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Yi Ti

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Yi Ti
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"The marvels of Yi Ti and Asshai pass through our markets."
Xaro Xhoan Daxos[src]

Yi Ti is a region located in the far east of Essos. It is located at the eastern limits of known world, beyond the Jade Sea and to the east of even Qarth. It is sometimes mentioned in the same breath as Asshai as an extremely remote part of the world from Westeros[1]. Merchant ships from Yi Ti and Asshai regularly visit Qarth to conduct trade.[2]

In the booksEdit

GeographyEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Yi Ti is one of the fabled lands of the mysterious east, along with Asshai, Bayasabhad, Kayakayanaya, and Shamyriana. It lies at the far eastern edge of the known world to the peoples of Westeros, though they are in (often indirect) trade contact with it along the long shipping circle around the Jade Sea.

Yi Ti is inspired by China and the Far East from real-life history. Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson, who run Westeros.org and co-wrote the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook with George R.R. Martin, have confirmed this. As Linda put it, "if anyone in the Westeros-Essos continuum looks East Asian, we're talking Yi Ti." Elio said Yi Ti was "definitely inspired by Imperial China," particularly its rule by divine god-emperors.[3] Martin himself also stated in his blog that Yi Ti and surrounding nations are his world's analogue of Far East Asia, and he directly addressed the question of why no East Asian characters figure prominently in the narrative:

"Well, Westeros is the fantasy analogue of the British Isles in its world, so it is a long long way from the Asia analogue. There weren't a lot of Asians in Yorkish England either. That is not to suggest that such places don't exist, however. You will want to get The World of Ice and Fire when it comes out...in the "Other Places" section you will find a lot of material about Yi Ti, the island of Leng, and the plains of the Jogos Nhai, which you may find of interest."[4]

The nation is tropical in climate, with immense jungles just inland stretching northeast towards the unexplored, remote parts of eastern Essos. Centuries of human civilization, however, have carved out vast patchworks of green farmland from the verdant rainforest (its climate and agricultural patterns are somewhat similar to southern China).

The Lands of Ice and Fire map book confirms that Yi Ti is an immense nation, stretching around the northern coast of the Jade Sea. Its northwestern border is just a few hundred miles east of Qarth, on the opposite side of the immense Bone Mountains which run from the southern to northern coasts of Essos. Its eastern border is just a few hundred miles due north of Asshai. Yi Ti is bordered on the north by the Plains of the Jogo Nhai, which extend all the way north to the Shivering Sea on the north coast. The Jogos Nhai are a nomadic people who follow the religion of the Moonsingers. Ships traveling east to Yi Ti and lands beyond have to pass through the Jade Gates, also known as the Straits of Qarth because they are near and controlled by that city. Qarth has amassed great wealth by using its fleet to exact tolls from east-west shipping passing through the straits.

A round-trip journey from the Free City of Volantis to Asshai lasts about two years, so a round-trip journey between Volantis and Yi Ti must be somewhat shorter than that. The distance between Yi Ti's main port city Yin and Qarth is roughly the same as the distance between Qarth and Astapor in Slaver's Bay (a journey Daenerys Targaryen made between Seasons 2 and 3). This is only the as-the-crow-flies distance in a straight line, however: a ship can go straight from Yin to Qarth, but the impassable Red Waste lies between Qarth and Astapor, so ships have to travel around the Ghiscari peninsula to approach Astapor from the west. As a result, a journey between Qarth and Yi Ti is probably shorter than the one Daenerys made from Qarth to Astapor.

