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A map of Cantha, found in the Durmand Priory Special Collections.

Cantha, also known as the Empire of the Dragon, is a vast empire located to the south of Tyria, across the Clashing Seas of the Unending Ocean. It is the oldest known human nation, and the oldest known land for humans to have lived on,[1] though legends tell of other lands across an ocean from which the Canthans came from. Historically known to have been inhabited by tengu, naga, and other species, Cantha had become a xenophobic and isolationist nation under Emperor Usoku's rule and his influence from the Ministry of Purity that formed in response to the devastation caused by Shiro Tagachi and the affliction plague. Under Usoku's rule, the only contact known was via trade ships with Kryta; however, with Zhaitan's awakening and the Rising of Orr, this little contact was removed. The last known contact with Cantha comes from the tengu who fled through the Risen armada to reach the Dominion of Winds.[2] In modern times, the only proof that Cantha still exists are sporadic sailors washing ashore on the Tarnished Coast.[3]


See also: An Empire Divided

Rise of an empire (786 BE–459 BE / Late Pre-Imperial Era –51 CC)[edit]

The oldest records of Canthan activities date back to 786 BE, when humanity first arrived along the northern shores of the continent.[1] In 510 BE, the Canthan tribes united under a single leader, Kaineng Tah, and established the Empire of the Dragon with Kaineng as their emperor. However, Kaineng Tah died under mysterious circumstances 46 years later and was succeeded by his ruthless son, Yian Zho.[4]

During Yian's reign, the Luxon and Kurzick tribes united into the two nations and seceded from the Empire, only to be forced back with military might as vassal states. This time was also the birth of the hostility between the Luxons and Kurzicks that remained for over a thousand years. After Yian Zho's reign, Cantha remained fairly isolated in the south, only opening trade with the northern continents in 221 AE, when resources became low for their growing population.

Age of the Dragon (872 AE–1080 AE / 1382 CC–1590 CC)[edit]

Angsiyan, the 26th emperor of Cantha, was slain by his trusted bodyguard Shiro Tagachi during the harvest ceremony of 872 AE. Shiro had been tricked and corrupted by a demonic agent of Abaddon masquerading as a human fortune teller who had seemingly foreseen the bodyguard's demise at the emperor's hands. Utilizing dark rituals, Shiro consumed the emperor's life force and a gift of magic from the gods, twisting it. He was defeated shortly after by three champions. In his death wail, he unleashed the magic he had absorbed all at once, petrifying the surrounding area and all life within it in an event now known as the Jade Wind.

In 1072 AE, Shiro's spirit returned as an envoy, seeking to become living once more. His search through Cantha's places of knowledge caused the appearance of a horrible plague that turned victims into violent, bloated creatures called Afflicted. During his pursuit, Shiro abused his powers as an envoy, and instead of guiding souls to the afterlife, he forced them into serving him as Shiro'ken. Shiro was eventually defeated by the united forces of Cantha—including the warring Kurzicks and Luxons, as well as the dragon Kuunavang. However, he had already succeeded in his plans to return to a corporeal form by slaying Master Togo, half-brother to Emperor Kisu, and using his blood in a ritual. Upon Shiro's second defeat, the other envoys turned him into a jade statue and sent his soul to the Realm of Torment for punishment.

Following these events, a new ministry was formed. The Ministry of Purity set out to do what the other Celestial Ministries would not: to cleanse Cantha of the Afflicted, crime, and all other hostilities. Their leader, Minister Reiko Murakami, became corrupt with power, however, and was slain in 1079 AE, but the Ministry of Purity remained and continued to lead the way to a more peaceful life. The ministry paved the path for Canthans' mentality of increasing xenophobia. This mentality culminated in 1127 AE when Kisu's successor, Emperor Usoku, raised the Canthan military by spending millions in gold and conquered the still-warring vassal states of the Luxons and Kurzicks, forcing them fully into the empire once more. With this done, he then drove out all non-humans and closed the borders to Cantha. The emperor was said to be tyrannical and fierce, and those who disagreed with him left their homeland and sought refuge in Elona and Tyria.[3][5]

Last contact with Cantha (1219 AE– / 1729 CC–)[edit]

When the Elder Dragon Zhaitan caused Orr to rise and spread its naval army, any ship attempting to sail in nearby seas were sunk. This caused Cantha to be completely and fully isolated, and all refugees—including the Xunlai Guild—had heard nothing of their homeland. The only evidence that Cantha still existed was when sporadic sailors washed ashore on the Tarnished Coast. The Order Threat Assessment Board found in the Chantry of Secrets showed Cantha altered from its state 250 years prior.

