From Tar Valon Library
Author: Kyria d'Oreyn
A man is a maze of brambles in darkness, and even he does not know the way. – saying in Ebou Dar (ACoS, Ch. 17).
Ebou Dar is the capital city of Altara and her center of culture and commerce. Situated at the mouth of the River Eldar, the city is made out of pale marble and surrounded by a high and thick white wall, broken by a row of gates with high pointed arches leading into the Inner City (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30).
During the Compact of Ten Nations, Ebou Dar was known as Barashta, a city in Eharon built by the Ogier (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 10). Back then, the Kin were established where the Rahad stands today and persisted even after Barashta fell (ACoS, Ch. 30).
When Tylin's father took the throne, "other Houses had more of the city itself than Mitsobar" (LoC, Ch. 48).
Tylin mentions Wine Riots, which would start over again if she sent soldiers into the Rahad (LoC, Ch. 48).
The River Eldar splits the city into two parts, with the homes and palaces of the upper and middle class on the western shore and the Rahad on the eastern shore. Ebou Dar is criss-crossed with almost as many canals and bridges as with streets (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30).
"Unlike most cities, there is no particular order to the layout in Ebou Dar. Palaces are surrounded by inns and merchants' shops, great houses are flanked by hostelries, fishmongeries and cutleries. Shops and inns abound, with some shops even built onto the sides of the larger bridges" (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30).
In the middle of the biggest square, the Mol Hara, the heroic statue of Queen Nariene, taller than an Ogier and with one out-stretched hand pointing toward the sea, stands on a pedestal above a fountain that is surrounded by very pale paving stones. Her flowing robes leave one breast uncovered, showing that she was honest (LoC, Ch. 47; WH, Ch. 17). The sides of the Mol Hara are lined with the Tarasin Palace, great houses, inns and shops (LoC, Ch. 47).
Among the many gates piercing the city wall are the Moldine Gate to the south, a great pointed arch ten spans thick (ACoS, Ch. 14) leading out to the Bay Road, the Three Towers Gate to the west and the Dal Eira Gate to the north, opening to the Great North Road (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30), which many people call the "Ebou Dar Road" or the "Ferry Road" (CoT, Ch. 28).
Home of the lower classes, the Rahad is known to be a rough place for both natives and outlanders. White buildings five and six stories high line the narrow, unevenly paved streets, their plaster dirty and already flaking to show the brick beneath. The air smells of decay and buzzes with flies everywhere (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30; LoC, Ch. 52).
Every street looks the same in the Rahad. Nynaeve calls it "an awful, tangled warren of streets with no signs or anything to help" (LoC, Ch. 36). Blue doors mark inns, while red-painted ones indicate taverns; the tiny shops are not marked in any way (LoC, Ch. 13). The common rooms of inns are dark and grimy (LoC, Ch. 52).
Duels occur hourly in the Rahad; some people don't bother with picking a fight and stab their opponents in the back instead. If the person they are out to get wears silk or similar fine fabrics, a thin-bladed knife is used to draw little blood that can stain the dress (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30). Even the Civil Guard steps lightly here (LoC, Ch. 48).
Every building in Ebou Dar is white, either built from white stone, pale marble or painted plastered brick. Spires and domes ringed with bands of color and balconies running around them rise from some of the taller buildings (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30; LoC, Ch. 13).
Servants occupy the ground level of palaces, while the higher floors are reserved for the rich, to catch the breezes (ACoS, Ch. 14).
There are villages and farms around Ebou Dar for a hundred miles (LoC, Ch. 40).
- The Tarasin Palace is the tallest palace around, filling one entire side of the Mol Hara Square (ACoS, Ch. 16).
- The Wandering Woman is an inn on the Mol Hara Square (ACoS, Ch. 16).
- The Chelsaine Palace lies close to the Three Towers Gate (ACoS, Ch. 17) in the west of the city and is given to Jaichim Carridin during his stay in Ebou Dar. It is not large, with wide stairs and tall fluted columns in the front and "only two slim spires and a single pear-shaped dome banded in red" (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- The Circuit of Heaven is a racing track in the north, just outside the city (ACoS, Ch. 29) with long, open-ended tiers of polished stone seats (CoT, Ch. 1).
- The Golden Crown of Heaven is an inn in the Rahad with the mandatory blue-painted door "gracing a dim hole." The grimy floor is stained with black blotches from old knife fights (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- The Golden Ducks (WH, Ch. 16).
- The Golden Swans of Heaven is a tiny inn squeezed between a public stable and a lacquerware shop that is now full of sul'dam, such as Bethamin and Iona. The innkeeper is Darnella Shoran (WH, Ch. 20).
- The Kin's house lies between a weaver and a dyer's shop, two stories with no balconies and with cracking plaster showing brick beneath (ACoS, Ch. 23).
- The Oarsman's Pride has a stout innkeeper (ACoS, Ch. 30).
- The Old Sheep is an inn where Maylin works as a serving girl (ACoS, Ch. 39).
