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EWoT: Malkier

Malkier (pronounced: mahl-KEER) is part of the Borderlands, lying north of Shienar. The sign of Malkier is a golden crane. Malkieri men are recognized by a braided leather cord they wear called a hadori. The nation was swallowed by the Blight in 955 NE, causing Shienar to become the northernmost of the Borderlands. After the Last Battle, the Blight vanished, and the nation was restored.

History

The nation of Malkier was a former province of Artur Hawkwing's Empire, forged out of the earlier kingdom of Rhamdashar. Governor Shevar Jamelle declared the province to be a sovereign kingdom very early in the War of the Hundred Years, forging an alliance with the other Borderlands against both the Shadow in the north and the threat of interference by other nations to the south.

Malkier endured against the Shadow for almost a thousand years, until it was destroyed in 955 NE. Lain Mandragoran, the brother of King al'Akir Mandragoran, took five thousand lancers to the Blasted Lands as part of a wager laid by his wife Breyan and was killed. Al'Akir's refusal to support Lain's foolishness saw Breyan plot to have him and his young son Lan killed so her own son Isam could take the throne. Cowin Gemallan, a Malkieri noble but also a Darkfriend, supported Breyan's plan and attempted a coup against al'Akir.

Malkier.jpg

The coup failed, but the Blightborder forts were stripped bare and a major Shadowspawn invasion was able to break through the lines. Breyan and Isam were apparently killed and much of the kingdom laid waste, although the famed scout Jain Charin, already called Farstrider, was able to take Gemallen prisoner and bring him back to the Seven Towers to face al'Akir in single combat, where he was killed. Al'Akir abdicated the throne to his son Lan, anointing him a Diademed Battle Lord, and sent him south to Shienar to be raised in safety, before rallying the last of the Malkieri to fight the Shadow. Al'Akir was killed, Malkier was overrun, the Seven Towers were destroyed, and the Blightborder was pushed a hundred miles or more to the south, until troops from the other Borderlands met the Shadowspawn at the Stair of Jehaan and turned them back.

Lan presents to Nynaeve the signet ring of the kings of Malkier

Malkier was——up until the Last Battle was won—desolate wilderness, overrun by the Blight. The Thousand Lakes were poisonous and inhabited by foul creatures, while the Seven Towers were toppled ruins. Despite this, Malkier's reputation for martial excellence and stalwart defense against the Shadow remained incredibly powerful. It was known that thousands would flock to Lan Mandragoran's cause—and thousands did—when he lifted the Crane Banner once more.

Al'Lan Mandragoran did indeed raise the Crane Banner and rode for Tarwin's Gap and Tarmon Gai'don, with an increasingly huge host from across the Borderlands riding with him. At the defeat of the Dark One, the Blight all but vanished and Malkier once more became a sovereign nation, ruled by Lan with his Queen, Nynaeve al'Meara, by his side.

A map showing the former borders of Malkier.

Geography

Malkier lay north of Shienar, apparently running from where the Blightborder is now located to Tarwin's Gap and possibly even beyond the Mountains of Dhoom. It was the northernmost of the Westlands and the one located closest to Shayol Ghul. Its capital city was known as the Seven Towers, located along the shores of several lakes, not far from the southern feet of the Mountains of Dhoom.

Culture

In many ways, the Malkieri are considered the most extreme of the Borderlanders. Many customs found in other Borderlands are also found in Malkier, but frequently interpreted more strictly. Respect for women was highly regarded, with it being considered impolite to look directly at a woman unless she opened the exchange. Malkieri found men of other nations to be strange in the way they treated women.

The Malkieri were not dour, taking delight in parties, dances, and festivals, and prizing musical ability. If one could not compose poetry, it was at least expected that a Malkieri could recite it, including love poems (that never named their object). However, they were a warrior people, as their land was triply surrounded by the Blight.

Adulthood was marked by the ki'sain for women and the hadori for men. The age at which these were granted were not fixed; it could be as young as fifteen, and were usually granted by seventeen or eighteen, though were sometimes withheld for a few more years. The decision to grant for boys was decided by his father, uncles, and a circle of their friends. Being part of this circle was considered a great honor. However, the boy's mother had the authority to veto their approval, if she lived, and in which case the boy would wait a year. By custom the mother could veto three times, but doing so even once was considered shaming to her son, and few women did so more than once. A girl was granted the ki'sain by a circle of her mother, aunts, and their friends, but the girl's father had no power to veto this decision.

It was generally expected that youths would take a lover, called a carneira (first, in the Old Tongue) before marriage. Customarily this was someone older and more experienced, where women were the aggressors no matter their age. Young women chose their male lover, but young men were chosen by their female lovers. By custom, there was no way out once chosen except in the case of marriage. A young woman who wanted a married man as a lover would face strong disapproval and would be reprimanded by other women. The relationship was not casual, and the sexual part of being carneira was expected to last only a year or two at most. However, certain lifelong rights, responsibilities and obligations were assumed by both upon entering into it, which usually favored the woman in both instances. The man often had duties and obligations to meet, and no right to make any demands of hers at all.

Malkieri girls wore their hair cut to the shoulder until wearing the ki'sain, whereafter they grew it to the waist or often longer. A woman who wished to retire from the world would cut her hair short, which meant she wanted to simplify her life and give over involvement of most affairs in the world, and would not expected to be involved in politics. A Malkieri boy grew his hair to the waist. His hair would be cut to his shoulders by his carneira, and he would weave the hair into a daori cord afterwards, which he presented to her as a token of his obligations and ties, and would thereafter not cut his hair shorter than his shoulders, or let it grow longer.

Both men and women needed the permission of their mother to marry at whatever age. If the mother of the bride or groom was dead, the closest female relative by blood and age decided if the spouses could marry: first the eldest maternal aunt, then the younger ones; then to the eldest paternal aunt, the younger paternal aunts; then to elder sisters, to younger sisters; then to the daughters of maternal aunts, to the daughters of paternal aunts, and then to more distant relatives. Arranged marriages were common among nobles, but not among commoners. In noble families, the bride and groom sometimes did not know that they were to marry after their mothers or closest female relatives had arranged the wedding.[2]

Towns/cities

Important Malkieri

Trivia

  • In Chapter 23 of Towers of Midnight, the flag of Malkier is described as a golden crane on a white background, and also sold as such in official merchandise. However, in The Wheel of Time Companion, the flag of Malkier is instead described as a golden crane on a blue background. The reason for this inconsistency is unknown.

Parallels

The symbol of Malkier is the Golden Crane, likely a reference to the Yellow Crane Tower and the following poem of the same name by 8th century Chinese poet Cui Hao:

A depiction of Yellow Crane Tower with crane flying away from the main structure, painted by Xia Yong circa 1400.

The yellow crane has long since gone away,
All that here remains is yellow crane tower.
The yellow crane once gone does not return,
White clouds drift slowly for a thousand years.
The river is clear in Hanyang by the trees,
And fragrant grass grows thick on parrot isle.
In this dusk, I don't know where my homeland lies,
The river's mist-covered waters bring me sorrow.

The Seven Towers are one of the last visible remnants of Malkier. The poem seems to explicitly reference the fall of something of great importance, since reclaimed by nature and time and the narrator mourns its loss. The poem could have almost been written by Lan.

In general, Malkier is considered to be inspired by nations in the Himalayas, such as Nepal and Tibet. The ki'sain is reminiscent of the bindi worn by Hindu and Jain women or representations of the Buddha. John Stopford also likens the recent fall of Malkier to the relatively recent incorporation of Tibet into the People's Republic of China when Jordan started writing the book series.[3]

External links

Notes

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