Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/30/20: Narnia XVIII

Eustace keeps Jill from falling into hysteria as Tash passes by

In The Last Battle, Lewis introduces the reader to Narnia’s equivalent of Satan: Tash. Tash is the foremost deity of the desert nation of Calormen, mentioned first in The Horse and His Boy. However, in that book we are not told what he looked like, only his temple: it has a silver-plated roof and sits at the apex of the royal city of Tashbaan, which is named after him.  That he is the most powerful god of the Calormene pantheon is evident, but in the text, he’s just a bit of Orientalist window-dressing.

In The Last Battle, though, we get to see more.

They have a god called Tash. They say he has four arms and the head of a vulture. They kill Men on his altar.

I’d forgotten about the human sacrifice bit, thinking it was fanon. The idol that oversees this bloody business  is said to be “… carved in stone and overlaid with gold [with] solid diamonds for eyes.”

It was roughly the shape of a man but it had the head of a bird; some bird of prey with a cruel, curved beak. It had four arms which it held high above its head, stretching them out Northward as if it wanted to snatch all Narnia in its grip; and its fingers—all twenty of them—were curved like its beak and had long, pointed, bird-like claws instead of nails. It floated on the grass instead of walking, and the grass seemed to wither beneath it.

This apparition appears ahead of the physical manifestation that pops out of the stable. It’s smoky and translucent and emits a deathly smell that makes Jill – but not any of the other characters – physically sick.( I remember thinking less of Jill, who still remains my favorite protagonist, at this mention.)

The illustration above depicts this moment, albeit takes liberties with it: it’s a statue of Tash rather than Tash himself, and is not smoky like the text says. Furthermore, it seems oversized. But this makes it all the more spooky, IMO.

In another world, perhaps one accessed through the Wood Between the Worlds, there might have been manifestations of Aslan and Tash like this.


Aslan vs. Tash


Isphom, a kindly gray wolf with long, hairy eyebrows

Alona, a giant, good-natured snail with long, tufted ears and a pearly shell that reflects the light

Asbia, a beautiful bird with an ivory horn on her forehead

Umlan, a powerful bear with a flowing golden mane

Avnaa, a mischievous white dragon with the power to change his size from small to large

Asperi, a wise silver-scaled serpent with tufts of long, silky hair on his jaws and chin

Uslan, a gentle white lioness with eyes that are all white with no pupil or iris


Mshver, a maiden with the head of a baboon and eight clawed arms N

Nanju, a terrible, armored human warrior with the head of a centipede that has a huge mouth and mandibles

Vash, a crocodile with the tail of a scorpion

Sharaz, an apelike skeletal being with bat’s wings

Bhranu, a demonic centaur with the head of an elephant and six legs

Khaph, a giant black horse with the scaly legs of a fowl and a flaming mane and tail

Dzach, an obese human man dressed in rich robes, with the head of a hyena


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