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K'n-yan (or Xinaián, Blue-litten K'n-yan) is a fictional, subterranean land in the Cthulhu Mythos. The underground realm was first described in detail in H. P. Lovecraft's revision of Zealia Bishop's "The Mound (fiction)" (1940), in which it is discovered by the 16th century Spanish Conquistador Zamacona. Lovecraft also mentions K'n-yan in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1930) and in his revision of Hazel Heald's "Out of the Aeons" (1935). The People of K'n-yan are sometimes referred to as the "Old Ones", a term of variable meaning in Lovecraft's fiction.


K'n-yan is a vast blue-litten cavern beneath Oklahoma. It is inhabited by a human-like race that are sometimes said to resemble the Native Americans of the area, though they are actually extraterrestrials who arrived in prehistoric times. They are immortal and have powerful psionic abilities, including telepathy and the ability to dematerialize at will. They are also technologically advanced, using machines that employ principles of atomic energy, though they have largely abandoned their mechanized culture finding it unfulfilling.

The most populous city is Tsath, effectively the capital of K'n-yan. It is named for Tsathoggua, a deity once worshiped there, but later deprecated after the inhabitants found out the true nature of the god. Other deities include Shub-Niggurath, Nug and Yeb, Ghatanothoa, and the Not-to-Be-Named One (Hastur?). The two most important ones, however, are Tulu (Cthulhu) and Yig. The denizens of K'n-yan often place idols of these deities in near proximity, as in the following passage from "The Mound": "[In] a pair of vast niches, one on each side, [the] monstrous, nitre-encrusted images of Yig and Tulu squatted, glaring at each other across the passage as they had glared since the earliest youth of the human world."

In ancient times, the people of K'n-yan traded with the humans of the surface world. But when geological calamities caused the continents of Atlantis and Lemuria to sink into the ocean, the People of K'n-yan sequestered themselves below ground, thereafter having no further dealings with the outer world.


"...But most impressive of all was the bewildering vision of clustered spires and pinnacles which rose afar off across the plain and shimmered flower-like and spectral in the coruscating blue light. At first Zamacona thought it was a mountain covered with houses and temples, like some of the picturesque hill cities of his own Spain, but a second glance shewed him that it was not indeed such. It was a city of the plain, but fashioned of such heaven-reaching towers that its outline was truly that of a mountain. Above it hung a curious greyish haze, through which the blue light glistened and took added overtones of radiance from the million golden minarets.... This was the monstrous, gigantic, and omnipotent city of Tsath.... Tsath itself was a network of strange and ancient streets; and despite a growing sense of horror and alienage, Zamacona was enthralled by its intimations of mystery and cosmic wonder. The dizzy giganticism of its overawing towers, the monstrous surge of teeming life through its ornate avenues, the curious carvings on its doorways and windows, the odd vistas glimpsed from balustraded plazas and tiers of titan terraces, and the enveloping grey haze which seemed to press down on the gorgelike streets in low ceiling-fashion, all combined to produce such a sense of adventurous expectancy as he had never known before...."
H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"

Tsath is a great, tall city of monstrous spires beyond the mountains of Voormithadreth, serving a loose equivalent to the capital of K'n-yan. The upper reaches of the spires are no longer inhabited as the population has ceased maintenance, the population density has decreased and abandoned much of its machinery (including elevators), and the People have spread out to lower buildings at the edges of the city.

In addition to the bizarre basalt and gold spires, the city consists of vast blocks of basalt apartment buildings, subterranean tunnels (formerly the equivalent of subway tunnels) now used for foot traffic and supplies, buildings formerly used as factories and stores now operated by the monstrous Gyaa-yothn, and amphitheater-temples used mainly for reawakening the People from their ennui through the practice of monstrous rites, orgies, spectator sport, and other activities to nameless and horrible to describe.

Shrine of Shub-Niggurath at Tsath

"One squat, black temple of Tsathoggua was encountered, but it had been turned into a shrine of Shub-Niggurath, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named One. This deity was a kind of sophisticated Astarte, and her worship struck the pious Catholic as supremely obnoxious. What he liked least of all were the emotional sounds emitted by the celebrants - jarring sounds in a race that had ceased to use vocal speech for ordinary purposes...."
H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"

Formerly a squat, black, squarish, basalt temple of Tsathoggua copied from Yothic design, this shrine, located in Tsath, had been converted in latter days to the worship of Shub-Niggurath.


Do-Hna is a K'n-yanian valley of some notable population, notable largely for its grotesque farms and factories, operated by the hideous Gyaa-yothn and other slave classes, and raising herds of monstrous "inferior meat stock" descended from biologically engineered humanoid beings. Do-Hna also contains a scattering of isolated dwellings in small villages centered around bridges across a nameless subterranean river, and monstrous temples built in decadent imitation of those found in the shadowy depths of Yoth, Vaults of Zin, and N'kai.

