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To 'Hobble a woman' was the term used for a long-standing practice common, if not universal, amongst the clans of the White Face Barghast. The word Hobbler was used to refer to a woman who had been hobbled - not to the one(s) who had done the hobbling.[1][2][3][4]

In Dust of DreamsEdit

"A woman hobbled has her feet chopped [i.e., her toes cut off] and can refuse no man or woman or, indeed, camp dog."
Spax of clan Gilk explaining to Queen Abrastal of Bolkando what 'hobbling' meant[src]

The reasons for the hobbling of White Face Barghast women were varied, but usually included motives - openly acknowledged or not - such as: vengeance; envy; greed; punishment for 'major crimes' - real, perceived, or invented; or the removal of an inconvenient and/or hated woman from a position of influence and/or power. The result of hobbling was the extreme humiliation, total degradation, and complete dehumanization of the woman, thus making of her an object always available for unbridled abuse - sexual or otherwise.[5][6][7][8]

The details of hobbling seemingly varied from clan to clan of the White Face. For example, the people performing the hobbling could be male[9] or - apparently more usually - female.[10] Although hobbling was always done to women, the White Face Barghast had a somewhat analogous custom directed towards men - which involved a "shaming" 'show trial' which would result in a sentence of castration.[11] The relative frequency of these two practices was never indicated.

The White Face Barghast insisted on retaining the custom of hobbling, as "vicious" as it was, even though Onos Toolan, when he became Warchief of the combined clans - along with the 'Great Warlock', Cafal - wished to completely outlaw the custom.[12] Even Bakal, who had once been one of Tool's "worst critics" and "fiercest rivals" in clan Senan,[13][14] finally realized in the end that hobbling was actually a symptom of all that was 'wrong' with the White Face clans and that it was a particularly telling symbol of the Barghast drive to "self-destruction".[15]

QuotesEdit

"His wife raped and the toes clipped from her feet, so making her a Hobbler, lower than a camp cur, forced to lift her backside to any man at any time and in any place."
―Some thoughts of Zaravow of clan Snakehunter[src]
"Cafal and Tool had spoken often of outlawing the tradition of hobbling, but too many [White Face Barghast] resisted the casting away of traditions, even those as vicious as this one."
Onos Toolan's and Cafal's thwarted plans regarding hobbling[src]
"The White Faces. We hobble ourselves and call it glory. We lift to meet drooling old men eager to fill us to bursting with their bitter poisons. Old men? No, warleaders and warchiefs. And our precious tradition of senseless self-destruction. Watch it fuck us dry."
―A major revelation occurring to Bakal of clan Senan[src]

SpeculationsEdit

There was a mention of the 'cutting off of toes' elsewhere in Dust of Dreams in a completely different context, and for a completely different reason, than those of the White Face custom of 'hobbling'. It involved Warleader Gall of the Khundryl Burned Tears - fighting the Bolkando of Lether at the time - giving orders to Vedith before an upcoming battle. Gall finished his orders by telling Vedith not to let his warriors indiscriminately slaughter the enemy, but rather to capture them, then cut off their toes and leave these, now maimed and useless, soldiers to be a continuing burden upon Bolkando resources and an ongoing reminder of defeat.[16] This sort of thing was probably a common tactical practice on many different continents, amongst many different peoples, and may have been the original genesis - eventually corrupted - of the White Face Barghast custom of hobbling. The author, SE, may have intended this Khundryl episode to be a hint of how the practice of hobbling amongst the White Face clans could have come about.

Notes and referencesEdit