|Planet of origin:||Cardassia|
The Dominion, 2375
|Borg Designation:||Species 2000|
|Environmental requirements:||Class M conditions|
|Sexes:||Male & Female|
Head and shoulder ridges
Malyn Ocett, a female Cardassian
The Cardassians were a quasi-reptilian humanoid species native to Cardassia in the Alpha Quadrant. The name means in their native language "People of Discipline". (ST - New Worlds, New Civilizations short story: "The Glories of the Hebitians")
They were a generally militaristic race. The Cardassian state, the Cardassian Union once occupied Bajor and later allied themselves with the Dominion before a crushing defeat that devastated their civilization. The democratic Reunion Project political group arose to power during the reconstruction process, with the authoritarian Directorate deciding for the time to play a part in the political process as an opposition party. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)
The Cardassian appear to have evolved from a creature with both reptilian and mammalian traits. Standing roughly 1.8 meters tall, Cardassians tend to possess gray or grayish-green skin tones with shiny, black hair. Members of the race are barrel-chested and slightly heavier than Humans, a result of Cardassia's thicker atmosphere and slightly higher gravity. Elongated vertebrae covered in scaly plate sections extend along their necks. Segmented brow ridges extend down from the forehead and encircle the eyes, giving them a slightly "hooded" look reminiscent of a Terran cobra. An unsegmented ridge known as chufa extends upward from the tip of the nose to a spoon-shaped protrusion in the center of the forehead. Their thick skins and tough bodies allow Cardassians to tolerate pain better than most other species which meant that they possessed a higher pain threshold. (ST - Decipher roleplay module: Aliens)
The head and torso has an array of prominent ridges which are of cartilage construction and evolved as a defense against predatory attack. These ridges grow more prominent as young Cardassians develop through adolescence. Cardassians are a reptilian species but also have many features common to mammals, there skin is only scaled around their ridges and females have breast like protrusions on their chests. Cardassians have straight hair that varies in color from jet black to the less common dark brown. Males typically slick their hair back, while the females have more varying hairstyles. Unbetrothed Cardassian females have a cosmetic blue coloration in the dip of skin between ridges on their foreheads. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time, et al.)
The Cardassians possessed a unique enzyme which made them immune to infestation by the Bluegill parasites. However, this did not prove to be a method of making other species immune from possession as the enzyme had the side effect of dissolving the membranes present within other species bodies. As such, only the Cardassian race has proven to be immune to the Parasites infection. (DS9 novel: Unity)
The early Hebitian people were deeply religious but the ages of hardship on Cardassia would shift the Cardassian people to more militaristic and expansionist views in order to survive. As such, the concept of religious beliefs were replaced with a patriotic duty in the state itself which results in many Cardassians being very loyal to their government which is seen as being omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent. (DS9 episodes: "The Wire", "Second Skin")
According to Cardassian beliefs, their race was raised to sentience from the swamps of Cardassia by their creators who watched over Ailam and Neroon; the first Cardassians. The Cardassians were gifted with both sentience and a soul by the creators who gave the race the umbilicus which marked their foreheads. (DS9 - Millennium novel: Inferno) Post-Oralian religion practiced the worship of the helmeted Galor. A type of demonic deity that symbolized power. This mythological, warrior being also inspired Cardassia Prime to launch the vessel class with the same name. Its shape, depicted in the hull form, with the insignia carrying the likeness, as well. (DS9 omnibus: Millennium)
Religion was a rare thing with the Cardassian government with suppression of certain groups such as the Oralian Way. After First contact with the Bajoran race, the Oralian Way was exterminated though fragments of it continued to exist secretly in their society. (DS9 novels: Day of the Vipers, Night of the Wolves) Following the collapse of the Cardassian Union in 2376, such suppression began to be lifted and the Oralian way began to grow in popularity. (DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)
A Cardassian's family is considered one of their greatest assets, with two or three generations living within the same household. Though this is an admirable trait, the Cardassians see orphans as outcasts and are often forgotten. (DS9 episode: "Cardassians")
This meant that females were considered too important among their people to be allowed within the military due to the capability of carrying young. Marriage ceremonies were known as Enjoinments, which typically required the woman to return to relative safety while the male continued to serve. As such, females that had lost the ability to give birth were considered outcasts among their people. In such circumstances, the enjoinment ceremony was typically cancelled as part of tradition. When faced with such a fate, certain Cardassian women were known to have taken their own lives rather then continue such an existence though this was not always the case. (TLE - Terok Nor novel: Night of the Wolves)
Unlike Humans, Cardassians did not fear old age and in fact respected the wisdom and dignity such a position granted to the Cardassian in question. (DS9 episode: "Distant Voices") Advanced age is a sign of great dignity. Cardassians respect authority and age, usually equating the two. A junior will attach himself to an up-and-coming superior or already successful elder, assisting his chosen mentor in any number of tasks intended to further their career, and presumably furthering his own, as well. This can be dangerous, however, should the mentor's fortunes turn, as the apprentice makes a convenient patsy on which to blame everything.
