In this video I show how a goddess for the map was drawn.
The History of Essos
Click on the images to enlarge them.
The Last Hero
Azor Ahai was a legendary hero who wielded a burning sword called Lightbringer, according to tales from Asshai and followers of R'hllor. In some other cultures this warrior is called Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser. He is said to have defeated the Others in the Long Night and will be reborn one day.
The Coronation of Hugor of the Hill
Hugor of the Hill was the first King of the Andals in Andalos. His realm was extensive, spreading from the hills of northern Andalos to the southern marches, now called the Flatlands, in the south.
The Faith of the Seven proclaims, that at that time the Seven walked in human form among the hills of Andalos and crowned the first Andal king, Hugor of the Hills. The Father himself pulled down seven stars to make his crown. The Maid brought forth a girl supple as a willow with eyes like deep blue pools that Hugor took as his first wife. The Mother made her fertile, and she bore him forty-four mighty sons as foretold by the Crone. The Warrior gave each son strength of arms and the Smith wrought each a suit of iron plate. The Seven also promised him and his descendants great kingdoms in a foreign land. The Andals later crossed the Narrow Sea in the east of Essos and invaded Westeros.
Valyrian Shepherds Find Dragons
This image depicts a legendary scene. The Valyrians were originally a sheep-herding folk of the Valyrian peninsula. When they discovered dragons lairing in the Fourteen Flames (a group of fourteen volcanoes), their rise to power began. This image could be a propaganda fresco you would find in any Valyrian palace. We learn from history that every dictator or ruling people see themselves as peaceful and kind, even though they are actually barbaric and brutal in their conquests and suppressions of others. The same here. These shepherds seem to bee the most gentle folk, living in harmony with nature and dragons. Yet in reality the Valyrians definitely used dark magic and blood sacrifices to tame the beasts.
The Fall of Ghis
The Old Empire of Ghis was one of the oldest known nations and cultures in the world. It reigned supreme over much of Essos. At its height Ghis fielded highly disciplined legions of lockstep soldiers that were reputed to be nearly unbeatable on the battlefield. Each of them wore three spears. The architecture of Ghis was dominated by massive brick towers and pyramids built using slave labor. Its symbol was the harpy, which is a fanged woman with leathery wings, and the legs of an eagle.
After the Valyrians discovered dragons and quickly rose to power, the Ghiscari wanted dragons for their own. Five great wars were fought between Ghiscar and the Freehold, which Valyria won with its dragons. In the last great war the Valyrians smashed the Ghiscari legions and used their dragons to burn Ghis and its pyramids to the ground. After Ghis was burned, the Valyrians sowed the fields with salt and sulfur to prevent any surviving inhabitants from returning.
Later less powerful descendants of the Ghiscari Empire kept the harpy as their symbol. Their soldiers sometimes call themselves "Sons of the Harpy".
An old Ghiscari legend also believes that dragons were hatched from a second moon that came too close to the sun and cracked, so thousands of dragons were spat out. In the image, the harpy raises her fist in anger at that cracked moon in the sky.
Nymeria was a Rhoynish queen who ruled in Ny Sar, where she had a palace. When the Valyrian Freehold conquered the Rhoynar with their dragons, Nymeria led the survivors into exile from Essos. For a time Nymeria and her refugees lived on Abulu, one of the Summer Islands now known as the Isle of Women.The warrior queen then brought ten thousand ships across the Narrow Sea to the shores of Dorne in southern Westeros.
The Foundation of Braavos
The free city of Braavos was founded by escaped slaves, fleeing the grasp of the Valyrian Freehold. The slaves rebelled on their way from Valyria to a new colony in Sothoryos, took control of the ships, and turned north instead of south, travelling as far as they could. According to the histories of Braavos, it was a group of slave women from the lands of Jogos Nhai, the moonsingers, who predicted where shelter could be found. Thus, the slaves travelled to the distant lagoon, hidden away from sight of the dragonlords by the wall of hills covered with pine trees and the fog covering the lagoon. The founders of Braavos had risked their lives for freedom, and swore a vow that no one in their city would ever be a slave, thrall, or bondsman. This vow became the First Law of Braavos, and is engraved on the arch spanning the Long Canal. The existence of the city was a secret for a century.
The The Doom of Valyria
For centuries the Freehold of Valyria ruled over Essos. This rule came to a sudden end by the Doom. For some inexplicable reason all fourteen volcanoes that surrounded Valyria broke out at the same time. Their fires burned so hot, that even dragons burned. The image is a bit inspired by Early Netherland Hell depictions. I couldn't resist including a faceless man from Braavos on the right, because according to a fan theory, these assassins could be indirectly responsible for the outbreak of the Doom.
The Rise of the Dothraki
The dominant power in Essos, the Valyrian Freehold, collapsed when the Valyrian peninsula was destroyed through the Doom of Valyria. The colonies and conquests of Valyria broke away and bedlam erupted. Taking advantage of the power vacuum, the Dothraki horselords emerged from the central plains and laid waste to lands surrounding the Dothraki sea. They conquered a huge area of Essos. That time was called "The Century of Blood" or "The Bleeding Years".
In the image you can see two Dothraki riders, one of them is holding a traditional weapon of the Dothraki, a so-called Arakh. They are returning to their capital, Vaes Dothrak, whose entrance is marked by a statue of two bronze horses. In the background there is a burning Sarnori city. The mountain in the background is called "Mother of Mountains".
The Battle of Qohor
The Battle of Qohor was a battle fought in Essos during the Century of Blood. In the battle, a Dothraki khalasar of 20,000 riders was decisively stopped by 3,000 Unsullied slave-soldiers before the walls of the Free City of Qohor. The Dothraki could easily have flanked around the relatively small number of Unsullied, but the Dothraki think nothing of infantry, arrogantly considering them good for nothing but riding down. Twenty thousand Dothraki riders charged the Unsullied lines, but their phalanxes held firm with fearless discipline. Many Dothraki died on the fence of Unsullied spears. The Dothraki leader Khal Temmo had the Unsullied phalanxes charged a total of eighteen times, yet each time he and his riders were repulsed. By the end, only 600 of the 3,000 Unsullied survived - yet 12,000 Dothraki were dead, including Khal Temmo and all his sons. For the first time in history, the invincible Dothraki hordes now knew the bitter taste of defeat. In the image, a Dothraki survivor has just cut of his hair as a sign of defeat.
The one abominable tradition that has been kept alive for centuries in Essos has been that of slavery. No matter who the ruling people were - be they Ghiscari or Valyrians - they all bought and sold slaves. Indeed, slavery has been so prominent on this continent, espescially in Meereen, Astapor and Yunkai, that they even called the complete bay area around these cities "Slaver's Bay". The image depicts various issues connected with slavery: exposure, violence, exploitation of labor force and slave prostitution. Freedom from slavery is one of the main topics of the Song of Ice and Fire novels.
Mother of Dragons
All the previous history images of Essos lead up to this one. She is Daenerys (the Stormborn) Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons (three of them to be precise) and the Breaker of Chains (freeing the slaves in Meereen). She is Azor Ahai reborn, true Queen of Westeros (see Hugor of the Hill), the Blood of the Dragon (of Valyrian descent), married to a Dothraki (dead) and like Nymeria she's going to lead her people to a new land. Because of all of these promises, hopes, prophecies and burdens that she has to bear upon her shoulders, the obvious visual connection is of course a medieval icon of The Virgin Mary.