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Author Topic: What are Houses anyway?  (Read 10265 times)
Klythe
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« on: 06 04, 2006, 06:10: PM »

    The discussions about Klingon Marriages have got me thinking that we may not understand the roles of the Houses in Klingon society as well as we think we do. 

    It's really interesting that the Klingons have this other social institution that we ourselves have nothing particularly similar to compare against.  The closest things I can think of in western Terran society are gangs amoung the youngins, loose 'subcultures' based on a particular interest, and political parties.   Gangs, despite being criminal organizations, still look after their members, and of any of these social groups have the most formal rules for gaining and endiing membership.  Subcultures are a lot more relaxed than Klingon Houses would appear to be.  First off you can be a member of multiple subcultures at any time, you can join or leave a culture any time merely by choosing to participate or not.  Political parties are a little bit more structured, and in general less than 1% of us(speaking in particular about Americans, but it's probably true most places) actually get involved with participating in a political party beyond voting and donating money now and then.

    Because the House is so alien to us we sometimes forget it's role in Klingon society.  So I'd like to talk more about what a House is, what it is presponsible for, what it isn't, and in general how well it is to these tasks.   Perhaps if we had a concept of Houses in our current soceity, some of the major disagreements and issues would be structured in such a way that they could be solved by individuals joining or leaving a House.  Assuming that if Klingons can willingly join a House that they can willingly leave one, even if (like a gang) there is painful price to pay in order to leave a House.
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« Reply #1 on: 06 04, 2006, 08:36: PM »

What do I think a Klingon House is?

I think it is a group of people, attached to eachother by familial and/or business relation, governed by a Patriarch and his mate.
In particular such a group of people has considerable wealth. I like to think of them as old-style English lords and their household.
A gang would be a presentday equivalent, however without the wealth and standing that English lords had.

I do not think it is easy to join a house. I think in fact it is far easier to leave a house than it is to join one.
I thnk in order to join a house you either marry into it, are adopted (either as child or via ru'ustai) or absorbed after a (for your house) unsuccesful business transaction or military campaign.

I think, that when a lower member of a house wishes to incorporate a business associate or similar into his house, he has to ask permission of the Lord of the House, risking dscommendation if he doesn't. This of course goes for female members too.

I'm not entirely sure whether a House can be ruled by a Lady alone, although I do not see any objections.
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« Reply #2 on: 06 04, 2006, 08:49: PM »

I'm not entirely sure whether a House can be ruled by a Lady alone, although I do not see any objections.

The impression I got from the Quark and Grilka episodes, was that a female can not rule a House alone unless there are special cirumstances.  Gowron had to grant her special permission to rule her House.
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« Reply #3 on: 06 04, 2006, 08:52: PM »

Well, that's that settled then.
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« Reply #4 on: 12 01, 2006, 03:10: AM »

I'd tend to agree with the view of Klingon houses being akin to medieval households, or even a clan-type system. To me, it would seem to start with a single, core family/line, which would then extend further to other lines in that family, the families of their closest friends, then their servants, etc. I believe that individuals and families could be absorbed into the House as the head of the house saw fit, or admitted under the name and auspice of a lower line of the House, depending on the way that House functions. I do, however, think it would be much easier to leave a House than join one, but that the reactions to leaving one's House would greatly depend upon the reason and manner in which it was done.
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« Reply #5 on: 12 01, 2006, 02:10: PM »

I think the leaving of a house is based entirely on if it is an amicable split or not. FASA addressed the concept that if one wanted to leave his house to form a smaller allied but independent house, one could petition the epetai. It would seem that this is a good use of resources, in that as successive generation come into a house, the house will grow larger. Such a splinter house, would allow the Empire to prosper by allowing the new house to grow independently of the larger house, and allow the larger house to direct resources away from a more self sufficient branch and toward other areas of the house.

I have always thought that the High Council seats were given out by house, not by individual, so potentially all houses are in the running. A larger house allowing many off shoots gambles that these new houses will stay as allies, in all things including council votes. I also envisioned a system of percentages, where bounties and land grants are shared between the Empire and the house, then the house shares between the individual and the house. A successful house is one made up of successful members, and a successful house is a powerful body within the Empire.
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« Reply #6 on: 12 02, 2006, 05:16: PM »

Here is my take on the House issue...

