The Dothraki are one of the peoples of Essos. They are a nomadic people, having no permanent settlements, except Vaes Dothrak, and roaming the vast steppes of the so-called Dothraki Sea. The culture of the Dothraki is entirely dependent on horses, and they call themselves horse lords. The very name of the Dothraki people means simply “riders” and “those who ride” in their language.
The Dothraki have red-brown skin and narrow slanting eyes; men wear long hanging mustaches that are tied with metal rings. It is an aggressive nation, not accustomed to self-cultivation of its bread and preferring to rob neighbors during endless horse raids.
Little is known about the historical origin of the Dothraki people. Of the importance to the Dothraki of the Vaes Dothraki region in the eastern part of the Dothraki Sea, together with names such as Mother of Mountains and Womb of the World we can conclude that the Dothraki people come from there. The strong external resemblance of the Dothraki to the Lhazarians living to the south on the Skahazadhan tributaries may indicate the common origin of the two people.
The World of Ice & Fire gives references to the past of the Dothraki: they either roamed to the Rock of Valyria in the western Dothraki Sea separating Valyria and Sarnor or only came there from the east after the Rock destroyed Valyria. One way or another, the Dothraki gained power over the steppes after the fall of Valyria in 102 BC. those who refused to recognize Mengo as their leader were killed or enslaved. Already an elderly man Mengo sent the Dothraki to the west.
Social order and life
The Dothraki are united in tribes – the so-called Khalasar. In the largest Khalasars, there are up to 100,000 riders. However, the Khalasars are prone to easy fusion and even easier fragmentation. Khalasar is governed by an elected tribal chief, Khal. His wife is called the Khaleesi, and his first-born son and heir are the Khalakka. The nearest entourage of Khal, the so-called Bloodriders are not just bodyguards, but members of the brotherhood with which Khal shares combat trophies and wives (Daenerys Targaryen as Drogo’s wife was an exception), but not a horse. Bloodriders are obliged to follow the Khal in battles, and after his death – killing themselves.
Khalasar is not an army, but a nomadic tribe, in which everyone from small to large knows how to ride so that children, women, and the elderly accompany the Dothraki warriors in any transition and in any raid on neighbors. Pregnant women, very young children, old men, and eunuchs are carried in wagons. In the warm climate of Essos, the Dothraki do not need any shelters: the chiefs live in light tents, while most of the Khalasar go by huts or stranded grass canopies to protect against rain. A thousand years ago, before The Rock of Valiria, to make a house, a Dothraki would dig a hole in the ground and build a wicker grass roof over it.
During horse campaigns, the Dothraki loot and burn all the settlements they can capture; all those who resist are killed, and other residents are enslaved and attached to the Khalasar or sold to the Slaver’s Bay. Many of the war trophies are taken to a place sacred to the Dothraki, their only city, Vaes Dothrak. It is forbidden to carry weapons and shed blood here. However, most of the people of Essos do not shy away from maintaining peaceful trade with the Dothraki, including coming to the big bazaar in Vaes Dothrak. It is also home to the Dosh Khaleen, a kind of advisory made up of former Khaleesi.
Customs and beliefs
Dothraki, as a nomadic people, spends almost all their lives in the open air. They believe that all important events in the world and in a man’s life should be performed in the open air, including birth, marriage, death, and burial.
Dothraki is not shy of urban dwellers, and they do not consider it necessary to seclude themselves in order to urinate or defecate, to copulate with women, boys, mares, or sheep – all this is quite acceptable for them. There is no solitude in the Khalasar, the Dothraki know neither sin nor shame in understanding the inhabitants of Westeros.
The horse is a sacred animal for the Dothraki and the main value for them; however, the Dothraki do not give names to animals. In addition to horses, the Dothraki worship the Sun and the Moon, who are considered husband and wife; stars, in their opinion, are herds of fiery celestial horses, every night galloping through the sky from east to west. These star horses bear the souls of the dead. Those who die before they learn to ride cannot go to heaven and therefore must be born in this world for the second time.
Walking on the steppe is a terrible shame for a Dothraki because even children get into the saddle before they start walking. Falling from the saddle means an unacceptable weakness – a Dothraki, unable to ride in the saddle, cannot be the leader of warriors.
For obvious reasons, Dothraki do not like the sea, considering saltwater poisonous because horses can not drink it. Dothraki is wary and distrustful of all who swim on the sea and do not consider the overseas countries (Westeros) worthy of attention.