Thursday, February 28, 2002


By Linda

A’dam are ter’angreal that form an involuntary link between the bracelet wearer (controller) and the collar wearer (slave)—involuntary on the collar-wearer’s part, that is.

Female A’dam

For over 2000 years after the Breaking, the Aes Sedai on Seanchan warred and contended and unscrupulously subjected the population. When Luthair Paendrag began his conquest, an Aes Sedai named Deain, believing that he would eventually win, tried to curry favour by bringing him an Aes Sedai collared with an a’dam that Deain had made. Her idea was that Luthair could use channellers in his armies to overcome Aes Sedai and to serve him rather than themselves. Deain made more a’dam and some years later sul’dam—those who could channel only with training—were selected to be used (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). This greatly accelerated the process of collaring Aes Sedai, now labelled as marath’damane, those who must be leashed. Deain herself was eventually collared (The Great Hunt, Damane). Over time, women who could channel were eventually regarded as dangerous animals rather than people; animals that had to be leashed and controlled or they would turn everyone into their property (The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces). It was forgotten that sul’dam had the potential to learn to channel.

In appearance, the a’dam is a collar and bracelet of cunningly worked silvery metal connected by a leash. According to Elayne, the bracelet and collar have ‘absolutely identical matrices’ (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). It forms an involuntary link between two women: the dominant bracelet wearer and the enslaved collar-wearer. This is why the sul’dam must be a woman who can channel too. The leash is not an actual necessity (The Fires of Heaven, A Question of Crimson); apart from aiding physical restraint, it is a mark of subjection for the damane, and indicates which damane is linked to which sul’dam. A’dam are made by certain damane with the ability to make ter’angreal, who are more valued and have better conditions than most (The Great Hunt, Damane). These are the only type of ter’angreal damane make (The Gathering Storm, booksigning) and one of the few actual manufacturing processes for which damane are used, although they are also used for identifying ores in the ground. Any freed damane who has sufficient strength and had previously made a’dam obviously has already gained at least part of the skill necessary to manufacture other ter 'angreal (Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes).

Ironically, Elayne rediscovered the principles of making ter’angreal by studying an a’dam. Prior to this, the a’dam was the only ter’angreal known to have been manufactured in the Third Age. But logically, Deain likely didn’t invent the a’dam from nothing, she may well have made other ter’angreal, but such information has been lost. An example of Jordan’s theme of incomplete and lost knowledge.

The opening catch of an a’dam is well concealed (for obvious reasons) and the sul’dam discourage people from watching closely while they open an a’dam (The Great Hunt, A Plan). The bracelet is the easier to open: by squeezing top and bottom not quite opposite the leash, but still requires knowing where to look for the catch. The sul’dam can do it one-handed. The collar requires both hands: pressing spots on either side where the leash attaches, then twisting and pulling one way, then the other, while still pressing (Winter’s Heart, A Plan). The a’dam fits itself to anyone who puts it on (The Wheel of Time Companion).

An a’dam must touch skin to work: hence it is placed on the wrist of a sul’dam and the neck of a damane. On a neck, it emphasises the fact that a damane is a ‘domesticated’ animal, and of course can’t be amputated without killing the damane.

A sul’dam can wear more than one bracelet (eg one on each wrist) and thus control more than one damane (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path).

A’dam are apparently not as vulnerable to resonance as other ter’angreal, since they can be used in close proximity to each other.


While among the Seanchan, Semirhage spent “much time working with” female a’dam and found that they:

”allow some small measure of freedom, relying on nausea as an inhibitor”

- The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could be Done.

Not altogether true, since the restriction on movement without a bracelet wearer is based on pain.