First it is difficult to identify any cases where we have a clear Canon definition of a House. Therefore we have little to go on but oppinion (like so much of this stuff)...

That said, in the multiple projects I have contributed on over the years in dealing with Families/Houses/Lines, (One of my favorite Klingon social topics BTW)... Consensus has basically been broken down as follows:

Family - Two or more individualls related by Adoption, Blood or Marriage. This is the most basic personal "Unit" beyond an individual, and is the basis for such identifiers as "Worf son of mogh", "Kor son of Rynar" and so on...

House - Two or more families (usually more), who may or may not have direct blood relations connecting them, but who definately share common political/social agendas and status. This would be an example of FASA like uses of House names within a title, such as "Nej vIt SutaI-H'Nter" In TNG and beyond, House leadership would imply enough political strength or influence to likely warrent a seat on the High Council.

Line - Two or more Houses who share a common name, such as "Restrarc" or "Juriss" where each House has it's own leadership, and possibly multiple seats on the HC.

This is probably most useful from a Role-play perspective where there are multiple different Clubs/Groups/Organizations who recognize a similar House, and possibly multiple "epetaI" of those houses might exist. Example, Club 'A' has a contingent of it's membership who are associated with a well established House like say the Dokkmar. Club 'B' also has a representation of the Dokkmar, but there is no official connection between these Clubs and both factions of Dokkmar have a declared "epetaI". Neither "epetaI" is senior to the other because they are from different groups, even if both claim to be "The" senior most member of their House. This would be a "Line" containing multiple Houses of the same name.

None of this is "Official" of course, since there really is no final word on such ideas, but rather it is a matter of how those who use the terms decide to use them.

As to females being able to hold a seat on the High Council or not (Or even head a House), that was definately made clear as of the Episode of DS9 in question. However, that was also under the reign of Gowron, who was not as "progressive" as Martok seems to be. Certainly within Klin-dom, (Where it really counts to me), there are no such restrrictions... Which is a really good thing for the very Human females who like to play Klingon too...

maj!
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« Reply #7 on: 12 02, 2006, 08:29: PM »

I've always seen the distinction going from family, to line, to house; a line being composed of multiple families with similar ancestry, and a House being composed of multiple lines in a sociopolitical structure. For example, Jimmy Klingon's family could be composed of himself, his mate, their children, and his father. He might share a line with his cousin, since they both share a grandfather. Both lines might be members of a House started by their grandfather's ancestor, or in the case of a smaller or less "noble" line, belong to a House which their grandfather served. Then again, due to one reason or another, they may well belong to different Houses, as well.

...That is, if we use the medieval model.
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« Reply #8 on: 12 02, 2006, 10:32: PM »

I've always seen the distinction going from family, to line, to house; a line being composed of multiple families with similar ancestry, and a House being composed of multiple lines in a sociopolitical structure. For example, Jimmy Klingon's family could be composed of himself, his mate, their children, and his father. He might share a line with his cousin, since they both share a grandfather. Both lines might be members of a House started by their grandfather's ancestor, or in the case of a smaller or less "noble" line, belong to a House which their grandfather served. Then again, due to one reason or another, they may well belong to different Houses, as well.

...That is, if we use the medieval model.

The trick here I think is to be somewhat cautious about reordering stuff that consensus alone has established. Granted there is no "Authority" on any of this, but as of now (At least within fandom, which is where the distinctions are most likely to be important), there are any number of different "Opinions" about this stuff.

There are those (like yourself), who feel that a Human medieval model is the way to go, while others insist that there is no Human analog at all because we are talking about a species other than Human. Other theories include those who state that Family/House/Line is nothiong more than a single interchangeable term, to those who consider Families/Lines or Houses/Lines to be interchangeable.