- The Queen's Glory in Radiance smells of old fish and is the grimiest tavern Mat has seen in the city (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- The Rose of the Eldar is a cheap tavern not far from the riverfront (ACoS, Ch. 28).
- The Stranded Goose is a three-story inn with an innkeeper who wears large garnets at her ears (ACoS, Ch. 23).
- The Silver Circuit is a course for horse races just south of the city wall, two long earthen banks, barely fifteen paces apart, flanking a long racing track. There is no charge for watching, but those without silver stay in the part above thick hemp ropes. The space below the separating ropes is for the well-to-do and it is said that not only fortunes but "lives and honor changed hands" there, too. There are no rules against the poor coming below the ropes, but the bookers' guards won't let them. Each race there is started by two members of the Guild of Bookers, one one either side of the track, holding a white scarf overhead (ACoS, Ch. 14).
Shortly after the Seanchan sweep into Ebou Dar, they organize repairs of whatever they damaged earlier during the taking. They set up clean sickhouses and arrange food and work for the poor and the refugees (TPoD, Ch. 14).
The streets and the surrounding countryside are patrolled day and night to keep the city clear of footpads or bandits (TPoD, Ch. 24) and the gates are guarded by normal soldiers and sul'dam, who make sure no marath'damane can enter the city (WH, Ch. 16).
Outside the gates, the heads of criminals are diplayed on spikes to scare off people and set an example of what happens to lawbreakers (WH, Ch. 16).
The streets of Ebou Dar are even more jampacked than before the Seanchan arrived (WH, Ch. 16).
The sea is the heart of Ebou Dari trade. Ships from sea-faring countries such as Arad Doman, Illian and Tear could be found lining the great harbor alongside Sea Folk vessels, until the Seanchan took up that space (WH, Ch. 16)
They have fifty different sorts of sharp-tasting cheese, which Mat thinks are all good (ACoS, Ch. 38).
Government and Nobility
The most powerful Altaran noble reigns from the Throne of the Winds in the Tarasin Palace, although some strong ones are known to have refused the throne. This may be because the ruled land stretches only as far as about a hundred miles around Ebou Dar and they would be king or queen only in name (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30; LoC, Ch. 47).
In the beginning of the series, Tylin of House Mitsobar was Queen of Altara (LoC, Ch. 47). Few people beyond the hundred-mile range acknowledged her as their ruler; instead, their loyalties were to local lords and ladies (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30). Some of these nobles would grasp the slightest chance to overpower Tylin and take the throne for themselves (LoC, Ch. 39).
Ruling Houses constantly shift and only House Todande managed to hold the throne for five generations (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30; LoC, Ch. 48). House Mitsobar has managed three generations so far, with Beslan being the current ruler (CoT, Ch. 3). No other Houses have had two rulers in succession (LoC, Ch. 48).
- Mitsobar: Tylin (High Seat), Beslan
- Todande: Anarina
The Civil Guard in Ebou Dar is not very efficient and seldomly seen out on the streets. They can easily be bought unless someone powerful is watching (ACoS, Ch. 14).
They use long-pointed lances in battle and wear baggy white breeches and green coats. Officers have gold cords on their helmets (ACoS, Ch. 39).
After the Seanchan invade the city, they take over its security. An equal number of Ebou Dari and Seanchan guard the gates (WH, Ch. 17) and the streets are patrolled at all times (TPoD, Ch. 14). Suroth assures Tuon that the streets of Ebou Dar are now as safe as in Seandar (WH, Ch. 17).
People and Customs
People in Ebou Dar are very polite, so it can happen that apologies are exchanged for an hour (ACoS, Ch. 23). However, it is said no one is touchier than Ebou Dari and they are quick to answer an insult with steel (ACoS, Ch. 14).
Ebou Dari women are fabled for their ferocity and boldness; men step lightly around them and smile at what they would kill other men for, because a woman killing a man is justified unless proven otherwise (LoC, Ch. 47). Men are also treated roughly if they use a woman's name before receiving permission to, while pet names such as "duckling" or "pudding" are allowed (ACoS, Ch. 28).
Apparently a wife can determine another woman who is suited to take care of her husband after her death. Being married to more than one person at a time, however, is against custom and law even in Ebou Dar (ACoS, Ch. 12).
The accent in Ebou Dar is soft, but cuts the ends off some words (ACoS, Ch. 14).
A bare chest symbolizes openness and honesty (ACoS, Ch. 14).
Only boys are allowed to participate in horse races and there are no rules against them using their switches on each other instead of on their mounts (ACoS, Ch. 14).
There is no guild for innkeepers, yet even so every inn is run by a woman, because it is considered bad luck if it is in the hands of a man (ACoS, Ch. 17).
Ebou Dari tunes are shrill and quick, played with flutes and drums (WH, Ch. 18).
Apperance, Clothing and Dress
Women wear dresses with deep, narrow necklines for commoners or high-necked gowns trimmed with lace and an oval cut-out to show some cleavage for nobles (LoC, Ch. 48; ACoS, Ch. 16). Skirts are sewn up at one side to reveal colorful petticoats beneath. The local fashion also includes falls of snowy lace at the wrists that nearly hide the fingers and very snug bodices (LoC, Ch. 48). Ebou Dari women don't wear their hair very long (LoC, Ch. 52).