The ter’angreal creates a link between the two women, a ring of two, with the bracelet wearer always leading. The wearer of the bracelet, the sul’dam, can inflict her wishes and desires upon the collared woman (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) and thereby make the damane channel as the sul’dam wishes. Instead of the sharing of emotions of a normal link, the a’dam magnifies the emotions of the sul’dam to force the damane to obey. When a sul’dam orders a damane, the damane feels an urge to obey. This can be suppressed to a degree, but the Seanchan train a damane to obedience. When damane and sul'dam are joined, whatever hurt the sul'dam feels, the damane feels twice over. This not only prevents the damane attacking her sul’dam, but ensures the damane uses her abilities to protect her sul’dam from danger (The Great Hunt, Damane).

A sul’dam wearing the bracelet knows what the damane is doing with the Power and what not (The Great Hunt, Falme). The sul’dam is also aware of the damane’s feelings and sensations in a separate part of her mind, and can mentally add to them to cause pain (The Great Hunt, Blademaster) or pleasure (Knife of Dreams, A Short Path). She could combine her own abilities with those of the other woman to channel a single linked set of flows herself, although knowledge of this has been forgotten since Deane’s time, another example of lost or incomplete knowledge (The Wheel of Time Companion).

Another property of the a’dam is that if a damane tries to channel even the tiniest bit of the Power without a sul'dam wearing her bracelet, she feels sick, and the more of the Power she channels, the sicker she becomes. When a sul’dam next puts the bracelet on, she will also know that the damane tried to channel without a sul’dam.

As well as preventing channelling independently, the a’dam prevents the damane from opening the bracelet and from touching anything the damane considers a weapon. In both cases, once the damane has these thoughts, her muscles knot until she stops thinking them (The Great Hunt, Falme). The a’dam did not prevent Egwene from striking her sul’dam with her fist, however, but the resulting pain effectively discouraged further attacks (The Great Hunt, Damane). The agonising cramps prevent a damane from putting on her own bracelet; if this prevention did not exist and the damane put on the bracelet, the damane would be sucked into a positive feedback loop and die.

A woman who can channel and is collared cannot move more than a few steps without her bracelet on the wrist of a sul’dam to complete the link (The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces). If her bracelet is moved from where it was last touched by a sul’dam, a damane experiences agonising cramps (as both Egwene and Joline experienced when they each moved while collared without a sul’dam linking with them).

When Nynaeve forced an a’dam on Moghedien in Tel’aran’rhiod, Nynaeve was in complete control of what Moghedien channelled: if Nynaeve did not want to channel certain flows, they were not channelled (The Fires of Heaven, To Caemlyn).

The a’dam also buffers the amount of power that the damane draws to just short of her maximum ability so that she cannot burn herself out. This was perhaps originally designed to prevent a damane from deliberately burning herself out to escape being enslaved by the a’dam (The Wheel of Time Companion).

Another odd effect of the a'dam which might be called beneficial is that wearing it somehow buffers the shock of having the bond to a Warder broken. This it is obviously an unforeseen side-effect since the Seanchan Aes Sedai did not know about the Warder bond.
- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes


The Seanchan test every woman in their governed areas annually until they are 25 (Winter’s Heart, Questions of Treason) to obtain the services of every possible damane and sul’dam. In newly acquired territory they promptly test every woman, then follow their annual testing procedure thereafter.

Sul’dam first test for damane by putting the collar on each woman and seeing if they can link with her—feel anything of her through the bracelet. Only those women who have channelled or who have the inborn ability to channel without training and are soon to do so respond to the collar. Every woman who responds to the collar is made damane and is struck from family records and the roll of citizens (The Fires of Heaven, Heading West). Even Morgase, a negligible channeller, was told that by law she should be collared but Suroth wanted to make an exception in her case so that she could have a worse fate (A Crown of Swords, The Irrevocable Words.)

After testing all the women under 25 with the collar, the Seanchan test the women with the bracelet, to see if they can feel what the damane feels. These women have the potential to learn to channel, since the Seanchan have already identified with the collar channellers and those with the inborn spark (The Great Hunt, To Come Out of the Shadow). They are (willingly) taken away to be trained as sul’dam, a respected position.


