Impa from Breath of the Wild, a notable Sheikah
|Special Characteristic(s)||Pointed ears|
The Sheikah (pronounced /ˈʃiːkə/ SHEE-kə), also known as the Shadow Folk, are a race in The Legend of Zelda series. They are a mysterious and secretive tribe with pointed ears, red eyes and shadowy magic abilities. They are the chosen guardians of the Goddess Hylia and later the protectors and guides of the descendants of her mortal incarnation, the Royal Family of Hyrule. They are known to excel in mobility and jumping and specialize in hand-to-hand combat. In addition, they have enhanced their technical capabilities with a variety of research and create tools unique to their tribe. They are also the founders of Kakariko Village, which would become one of the main settlements of Hyrule.
While the Sheikah have been prominently mentioned during the events of Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword, the Sheikah as a race have only appeared in Breath of the Wild. Previously, Impa was the only confirmed member in earlier games. While much about the tribe and their history is shrouded in mystery, one recurring reminder of their connections to various times, places and objects is their symbol, an eye with three pointed lashes atop and a tear drop. This symbol can be found on various objects around Hyrule such as on Gossip Stones and Sheikah Stones, the Lens of Truth, the Mask of Truth, Howling Stones, and the entrance to the Shadow Temple, among many others.
The Sheikah are a humanoid race, bearing great resemblance to Hylians in both appearance and magical capacity. As the Sheikah have scarely appeared, with Impa being the only member to appear across multiple games, very little can be known about their shared traits. The Sheikah, however, are known for their distinctive red eyes and pointed ears, which they share the latter with the Hylians. Despite physical similarities, the true relationship between the Sheikah and Hylian race is unknown. For example, the alter ego of Princess Zelda in Ocarina of Time is a Sheikah named Sheik, who possesses the red eyes that are exclusive to the Sheikah race.
The Sheikah were originally chosen by the Goddess Hylia to serve as guardians, and have been highly devoted to the Royal Family of Hyrule, her reincarnation's descendants, since the inception of the tribe. Various incarnations of Princess Zelda are often protected by different Sheikah women who share the name of Impa. Often Impa is shown to be very protective and concerned for the safety of the Princess. Several examples of this include Impa's steadfast shielding and protection of Hylia, reborn as the mortal Zelda in Skyward Sword; persuading the princess to return to Hyrule Castle for her own safety in the Oracle series; and protecting her from the clutches of Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time.
The Sheikah have their own writing script featured in Breath of the Wild, referred to as the Sheikah Language. This writing is extensively featured on the artitecture of the Ancient Shrines, Sheikah Towers, as well as in the Sheikah Slate.
Usually, the existence of the Sheikah is kept a secret to all except the Royal Family and those close to them because the Sheikah work best in the shadows. In time of war the Sheikah fulfill all manner of duties no matter how dark. There was a time when they existed in great numbers, but in times of peace their ranks dwindle as their role is less important.
The Sheikah Eye Symbol
- Main article: Eye Symbol
The Eye Symbol is the insignia of the Sheikah tribe and has reappeared constantly throughout the series, even in games that do not feature the Sheikah themselves. The official Sheikah Eye made its first true appearance in Ocarina of Time, where it was prominently displayed as the representative symbol of the Sheikah, as worn by Impa and Sheik. The symbol is also featured on the front door of the Shadow Temple, which in conjunction with Impa's status as the Sage of Shadow, hints at the Sheikah's connection to the Temple. A variation of the symbol also appears on Gossip Stones found scattered throughout Hyrule.
The symbol has subsequently appeared in numerous other games since its inception, though often in stylized variations derived from the original. The symbol reappears in Twilight Princess with its original shape in several places, such as on the Howling Stones and the back of Princess Zelda's robes. The symbol also appears in Skyward Sword on the Sheikah and Gossip Stones.
The open eye on the Sheikah symbol represents the search for truth. The tear drop represents how the Sheikah live in the shadow of the Royal Family and will go to any lengths to achieve a goal.