The Lands of Ice and Fire map book was only released in fall 2012, however, between Season 2 and Season 3 of the TV series. The TV series had no exact world map for the far east of the world, so the maps used on the official HBO Viewer's Guide website had to guess at what the far east beyond Qarth and the Dothraki Sea look like. The Viewer's Guide map drew the Jade Sea as extending far to the north of Qarth, almost up to the same latitude as Vaes Dothrak and Pentos. The subsequent official map book, however, revealed that Qarth is actually at the extreme northern end of the Jade Sea, and as one proceeds east the shoreline gradually curves to the south, not sharply to the north. In the book-continuity, this means that Yi Ti's capital city Yin is slightly south of Qarth, roughly near the same latitude as Old Valyria. The HBO Viewer's Guide, however, was not updated to take into account the new official maps produced for the book-continuity: instead, Season 3 onward continued to simply re-used the previous map designs used since Season 2. It isn't clear if this is a conscious choice, and that world geography is officially different in the TV continuity from the book continuity, or if this is simply an oversight. As a result, however, it cannot be said with certainty if Yi Ti in the TV continuity is located in the same geographic area as it is in the book continuity.

CultureEdit

The Lion of Night is a noted deity of the region. Yi Ti is also known for its merchants who wear hats made from monkey tails. Representatives from Yi Ti sometimes trade at the eastern market of Vaes Dothrak. Thus far, no named characters from Yi Ti have appeared in the books.

Yi Ti's most famous export is saffron, which travels along trade networks all the way to Westeros, where it is a very expensive spice which only very rich noblemen can afford. Davos Seaworth mentions that saffron is worth more than gold by the time it reaches Westeros, due to the extreme cost of shipping the spice from such a far away land. Davos only tasted saffron once during a feast on Dragonstone, when King Robert sent him half a fish seasoned with saffron.

HistoryEdit

Yi Ti's capital city is Yin, a major port on the southern coast at the mouth of a large river. Jinqi is another major city located to the east at the mouth of another river. The city of Asabhad lies on the coast to the west at the mouth of a third river, bordering the Bone Mountains, though it isn't clear if Yi Ti controls it.

Yi Ti is ruled by a series of divine god-emperors, though in recent centuries real power has come to reside in various strong regional princedoms, nominally all part of the same empire. Several of these god-emperors originated from the city of Tiqui, one of the nation's ancient capitals, which is located in northern Yi Ti east of Bayasabhad.

The large island of Leng lies just off the coast south of Jinqi, though it is more of a small "region" than simply an island, as it approaches the Disputed Lands of the Free Cities in size. The island is heavily forested. Leng was colonized by Yi Ti many centuries ago - "colonized" in the imperial sense, as the island already had native inhabitants, whom the Yi Ti settlers pushed out (loosely similar to the historical tensions on Taiwan island between Chinese settlers and Taiwan aborigines). The Yi Ti settlers started on the northern end of the island, closest to the mainland, and gradually spread southwards, conquering and enslaving the natives. Even the name "Leng" is a Yi Ti name applied to the island. In modern times, three cities are located on the island. On the northern tip of the island is Leng Yi, and the central city is Leng Ma: the inhabitants of both cities are descended from Yi Ti settlers. The inhabitants of Turrani, however, at the southern tip of the island, are descended from the original native inhabitants of the island, who resisted the gradual encroachments of Yi Ti settlers from the north. Whether all of the island of Leng has one unified government or not is unknown, such as if Turrani is independent, or if it was later conquered by Yi Ti settlers from Leng Yi and Leng Ma (who conquered the inhabitants of Turrani but did not exterminate them as they did the native inhabitant in the north of the island).

Moreover, Leng no longer seems to be ruled by Yi Ti, as apparently the Yi Ti colonists on the island split off from the mainland to form their own independent realm. The only mention of Leng in the novels so far is that nearly 200 years before the events of the War of of the Five Kings, Rhaenyra Targaryen's husband Daemon Targaryen returned from traveling in the east and offered her a gift: a jade tiara once worn by the "Empress of Leng". It isn't clear if Yi Ti can have Empresses as well as Emperors, or if Leng just happened to have a female monarch at the time. An alternate explanation could be that Yi Ti only has male god-Emperors, and as a result of whatever disagreement split Leng politically from the mainland, Leng established a matriarchal realm based on female-line descent.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Inside HBO's Game of Thrones, Section V, Essos:A Brief History
  2. Complete Guide to Westeros - Qarth
  3. Westeros.org Season 5 casting review
  4. Not A Blog, GRRM's livejournal, June 14th, 2014

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