2.3.13: Is Cadsuane's hair thingy a Ter'angreal?

[Leigh Butler, Adrienne Huston]

Cadsuane Melaidhrin sports a hair-ornament the likes of which we've not seen anywhere else in Randland:


"An iron-gray bun decorated with small dangling golden fish and birds, stars and moons." [TPOD: 27, The Bargain, 536]

This thing is mentioned in just about every scene in which Cadsuane appears. Various incidents in TPOD led us to believe it may be an angreal or ter'angreal, and in WH and COT we find out we were right:


  • The one that looks "a little like a shrike" is an angreal [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 642].


  • The hummingbird is a Well, which can hold a reservoir of the OP to allow channeling in a stedding [WH: 34, The Hummingbird's Secret, 626].


  • When Cadsuane is interrogating Alanna about her bond with Rand, Alanna attempts to channel, and:
    "[Cadsuane] made no move to embrace the Source herself. One of her dangling hair ornaments, intertwined golden crescents, was cool at her temple" [TPOD: 12, New Alliances, 275]

    This sounds awfully like what Mat's medallion does when someone's channeling near (but not at) him. It's not known whether Cads's crescents only detect the flows, or if it can actually melt them like Mat's medallion as well. It's also not known whether the crescents are only concerned with saidar, but it seems logical to think so, because she has other ornaments that deal with saidin.


  • COT introduces another ornament, an eight-pointed star, that vibrates in the presence of men who can channel - the more men, the harder it vibrates [COT: 23, Ornaments, 533].


  • The function of the swallow was a bit confusing at first. [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 642] tells us that it can detect the OP being channeled and the direction it is coming from, though not how far away or whether saidin or saidar. However, several people have logically wondered why, then, did it ignore the colossal amount of both saidin and saidar being wielded by Rand and Nynaeve ten feet away, in favor of picking out the much weaker and more distant weaves produced by the attacking Forsaken?

    RJ clarified this in the interview from the online version of the COT Prologue:

    RJ: Cadsuane's ter'angreal was made during the Breaking of the World, at a time when men and women no longer linked, or at least very rarely, since male channelers were going mad at a rate of knots. What the maker was particularly interested in detecting was men channeling, but a man channeling in combination with a woman was, by definition, safe, because no woman was going to link with a man unless she knew absolutely that he was sane and not going to go over the edge of insanity while they were linked. Thus, saidin and saidar being worked in combination could be ignored, and in fact would be a distraction, since this was and is a warning device. Cadsuane's ter'angreal won't point to the two halves of the Power being wielded in combination.

    It's still a little confusing as to why a warning device for mad male channelers would also detect saidar. After all, as a female channeler Cadsuane is a perfectly good saidar detector all by herself [Mark Brimicombe], but oh well.

We also learn in COT that there are three ornaments - two fish and a moon - which Cadsuane does not know the function of [COT: 23, Ornaments, 532].

Where did Cadsuane get them from?

In WH, Cadsuane reflects on where she learned her most important life lessons:

"[Nynaeve] had not been put through the lessons that what must be endured, could be endured. In truth, Cadsuane sympathized with her. Somewhat. It was a lesson not everyone could learn in the Tower. She herself, full of pride in her new shawl and her own strength, had been taught by a near toothless wilder at a farm in the heart of the Black Hills." [WH: 34, The Hummingbird's Secret, 624]

Then in COT, we have:

"A pity she herself had not come to the shawl fifty years later than she had... But fifty years would have meant that Norla died in her little house in the Black Hills before Cadsuane Melaidhrin ever went to the White Tower. That would have altered a great deal of history. For one thing, it would have been unlikely that she would be in anything approaching her present circumstances." [COT: 23, Ornaments, 534]

A few pages later she mentions how she had "begun earning" her ornaments all those years ago in the Black Hills [COT: 23, Ornaments, 536].

So it seems Cads got her ornaments from this wilder, Norla. How Norla got them is anyone's guess.

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