Cultures and Peoples

In this general setting, Howard placed imaginary kingdoms to which he gave names from a varied series of sources. Khitai is his China, far to the East, deriving from an ancient name; Corinthia is his name for a Greek-like civilization, a name slapped together from the name of the city of Corinth and a reminiscence of the Middle Ages province of Carinthia. He imagines the Picts to occupy a large area to the northwest. The probable intended correspondences are listed below; notice that the correspondences are sometimes very loose, and are portrayed by ahistorical stereotypes.

Kingdom, Region, or Ethnic Group Possible Analogue(s)
Acheron A fallen kingdom corresponding to the Roman Empire. Its territory covered Aquilonia, Nemedia, and Argos. In Greek mythologyAcheron was one of the four rivers of Hades (cf. "Stygia").
Afghulistan Afghanistan. Afghulistan (sometimes "Ghulistan") is the common name of the habitat of different tribes in the Himelian Mountains. The name itself is a mixture of the historical names of Gulistan and Afghanistan.
Alkmeenon Delphi. Its name derives from the Alcmaeonidae, who funded the construction the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, from which the oracle operated.
Amazon Mentioned in Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age essay, the kingdom of the Amazons refers to various legends of Greek Amazons, or more specifically to the Dahomey Amazons. In classical legend, Amazonia was a nation of warrior women in Asia Minor and North Africa. The legend may be based upon the Sarmatians, a nomadic Iranian tribe of the Kuban, whose women were required to slay an enemy before they might marry.
Aquilonia A cross between the Roman Empire and Carolingian Empire. The name is borrowed from Aquilonia, a city of Southern Italy, between modern Venosa and Benevento; it is also an ancient name of Quimper and resembles that of Aquitaine, a French region ruled by England for a long portion of the Middle Ages. The name is derived from Latin aquilo(n–), "north wind".
Argos Various seafaring traders of the Mediterranean. The name comes from the Argo, ship of the Argonauts; or perhaps from the city of ArgosPeloponnesos, reputedly the oldest city in Greece, situated at the head of the Gulf of Argolis near modern Nafplion. Also, hints of Italy in regards to the indigenous population's appearance, names and culture. Howard labels the populace of his Argos as "Argosseans", whereas the folk of the historical Argos are known as "Argives". In Hyborian Age cartography, Argos takes on the shape of a "shoe" in its border boundaries as compared to Italy appearing as a "boot". The coastal city of Messantia/Massantia derives its name from Massalia, the name given to Marseilles by its Greek founders.
Asgard Dark Age ScandinaviaÁsgard is the home of the Æsir in Norse mythology. Howard states that the Baltic Sea would, post cataclysm, divide his fictional Asgard into the modern Norway, Sweden and Denmark according to The Hyborian Age essay.
Barachan Islands The Caribbean Islands. The pirate town of Tortage takes its name from Tortuga.
Border Kingdoms Geographically located over the modern German Baltic Sea coast. A lawless place full of savages, Conan once traveled through the Border Kingdom on his way to Nemedia. He befriended Mar the Piper and the King of the Border Kingdoms. He helped save the kingdom before returning to his quest to reach Nemedia.
Bossonian Marches Wales, with an overlay of colonial-era North America. Possibly from Bossiney, a former parliamentary borough in CornwallSouth West England, which included Tintagel Castle, connected with the Matter of Britain.
Brythunia The continental homelands of the Angles and Saxons who invaded Great Britain, which is the origin of the name. Semantically, the name Brythunia is from the Welsh Brython, "Briton", derived from the same root as the Latin Brito, Britannia, although Howard stated that the name was kept by the Æsir and Nemedians that settled there. The land is depicted geographically over modern Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Cimmeria Howard states in The Hyborian Age that "the Gaels, ancestors of the Irish and Highland Scots, descended from pure-blooded Cimmerian clans." He correlates Cimmeria to the Cymric people, the Cimbri, the Gimirrai, the Cimmerians and the Crimea. Geographically located over the modern Ireland, Scotland and England, since during the cataclysm which would mark the end of the said Hyborian Age, Cimmeria is said (according to the essay "The Hyborian Age" by R.E.Howard) to partially sink, surrounded by what would be the North Sea, its mountains dislocating into the British Isles.
