KaladinWorldsinger

Sooo... What's with thaylen eyebrows?

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Posted (edited)

What I said in the title. It is a very wierd and specific detail, and this is a series where these kinds of bodily wierdnesses indicate connection, like with vedens and horneaters or with singers and horneaters and herdazians.

So does anybody have any theories on why thaylens have huge flowing, white eyebrows? 

 

Edited by KaladinWorldsinger
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I've always wondered that too, and I can't think of any reason why evolution would do something like that. It also doesn't have anything to do with the Aimians or the Singers, unlike other weird races on Roshar (the Unkalaki, the Herdazians, the Natan, the... Babath?)... maybe the Thaylen are like the Iriali? From elsewhere?

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Well, sexual selection is a thing in evolution. Doesn't have to be practical. The Thaylens might just find long, white eyebrows attractive ...

Who knows, maybe Cultivation sped the process up?

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There might be some creation myth about their eyebrows that explains it, sort of like the story Wit told, the one about the moon and the Natan queen that explains the Natan people's blue skin

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Maybe because Thaylens are mostly merchants and sailors, their ancestors had a deep connection with the spren that supports the movements of chasmfiends and the santhids. They were seen in the Physical Realm as small glowing arrows and they are considered by sailors to be lucky omens IIRC. They are also used as mounts in the Cognitive Realm, pulling the intelligent sprens’ ships. I don’t know, maybe they had more interactions with this type of spren that their eyebrows started to grow similar to characteristics of an arrow. Honestly I’m just reaching for something here but as peoples of Roshan goes, aliens and not, their long eyebrows seem to be unique only to them. I can’t recall any animals from Roshar sporting this uniqueness either. 

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The eyebrows could also have something to do with the Passions. As far as I know, the Thaylens are the main people who worship them, so maybe the eyebrows are part of the culture of the Passions. That would kind of explain why the eyebrows are so unique to the Thaylens, but I'm also just grasping at straws here.

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Posted (edited)

I've always assumed it was something similar to Herdazian fingernails being rocklike or crystalline, and that those features are related to some unknown details about things Heralds did in the ancient past. This idea was mostly formed after reading the Makabaki creation myth about Parasaphi and Nadris in WoK and the story about the Natans' blue skin (in Oathbringer? Anyways, the story referenced by Kvothe, above); the mythologies in Cosmere books have usually been moderately true so far.

At the same time, Brandon has also liked to introduce novel, potential sources of social and cultural distinctions that don't actually matter for anything else, like eye color in the Vorin kingdoms. It wouldn't be terribly surprising to me (though less interesting) if they were just obvious markers characters used to make assumptions about other characters' nationalities and cultures. They do seem tied to Epoch Kingdoms, which makes me further suspect Heralds' involvement or influence in some way, but that wouldn't necessarily mean that they matter.

The Horneater-specific traits are somewhat reliably tied to the perpendicularity in their peaks, but the other places with characteristic physical traits don't have something so obvious: red-headed Vedens, rock-nailed Herdazians, long-eyebrowed Thaylens, pale-skinned, round-eyedShin, particularly dark-skinned Makabaki, and golden-haired Iriali.

Edited by Returned
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3 minutes ago, Returned said:

At the same time, Brandon has also liked to introduce novel, potential sources of social and cultural distinctions that don't actually matter for anything else, like eye color in the Vorin kingdoms.

Yeah your probably right, the eyebrows most likely don't have any real meaning beyond cool/weird cultural traits.

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30 minutes ago, Kvothe the Bloodless said:

the eyebrows most likely don't have any real meaning beyond cool/weird cultural traits.

You're probably right about that. But just for the fun of pursuing this theory a little further:

If there's more to them, it's certainly not (primarily) social or cultural. Of course they could trim them instead of wearing them as they do, but what other race (from Earth or Roshar) has that choice? Ever tried growing your eyebrows like that? :blink:

AFAIK no herald looks Thaylen, so it's likely their specific traits have evolved on Roshar, like Herdazian fingernails etc. That almost certainly means Singer influence.

So my guess would be (if it's NOT just for mere flavor, as is far more likely!), it might be the influence of a specific Singer form we haven't met yet. We know the forms have great influence on hair growth. Yes, their hair tend to be orange, but it looks to me that Singer's appearances are VERY diverse.