Temple of Tsathoggua at Do-Hna

"...This was a squat, plain temple of black basalt blocks without a single carving, and containing only a vacant onyx pedestal. The remarkable thing about it was its story, for it was a link with a fabled elder world compared to which even cryptic Yoth was a thing of yesterday. It had been built in imitation of certain temples depicted in the Vaults of Zin, to house a very terrible black toad-idol found in the red-litten world and called Tsathoggua in the Yothic manuscripts. It had been a potent and widely worshipped god, and after its adoption the people of K'n-yan had lent its name to the city which was later to become dominant in that region. Yothic legend said that it had come from a mysterious inner realm beneath the red-litten world - a black realm of peculiar-sensed beings which had no light at all, but which had had great civilisations and mighty gods before ever the reptilian quadrupeds of [[Yoth] had come into being. Many images of Tsathoggua existed in Yoth, all of which were alleged to have come from the black inner realm, and which were supposed by Yothic archaeologists to represent the aeon-extinct race of that realm.... The Cult of Tsathoggua flourished until it almost rivalled the ancient cults of Yig and Tulu.... When the men of K'n-yan went down into N'kai's black abyss with their great atom-power searchlights they found living things - living things that oozed along stone channels and worshipped onyx and basalt images of Tsathoggua. But they were not toads like Tsathoggua himself. Far worse — they were amorphous lumps of viscous black slime that took temporary shapes for various purposes. The explorers of K'n-yan did not pause for detailed observations, and those who escaped alive sealed the passage leading from red-litten Yoth down into the gulfs of nether horror...."
H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"

A black, basalt temple once dedicated to a decadent worship of Tsathoggua, abandoned after the monstrous discovery that the Tsathogua's cult in N'kai was actually preserved by the ghastly Shoggoths of that lightless inner world, with the beastly idols melted down and the cult outlawed.


"...The largest of these towns, B'graa, was a marvel of finely wrought gold, and Zamacona studied the curiously ornate architecture with avid interest. Buildings tended toward height and slenderness, with roofs bursting into a multitude of pinnacles. The streets were narrow, curving, and occasionally picturesquely hilly...."
H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"

B'graa is a K'n-yanian town built of finely-wrought gold, characterized by high, slender buildings with multitudes of pinnacles, crowding over narrow, curving, picturesquely hilly streets.

Yoth, N'kai, and the Vaults of Zin

Beneath blue-litten K'n-yan lay red-litten Yoth, a rough, savage country inhabited in an elder age by the Serpent People, and conquered by the People of K'n-yan. Just under Yoth lay the Vaults of Zin, and somewhere further below Yoth is the legendary horror-filled lightless abyss of N'kai, the passages to that monstrous hell of inner Earth sealed away and forgotten millions of years ago by retreating explorers from K'n-yan upon encountering the Shoggoths rolling and splashing hideously in that black and cursed gulf.

Temple of Cthulhu

"At last, in this hushed green twilight, he saw the crumbling and ineffably ancient facade of the building - a temple, he had no doubt. It was a mass of nauseous bas-reliefs, depicting scenes and beings, objects and ceremonies, which could certainly have no place on this or any sane planet.... The door of the place stood wide open, and absolute darkness filled the windowless interior. Conquering the repulsion which the mural sculptures had excited, Zamacona took out flint and steel, lighted a resinous torch, pushed aside curtaining vines, and sallied boldly across the ominous threshold. For a moment he was quite stupefied by what he saw. It was not the all-covering dust and cobwebs of immemorial aeons, the fluttering winged things, the shriekingly loathsome sculptures on the walls, the bizarre form of the many basins and braziers, the sinister pyramidal altar with the hollow top, or the monstrous, octopus-headed abnormality in some strange, dark metal leering and squatting broodingly on its hieroglyphed pedestal, which robbed him of even the power to give a startled cry. It was nothing so unearthly as this - but merely the fact that, with the exception of the dust, the cobwebs, the winged things, and the gigantic emerald-eyed idol, every particle of substance in sight was composed of pure and evidently solid gold.... drifting eventually into a sounder sleep than he could have known in the blue-litten spaces outside... he did not even mind the hellish, octopus-headed bulk of great Tulu, fashioned of unknown metal and leering with fishy, sea-green eyes, which squatted in the blackness above him on its monstrously hieroglyphed pedestal...."
H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"