In order to be part of a link, a sul’dam must have at least the potential to channel. Women who can channel and women with the inborn spark can of course be sul’dam, which is why the Seanchan test for the collar first, to enslave such women as damane, leaving only those who cannot channel without being taught to be sul’dam. Unlike damane, who have the very long lifespans of those who have used the One Power, sul’dam have normal lifespans (confirmed by Jordan, DragonCon, September 2005).

After some years of using the bracelet (ie some time after turning 25, since sul’dam usually fail the test for damane), a sul’dam can tell when a woman is channelling, even if they are not leashed to her, and sense her weaves. Bethamin, for instance, can always sense a damane, and know how strong she is (Winter’s Heart, Questions of Treason). The sul’dam all believe that this is simply developed from long experience. To another channeller, an experienced sul’dam feels similar to a woman with the inborn spark:

Not quite the spark of a woman born to it, but almost. It's as if she were right at the brink of being able to channel, one foot poised to step over.

- Winter’s Heart, Sea Folk and Kin

They cannot channel themselves, of course, having never trained, but they have learned the early stages of channelling and control without having the side effects of learning unaided. Sul’dam like to link with damane—to feel, however vicariously, the joy of the One Power the damane channels. They call it being complete (The Great Hunt, Falme).

A stilled channeller wearing the bracelet can still sense what the damane feels—as Leane and Siuan did in Lord of Chaos, Prologue—but can’t affect her through the a’dam. If a stilled channeller wore the collar, a sul’dam might sense something of her feelings, but the sul’dam would not be able to make her channel. A burned out channeller would not sense anything at all through the bracelet or respond to the collar.


The damane does the actual channelling. For this, they are regarded as animals. Their physical needs (even sexual needs to a degree, see Pillowfriends article) are taken care of. They live a very long time, like other channellers. Stilled or burned out channellers cannot respond to the a’dam (Jordan, Dragoncon, September 2005).

Since damane can’t touch weapons, their meat is cut for them. No damane is ever left alone where she might jump from a height or throw herself into a river (The Great Hunt, Falme). The Seanchan have no illusions that all damane are happy.

Aes Sedai damane cause a few problems for sul’dam due to their Oath not to use the One Power as a weapon except to defend their lives, their Warder's life, or another sister's life. According to Robert Jordan,

The Aes Sedai captured by the Seanchan are indeed useless as weapons, except against Shadowspawn or Darkfriends, because they are bound by the Three Oaths, and that limits their value considerably since being weapons is a major use for damane. Damane are used for other tasks, however, including finding ores for mining, for some mining operations where it would be too dangerous or uneconomical to use human miners, and in some construction projects, especially where something very large or with a need for added strength is envisioned. The first two both require a high ability in Earth, which has faded considerably on "this" side of the Aryth Ocean and to a smaller degree of the other side, but construction projects and others things, such as producing Sky Lights, are well within the abilities of collared Aes Sedai. The Three Oaths don't inhibit them there at all.

The Seanchan should soon realise that an Aes Sedai can use the weapon if she fears for her life, or the life of another sister. It would then be a matter of making the Aes Sedai believe that her life depends on using the Power as a weapon…We can thank Joline for blabbing this in front of the Seanchan.


Channelling is regarded as evil in Seachan unless harnessed or controlled for the State or by the State, with the women who can do it considered tainted by evil. This fear is similar to that for channelling men on the mainland prior to the taint being removed from saidin, and with far less cause. It originated as a reaction against the female channellers on Seanchan who manipulated and dominated the populace.

Since channelling is also useful, the Seanchan hold their noses and look the other way at their hypocrisy in using someone to channel for their benefit. However

some purists (a scarce handful) believe the women should be killed just as males discovered channeling are, but their usefulness as weapons and in other ways keeps this from being more than a very minority view.

- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes

Not all the damane are enslaved against their will, some believe that they are tainted and accept their penalty as necessary. Jordan likens the latter to good medieval Catholics accepting their penance in his Seanchan notes:

Toward the sul'dam they feel fear with regard to those who are harsh, many feel affection (Stockholm syndrome) with regard to those who are not (as the Seanchan see it, as least), and most even gratitude that the sul'dam are guiding and sheltering them and keeping them from doing the awful things that they must surely do if they were allowed to run free.

