3.14: Real Nations' Influence on Randland

[Richard Boyé, Sam McGee, Pam Korda, Trent Goulding, Linda Antonson]

Obviously, the various countries and nations of Randland draw some the their characteristics from real-world nations and cultures (both current and historical). Here's a list of Randland countries and real-world countries which may have influenced them. The ones labeled "RJ" are ones which have been stated/confirmed by RJ. The rest are just reasonable speculations.


  • Aes Sedai: Aes Sedai organization is based on the way convents were organized between 1000 and 1800 AD. (RJ) Also, the Aes Sedai seem to have an "ecclesiastical" hierarchy, with the Hall of the Tower and the Amyrlin Seat being similar in nature to the College of Cardinals and the Pope. The current split in the Tower and election of two Amyrlins is similar to the Great Schism of the Roman Catholic Church (1378-1415), when two Popes claimed authority over the Church [Robert Dahm].


  • Aiel: Cheyenne, Apache, Zulu, Bedouin, Japanese, Berbers (RJ); See section 3.13.


  • Altara: Italy; a loose confederacy of semi-autonomous regions beneath a weak monarch. The capital city contains elements of a much, much older city (Rome) complete with large public hippodromes (race tracks), the diet is heavily into seafoods and cheeses, the culture is outdoorsy and seems evocative of Mediterranean life. The people are dark-haired, dark-eyed and have "olive" complexions, which also suggests Southern Europeans. The makeup of the capital city Ebou Dar, with its strong guilds, use of both canals and streets, and frequent and uninhibited public celebrations, is reminiscent of Venice.


  • Amadicia: The fashions (gathers of ringlets, deep shady bonnets, bows on the women, high crowned hats and long coats for the men) seem vaguely suggestive of the Commonwealth Period of England, when the Puritans held sway. This also meshes with the notion that Amadicia is a quasi-theocracy, as they are essentially ruled by a military order of "monks" who seem to encourage a, well, puritanical and pious lifestyle among the populace. They also like to throw accusations of witchery everywhere, not at all unlike the Puritans who moved to North America.


  • Andor: England, or perhaps Great Britain in a looser sense. The honorable queendom evokes Elizabethan England specifically with its "Cult of the Queen." A few of the names of the noble houses seem to be lifted from Welsh mythology, specifically in the Mabinogion (e.g. House Arawn). The names of the current Royal Family are deeply steeped in Arthuriana, (e.g. Morgase [Morgause], Elayne [Elaine], Gawyn [Gawain]).


  • Arad Doman: Arabic cultures as well as Iran specifically (strictly speaking, Iranians are not Arabs); firstly, the word "arab" is almost present in the name "Arad Doman." Some of the characters' last names seem Arabic in theme (e.g. Sharif, Eriff, Zeffar), as well as some of their first names (e.g. Alsalam, Rashad). The capital city is Bandar Eban, a great port. In Iran, one of their larger maritime cities is Bandar Ebbas. Further, in Arad Doman one can find the Terhana Library, one of the three greatest in the world. Tehran, capital of modern day Iran, was a famed center of Islamic learning. However, the lacquered sticks, sursa, used as eating implements are chopsticks by any other name, and common throughout Asia.


  • Arafel: Arafel seems to be similar to Saldaea in that it seems to evoke certain peoples of the Black Sea and Asia Minor region. The horse culture of these peoples is alluded to by the fact that Arafellin are said "to love their horses like children." Also, the capital city of Arafel is Shol Arbela. Arbela was a regional capital of the Persians, a place of military historical significance (Alexander defeated the Persian Emperor, Darius III, there). Also, the name might be an allusion to Amrafel, who was the king of "Shinar," which was a biblical name for the lands ruled by Babylon. See Saldaea.


  • Cairhien: France, with a dash of Japan. The noblewomen's fashions seem to be somewhat reminiscent of the clothing from the Eighteenth century; high curled coiffures, full wide skirts and ruffs of lace. The Court of Louis XIV was called the Court of the Sun King. Cairhienin symbology is all about the sun, i.e. Sun Palace, Sun Throne. Furthermore, the prevalence of Daes Dae'mar calls to mind the lethal intrigues at the Court of Versailles (Affair of the Poisons, anyone?). The officers and noblemen wear con on their backs, small pennants attached to a short staff, which were also seen in feudal Japan. Japan is the "Land of the Rising Sun," Cairhien is the "Hill of the Golden Dawn," and its symbol is a rising sun.


  • Illian: Illian has something of a "Greek-Mediterranean" feel to it. Some of the names certainly follow a Hellenic pattern (e.g. Stepaneos, Demitrides). The King of Illian wears the "Laurel Crown," an allusion to the crowns of laurels awarded at the ancient Olympic Games. "Illian" itself is a take-off on "Illium," a name for Troy during the Classical Age. Lastly, the Illianer Companions seems to be a reference to the Macedonian hetairoi (meaning 'companions' in Greek), which were a prestigious order of mounted warriors that served the ruling house. Any decent scholar of military history such as RJ would know about the hetairoi. The bees on the flag seem to evoke the bees that were common in the heraldry of Napoleonic France.


  • Land of Madmen: Australia?


  • Malkier: Tibet, Nepal. A country of spectacular natural beauty nestled high in the mountains. The ki'san (dots) painted in the center of the brows of the women could either be an allusion to the Hindu practice, or to some representations of the Buddha; an overall thematic feel reminiscent of the countries near the Himalayas. John Stopford adds, "Malkier and Tibet have both disappeared under an evil empire that swallowed them up without reason, leaving behind one last leader as a touchstone for the kingdom itself."


