The meurneoba (Varkan: მეურნეობა, plural მეურნეობები, meurneobebi; literally "farmhand") were a subjugated population group in the Kingdom of Varkana often compared to a form of serfdom. They occupied a status "between free citizens and slaves". Tied to their commune, they primarily worked in agriculture, hence their name. Meurneobebi were assigned to peasants in the commune by the duke where they were needed. Meurneoba, like slaves, could be artisans or tradesmen, but they were not allowed to leave the commune unless permission was granted by the duke, for example if they were to join the military. Meurneobebi lived in family units and could, at least de facto, contract unions among themselves. Generally, the meurneobebi formed arrangements with the commune such as giving a quantity of their produce to the farm owner and keeping the rest for themselves. Others were paid wages in coin, but they were all required to receive some form of compensation for their work as they were not slaves.
Meurneobebi were assigned surnames based on the commune they were attached to. Their surnames thus ended with the suffix -eli (-ელი), meaning "from (place)". Examples of such names include Chiaureli, Gavareli, Vaveli etc.
The majority of meurneobebi were bastards as all bastards de jure and de facto became meurneobebi. Due to Armazist traditions, sex out of wedlock was common and as such it was not unexpected for nobles especially to have bastard children. While it is not typical for a noble to bring their bastards home and raise them with their own children, it is usually expected that they will see to the child's well-being to some degree. Some might chose to have their bastards fostered at the home of another noble, while others might decide to raise their bastard at their own home, in the position of a servant.
There was a certain stigma that comes from being a meurneoba. Bastards were said to be born from lust, lies, and weakness, and as such, they were said to be wanton and treacherous by nature. Other meurneobebi were emancipated slaves or non-Armazists. Unlike peasants who could vote for the prefect of their village, meurneobebi had no voting rights.
Emancipation of meurneobebi could be gained through military service or by the approval of the commune's duke. Children of meurneobebi couples became meurneobebi at birth, while children of a mixed couple (e.g. meurneoba and peasant) would be a free Varkan if the mother was free. In other words, having a meurneoba mother meant the children would be meurneoba as well, regardless of the father's status. Even the union of a slave father and a meurneoba mother would result in a meurneoba offspring.