Originally called "Kanoo" by their more primitive Tsohamin inventors, the Kiiahk (both singular and plural) is a relatively common sight in the Kimka region of the Scepteres of Tarshiin in Nybelmar's Western Bay, famed for its abundance of lakes. A paddle-drawn boat of various designs, the usages of the Kiiahk have evolved throughout the years - whilst originally used by Tsohamin hunters and fishermen who inhabited the region, Kiiahken ("Using Kiiahk") has become a common pastime and Kiiahk Racing has become greatly popularised by local residents, those showing exceptional skill developing a celebrity status.
Though varying extensively in design due to the innate inventiveness of the
Tarshiinite people, many traits of the original Tsohamin design can still be
seen as present. Traditionally, Kiiahk were made from a combination frame of
softwood and strong reeds, creating a sturdy, durable base generally between
four and five peds in length and rarely exceeding a
ped in width at its widest
point (the kahkput - where the paddler sits). The frame itself assumes (from a
higher perspective) an elliptical shape, appearing similar to a squinting eye -
though far less crude and more symmetrical. Though the Tsohamin men found their
own sense of balance and the buoyancy of the wood enough, to provide further
stability on the water Tarshiinite craftsmen often modified the frame internally
to include pockets of the plentiful sea sponge littering the coasts to
invaluably aid the craft's ability to float, as well as adding footholds,
improving the Kiiahker’s control in the water,
allowing them greater manipulation of the craft in moving currents.
‘Classical’ designs warranted that the frame be covered in layers of woolly garra boar skin alone (allowing the Tsohamin Kanooer to wear a tight ‘hide skirt’ which he could use to stitch himself into the Kanoo, preventing leakage) though the emergence of Kiiahken as a sport, particularly amongst Tarshiinite amateurs, made practices inhibiting escape quite dangerous. As a result, newer designs accommodate clever combinations between animal skins, blankets of reeds and long strands of suitable tree bark - leaving an open hole over the kahkput and its specifically modified ‘seat’ for the Kiiahker. Once a novice Kiiahker has shown a consistent ability to escape (or otherwise survive) a capsize, they generally invest in various means of reducing the kahkput hole to prevent water leakages (most usually in the form of a specially-made wooden block, slotting like a jigsaw piece into the kahkput around the Kiiahker themselves).
Though not technically a part of the design, it is impossible to manoeuvre a Kiiahk without a paddling oar. Unlike Sarvonian styles (such as the Ducraer boat's oars), Kiiahk oars are dual-bladed. Each wooden blade is curved into a slight, fractional ‘scoop’ that allows linear shifting of water to pass with much greater ease (as well as allowing greater masses of water to be shifted when paddling backwards). Unusually though, the blades are not mirrors of each other. When the paddle shaft is held with the right blade perpendicular to the ground, the left will always be rotated around 45 yarin (a Tarshiinite measurement of angles - 360 yarin dictating a full circle). This initially annoying aspect of the paddle’s design (making monotonous shaft rotation a neccesity) is not without its purpose, since once the rotating wrist motion has been mastered, more force can be applied on either side of the craft (the paddler alternating between left and right to move in a straight line).
Usage. The original 'Kanoo' was designed by the Tsohamin with the fast moving rapids of Kimka in mind. Though it is unlikely they would have been versed in the design of the ships used by the Tarshiinites in their trade fleets, these large designs in such violent yet narrow waters would have been unsuitable - most likely resulting in a lot of damage to the craft itself as well as potentially injuring those inside. The compact design of the Kanoo however allowed the Tsohamin to travel easily through the waters.
The relative flatness of the craft in combination with the position of a Kiiahker's hips, legs and feet allowed him to manipulate the position of the boat just by 'reading' the water and responding accordingly. Even in more modern designs, if the current is strong enough it is not impossible for a skilled Kiiahker to direct without a paddle at all - relying solely on their own shifting body weight. However, the unique design of the Kiiahk paddle allows for many more techniques to be demonstrated - allowing the craft to make sharp turns, avoid obstacles, rotate with breakneck speed, move backwards, prevent capsizing and even allow the whole craft to the roll underwater and come back up again the other side.
Depending on whether you wish to use a Kiiahk to idly drift along the various idyllic lakes of Kimka, absorbing and appreciating the breathtaking scenery, or if you plan on racing down untameable bodies of water, narrowly avoiding jagged rocks and diving off of waterfalls, the usage and subtleties of design of the Kiiahk are very broad. The Tarshiinites, self-proclaimed experts on mathematics and mechanics, have tinkered with practically every aspect of the crude, animal-skin Kanoo to produce a craft perfect for every eventuality - trying as hard as they can to master the often vicious currents of the Kimka waters.
History/Origin. Originally used by the Suumin clan of the Tsohamin (literally ‘The ones of water’, who were famed for being the only group of Tsohamin not fearful of water) before the devastating effects of the Tiquaitan Republican Wars the Kanoos themselves fulfilled a very practical role- allowing the spear-fishermen to travel across the fast moving water relatively quickly, alternative designs causing severe lack of balance and systematic capsizing. After the 'Tsohamin Harrying' which left many prominent Tsohamin clans extinct, the Suumin practices died along with the rest of the clan.
Despite this, the Tarshiinite men who populated the territories in search of the plentiful gold in the Doilth sourced rivers that ran through Kimka. When huge numbers began to congregate to the newest of the Tarshiinite metropoli, Kimkatee, the newly formed population (with vast amounts of both wealth and leisure time) developed a huge interest in a variety of hobbies - sports of the water being amongst the most fashionable choices. As time progressed and Kimkanites continued to show their preference for Kiiahken and various other forms of water-based entertainment, the popularity of the sport exploded. As the physical exercise paired with entertainment pleased the Tarshiiinite priesthood, the greatest aficionados of Kiiahken would replace their morning and evening Shiigar with early morning and late night paddling sessions.
With the advent of improved relations between the Gondolwenmith and the Tarshiinites via their trade colonies, many affluent Kimkanites convene with acquaintances in Gondolwain to savour the landscape, due to the region's richness of striking water features. As a result, the practice has been adopted by a few of these remarkable men as well - developing a common ground between the societies. It would seem that Kiiahken has itself evolved from simply hunting aid to a regional pasttime, a popularised sport and even a ground for diplomacy.