Tear (pronounced: TEER) is one of the richest nations in the land. This comes in part from controlling the third largest port on the Sea of Storms behind Illian and Ebou Dar, at the mouth of the River Erinin. A great deal of Tear's wealth comes from the oil produced on the country's numerous olive farms. Lucrative trade in grain, fish, and spices also brings money into the rich nation.
The word "Tear," when referring to the nation or capital city by the same name, is pronounced with a long e, as if in reference to an emotional sign of grief. Its natives, the "Tairens," however, are named with a flat a, as if referring to a rip in a piece of paper.
Tear's distribution of wealth is highly top-heavy; the vast majority of it resides with the Tairen nobility. Tairen lords believe that commoners are actually lesser beings, and the societal rift between haves and have-nots is intense, to the point where they even dress differently. Furthermore, the inner city of the capital is surrounded by a high wall of gray stone, which protects the finer houses and palaces of the nobles, which line streets paved with stone. Outside the wall, commoners trudge through unpaved, muddy streets. Until the coming of the Dragon Reborn, it was not possible for a commoner to call a noble before a magistrate.
Tairens of all classes have an avowed fear of anything to do with the One Power. This is due partly to the fact that it is prophesied that the Stone of Tear will never fall until the Dragon has been Reborn. The High Lords like to think that by protecting Callandor, the 'sword that is not a sword' that resides within an inner chamber of the city's ancient fortress, they are protecting the world from the Dragon Reborn.
Currently, Tear is ruled by a King, who was selected by the Dragon Reborn and the rebel High Lords. Unlike most nations, Tear previously was not ruled by a king or queen, but rather a council of High Lords. The number of High Lords (and Ladies) has varied over time from six to twenty, as they are chosen by societal rank.
City of Tear
A map of the city shows the docks to be to the west of the city, and the Stone to be on the north edge.
The most prominent geographical feature of the country is the vast river delta, a maze of waterways and swampland called the Fingers of the Dragon. This lies immediately to the south of the city of Tear and extends for some miles to the Sea of Storms. Tairen pilots board all foreign ships to guide them through the Fingers.
Stone of Tear
- Main article: Stone of Tear
The city of Tear is dominated by the Stone of Tear, which towers above the city like a small mountain. It is believed to be mankind's oldest surviving stronghold and indeed oldest existing structure, having been erected shortly after the Breaking of the World.
Culture and dress
Tairen noblemen tend to wear short beards, oiled and drawn to a point. Both men and women of noble birth tend to wear mainly clothes of embroidery and silks, while commoners dress in loose pants and wear flat-topped hats to keep the rain off of their heads.
Due to the unpaved, muddy streets in the common areas, wooden clogs are worn on the feet when out of doors, and frequently are left outside the door when coming inside to keep the floors from getting too dirty. Upon leaving a common building, such as an inn, it is not unusual to grab a different set of clogs, provided they still fit over one's shoes.
Tear is thought by many to be based in part on Spain or perhaps France. The nobles and soldiers of Tear bear a particularly strong resemblance in name and dress, as they prefer feathery plumes on their armor and have been shown to fight duels for honor, a common practice in France and Spain during that period, while the common people may more closely resemble the peasants of China and Korea. Jordan has stated that he imagins Tairens to speak with a Spanish accent.There are also certain similarities to South East Asian culture, such as the practice of wearing wooden clogs in a wet environment, which Jordan would have observed during his tours of Vietnam.
Tear also bears a number of resemblances to Hellenic Troy in being a rich port city with a supposedly impregnable fortress and having horses of superb blood-stock.
Although the Tairen flag is illustrated with the red half against the flagpole in The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, the flag is described as having the gold half against the flagpole in The Wheel of Time Companion. This could be an error on the illustrator's part, as the TWORJTWOT was relaeased several years before TWOTC.
- TWORJTWOT, Chapter 30
- This is explicitly stated in the glossaries, and when listening to the audiobook versions.
- At the beginning of The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 48, the city docks are said to be on the west bank of the River Erinin, but at the beginning of The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 50 Perrin, Moiraine, and Lan arrive by ferry from the west. At the beginning of The Shadow Rising, Chapter 22, Rand leads the Aiel "out of the Stone and eastward." A map of the city appears in The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game, showing the docks to be to the west of the city, and the Stone to be on the north edge. The reference in Chapter 48 appears to be an editing error.
- The Eye of the World, Chapter 13
- The Shadow Rising, Chapter 26
- According to the Wheel of Time F.A.Q.
- Letter to Paul Ward
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