Author: Caerwyn Jolan
The a’dam is a ter’angreal used by the Seanchan Empire to control a woman who can channel saidar. It consists of a collar made of silvery metal, worn by the woman being controlled, and a bracelet worn by the woman controlling her. The controller of the a'dam is called a sul'dam ("leash holder" in the Old Tongue) and the woman being controlled is called a damane ("leashed one" in the Old Tongue). Men cannot use an a’dam, although there is a male form of the device. If a man who could channel tried to use wear the bracelet of an a'dam, it would cause extreme pain and usually ended in the death of the male channeler. Like all ter'angreal, the a'dam is constructed using the One Power. Though most ter'angreal were made in a manner not known since the Breaking of the World, some damane can create a'dam.
The a'dam is a bracelet and collar linked by a chain, all made of smooth silver metal. When the bracelet or collar are closed, they feel as if they are one piece (TGH, Ch. 40). There are also working a'dam without the chain.
Sul'dam visit Seanchan villages to test young Seanchan women to see if they can be damane or sul'dam. These visits are treated like feastdays (TGH, Ch. 46). Women who are born with the ability to channel and do not need to be taught are taken as damane (TGH, Ch. 46). Women who can be taught to channel, but would not channel on their own, are taken away and trained as sul'dam (TGH, Ch. 46).
Damane are considered property, and are generally used for the purposes of the Seanchan empire. Their use in warfare gives the Seanchan forces an enormous advantage, as the damane cause tremendous fear to enemy troops by channeling the One Power in battle to produce explosions, lightning, etc. at long distances.
The terms damane and sul'dam are only used by the Seanchan. However, in this article we use them to refer to any two women using an a'dam.
Both women must be capable of channeling the One Power for the a’dam to function.
The a'dam actually creates a circle of two women, although it has some key differences compared to an ordinary circle. The sul'dam is the one leading the circle. This usage was lost and the a'dam ended up being used solely for controlling the damane.
There are several effects of an a’dam:
- A sul'dam can use the a'dam to control a damane's channeling ability. This allows a sul’dam who has no knowledge of channeling herself to use the One Power.
- The damane generally cannot channel without being allowed by the sul’dam. It is possible for the damane to channel a little without a sul’dam wearing the bracelet, but it causes the damane to become physically ill.
- The damane may not touch or move the bracelet of the a’dam without intense physical pain, even if the sul’dam is not present.
- The sul’dam can cause the damane physical pain through the a’dam without physically harming her (TGH, Ch. 40). The sul’dam can also make the damane feel a great pleasure (KoD, Ch. 9).
- The damane feels any physical pain inflicted on the sul'dam twice over, even to death (TGH, Ch. 40).
- While wearing the a'dam, the sul'dam knows how the damane feels emotionally (TGH, Ch. 40).
Like many ter’angreal, the a’dam can function in the World of Dreams as well as the waking world.
Appearance and Uses
- Egwene is captured to become a damane (TGH, Ch. 40)
- Egwene’s training as damane in Falme (TGH, Ch. 42)
- Elayne finds the male version of an a’dam in the Panarch’s Palace in Tanchico (TSR, Ch. 54)
- Nynaeve uses an a’dam in the World of Dreams to capture Moghedien, one of the female Forsaken. (TFoH, Ch. 54)
- Mesaana tries to hold Egwene with an a'dam in Tel'aran'rhiod, but Egwene refuses to accept the reality and in the struggle Mesaana's mind breaks (ToM, Ch. 38).
Opening an A'dam
A woman who is collared cannot open her own collar, and will suffer extreme pain if she even thinks of doing so (TGH, Ch. 42). The a'dam is usually opened manually, the bracelet by squeezing top and bottom, almost opposite the leash, and the collar by doing something similar and then twisting the correct way (WH, Ch. 29). It can also be opened with a trickle of the One Power (TGH, Ch. 45).
- Seanchan test all women for ability to channel. All of the women selected to become damane would be considered "wilders" by the White Tower. The testing process and training as a damane prevents a significant fraction of wilders' deaths through uncontrolled experimentation with the One Power as happens in the world outside Seanchan. The a’dam also prevents the damane from burning herself allowing her to use as much power as she could handle.
- The Seanchan also test to select women to become sul'dam, but do not realize that these women can be taught to channel the One Power. In fact, they do not realize that channeling can be taught at all.