- Main article: Sheikah/Sheikah Legends
In more than one instance throughout the series, there have been legends passed down by the Sheikah tribe that have been discussed in different games ranging from Ocarina of Time to Twilight Princess. Two of these legends are featured in Ocarina of Time; one featuring the prophecy of the Hero of Time and his quest to find the Sages that dwell in the five temples scattered across Hyrule, and the other being a previously unknown legend of the Triforce and the Sacred Realm that explained what became of both after Ganondorf penetrated the Sacred Realm's defenses. The third legend of the Sheikah tribe is featured in Twilight Princess, speaking of a race of Sky Beings known as the Oocca and telling of their civilization and the role they play in Hyrule's history.
Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time implies that the Sheikah were nearly wiped out defending the Royal Family of Hyrule during the Hyrulean Civil War. The primary member of the tribe featured in the game is Impa, the tall, athletic female attendant and guardian of Princess Zelda. Impa is awakened as the game's Sage of Shadow, after Link defeats Bongo Bongo in the Shadow Temple late into his adult quest.
Likewise, Sheik, Princess Zelda disguised as a Sheikah, is also featured. Sheik assists the Hero of Time in locating each of the five Temples located throughout Hyrule. Sheik tracks Link as he travels from dungeon to dungeon, teaching him warp songs on a lyre and pauses infrequently to inform Link of the magnitude of his trials ahead. Sheik also shares two legends passed down by the Sheikah during their first and last meeting. Though revealed to be Princess Zelda in disguise at the finale of Ocarina of Time, Sheik displays the traditional Sheikah red eyes characteristic to the tribe.
Kakariko Village was once a Sheikah settlement before Impa, who was born and raised there, opened it to "the poor folk" of Hyrule. The Graveyard behind the village is the final resting place of the Sheikah and the location of the Shadow Temple. The Shadow Temple was historically a place used by the Sheikah to interrogate or otherwise harm enemies of the Royal Family of Hyrule. Because of the dark stain on Hyrule's history that it represents, it is taboo for the Royal Family to speak of the Shadow Temple.
As the game progresses, Link is given the opportunity to acquire a Sheikah relic, the Mask of Truth, a creation of the tribe that allows communication with Gossip Stones scattered about Hyrule. Each of these Stones bear the Sheikah eye symbol and can whisper secrets to one possessing this Mask. Another artifact, the Lens of Truth, is implied to be Sheikah in origin as well, as it is found deep in the Bottom of the Well that Impa sealed before the events of Ocarina of Time. To further establish Sheikah origin, the tool is also shaped like the Sheikah eye symbol.
While Twilight Princess does not feature any confirmed Sheikah, it does feature a character who is implied to be a member of the tribe: Impaz. Impaz is an old woman who resides in the forgotten Hidden Village and professes that her name is a homage to the town's founder. A sign over the entrance to the Hidden Village, when translated from Hylian, reads "Welcome to Old Kakariko", implying that the Hidden Village may have been the Kakariko Village featured in Ocarina of Time. This is supported by a statement made by Impaz, saying that the village was once home to the proud tribe that protected Hylian royalty. The Sheikah tribe is also alluded to by the Wooden Statue, which resembles the Sheikah eye symbol. Gor Coron mentions that the Statue belonged to the tribe that protected the Royal Family of Hyrule and who dwindled in the prolonged wars. This Wooden Statue was given to Ilia by Impaz after the woman saved her from monsters. Impaz later gives Link the Ancient Sky Book, a book implied to have been guarded by the Sheikah intended to be delivered to the messenger to the heavens.
Aside from the Wooden Statue, several signs of the Sheikah eye symbol appear throughout Twilight Princess. These include the many Howling Stones scattered about Hyrule, which depict the eye symbol as their motif. Curiously, the Sheikah symbol makes an appearance on the back of the robes worn by the imprisoned Princess Zelda at the game's beginning. Madame Fanadi, a fortune-teller from Hyrule Castle Town, also bears the Sheikah eye on her forehead. Luda, the daughter of Renado, bears a similar symbol on the back of her clothing as well.
In Skyward Sword, Sheikah are mentioned to have served the Goddess Hylia as her chosen guardians. One member of the Sheikah tribe, Impa, appears as both a young and old woman in the game. She serves as a guardian to the reborn Goddess and protects sacred relics at her bidding, aiding Zelda in her quest to defeat Demise. The familiar eye symbol is tattooed in red on her forehead, and her left eye is tattooed with the three white marks above and a white teardrop below in the form of the same symbol. She demonstrates powerful magical abilities while protecting Zelda from Ghirahim, an intimate knowledge of the Goddess's design, and was associated with the Goddess before she relinquished her immortal form.
