This theory explains a vision Perrin had of Mat:
Mat stood naked and bound, snarling: an odd spear with a black shaft had been thrust across his back behind his elbows, and a silver medallion, a foxhead, hung on his chest.While Mat acquired his medallion and ashanderai back in The Shadow Rising, this dream has not been fulfilled.
- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei
In Knife of Dreams, Mat promised that he would accompany Thom to the world of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn to try and rescue Moraine. It is an extremely dangerous venture, as Moiraine warned them in her letter. Death or captivity are likely.
The Elfinn’s custom of wearing human leather support this. Moreover, Mat even threatened to an Elfinn that he would skin him if he cheated Mat:
“Never think you have caught a babe in your snare. If you try to cheat me, I will have your hide for a saddlecloth.”Judging by the Eelfinn’s reaction, this may be a foreshadowing that Mat’s threat was not a good idea, especially since Moiraine stressed that their success would depend on heeding the rules to the Foxes and Snakes game:
The fellow started, pale eyes widening, then shrugged and adjusted the silver--studded straps across his chest; his mocking smile seemed tailored to draw attention to what he was doing. Suddenly Mat found himself wondering where that pale leather came from. Surely not. . . . Oh, Light, I think it is. He managed to stop himself from swallowing, but only just. “Lead, you son of a goat. Your hide is not worth silver studding. Take me where I want to go.”
With a snarl, the man hurried on, stiff-backed. Mat did not care if the fellow was offended. He did wish he had just one knife, though. I’ll be burned if I’ll let some fox-faced goat-brain make a harness out of my hide.
- The Shadow Rising, Rhuidean
A final point. Remember what you know about the game of Snakes and Foxes. Remember, and heed.According to Birgitte in The Shadow Rising, To The Tower of Ghenjei, the game Foxes and Snakes is a “remembrance of old dealings” with the Aelfinn and Eelfinn and it is a game:
you would not win so long as you followed the rules.You only win against the Foxes and Snakes if you cheat.
- Lord of Chaos, Courage to Strengthen.
I believe that the vision shows one of Mat’s experiences in the world of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn during the rescue attempt, and that, as foreshadowed in The Shadow Rising, Mat is in danger of providing leather for an Eelfinn’s garment.
In Perrin’s vision Mat is bound and captive. He is wearing nothing except for his medallion and ashanderei. The fact that these two powerful and useful items were given to Mat by the Elfinn is the crucial clue that this vision is of Mat’s forthcoming trip to the Aelfinn’s and Eelfinn’s world. The Aelfinn and Eelfinn set great store in their agreement not being violated; the Aelfinn even answered Mat’s questions while the connection with the main world was in danger:
“If you do not go to Rhuidean,” the woman on the right said, “you will die.”Having given the medallion and ashanderei to Mat as part of a bargain, forcibly taking them back would violate that bargain, since like Mat said: he paid for them:
The bell tolled again, louder this time; Mat felt its tremor through his boots. The looks the three shared were plainly anxious. He opened his mouth, but they were only concerned with each other.
“The strain,” one of the women said hurriedly. “It is too great.”
“The savor of him,” the other woman said on her heels. “It has been so very long.”
Before she was done the man spoke. “The strain is too great. Too great. Ask. Ask!”
- The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway
He could always make a new bow for himself, but he was not going to abandon the ashandarei. I paid too high a price for the bloody thing to leave it, he thought, fingering the scar hidden beneath the scarf around his neck…That is why Mat has been stripped of everything except the ashanderei and medallion.
"I bought [the ashanderei]."
"I will give you ten times the price you paid," [Tuon] said. "Name it."
He almost laughed. He wanted to, and not for pleasure, that was certain sure. No would you think of selling, just I will buy it and here is what I will pay. "The price wasn't gold, my Lady." Involuntarily, his hand went to the black scarf to make sure it still hid the ridged scar that encircled his neck. "Only a fool would pay it one time, let alone ten."
- Winter’s Heart, An Offer
Thus all elements of the vision are explained: Moiraine assured Mat that the rescue attempt could well result in death or captivity, there is foreshadowing that the Elfinn will be after Mat’s hide, especially if they consider he is cheating the agreement (which Moiraine hinted would be necessary to win against the Aelfinn and Eelfinn) and Mat is naked except for the very items the Eelfinn gave him as part of their bargain in The Shadow Rising. (If the Aelfinn or Eelfinn break the agreement they can hardly object to Mat and co doing the same).
So while Mat is alive the Aelfinn and Eelfinn can’t take the medallion and ashanderei back. While he is alive. In Perrin’s vision poor Mat looks like he is trussed up and ready for skinning…