The older a Cardassian, the more feared he is because he is likely to know many secrets and maintains an extensive, and hidden, web of connections. When a Cardassian dies, he leaves his secrets to his relatives so they can gain the benefit of his knowledge, use the information to preserve the family's fortunes, and exact revenge on his rivals. Family is very important to Cardassians, with several generations living under one roof. (ST - Decipher roleplay module: Aliens)
Cardassians were noted for their love of trickery and pranks that they played on both enemies as well as allies. They often did such jokes in order to gloat upon the misfortunes of others. (DS9 novel: Vengeance)
Within Cardassian society, men and women are treated equally and both are allowed to participate within the military. However, only men were drafted into service while women were given the optional choice to enter the military or not. Women often opted to enter the field of science working for the Science Ministry. (TNG episode: "Journey's End"; DS9 episode: "Destiny")
A typical Cardassian is xenophobic, arrogant and paranoid. They believe theirs is the greatest civilization in the universe; other, lesser species are intent on preventing Cardassia from taking its rightful place as the most powerful empire in the quadrant. (ST - Decipher roleplay module: Aliens)
Certain Cardassians tended to think their species were superior to other races. This was particularly the case with the Bajorans with many Cardassians claiming that they were victims to terrorist attacks while they were attempting to "uplight" the Bajoran people. This went as far as certain Cardassians claiming that the Bajoran race was genetically inferior, with studies claiming that their brains were not very advanced. (DS9 - Millennium novel: The Fall of Terok Nor)
The Cardassians valued efficiency, Cardassian mines were almost always on class M worlds, as the expense of excavating in other non-native environments was not cost effective. (DS9 novel: Devil in the Sky)
The Cardassians had entered space relatively near to future Federation space as early as the 2150s. And at least one Cardassian resided on Vulcan as early as the 2240s. (ENT episodes: "Dead Stop", "Observer Effect"; DS9 episode: "Destiny")
Nevertheless, by the early 24th century the Cardassians were still an unknown entity when initial moves were made to form diplomatic relations with the species. Within the next 20 years of the opening of official diplomacy, peace talks would fail, leading to the Federation-Cardassian War. (TOS comic: "Enter the Wolves"; Star Trek novel: Articles of the Federation)
The Cardassians later allied themselves with the Dominion, an act which would eventually cause disaster as the Dominion attempted genocide in the final hours of the Dominion War. On the wreck of Dominion-devastated Cardassia, a new democratic government arose. (DS9 episode: "What You Leave Behind"; DS9 novel: A Stitch in Time)
Later on, the Cardassians had revolted under Gul Kentar, who attacked the Federation's Reserve fleet while the Federation was counterattacking the Borg, built a technology that allowed Species 8472 to enter "our" realm. The Klingon Battle Fleet then brutally put down the rebellion, and Chancellor Martok personally killed Gul Kentar. (TNG video game: Armada II)
Cardassian cuisine was something of a unique taste; following the Cardassian withdrawal from Bajor, Quark had a great deal of foods and drinks, such as Kamoy syrup, which he found impossible to sell. (DS9 novel: Devil in the Sky)
The Cardassian species originates from the world of Cardassia Prime in the Alpha Quadrant. Cardassian history can be described as an uncomfortable, often painful tension between great accomplishment and great brutality by the authoritarian state.
Given the crushing iron rule under which most Cardassians have lived for the past five hundred years, it is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what constitutes true Cardassian culture and what is the cult of the state. The years ahead may soon reveal the story--after the Dominion War ended in 2375, the Cardassian Union has begun some experiments, however halting, with democracy, and only time will tell how well accepted this is by the general populace. (A Stitch in Time)
Cardassians are most recognizable for the hooked ridges encircling their eyes, and the inverted teardrop-shaped protrusion at the center of the forehead. In women, this area is deeply pigmented, as well as the third scale of the neck ridges. These neck ridges sweep down towards the shoulders at a dramatic, flaring angle that has been compared at times to the cables of an old-style Earth suspension bridge. The neck ridges may also be an erogenous zone. (DS9: "Profit and Loss")
The chest exhibits a pattern of ridges and scales not unlike those of the face. Though ethnic variations exist, Cardassians usually have at least a slight grey cast to the color of their skin with most actually having grey skin.
Cardassian hair is almost always straight, and typically black or dark brown, and turns grey or white with age. Men usually slick their hair back; women show a much greater variety in hairstyle. Eye color comes in similar varieties to Humans: brown, grey, and blue have all been seen in Cardassians.
