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"In Schendi there are fortunes and there are dangers." (Explorers of Gor, p.85)
The city of Schendi is an equatorial free port, located just south of the equator. The city is administered by the Merchant Caste though the identiy of the actual Administrator is never given. The word "Schendi" has no real meaning on its own. It might possibly be a corruption of the inland dialect word "Ushindi" which means "victory." When sailing over Thassa, the first sign you will detect that you are nearing Schendi will be found about thirty to forty pasangs out to sea. You will begin to notice brownish stains in the water, traces of sediment from the Kamba and Nyoka rivers, both which exit at Schendi. The first actual land you will reach is Point Schendi, located on a small peninsula. The city of Schendi is then about four pasangs from the Point.
When entering the port, ships must keep a buoy lane on their port side. Ships leaving the port do the same thing. The buoy lines are color coded to lead to certain wharf sections. For example, the buoy line with yellow and white stripes leads to the general merchant wharves. There are more than forty merchant wharves in this area, each which holds four ships to a side. The harbor of Schendi is very large, about eight pasangs wide and up to three pasangs deep. At the eastern end of the harbor, the Nyoka River flows into it. The river's waters are channeled between stone embankments, set about two hundred yards apart. Because the embankments narrow the river at this point, the water enters the harbor much quicker than it would normally flow. If you wish to travel up the Nyoka River from the harbor, there is a bypass that is similar to a lock system. This bypass provides calm waters to allow easy shipping until the natural flow of the Nyoka can be reached. This bypass is more commonly called the "hook."
Schendi has a population of about a million people, most of them blacks, so it is a substantiallly sized city. Gorean is the official language of Schendi and only a small percentage of its people speak the inland dialects of the jungles. Schendi is also the home port to the infamous League of Black Slavers. The League are an organized group of pirates, well known for their cruelty. They generally restrict their pirating and slaving to the waters far from Schendi, not wishing to prey upon their own people. The League generally does not sell their captures in Schendi. They prefer to sell them closer to other slave markets or at the Sardar fairs.
The sign of Schendi is the "shackle and scimitar". The shackle obviously symbolizes slavery and maybe more specifically the League of Black Slavers. The scimitar is a weapon common to the city and is sometimes used as a means of discipline or punishment. The infamous Schendi "scimitar of discipline" may be used to cut off the feet of an errant slave.
Due to its location on the equator, Schendi does not really experience a winter. During what would be winter in the southern hemisphere, it instead has a dry season. It is not really dry during this time but is actually only a season with less rain than the rest of the year. There are thought to be two dry seasons and two rainy seasons each year. The peasants and other farmers do their main planting at the start of the dry season because of the lesser rains. During the rainy season, any seeds planted would likely be washed away by the constant downpours. There are commonly two major rains each day at this time. Because of these heavy rains, a peasant must move his field every two to three seasons as the land gets depleted of minerals and nutriments by the constant rains. Entire villages must move due to this situation. Farmers in this region are more like gardeners than actual farmers. The infertility of the land is a primary reason why large population centers have not developed in the interior regions. The land will not support a large permanent settlement for any substantial length of time. The weather though does aid the Merchant trade as it permits shipping to and from Schendi all year round.
Schendi is surrounded by palisaded walls, that are meant to offer some protection from the tribes of the nearby jungles. But, Schendi is not really a fortress or well-armed city. It does not even have a navy. It is simply a merchant city with little real protection against attack. The major tribes of the jungles could probably capture the city if they truly tried to do so. Despite its lack of defenses, the books do not detail any prior attacks from other cities. Only the jungle tribes seem to pose any true threat to the port. Because of its close proximity to the jungles, Schendi also possesses its own unique odor. Within the city, you can smell pungent spices offset by the smell of the aromatic flowers and rotting vegetation. This offers quite a cacophony of aromas.
Schendi is an important port for Merchants from all over Gor. Many important Merchant houses, from a variety of cities, have offices or agents here. Schendi exports a number of products, some very unique to the city. The city has many Leather Workers engaged in the tooling of kailiauk hide. Kailiauk leather and horns are thus one of the major exports. Spices of all sorts are another such export. Palm wine is exported but there is no description of what this wine is like. We do not know its color or flavor. Small, carefully carved sapphires are also exported. The sapphires are generally a deep blue, thoughs others may be purple, white, or yellow. The sapphires are commonly carved into tiny panthers though other animals may also be carved. Ironically, despite the existence of the League of Black Slavers, slaves do not count as a major export of Schendi because they sell most of their slaves far from the city. The city does though have a number of excellent slave markets such as Ushanga, Mkufu, Utajiri, Dhahabu, Fedha, Marashi, Hariri, Kovu and Ngoma.
Most buildings within the city have been constructed of wood and have wooden ventilation shafts on their rooves. These can be easily opened or closed. An old Schendi trick is to hang strings of dried peas from the ceiling of your home. If someone then walks on the roof, the pressure they exert will release the peas. This is an excellent way to silently detect intruders. At night, small bells can be attached to the strings to wake you from your sleep. Even Tarl Cabot ran afoul of this trick when he was sneaking around Schendi.
