History

How Historically Accurate is Eivor’s Appearance?

As a die hard fan of Assassin’s Creed, I’m eagerly anticipating its next installment called Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, coming out on November 10th. The game stars a Viking protagonist called Eivor, whose gender is unclear due to a glitch in the Animus.

The game starts with a harrowing scene of child Eivor trying to escape from their village as fire engulfs it (not the first time this has happened in an Assassin’s Creed game.) At one point they fall from their horse onto a sheet of ice, which threatens to give way as wolves surround them.

Child Eivor quickly learns that wolves aren’t usually the friendly type.

After this cutscene, you’re allowed to choose your gender, or alternatively, allow the Animus to decide which gender is appropriate for the memory you’re exploring. From what I understand, female Eivor is supposed to be canon, so I’ll focus on her for now.

Is She Historically Accurate?

Normally, Ubisoft isn’t known for its historical accuracy–that took a backseat ever since Assassin’s Creed 3, which received polarizing responses. With each subsequent release, Ubisoft began promoting its big boss battles, mythological creatures, and its plethora of side quests. Historical accuracy, and to a larger extent, a cohesive storyline, no longer served as its biggest selling point.

Eivor’s appearance isn’t too far off from your typical Viking, however. For instance, her eye makeup, though messily smudged around her eyes, is typical of the time period. While Vikings didn’t adorn their faces with elaborate makeup or face paint, many of them liked lining their eyes with kohl. They did this regardless of gender.

Ibrahim Al-Tartushi, a traveler of Sephardic Jewish descent, noted this in 950 AD, about 100 years after AC Valhalla:

“There is also an artificial make-up for the eyes, when they use it beauty never fades, on the contrary it increases in men and women as well.”

Eivor’s hairstyle, however, is more typical of male Scandinavians than female. They had a so-called “reverse mullet” hairstyle, with the hair in front kept long. Females opted for long hair, however, tied back and styled. Perhaps Eivor opted for this hairstyle simply out of convenience.

Also important to note is the tattoo that adorns her temple. Yes, this too is historically accurate, according to accounts from Arab travelers during this time. In one passage they describe Viking men covered head to toe in green to blue colored tattoos, featuring traditional knotwork patterns and runes. Their distinctive color was due to the use of wood ash.

Suffice to say, it’s fair to say some research went into her character design. This did not extent to the actual mechanics of the game, however, but to find that out you’ll need to play the game. No more spoilers here!

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