some of the most devoutly cultured people of the modern (and ancient) world. The violinist’s bow is both as spectacular and deadly as the archer’s--wielded with prowess and arrogance unmatched.”

- Ol Penher Scholar Choundah Veng, 4872

Pride and Prosperity

Jiao Qin began as a small island nation tucked in the crook of the upper continent that some historians believe was once a massive caldera. As the islanders invaded and expanded over the centuries, becoming what we know today as the Jiao Qinese Empire, the leaders continually adapted to the shifting environments, happy to take on the bounty of natural resources that the upper continent had to offer. The mountainous north of Jiao Qin, for example, is abundant with silver and iron ore, which respectively serves their regal aesthetic and formidable military. The south, on the other hand, is home to a far more temperate climate and richer soil, which makes for a substantially higher agricultural yield.

Jiao Qin is unique in that it has three national capitals in addition to the provincial ones: Hvallyanzhou in the Western Island, Hialpadh Mei in the Inner Island, and Qiao Sidhur on the mainland. These capitals oversee each region’s unique needs, and work closely together under the rule of the royal Yeongrir family, who spend most of their time in Hvallyanzhou’s Silver Palace. While the military is ruthless in its tactics of conquest, the post-war discernment of past leaders has made for a surprising streak of adaptability in the culture.

The Jiao Qinese islanders were known for their silver hair, which is still a key feature of the Imperial beauty standard, along with bronzed skin as a sign of connection to the land. This image is often ascribed to the people, but in truth, it is hard to define what it means to “look Jiao Qinese” given the many peoples that have been conquered and assimilated over the years. Above all, to be Jiao Qinese is to be a part of a powerful cultural ideology, either by choice or by force.

A Nation of Masters

From the peasantry to the royalty, the people of Jiao Qin are connected by the cultural belief that success is born of merit. It does not matter what it is you do, so long as you strive to be the best at it. Oddly enough, most Jiao Qinese do not consider this ideology to be at odds with their monarchy–the successor to the throne is determined by the current Emperor, which makes for fierce competitiveness within the courts. Working class members of society advance through their achievements in their chosen Path of Mastery, living by the favour of their communities’ Masters.

The Nine Paths of Mastery are one of the most important features of Jiao Qinese culture; they include Conquest, Discernment, Health, Aesthetic, Arts, Philosophy, Advancement, Fertility, and Spirit. These paths were determined by the ancient philosopher Tseir Jing Zhadh to be the nine seeds of a thriving culture–later, this was reinterpreted as the nine paths to advancing an empire, which remains the popular reading today. Each Path is meant to be treated as equally important, though it is not uncommon to hear spirited debates implying otherwise. 

From simple farmhands to legendary courtesans, all jobs within Jiao Qin are connected back to these Paths. As such, a child determines their Path from a young age and, through set rituals and tasks, prove themselves to the Masters in the hopes of achieving higher ranking. The importance of the Paths is reflected in the Jiao Qinese naming system–along with given and family names, each citizen has one or more Path names, which includes their current ranking (between one and nine). 

Generally, changing paths before you have achieved at least a lesser ranking of mastery is frowned upon and seen as weak-spirited. No one would be looked down upon for spending their entire life on the Path they began. While all people theoretically have a choice when it comes to their path, it is common for people in lower classes to stick to what their family does, as they are surrounded by Masters more likely to take them on. On the other hand, nobility and royalty are expected to have dabbled in multiple Paths, and make it to at least the Sixth ranking in one before their death. The folk hero Shengdhru Allateinn is said to be the only person who ever achieved mastery in all nine, and is the subject of many popular stories.

An Elegant War History

Conquest has been a fundamental part of Jiao Qin’s history–after all, that is how one small island nation grew to the Empire it is today. This expansion happened through multiple war campaigns during what is now known as the Silver Age. This period began with Jiao Qin’s taking of the Western island in 4613, and completed in 4711 when the entire northern continent was finally secured under Imperial rule. The Silver Age contained both some of the most ruthless battles in modern history, and some of the most unique compromises, including the Peaceful Taking of the Inner Island in 4661. The variation of conquest tactics truly demonstrates the necessity of all Nine Paths, and serves as a reminder that diplomacy can be just as effective as brute force.

This bloody and illustrious period of history is looked upon with pride and is also, to some extent, quite romanticized. While some of the conquered peoples undoubtedly hold onto resentment for the treatment of their ancestors, there has been little successful rebellion following the completed expansion and signing of the Empire’s treaties. As of the 4820s, Jiao Qin continues to thrive in a peacetime renaissance, which has led to exciting artistic developments including a thriving jazz scene in Qiao Sidhur.