A typical Schendi Merchant seamen may wear the following outfit. He may wear an aba to cover his head. An aba is like a hood in that it covers the head and descends down the back some. The aba may be a common article in Schendi due to the heat. Over the aba may be a cap with the two golden tassels of Schendi. He will also wear an ankle-length, loosely sleeved robe, though it may be a "tobe" instead of a robe. A tobe may be a special type of robe but I have yet to find an Earth reference to it. The book mentions the term "tobe" twice but that might be just a spelling error. I'll keep checking on that. The colors of the robe will be white and gold if he is a Merchant or blue and gold if he is a Slaver. Around the robe will be a sash and that might hold a curved dagger.
Lower caste women of Schendi and the jungles, and the white slaves in Schendi, are often taught to carry jars on their heads. This is done without the use of their hands or a towel to act as a base. It is considered to be good exercise for a girl's posture.
There may be no Assassins based in Schendi or even the entire southern hemisphere. There is an interesting passage that states: "He is white, " said a man nearby. "Only those in Schendi might hire such a killer. They are familiar with the sleen of the north." (Explorers of Gor, p.241) These words are spoken by a native of the jungles of Gor, one of the men of Bila Huruma, the Black Ubar. His words are not contradicted by the others present. His words imply that Assassins, "the sleen," only come from north of Schendi, thus north of the equator. Unfortunately, this is only a brief item that does not fully detail the issue. Why are Assassins only headquartered in the north? It seems like they could be hired for southern hemisphere missions so why not create a base there? Is there less need or call in the south? This remains another unsolved mystery of Gor.
Areas within the city
The following locations and places in Schendi are specifically mentioned within the books. Obviously there are many other areas in the city that do exist but that were not mentioned in the books.
Schendi has a Street of Coins and a Street of Tapestries.
The Fish Canal, which leads from the harbor, is adjacent on the south to a large market where river fish are sold. These fish are food for the city and are generally not exported. In the equatorial waters of Thassa, most of the fish are poisonous to eat due to certain seaweeds the fish eat. These seaweeds are not toxic to the fish. River fish are generally safe to eat though. The official name of the Fish canal is the Tangawizi or Ginger canal but is most commonly called the Fish canal.
Utukufu square is a large area near where Kipofu, the Ubar of Beggars, has his chosen spot. Utukufu means "glory."
The Cove of Schendi is a rooming house located near wharf ten. The cove caters to foreign sailors and travelers. The rooms are small but adequate. They commonly possess a mattress on the floor, a sea chest, a low table, a tharlarion oil lamp, a bowl and a pitcher of water. There is also a slave ring on the floor near the mattress. Tarl Cabot stayed here while he was in Schendi.
The Golden Kailiauk is a paga tavern in the city owned by Pembe. At the time of Explorers of Gor, he had not owned a white-skinned kajira in many months. There is also a tavern in the city owned by Filimbi.
Items of Schendi
Here are a few items mentioned in the books that appear indigenous to the city of Schendi.
Curved dagger of Schendi: Though this weapon is not described in detail, its name is indicative of its basic shape. It is curved, possibly like a scimitar. These daggers are generally worn in a sash and may be common for Schendi sailors to wield.
Etem: This is the sitting place for a beggar in Schendi. It is a flat, rectangular stone. It is very heavy and maybe a foot high.
Fang ring: This ring is meant to hold poison, often kanda. When you make a fist, you use your thumb to press a switch. The switch makes a fang of hollow steel spring up. The stel will be poisoned so that you can then scratch or pierce someone and get the poison into their blood.
Panga: This is a two-foot long, heavy, curved bush knife. It is most often used in the jungles to clear vegetation when traveling. Like the dagger and scimitar of Schendi, it is another curved blade.
People of Schendi
Kipofu: He is the Ubar of the beggars. He is blind, with white sightless eyes. Though he appears dirty and in rags, he is very intelligent and cunning. His primary sitting place is in Utufuku square. He has organized the beggars and allotted them to specific territories within the city. He collects "taxes" from them for the use of the territory. In actuality, there are few beggars in the city. Kipofu will only tolerate so many. Some members of the Merchant Council may even consult him for information. Kipofu is very knowledgeable about Schendi and could be one of the most informed men in the city.
Uchafu: He is a Slaver who primarily deals in pot girls and low women, mostly blacks. He is missing several teeth, is blind in one eye and his clothes are stained with food and blood. He also needs a knobbed stick to walk around. His market is located behind the merchant wharves on the Fish Canal, adjacent to a fish market. It is a poor market and he even uses second-hand collars on his girls. He possesses about two to three hundred slaves. He handles most of his own business though he aided by four younger men, one whom is his brother. In Explorers of Gor, Uchafu has begun selling a number of barbarians. He may have been an agent of the Kurii, though possibly unknowingly.
Ulafi: He is a Merchant and the captain of the Palms of Schendi. This ship is a medium-class round ship with a keel-to-beam ratio of about six to one. It also has ten oars on each side, two rudders, and two permanent, lateen-rigged masts. His warehouse is located near wharf eight. He will do anything for gold except betray the code of the Merchants. Tarl Cabot traveled on his ship from Port Kar to Schendi.