A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items relating to household items, furnishings & furniture

Bath tub

Mentioned in a farmhouse on Semel; the water is heated using kettles and the tub filled by the fire, then put away when not needed. Oak Farm on Gont has a soaking tub used for laundry

Sources: Winter, T; On the High Marsh, TfE

Beds and bedlinen

Also known as: Pallet, Cot, Bunk, Hammock

Modern-style beds with a frame, such as the sumptuous bed in the Court of the Terrenon with its canopy, silk sheets, satin coverlet and down mattresses, seem to be the preserve of the relatively prosperous. The court of Enlad has beds with soft furs as covers; the prosperous Oak Farm on Gont has a bed with an oak frame with feather coverlets and sheepskins. Most country people, however, sleep on straw pallets: straw-filled mattresses resting directly on the ground, also called pallet-beds. A heavy canvas mattress cover is mentioned on Gont. A cot of rushes is mentioned for a baby in a small village on Atuan, and Duny's bed at Ten Alders is also termed a cot, which in this instance probably just means a child's bed. A whale-gut hammock is used in a fisherman's hut on Gont. Narrow bunks are mentioned in the cabins of the trading vessel, Sea Otter, and the Dolphin has bunks and hammocks.

Felt & goat's wool blankets, sheepskins, furs, feather coverlets and linen sheets are mentioned as bed coverings in the Archipelago. The market at Hort Town sells bedlinens of unspecified nature. Sheepskin rugs and fur blankets, apparently placed directly on the ground, are used at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan. The Children of the Open Sea perhaps sleep on sealskin rugs

Sources: The Hawk's Flight, WoE; Hunting, WoE; The Eaten One, ToA; The Wall around the Place, ToA; The Masters of Roke, FS; Hort Town, FS; Kalessin, T; Winter, T; Dolphin, OW

'…he was in a bed, but no such bed as he had ever slept in. It was set upon a frame held by four tall carven legs and the mattresses were great silk sacks of down … and over it all a crimson canopy hung to keep out drafts. On two sides the curtain was tied back … A coverlet of downfilled satin slid aside as Ged sat up…'

[The Hawk's Flight, WoE]

Charcoal stove

A little charcoal stove aboard Lookfar is used for heating wine and, presumably, for cooking food

Sources: Magelight, FS

Related entries: Fuel


See Beds and bedlinen


Also known as: Knife

Daggers and knives are commonly carried as weapons throughout Earthsea. As a boy, Ged has a bronze knife given to him by his father. In Atuan, he carries a steel dagger with a jewelled hilt, sheathed at his hip, which he breaks trying to tunnel to water in the Labyrinth. Lebannen always wears a steel dagger in a sheath. Osskilian freemen wear a long knife at their hip. A pearl-hilted knife is mentioned in the Ninety Isles. Knives are also mentioned as weapons in Ten Alders and Re Albi (Gont), Hort Town (Wathort), Sosara (Lorbanery) and Astowell (made of shell).

One of the One Priestess's traditional accoutrements is a little steel dagger, a miniature of a sacrificial knife with a four-inch blade, worn attached to her ring of keys; it is thrown and caught in one of the dances of the Ceremonies of the darkness. Other uses for knives mentioned include chopping food, carving wood (eg Ogion at Re Albi, Murre on Iffish), pruning vines (Coney on Way) gelding animals (on Gont) and extracting maggots from sheep (Rose of Old Iria)

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; Iffish, WoE; The Man Trap, ToA; Voyage, ToA; The Finder, TfE; Dragonfly, TfE; Palaces, OW


A central firepit, rather than a hearth and chimney, is a feature of many houses, especially rural huts and cottages

'…they sat on the broad coping of the firepit, their feet almost among the coals.'

[Iffish, WoE]


Rooms in noble houses, such as the Court of the Terrenon and the New Palace are furnished with tapestry hangings and bed curtains. Carved window screens and an embroidered chair seat are mentioned in the New Palace (though the throne itself is bare, uncushioned wood). The Dolphin has velvet cushions under canvas awnings, and awnings and striped canvas mats adorn the roof gardens of Havnor City. Vetch's spacious and comfortable house in Iffish has 'much homely wealth of pottery and fine weaving and vessels of bronze and brass on carven shelves and chests.'a Chambers in the Court of the Terrenon and the New Palace are carpeted; the floors of the River House are polished and uncarpeted, while the halls and anterooms of the New Palace have floors of tile, marble or oak. Many of the rooms of the temples/other buildings of the Place of the Tombs on Atuan have tiled floors, sometimes with marble tiles. The Old Mage's House in Re Albi on Gont has a polished oak floor, which is regarded as a luxury. Oak Farm in the Middle Valley on Gont has stone floors; poorer houses and huts have earth floors

Sources: Iffish, WoE (a); The Eaten One, ToA; The Man Trap, ToA; Palaces, OW; The Dragon Council, OW; Dolphin, OW


See Dagger


Also known as: Washing

On Gont, Tenar washes clothes, bedlinen &c at home on a laundry day, using water heated on the fire, and dries them by spreading them out on the grass, weighted with stones. Oak Farm has a soaking tub used for laundry. Soap making is mentioned on Gont