Just my two cents...

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, Returned said:

At the same time, Brandon has also liked to introduce novel, potential sources of social and cultural distinctions that don't actually matter for anything else, like eye color in the Vorin kingdoms. It wouldn't be terribly surprising to me (though less interesting) if they were just obvious markers characters used to make assumptions about other characters' nationalities and cultures.

That's my thought on this matter as well!  There's enough layered backstories and histories that Brando is deserving of a few "they look like this because they dos" XD (not that i dont love the histories of the varying peoples!), and this difference feels like one small enough that leaving it unexplained wont effect anything else

Also, I've always thought that maybe in some small part its a nod to Ogier / Loial and his droopy brows - Ogier mannerisms in WoT always bring a smile to my face : )

Edited by Anomander Rake
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3 minutes ago, Anomander Rake said:

Also, I've always thought that maybe in some small part its a nod to Ogier / Loial and his droopy brows

Hehehe, I hadn't thought of that before

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45 minutes ago, Returned said:

At the same time, Brandon has also liked to introduce novel, potential sources of social and cultural distinctions that don't actually matter for anything else, like eye color in the Vorin kingdoms

But isn't eye color regarded well in the culture because of the memory of radiants? It's not something random with no explanation

 

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Posted (edited)

I can't remember the biology term, but if most of a population gets killed it can drastically reduce the gene pool causing the descendants to exhibit a fraction of the genetic variance of the old populace. The physical characteristics of the different Rosharan cultures seem extremely homogenous within each culture, even taking into count the Parshendi heritage of Horneaters and Herdazians (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/451/#e14463) likely introduced at least 3-4 thousand years previously.

With the Desolations causing mass culling of the population and setbacks in technology, closing of the Oathgates, and loss of Surgebinding transportation methods, I'd guess that at some point there were groups of people scattered across the planet with very poor methods of traveling without getting annihilated by Highstorms. Populations and technology developed, but because traveling in a world of Highstorms is a tricky and expensive business, the different cultures largely remained homogenous with genetics from intermarriages quickly getting diluted back to the dominant culture, because generally most people marry someone very near geographically, especially if communication is limited.

So... I think that @Wrae and @Returned both make viable arguments. It probably has a writerly reason at the core. Maybe Thaylens just find long flowing luscious eyebrows really attractive, but I could also see the option that the Thaylens who rebuilt Thaylenah the last Desolation just had long eyebrows for some reason and all of their descendants do as well. Maybe there was someone notable that at that point in time they aspired to be like, so they cultivated the eyebrows rather than trimmed them.

Edited by Duxredux
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Posted (edited)

27 minutes ago, KaladinWorldsinger said:

But isn't eye color regarded well in the culture because of the memory of radiants? It's not something random with no explanation

As I recall (I can't find the interview or WoB that I think established this, so take it for what it's worth) the concept of it was introduced because Brandon thought that it would make for a more interesting story to have the arbitrary class division in the mix. The scenario followed that interest, and I don't think that the way that Alethi, Vedens, and Thaylens think of eye color is less arbitrary and meaningless just because it's based on something the Alethi don't remember very well.

It's arbitrary based on a basically irrelevant detail that the culture doesn't even remember outside of the tradition itself; pretty much anything else associated with the Radiants is a thing that their culture opposes. Eye color not an indicator of capacity in the same sense that, say, a glowing, silver-skinned Elantrian indicates someone with specific traits in Elantris. Kaladin is a great leader long before his eyes lighten, while Elhokar and Roshone are less talented. That's what I mean when I say it doesn't matter-- it's how things are in-setting, but may be following a narrative desire of the author's rather than a meaningful detail with deep, plot-significant relation to the setting.

 

BUT WAIT! @Erklitt's post made me think of one analogous detail that might be relevant. The Herdazian fingernails remind me a little bit of Ryshadium's stone hooves: a meaningful physical change in what was previously an ordinary creature. The Ryshadium are horses bonded with songspren, and we don't know if they breed true (though it kind of seems like they might). I doubt that whole nations of humans are bonded with spren in any real way, but what if ancient human groups did something similar but later stopped or lost the ability, and these traits are just vestiges? We don't know much of anything about Surgebinding without Radiant-style bonds and Honorblades, other than that it exists. We do know that using a Soulcaster changes physical features too... well, I guess this is all going to be a RAFO anyways, so we'll have to wait to see.