Conajohara (Aquilonia) The name may have been based on Canajoharie.
Corinthia Ancient Greece. From Corinth (Korinthos), a rich city in Classical Greece. Possibly suggested to Howard by the Epistles to the Corinthians, or by the region of Carinthia.
Darfar Howard derived this name from the region of DarfurSudan, in north-central Africa. Darfur is an Arabic language name meaning "abode (dar) of the Fur", the dominant people of the area. In changing the name to Darfar, Howard unwittingly changed the Arabic meaning to "the abode of mice". The original Darfur is now the westernmost part of the Republic of the Sudan.
Gunderland Possibly from Gunderland of Hesbaye, a count in the Merovingian court, or from Gelderland a province in The Netherlands or from Gunther (Gundicar), King of Burgundy or Gunderic, King of the Vandals.
Hyperborea Finland, Russia and the Baltic countries (Hyperborea) was a land in "outermost north" according to Greek historian Herodotus. Howard's Hyperborea is described as the first Hyborian kingdom, "which had its beginning in a crude fortress of boulders heaped to repel tribal attack".
Hyrkania MongoliaHyrcania. In classical geography, a region southeast of the Caspian Sea or Hyrcanian Sea corresponding to the Iranian provinces of GolestanMazandaran and Gilan. The name is Greek for the Old Persian Varkana, one of the Achaemenid Empire satrapies, and survives in the name of the river Gorgan. The original meaning may have been "wolf land". In Iranian legend, Hyrcania was remarkable for its wizards, demons, wolves, spirits, witches and vampires.
Iranistan An eastern land corresponding to modern Iran. Historically, the name of the country is derived from the Iran + the Persian istanestan, "country".
Kambuja/Kambulja The original name of Cambodia, also known as Kampuchea.
Keshan The name comes from the "Kesh", the Egyptian name for Nubia.
Khauran The name perhaps derives from the Hauran region of Syria.
Khitai China. The name is derived from the Khitan Empire (Chinese 遼朝 Liáo cháo or the Liao Dynasty)and people that ruled northern and northeastern China. The namei is derived from the Khitan language for 'The Khitan Empire', Mos diau-d kitai huldʒi gur; in modern Mandarin Chinese, 契丹國 or Qìdān guó. 'Khita' is also the origin of the Russian name for China, "Kitai" (Китай), which is related to the English word "Cathay" and Marco Polo's Cathay (/kæˈθeɪ/). In the Hyborian age, Khitai is an ancient empire which is always at war with Kambuja to the south. The people of Khitai are yellow-skinned and of medium height. Khitai is ruled by a God-Emperor whose decisions are greatly influenced by The Scarlet Circle, a clan of some of the most powerful mage lords in all of Hyboria. Khitan laws flow from the overlord of the city-state. The culture of Khitai is similar to that of ancient China. The most prominent feature of Khitai is its Great Wall (similar to Great Wall of China) which protects it from foreign invasions from the north. The cities of Khitai are Ruo-Chen, Shu-Chen, Shaulum and the capital Paikang which contains the Jade Citadel, from where the God-Emperor rules over all of Khitai.
Khoraja Constantinople and the Etruscans. and possibly the associated Principality of AntiochCounty of Edessa and County of Tripoli, collectively known as Outremer. The name itself was inspired by the references of Sax Rohmer to the fictional city of Khorassa in The Mask of Fu Manchu novel.
Kosala From the ancient Indo-Aryan kingdom of Kosala, corresponding roughly in area with the region of Oudh.
Kozaki Semi-barbaric steppe-dwelling raiders analogous to the Cossacks.
Koth From the ancient Hittites (the name Koth may come from the fact that the Hittites are called in the Bible the children of Heth, and the Egyptians called their land Kheta); The Kothian capital of Khorshemish corresponds to the Hittite capital of Carchemish. Perhaps from The Sign of Koth in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath by H. P. Lovecraft. There is a town of Koth in Gujarat, India, but the connection is doubtful. Howard also used the same name in his interplanetary novel Almuric.
Kusan Probably from the Kushan Empire.
Kush From the kingdom of KushNubia, North Africa.
Meru Tibet. In Hindu mythologyMeru is the sacred mountain upon which the gods dwell.

