Why Calormen.com?

Or, why do we have this domain? One reason is that we never got around to registering a domain until 2001, despite having been heavy users of the Internet since 1991. Oops.

What is Calormen?

Calormen is one of the nation-states portrayed in the fictional world created by C. S. Lewis in his series of short children's novels The Chronicles of Narnia, the most well-known of which is The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. More information can be found at the canonical web site, Narnia.com. Reading the books as a child and being a very non-religious person, I completely failed to notice that the stories were allegories for Christian mythology, but I have to admit that it's pretty hard to miss. Reading them later in life it's pretty hard to ignore the heavy handed dogma being conveyed by the books, but I am pretty dense.

Calormen is a vast nation to the south of Narnia which serves as the primary setting for The Horse and His Boy. The landscape and culture is an amalgam of British stereotypes of the Near East - Arabia, Persia and India. The inhabitants are used as foils for the Narnian heroes, and are thus portrayed in a strong negative light in that book and others. The Calormene are polytheistic, worshiping many gods including Tash, a four-armed vulture-headed harbinger of death. They live in vast cities crowned with golden domes and spires, in contrast to the small towns of Narnia. They are ruled from Tashbaan by an emperor known as the Tisroc (may he live forever!) said to be descended directly from Tash. A strict caste system is in place, from the Tisroc through Tarkaan lords down to peasants and slaves. Moustaches and beards adorn the faces of men, and talking animals are not to be found. They have oil on their toast instead of wholesome butter. Perhaps the only feature that Lewis attributes to the Calormene and identifies as redeeming is their elaborate storytelling style.

Harrumph. To my mind, that's not so differently stereotyped than the Anglo-centric Narnians living in rural towns, worshiping a lion (son of the Emperor-Beyond-The-Sea) and ruled by a hereditary monarch and policed by knights. In contrast to that commonplace medieval fantasy world, Calormen seems a much more worthy culture to explore!

And so we did, in the early 1990's in a little place called NarniaMUSH...


(I've run across a delightful dialogue by Naomi Rousseau and Tessa Laird about C. S. Lewis's portrayal of the Middle East by proxy through Calormen. It's worth the time to read; anyone expecting The Chronicles of Narnia to be harmless children's literature should realize that there's no such beast!)