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A Dothraki khalasar on the move.

"The Dothraki do things in their own time, for their own reasons."
Jorah Mormont to Daenerys Targaryen[src]

The Dothraki are a race of nomadic horse-mounted warriors in Essos, the continent to the east of Westeros across the Narrow Sea. They inhabit the vast central plains of Essos, known as the Dothraki sea. They are said to be born, fight, and die in the saddle.


The Dothraki are divided into several nameless clans known as khalasars, led by a single leader, the khal. The khalasars roam the Dothraki Sea, always on the move looking for new pasture lands and new targets for plundering. The Dothraki frequently raid neighboring regions, such as Lhazar to the southeast or the Free Cities to the west. The Dothraki live by taking what they need including supplies, valuables, and new captives to serve them as slaves. The Dothraki respect force, and thus only respect those who are able to successfully resist them, while conquered slaves deserve only contempt.[1] The Dothraki are usually dismissive of infantry (with the notable exception of the elite Unsullied warrior-eunuch legions).

The Dothraki traditionally fight with curved swords known as arakhs, and also employ bolas, daggers, whips or huge, recurved bows with impressive range and striking power that can be fired from horseback. They also shun armor, considering speed and freedom of movement to be more important in battle. Warriors braid their hair and only cut it when defeated, so the world may see their shame.  As light cavalry, their attacks are extremely fast and deadly, but they are vulnerable to archers and on the ground they are less effective against armored infantry despite their speed.  However, they seldom attack on foot except for individual combat, so they usually retain the advantage.[1]

The only Dothraki city is Vaes Dothrak, located to the far north-east of the Dothraki sea. It is ruled by the Dosh khaleen, crones and wise women who were once the wives of now dead khals.  All Dothraki commerce (with fellow Dothraki and other Essos peoples) is done in the marketplaces of the city, and all sacred rituals are conducted there. Drawing weapons or shedding blood is forbidden inside Vaes Dothrak, although there are loopholes to the unspoken rule of not killing anyone.[1]

Dothraki do not trust salt water, because their horses cannot drink it. The literal term for ocean in the Dothraki language is "poison water". They refuse to sail in ships over the oceans. Thus they are not considered a threat by the Westerosi because they will not cross the Narrow Sea.  However, Drogo was willing to consider it when provoked enough, and what was left of Daenery's khalasar (about 100 Dothraki) loyally made the journey across Slaver's Bay with her, though many became ill because they were unaccustomed to sea travel.[1]


It is said that the Dothraki "don't believe in money", instead taking what they want through raiding (which includes enslaving defeated peoples). The two resources they actually have on the plains of the Dothraki Sea are miles upon miles of grass, and horses. As people can't eat grass, the main staples of the Dothraki diet are horse meat and fermented mare's milk.

What material wealth or precious objects they do possess have been acquired through raiding surrounding nations such as the Free Cities, Slaver's Bay, or Lhazar; or from raiding other Dothraki hordes to take their plunder secondhand. The Dothraki do not so much function on the barter system, as they use the honor system: they frown upon "trade" but honor the exchange of gifts, such as tribute. Long ago the Free Cities decided that it was often less destructive to just give the Dothraki massive tributes in gold, finished products, and slaves, than to try to fight them off (though a Dothraki horde might still attack if they find the tribute insufficient, or if they just haven't had a good fight in a while). The Dothraki will not reciprocate these "gifts" on an immediate quid pro quo trade system. However, they will as a rule keep their word to eventually give a gift which they have promised, though they will do it in their own time.

In practice, however, if a Dothraki horde has a particular need for a resource that it cannot obtain through direct raiding, i.e. new armor and weapons, they will resort to actual "barter" by trading slaves they have captured in return for finished products from the Free Cities or Slaver's Bay.


See Main Article: Great Stallion

Mirroring the importance of the horse in their culture, the Dothraki religion worships a deity known as the Great Stallion.

Dothraki religion also rejects the employment of blood magic. For this reason, maegi are distrusted and hated by Dothraki.

Dothraki language

See Main Article: Dothraki (language)

The Dothraki have their own language, which is quite different from the Common Tongue of Westeros. There is no word for "thank you" in Dothraki.

Important Dothraki terminology:

  • Khal - Dothraki warlord.
  • Khaleesi - The wife of the khal.
  • Khalasar - Dothraki clan or tribe, led by a khal.
  • Ko - Kos are lieutenants of a khal, commanding subdivisions of a khalasar. On the death of a khal, a ko may try to become the new khal, or split off his own riders to form a new, smaller khalasar.
  • Bloodrider - a Dothraki warrior that has pledged his life to the service of a khal. A khal and his bloodriders address each other as Qoy Qoyi ("Blood of my blood").
  • Me nem nesa - "It is known."[2]

Known Dothraki

  • {Drogo}, son of Bharbo, the Khal of one of the largest khalasars. Smothered by Daenerys Targaryen after a healing ritual left him in vegetative state.
  • {Qotho}, bloodrider to Khal Drogo. Killed by Ser Jorah Mormont in a duel.
  • Cohollo and Haggo, bloodriders to Drogo. Whereabouts unknown.
  • {Mago}, a ko in Drogo's khalasar. Killed by Drogo in a duel.
  • Jhaqo, a former ko in Drogo's khalasar, now a Khal.
  • Pono, a former ko in Drogo's khalasar, now a Khal.
  • Jhiqui, a handmaiden to Daenerys. Whereabouts unknown.

In Daenerys Targaryen's remaining khalasar after the death of Khal Drogo:

  • Aggo, bloodrider to Daenerys
  • {Rakharo}, bloodrider to Daenerys. Killed and beheaded by members of a rival khalasar after Drogo's death.
  • Kovarro, bloodrider to Daenerys.
  • Malakho, an aged Dothraki warrior.
  • {Irri}, a handmaiden to Daenerys. Killed during the stealing of Daenerys' dragons.

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Dothraki are numerous and are divided into large hordes or khalasars which range over vast areas. Khal Drogo's khalasar consists of 40,000 warriors and is said to be unusually large. The Dothraki are mostly active on the Dothraki sea, a vast inland area of grassy plains and steppes, but sometimes raid into the Free Cities to the west and Slaver's Bay and Lhazar to the south. The Dothraki are untrusting of outsiders, but respectful of capable warriors even from other cultures. They particularly dislike those who have inherited their titles and done nothing to earn them.

As pointed out in the behind-the-scenes featurettes, the Dothraki are inspired by a loose mix of the Mongols, Native American plains tribes, and various other nomadic horse-riding peoples who live on the open steppe.

According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Dothraki" is pronounced "Doth-RACK-ee". David J. Peterson has pointed out that peculiarly, author George R.R. Martin pronounces the final "i" in the word "Dothraki" long, like the final "i" in "fungi" or "alumni", but he's the only one that pronounces it that way. It isn't pronounced that way in the official audio books, or anywhere else.[3]

See also


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