- "The tradition of funeral rite. Proper burial in the Temple of the Graces."
- ―Hizdahr zo Loraq
The Ghiscari religion is followed in the region of Slaver's Bay on the southern coast of Essos. The ancient cities of Meereen, Yunkai, and Astapor were founded as colonies of the ancient Ghiscari Empire and still carry on some of its traditions, including religion.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, few details have actually been given about the Ghiscari religion (even compared to other Essos-based religions such as the Great Stallion of the Dothraki, or the Lord of Light religion). While it does center around priestesses known as Graces, who meet in a Temple of the Graces in each city, it isn't clear if there is a widespread hierarchy uniting the religion across the region. Also, little has been stated about the deities that the religion worships, other than describing them as the "gods of Ghis" (referring to Old Ghis, the ancient capital of the old Ghiscari Empire).
While the Ghiscari religion is favored by the aristocratic slave-trading families of the region, it is far from the only religion in Slaver's Bay. Many religions can be found among the slave population, many of whom have been imported from disparate foreign lands (either recently or in generations past).
What is known about the Ghiscari religion is as follows:
- Different sub-orders of Graces inhabit each temple, wearing variously-colored robes to denote their functions.
- Blue Graces function as healers, both in the temples and on battlefields.
- Red Graces are cult prostitutes. They are the only Graces allowed to have sex, while the others are sworn to chastity.
- The Green Grace is the high priestess, and there is only one in each city.
- Pink Graces serve as personal attendants to the Green Grace.
- White Graces are often young girls who have not been assigned a specific duty yet (essentially novices).
- Purple Graces and Gold Graces also exist, but their functions have not been mentioned.
- The Great Pyramid of Meereen was constructed with 33 levels, because the number 33 is said to be sacred in the religion.
- The famous fighting pits found in the cities are also said to be part of the Ghiscari religion: the gladiatorial combat is (allegedly) profoundly religious in nature, a blood sacrifice to the gods of Ghis (this is hinted at in the Season 5 episode "The Dance of Dragons", where the blessing of the Graces is needed to begin the Great Games in Meereen). In theory at least, the combats are not mere butchery but a display of courage, skill, and strength in the name of the gods- of course, the fighting pits also bring in a large amounts of money from spectators, and even more from those who gamble on the outcomes of fights.