NOTE: Meru is not an original Hyborian Age country and was created by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter for "The City of Skulls".

Nemedia A cross between Rome and Byzantium. Nemedia was the rival of Aquilonia (which corresponds to The Carolingians), and depended on Aesir mercenaries for their defence (as the Byzantine Empire hired Vikings as the Varangian Guard). The name comes from Nemed, leader of colonists from Scythia to Ireland in Irish mythology; perhaps the name is also meant to allude to Nemea, home to the Nemean Lion of Greek mythology. The name may also be suggestive of various names for Germany in Slavic languages, e.g. Czech Německo.
Ophir Ancient Ophir, a gold-mining region in the Old Testament, possibly on the shores of the Red Sea or Arabian Sea (e.g. western Arabia), though clearly Howard saw it as situated somewhere in Italy.
Pathenia Central Asia, probably Afghanistan. The name comes from the Greek word Parthenia meaning "virgin" or "untouched" since Pathenia is a forbidden country and its landscape has largely remain untouched from any human activity. It contains the dreaded snow apes and Yahlgan, the sacred city of Erlik, the flame-god.

NOTE: Pathenia is not an original Hyborian Age country. It appeared first in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian comics.

Pelishtim Philistines (P'lishtim in Hebrew). The Pelishti city of Asgalun derives its name from Ashkelon. The Pelisti god Pteor or Baal-Pteor derives its name from the Moabite Baal-Peor.
Picts Pre-Columbian America, with an overlay of North America during the European colonization of the Americas, possibly even colonial-era New York. Howard bestows names from Iroquoian languages on many of his Hyborian-Age Picts (but not the quasi-historical Picts featuring Bran Mak Morn). Note that the name "Pict" comes from the Latin language term for "painted one", which could be applicable to a number of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. The historical termed Picts were a confederation of Celtic tribes in central and northern Scotland which bordered Roman Britain.
Poitain A combination of Poitou and Aquitaine, two regions in southwestern France. From the 10th to the mid-12th century, the counts of Poitou were also the dukes of Aquitaine.
Punt The Land of Punt on the Horn of Africa. A place with which the ancient Egyptians traded, probably Somaliland.
Shem MesopotamiaSyriaPalestine, and Arabia. In the BibleShem is Noah's eldest son, the ancestor of the Hebrews, Arabs and Assyrians; hence, the modern "Semite" and Semitic languages (via Greek Sem), used properly to designate the family of languages spoken by these peoples.
Stygia Egypt. The name comes from Styx, a river of the Greek underworld in Greek mythology. In earlier times the territory of Stygia included Shem, Ophir, Corinthia, and part of Koth. Stygia is ruled by a theocracy of sorcerer-kings.The people are dark skinned. Most of the common people are descendants of the various races across the world. They worship the serpent god Set. Stygia's terrain is a mix of mountains, desert, plains, and marshes. The Styx river flows through Stygia into the sea.
Turan Persian name for Turkestan. A Turkish land, possibly referring to the Gokturk Empire, the Timurid Empire, or the Seljuk Empire. The name derives from Turan, the areas of Eurasia occupied by speakers of Ural–Altaic languages. The names of the various Turanian cities (e.g. Aghrapur, Sultanapur, Shahpur) are often in Persian language. King Yezdigerd is named after Yazdegerd III, ruler of the Sassanid Empire. The name of King Yildiz means star in the Turkish language. The city of Khawarizm takes its name from Khwarezm, and Khorusun from Khorasan.
Uttara Kuru From the medieval Uttara Kuru Kingdom at the north and central of Pakistan.

NOTE: Uttara Kuru is not an original Hyborian Age country.

Vanaheim Dark Age Scandinavia. Vanaheim is the home of the Vanir in Norse mythology
Vendhya India (the Vindhya Range is a range of hills in central India). The name means "rent" or "ragged", i.e. having many passes.
Wadai (tribe) The Wadai Empire in present-day Chad.
Wazuli (tribe) The Waziri tribe in northwest Pakistan.
Zamora The Romani people. The name comes from the city of ZamoraZamora provinceCastile-León, Spain, alluding to the Gitanos of Spain (see Zingara for discussion); or possibly it is based on the word "Roma". There may also be some reference to southern Italy, as Zamorans dance the tarantella in honor of their spider-god (variously known as Omm and Zath). Also hints of ancient Israel and Palestine.
Zembabwei The Munhumutapa Empire. The name comes from Great Zimbabwe, a ruined fortified town in Rhodesia, first built around the 11th century and used as the capital of the Munhumutapa Empire. Oddly, this is the same root as the modern name for the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Zingara Spain/Portugal. Iberian Peninsula as a whole. Zingara is also Italian for "Gipsy woman"; this may mean that Howard mixed up the source names of Zingara and Zamora, with Zingara originally meant to apply to the Roma kingdom, and Zamora to the Spanish kingdom.
Zuagir (tribe) The name is perhaps derived from a combination of Tuareg and Uyghur.
Other Geographic Features
Amir Jehun Pass Takes its name from a combination of the Amu Darya river and the Gihon river (Jayhoun in Arabic), which has been identified by some with the Amu Darya. Perhaps corresponds to the Broghol Pass, which is near the headwaters of the Amu Darya in Wakhan.
The Himelian Mountains Take their name the Himalayas but correspond more closely to the Hindu Kush or Karakoram ranges.
The Karpash Mountains The Carpathian Mountains.
The Poitanian Mountains The Pyrenees, which are just south of the Aquitaine region of France.
The River Styx The river Styx runs northward through Stygia, following the course of the historical Nile river. Then it turns and runs westward through Shem, following the historical Mediterranean Sea, finally emptying into the western ocean. Styx in classical mythology, is the River of the Dead, and this symbology is used in The Hour of the Dragon.
The River Alimane Alamana river, (present Spercheios) in Greece. It may also be a reference to the Alemanni.
Vilayet Sea Geographically, the Caspian Sea. The name comes from vilayet, the term for administrative regions in the Ottoman Empire.
Zhaibar Pass The Khyber Pass which has been the traditional borderline between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Zaporoska River The Dnieper river and/or the Don and/or the Volga. The river's name was probably influenced by Zaporizhian Sich, a settlement of the Ukrainian Cossacks in Zaporizhzhia (region). It was situated on the Dnieper river, below the Dnieper rapids (porohy, poroz.a), hence the name, translated as "territory beyond the rapids".

Hyborian Names

Cultures and Peoples

An Age Undreamed Of sparksman JW063