 

Quote

I can't remember the biology term, but if most of a population gets killed it can drastically reduce the gene pool causing the descendants to exhibit a fraction of the genetic variance of the old populace.

@Duxredux Maybe you're thinking of allopatric speciation? It doesn't require the population to die off, just to become physically separated, which would suit what you're saying. <4,000 years is kind of quick for it, though of course magic, etc. But I think that you're right and we shouldn't rule it out. The reliability of the traits in specific nations is a significant detail.

Edited by Returned
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15 minutes ago, Returned said:

@Duxredux Maybe you're thinking of allopatric speciation? It doesn't require the population to die off, just to become physically separated, which would suit what you're saying. <4,000 years is kind of quick for it, though of course magic, etc. But I think that you're right and we shouldn't rule it out. The reliability of the traits in specific nations is a significant detail.

Yes, that's the one. I think the class where I was taught about it gave both a reduction of the population and a division of the population as examples, and I remembered only the first. In this case, both may have happened, though with the separation it probably doesn't matter if they got killed off too.

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The eyebrows would probably be more like a founder effect (where an otherwise rare trait becomes common in an isolated population derived from few ancestors, since one or more of those ancestors had that trait) than allopatric speciation, since the Thaylens aren't nearly distinct enough to be forming a different species from regular humanity.

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Isn't Thaylena colder than the rest of Roshar? I always think of icicles when their eyebrows are mentioned. I also want to picture them as blue, but that's the Nathan's, so maybe I'm just crazy.

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On 5/2/2022 at 3:22 PM, Kvothe the Bloodless said:

The eyebrows could also have something to do with the Passions. As far as I know, the Thaylens are the main people who worship them, so maybe the eyebrows are part of the culture of the Passions. That would kind of explain why the eyebrows are so unique to the Thaylens, but I'm also just grasping at straws here.

I’ve been wondering if there is a connection between “the Passions” and the fact that Odium was the god of humanity when they arrived to Roshar (who values passion, and considered that a core aspect of his Intent, at least as Rayse).

Whether the eyebrows are somehow a reflection of that, who knows… It certainly doesn’t indicate any lingering ties to Odium, as we see them also worshiping the Heralds as well as forming Radiant bonds.

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I definitely think the passions could be related to odium, as the parshendi also talk about passions(but not the).

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On 02/05/2022 at 9:06 PM, Erklitt said:

AFAIK no herald looks Thaylen, so it's likely their specific traits have evolved on Roshar, like Herdazian fingernails etc. That almost certainly means Singer influence.

There are some Singer forms which have hair strands. Maybe Thaylan eyebrows came from them.

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Posted (edited)

On 4/30/2022 at 8:49 AM, KaladinWorldsinger said:

So does anybody have any theories on why thaylens have huge flowing, white eyebrows? 

First, I'll restate that we know:

  • The Iriali migrated to Roshar, but not from Ashyn
  • The Sleepless and Siah also likely emigrated from somewhere other than Ashyn
  • The Natan people are Human/Siah hybrids
  • Unkalaki and Herdazians are Singer/Human hybrids

We also know:

  • 16 is the number of Preservation (maybe Scadrial)
  • 10 is the number of Honor

So, I noticed this on a Row Reread (Ch 69)

Quote

The Alethi traditionally used a ten-note scale—though it was more accurately two five-note quintaves. This was right and orderly, and the greatest and most famous compositions were all in this scale. However, it wasn’t the only scale in use around the world. There were dozens. The Thaylens, for example, preferred a twelve-note scale. A strange number, but the twelve steps were mathematically pleasing.

I wonder if that indicates they either migrated from a Shardic system affiliated with the number 12, or are hybrids with immigrants from such a location. This WoB notes:

Spoiler

Aethers are from the "12" world

Quote

Brandon Sanderson

<snip>

But it was a nice number for what I wanted to do; not too big, not too small, and I liked how the divisions broke down. And I knew I was going to do 10 with Roshar by that point. If I was gonna pick 10, I would have to use 10 again in Mistborn, which I could do, but I wanted to have different themes. I wanted their tables and math to look a little different visually on the page, since they were two pillars. So 10 and 16 felt like the two good pillars. The Aether world is a 12 world, so we'll have a 12 also. The Aether world does not play into things nearly as much, but it'll depend on how many books I write using the Aethers in the future.

