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The Ibbenese are an ancient and taciturn race of men that inhabit the nation of Ibben, composed of the islands of Ib and Far Ib and the town of New Ibbish in northern Essos.[1] Ibbenese are kin to the "Hairy Men" that once inhabited Essos,[2], though it is unknown of the Ibbenese descend from the Hairy Men or if it is the other way around.[3]


The Ibbenese are usually described as hairy[4] and squat, with rasping voices[5].

Yandel mentions they stand apart from other races of mankind and goes into detail describing them as a heavy people broad about the chest and shoulders, seldom standing taller than five and a half feet, with thick, short legs, and long arms. Their faces are characterized by sloping brows with heavy ridges, small sunken eyes, great square teeth, and massive jaws. Their flesh is pale, with dark blue veins beneath the skin. Ibbenese are also the most hirsute people in the known world, with dark and wiry hair. Ibbenese men are heavily bearded and covered in body hair on arms, legs, chests, and backs. Coarse dark hair is also common among their women, even on the upper lip. Ibbenese women are persistently said to have six breasts, but this is false.[1]

According to Yandel, the Ibbenese men can father children upon the women of other races, but products of these unions are often malformed and inevitably sterile, like mules. Ibbenese women, when mated with men of other races, bring forth only stillbirths and monstrosities.[1] However, other maesters speculate the Skagosi may have a strong admixture of Ibbenese blood.[6]


Ibbenese speak their own language, described by Yandel as guttural and grunting tongue.[1]


The Ibbenese were ruled by a God-King until the last one was thrown down in the aftermath of the Doom of Valyria. Today, power lies in the Shadow Council, whose members are chosen by the Thousand, an assembly of wealthy guildsmen, ancient nobles, priests, and priestesses not unlike the Magisters' councils of the Free Cities.[1]

Society and customs

Ibbenese are known as whalers, piloting fat-bellied whaling ships with hulls black with tar, and are a common sight on King's Landing,[7], Oldtown,[4] the Summer Isles, and Volantis.[1]

Though their ships are a common sight in the harbor cities of the world, Ibbenese sailors keep to their own kind even ashore and are deeply suspicious of others. On Ib, men of other races and lands are forbidden to venture beyond Port of Ibben except in the company of an Ibbenese host, but such invitations are exceedingly rare.[1]

The Ibbenese of the woods and mountain are even more wary of strangers than their seafaring brethren and seldom speak tongues other than their own. They are foresters, goatherds, and miners, and make their homes in caves or houses of grey stone dug into the earth and roofed with slate or thatch. Towns and villagers are rare, as these Ibbenese prefer to dwell apart from their fellows, in solitary compounds, and gather only for weddings, burials, and worship.[1]

Their favorite sport is wrestling, at which they excel over the men of Westeros.[1] They are also fond of chewing blubber,[8] They are fond of carrying axes into battle,[9] as well as shaggy brown shields.[10][11]

Some Ibbenese have found employ as sellswords in the Brave Companions.[10]

The Red Book, written by a Yunkish and translated by Maester Elkin, makes passing reference to the fact that many Ibbenese women sold into slavery were deemed too ugly to serve as bed slaves and too savage to use as field hands, for which they ended their days in the fighting pits of Meereen, Yunkai, and Astapor.[1]

Known Ibbenese

Descendants of Ibbenese


There is evidence of Ibbenese settlements on the Axe, the Lorathi isles, and along the shores of the Bitterweed Bay, the Bay of Tusks, Leviathan Sound, and even the Thousand Islands. History also tells of several Ibbenese attempts to seize the mouth of the Sarne which brought them into war with the Sarnori of Saath and Sarys.[1]

Under the rule of the God-Kings, the town of Ib Sar on the isle of Far Ib was raised as place of exile for the most notorious criminals. The God-Kings also succeeded in conquering a huge swath of Essos in the region directly south of Ib, a densely wooded region the Dothraki call the Kingdom of the Ifequevron, after their name by which they knew the race that inhabited this forests and which may have been annihilated by the Ibbenese.[1]

At its greatest extent, the Ibbenese foothold on Essos was as large as Ib itself and far richer. More and more Ibbenese crossed over from the isles to make their fortune, cutting down trees, plowing land, damming the rivers, and mining the hills, until the Dothraki emerged following the Doom of Valyria and began making incursions in the land taken over by the Ibbenese.[1]

The Ibbenese refused to pay tribute to the Dothraki and chose to fight, winning several notable victories, including destroying the huge khalasar of Khal Onqo. However, the Dothraki returned in greater numbers, as each khal sought to eclipse the conquests of the last, pushing the Ibbenese farther and farther north.[1]

Ibbish was first sacked by Khal Scoro, who broke through the Whalebone Gates to loot the temples and treasuries and carried off the city's gods to Vaes Dothrak. The Ibbenese rebuilt, but a generation later the city was sacked again by Khal Rogo, who put the city to the torch, and marched ten thousand women to slavery.[1]

Later on, when Khal Dhako approached to sack the city, the remaining Ibbenese took to their ships and fled back to Ib.[1]

The Ibbenese, however, retained a small foothoild in Essos, on a small peninsula surrounded by the sea and defended by a wooden wall almost as long as the Wall of Westeros, if not as tall. Behind this all, the Ibbenese built New Ibbish.[1]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Hairy men from the Port of Ibben are among the guests who attend the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo.[12]

A Clash of Kings

Upon returning home to Pyke, Theon Greyjoy spies an Ibbenese cog among the ships docked at Lordsport. After going ashore, he then observed Ibbenese sailors.

After making arrangements for Shae to be taken care of at a manse in King's Landing, among those hired by Varys to guard her are two Ibbenese that were fond of one another, according to Tyrion.

Arya Stark observes several Ibbenese sellswords arrive at Harrenhal as part of a mercenary group, the Brave Companions.[10]

A Storm of Swords

An Ibbenese axe-man is among a group of foragers that Nymeria slaughters in the riverlands.[13] Several Ibbenese sellswords of the Brave Companions are encountered by the brotherhood without banners squatting in a remote sept, carrying shaggy brown shields during the ensuing battle.[11]

A Feast for Crows

Togg Joth, an Ibbenese member of the Brave Companions, is currently on the run as one of the last known survivors of the disbanded sellsword company.[14]

A Dance with Dragons

An Ibbenese whaler travelling in the Bay of Seals is commandeered by the commander of Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, Cotter Pyke, on the orders of Lord Commander Jon Snow.[15].

Behind the scenes

The Ibbenese are apparently a relict population of Neanderthals, or some other hominid closely related to Homo sapiens (keeping in mind that Neanderthals actually were not radically different from Homo sapiens). Perhaps because there were once other, radically different non-human races in the world such as the children of the forest and the giants, the humans of Westeros and Essos seem to feel that the Ibbenese are more similar to them than not, so they conceive of the Ibbenese as "humans" (in a broader sense of the term), though they acknowledge that they stand apart from other races of mankind.

The speculation of half-Ibbenese offspring turn ties into the real-life debate over if Homo sapiens and Neanderthals actually could produce viable offspring together.

References and Notes