Sources: Hawks, T; Winter, T


Candles, rushlights, lanterns, oil lamps, torches and werelight are all used for lighting in various contexts. Candles are the most frequently mentioned light, sometimes being described as tallow (as opposed to beeswax); miners work with candles bound to their foreheads on Havnor during the Dark Years. Rushlights (feeble lights with a rush wick) are mentioned as nightlights on Atuan. Lanterns are carried on ships and used to light buildings in towns, for example in Ismay and at the School of Wizardry on Roke; they're also mentioned as lighting an outdoor party on Havnor; Arha (Tenar) carries a tin lantern with a candle when she explores the Labyrinth on Atuan, and they're carried outdoors at Re Albi on Gont. Oil lamps light wealthier homes, for example the Old Mage's House at Re Albi, Oak Farm in the Middle Valley, Hare's house in Hort Town & Emer's house on Semel; cabins on the Dolphin are illuminated by pendant glass lamps; an alabaster lamp is mentioned at the New Palace on Havnor; the Temple of the Godking on Atuan is lit by oil lamps burning attar of roses. Tiny heating lamps are mentioned in the magicians' workroom at Roke school, presumably also fueled by oil. Roke school, the castle of the Court of the Terrenon on Osskil, the Room of Chains in the Undertomb Labyrinth on Atuan and the rafts of the Children of the Open Sea are lit by (wooden) torches, which give a reddish smoky light. Torches are also carried in procession in the Long Dance on Roke and similarly on Atuan, as well as by the dancers on Low Torning in the Ninety Isles. A flint and steel is used to make sparks on Atuan and Gont. Wizards often make werelight rather than using non-magical sources of light


Steel and iron are commonly used for implements on the wealthy central islands. Metals are scarce in the Kargad Lands; Kargish soldiers use weapons and armour of bronze, wood and leather, though court armour at the time of the High King is silver mesh. Despite the scarcity of metal, many iron objects (including chains, chests, bolts, keys, a key ring and an iron door) are mentioned at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan, as well as a dagger and ceremonial sword of steel. Many islands in the Reaches, such as the Hands and Obehol, use bronze, copper, wood or stone implements. On the island of Astowell, in the far east, there is no wood, and tools of stone and shell are used, while the ocean-dwelling Children of the Open Sea (raft people) make their implements from whalebone, wood and nilgu (seaweed).

Containers are commonly made of pottery (eg jade-green pitcher, handle-less clay cups, clay bottle & pottery teapot on Gont) or rushwork/wicker. Bronze, brass and copper containers are also mentioned, on Atuan and elsewhere (eg bronze trays for burning herbs and a brass basin for sacrificial blood on Atuan; copper cauldrons in the kitchens at the Roke School of Wizardry; brass vases of perfume in Hort Town; bronze & brass vessels in Vetch's house on Iffish). Glass containers are mentioned occasionally (eg Ged drinks wine from squat cups of thick greenish glass on Gont; Lebannen offers wine in heavy glass goblets aboard the Dolphin and in crystal goblets in the New Palace; Mr Underhill entertains with crystal tableware on Sattins island); windows are glazed at least in wealthier houses; there is a glass lamp in the king's cabin on the Dolphin. A stone jug is mentioned on Atuan. The New Palace has an alabaster lamp.

Gold is used as high-value currency, occasionally for jewellery (eg Lebannen wears a light gold chain; the pirate Egre wears a gold-studded leather collar; Seserakh wears gold rings) and decoration (eg Lebannen's sword sheath has gold inlay); other uses mentioned include gold plates & goblets and a gold key at the Court of the Terrenon (Osskil), a gold-weighted state robe worn by Lebannen, gold breastplates in the hoard on Pendor, the gold roof of the Temple of the God-brothers, assorted treasure at the Tombs of Atuan and the gold covering which once sheathed Morred's High Seat. Silver is used as currency, very commonly for jewellery (eg sorcerers at Roke wear silver cloak clasps; Serret wears a silver net in her hair; Ged wears a silver chain bearing the half Ring of Erreth-Akbe on Atuan, and the ring itself is silver, Lebannen buys a silver brooch for his mother in Thwil) and for decoration (eg the New Palace on Havnor has a table inlaid with silver and ivory); other uses include silver keys (Court of the Terrenon and the Tombs of Atuan), silver-mesh Kargish court armour, a silver tray aboard the Dolphin, silver tableware on Sattins, silver trumpets at the Havnor New Palace, and Sege's silver-tipped staff. Various precious and semi-precious stones are mentioned for jewellery and other decorative uses (eg opals in the Lady of O's hair; seed pearls on Anthil's dress; a dress embroidered with amethysts and topaz in the Atuan treasury; emeralds in the hoard on Pendor; Tosla's ruby earring). Ivory is used for currency, ornaments and toys (eg a carved dolphin in ivory or bone given to Tehanu; ivory dice-sticks), decoration (Yarrow's tapestry-loom on Iffish has an ivory inlay), decorative furniture (eg painted ivory tables and an ivory footstool at the Tombs of Atuan); the back door of the Great House of Roke is fashioned of ivory and horn. Bone figures are mentioned as toys on Gont

Related entries: Building materials


Used for rubbish disposal on Gont

Sources: Kalessin, T


A female market trader in Hort Town wears a feathered headress adorned with many tiny mirrors, presumably of glass. A small mirror of polished brass is mentioned as part of a peddlar's wares, and the surface of water is also described as a mirror

Sources: Hort Town, FS; The Finder, TfE


Mentioned for baking on Gont; baking is listed amongst women's skills

Sources: Kalessin, T


See Beds and bedlinen

Pendulum of Ath

Method of measuring time used in Havnor City; hung high in the Tower of the Kings, it swings for precisely an hour. Presumably invented by Ath

Sources: Palaces, OW

Related entries: Time

Sand clocks

Method of measuring time used in Havnor City, presumably large sand-filled hourglasses; they are housed in the Tower of the Kings. A two-minute sandglass, used to regulate the King's Council, presumably represents a smaller version

Sources: Palaces, OW; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Time


Sand-filled hourglass measuring two minutes, used to regulate the length of speeches at the King's Council; presumably the sand clocks of the Tower of the Kings are larger versions of the same device

Sources: The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Time


See Laundry



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

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