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Origin of the Safehand (Crack theory?)


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The Vorrin women covering their left hand is incredibly arbitrary. There are some weird taboos surrounding it that don't seem to make sense for the society, especially given the difficulties it adds to the life of the scholars/musicians. More, it's hard on lefties (WoB here), meaning it's the left hand, and not the non-dominant hand.  So why would the Heralds pass on that particular tidbit of wisdom and gender roles to society, compared to stuff like "bathe regularly" and "wash wounds"?

I think it might be sort of silly: one of the Herald women had a malformed, damaged, or mangled left hand, and always kept it covered (malformed is my main choice, since other damage would likely get healed). This mutated into a tradition of "women cover their left hands" in much the same way that "Radiants' eyes turn pale" mutated into "Lighteyes should be the elite ruling class".

Obviously this is sort of a crack theory, but I feel it makes as much sense as anything else?

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I feel like there really are two separate issues here: the genesis of the safehand concept, and why the left hand in particular.

10 hours ago, Necarion said:

So why would the Heralds pass on that particular tidbit of wisdom and gender roles to society, compared to stuff like "bathe regularly" and "wash wounds"?

We have an explicit WoB that the genesis of the safehand concept was meant to allow males to consolidate control over Shardblades, and that the concept itself is traced to an essay (no comment on whether it was a Herald's essay) :


So it relates back to philosophical treaties written in world, long ago, where a woman was saying 'these are feminine arts, these are masculine arts'; that sort of thing. It was partially a way to control access to Shardblades, when Shardblades and Shardplate first entered the-- common people being able to have them because the Knights Radiant had abandoned them. At the same time there was a struggle for power over language, and this happened long ago. Really the reason is "humans are weird".

[Ref here]



Originally, a woman wrote a book about female and male arts, which claimed women could do things like art with one hand while men needed two for their arts, like fighting. Eventually, it evolved and just stuck as a taboo, but it's a cultural thing.

[Ref here]

It's a bit strange to say it's weird - well, of course it is. It's a taboo and taboos don't always have to be logical. There is also a strand of reasoning, which is that it's convenient as a means of keeping (at that time) Shardblades out of female hands. And then eventually the taboo just sticks even after the reasoning for it is gone. I'm not sure that necessarily begs for any particular or additional explanation even though the female philosopher could very well have been a Herald.

As for why the left hand in particular, again, I don't feel as though that particularly cries out for explanation given that most people are right hand dominant and the same issue seems to be true in Alethkar. Right hand grips, left hand guides, especially for a weapon as large as a Shardblade. Stipulating that the non-dominant hand is not to be used is probably an easier ask and still locks them out of Shardblade use.

I like crack theories, just thought I'd engage with some of these :) 

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