The Asha'man (AH-shah-mahn; /ˈaːʃɑˌmɑn/; Old Tongue: Guardian) are the male counterpart to current Aes Sedai. They are trained at the Black Tower, a converted farmhouse near Caemlyn. Though they were originally formed by Rand al'Thor, the Asha'man are trained and led by Mazrim Taim.
There are three basic ranks of Asha'man:
- Soldier - The lowest rank; they wear no decoration on their collars and are equivalent to a novice in the White Tower. Unlike novices, Soldiers are required to carry out all chores with the One Power.
- Dedicated - Those who have advanced to a certain level of skill; they wear distinctive black coats and a silver sword pin on the left side of their collars. They are equivalent to an Accepted in the White Tower.
- Asha'man - The third and highest rank, they wear the silver sword pin of the Dedicated as well as a gold-and-red Dragon pin on the right side of their collars. They are equivalent to a full Aes Sedai in the White Tower
The field organization of the Asha'man, as instituted by Mazrim Taim, is akin to battle units. Modern female Aes Sedai have a very gradual hierarchy based on an individual's strength in the One Power; the Asha'man use a more explicitly militaristic system. Ranks have been created like Tsorovan'm'hael, "Storm Leader." and the rank below it, Baijan'm'hael, "Attack Leader." Mazrim Taim himself holds the rank of M'Hael, or simply "Leader."
If a Soldier or Dedicated isn't going to reach the rank of Asha'man, he isn't sent away, like a Novice or Accepted that will not reach the rank of Aes Sedai.
The silver sword pin is a metal collar pin in the shape of its namesake to show that a male channeler at the Black Tower has reached the rank of Dedicated. This is pinned on the left collar of the distinctive black coats of the Asha'man.
Gold-and-red Dragon pins are pins stylized in the form of their namesake. They are used to show that a male channeler at the Black Tower has reached the rank of Asha'man. This is pinned on the right collar of the distinctive black coats of the Asha'man, opposite of the silver sword pin.
Black coats are pieces of clothing that are the mark of anyone training to be Asha'man. Obviously, the coat is black, but the material varies. Some wear wool, some silk, and some (like Mazrim Taim) have embroidered the otherwise unrelieved black. Because of the concentration technique, the material chosen is based on personal preference and not on climate.
Asha'man training is much more militaristic and battle-oriented than the training of Aes Sedai. Asha'man are taught to do everything with the One Power, including mundane physical labor. Training proceeds at a much faster pace, and consequently the percentage of training Asha'man who burn themselves out or kill themselves accidentally is much higher than the comparative percentage for the Aes Sedai.
The taint placed on saidin by the Dark One made Asha'man training particularly hazardous, and about one tenth of the Asha'man had to be euthanized due to growing insanity. However, the cleansing of the taint from saidin means that this is no longer a problem, although insanity remains on those mad before the cleansing.
Nynaeve al'Meara has been able to identify and cure the madness in men caused by the former taint on saidin. She is the only person who has yet been able to do this, and her ability to do so is limited by the extent of the taint; Rand's taint had spread much too far for her to heal, for example, though it was unnecessary because of a mysterious force protecting his mind.
- Rand al'Thor - The Dragon Reborn and founder.
- Mazrim Taim - M'Hael (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Logain Ablar - (Leader during the last battle)
- Charls Gedwyn (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Manel Rochaid (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Abors (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Androl Genhald
- Arel Malevin
- Atal Mishraile (Dreadlord)
- Corlan Dashiva (deceased)
- Coteren (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Deepe Bhadar (deceased)
- Dobser (Turned)
- Damer Flinn
- Donalo Sandomere (Turned)
- Eben Hopwil (deceased)
- Einar (deceased)
- Fedwin Morr (deceased)
- Jahar Narishma
- Jonneth Dowtry
- Kash (Dreadlord)
- Karldin Manfor (deceased)
- Leems (Dreadlord)
- Mezar Kurin (Turned)
- Peral Torval (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Raefar Kisman (deceased, Dreadlord)
- Taril Canler
- Welyn Kajima (Turned)
- Arlen Nalaam (deceased)
- Fager Neald
- Jaim Torfinn
- Jonan Adley (deceased)
- Saml al'Seen
- Varil Nensen (Dreadlord)
Asha'man may be a reference to Ashama ibn Abjar, the king of Aksum during the founding of Islamic religion. Ashama provided refuge to a number of Muslims who were trying to escape the rule of the current Arab leader, Mecca. Ashama's offer of protection coincides with the Old Tongue word, asha'man, meaning "guardian".
It may also refer to the Avestan word for "truth" and "righteousness," Asha, which is a central concept of Zoroastrianism.
In Bengali and Sanskrit, "shaman" means balanced or equal. An "a" placed before a word connotes "without." Thus "a'shaman" means without equality, unbalanced or uneven.
Or it may be from the term shaman.