The Suli are a nomadic people who primarily live in Ravka. Suli people have bronze or brown skin, black hair, and black eyes.
Suli caravans follow the same routes for years, though they are difficult to track. These routes take them all over Ravka and sometimes into Shu Han. There are many Suli in the northwestern part of Ravka. The Suli are not always treated well. Some places refuse to allow Suli to camp nearby; Suli settlements have been attacked and torched. Areas that welcome Suli often do so for one of three reasons: a respect for Suli knowledge, a desire for Suli entertainment, or a need for dirty or dangerous work that no one else would do.
When Sankta Marya of the Rock opened a pathway out of a mine, she left behind a series of caves. According to religious belief, the Suli are always able to find shelter in these caves at the base of the Sikurzoi.
Some Suli moved to Ketterdam seeking a better life, but they were not permitted to own land or hold governmental positions. Kerch used Suli labor to build a military base at Rentveer, and the Suli workers left a hidden tunnel leading into the base as a back door.
The Ravkan government has historically mistreated the Suli people. Laws restricted Suli land ownership and travel, though these were abolished before the reign of King Alexander III. However, anti-Suli prejudice remains; some Ravkans consider them a "cursed people" who are inferior due to their lack of permanent structures.
- Main article: Suli language
The Suli are a close people who are loyal to each other and wary of strangers. Because they are travelers and have no land, 'home' to the Suli simply means family. The Suli do not recognize any kings. Suli belief holds that their ancestors will welcome them in the next world. Some Suli believe in Saints.
Suli fortune-tellers wear orange silk cloaks and red jackal masks. They tell fortunes by reading coffee dregs. Though Suli and non-Suli alike often dress up as fortune-tellers, true Suli fortune-tellers are rare and considered holy. Their jackal masks are sacred symbols.
- All you need is a full belly, an open road, and an easy heart.
- The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.
- The trick to falling is in getting back up.
- This action will have no echo.
The appearance of actual Suli encampments is unknown, but farcical imitations abound in Ravka and Kerch. These imitations feature star-shaped lanterns, silk-covered wagons, colorful bonfires, violin music, acrobats on aerial silks., purple silks, and incense.
- Adem Bajan
- Dhej Nabri
- Inej Ghafa
- Sankta Marya of the Rock
- Suhm Nabri
- Zoya Nazyalensky (half-Suli)
Behind the scenes
- The Suli, being a nomadic, stateless people, may have been influenced by Jewish or Romani cultures. The physical appearances of the Suli, however, appear to have a South Asian influence. In particular, Suli performance seems to draw inspiration from the Bhavai theater form practiced in Gujarat, while the names of known characters resemble Persian and Arabic. As nomads who travel through "Russia influenced" Ravka, the Suli can be associated with Turkic peoples of Middle Asia and more specifically the Tatars who are partially Christianized—which is similar to Inej and her family worshiping Ravkan saints. Their circuses with tightrope walking resemble Byzantine (located on the territory of modern Turkey) circuses with foreign Asian acrobats of various origins. Later, other elements of Byzantine culture succeeded in Russia.
- The mistreatment of the Suli is possibly an echo of their basis on Jewish and Romani cultures.
- In Turkic languages, the word "suli" means "oat." In Baltic languages, "suli" comes from the Russian word "zhulik" which means "a rascal".