Castes and the Tahari

Tal Men and Women of the proud Kavar

Those of you who know me already will go now:  Here we go again the infamous pedantic BTB scribe writes again. Wasn’t it nice and quite when she was on Holidays?

For those who don’t know me yet: I am Sheraka of Tyros. Former head scribe and council member of a Tyrian colony called Tem Wood.  There I builded what was considered the biggest library ever in SL Gor, with a collection of scrolls about nearly anything related to Gor. Including some of my own writings which have been published on my blog and on various Gorean portals.

So I am not a Kavar.

I am a guest who got invited by Lady Jeanie and granted security by the Pasha  when politics in Tyros went sour and Sheraka had to flee from a power drunk Ubar who resolved the council and became an absolute tyrant. (Plus OOC reason that the place went  from BTB to outright Disney).

I am living here in the Sand Sleen oasis starting up a slave trading  business.  All IC of course and soly for the purpose of role play.

Gold has no caste they say on Gor, and my abilities and knowledge as a member of the caste of scribes will ensure that the house will produce fine and extremely well educated slaves which is what will set us apart from other Gorean houses.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I made some observations in the last two days which I would like to share with you all and I need to clarify, that my very own character is not contradicting the points I will comment on in the following.

Also be advised that this is not some clever snobby “I know better stuff” , its meant to be constructive as usual and shall be my contribution to make this an even better place then it is already. I hope the input is appreciated.

My first observation is:

In the group message there are certain titles mentioned, they speak of “head of such and such caste”, they speak of Physician apprentices, even an Ubar was announced.

As far as I understand, the Sand Sleen Oasis prides itself, rightfully to be a BTB SIM. BTB meaning : by the books. It even says that on the notecard you receive at the entrance. The book in question is:

Tribesmen of Gor!

Already in the first chapters we learn, that the oases in the Tahari differ substantially from Gorean cities. The most significant difference is the absence of the caste system.

The only times when people of certain castes are mentioned, it is referred to people who are guests in the oasis (like Tarl of the warriors), people who are hired from elsewhere (like a scribe in the service of Pasha Suleiman) and merchants that come with caravans to do trade with the oases.

Unlike in cities of civilised Gor, the people are not divided in castes and there is consequently no such thing as a head of caste.

When i came to the Sand Sleen oasis I was offered the title “head of Scribes” which is what  I have done  in Tem Wood. Then I was reading Tribesmen and felt but sooo out of place.

I told then Sahraa that I can not play a head of scribe here, because its as plausible as a warrior woman or even worse. Think about this: Would a real Kavar accept somebody in a leading position of his people who is:

1. A foreigner (Tyros in this case)
2. Of an institution not recognized in his culture (castes)
3. A woman

I dont think so.

My second observation

The same applies to the title of Ubar. An Ubar is somebody the council of a city appointed to lead the city during a crisis. Again in a city.

The tribes in the Tahari are all led by a Pasha. The books dont mention exactly the origin of a Pasha but I think it’s fair comment to assume that the origins of a Pasha are the same  like in the earthen counter part of the people in the Tahari: Northern African and middle Eastern Bedouin tribes.

Hence a Pasha is basically the descendent of the founder of a tribe. He doesn’t get elected into such position he gets born into it. Because of a Pasha is somewhat a symbol of the sheer existence of  a tribe, the members of that tribe (many of them being of the Pashas family) are as loyal to him as a Gorean of the cities would be to his Home Stone.

The highest Military rank is a Captain.

Resumed: I feel the oasis is mixing Gorean culture of the more known culture of Cities with the tribal cultures of the Kavar in the Tahari. Maybe we should reconsider those things or alternatively remove the BTB label, so not to confuse people about the nature of the place.

I am more than happy to make this topic of a group chat.

May you always have water



10 thoughts on “Castes and the Tahari

  1. At the risk of being pedantic, my understanding is that on Earth Sheik was the term used for a tribal elder who was a leader in a Bedouin tribe. I’m not sure to what extent the “office” of Sheik was hereditary, but it was not, I believe a simple primogeniture going from father to son. Pasha on the other hand was a title used in the Ottoman Empire, one which was granted by the Sultan, for a provincial governor or military leader. So if we go just by Bedouin tribes on Earth they don’t have Pashas.

