Qarth

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Qarth
port, city-state
Qarth HBO.jpg
Location red waste, Essos
Government Pureborn , oligarchy.
Religion Mixed religions
Founded in ancient times
Notable places House of the Undying, Hall of a Thousand Thrones, Temple of Memory, triple walls, port
Organizations Thirteen, Tourmaline Brotherhood, Ancient Guild of Spicers, Sorrowful Men, warlocks

Qarth is an ancient port city located on the southern coast of Essos. Situated on the Jade Gates in a central location between the Summer and Jade Seas, Qarth is a gateway of commerce and culture between the east and west, and the north and south.[1]

Brimming with wealth, the city's architecture makes a grand display. It is home to warlocks and merchant princes, and nominally ruled by the Pureborn. However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers are also involved in the governance of the city. It has been referred to as the Queen of Cities,[2] a title also claimed by Yunkai.[3]

About

Location

Qarth is located in The Known World
Qarth
The known world and the location of Qarth
See also: Images of Qarth

Qarth is located to the southeast of Lhazar and the red waste and southwest of the Bone Mountains. Just east of Qarth is the small island of Qal, while the large island Great Moraq is to the south. The great Slaver Cities of Meereen, Astapor, and Yunkai are further to the west of Qarth.

Qarth is on the Jade Gates, which link the Summer Sea to the fabled Jade Sea. The Sand Road connects Qarth north to Bayasabhad, while other routes lead east to Asabhad and west to Qarkash.[4] Qarth's prime position makes it the gateway between the lands of Westeros, Free Cities and Slaver's Bay, and more eastern lands such as Asshai, the Shadow Lands, and Yi Ti. Qarth has been described as the center of the world.[1]

The power of Qarth extends west to Qarkash and Port Yhos and at least as far east as Qal. Several Qaathi colonies to the north were destroyed by the Dothraki during the Century of Blood, however. These include the ruins of Vaes Orvik, Vaes Shirosi, Vaes Qosar, and possibly Vaes Tolorro.[5]

Wealth

Qarth. © FFG

Having remained a crucial commerce point for centuries, Qarth brims with wealth and the city's architecture makes a grand display. Its buildings are painted in shades of rose, violet, and umber. Its streets are lined with bronze statues, its fountains are carved to form the shapes of fantastic creatures, and its thoroughfares are lined with arches of bronze decorated in precious stones.

Rulers

Qarth is nominally ruled by the Pureborn, who are seated in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones. They deal with all matters of civic importance, commanding the Civic Guard and the fleet of ornate war galleys which rule the straits between the seas. However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood ,and the Ancient Guild of Spicers all attempt and jostle to play a role in the governance and political machinations of the city.

Qartheen spice ships can be as big as palaces.[6] The Qartheen camelry riders wear scaled copper armor and snouted helms with copper tusks and long black silk plumes. They sit high on saddles inlaid with rubies and garnets. Their camels are dressed in blankets of a hundred different hues.[1]

Buildings

Buildings in Qarth crowd about as a fever dream in shades of rose, violet, and umber. Decoration includes a bronze arch fashioned in the likeness of two snakes mating, their scales are delicate flakes of jade, obsidian and lapis lazuli. Slim towers stand tall, and elaborate fountains fill every square, wrought in the shapes of griffins and dragons and manticores.

There is a great arcade where the heroes of the city stand three times as large as they did in life atop columns of green and white marble.[1] There is a cavernous building whose latticework ceiling is home to a thousand gaily coloured birds. Trees and flowers bloom on the terrace walls above the bazaar’s stalls, while below it seems as if everything the gods have put into the world is for sale.

  • Hall of a Thousand Thrones, the seat of government in Qarth. The Pureborn rule from this place, sitting atop their wooden chairs, rising in curved tiers. It has marble floors and a high-domed ceiling painted with past events from Qarth's history. The chairs are large, carved and gilded with goldwork, lapis, onyx, jade and amber. No two are the same.[7]
  • Temple of Memory, the site of traditional sacrifices.[7]
  • House of the Undying, the center of power for the warlocks of Qarth. It is also known colloquially as the Palace of Dust.[8]

Port

Main article: Port of Qarth

The city possesses one of the greatest ports in the world. It is a sheltered harbor full of colours, with large stone quays reserved for the ships of the various trade guilds and at the far end of the harbor are the quays left for the ships that come from a far.[9]

