The customs and ethics of the Bene Tleilax led to widespread revulsion by the other cultures of the Known Universe; a reaction that did little to quench the Tleilaxu's hunger to subjugate their rivals.
The Tleilaxu were an inherently isolationist culture that was dominated by a strict hierarchy and an overriding religious zeal. They had long focused their efforts on genetics, and the pursuit of spiritual elevation through physical refinement.
Originally trade also formed an important part of their culture. However, following revelations of their organ harvesting methods during the Butlerian Jihad they became collectively scorned and despised. This, coupled with active persecution against them, caused their trading connections to be dramatically reduced, and led to a significant change in their overall attitude to the wider universe. ==References and notes==
The Tleilaxu were separated into several different classes, each of which had a distinct physical appearance and role within their society. The main groups were:
- Tleilaxu Masters: Physically they looked similar to small humans, most often with small close-set eyes and a set of small pointed teeth.
- Face Dancers: The warrior and worker class, who were capable of adapting their physical appearance to a specific task at hand. Their doppelganger ability was also used to perform espionage against other groups.
- Axlotl Tanks: Little more that incubation vessels, this class bred all Tleilaxu, as well as other beings (such as gholas). It is believed these were what remains of the female sex of the Tleilaxu.
The Tleilaxu followed a strict and fervent spiritual ideology that derived itself from both the Zensunni and the Zensufi theologies. As with most cultures within the Known Universe, their faith was monotheistic. While they did not place significant importance on the Giant Sandworm, they did credit great importance to Leto Atreides II, who they saw as "God's Messenger".
The details of their religion remained largely hidden until the arrival of the Honored Matres, at which point the leadership of the Bene Gesserit, one of their great rivals, discovered some key posits of their faith.
Decline of Bene Tleilax
After the Honored Matres decimated Tleilaxa, the only known Tleilaxu survivor was the most junior Master Scytale. However, his posession of numerous individuals' genetic material (including that of many Tleilaxu) made it possible for him to recreate his culture. Additionally, the successful spread of the Tleilaxu that were sent out during The Scattering made it possible that others may have survived in uncharted space, undiscovered by the Honored Matres.
List of Known Tleilaxu by Class
Ambassadors and Envoys
- Duro Nunepi, Ambassador to Leto II
- Ledden Pook
Traders and Scientists
In addition to their biological classes, Tleilaxu society and structure was strictly organized by rank.
- Mahai: the Master of Masters, leader of the Tleilaxu
- Abdl: another term for the Mahai
- Masheikh: rulers chosen from the Master class
- Khasadar: guards and combat-ready personnel
- Domel: domestic servants and low-level personnel
Behind the Scenes
The true reason for the revulsion of the Bene Tleilax was not cataloged by Frank Herbert. The organ harvesting plot was outlined by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson in their Legends of Dune prequel novels.