Breath of the Wild
In Breath of the Wild, the Sheikah are described as an advanced civilization whose power and wisdom had saved the land of Hyrule multiple times. At some point though, their technological power put them at odds with the King and the people. Cado mentions that the Sheikah were exiled and Rensa mentions that they were scattered across the land. Some, decided to cast off their technological advances to live normal lives. However, The Yiga Clan are a group of Sheikah who have sworn allegiance to the Calamity Ganon and seek to destroy all those who stand against him. Spearheaded by Master Kohga, they are devoted to slay Link. Their Hideout can be located in Gerudo Highlands through the Karusa Valley.
The civilization of the Sheikah is said to have disappeared long ago; however, many remnants of them and their technology still exist in Hyrule, especially within the Ancient Shrines and Sheikah Towers. These house elements of their civilization, most notably the Sheikah eye symbol, their script, and advanced technology. Link awakens within the Shrine of Resurrection, a Shrine that not only contains the Sheikah eye symbol, but also the Sheikah Slate, a device of Sheikah origin. This device, in turn, can awaken both the Shrines and Towers. As Link travels across Hyrule, he locates many other Shrines where, at the end, he meets their respective ancient Sheikah Monks, who bequeath him their Spirit Orbs once they are reached.
- While the Sheikah are called a tribe, according to Impaz in both the English and original Japanese text of her description of the Sheikah, she describes them as more of a clan than a large tribe.
- Breath of the Wild has the most Sheikah to be featured in a single game.
- The Yiga Clan are the first example of explicitly malevolent Sheikah for the series.
- In Breath of the Wild, most Sheikah are named after fruits.
Their Japanese name, シーカー (Shīkā), may be a transliteration of "Seeker". This is reflected in the internal files of certain games, such as the Sheikah Stones of Skyward Sword, which are referred to internally as "SeekerStone". Sheikah may either be a mistranslation of "seeker" or was chosen to reflect the Japanese pronunciation of the word.
|Names in Other Regions|
|Japanese|| シーカー (Shīkā)
闇の民族 (Yami no Minzoku)
Race of Darkness
|FrenchCA||Sheikah (OoT3D | SS)|
|SpanishLA||Sheikah (OoT3D | SS)|
- "I just want to point out to you, because in general Shrines, of course you want to get to the end to the sort of Sheikah monk." —Nate Bihldorff (Playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild w/ Treehouse's Nate Bihldorff)
- "Much like Impa, she's a remaining survivor of the Sheikah." — Hyrule Warriors Direct, YouTube, published August 4, 2014.
- "Hold the Sheikah Slate up to the pedestal." — Zelda Breath of the Wild - All Cutscenes The Movie HD, YouTube, published March 4, 2017.
- "An evil being slumbers here. It is also where the goddess slept for thousands of years under the protection of the Sheikah." (Hyrule Historia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 40 (SS))
- "Long ago, a highly advanced tribe known as the Sheikah inhabited these lands." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "Have you heard the legend of the "Shadow Folk"? They are the Sheikah...the shadows of the Hylians. They say they swore allegiance to the King of Hyrule and guarded the Royal Family..." — Old Man (Ocarina of Time)
- "Someone must stay behind to watch over this blade. His spirit must not reawaken. He must never be allowed to threaten the world again. This is the nature of the task given to my tribe. As a member of the Sheikah, the goddess's chosen guardians, I gladly welcome this duty. Zelda, I shall watch over the Triforce." — Impa (Skyward Sword)
- "We Sheikah have served the royalty of Hyrule from generation to generation as attendants." — Impa (Ocarina of Time)
- "R.I.P. Here lie the souls of those who swore fealty to the Royal Family of Hyrule: The Sheikah, guardians of the Royal Family and founders of Kakariko, watch over these spirits in their eternal slumber." — Grave (Ocarina of Time)
- "Born with the singular purpose of guiding and guarding the royal family, they protect and pass down the traditions of Hyrule and its leaders." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "While there are few physical distinctions between Sheikah and Hylians, the Sheikah are known to excel in mobility and jumping, can use magic, and specialize in hand-to-hand combat." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "They have enhanced their technical capabilities with a variety of research and create tools unique to their tribe." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "My duty bound me to take Zelda out of Ganondorf's reach. When last I saw you, as we made our escape from the castle, you were just a lad..." — Impa (Ocarina of Time)