Well-to-do men wear long vests in bright silk, often brocaded, over pale shirts with wide sleeves. Some have small silk coats "slung about their shoulders, with a chain of silver or gold strung between the narrow lapels embroidered with flowers or animals," never meant for anything more than a cape (LoC, Ch. 52). Most Ebou Dari men also wear earrings (ACoS, Ch. 13).
Normal folk wear simple woolen or linen dresses with little to no embroidery (ACoS, Ch. 23).
Jewelry seen includes hoop earrings in gold of every size and finger rings adorned with garnets or pearls. Poorer folk wear brass jewelry set with colored glass (LoC, Ch. 52).
In the Rahad, everyone has a curved knife stuck through a belt and frequently a plain work knife, too. The men there wear no shirts, but vests that are often ragged (LoC, Ch. 52).
Weavers wear vests with vertical stripes, and printers horizontal ones. Saltworkers wear the white vests of their guild (ACoS, Ch. 14).
Duels are almost mandatory in Ebou Dar; very few people older than sixteen have not fought at least one duel and these are frowned upon because of their cowardice. Every Ebou Dari wears a curved duel knife, ready to be drawn (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 30).
Often, men fight duels over women and women over men. Those who are fought over are called prizes and agree to go with the winner (LoC, Ch. 47).
Married women are less likely to be challenged than unmarried, and widows who do not want to marry again least of all (LoC, Ch. 52).
The most duels are fought in the Rahad, where asking questions or being curious results in a challenge. The same goes for entering a building where you do not belong. When a fight breaks out, people gather to watch, but no one steps in. If a married man is killed, the one who won over him has to tell the man's wife of it (LoC, Ch. 52).
Ebou Dari have guilds for almost everything "and woe to anyone who trespassed on their ground" (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- Ancient and Honorable League of the Nets: No woman is allowed into this guild, as Ebou Dari think women owning a vessel is bad luck (ACoS, Ch. 17). Members can be distinguished by the earring of their guild (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- Ancient and Worshipful Guild of Stablemen (ACoS, Ch. 14)
- Fellowship of Alms (ACoS, Ch. 29)
- Illustrious and Honored Guild of Bookers: Members wear red vests with an open book embroidered on the breast and each one of them has a different sigil. Aside from taking on wagers for horse races, the guild even "[wagers] with shipowners and merchants as to whether a ship would sink or prices change." They also claim they would take any wager in any amount. Before a wager is taken, a booker greets with the ritual "As my Lord/Lady wishes to wager, so shall I write truly (...) The book is open." Long ago, wagers were written in books, but now they are written on white tokens bearing the individual booker's sigil. Bookers are not allowed to take wagers on races they start (ACoS, Ch. 14).
Saltworkers also have a guild, though the name is not directly given. Weavers and printers likely have their own guilds as well, given the vests they wear (ACoS, Ch. 14).
The sign of the goldsmiths' guild is a golden scale and hammer (ACoS, Ch. 14).
- Main article: Feasts and Festivals
Ebou Dari love festivals (ACoS, Ch. 16). They are known for their many holidays and feasts that sometimes follow on top of one another. These are celebrated with, for example, grand displays of fireworks, pompous parades, masquerades or contests for story-telling. It is believed by some that their reputation as hard workers comes from making up for feasting so frequently (ACoS, Ch. 38).
- High Chasaline (ACoS, Ch. 38)
- Maddin's Day (ACoS, Ch. 38)
- The Feast of Embers (ACoS, Ch. 38)
- The Feast of Lights (ACoS, Ch. 38)
- The Feast of the Half Moon (ACoS, Ch. 38)
- The Festival of Birds
- Swovan Night (ACoS, Ch. 21)
The time between the Feast of Abram and the Feast of Fools is considered the most propitious for a wedding (TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 31).
Characters from Ebou Dar
- Anarina Todande
- Beslan Quintara
- Calwyn Sutoma
- Darnella Shoran
- Frielle Anan
- Jasfer Anan
- Leral Anan
- Lydel Elonid
- Marah Anan
- Myrelle Berengari
- Old Cully
- Ross Anan
- Surlivan Sarat
- Tylin Quintara Mitsobar
- Ebou Dar lies a few hundred miles down the River Eldar from Salidar (LoC, Ch. 13).
- Thom says that there were once leopards in Ebou Dar, but they left because the Ebou Dari were too touchy for them to live with (LoC, Ch. 13). Wolves also used to live near the city, but it has been years since this was so (WH, Ch. 18).
- "Nobody cared what happened in Ebou Dar, Elaida least of all; the capital of Altara could fall into the sea, and except for the merchants, not even the rest of Altara would notice." (ACoS, Prologue)
- It never really snows in Altara (ACoS, Ch. 29), as it is never truly cold; only the nights are cool (KoD, Prologue).