Earth's Children
Sex: Male
Race: Mixed
Culture: Mamutoi
Camp: Lion Camp
The Clan of the Cave Bear: not mentioned
The Valley of Horses: not mentioned
The Mammoth Hunters: appears
The Plains of Passage: mentioned
The Shelters of Stone: mentioned
The Land of Painted Caves: mentioned

Rydag was a child of mixed spirits who lived with the Lion Camp of the Mamutoi. He was the son of a Neanderthal woman and a Cro-Magnon man.

Birth and Adoption[]

Nezzie, the mate of the Lion Camp's headman, met Rydag's mother when her camp was hunting megaceros. The Neanderthal woman was alone and pregnant. (It is likely that the woman had been turned out by her clan, as Clan women seldom traveled alone.) The woman ran away from Nezzie when she approached, but Nezzie thought that she was hungry and left food for her that night and the next morning. The next night, Rydag's mother went into labor. She continued to run from Nezzie but obeyed Talut when he bade her to follow.

Rydag was born the next morning. The mother was weak, and Nezzie thought it would give the woman reason to live if she saw that her son was alive. However, when she saw that the baby was deformed, she lost the will to live and died before sunrise. Everyone told Nezzie to leave the baby to die with his mother, but Nezzie could not do it. Nezzie was already nursing her daughter, Rugie, and had plenty of milk. She decided to raise the boy as her own son and named him Rydag.

Appearance and Personality[]

Rydag was about the same age as Ayla's son, Durc. (He was six years old when Ayla came to Lion Camp.) He had the large, brown eyes of the Clan and looked wise for his age. He had fair skin and dark, curly hair -- but lighter and softer than the bushy brown more common to the Clan. He had the high forehead of a modern human but the short neck and protruding jaw of the Clan. Due to his illness, Rydag was unusually thin for a child of mixed spirits.

Rydag was born with a congenital heart defect that prevented him from participating in most of his camp's activities. He was also unable to use spoken language, although he could understand everything that was said. Rydag was born with some vestige of the Clan memories, so when Ayla began to teach him the Clan's sign language, he learned more quickly than anyone else in the camp.

Rydag had a gentle sense of humor and was good with young children. He liked to watch over them, because it gave him a sense of belonging and usefulness. Rydag's Clan memories gave him a heightened awareness of other people's body language. (On one occasion, he observed that Ayla and Jondalar used the right signs but the wrong words.)

Relationship With Ayla[]

Ayla opened Rydag's world by teaching him how to use sign language to communicate with his camp. She was a staunch defender of Rydag's humanity, bravely standing up for him against those who reviled him as a half-human, half-animal abomination.

In many ways, Rydag stood in for Durc, her son whom she would never see again. He allowed her to see what Durc might be like as he matured, to know how he might look and think. She transferred her feelings for her lost son to Rydag.

Death and Burial[]

Rydag succumbed to his illness at the Summer Meeting that Ayla attended. Ayla was furious when she learned that the Mammoth Hearth would not allow Rydag to have a Mamutoi burial. She vowed to give him a Clan burial. Rydag was then at peace. His final words were, "I am not animal."

Ayla did not have everything she needed for a true Clan burial, so she used a combination of Clan and Mamutoi elements that was appropriate for a child who was a mixture of Clan and Mamutoi. She made Rydag a Clan amulet. His body was rubbed in red ochre mixed with mammoth fat. (The Clan would have used Cave Bear fat.) Then he was dressed in his best Mamutoi clothes and wrapped in Durc's carrying cloak. (Giving Rydag her son's carrying cloak was a symbolic gesture of letting go.)

Ayla opened the funeral by performing the naming ceremony on Rydag, drawing a line in red ochre from his forehead to his nose. She then delivered Rydag into the protection of her own totem, the Cave Lion. Then Rydag was laid in a shallow grave and given food and other grave goods. Every member of the Lion Camp wept for Rydag and placed a stone on his body to construct a grave cairn.

As Ayla performed the funeral ceremony (using the ancient, formal sign language used to address the spirits), a Mamutoi drummer began to play some Clan rhythms that Ayla had taught him, and another played Clan tones on a flute. Ayla decided to perform the ritual a second time as the musicians improvised an accompaniment that was a mixture of Clan and Mamutoi elements. After the third repetition, fine volcanic ash rained down, coating the grave and the people in attendance.


Italics indicate an adoptive relationship: in this case, through Nezzie's adoption of Rydag as her son.

Ancestors: Talut (father), Nezzie (mother), and Mamut (great-great-grandfather)
Siblings: Danug (brother), Latie (sister), and Rugie (sister)
Extended Family: Tulie (aunt), Ayla (great-great-aunt)*, Tarneg (first cousin), Deegie (first cousin), Druwez (first cousin), Brinan (first cousin), Tusie (first cousin), Ranec (first cousin), Manuv (second cousin)*, Nuvie (second cousin once removed), Hartal (second cousin once removed), and possibly Tholie (second cousin)*

  • Ayla is the adoptive daughter of Mamut.
  • Cousins can either be cousins in the literal sense or half-siblings who share the same father. This description treats all "cousins" as first cousins unless there is evidence to the contrary.
  • Talut said that Tholie was the daughter of his cousin.