Monday, July 30, 2001

Mat Naked and Bound

by Linda

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.

- The Shadow Rising, To the Tower of Ghenjei

While Mat acquired his medallion and ashanderai back in The Shadow Rising, this dream has not been fulfilled.

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.”
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

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:

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.

- Lord of Chaos, Courage to Strengthen.

You only win against the Foxes and Snakes if you cheat.

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.”
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

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:

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…

"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

That is why Mat has been stripped of everything except the ashanderei and medallion.

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…


Unknown said...

I haven't read this in a while, but how do we know that Perrin's vision of Mat being bond and naked hasn't already been fufilled?

I always assumed it had been fufilled-- but was Mat naked when Rand cut him down from the tree?

Good theory, because I always glanced over this dream by Perrin as having been fufilled already. It definitely gives us clues as to what will go down in Finnland.

Linda said...

No John, both Rand and Mat went to Rhuidean fully clothed and came back that way. Rand had to rip open Mat's shirt and coat to give him CPR.

Mat has not yet been bound naked in this way.

Manar said...

I'm not saying that this theory doesn't make sense or isn't true...

But is it possible that the vision of Mat naked and bound was fulfilled by Tylin when Mat was Tylin's Toy?

Dominic said...

This is quite the way I interpret this one too Manar, but I know Linda doesn't buy it.

For me this image is a symbolic composite: Mat was naked and bound in Ebou Dar by being Tylin's Toy, and it's to escape this he accidentally bound himself to Tuon and kidnapped her. That's the naked part. The Ashandarei and the signet ring sealed his fate (and Tuon's), and recalled how it began: with his hanging, the Ashandarei in his back etc.

That's like the AS on a balance scale. Part of the reason why it was so important (perhaps the whole reason, we'll see later) is that it's another vital element that lead to Mat and Tuon's wedding. Without Teslyn, no need for an elaborate plan to flee Ebou Dar, and without that plan, no rescuing of the Sea Folk etc.

Anonymous said...

Mat was quite literally naked and bound by pink ribbons, and I think she allowed him to keep the necklace on. I don't know why he would be snarling during this, but hey, we all have different O faces.

Anonymous said...

I'm going with it's still what happened outside of Rhuidean. Mat had none of his normal weapons on him - he expresses wishes he had at least one knife, but the Wise Ones sent him into Rhuidean unarmed. Naked.

Kim said...

Well Mat's been into the ToG and returned without this happening - what now?

Yet to happen? Or one of these theories already posted in it already having happened?

Linda said...

This is an old theory. I won't delete it however.

Vicki said...

'Naked an bound' could be symbolic: 'naked' = unprotected, "bound" - by the rules of the game. In this case, the vision could only refer to Mat's visit to Finnland from Rhuidean, when he acquired the medallion and ashandarei. On Mat's subsequent visit (in a mission to rescue Moiraine) he cheated any way he could.