- "The existence of the Sheikah is typically a secret to all but members of the royal family and those close to them. Their tribe best fulfills its duty when acting in secret, as shadows of Hyrule." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "In eras of war, they are essential agents of the royal family, handling all manner of duties, from combat to intelligence gathering. No matter how dark or perilous the task, they will do what is necessary to keep the kingdom from harm." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "There was a time when they existed in great numbers. But as a relative peace comes over Hyrule, the role of the Sheikah becomes less important and their ranks dwindle." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "The crest seen on the items related to the Sheikah. It is in the shape of an eye, open wide to seek truth. The Sheikah live as shadows of the royal family and go to any lengths to achieve a goal. Knowing this, the eye on the crest sheds a single tear." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "When evil rules all, an awakening voice from the Sacred Realm will call those destined to be Sages, who dwell in the five temples. One in a deep forest... One on a high mountain... One under a vast lake... One within the house of the dead... One inside a goddess of the sand... Together with the Hero of Time, the awakened ones will bind the evil and return the light of peace to the world... This is the legend of the temples passed down by my people, the Sheikah." — Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
- "Another unknown legend of the Triforce passed down by the shadow folk, the Sheikah..... If you would seek the sacred triangle, listen well... The resting place of the sacred triangle, the Sacred Realm, is a mirror that reflects what is in the heart...the heart of one who enters it...If an evil heart, the Realm will become full of evil; if pure, the Realm will become a paradise. The Triforce...the sacred triangle...it is a balance that weighs the three forces: Power, Wisdom and Courage. If the heart of the one who holds the sacred triangle has all three forces in balance, that one will gain the True Force to govern all. But, if that one's heart is not in balance, the Triforce will separate into three parts: Power, Wisdom and Courage. Only one part will remain for the one who touched the Triforce...the part representing the force that one most believes in. If that one seeks the True Force, that one must acquire the two lost parts. Those two parts will be held within others chosen by destiny, who will bear the Triforce mark on the backs of their hands." — Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
- "Hey! That rod... Is that the Dominion Rod? Ahh... Could it really be? Are you the messenger to the heavens?! Among the legends of my clan, there is a story from the time when the Oocca still maintained contact with the royal family. Yes, it said that a mysterious rod was handed down from the people of the sky, and it was called the Dominion Rod... The rod was only to be carried by the messenger to the heavens when the royal family needed to communicate with the Oocca. From generation to generation, my ancestors have guarded the book that, by royal decree, was to be given to the messenger to the heavens." — Impaz (Twilight Princess)
- "They say that Princess Zelda's nanny is actually one of the Sheikah, who many thought had died out." — Gossip Stone (Ocarina of Time)
- "The boy with the noble Zelda's Ocarina... As I expected, you have come. I am Impa, one of the Sheikah. I am Princess Zelda's caretaker, and I am also the Sage who guards the Shadow Temple." — Impa (Ocarina of Time)
- "I am Sheik. Survivor of the Sheikahs..." — Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
- "I apologize for meeting you in disguise, but it was necessary to hide from the King of Evil. Please forgive me..." — Princess Zelda (Ocarina of Time)
- "At the foot of Death Mountain you will find my village, Kakariko. That is where I was born and raised." — Impa (Ocarina of Time)
- "Hi, boy! Is this the first time you've visited this village? A great woman, Impa, opened up this village to us poor folk." — Man (Ocarina of Time)
- "The Shadow Temple, located in the Kakariko Village graveyard. It is a place where the Sheikah, entrusted with the lives of Hyrule's royal family, have historically taken enemies of the royal family to be interrogated or worse. Because it stands as a symbol of Hyrule's dark history, it is taboo for the royal family to speak of this temple and its horrific purpose." (Encyclopedia (Dark Horse Books), pg. 44)