Winesinks, warehouses, gaming dens, cheap brothels, and temples to peculiar gods all cluster together. All manner of people from cutpurses and cutthroats to spellsellers and moneychangers mingle amongst folk hawking their wares at the waterfront that acts like a massive never-closing marketplace where goods (usually stolen) can be had at a fraction of what they cost at a bazaar.[8]

Qarth city walls

Defenses

Main article: Triple walls of Qarth

Qarth is surrounded by three thick walls of thirty, forty, and fifty feet in height, respectively engraved with portraits of animals, war, and lovemaking.[1] The triple walls of Qarth is one of the nine wonders made by man reported in the book, Wonders Made by Man, by Lomas Longstrider.[10] The three walls of Qarth have not been used for defense in centuries, but they still stand, representing the power of the city.

Qartheen

General Populace

Descending from the Qaathi, Qartheen are a tall and pale people, called Milk Men by the Dothraki for their complexion.[1] They pride themselves on their sophistication and consider weeping in times of strong emotion to be a mark of civilization. Qartheen seat themselves on cushions on the floor.[1] Wealthy merchants of Qarth sometimes wear jewels on their noses.[9]

The Qartheen fashion for women leaves one breast exposed, while men favor beaded silk skirts. Warriors of Qarth wear scaled, copper armor and snouted-helms with copper tusks and long, black silk plumes and some of its guards ride camels.[1]

The Undying of Qarth

Qarth is most famous for its warlocks, known as the Undying of Qarth, who are feared and respected throughout the East. Like the Alchemists' Guild of the Seven Kingdoms, however, the warlocks' power and prestige have waned over the years. Most warlocks have blue lips. They drink shade-of-the-evening, which makes their lips turn blue.[1] The warlocks stronghold and seat of power is the House of the Undying, which house the Undying Ones, the most mysterious and likely the most ancient and powerful of all warlocks.[1]

There is a saying in Qarth, "A warlock's house is built of bones and lies."[1]

Sorrowful Men

Qarth is also home to a guild of assassins known as the Sorrowful Men, who whisper, "I am so sorry," just before they kill their victims.[7]

Marriage

Qartheen husbands and wives retain their possessions after marriage, but there is a marriage custom on the day of the wedding. A groom may ask for any one item from his bride’s possessions and the bride may ask for any one item of the groom’s possessions. Whatever is asked by either cannot be refused and is considered to now belong to the other. This is seen as a gift of devotion by the bride and groom to each other.[7]

Slaves

The Qartheen practice slavery in the city.[2]

History

Qarth claims to be the birthplace of civilization.[11] It is the sole surviving city-state established by the Qaathi people, who rose in the grasslands of central Essos—known today as the Dothraki sea—and founded city-states as they moved southeast.[12] Ancient Qarth was ruled by kings and queens, the ancestors of the Pureborn.[7] Jar Han, an emperor of Yi Ti, exacted tribute from Qarth.[13]

The new lands of the Qaathi turned into the red waste, however, and their civilization declined.[12] During the Century of Blood, Dothraki pushed into the red waste and destroyed all of the remaining Qaathi cities save for Qarth.[12]

Forced to look to the sea, the Pureborn who ruled Qarth swiftly constructed a fleet and took control of the Jade Gates, the strait between Qarth and Great Moraq. With the Valyrian fleet destroyed and Volantis focused on conquering the Free Cities of western Essos, no one opposed the Qartheen as they established their control over the most direct route between west and east, thus gaining immense wealth on both trade and levied tolls.[12]

In the last of his nine voyages aboard the Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon brought a shipload of gold to Qarth, where he purchased twenty more ships. Filled with spices, elephants, and silk, most of the ships returned to Westeros.[14] Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium describes Qarth and the Jade Sea.[15]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Samwell Tarly mentions the city to Jon Snow, telling Jon that in one of his efforts to cure Sam of his timidity Lord Randyll Tarly once brought two warlocks from Qarth to his castle at Horn Hill.[16]

Khal Drogo dreams of the day when he might sack the great cities of the east, including Qarth.[1]

Before Drogo's body is burnt on his funeral pyre, Ser Jorah Mormont begs Daenerys Targaryen to come east with him, to Yi Ti, Qarth, the Jade Sea, and Asshai by the Shadow, to see all the wonders yet unseen.[17]