  • Mayene: Cities of Hanseatic League, Venice, Genoa (RJ); Also, many of the Mayener names seem to carry a French flavor (e.g. Bertain Gallenne, Evonne), and "Mayene" itself seems to be a take-off on "Mayenne," an extinct French estate.


  • Saldaea: "a number of Middle Eastern cultures and several cultures in countries surrounding the Black Sea" (RJ) This is most directly recognizable in the "horse-culture" of Saldaea, which is evocative of many nomadic peoples of the Asian steppes. The name itself is similar to "Chaldaea," a section of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Place names are suggestive. Davram Bashere is "Lord of Bashere, Tyr and Sidona." Bashir was a place in Central Asia, and Tyre and Sidon were cities in modern day Lebanon, Tyre being the place of origin of "Tyrean purple." More flavorings come in their first names, such as "Tenobia," which is similar to "Zenobia," a historical queen of the ancient kingdom of Palmyra, which was in the region. Physically, Saldaeans can be seen to resemble the Mongols, excepting the red-haired, green-eyed rarities like Sheriam.


  • Sea Folk: A combination of allusions. The people were initially described much as Sub-Saharan Africans (tight, curly hair, dark skin tones), but later versions have them with long, straight black hair, which coupled with the dark complexions, silk garments and the medallions on chains attached to noserings seems to evoke India more than anything else. The intricately knotted sashes used to connote rank and station resemble Japanese obi (kimono sashes).


  • Seanchan: Imperial China, Imperial Japan, Persian Empire, Ottoman and Byzantine Empire. (RJ); The lacquer work of the Seanchan seems to be inspired by the Far East, the Emperor/Empress that is too magnificent for commoners to gaze upon is a concept borrowed from Japan. The phrase "Ever Victorious Army" was actually in use in Japan during one point of its history. Persian Empire: The Crystal Throne that inspires awe is a direct allusion to a Persian epic story. Ancient Egypt: pleated linen clothing, the tonsured heads, the patterns on Suroth's gown (symbols within cartouche-like ovals) which could be visualized as resembling hieroglyphics. WH provides even more cultural flavorings, including Greek names (Tuon's middle name is "Kore" [an ancient name for the Greek Goddess Persephone] and Selucia [Selucid Kingdom]), and Egyptian names (Neferi [Nefertiti]).


  • Shara: Africa in a macro-sense. The name "Shara" seems similar to "Sahara," and another name for Shara, "Kigali" is an actual place in Africa (capital of Rwanda). Furthermore, the two Sharans we have met were described as "African" in appearance, with tight, curly hair and dark skins. The silk production, "Silk Path" (Silk Road) and closed port cities are allusions, however, to Imperial China.


  • Shienar: Japan; the restrained, formal aesthetic, the communal genderless bathing rooms, the haiku-type poetry recited by Lan, the topknots of the warriors. Also, a dollop of Medieval Feudal Europe, notably the castle towns and the mounted warriors in full plate armor (knights by any other name), and the idealized courtesy and respect toward women (chivalry). Continuing a theme in the names for the Borderland nations, the name "Shienar" seems to be an allusion to "Shinar," a biblical name for Babylon.


  • Tarabon: Arabic cultures. The word "arab" is contained in the name "Tarabon," the veils seem to be reminiscent of certain Arabic societies, although in Tarabon they are unisex. The flattened cylindrical hats worn by the men are essentially the same type of hat as a 'fez,' popular in North African Arabic countries. The architecture has a Middle Eastern flavor; minarets and peaked domes, pointed arches.


  • Tear: Spain (nobility); the names of some of the High Lords have a distinct Iberian flavor (e.g. Estanda, Carlomin, Rosana) as do the names of some of their houses (e.g. House Saniago [Santiago]), their fashions seem to be reminiscent of Renaissance Spain (full skirted gowns with wide lace ruffs, puffy sleeved coats, oiled beards and moustaches). The armor and military équipage of the Tairen Defenders of the Stone are described as sounding very similar to the military équipage of the Spanish Conquistadores, notably the crested, rimmed helmets. The lower classes, on the other hand, seem to be very Asian in feel; some of the names (e.g. Juilin, Siuan, Huan), and some of their clothing; flattened conical straw hats, ties instead of buttons, wooden platforms for the feet as well as the usage of bamboo. But also some of the lower class members' names seem very Spanish as well (e.g. Sanche [Sanchez], Mecandes [Mecandez]).


  • Two Rivers: As part of Andor, the Duopotamians are fittingly modeled after the auld English country folk, presenting the fabled (and not all that accurate) picture of the joys of simple rural society. The use of longbows is a clear reference to the famous English bowmen that whupped French ass in the 14th century (and each others' ass in the next, but anyway).

    RJ has said in interviews, "I live in the Two Rivers - check a map!" Charleston, South Carolina (RJ's hometown) nestles in the fork of the Cooper and Ashley rivers. [Michael Brown]


  • Whitecloaks: Teutonic Knights (RJ).

In March of 2000, Paul Ward received a letter from RJ in which he listed what some of the regional accents of Randland sound like:

  • Two Rivers - Irish/English
  • Illianers - Dutch
  • Aiel - somewhat Slavic
  • Tairen - Spanish
  • Domani - Indian
  • Saldaean - Egyptian/North African
  • Seanchan - Texas

("Y'all bow down to the Empress, y'hear?" - Johan Gustafsson)

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