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Mixed Canonicity: This article or section refers to elements from both Original Dune and Expanded Dune.


Bene Tleilax, or the Tleilaxu as they were more commonly called, were a group of secretive, genetically altered humans who inhabited Tleilax, the sole planet of the star Thalim.

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.

History

During the Butlerian Jihad

The Corrino Empire

The Atreides Empire

Thallo

Scytale, the Face Dancer

The Tleilaxu directly participated in the plot to destroy the royal family with the gift to Paul Atreides of Hayt, the ghola of Duncan Idaho. When Chani died giving birth to the twins Leto II and Ghanima Atreides the Face Dancer Scytale was killed by the Emperor with the help of his new-born son.

Leto II and The Famine Times

Under Leto II, the Tleilaxu chafed just as all of the old power brokers struggled against his complete authortarian rule. Near the end of his reign, the Tleilaxu participated in a direct assassination attempt against him in the festival city of On, formerly Arrakeen. They also engineered his eventual fiancee' and love, Hwi Noree; from the cells of his old friend, Malky; before the God Emperor's death on Dune. When Leto died, and the Famine Timesbegan, the Tleilaxu, just as the rest of humanity, spread throughout the cosmos in The Scattering, in an attempt to find hospitable worlds.

Formation of the Honored Matres

The Return

During the Return of the Honored Matres to the Old Imperium, the Honored Matres, seeking revenge against all Tleilaxu males, attacked and decimated Tleilax; and the only known Tleilaxu Master survivor was the most junior Master Scytale. However, his possession 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 survived in uncharted space, undiscovered by the Honored Matres. When some these returned to the Old Imperium, they were known as the Lost Ones, especially the Lost Tleilaxu.

The Matres also killed the elder Tleilaxu Master, Tylwyth Waff, as he was on Rakis when they attacked the planet with ultra-destructive Obliterator weapons. This caused wide-spread revulsion amongst the surviving Tleilaxu, as they considered the sandworms of Dune to contain an essence of the God Emperor, their Prophet.

Erasmus, Khrone, and the Enhanced Face Dancers

Burah and the Enhanced Face Dancers

1st & 2nd Decade Aboard the Ithaca

3rd Decade Aboard the Ithaca

Uxtal and Waff

Seaworms and Return to Dune

Changelings in the Imperium

The Day of Kralizec

Culture

During the Butlerian Jihad

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.


Classes

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. This group also included Enhanced Face Dancers created by Hidar Fen Ajidica and improved upon by Erasmus.
  • Axlotl Tanks: Little more than incubation vessels, this class bred all Tleilaxu, as well as other beings (such as gholas). It is believed these were what remain of the female sex of the Tleilaxu.

Religion

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.

List of Known Tleilaxu by Class

Tleilaxu Masters

Ambassadors and Envoys

Face Dancers

Elders, Traders, Scientists, and Scribes

Others

Tleilaxu Ranks

In addition to their biological classes, Tleilaxu society and structure was strictly organized by rank.

  • Mahai or Abdl: the Master of Masters, leader of the Tleilaxu
  • 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.

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