Damane are required to be downcast in public. Being on the lowest rung of society they are not allowed to look anyone in the eye. In private some are more content, and play and laugh with each other. Most damane are the property of the Imperial family, although many of the Blood will own several and non-nobles also are allowed to acquire one (Seanchan notes).

Damane are not the only slaves in Seanchan society, just the lowest of them, being perceived almost as an animal, thanks to the leash, which is not necessary for the a’dam to function, just necessary to physically restrain them and mark out which damane and sul’dam are linked.

While this harsh law is a valid law in Seanchan—and the Seanchan on the whole have more justice for more of their citizens than the mainland nations—it violates one of the Creator’s main tenets: the free will granted to all by the Creator (see Theology essay). The a’dam is designed to strip damane of their free will, even preventing the choice of death rather than slavery.


The a’dam is an unusual ter’angreal in that it is apparently designed for saidar users and yet is strongly affected by saidin users. Normally, a ter’angreal designed for saidar is completely unresponsive if touched by a channeller who uses saidin, and vice versa. But not the a’dam.

If a male channeller or one with the potential to channel puts on the bracelet of an a’dam, both he and the damane wearing the collar would die screaming (sport for Seanchan royalty, The Great Hunt, Damane). If such a man touches the collar, the damane wearing the collar feels great pain. A sul’dam wearing the bracelet of that a’dam would also feel pain. If he is holding the Power while doing so, the Power would rush through him into them. For example, Rand, while holding the Power, tried to remove a damane’s collar. The damane convulsed in agony and the sul’dam gasped with pain. Rand felt saidin rush through him into them, and Aviendha likewise felt ‘the Power’ (saidin?) rushing into them (The Fires of Heaven, A Short Spear).

This is quite a design fault. Obviously there must be some explanation, some reason why the a’dam, as Egwene says, is one link no man can be brought into (A Crown of Swords, The Figurehead.)

The answer must lie in the way the ter’angreal is made. The programming of the a’dam is that the bracelet wearer is completely dominant and has to have the ability to channel saidar. If a male channeller wears the a’dam bracelet with a female channeller wearing the collar, he must be in control, as a man would in a link between one man and one woman and as the bracelet is programmed to do; but he is not a saidar channeller. This partially conflicts with the a’dam’s programming and pain (partial or attempted linking) or death (actual linking) is the result, as is common with misused ter’angreal. If the collar were put on a man who can channel with a female sul’dam wearing the bracelet, this would completely conflict with the a’dam’s programming because not only is he a channeller of saidin, but he should be in control of the link, since a man has to be in control in a link between one man and one woman. The collared man and the sul’dam would die, and the a’dam could well melt or explode and other channellers nearby be affected as well.

Elayne’s Female A’dam

The first ter’angreal Elayne made was an altered copy of an a’dam and it was soon used on Moghedien (Lord of Chaos, Prologue). It is a silver bracelet and collar with no leash and was made from silver and other metals. Moghedien could walk around the camp, but not channel independently, escape or undo the collar herself. Nor did she commit violence. She was held by the a’dam whether anyone was wearing the bracelet or not. Halima, a channeller of saidin, was hurt when she removed Moghedien’s collar. Presumably it remained in Halima’s possession. Egwene had the bracelet, but it is unknown if she carried it when she was captured.

Male a’dam

Also called a Domination Band, this ter’angreal consists of two jointed bracelets of dull black segmented metal and a wide collar. All three are made of cuendillar. A female channeller who can sense resonance in objects feels old and sharp pain, sorrow and suffering when she touches either bracelets or collar (The Shadow Rising, Need, and Into the Palace).