- "This is the Mask of Truth. It is a mysterious mask passed down by the Sheikah." — Happy Mask Salesman (Ocarina of Time)
- "Impa, the leader of Kakariko Village, had sealed the evil shadow spirit in the bottom of the well...." — Sheik (Ocarina of Time)
- "My name is Impaz. I'm the last resident of this poor village. My name comes from the great one who built this village so long ago..." — Impaz (Twilight Princess)
- "Welcome to Old Kakarico [sic]" — Sign written in Hylian (Twilight Princess)
- "This village was once the secret home of a proud tribe who served the royal family...But it fell into decline, and became infested with dangerous beasts. It's become an awful place..." — Impaz (Twilight Princess)
- "I REMEMBER! I thought I had seen that before somewhere... That belonged to the tribe that protected the Hylian royal family long ago. They worked in secret, so they lived in a lonely, forgotten place. But I heard that tribe dwindled in the prolonged wars..." — Gor Coron (Twilight Princess)
- "What...is this?! I... I remember something... I was confined somewhere... Yes, and I was saved by whoever was confined with me... And when that person set me free, they gave me this statue... Yes, yes, I remember that much! But that means...that person is still in trouble!" — Ilia (Twilight Princess)
- "Zelda, at the command of the goddess, I passed through the Gate of Time. I did so to protect you and aid the fight to prevent the world's destruction." — Impa (Skyward Sword)
- "Its power is too great to leave in the grasp of man. Dependence on its might is an invitation to disaster. When it has served its purpose, it must be secreted away to lay dormant once again...the knowledge of its existence hidden from mortal history. These are the words the goddess spoke to me long ago. I remember them well. As do you, I'm sure. Do not despair, Zelda. You and I will surely meet again someday." — Impa (Skyward Sword)
- "Long ago, an advanced civilization known as the Sheikah inhabited these lands." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "It was the power and wisdom of the Sheikah that saved this land time and time again." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "At one point, our technology was praised as the power of the gods...but eventually the people turned on it. Turned on us. Our creations came to be viewed as a threat to the Kingdom. The Sheikah became outcasts, forced into exile. Some, like us, chose to cast off our technological advances and strove to live normal lives." — Cado (Breath of the Wild)
- "It's said that, some time ago, they had advanced techniques that were more powerful than anything anyone had seen. But that power put them at odds with the king at the time, and they were scattered across the land..." — Rensa (Breath of the Wild)
- "We Sheikah have long served the royal family of Hyrule in secret. During the Great Calamity of 100 years ago... the royal family was destroyed, and the members of our tribe scattered. Sadly, there were some who swore allegiance to Ganon at that time. They joined together as the Yiga Clan, seeking out all who opposed Ganon... cutting them down, one after another." — Paya (Breath of the Wild)
- "The leader of the Yiga Clan, a group formed with just a single objective: eliminate Link." — Hyrule Compendium (Breath of the Wild)
- "But their civilization disappeared long ago...or so it is said." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "It is interesting, however, to think...that something of them might still remain hidden away in a shrine such as this." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "The appearance of those towers and the awakening of this shrine... It's all connected to that Sheikah Slate you carry on your hip there." — Old Man (Breath of the Wild)
- "Sheik: Originally it was just an eye. The Sheikah tribe served the Hylian Royal Family since the dawn of time, acting as its protective shadow. But a long time ago the family betrayed us...and we added a single teardrop to the symbol." (Ocarina of Time (Himekawa): Vol 2 (Viz Media), pg. 35)
- "Impa: You're not a Sheikah...But this is a coming-of-age ritual among Sheikah men." (Ocarina of Time (Himekawa): Vol 1 (Viz Media), pg. 190)
|The Races of the Zelda Universe|
|Ancient Robot · Anouki · Bokoblin · Bulblin · Cobble · Dark Interlopers · Demon · Deity · Deku Scrub · Fairy · Garo · Gerudo · Goron · Ho Ho Tribe · Human · Hylian · Keaton · Kikwi · Kokiri · Korok · Lokomo · Minish · Moblin · Mogma · Monkey · Nightmare · Oocca · Parella · Rito · River Zora · Salona · Sheikah · Skull Kid · Subrosian · Tokay · Twili · Watarara · Wind Tribe · Yamatami Tribe · Yeti · Yook · Zora · Zuna|