Dornishmen are the natives of Dorne in the southernmost part of Westeros. They have a reputation for hot-bloodedness and sexual licentiousness. They are viewed with some mistrust and rivalry by the people of the Dornish Marches in the neighboring stormlands and the Reach. Dornish bastards of noble origin are given the surname Sand.
In Dorne, the descent from the Rhoynar is strongest. The Rhoynar were a slender people with smooth olive skin, black hair and dark eyes. Their impact on the Dornish gene pool is strongest along the coast, and grows faint farther inland. Dornishmen with more Andal and First Men blood are larger and fairer than those with more Rhoynish blood.
- Salty Dornishmen live along the coasts, mainly along the Broken Arm region, where the Red Mountains stretch out into the Sea of Dorne. These Dornishmen are lithe and dark, with smooth olive skin and long black hair, having been most strongly influenced by the Rhoynar. The Martells of Sunspear would be considered salty Dornishmen.
- Sandy Dornishmen live in the deserts and the long river valleys. With faces burned brown by the hot Dornish sun, they are even darker than the salty Dornishmen. These may include the Ullers and Qorgyles, Houses which were founded by adventurers who braved the deserts.
- Stony Dornishmen live in the passes and heights of the Red Mountains. They have the most Andal and First Men blood. Some stony Dornishmen might follow Andal rather than Rhoynar laws of inheritance. They are fair of skin, freckle or burn in the sun, and have brown or blond hair. These include the Yronwoods with their blond hair and blue eyes, the yellow-haired Fowlers, and the pale blond or dark-haired Daynes.
Additionally, a fourth, smaller group exists. The orphans of the Greenblood are pure Rhoynar who ply the Greenblood in poleboats. Despite attempts by the Red Princes to extirpate it by outlawing it, they are said to still speak the Rhoynish language discretely.
Arya Stark, a northern girl, grew up being told that all Dornishmen are small and swarthy, with black hair and small black eyes. Rohanne Webber also mistakenly believed that all Dornishmen are small.
Dornish culture has First Men and Andal origins, but is also strongly influenced by the mass immigration of the Rhoynar who settled in Dorne during the Rhoynar migration. Their influence can be observed in many Dornish customs, including the laws of inheritance. In Dorne, unlike the other six kingdoms, no distinction is made between sons and daughters. Instead, children inherit in order of birth regardless of gender, as per Rhoynish custom. In the case of an inheriting female, her last name will be passed on to her children, instead of the name of her husband.
Furthermore, views on bastardy are milder in Dorne compared to the rest of Westeros. Especially when a child is born to a paramour, the Dornish are not greatly concerned if a child is born in wedlock or out of it. Many lords and some ladies in Dorne have paramours, and homosexuality is more accepted.
The Dornish speak the Common Tongue, as does the rest of the Seven Kingdoms. But unlike in the other kingdoms, their speech is marked by the influences of the language of the Rhoynar. This influence can be found all over Dorne, but most strongly among the salty Dornishmen, who have the most Rhoynish blood. The Dornish speak with a Dornish drawl, stretching, rolling, or lilting some words. Some describe the Dornish speech as charming. The Marcher lords often claim to find the Dornish accent impossible to understand, however.
Dornish armor is heavily enameled and inlaid with burnished copper, shining silver, and soft red gold, with cloaks over it to keep the sun off. Similarly, it is Dornish fashion to wrap helmets in long scarfs, to prevent the sun from beating down upon it.
When crossing the deserts of Dorne during daytime, veils are used to keep the sands out of their faces.
Dornish prefer spicy food. Snake sauce preferably has a drop of venom in it, as well as mustard seeds and dragon peppers. The Dornish produce their own wines, often called "Dornish reds". These wines are generally sour, though they occasionally can be more rich of taste. Strongwines from Dorne are as dark as blood, with a sweet taste.
Dornishmen prefer round metal shields, spears, short throwing spears or double-curved bows.
Fabled are the Dornish sand steeds. These horses are slim and swift, with elegant heads, long necks, and flowing manes. They are considered to be the most beautiful horses in the Seven Kingdoms. They are smaller than regular warhorses and lightboned, and so are unable to bear the weight of armor. However, they can run for near two days and a night before tiring, needing only a few drinks of water over the course of a day and a night.
The least populous of the Seven Kingdoms, the Dornish seem to favor different tactics in battle than the rest of the realm. The warm climate of Dorne and the scarcity of water in the desert make the movement and supply of a large army difficult. This has proven to have been an advantage during wars, as many hosts which have entered Dorne over time have withered and broiled on the hot red Dornish sands. For example, many of the men from Lord Harlen Tyrell's host died of sun and thirst during their march on Hellholt during the First Dornish War.
The Dornish have often fought across the Red Mountains and the Dornish Marches with the Reach and the stormlands. The Dornish fought House Targaryen in several wars, including the First Dornish War and the conquest of Dorne. They finally joined the Seven Kingdoms during the reign of King Daeron II Targaryen. The presence of Dornishmen in Daeron's court was one of the causes of the First Blackfyre Rebellion, however.
A Storm of Swords
Prince Oberyn Martell leads a party of three hundred Dornishmen from throughout Dorne to King's Landing. To avoid offending Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, after Oberyn's death, Lord Tywin Lannister refuses to detain these Dornishmen.
A Feast for Crows
Behind the Scenes
Dornishmen and Highgardeners had never had great love for one another; over the centuries, they had fought border wars beyond count, and raided back and forth across mountains and marches even when at peace.
Of late the king had been repeating little jests about the Dornish that he'd picked up from Mace Tyrell's men-at-arms. How many Dornishmen does it take to shoe a horse? Nine. One to do the shoeing, and eight to lift the horse up. Somehow Tyrion did not think Doran Martell would find that amusing.
Dornishmen fight best at home, so I say let us hone our spears and wait. When the Lannisters and the Tyrells come down on us, we shall bleed them in the passes and bury them beneath the blowing sands, as we have a hundred times before.
Remember, she is Dornish. In the Reach men said it was the food that made Dornishmen so hot-tempered and their women so wild and wanton. Fiery peppers and strange spices heat the blood, she cannot help herself.—thoughts of Arys Oakheart
—thoughts of Cersei Lannister
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs of the South.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 43, Arya VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: The Andals Arrive.
- So Spake Martin: Concerning Dorne (October 28, 2001)
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 40, Princess In The Tower.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 34, Arya VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 21, The Queenmaker.
- The Sworn Sword.
- So Spake Martin: Dromen & Demonen Chat (April 23, 2002)
- A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
- A Storm of Swords, Appendix.
- So Spake Martin: The Martell Name's Inheritance (June 13, 2001)
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1, Tyrion I.
- A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 45, Samwell V.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 2, The Captain Of Guards.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 38, The Watcher.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Queer Customs in the South.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Dorne: Dorne Against the Dragons.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Daeron II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72, Jaime IX.
- So Spake Martin: Historical Influences for Dorne (February 29, 2000)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.