Cardassians hail from a reptilio-humanoid stock (sometimes referred to as "therapsids" similar to Earth's pre-mammalians) containing a combination of reptilian and mammalian features: they are able to grow hair on their heads like numerous other humanoid species, with a minority of men also able to grow facial hair, but the top layer of their skin is scaled. The largest of the scales, such as those on the neck ridges, are referred to as "macroscales"--the much smaller scales, only visible to the naked eye from centimeters away, are called "microscales." These microscales are capable of tightening against the lower layers of the skin to retain heat when a Cardassian is exposed to cold conditions. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions: The Thirteenth Order)
That said, Cardassians rely on their outer environment to maintain body temperature to a greater degree than more warm-blooded species. This gives them a greater tolerance for high temperatures than species such as Humans, but leaves them more vulnerable to the cold. Frostbite and hypothermia are concerns that must be taken very seriously by Cardassians working in cold environments.
Cardassian chemical tolerance, however, is quite high; Cardassians are able to metabolize toxins, including the intoxicants in kanar, to a degree that humans cannot.
As one of the races (along with, Humans, and Romulans) descended from the ancient humanoids that seeded the galaxy, they are also capable of interbreeding with a number of other species, to include Bajorans, Kazon, and possibly Humans.
The ancestors of the modern Cardassians--the First Hebitians, were once a highly religious people, with one of the most prominent religions being the Oralian Way. Following the disastrous climactic upheaval that triggered widespread famine and unrest, the militaristic Cardassian Union rose and set out to vanquish the old culture. Nonetheless, the memory of the Oralian Way would remain buried among the Cardassian people until the beginnings of a revival in the waning years of the dictatorship. (TNG: "Chain of Command", A Stitch in Time)
Modern Cardassian culture places its greatest emphasis upon two things: the family, and the state. Cardassians demonstrate great dedication to their children and reverence towards elders, with multiple generations often choosing to live under the same roof. However, orphans tend to be dismissed as having no place in Cardassian society, their care often seen as a waste of valuable resources.
The education of children is taken with the utmost seriousness, making the Cardassian education system one of the strongest in the quadrant. Critics, however, have leveled accusations against the intensity of this mental training, which begins at four years old. (DS9: "The Maquis, Part I")
Advanced age is regarded with great reverence; Cardassians generally do not seek to hide the physical signs of aging. Nor do they speak euphemistically of their age. In fact, it is quite acceptable, even polite in Cardassian society to refer to a person as "old." Conversely, terms seen as endearing by many other races (such as "young man" or "young lady") can come off as insulting.
Courtship is often marked by heated verbal sparring--something which can occasionally lead to unintended consequences when people of other races get in spats with Cardassians of the opposite sex. Great emphasis is also placed upon the woman's ability to bear many healthy children. (DS9: "Destiny")
Death and funeral rites are quite elaborate. A dying Cardassian ideally seeks to pass his or her secrets to a blood relative for use against his or her enemies in a ritual known as the shri-tal (Ilojan transliteration: çriytal). After death, Cardassians often regard it as something like sacrilege for other races to look upon the remains. Funerals themselves are elaborate, often very public affairs in the case of noted military officials. (DS9: "Duet", DS9: "Indiscretion", DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water")
One of the key forces that has shaped Cardassian culture is the hierarchical instinct, which is a source of strong family and social cohesion among the people. When abused, however, corrupt leaders are sometimes able to perpetrate abuses against the Cardassian people and other societies without serious questioning or rebellion for much longer than they might be able to get away with it in other societies, though. Assuming, however, that Cardassians are incapable of reaching their breaking point with unethical or immoral activities is a serious mistake. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Ties That Bind: Culture and Instinct in Cardassian Relations")
Cardassians have a reputation for arrogance and xenophobia, fueled by the brazen atrocities committed by many in the Cardassian Guard such as Skrain Dukat and Madred. Thanks to the pervasive nature of these abuses--especially the Occupation of Bajor and the Setlik Massacre, it is commonly supposed that such behavior is universally approved by Cardassian culture. However, while many Cardassians do approve of or seek to downplay the atrocities, there have been several notable encounters with those even in the military, such as Tayben Berat and Tekeny Ghemor, who defy this stereotype and have formed bonds of friendship and even love with members of races traditionally regarded as the enemy. (DS9: "Second Skin", DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water", Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)
Patriotism is perhaps the highest Cardassian value; nothing is more prized than loyalty to the state, and nothing more reviled than treason. The rights of the individual are generally subordinated to the desires of the state, and citizens and foreigners alike have no expectation of privacy or freedom. The state and its leadership can be said to have taken the place of gods in mainstream Cardassian society. Nowhere is this more evident than the workings of the Cardassian justice system, where before the trial even begins the verdict is always known, and is always "guilty." (DS9: "Tribunal")
The Cardassian Guard is known for a combination of ruthlessness and innovation that, despite somewhat inferior technology to other regional powers, makes them a feared opponent on the battlefield. The degree of ruthlessness varies, however: some commanders, like Dukat, Madred, and Darhe'el are known for outright atrocities. Others, like Macet and Berat take a more measured approach, even engaging in diplomacy. (TNG: "The Wounded")