So far it is not known what is going on in Cantha, or who is the actual emperor, but it is hinted that maybe the Zephyrites managed to reach this land and trade with the locals as recently as 1327 AE.[6][7]


Though once containing prairies and a multitude of forests, the development of Kaineng City has removed much of this. The empire contains four distinct regions now: Shing Jea Island, Kaineng City, the Echovald Forest and the Jade Sea.

Shing Jea Island[edit]

The Shing Jea Isles are a large island surrounded by smaller islands to the west of the Canthan mainland's northern tip. Once used for excessive logging, Shing Jea had been a farmland for centuries, shared between humans, the native tengu, yeti and naga. Humanity's spread had caused conflicts with the tengu, bringing forth the Tengu Wars, though a crude peace was in place until Usoku took reign and drove the tengu out.

Kaineng City[edit]

Originally only being part of the northernmost tip and surrounding Kaineng Center, Kaineng City expanded greatly to accommodate the flood of refugees and quickly spread to cover roughly half of the empire's land after the Jade Wind in 872 AE. The speedy expansion turned market districts into residential districts and created a multitude of slums and wrecked buildings as houses were built atop older ones. In the north lies Raisu Palace.

Echovald Forest[edit]

The largest forest of Cantha, the Echovald Forest, was home of the Kurzicks before Emperor Usoku conquered them, though their current fate is unknown. When the Jade Wind struck, the trees and wildlife turned to stone, petrifying it. The Kurzicks had crafted their homes and citadels from the gargantuan stone trees, though some of the oldest ruins, made of true stone, are said to not be of Kurzick origin such as those of Altrumm Ruins. Since Shiro Tagachi's second defeat in 1072 AE, it is said that the forest had slowly become unpetrified and new plant life could be found.

The Jade Sea[edit]

Concept art of Destiny's Edge in the Jade Sea.

Originally a sea of a greenish hue, the Jade Sea was crystallized by the Jade Wind, killing hundreds of naga and landlocking the nomadic sailors, the Luxons. The now literal Jade Sea became a commodity resource as the jade it produced was both magical and beautiful—thus being used for weaponry and decoration. Similar to the Echovald Forest, rumors claim that since Shiro's second defeat the Jade Sea had been liquifying once more.[8] A slab of jade cut off from the Jade Sea and containing the preserved remains of a sea wurm has remained solid for an indeterminably long time within the Durmand Priory's Special Collections, however.


  • The book Winds of Change found in the Durmand Hall suggests that there were no Elder Dragons in Cantha, at least prior to the rise of Zhaitan when contact was lost with Cantha and Tyria.


Buildings in the Canthan district of Divinity's Reach, prior to being changed to the Great Collapse.


Gwwlogo.png The Guild Wars Wiki has an article on Cantha.
  1. ^ a b Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire—Road to the Desert
  2. ^ Hayato
  3. ^ a b The Movement of the World
  4. ^ An Empire Divided His death came from an unlikely event: while on an extended hunting expedition, his favorite horse improbably threw Kaineng Tah. It is doubtful that the faithful, well-trained beast would have done this out of belligerence, though Canthan history does classify the death as completely accidental. It seems more likely that one or more of the emperor's fellow huntsmen spooked the horse. Fragmentary records of an unexplained wound on the horse's rump and three more such wounds on Kaineng Tah himself would appear to support this interpretation.
  5. ^ Canthan Scholar
  6. ^ Historical dialogue with Marjory Delaqua
  7. ^ Zephyrites brought Canthan-style decorations with them during the Festival of the Four Winds 2014 as a prologue to Living World Season 2 whose first story instance took place in 1327 AE.
  8. ^ Guild Wars: Eye of the North manual, pg. 2, Over the past few years, life has begun to spring up in Echovald Forest as many areas have seen new growth take hold. Some even claim to have seen a change in the Jade Sea—small pools of water forming or even waves moving beneath the frozen surface—but these reports are unsubstantiated rumors at best.
  9. ^ A Lincolncast Interview with Josh Foreman (Episode 34),
  10. ^ Post by Josh Foreman in "How is getting rid of Cantha a 'universal' representation of humanity?", Old Guild Wars 2 Official Forums (Archived)