The male a’dam was made during the Breaking (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done). Presumably, women tried to make a device that would enable them to control male channellers despite the taint. Making them from cuendillar ensured their unbreakability. Suroth had more made by damane/sul’dam pairs with the ability and they may now be thinking of making other ter’angreal…

When Semirhage obtained access to the Domination Band and, presumably a male channeller to use it upon, she found it could completely compel the male channeler to obey. Wearing the collar, a man is unable to channel without permission of the dominant bracelet wearer, and cannot move or speak without her permission either. He can be forced to move and/or channel as the bracelet wearer desires, and she can add her flows to his if she has the knowledge and feel and affect his emotions. Feeling his emotions and physical sensation is clearer than with the female a'dam. If he tries to reach for saidin he experiences blinding agony—it will literally damage his eyes if he continues (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes). His collar must be removed by one of the bracelet wearers or else the man dies (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes).

While there is no leash, as the bracelets are moved away from the leash, a queasiness results, increasing as the distance does unless the bracelet is being worn. The "trigger" distance, creating incapacitating illness when neither bracelet is being worn (or when only one is), is quite large, on the order of a mile. As with the female a'dam, whatever is experienced by the woman or women wearing the bracelets is also experienced by the man, but the multiplier effect is greater; a blow that might or might not bruise her may well result in unconsciousness for him. Hit her hard enough to render her unconscious, and it is guaranteed that he will be conscious long before she is. Her death while wearing the bracelets will result in his death, of course…

Actively channelling saidar close to the collar produces increasing pain depending on how much and how close. Very close, within a few feet, a tiny amount can produce the sort of pain to make a man shriek and incapacitate him for some time. Oddly, a woman channelling close by can also cause eye damage in the same way that attempting to channel himself can. Simply embracing saidar or maintaining a weave woven out of his presence does not create this pain.

- Robert Jordan, Seanchan notes

However, according to Moghedien the device does not control men very successfully:

”Put the collar on a man who channels, and a woman wearing the bracelets can make him do whatever she wishes, true, but it will not stop him going mad, and there is a flow the other way, too. Eventually he will begin to be able to control you, too, so you end with a struggle at every hour. Not very palatable when he is going mad. Of course, you can pass the bracelets around, so no one has too much exposure, but that does mean trusting someone else with him… Or two women can each wear one bracelet, if you have someone you trust enough; that slows the seepage considerably, I understand, but it also lessens your control, even if you work in perfect unison. Eventually, you will find yourselves in a struggle for control with him, each of you needing him to remove your bracelet as surely as he needs you to remove the collar.”

- The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace

One woman wearing just the one bracelet to weaken the effect of the taint also has worse control issues (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes). The “seepage” and “flow the other way” that Moghedien refers to is the taint-induced nausea and madness. Problems stemming from the taint are no longer an issue, but the question of control remains. A man cannot be brought involuntarily into a ring, no matter how large (Lord of Chaos and A Crown of Swords Glossaries); hence the control the a’dam confers is temporary, especially in the ring of one man and one woman, because a man must be in control. This is why there are two bracelets to this a’dam. A male channeller putting on the bracelet controls and senses nothing (Robert Jordan’s Seanchan notes).

Semirhage naturally makes no mention that the male will eventually gain some control over the bond, but she may not have known this either. (Moghedien is a far more wary person than Semirhage). It does explain why, in desperation, Rand was able to access the True Power through his link to Moridin and destroy the cuendillar collar with ‘enormous spears of Fire and Air’ (The Gathering Storm, The Last That Could Be Done). Sanderson explained this occurrence at a booksigning:

The True Power works by destroying the Pattern. Everything that is done with it involves damage to the Pattern. For example, when we see Ishamael Travel, he does so by poking a hole in the Pattern. Cuendillar can be destroyed using the True Power.