 

 

Edited by Treamayne
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On 5/3/2022 at 1:43 AM, Duxredux said:

I can't remember the biology term, but if most of a population gets killed it can drastically reduce the gene pool causing the descendants to exhibit a fraction of the genetic variance of the old populace. The physical characteristics of the different Rosharan cultures seem extremely homogenous within each culture, even taking into count the Parshendi heritage of Horneaters and Herdazians (https://wob.coppermind.net/events/451/#e14463) likely introduced at least 3-4 thousand years previously.

With the Desolations causing mass culling of the population and setbacks in technology, closing of the Oathgates, and loss of Surgebinding transportation methods, I'd guess that at some point there were groups of people scattered across the planet with very poor methods of traveling without getting annihilated by Highstorms. Populations and technology developed, but because traveling in a world of Highstorms is a tricky and expensive business, the different cultures largely remained homogenous with genetics from intermarriages quickly getting diluted back to the dominant culture, because generally most people marry someone very near geographically, especially if communication is limited.

So... I think that @Wrae and @Returned both make viable arguments. It probably has a writerly reason at the core. Maybe Thaylens just find long flowing luscious eyebrows really attractive, but I could also see the option that the Thaylens who rebuilt Thaylenah the last Desolation just had long eyebrows for some reason and all of their descendants do as well. Maybe there was someone notable that at that point in time they aspired to be like, so they cultivated the eyebrows rather than trimmed them.

I think I got all of that, except this part right here:

"so they cultivated the eyebrows rather than trimmed them."

How the hell did they cultivate their eyebrows?! By not trimming?! Are you telling me that there are people out there who need to trim their eyebrow hair when it gets too long!?!

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Posted (edited)

9 hours ago, Honorless said:

I think I got all of that, except this part right here:

"so they cultivated the eyebrows rather than trimmed them."

How the hell did they cultivate their eyebrows?! By not trimming?! Are you telling me that there are people out there who need to trim their eyebrow hair when it gets too long!?!

Would you trim your eyebrows if they were so long that you could tuck them behind your ears? I probably would. I have normal length eyebrows and they get caught in my glasses hinge. I have no idea how it happens but it has more than once. It hasn't been annoying to the point that I shaved them off, but mine are a fraction of the length of Thaylen eyebrows. At some cultural level they decided to embrace the eyebrows instead of cut them, otherwise they wouldn't be so iconic. Long eyebrows are way easier to remove as a racial indicator than crystalline fingernails. 

As for cultivating long eyebrows, I have no idea what would work because we just don't do that IRL, but I assume it would be a similar to people who try to grow long eyelashes, or anyone who has a care routine to maintain healthy hair longer than a couple inches. Hair growth and maintenance are two different categories I think. 

Fashion can definitely encourage behavior that others would find unusual. Long eyebrows are way less physically harmful than IRL footbinding or the neck rings of Padaung women (don't look up either term if skeletal structure displacement disturbs you). Various cultures have had fashion practices cultivating a physical look specific to their people for a long time. Me personally, I advocate comfort as a major requirement of fashion.

Edited by Duxredux
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Posted (edited)

The eyebrows confuse me too. Can a Thay

lan have children with a Veden or other regions? What do people in border zones look like? Are there humonoid spren that have Theylan eyebrows? Are Theylans "from" Ashyn or are they a separate migrant group? 

----

Quote

As for cultivating long eyebrows, I have no idea what would work because we just don't do that IRL, but I assume it would be a similar to people who try to grow long eyelashes, or anyone who has a care routine to maintain healthy hair longer than a couple inches. Hair growth and maintenance are two different categories I think. 

As for this, hair follicles have built in when-to-fall-out instructions. This sometimes goes faulty in individual hairs, but all in all hair has terminal length. 

Edited by teknopathetic
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On 4/30/2022 at 11:12 AM, Wrae said:

Well, sexual selection is a thing in evolution. Doesn't have to be practical. The Thaylens might just find long, white eyebrows attractive ...

Who knows, maybe Cultivation sped the process up?

This is what I was thinking too. Like any man, I like a good set of brows. So maybe they are like “oh baby them brows be loooong” *shweng*

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