Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from TWoRJTWoT, Ch. 17. )
In Seanchan, sul'dam are women who control damane by using an a'dam. They are selected at the same time as the damane in a yearly testing. In Seanchan it is considered a high honour to be chosen to be sul'dam. Sul'dam are considered the highest ranked of the Seanchan exotic handlers. Sul'dam wear dark blue dresses with red panels and silver lightning on the breast and sides.
Some sul'dam give their damane new names, whereas others allow them to keep their own (TGH, Ch. 40). Similarly, some will allow their damane to speak with permission, and others allow considerable freedom as long as the damane is careful in what she says (TGS, Ch. 40). As there are more sul'dam than damane, each damane will be controlled by more than one sul'dam, though the sul'dam that first takes her will have primary responsibility for her training (TGH, Ch. 42). Sul'dam refer to being linked with a damane as being "complete."
Damane and controlled by sul'dam through the a'dam. A sul'dam has an awareness of all the damane is feeling, and can add to the sensations to inflict pain, or give pleasure to their charge as they choose (TGH, Ch. 45). They also break the spirit of many damane, who are often convinced that they need to be collared as they are too dangerous to be allowed to go free (This passage needs a reference). As there are many more sul'dam than damane, most damane will have many sul'dam controlling their leash (TGH, Ch. 40). Damane can become fiercely loyal to the sul'dam who control them and look to them for support. Damane are regarded as valued slaves, and are seldom killed, even for infractions that a lesser slave would be put to death for, though they are often threatened with mutilation. Such mutilation is rarely carried out as it is seen as a failure on the part of the sul'dam to impose proper discipline (This passage needs a reference) and comfort (This passage needs a reference). Channeling while not linked makes a damane feel sick, the more they channel the sicker they feel, nor can they move the a'dam (TGH, Ch. 42). They are also unable to touch a weapon or anything they consider using as a weapon (TGH, Ch. 42).
In Seanchan, the damane are the women who have the spark and will channel with or without being taught. What is not known is that the women identified as sul'dam are capable of learning to channel. They do not actually begin to learn but over time however, they develop an affinity so they can sense when others are channeling, and are always able to tell if a woman they are linked to has tried to touch the source (TGH, Ch. 40). To a person who can channel who tries to sense their ability, it will feel as though they are on the verge of being able to channel themselves (WH, Ch. 8). Over time, this can develop such that they can be held by an a'dam (TGH, Ch. 46). Though this is generally not known, at least three sul'dam have been held by the a'dam and are known to the Seanchan, Renna and Seta, collared by Egwene and Nynaeve (TGH, Ch. 45) and Bethamin, collared by Egeanin. In addition to these, twenty sul'dam captured fighting against Rand and the Asha'man were sent to Elayne who decided to convince them that they could channel (WH, Ch. 8). Most refused to accept, claiming it was Aes Sedai tricks that held them, though one did accept it and insisted she needed to be collared, taking the new name Kaisea (ToM, Ch. 34). Once they have decided to learn however they are capable of channeling and forming weaves (This passage needs a reference).
- Main article: Sul'dam Character List
"When a damane is punished, it is always her fault, even if she does not know why. A damane must anticipate what her sul'dam wants. But this time, you do know why. Damane are like furniture, or tools, always there ready to be used, but never pushing themselves forward for attention. Especially not for the attention of one of the Blood." (Renna, to Egwene, The Gathering Storm, Chapter 40).
"Not quite the spark of a woman born to it, but almost. It's as if she were right at the brink of being able to channel, one foot poised to step over." (Winter's Heart, Chapter 8)