Klingon culture

Klingon culture

Klingon culture describes the customs and practices of members of the Klingon Empire in the fictional "Star Trek" universe.

Portrayal over time

In the original series (TOS) the conflict between the Federation and Klingon Empire was modeled on the Cold War between the Western countries and the Soviet Union [cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/st/original/commies.shtml|title=Klingons and Commies|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2006-05-23] . 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"). [For another such comment: " [T] hink of the Mongol Hordes with spaceships and ray guns" — David Gerrold, " [http://www.benbellabooks.com/gerrold/Tribbles.pdf The Trouble With Tribbles] [book] " (1973), p.100.] In "", 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 ' and subsequent series the Klingons became allies, and the portrayal of their culture changed to resemble that of Japanese Samurai (or, rather, Western imaginations of them) and Vikings. Klingon starship crews have also been compared to motorcycle gangs. ["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.] Their culture is centered on honor 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.


Klingon mating rituals involve domination and combative attitudes. "Par'machpu"' (singular "par'mach") are chosen mates for dedicated recreational sexual congress, equivalent to fiancées among Terran humans. Lieutenant Worf, when questioned in this area of Klingon lore, said (perhaps obliquely) that females roar loudly, hurl heavy objects, and claw at their desired mate – the males, conversely, read love poetry aloud and duck a lot. [Star Trek: the Next Generation, "The Dauphin;" Mlodinow & Rubenstein]

Klingon females reportedly search for their own partners, whom they deem worthy of copulation. Normally this has to be a male of great strength, valour or who at least possesses great courage. The mating process can be a very wild and sometimes violent affair. When Worf was questioned by Guinan while still onboard the "Enterprise-D", as to why he had not taken a "par'mach", the Klingon said he was only chaste in concern for the "safety" of his fellow female crewmates. Guinan joked that many would find a male Klingon "tame," producing a rare laugh of pleasure from Worf. [Star Trek: the Next Generation, "Yesterday's Enterprise;" Ganino, Stillwell, Behr, Manning, Beimler, & Moore] Later aboard Station Deep Space Nine, Worf engaged in romance with Jadzia Dax, a Trill with deep connections to Klingon society. Their first night of relations produced a surprising number of contusions and broken limbs for Doctor Bashir to treat. As they arrived, the Klingon woman Lady Grilka was already in the infirmary with a very injured Quark in tow. Bashir stated that "he did not want to know what had happened."

As the Voyager’s EMH Doctor mentioned, it is considered a good omen if during the wedding night a clavicle is broken.

There has never been a representation or reference to anything but heterosexual Klingons in the Star Trek canon.

They are a highly sexual race, however they do not let sexuality drive their actions.


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 , B'Elanna Torres envisioned the Barge of the Dead in penance for the dishonor 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 dishonored 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.


Klingons who follow the Way of the Warrior, the belief system developed by Kahless the Unforgettable, value honor above all else. Those who die with purpose and honor 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 honored 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, 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 honor 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 Honor. 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 Klingons in the Delta Quadrant to be this new spiritual leader.

Gre'Thor (in Klingon, ghe'tor or 'gheor) is the Klingon afterlife where the dishonored go when they die. It is the Klingon equivalent of hell and is guarded by a fearsome demon, Fek'lhr (roughly pronounced "Fek-Lar"; in Klingon, veqlargh). [Although Fek'lhr is implied to be the Klingon equivalent of the Devil in the "" episode "", the Klingon commander Kang states in the episode "Day of the Dove" that " [Klingons] have no devil."] 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. (As the Barge's pilot, Kortar, wryly points out, "There are things here much worse than death...")

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.

Gre'Thor also gives its name to the armouries in . Also the demon Fek'Lhr lends its name to the Klingon starship class.

Creation myth

In Klingon religion, the original gods who created the first Klingons were slain by their own creations, because they were "more trouble than they were worth" ("Homefront"). A version of this creation myth is told during the traditional Klingon wedding ceremony: ("You Are Cordially Invited...")

:"With fire and steel did the gods forge the Klingon heart. So fiercely did it beat, so loud was the sound, that the gods cried out, 'On this day we have brought forth the strongest heart in all the heavens. None can stand before it without trembling at its strength.' But then the Klingon heart weakened, its steady rhythm faltered and the gods said, 'Why do you weaken so? We have made you the strongest in all of creation.' "

:"And the heart said... 'I am alone.' "

:"And the gods knew that they had erred. So they went back to their forge and brought forth another heart."

