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Who Are The Silent Sisters In The HOTD And GOT World?

By Mohit Srivastava
September 1,2022

George R. R. Martin’s world of Westeros is rich in characters as well as in history, culture, and epicness. The world of Westeros is full of many aspects that can be explored indefinitely. One of them is a group of women called ‘The Silent Sisters‘. They continuously appeared in Game Of Thrones (GOT), and were even recently mentioned in the latest episode of House Of The Dragon (HOTD S1E2).

So, Let’s dive into Westeros’s lore and find out who are they exactly.

The Silent Sisters

Silent Sisters preparing Jon Arryn’s body for funeral in GOT

Yes, Your Grace. He (Ser Rym) was found to have passed gently in his sleep. His remains are being prepared by the Silent Sisters.
– Grand Master Mellos (HOTD S1E2)

The Silent Sisters are an order of women belonging to the Faith of the Seven. They are also referred to as the Stranger’s wives, Death’s Handmaidens, or the handmaidens of the Stranger. The Silent Sisters are sworn to the service of the Stranger (representing death). On joining the order they take vows of chastity and silence. The silent sisters attend to the dead – preparing the dead bodies for their funeral rites.

Not to be confused with the Septas or Septons, the Silent Sisters are considered much more consecrated and inviolate. They are mostly shrouded in grey and wear cowls covering their head and veils covering their entire face except for the eyes. In order to signify their exalted status, they wear elaborate back braces displaying the Seven-Pointed Star, the symbol of the Faith of the Seven. Since the silent sisters prepare men for the grave, the people of Westeros consider it an ill fortune to look at the face of death.

From The Books

The Silent Sisters as described in books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire, it is even mentioned that sometimes the sisters remove the bowels and organs from the dead, and drain a body of blood, stuffing it with salts and fragrant herbs. Novices shave their heads, take cold baths, eat meatless meals, and wear roughspun robes. Notably, the Great Sept of Balor of King’s Landing has three separate entrances – for Septons, Septas, and the Silent Sisters.

Also, in the books, the group of Silent Sisters is sometimes treated as equivalent to that of Night’s Watch. When a noble family is defeated in war, the male members of the House are exiled to the Wall to join the Night’s Watch. Since the Night’s Watch is an all-male order and women are forbidden to join. Thus the female members of defeated houses are instead given an option to join the Silent Sisters or face execution.

The difference with the Septas

Septa Mordane teaching Sansa Stark sewing in GOT

Septas are the women who are sworn to celibacy. They often serve noble houses as governesses and tutors to the daughters of lords, teaching them matters of etiquette, history, and house chores. In contrast, male clergy is known as Septons. They often dress in humble clothing with hair concealed.

Unlike the Septas, the monastic lifestyle of the Silent Sisters is seen as far more strict. The Septas can interact with individuals, and some are even known to have sexual affairs. But such is not the case with the Silent Sisters. In fact, if victors in war want the women of their defeated enemies to never bear children, they prefer to force them in joining the Silent Sisters rather than become a Septa.

Common people can also manage to join the Silent Sisters, to escape hardship and hunger. However, the order more often accepts noble-born women, so that their families can grant them generous donations in exchange. Rarely noble women voluntarily join the Silent Sisters out of extremely pious devotion to the Faith.

Some believe that the Silent Sisters have their tongues removed while joining the order, but it’s just a rumor. It is also decreed across the seven kingdoms that harming a Silent Sister is a grave offense – even laying hands on one, much less raping one. While not exactly clear, harming a Silent Sister might carry an instant death sentence.