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Klingon culture describes the customs and practices of Klingons in the fictional Star Trek universe.

Portrayal over timeEdit

In the original series (TOS) the conflict between the Federation and Klingon Empire was modelled on the Cold War between the Western countries and the Soviet Union [1]. TOS Klingons were not given many cultural traits, either original or Soviet-like, beyond a generic need for domination and tyranny. However, they were typically portrayed with bronze skin and facial hair suggestive of North Asian peoples such as the Mongols (in fact, Gene Coon's only physical description of them in his Errand of Mercy script is "Oriental, hard-faced"). [2] In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Klingons were "reimagined" or retconned and were depicted with ridged foreheads, new uniforms, and a distinctive Klingon language. Gene Roddenberry has said the movie era Klingons are closer to his original vision, but could not be realized in a low-budget television show.

With the advent of Star Trek: The Next Generation and subsequent series the Klingons became allies, and the portrayal of their culture changed to resemble that of Samurai and Vikings (or, rather, Western imaginations of them). Klingon starship crews have also been compared to motorcycle gangs. [3] Their culture is centred on honour and combat. The Klingon Empire is governed by the High Council, led by a Chancellor. The position of Emperor was reestablished in the 24th century, largely as a figurehead.

SexualityEdit

Klingon mating rituals involve dominative and combative attitudes. Par'machpu' (singular par'mach) are chosen mates for dedicated recreational sexual congress. As The Doctor from Voyager informed, it is considered a good omen if during the wedding night a clavicle is broken.

ReligionEdit

According to legend, Kortar, the "first" Klingon, and his mate were created in a place called QI'tu'. The two destroyed the gods who made them and turned the heavens into ashes. This event is recounted in marriage ceremonies. In the episode "Barge of the Dead" on Star Trek: Voyager, B'Elanna Torres envisioned the Barge of the Dead in penance for the dishonour her Klingon mother, Miral, felt for not raising her half-human daughter to be a Klingon Warrior of the Way of Kahless. As she attempted (successfully) to escape going to Gre'Thor, realm of the dishonoured dead, B'Elanna met Kortar, whose fate when he died was to ferry Klingon souls over the River of Blood, to Gre'Thor's gates, where the demonic being Fek'lhr waited to consume particularly loathsome souls.

AfterlifeEdit

Klingons who follow the Way of the Warrior, the belief system developed by Kahless the Unforgettable, value honour above all else. Those who die with purpose and honour are said to join Kahless, who had been the first Klingon emperor, and a messianic figure in the Way of the Warrior, in the Black Fleet in Sto-Vo-Kor, a paradise where battle and feasting can eternally be shared and won.

The honoured dead are not mourned, but celebrated. This consists of opening the eyes of a dead warrior and all fellow Klingons present roar to chase away evil spirits called jat'lyn[citation needed], and to tell the warriors in Sto-Vo-Kor that the warrior is joining them. The body of the dead warrior is viewed mainly as an empty shell to be disposed of; particularly well-respected warriors have their companions accompany the body for interment or disposal, "just" to keep away predators (though a privately held act of respect for the departed). Warriors who may have a question about whether they will be worthy to enter Sto-Vo-Kor, such as not having died in glorious battle, may have a dangerous quest held in their name by their surviving mate and his or her companions. Worf went on one such quest out of concern that Jadzia Dax would not enter Sto-Vo-Kor because she had been killed by a possessed Gul Dukat. If they win their stated deed or battle, they win honour for their late warrior and entry to paradise.

Klingon beliefs were recorded in a series of scrolls collectively referred to as the paq'batlh, or Book of Honour. One prophecy, possibly taken from this book, was of the Kuvah'magh, a religious figure predicted to appear at some future time. Miral Paris, daughter of Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, was thought by some expatriate Klingon cult members in the Delta Quadrant to be this new spiritual leader.