The Shadow apparently planned to use this a’dam to enslave Rand, but Nynaeve and Elayne found it first in the Panarch’s museum in Tanchico. They gave it to Bayle Domon to be cast into the deepest part of the ocean, but he was stopped and searched by the Seanchan before he could do so. Egeanin presented the a’dam to Suroth (a Darkfriend), and damane made at least four more male a’dam since Semirhage took five to her ‘parley’ with Rand. They were in Rand’s possession for a time (Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box): one Seanchan copy was used by Semirhage to abuse Rand (and Min) and was destroyed by him with the True Power; the other four were given by Cadsuane to retired Aes Sedai to guard (The Gathering Storm, A Box Opens). Hopefully they are still there. Moreover, perhaps the Seanchan have more copies.


Written by Linda, August, 2005 and updated January, 2016 and June, 2019


SteelBlaidd said...

I would disagee that it is required that there be a Shadowrunner Wise One, just possible. I'm inclined to think Elza is the more likly source for knowlidge of the DB storage location.

Anonymous said...

What would your opinion be about the following. Do Seanchan know that damane can be sul'dam - that is, do they know that woman, who are held by the collar, can also use the bracelet?
The Seanchan obviously don't know that suldam can be damane.
But the other way around?
This would obviously revolve around the testing process. Once a woman is held by the collar, do they test her with the bracelet as well?
Any textual references?

Linda said...

The Seanchan don't know that damane can be sul'dam.

As I said in the text, they test with the collar first, and the positives become damane. Then they test with the bracelet, removing many who can learn to channel. They do repeat tests each year on all women until they are 25 - including on sul'dam, picking up a few more damane (who are just sparkers that are almost ready to manifest as such.) I quoted the references in the article above.

It is this latter that has allowed them to believe that the damane 'ability' is separate from the sul'dam one.

Women who can learn to channel - the 'true' sul'dam won't test positive to the collar until they have used the bracelet for many years, ie after they turn 25, which is after the testing has stopped, so they are never picked up. There is obviously a period of a few years between when all sparkers are found (the weakest being found last at nearly 25) and the first of the learners will test positive. The Seanchan cease testing after the former but before the latter.

They never test a damane for the bracelet but just follow the traditional method. (The reason for which is lost in time). By definition a channeller is pretty much an animal to be used, so they don't care what else she can do.

The whole relationship is one of rather nasty hypocrisy - using the ability in one form to enslave the ability in another. This reaches its height when Tuon says that while she could learn to channel she is nothing like a damane because she chooses not to. However, most of the Seanchan damane never channelled before being collared, since they were enslaved before the ability manifested, so they never were given the choice not to channel. Disgusting really.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Linda,
This is pretty much what I thought - but I can't find any textual references to show that, once a woman tests positive for the collar, she's not tested for the bracelet.

My point being that most sul'dam will cross 25 before they would hit the point of being held by the collar. For one, they are rarely "complete" since there are many more sul'dam than damane.

Also the "weak channeling ability" that Aviendha and Alise notice is different enough for damane not to flag it.

But there are many, many thousands of suldam and damane and every so often, a sul'dam should test positive before 25 because of the sheer size of the channeler population. And, somebody like Tuon, who has been privileged because she has been allowed to complete far more often, will almost certainly be held before she's 25.

Still do you have textual proof that Seanchan don't test damane with the bracelet and that they don't know damane can be sul'dam.

Tks again,

Swami Holanwanda said...

To the more WOT literate out there. While reading Leigh B.s' latest re-read instalment, I noticed Moridin being surprised at the Third Agers coming up with "involuntary rings", referring per general consensus to the ad'am. In light of the information established in TGS, it seems that the ad'am (at least the male version) goes back all the way to the Breaking. As such it stands to reason that Moridin, being only partially bound and all that, would have been aware of "involuntary rings" for quite a while, and should not have attributed them to Third Age's ingenuity. A (very) minor inconsistency? Thanks, Swami

Linda said...

Moridin must have known about both sorts of a'dam. The female a'dam was developed in Luthair's lifetime, and while Ishamael/Jalwyn Moerad may have been re-caught back in the Sealing of the Bore about that time, he would soon have known of them when he was next released shortly after Amyrlin Sierin's murder. He would surely have learned of all that had happened while he was (partially) bound and contacted Seanchan Darkfriends.