This article contains spoilers for New Spring.
I have begun a re-read of the Wheel of Time series and decided to start with New Spring. And while there is a treasure trove of depictions of clothing all throughout the story, I decided to focus initially on the attire of the Aes Sedai.
Besides the Great Serpent ring depicting the “snake biting its own tail that symbolized eternity and continuity and it’s initiate’s bond to the Tower” (p. 18), an Aes Sedai is also recognized by the Flame of Tar Valon emblazoned shawl she would often wear. “Sisters seldom wore their shawls inside the Tower except for official occasions” (p. 98). The shawl was unique to the woman — with different thicknesses, designs, and fringe length — though the color of fringe was matched to the Sister’s Ajah.
While personality would influence the simplicity or extravagance of the dress, her nationality could also have bearing on her clothing, hair, or ornamentation. Ludice Daneen, Yellow Aes Sedai, had “brightly beaded Taraboner braids that hung to her waist” (p.120); and Cetalia Delarme, Blue Aes Sedai, also a Taraboner, wore her hair in “a multitude of blue beaded braids that hung to her waist” (p. 174.). Moiraine Damodred, Blue Aes Sedai from Cairhien, wore a “kesiera,” a thin gold chain that was woven into the hair so that a small stone hung in the middle of her forehead; in her case, a sapphire.
Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah
Most of our view of Aes Sedai is presented by the Blue Ajah. Tamra Ospenya, Amyrlin, wore a stole striped in colors of all seven Ajahs and even her blue skirt was “slashed with all seven colors.” Her hair was “caught in a jeweled silver net” (p. 19). Later she wore a dress in “pale brocaded blue with the Amyrlin’s striped stole around her neck” (p. 160). Gitara Moroso, Keeper, wore a wide necklace of firedrops and earrings with “rubies the size of pigeon’s eggs,” her dress was a broached blue with her Keeper’s stole, and her hair was “caught with carved ivory combs” (p. 20). Aeldra Najaf, Keeper, was lean and coppery skinned and her “dress was of blue wool, fine woven but simply cut, and the deep blue stole on her shoulders was no more than two fingers wide” (p.120). Anaiya Carel wore “finely cut blue woolens” with “intricate embroidery on the sleeves” (p. 152); and Cabriana Mecandes wore “blue-slashed skirts” (p. 168). Siuan Sanche wore a “plain blue riding dress” and a cloak without a hood (p.251).
There are many dresses described for Moiraine Damodred. Upon first being raised to Aes Sedai, she found “four dresses of fine blue wool, plain but well cut, were hanging in her dressing room, two of them with skirts divided for riding” (p. 171). She ordered dresses from Alkohima’s shop and a few were “in the strictest Cairhienin style, which was to say dark…with six slashes across the breast in red, green, and white, far fewer than she had a right to” (p. 193). Later she wears a dark blue silk riding dress “embroidered on the neck and sleeves in a golden pattern like Maldine lace” (p.260).
Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah
Kerene Nagashi wore “a riding dress, the divided skirts slashed with emerald green” and her short hair was “gathered in a thick braid” (p. 117). Cadsuane Melaidhrin wore her “iron-grey hair decorated with golden ornaments, stars and birds, crescent moons and fish” and her shawl was “fringed in green” (p. 242).
Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah
There was the least reference to Yellow Aes Sedai. Ryma Galfrey was described as “slim and elegant in yellow-slashed green.”
Aes Sedai of the Red Ajah
Red seemed to particularly dominate the attire of the Red Aes Sedai. Elaida do Avriny a’Roihan, wore a brocaded dress in a “not a muted red or a faint red, but a bright hue, as though she were streaming her Ajah to the world” (p. 84). She also wore a red cloak lined with black fur. The following day, she wore a red, high-necked dress and a red-fringed shawl “richly embroidered with flowered vines. Flowered, and more fitting, barbed with long thorns” (p. 104). Duhara Basaheen, Keeper, was a Domani and wore a “red stole a hand wide draped around her neck. Her dark red dress was so slashed with scarlet it might as well have been scarlet” (p. 206).
Aes Sedai of the White Ajah
White was considered the color of mourning. “Aes Sedai never put on full mourning, except for Whites, who did not consider it so” since they did wear white on a regular basis. Yet for mourning, “Whites all wore glossy black ribbons” (p. 204). Meilyn Arganya wore dark gloves and her “divided skirts, so slashed with white that it seemed white trimmed with blue” (p. 84).
Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah
Jarna Malari, Sitter, wore dark gray silk, sapphires in her long black hair and around her neck, and the silken fringe on her shawl was so long it “nearly touched the floor with the shawl resting on her shoulders” (p.108). Sierin Vayu, Amyrlin, only wore her Great Serpent Ring for jewelry, and her dress of “dark gray silks were simply cut” (p. 207).
Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah
Simplicity seemed to be a consistency for the Brown Ajah. Verin Mathwin wore “fine russet wool and brown-fringed shawl” (p. 152). Felaana Bevaine was described as “a slim yellow-haired Brown in plain dark woolens.”
Aes Sedai wore a variety of fashions. What they wore was influenced by their own personality as well as their nationality. Their Ajah may have influenced the main color of their garment, but styles ranged from simple to elaborate. Fabric was usually silk, either plain or brocaded, or fine wool. Skirts were divided, which was most common with riding dresses, or slashed with other colors. Dresses were plain in design, or lightly or heavily embroidered. Hair could be worn long, or in braids, beaded, held back with combs or hairnets. The attire of the Aes Sedai was as varied as the women themselves.