Gre'Thor (in Klingon, ghe'tor or 'ghe''or) is the Klingon afterlife where the dishonoured go when they die. It is not the Klingon equivalent of hell and is guarded by a fearsome demon, Fek'lhr (roughly pronounced "Fek-Lar"; in Klingon, veqlargh).[4] Those unfortunate Klingons who find themselves in Gre'Thor are faced with eternal torture by Fek'lhr and his demons; however, Klingon legend allows for souls to be saved from Gre'Thor, usually by heroic sacrifices performed by friends and family (Kahless, for example, once willingly journeyed to Gre'Thor to save his brother, Morath, and send him to Sto-Vo-Kor).

If a Klingon dies and is fated to journey to Gre'Thor, they will find themselves on the Barge of the Dead, which travels the 'river of blood' on its way to Gre'Thor. Klingon souls on the Barge are tempted by siren-like voices, masquerading as friends and family, who try to lure them off the edge and into the river.

Under normal circumstances it is difficult for the souls of dead Klingons to leave Gre'Thor, such as in the expression "I will surrender when spirits escape from Gre'Thor!" but the legend of Kahless does allow for such things. Another example is the mother of B'Elanna Torres, who was initially sent to Gre'Thor due to her daughter's misdeeds but was eventually released.

Martial artsEdit

moQ'bara is the name of the fictional Klingon martial art. It is sometimes practiced with a bat'letH.

CuisineEdit

Various kinds of fictional food and beverages have been shown as part of Klingon cuisine in the Star Trek TV show.

Chech'tluth
An alcoholic beverage.
Gagh
Klingon serpent worms.[5] Gagh is usually served as fresh as possible. It is traditionally prepared and eaten by poisoning the worms and eating them in sauce while they are still alive.[6] Gagh is killed in one's mouth and the blood is savoured. If ingested while alive, it will act as a parasite inside the body ("A Time to Kill" Star Trek TNG novel). Some Klingons say that they don't care for the taste of gagh, but like it for the fight it puts up when eaten. There are at least 51 varieties of gagh[7], each with a distinct flavor.
Klingon Blood Wine
An alcoholic beverage renowned for its flavour and potency. It has been mentioned that Blood Wine is twice as strong as Earth whisky.
Klingon skull stew
A dish consisting of an animal skull with various kinds of dressings.
Klingon tea
A potent beverage that can be deadly to humans and dangerous to Klingons.
Raktajino
Klingon coffee.
Rokeg blood pie
A dish consisting of animal meat and blood baked into a pie.
Targ
A Klingon mammal with characteristics somewhere between Terran canines and wild boars. These animals are hunted, although some are kept as pets. The heart and lungs are considered delicacies.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Klingons and Commies". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/st/original/commies.shtml. Retrieved 2006-05-23. 
  2. For another such comment: "[T]hink of the Mongol Hordes with spaceships and ray guns" — David Gerrold, The Trouble With Tribbles [book] (1973), p.100.
  3. "Koloth's aide, Korax, was played by Michael Pataki — a most vicious fellow indeed. Quite mean. He looked like a member of the Interstellar Hell's Angels." — David Gerrold, op.cit., p.276.
  4. Although Fek'lhr is implied to be the Klingon equivalent of the Devil in the Next Generation episode "Devil's Due", the Klingon commander Kang states in the original series episode "Day of the Dove" that "[Klingons] have no devil."
  5. "qagh". Klingon Language Institue (www.kli.org). May 30, 2003. http://www.kli.org/wiki/index.php?qagh. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  6. Mandel, Mark. "Vajna' Qagh (Real Warrior's Gagh)". The LINGUIST List Cookbook. http://www.linguistlist.org/cookbook/recipe-display.cfm?ID=294. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
  7. Phillips, Ethan; William J. Birnes (1999). Star Trek Cookbook. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0671000225. http://books.google.com/books?id=RfX-Dx5IVhUC&pg=PA82&dq=Star+Trek+Cookbook+varieties#PPA25,M1. 

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