Unless an author decides to take the time to write it into a Canon script however, it will always be a matter of the most common consensus amongst the fans who actually use it. Which to date seems to be the "Model" that I presented previously.

maj! {Good}...
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« Reply #9 on: 04 04, 2008, 07:47: PM »

With a phenomena as wide and rich as Star Trek, one would think that someone would take these kinds of ideas and catalog canon for all the various aspects. 

Taking into consideration that we have no canon definitions of these terms, I personally would go with the classic European concepts of families, lines, and households because it's a concept we are familiar with.  Now, I understand why the Klingon language was made to be fairly difficult to speak when one is used to our terrestrial languages, it was largely a storytelling device, a way to show that the Klingons weren't human.  That idea has already been established, and I think most people you will meet on the street will recognize a Klingon as an alien.  Because of this I don't see any particular need to further distance the concept of the Klingon from human conventions.

Just because we're speaking about a different species doesn't completely discount the classic European social model as a possible model for Klingons.  In fact, it's as likely a model for the Klingons to use as would be that of the Hittites, the Mongols, the Mayans, the Mandalorians, the Trandoshans, the Jenquai or even the Daleks (maybe that's stretching it).  But I'm sure you understand what I'm getting at.  Just because they're aliens doesn't mean they couldn't have come up with the same idea.  After all, like humans, Klingons have adopted the concept of wearing pants.
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« Reply #10 on: 10 07, 2008, 12:12: AM »


     Parallel evolution occurs where the challenges a species faces is rather similar to the challenges another similar species faces.  So Klingons wear pants for the same reasons we do, to protect the legs underneath, from the cold, from scrapes and cuts from rocks and poisionous plants, from insect bites and other hazards and irritations.

     So, what problems does the House solve in Klingon Society?  They play a role in the government vaguely similar to a political party.  They form associations of like-minded individuals, like a political party, special interest group, or a trade union...  They form collective economic units and operate their own small fleets including military ships (appearently as the House of Mogh was able to loan a squadron of warships to Gowron to allow him to consolidate his power and become the acknowledged leader).   We are not only talking about a different species, but also a much different culture with very different needs and roles for individuals and groups.
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« Reply #11 on: 03 07, 2016, 06:23: AM »

with respect I agree with a lot of what is been said I however see a "house" more in terms of a Japanese clan from feudal era ( 1500's - 1600's) in the way they function. but I agree that there is a sort of "political party" thing to it. I also personally see it as family, line and then house in order. with one or two families that eventually for a "line" and then several "lines" forming together to make a "house" with the head of the "house" being akin to the ancient Japanese "Daimyos" (warlords of ancient Japan) (again this is only my interpretation of it) also I clearly remember where in tng Gowron clearly saying "no women may not serve on the council" and while this my be the "traditional" way of the Empire, I believe it's a tradition that needs to be forgotten. (again only my personal opinion) if a female can command a cruiser in battle honorably and properly, then why should she not have a chance to lead the Empire in the council? if for example: "Khelan-Hod" is respected and leads her crew with honor and courage, should she not have the chance to lead our people on the council? I would answer yes! she would not be allowed to lead if she where not honorable and a true warrior! her crew would refuse to follow her if she was not or if she led poorly! we all know this so if her house leaders feel she is ready and capable, then let her serve on the council. (this goes for any female) but as I was saying it seems to me the house structure is most similar to Japanese "samurai" clan. as far as the gang thing goes I recognize what was intended but I have to point out that gangs do not value honor or courage! they are cowards! Petaqs!, worse then Romulans and should be hunted down they're head displayed on sticks along with the drug dealers and rapists! 
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« Reply #12 on: 03 17, 2016, 08:21: PM »

I have always seen the military working by somewhat different rules than houses. This is for two reasons. First the military is more job oriented. Second the house is more tradition oriented. Now this is not to say that houses do not have jobs or that the military does not have traditions. Just that the house dictates the cultural norms but that the job requirements dictate the military.

In an empire such as the tlhInganpu' live in, the military suffers high casualties on a near continuous basis and thus needs frequent replacements. They also need seasoned crew that have certain skills. It does not make tactical sense to fail to use a resource.

In a house, there is much more value placed on tradition and culture. These things are slow to change. It does not make sense to change simply because someone thinks you should.

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