The Kih-Oskh Brotherhood is a criminal organization that specializes mainly in drug smuggling. It is named for a fictional lost Egyptian pharaoh. Publicly, the group masquerades as the Flor Fina cigar company.
The name "Kih-Oskh" does not mean anything in any ancient language. It is instead a play on the word "kiosk", as in the newsstand kiosks where issues of Le Petit Vingtieme were sold during the early 20th century.
The Kih-Oskh symbol was designed to be the inharmonious version of the yin & yang symbol. In Chinese cosmology, the symbol represents dualism and the balancing of all things in the universe. In contrast, the Kih-Oskh symbol is asymmetrical and jagged-looking: "Hergé's subtle design has a sinuous line breaking the perfect circle with one dot placed inside and the other outside it, suggesting menace and disorder appropriate to a secret society trafficking in narcotics."
The organization is responsible for the opium smuggling throughout Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and China. The organization is enriched by profits from smuggling and its higher-ranking members have access to weaponry, drugs, and secure systems of communication and transportation. The Brotherhood has a vast system of intelligence and reach, having agents in all civil sectors including criminals, civilians, military officers, and politicians.
The Kih-Oskh Brotherhood has a direct hand in drug trafficking, with the primary substance being opium. The Maharaja's secretary was responsible for packaging opium in empty, tobacco-less Flor Fina cigars, after which these would be smuggled out of India. Allan Thompson's crew aboard the Karaboudjan smuggled opium into the Middle East via fake packages of canned crab meat. Mitsuhirato has opium shipped by sea and brought into China, after which, the opium would be consumed at the Blue Lotus opium den in Shanghai.
Before each meeting, members must dress in thick purple smocks - emblazoned with the Kih-Oskh symbol in yellow - with matching masks, grey gloves, and neutral footwear. Members are not allowed to expose their faces or identities during meetings. This ensures each member remains anonymous during the group meeting, and that no one in attendance can fully identify who all the top Brothers are. It is assumed that Rastapopoulos is the only one who knows the names of all members and associates.
Occasionally, the group's members will hold meetings in order to discuss major situations or plans. The group has no central base; meetings take place in secure, secret locations, and in quickly set-up meeting rooms. Usually, a meeting room will be composed of no more than a curtain with the Kih-Oskh symbol, and some tables and chairs.
Members who attend each meeting in person must dress in the purple and yellow uniform to mask their identity. Each person changes into uniform in a different room or location, goes to the meeting place, and then gives a specific password. It is presumed the password changes from meeting to meeting; their password in Cigars of the Pharaoh is "Gaipajaima". The password system is to be followed at all times, and anyone suspected of being a spy is shot dead.
The participants are either people with hierarchical importance within the organization, or extreme loyalty towards it. Known members include:
- Roberto Rastapopoulos (grandmaster)
- Allan Thompson (In the animated series, he attends the meetings, and leads them in Rastapopoulos's absence. In the books, he smuggles for the Brotherhood, but never attends meetings)
- The Fakir
- Colonel Fuad
- Mr. Snowball
- Mrs. Snowball
- Maharaja's secretary
- Unnamed member knocked out by Tintin
- Unknown Japanese man
- Dr. Finney (In the animated series, Finney is a villain, but in the books he is not)
Operation: The Cigars of the Pharaoh
To hide their commodity, the association used the violated tomb of Pharaoh Kih-Oskh. The disguise was reinforced by the legend of a curse on the tomb, which kept away reporters, police and archaeologists. If someone discovered the secret, they were abducted and silenced with the madness poison. The smuggling was done through fake cigars, having opium was placed inside the cigars.
Tintin found one of the secret bases of the organization and unmasked her members. The Indian authorities arrested the limbs and attacked other bases. This caused a serious setback for the smuggling operation that had to support itself in China as seen in The Blue Lotus.
- Farr, Michael. Tintin: The Complete Companion. San Francisco, Last Gasp, 2002. pg. 42.