:"But the second heart beat stronger than the first, and the first was jealous of its power. Fortunately, the second heart was tempered by wisdom."

:" 'If we join together, no force can stop us.' "

:"And when the two hearts began to beat together, they filled the heavens with a terrible sound. For the first time, the gods knew fear. They tried to flee, but it was too late. The Klingon hearts destroyed the gods who created them and turned the heavens to ashes. To this very day, no one can oppose the beating of two Klingon hearts."

The only remaining otherworldly creature was Fek'lhr ("veqlargh"), the guardian of [re'thor ("ghe'tor"). The first Klingon, Kortar, was condemned to ferry dishonored warriors to Gre'thor on the Barge of the Dead for the offense of killing the gods. ("Barge of the Dead")

Arbiter of Succession

The Arbiter of Succession is a Klingon legal practice designed to ensure a stable succession for the Chancellor. Although it is a Klingon custom, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, a human, is the first person within the Star Trek canon known to have this role.

To gain leadership of the Klingon Empire, a Klingon must gain control of the Klingon High Council. The council itself is made up of the strongest families of the Empire, a more violent example of the British House of Lords. Because a candidate must gain support from the other families, leading to factions, it is the Arbiter's job to resolve the possibility of a stalemate to decide matters of honor relating to the Challenge, and to choose a Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.

Military ranks

("Circa" 2300's)

Within the "Star Trek" canon, the Klingon Defense Force (KDF) appears to be a "unified service," like Starfleet. Its version of a "joint chiefs of staff" is called the "High Command" (TOS's "The Trouble With Tribbles"). Via the Universal Translator, the KDF uses recognizable army and navy ranks.

The only noncommissioned ranks noted on-screen are "sergeant" (referring to one of the nonspeaking Klingons in ("") and "beq", a type of warrant officer (seemingly between enlisted and officer). Alexander Rozhenko was a 'beq' when he served in the Klingon Defense Forces.

The lowest pure officer rank seems to be "lieutenant." In TOS's "Errand of Mercy," Kor's adjutant has this rank. In TNG, there's Lt. Konmel ("Heart of Glory") and Lt. Klag ("A Matter of Honor").

The next-highest rank is "commander." These officers may command individual ships (such as Kang in TOS's "Day of the Dove," Kruge in "" and Morag in TNG's "Aquiel") or, rarely, fleets (such as Kor in "Errand of Mercy").

Next highest is the naval rank "captain," held by such characters as Koloth (TOS's "The Trouble With Tribbles") and Kargan (TNG's "A Matter of Honor"). The army equivalent is "colonel," held by Worf in "."

The final two ranks are also army-specific. In "," Kerla is a "brigadier," or the lowest rank of general. Then, of course, is the highest rank of "general," given to such characters as Martok (DS9), Chang "()" and Koord "()."

Klingons typically disdain the use of rank insignia on their uniforms (no Klingon uniform has ever been seen to display such things). A Klingon warrior can be trusted to actually be whatever rank he or she claims to be, as to do otherwise would violate their honor code. Despite the Klingons' disdain for rank insignia, some have been decorated with baldrics. In TOS, commanders Kor and Kang each wore a gold cloth baldric over their left shoulders. Capt. Koloth, however, who was one rank higher, did not.

Such decoration is apparently by choice and, oddly, usually undertaken by lower-ranking officers. For example, in TNG, Lt. Klag wore a gold metallic baldric while his CO, Capt. Kargan, did not. In "," Maltz and Torg each wore metallic baldrics while their CO, Cmdr. Kruge, did not.

Also in TNG, Capt. Korris wore no baldric in "Heart of Glory" while his pursuer, Cmdr. K'nera, did. Cmdr. Morag wore a baldric in "Aquiel" while in "Unification I & II," Capt. K'Vada did not.

Of particular note, however, is Worf's brother Kurn, who does the opposite of everyone listed above. As a commander in TNG's "Sins of the Father," he wore no baldric; but by the time he's promoted to captain in "Redemption I & II," he's donned one.

mall arms, blade weapons, and hand weapons

To many Klingons, battle is sacred, and treated with much ceremony. Therefore, many advances have been made by Klingons in the field of weaponry.

