Horses and Hanging and ‘D&D Honor Among Thieves’

My husband and I both agree that we saw a yurt (ger) as the intrepid former Harper and current thief Edgin Davis (Chris Pine) and his barbarian friend Holga Kilgore (Michelle Rodriquez) steal two horses and head out to find Edgin’s daughter Kira in the film “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.” Yurts are characteristic of Mongolians who were originally nomadic.

My husband is from Hawaii and not particularly a fan of Westerns. I’ve watched enough Westerns to know that horse thieves were particularly detested and I believe in my younger years I saw a reputed hanging tree or two. 

In the film, the stealing of horses is portrayed as a minor lark and because we never see the people who own the horses and the relative absence of people who could be classified as Mongolians, this offense is minimized. We don’t care about these unseen people.  The film isn’t concerned with the Mongols and the production itself isn’t particularly concerned in diversity inclusion of Mongolians or East Asians as we can see by the casting.

The Mongolian lifestyle  depends upon horses so much that, much like the Old West, horse thievery was considered a serious crime. 

Horse theft became a criterion for capital punishment in Mongolian customary law because of the horse’s critical cultural importance. Historically, the punishment for a horse thief was being cut apart at the waist. Because of their use both in daily life and in recreational activities ranging from hunting expeditions to horse races, the veneration of the horse in Mongolian culture has transcended socioeconomic class lines.

I was thinking that perhaps most Mongolian families might have dogs to protect their horses, but there are other issues about Mongolian horses. According to one website:  Typically, Mongolian horses, even the tamed ones, would rather die than let strangers ride on their backs.

Yurts are part of D&D according to the Forgotten Realms wiki. They are seen in the Hordelands (The Endless Wastes), a place populated by horsemen tribes

Most notable among these tribes are the Tuigan, described in the wiki: 

The wiki includes this illustration:

The Tuigan certainly seem Mongolian-ish. 

Of course, “Dungeon and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves” is just a film and the horses stolen from the yurt was a minor plot device. Why have Mongolian-like tribes involved if the real action is focused on Chris Pine’s Edgin Darvis and Michelle Rodriguez’s Holga Kilgore. They do have Jason Wong in a minor role (Red Wizard of Thay, Dralas) and he’s not on the poster.  But neither is the main villain, Red Wizard Sofina (Daisy Head) who is, of course, White.

Evidence of East Asian existence in this film is not unlike the detour to China in “Black Adam” where we don’t see the people, but see the housing structure and hear the people speaking in Mandarin. I also recall the episode of “This Is Us” where the family is meeting and munching over Chinese food, even outside of the city, in Western Pennsylvania but no Chinese people have infiltrated the family. Then there’s that  freaky appearance of Loki in Mongolia in “Loki.” 

Mostly, I think that if a film has action in or through a country, the people of the country should be more than the colorful background or a plot device. Instead of evidence of existence, there should be better representation.

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