'Boko' may be used informally to mean perverted, wrong, un-natural, crippled or deformed (it is a grave insult in all cases, not to be used casually). However it more specifically refers to the arts of the boker, or necromancer, one who creates zombies.
Such people are also known as Planters' Mates, from the belief that they sell their victims to work on plantations.
An assistant to a boker, who may procure the bodies, is called an Abra-Man (whether male or female). They may also be called Auntie Gunnysacks, after a villainous stock figure of the theatre who steals children for her boker husband.
Zombies must be created from a living person, who is killed during the ritual. It will do no good to steal a body from a graveyard. The main secret of the boker is the composition of their lightning powder (sometimes lightning power), which the victim must eat or inhale.
The exact ingredients of the powder vary from boker to boker. The number of ingredients is always an odd number less than fifteen, and it always includes Paste of the Spirits. Ground glass is a common ingredient, as is the dried and crushed corpses of small lizards. The other ingredients tend to be plants or fungi.
Any of the Noble Spices may act as an antidote to the powder. Some people carry a small amount of spice, or chew cloves or ginger, to protect themselves from bokers.
The ritual for creating a zombie is likewise secret and individual. However it always involves the victim dying from the powder. They are then buried, and after a time dug up, 'reborn' to undeath - or sometimes simply dead, if the ritual has been mis-performed or the victim has taken the wrong amount of powder.
Some reports say that the victim is lost from the time the ritual is completed; that even if rescued, they will be drooling and helpless like one in their dotage. Others say that there are a few months during which the boker must feed small doses of powder to the zombie, and that if they be rescued during this time, they may return to their senses after a long recovery.
Some say the creatures may retain a kind of will, and attempt to run away. For this reason many bokers cut off their toes.
It should be noted that zombies are not figures of fear. Indeed they are widely regarded as weak creatures, who will shrivel like slugs if covered with salt. Rather, the horror of a boker is being turned into a zombie. Zombies are believed to suffer an undending bone-weariness, and are pitied. Being turned into a zombie is seen as akin to slavery, and in fact both are referred to as "the fate worse than death."
Some say that zombies may also be destroyed by throwing them a ball of rag soaked in fat. When they try to eat the rag it will become lodged in their throat. They lack the wit to remove it. Since they must breathe, albeit far more slowly than when alive, they will be destroyed in a few hours.
The 'Boker's Haircut' is a term for decapitation. This seems to arise from the general association of bokers with murder; a headless corpse is in fact useless to a boker. Note that the sage He-Who-Should-Not-Have-Been-Born has a contrary opinion on the phrase, asserting that it arises from the danger faced by bokers, that their "tools without voices" will recognise and turn on them; apparently this inevitably involves the removal and consumption of the boker's head.