* Sonic Disruptor This weapon is the hand unit carried by Klingon soldiers in . It resembles a futuristic silver flintlock and has a distinct "warble" sound, and was first seen in "Errand of Mercy".
* Disruptor Pistol This is the main weapon all Klingons carry. It has a power cell and fires a bolt of pure energy at a target, vaporizing it. Whether sneaking into enemy territory or going to the market to buy some heart of targ, this is a tried-and-true choice.
* Disruptor Rifle Disruptor rifles are used mainly by Klingon shock troops, but are also favored by weapons merchants and terrorists for their point-and-shoot simplicity. These deadly weapons are essentially larger versions of the disruptor pistol.
* bat'leth ("bet-LETH") The betleH, or "sword of honor," symbolizes the Klingon Empire to much of the quadrant. Made of a crescent with four points, the bat'letH is an imposing two-handed sword. This weapon has been receding from use in open battle, but is still used in "modern" times for ceremonial rites, boarding parties and challenges of power or authority. The first bat'letH was said to have been made by Kahless from a lock of his own hair which he forged in an ore volcano on Qo'noS.
* mek'leth ("mek-LETH") By all accounts, the [http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Mek%27leth mek'letH] is similar to the bat'letH in many ways, but it is not so much a sword as a large knife. It has a curved blade approximately 30 cm long, and is an imposing sight. Another staple of the average Klingon's weapons closet, this is a formidable blade. Especially suited to close-quarters combat, such as in the corridors of a ship being boarded.
* d'k tahg ("dak-TAHG") The Klingon d'k tahg is a small knife by Klingon standards, mainly used in ceremonies, but also employed as an easily concealable weapon. Every Klingon receives their D'k tahg at their Age of Ascension. It has a 20 cm blade length, with two small blades that snap out of the sides at the push of a button. It can also be thrown. Traditionally, should a weapons search be required, it is considered a breach of propriety to strip a Klingon warrior of all of his weapons, so the d'k tahg is usually allowed to remain on the warrior's person. It is first seen in "".
* 'oy'naQ ("oi-NAKKH - Eng: Painstick") The Klingon painstick is a rod about 1 metre in length. It has a grip on one end and a port on the other end to discharge energy. It is also mainly used in ceremonies of endurance, but is sometimes used for torture. It does not incapacitate an enemy unless used repeatedly. It must be placed very close to the target (essentially touching) to work.
* chonnaQ ("chon-NAKKH - Eng: chon-NAK") Not much is known about the archaic chonnaQ. It is a hunting spear once used in the great Klingon wars; it predates the original Kahless.
* jejtaj ("jedge-TAHJ") The jejtaj is a weapon wielded like a pair of brass knuckles. However, with enough practice, one can parry bladed attacks with it and use it as a rudimentary throwing star.

Martial arts

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

Mental training

D'Har (sometimes pronounced Dahar or Dar) is a complex of mental training techniques, which allow the Klingon warriors to improve their performance no less than two or three times at least. The training starts from childhood and continues literally to the death.

There are three levels of D'har, (conditionally) called warrior, leader and master.

The warrior level is the most common among the Klingon Imperial Fleet, because it is essential part of the training process in the military academies at Qo'noS. Although the training is classified by nature, similar techniques can be found in Starfleet. It allows memorization of long and complex information streams, such as codes, protocols and other valuable information, and their recall at any moment.

The leader level is more complex version of the warrior level and is reserved for high-ranking officers or intelligence operatives. Its main goal is the warrior to achieve such level of self control and trained mind that will allow him to act in any circumstances under any pressure. When used by the operatives, it allows them to resist interrogation for long time. The Klingon operative Klaang () was captured by Suliban agents led by Silik, and for several days, before been rescued resisted intense interrogation that involved both tortures and psychotropic drugs. It is believed an operative trained in such way is capable to withstand even direct telepathic memory scan, such as the Vulcan mind meld.