    As for Ubars, those of the Tahari have heard of it from elsewhere no doubt and there is, of course a Salt Ubar. Also there is an Ubar of the Oasis of Nine Wells:

    “I had learned that they were in the region of Tor, purchasing kaiila, for a caravan to the kasbah, or fortress, of Suleiman, of the Aretai tribe, master of a thousand lances, Ubar of the Oasis of Nine Wells.”

    “It was now as Suleiman, Ubar and Pasha of Nine Wells, that he set his

    Perhaps Suleiman was a special case, but he was openly an Ubar and that was accepted by the people of the Oasis of Nine Wells.

    As for Castes in the Tahari, I have seen numerous references to what you say. And I am not an expert on the books. However, there are some curious references in Tribesman. For instance, in Tor, there is the statement:

    “Rug makers themselves, however, usually regard themselves, in their various subcastes, as being independent of the cloth workers. A rug maker would not care to he confused with a maker of kaftans, turbans or djellabas.”

    Now, this is in Tor not the deep Tahari, and yet the caste system in Tor distinguishes between those who make rugs and those who desert clothes. So, perhaps, it is not so much that caste is unknown in the Tahari but that it manifests in dress and behavior to a much less extent than in the cities. Perhaps. Just a thought.

  2. Hi

    Thanks for your comment.

    About the first issue:

    Yes you are right, the correct term would have been Sheik, but Norman has chosen the term Pasha, hence in a BTM SIM we rather use the same term.

    About the term Ubar (I knew this will come up):

    Suleiman was also called the Ubar of the 1000 lances, and of course there was the salt ubar. However it was more used as descriptive term as opossed to a title, like in the cities.

    A bit like this:
    McDonalds is the king (Ubar) of hamburgers or Michael Jackson the king of pop.

    Thor is not of the tahari tribes. Tor is a City and has the caste system. The caste of slavers, merchants and warriors are explicitly mentioned as well.


    • Hi!

      So if Turians are Turks/Byzantines… then Tahari tribes are much alike semi-independent states at the borders of Turkish world, called “Pashaluks” (Alger, Tunis, Tripoli, Benghazi, Horezm, Samara…). They combine tribesmen and Turkish culture… So Head of “State” is Pasha or Sultan (later if we speak about bigger state/city), acting head is Vizier (appointed by Sultan or Pasha), noblemans are called “Beg” or “Bey”, and there are kind of castes- “Hechim” for physicians, which are well revered in turkish world, scribes, magistrates (Kadii), merchants with special privileges (often foreigners) and many kind of slaves.

      4500 years history of council rule in Afganistan tribal lands:

      Council rule in Bedouin realm

      Respect and Honor,


  3. I can’t see the council of elders, mere advisers, anywhere similar to what was the described as the high council of the cities of Gor.


  4. The term Vizier was mentioned in Tribesmen. Hassan was asking if the Vizier of the Kavar had recieved the messages of war, as nobody knew where Haroun the Pasha was at the time (Of course not as Hassan and Haround where the same person)

    Magistrates where mentioned in Red Rock and in Nine Wells, but not as a caste but as a function.


  5. For single tribe, council is surely only in function of advice. But for the group of tribes, council have great power as shown in cronicles of Afganistan and in explanation of beduin poilitics in farlex encyclopdia: Council declares war, proclaim peace, decide about adopting or rejecting religion, and choose sheikh for their quality. Small tribes are like family – they have big fathers and are inherited. Big tribes and groups of tribes have complex internal politics, more like cities.

  6. Yes Hasan

    But in the books those politics of the desert tribes were simplyfied. The general idea behind it was that unlike their Earten counter parts, politics are deterimed by the steel only. That means a smaller tribe that becomes defeated becomes a vassal tribe.

    Read about the silk wars


  7. “I had discovered, to my pleasure, that the girl Luma, whom I had saved from Surbus, was of the Scribes. Her city had been Tor. Being of the Scribes she could, of course, read and write. (Raiders, pag. 126)

    So in Tor, as a City State, Caste system is used, differently from the deep dunes country, where tribal society and titles are still up.

    In Tribesmen, beside Pashas, Viziers ad sheiks is quoted even the title of Caliph, not explained by the way. Even the Bey is quoted about Shiraz, a former Administrator of Tor.
    About Beys i think it’s the name they refer to a nobleman.

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