A Clash of Kings

Three representatives of Qarth—Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Quaithe—accompany Jhogo back to Vaes Tolorro after he is sent by Daenerys to discover what lies near the abandoned city.[9] The emissaries escort Daenerys and her khalasar to Qarth. A column of camelry emerge from the city as Daenerys's honor guards upon her arrival. On entering Qarth, Daenerys thinks the magnificence of the city cannot be denied.[1] Her three young dragons are a marvel in the ancient city.[9][1][7]

Queen Daenerys Targaryen returns to Xaro's palace after her audience with the Pureborn - by Mustamirri ©

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a member of the Thirteen, offers Dany the hospitality of his palace while she and her khalasar are in Qarth. Under his guidance Daenerys seeks an audience with the Pureborn to plea with them in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones for their fleet of galleys, or part of it and some of their soldiers.[7] The Pureborn refuse her, however.

Xaro sees to it that the great and the humble alike offer some token to Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons. She receives gifts from throughout the known world, selling all except for a crown wrought in the shape of a three-headed dragon given to her by the Tourmaline Brotherhood.[7]

After having been refused by the Pureborn Daenerys agrees to go with Pyat Pree to visit the House of the Undying.[1] While inside Drogon destroys the building when Daenerys is attacked by the Undying Ones. After its destruction, ghost grass is found growing in the Garden of Gehane and phantom tortoises are seen carrying messages between the windowless houses on Warlock's Way.[8]

Daenerys is soon forced to flee Qarth after the Tourmaline Brotherhood, the Ancient Guild of Spicers and the Pureborn demand her expulsion and possible assassination after the destruction of the House of the Undying.[8] Only Xaro's influence prevents the Thirteen from adding their voices to that of the other trade guilds and the city's rulers.

A Storm of Swords

In Meereen Ser Jorah Mormont admits to Daenerys that the last report that he made to Varys was one from Qarth. She is taken aback as she hoped his spying had ended much earlier.[18]

A Feast For Crows

At the Quill and Tankard in Oldtown Leo Tyrell informs his fellow students, Pate, Mollander, Alleras, Armen, and Roone that sailors who have visited Qarth are speaking of Daenery's dragons.[19]

A Dance with Dragons

Xaro Xhoan Daxos arrives in Meereen as a representative of Qarth to visit Queen Daenerys to persuade her to sail for Westeros. Her presence has disrupted the slave trade which many Essosi cities, including Qarth, depend on. He brings a gift of thirteen ships, stating that they are hers on the condition she sails from Slaver's Bay to Westeros. Daenerys has the thirteen ships Xaro brought inspected, but later refuses the offer. Xaro's reply is to leave a bloodstained glove on a satin pillow, indicating Qarth has declared war on her.[2]

Pale Qartheen are among those who come to Meereen to battle in Daznak's Pit.[20]

The Winds of Winter

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Warning
This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.

As the second siege of Meereen resumes Tyrion Lannister hears the sounds of warships crashing and clashing on Slaver's Bay, as well as the queer high whistles of the Qartheen fleet. The Qartheen camel corps may be taking part in the battle being fought beneath the city.[21]

Quotes

Qarth is the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. It is the center of the world, the gate between north and south, the bridge between east and west, ancient beyond memory of man and so magnificent that Saathos the Wise put out his eyes after gazing upon Qarth for the first time, because he knew that all he saw thereafter should look squalid and ugly by comparison.[1]
Pyat Pree to Daenerys Targaryen


These are strange times in Qarth. And strange times are bad for trade.[8]
Xaro Xhoan Daxos, to Daenerys Targaryen


Qarth was one of the world's great ports, its great sheltered harbor a riot of color and clangor and strange smells.[8]
– thoughts of Daenerys Targaryen


Consider Qarth. In art, music, magic, trade, all that makes us more than beasts, Qarth sits above the rest of mankind as you sit at the summit of this pyramid ... but below, in place of bricks, the magnificence that is the Queen of Cities rests upon the backs of slaves.[2]
Xaro Xhoan Daxos, to Daenerys Targaryen


Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold.[22]
Hizdahr zo Loraq, to Daenerys Targaryen


Qartheen have milk in their veins.[22]
Daario Naharis, to Daenerys Targaryen

References and Notes


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