The master level is a mystery, because the training takes place in remote monasteries, and no one is allowed to participate but high-rank Klingon warriors and clerics. It is believed this level of training is similar with the one that the ancient Terran samurai warriors referred to as Mushin. In the mental state used, the conscious mind is literally "turned off", allowing the warrior to act without losing any time analyzing the situation. In this way, the response time to any threat is reduced to zero, the body is driven by pure instinct and trained reflex, and often the warrior has no memory of the battle.

D'Har masters known so far so far:





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

;Chech'tluth: A strong alcoholic beverage, served in a metal goblet. Although considerably stronger than whisky, chech'tluth is suitable for humans.;Gagh: Klingon serpent worms. Gagh is best served while as fresh as possible, i.e. while still alive. Gagh is killed in one's mouth and the blood is savored. 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 reportedly at least 51 distinct "flavor" varieties of gagh.;Klingon Blood Wine: An alcoholic beverage renowned for its flavor and potency. It has been mentioned that Blood Wine is twice as strong as Earth whisky. Few non-Klingons drink Blood Wine because of its potency. Klingons often drink Blood Wine when celebrating after a battle and while trading war stories. Klingons expect their Blood Wine to be served warm. Whether it actually contains blood is unknown to Trekkies, though in formal ceremonies, a participant will add his or her own blood by cutting their hand above the wine. (For example, some Spanish wines have "Sangre" (blood) in their names; it is possible the Blood Wine contains no blood.);Klingon Fire Wine : Not much is known about this beverage. Once while on the holodeck ("A Fistful of Datas"), Worf asked the bartender Annie for some Fire Wine. She replied, "This ain't Kansas City. We don't have none of that fancy European stuff here.";Klingon skull stew: A dish consisting of an animal skull with various kinds of dressings.;Klingon tea: Klingon tea is an extremely potent beverage. If prepared properly this tea is deadly to humans, although they may inject an antidote beforehand if they still wish to drink it. Apparently, Klingon tea is not guaranteed safe for Klingon consumption either. Klingon tea is served and drunk during an elaborate tea ceremony.;Klingon Warnog: This beverage is mentioned in Star Trek TNG: Rightful Heir.;Raktajino: Klingon coffee. Particularly popular in Quark's bar on Deep Space 9. The name is most likely a portmanteau of its true Klingon name and "cappuccino". ;Rokeg blood pie: A traditional Klingon dish, consisting of animal meat and blood baked into a pie. Rokeg blood pie is Worf's favourite food, and because of this, his adoptive parents learned to prepare it.;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.


A passionate people, Klingons have developed their own opera, of which Lieutenant Commander Worf is a fan. Worf in particular appreciates Barak-Kadan's renditions, although his wife, Jadzia Dax, finds him flat (': "Looking for "par'Mach" in All the Wrong Places"). "Aktuh and Melota" is popular enough to be known to a bar musician on the backwater Qualor II (': "Unification, part II").


External links

* [http://www.klingon.org/ Klingon Imperial Diplomatic Corps] - Largest Klingon cultural website with many helpful resources and a popular Klingon discussion forum.
* [http://www.kli.org/ Klingon Language Institute] - Non-profit organization specializing in the study, promotion and support of the Klingon language
* [http://www.klingonimperialweaponsguild.org/ Klingon Imperial Weapons Guild] - Dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the ancient art of Klingon bladed weaponry and the traditional construction techniques.
* [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KlingonCostumes/ Klingon Imperial Costumers Guild] - Dedicated to promoting the art and techniques of Klingon costuming, accessories and props. Includes a substantial photo gallery.
* [http://www.khemorex-klinzhai.de/e/ Khemorex Klinzhai!] - Largest Klingon fan group in Europe ( [http://www.khemorex-klinzhai.de/faqs/kli-faq.html#Overview links to other groups] )
* [http://www.kag.org/ Klingon Assault Group (KAG)] - US-Based Klingon fan group, international in scope
* [http://i-k-f.tripod.com Imperial Klingon Forces (IKF)] - US-based Klingon fan group
* [http://ikvnastoj.tripod.com IKV NasToj - IKF Flagship] - US-based Klingon fan group
* [http://www.klingonlegion.com/ Klingon Legion of Assault Warriors, Fourth Fleet] - US-based Klingon fan group (Florida)
* [http://www.klingon-empire.org The Empire] - Web Based Fan Group That has members world wide

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