Located in the rural hill country of outer K'n-yan, the abandoned Temple of Cthulhu stands partly obscured by vines and peculiar evergreen trees. Constructed of black, elaborately-carved basalt blocks and pillars with golden tiles, walls, ceiling, altar, and other fixtures inside, behind a heavy stone door, the windowless, lightless building contains braziers and a pyramid-shaped altar, upon which stands a frightful image of Cthulhu in dark star-metal, set with eyes of glittering green gemstones. Worship of "Tulu" seems to have been abandoned by the People of K'n-yan ages ago, though their mythology still holds that the People had in elder days filtered down to Earth with Cthulhu, descending into the Hollow Earth to await a time when Earth's surface would become inhabitable by them, and emerging from K'n-yan to the surface to build Lemuria in its time. Today, the People instead worship the metal from which Cthulhu's image was fashioned, a strange, holy substance brought down from the stars in Cthulhu's images when the Earth was young and Cthulhu first set foot upon R'lyeh.

Binger, Oklahoma

Binger Oklahoma is a small human town in Oklahoma located near a mound marking a long-forgotten entrance to K'n-yan. The town is also located near a Wichita Indian Reservation, now home to the area's Native American population in the face of white colonization. The native population have had an ancient history of contact with K'n-yan, remembering in legend, myth, and folklore many things long forgotten by western pioneers.

K'n-yan Society

When the denizens of K'n-yan rejected their mechanistic lifestyle, they turned to a sort of socialistic aristocracy, controlled by a ruling class made "highly superior through selective breeding and social evolution". Individual behavior is dictated more by established social norms than the rule of law. Although K'n-yan attained great advances in art and science, its people have become increasingly hedonistic, decadent, and cruel.

The heavily stratified K'n-yanian civilization had long ago fallen from what surface humans might consider democratic ideals, enjoying at first sort of decadent version of semi-anarchic communism held together by a profound ennui in the population through a long period of slow decline and subtle sadism, nominally ruled by a tribunal of ceremonial leader-priests of great influence and wealth called Gn'agn, with that period at last punctuated in modern times by a rapid descent into openly savage barbarism, general paranoia against the surface world, suicidal longing for a self-destructive end to the boredom of their vast longevity, and barely-organized xenophobic mob violence. The population by the 1920s had fallen so far from civilization that they had begun a great campaign of censorship of any news or knowledge that might excite the People too much, with the People spending most of their idle time in sadistic, monstrous entertainments and savage, bestial rites dedicated to sensations gained from dedication to foul and faceless idols in the form of a sacred and alien metal.

The People of K'n-yan have developed a form of power and lighting somewhat akin to the Aurora Borealis, with similarities to Atomic energy, which generates the characteristic, eerie, scintillating blue lighting of the cavernous roof of world (perhaps by natural means, and possibly by technological means), as well as lighting for homes, spotlights, and torches, and evidently also power for their mechanical devices.

Though they had at some point in the distant past achieve great heights of technological achievement, with the ruins of their machinery scattered throughout K'n-yan and stocked in museums, the People of K'n-yan have decayed, abandoning most of their technology to deteriorate and rust in the misty depths of their blue-litten world, while the people retreat to a more aesthetically pleasing and sensational primitive state of technology, focusing their technological efforts largely on entertainment and biology.

In addition to their advanced mechanical and technological achievements, the People are also accomplished "biological engineers", reshaping the physical forms of living beings and extending their own lives into immortality through a combination of various means: notably selective breeding, genetic engineering, biomechanics, atomic radiation, hypnotism, meditation and dreaming, sorcery, etc. Most of the animal stock in use in K'n-yan now is of humanoid descent, with the People in fact being a population of cannibals feeding on degraded breeds of human beings monstrously reshaped into animal forms. Similarly, races of working animals have been shaped in this way for various purposes ranging from slave labor, to transportation, to monstrous forms of sport and entertainment. Other notable accomplishments of the People of K'n-yan include conquering death through hypnotism and atomic energy to raise even the most mutilated and debased beings from the peace of death to serve an eternal undeath in monstrous slavery.

For writing, the People use parchment scrolls obtained from the skin of their blasphemous livestock, greenish inks of a high and long-lasting quality, metallic cylinders of an unearthly star-metal which protects the scrolls indefinitely, and a promordial written language of heiroglyphs, the written Aklo language; a spoken form of this language is more rarely used, the People preferring telepathy, though spoken Aklo does find use in religious ceremonies and other rare and specialized purposes.