The Land and its People

Pride and Prosperity

Jiao Qin began as a small island nation tucked in the crook of the upper continent that some historians believe was once a massive caldera. As the islanders invaded and expanded over the centuries, becoming what we know today as the Jiao Qinese Empire, the leaders continually adapted to the shifting environments, happy to take on the bounty of natural resources that the upper continent had to offer. The mountainous north of Jiao Qin, for example, is abundant with silver and iron ore, which respectively serves their regal aesthetic and formidable military. The south, on the other hand, is home to a far more temperate climate and richer soil, which makes for a substantially higher agricultural yield.

Jiao Qin is unique in that it has three national capitals in addition to the provincial ones: Hvallyanzhou in the Western Island, Hialpadh Mei in the Inner Island, and Qiao Sidhur on the mainland. These capitals oversee each region’s unique needs, and work closely together under the rule of the royal Yeongrir family, who spend most of their time in Hvallyanzhou’s Silver Palace. While the military is ruthless in its tactics of conquest, the post-war discernment of past leaders has made for a surprising streak of adaptability in the culture.

The Jiao Qinese islanders were known for their silver hair, which is still a key feature of the Imperial beauty standard, along with bronzed skin as a sign of connection to the land. This image is often ascribed to the people, but in truth, it is hard to define what it means to “look Jiao Qinese” given the many peoples that have been conquered and assimilated over the years. Above all, to be Jiao Qinese is to be a part of a powerful cultural ideology, either by choice or by force.

Monarchy and Meritocracy

A Nation of Masters

From the peasantry to the royalty, the people of Jiao Qin are connected by the cultural belief that success is born of merit. It does not matter what it is you do, so long as you strive to be the best at it. Oddly enough, most Jiao Qinese do not consider this ideology to be at odds with their monarchy–the successor to the throne is determined by the current Emperor, which makes for fierce competitiveness within the courts. Working class members of society advance through their achievements in their chosen Path of Mastery, living by the favour of their communities’ Masters.

The Nine Paths of Mastery are one of the most important features of Jiao Qinese culture; they include Conquest, Discernment, Health, Aesthetic, Arts, Philosophy, Advancement, Fertility, and Spirit. These paths were determined by the ancient philosopher Tseir Jing Zhadh to be the nine seeds of a thriving culture–later, this was reinterpreted as the nine paths to advancing an empire, which remains the popular reading today. Each Path is meant to be treated as equally important, though it is not uncommon to hear spirited debates implying otherwise. 

From simple farmhands to legendary courtesans, all jobs within Jiao Qin are connected back to these Paths. As such, a child determines their Path from a young age and, through set rituals and tasks, prove themselves to the Masters in the hopes of achieving higher ranking. The importance of the Paths is reflected in the Jiao Qinese naming system–along with given and family names, each citizen has one or more Path names, which includes their current ranking (between one and nine). 

Generally, changing paths before you have achieved at least a lesser ranking of mastery is frowned upon and seen as weak-spirited. No one would be looked down upon for spending their entire life on the Path they began. While all people theoretically have a choice when it comes to their path, it is common for people in lower classes to stick to what their family does, as they are surrounded by Masters more likely to take them on. On the other hand, nobility and royalty are expected to have dabbled in multiple Paths, and make it to at least the Sixth ranking in one before their death. The folk hero Shengdhru Allateinn is said to be the only person who ever achieved mastery in all nine, and is the subject of many popular stories.

Ages of Conquest

An Elegant War History

Conquest has been a fundamental part of Jiao Qin’s history–after all, that is how one small island nation grew to the Empire it is today. This expansion happened through multiple war campaigns during what is now known as the Silver Age. This period began with Jiao Qin’s taking of the Western island in 4613, and completed in 4711 when the entire northern continent was finally secured under Imperial rule. The Silver Age contained both some of the most ruthless battles in modern history, and some of the most unique compromises, including the Peaceful Taking of the Inner Island in 4661. The variation of conquest tactics truly demonstrates the necessity of all Nine Paths, and serves as a reminder that diplomacy can be just as effective as brute force.

This bloody and illustrious period of history is looked upon with pride and is also, to some extent, quite romanticized. While some of the conquered peoples undoubtedly hold onto resentment for the treatment of their ancestors, there has been little successful rebellion following the completed expansion and signing of the Empire’s treaties. As of the 4820s, Jiao Qin continues to thrive in a peacetime renaissance, which has led to exciting artistic developments including a thriving jazz scene in Qiao Sidhur.