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Da'covale is a term used among the Seanchan for slaves. The term "property" is often used too, as the word means "one who is owned," or "person who is property" in the Old Tongue.

Those born to covale parents are also considered da'covale, including those who are born to a da'covale mother and a father who is not da'covale. Thus, most men do not lie with da'covale, or use birth control if they do. In the very unusual circumstance that a child is born to a free mother and a da'covale father, the child is free, since condition always follows that of the mother in Seanchan society.[1]

Any free person can own a da'covale, and not just the Blood. They may be bought and sold like horses.

Slavery has a long and unusual history among the Seanchan, with slaves having the ability to rise to positions of great power and open authority, including authority over those who are free. An example of such a position is so'jhin. To a large degree, da'covale share somewhat in the standing of their master or mistress, modified by the position in the household. A lesser lord or lady may have to defer to a high-ranking da'covale in the household of a High Lord or High Lady, at least to a so'jhin, and a High Lord or High Lady would show respect to a da'covale of the Imperial household.[1]

Da'covale traditionally wear nearly transparent white robes.[2] When outdoors, these are usually covered by outer robes of thick white wool. Higher ranking da'covale, such as so'jhin, do not wear these robes, and shave half of their heads.

It is also possible for those in positions of great power to be reduced to da'covale. Examples of such da'covale are the former Panarch of Tarabon Amathera and the High Lady Suroth, as well as most nobles and Guardians of the Gate in Amadicia who were not killed by the Seanchan. In Seanchan, many preferred execution to the possible punishment of being reduced to da'covale in light of a crime.

However, it is possible to be freed as a da'covale, and it is customary in some circumstances to free da'covale in one's will if they have served long or in a close capacity, much in the manner that someone may leave money or trinkets to a close ervant. This is not always done, or even desired by the da'covale, because the complexities of Seanchan society meant that being freed sometimes brought a reduction in social standing. By law, one is required to make provision for the future of any da'covale freed, either by establishing a trust or seeing that the da'covale had a way to earn a living and support any family.[1]

Notes

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