  • "...[Mi-Go have] been inside the earth, too - there are openings which human beings know nothing of - some of them in these very Vermont hills - and great worlds of unknown life down there; blue-litten K'n-yan, red-litten Yoth, and black, lightless N'kai..." — HPL, "The Whisperer in Darkness"
  • "He howled of shocking abysses and monsters, of terrible carvings and statues, of inhuman captors and grotesque tortures, and of other fantastic abnormalities too complex and chimerical even to remember." — H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"
  • "Old! Old! Old! Great God, they are older than the earth, and came here from somewhere else - they know what you think, and make you know what they think - they're half-man, halfghost - crossed the line - melt and take shape again - getting more and more so, yet we're all descended from them in the beginning - children of Tulu - everything made of gold - monstrous animals, halfhuman - dead slaves - madness - Iä! Shub-Niggurath! - that white man - oh, my God, What they did to him!"— H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"
  • "The blue light! - the blue light! Always down there, before there were any living things - older than the dinosaurs - always the same, only weaker - never death - brooding and brooding and brooding - the same people, half-man and half-gas - the dead that walk and work - oh, those beasts, those halfhuman unicorns - houses and cities of gold - old, old, old, older than time - came down from the stars - Great Tulu - Azathoth - Nyarlathotep - waiting, waiting..." — H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"
  • "For god's sake, never go near that mound - it is part of some kind of a world so devilish and old it cannot be spoken of. Walker and I went and were taken into the thing - we were just melted at times and made up again. The whole world outside is helpless compared to what They can do - They that live forever, young as they like, and you cant tell if they are really men or just ghosts, and what They do cannot be spoken of. And this is only one entrance - you cannot imagine how big the whole thing is ! After what I saw, I dont want to live any more - France was nothing compared to this. See that people always keep away, oh God, they would, if they see poor walker like he was in the end...." — H.P. Lovecraft and Zelia Bishop, "The Mound (fiction)"
  • "Leave the People alone, white man. They are no good, those people. All under here, all under there, the old ones, many devils under the ground. Yig, big father of snakes, is down there, and Tiráwa, big father of men. They never grow old, they never die, their substance is like air - part man, part spirit, and they just live and wait. Very ancient people make very powerful spirits; those of us not so old have spirits that are not so great, but when people are older than all time, their spirits are so great that they are very near flesh, and the ancients and their spirits mingle and become indistinguishable. One time long ago, in the most ancient days, they stopped hiding and came out here, to live and fight in the air, and they made villages on the earth, and built the mound, and brought up some of their gold with them. They went off and made new lodges across the Earth, and you and I are descended from them. Then the big waters came, and everything changed: nobody come out of the mound, and nobody was let back in, and those that get in, never get out. If you leave the Old Ones alone, you will avoid bad medicine - red man knows this, and red man is left alone. If white man meddles with the old ones, he won't come back. Keep away from the mounds, they are no good. Go away and let the Old Ones alone." — Grey Eagle, Wichita Chief

Blasphemies and Heresies

  • The population of K'n-yan are Deros, an ancient and technologically advanced but fallen, cruel and deranged race of troglodytic alien sadists who ritually abduct or torment surface-dwellers for their own mysterious, degenerate, and monstrous amusements. (Richard Sharpe Shaver)
  • The protean, immaterial, and subterranean population of K'n-yan, which had followed "Tulu" to Earth in an elder age and are accomplished at biological engineering of a monstrous scope, are effectively Star-Spawn of Cthulhu; the portion of their population dwelling at "Relex" may well have evolved and/or been re-engineered into monstrous forms after retreating to the vaults beneath that lost continent to wait out its disastrous descent beneath the waves. (fan theory based on "The Mound (fiction)")
  • The People of K'n-yan, or one of their debased slave classes, are the debased, protean, subterranean "little people" of Arthur Machen's fiction. (fan theory based on Machen's stories)

See also

  • locations:
    • Mount Voormithadreth, a mountain range in K'n-yan
    • Yoth, a red-litten world below K'n-yan
    • Vaults of Zin, a vast crypt beneath the largest city of Yoth
    • N'kai, a lightless gulf below Yoth
    • Tsath, A great, tall city beyond the mountains
    • B'Graa, a town built of finely-wrought gold
    • Do-Hna, a valley of some population
    • Quivira and Cíbola, lost cities of gold sought by Coronado
    • Relex, a trading partner on the surface world
    • Lemuria, Atlantis
    • Binger Oklahoma, a human surface town near an ancient mound marking a long-forgotten entrance to K'n-yan
  • deities and cults:
  • races:
    • People of K'n-yan
    • Children of Tulu, apparently a relative of or identical with the dominant race of K'n-yan
    • Lemurian, no doubt an early ancestor of the K'n-yanian race, as introduced to Earth by Tulu
    • Gyaa-yothn, biologically-engineered, Unicorn-like horrors
    • Y'm-bhi - biologically-engineered semi-human beasts brought back from the dead with atomic energy and hypnotism to serve as dog-like or mule-like slaves
  • tomes and artifacts: