A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items relating to entertainment, dance, sports & the arts


While plays and the theatre are not directly mentioned, Tenar likens herself to 'an actor enjoying her role'a, suggesting that acting is recognised in the Archipelago and/or the Kargad Lands. Acting may form part of a chanter's performing songs or a teller's telling tales, or may be a separate discipline. Street shows of an unspecified nature are mentioned in Havnor City

Sources: The Dragon Council, OW (a)


Archery is used for military purposes in the Archipelago; archers defend the New Palace in Havnor City and the Armed Cliffs of Gont Port, and a band of archers on the king's warships are suggested for combating dragons. However, the arrows used by villagers from Ten Alders on Gont to fight off a Kargish raiding party in around 1012 are said to come from hunting bows. Lebannen mentions archery among his courtly accomplishments as a youth in Enlad, whether for military or hunting purposes is not stated. Ogion is mentioned making a longbow on Gont, presumably for shooting game. Warriors of the Kargad Lands are not described as carrying bows

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; The Masters of Roke, FS; The Dolphin, T; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Weapons


See Decorative arts

Cat's cradles

A variety of cat's cradles are played on Gont; simple rhymes accompany the string manipulations

'Churn churn cherry all!
Burn burn bury all!
Come, dragon, come!

[Kalessin, T]


Dancing, often accompanied by music of drums, pipes, flutes and other instruments, appears to be important throughout Earthsea, with both religious and secular examples. The Long Dance in midsummer is one of the major religious festivals, celebrated widely throughout Earthsea (including by the Children of the Open Sea, though not in the Kargad Lands) with dancing all night long. Dancing on the village green to music provided by bands of itinerant musicians is a common entertainment at parties, such as Nameday celebrations. Courtly and country dancing are both practised in the court at Berila on Enlad. Several ceremonies associated with the worship of the Nameless Ones at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan involve dancing, such as the Ceremonies of the darkness. The existence of dancing girls in Awabath on Karego-At reveals that dancing also has secular applications in Kargad; King Thol is said to have been welcomed to Awabath with dancing in the streets

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE; Dreams and Tales, ToA; The Masters of Roke, FS; Orm Embar, FS; Darkrose and Diamond, TfE

Decorative arts

Also known as: Art, Sculpture

Paintings are rarely mentioned in the Archipelago, but many other forms of decoration are described, including carving, engraving, mosaic and inlay work, tapestry and embroidery. A painted silk fan on Gont depicts figures in Havnor City on one side and dragons on the other, and may be related to legends of the Vedurnan. The inner face of the horn door of the School of Wizardry on Roke bears a carving of the Thousand-leaved Tree, and the same motif is carved in the walls and ceiling of the gallery of that school. Morred's High Seat is carved with a flying heron bearing a twig of rowan, and carved window screens are found in the New Palace of Havnor City. Carved bone figures, depicting people and animals, are described as Gontish toys; a carved dolphin in ivory or bone, perhaps from Havnor, is also mentioned. The Ring of Erreth-Akbe, a woman's arm ring said to be old at the time of Morred and Elfarran, is engraved with a wave-like pattern on the outside and nine True Runes on the inside. Coins bear designs, eg ivory counters from Way with the Otter of Shelieth on one face and the Rune of Peace on the reverse. In cities, doorways are often carved with statues, eg the landgate of Gont Port is carved with dragons, and in Hort Town a palace doorway is carved with giant figures described as 'statues whose necks were bowed under the weight of a pediment and whose knot-muscled bodies emerged only partly from the wall, as if they had tried to struggle out of stone into life and had failed partway.'a The prince's throne room in Berila on Enlad has a great decorative map in mosaic work on the north and west walls, possibly constructed in the days of the kings (800 years ago). The New Palace has a small table 'inlaid with curling patterns of ivory and silver, leaves and blossoms of the rowan tree twined about slender swords'b which illustrates Lebannen's true & use names. Tapestry hangings and embroidered seat coverings at the New Palace are mentioned, but no details of designs are stated; embroidery also decorates fine clothing for both sexes.

Ships' timbers are often carved in the shape of dragons or serpents, for example, the Shadow has a carving of the Old Serpent of Andrad. Eyes are painted on the prow of Lookfar. An Osskilian ship is described: 'her high bent prow carven and inlaid with disks of loto-shell, her oarport-covers painted red, with the rune Sifl sketched on each in black.'c

In the Kargad Lands, the murals in the Painted Room of the Labyrinth on Atuan depict 'bird-winged, flightless figures with eyes painted dull red and white'd, which may represent non-reincarnated spirits of Archipelagan people trapped in the sterile afterlife of the dry land; the date at which they were painted is unknown. Small painted ivory tables are mentioned as part of the treasure of the Hall of the Throne, depicting dancers in the Hall of the Throne; a carved chest of cedar wood there, said to be many hundreds of years old, depicts the One Priestess advising a King. Eight of the stones of the Tombs of Atuan bear 'vague carvings … -- shapes, signs'e. The silver key of the Treasury of the Tombs has a haft carved as a dragon. Anthil's dress is decorated with seed pearls in a design including the double arrow symbol of the Twin Gods and a crown.

The Children of the Open Sea (raft people) carve wood for idols and decorations to their temple; these include both abstract (eg complex square design above a doorway) and representational (eg doorjambs carved as grey whales sounding) designs. The descriptions of the idols 'dolphin bodies, gulls' wings folded, human faces with staring eyes of shell'f seem to resemble the pictures in the Painted Room of Atuan. Some adorn their bodies with tatoos

Sources: The Shadow; Hunted, WoE (c); The Wall around the Place (e); The Great Treasure, ToA (d); Hort Town (a); The Children of the Open Sea (f); Selidor, FS; Mice; Hawks; Finding Words; The Dolphin, T; Dragonfly, TfE; Palaces (b); The Dragon Council, OW

Dice and sticks

A game with dice and sticks is played by the novices at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan. Possibly the same as a Kargish gambling game using five-sided ivory dice-sticks mentioned; as the dice-sticks are said to be owned by Tosla, a variant may also be played in the Archipelago

Sources: The Wall Around the Place, ToA; Dolphin, OW

Related entries: Games


Dance, music, songs, the telling of tales, feasting and drinking are sources of entertainment common to both the Archipelago and the Kargad Lands; hunting (for sport), falconry, illusion, juggling, sleight of hand, puppetry, fireworks and visiting whores may be restricted to the Archipelago. Inns, taverns and pothouses are found throughout the Archipelago, but are not mentioned in the Kargad Lands. Acting is alluded to, and street shows of an unspecified nature are mentioned in Havnor City. Games mentioned include dice and sticks, sticks and counters, net-ball and cat's cradles

Related entries: Jugglers; Teller; Puppeteers; Prostitution


Also known as: Toys

Games mentioned include dice and sticks and sticks and counters, both played on Atuan, net-ball, played on Enlad, cat's cradles, played on Gont, and a magical version of bowls, played on Roke with 'balls of green flame and bowling-pins that leaped and hopped away as the ball came near'a. A game of houses is played on Gont using bone figures depicting people and animals. Children in Ismay make snowmen and snow castles; those of Havnor City play games of chase. Card games are not mentioned. Gambling is mentioned as a Kargish practice, but details are not given

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE (a); Iffish, WoE; The Wall Around the Place, ToA; Dreams and Tales, ToA; The Masters of Roke, FS; Finding Words, T; Dolphin, OW

Related entries: Entertainment


Hunting is one of the major livelihoods mentioned in the islands. Various animals are hunted for sport and/or food, including stags in the forests of Enlad, wild boars, and dragons in the Dark Years on Pendor. Hawks are used in hunting, at least by noblemen such as the princes of Enlad. Archery is practised on Enlad, and hunting bows are mentioned at Ten Alders. The Children of the Open Sea hunt whales, using whale-ivory harpoons taller than they are

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; Hort Town, FS; Orm Embar, FS


A game played in Enlad, and possibly elsewhere

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS

Related entries: Games

Old Serpent of Andrad

Decorative motif associated with the Andrades; carved on the stem of the Andradean ship, the Shadow

'…the ship's master … stood on a plank let in at the jointure of the keel with the stem, which was carved as the Old Serpent of Andrad.'

[The Shadow, WoE]

Otter of Shelieth

Motif depicted on one side of an ivory counter from Way

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE


See Decorative arts

Sticks and counters

Game played by the eunuch Wardens of the Place of the Tombs on Atuan, and sometimes by Arha (Tenar), involving throwing a bundle of sticks and catching them on the back of the hand

Sources: Dreams and Tales, ToA

Related entries: Games

Thousand-leaved Tree

This motif is depicted in several places in the School of Wizardry on Roke, including the horn door and the gallery. Its significance is unknown

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; The Masters of Roke, FS


See Games



WoEA Wizard of Earthsea
ToAThe Tombs of Atuan
FSThe Farthest Shore
OWThe Other Wind
W12QThe Wind's Twelve Quarters
TfETales from Earthsea

Earthsea and its inhabitants were created by Ursula Le Guin, and no infringement of her copyright is intended in this fan site