An interesting thought that struck me after re-reading THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE; according to the description of their society provided by Grand Maester Martin the Ironborn are quite probably the most ethnically-diverse populations in the Seven Kingdoms (despite being one of the most rabidly xenophobic when it comes to accepting influences from other cultures courtesy of The Old Way and the Faith of the Drowned God), thanks to their custom of 'Salt Wives' their peculiar institution Thraldom and their far-flung raiding expeditions.
Which would seem to imply that there is at least a significant population of Ironborn with at least partial Summer Island, Naathi and possibly even Rhoynish heritage (from The Stepstones - I would be surprised if one of the short-lived Kings of the Narrow Sea who followed The Rogue Prince were not an Iron Islander, possibly even The Red Kraken himself); it is interesting to wonder if the obsession of the Ironborn with maintaining the freedom of their culture from outside influences derives from the need to keep these diverse influences focussed on savaging their neighbours and other foreign victims, rather than one another.
It's a good speculation, because the true Ironborn blood would be very diluted, however thralls and salt-wives make a good chunk of the Ironborn smallfolk, I suppose nobility keeps its bloodline "cleaner" by marrying into each other. Probably another reason they despise salt-born sons and thralls is that they aren't full-blooded Ironborn. However we have examples of Ironborn marrying outside their families, as the King who married a Lannister.
Very true - although that was a marriage that did not end very happily as we well know; I do wonder if the Ironborn contempt for the folk of the Green Lands is racial or more cultural though (for I suspect that a case might be made for either being closer to the Truth).
I must admit that it would be interesting to see an illustration of Ironborn showing the relatively diverse ethnic composition of their population; perhaps an image of one of the Black Kings or the Lord Reapers with their Salt Sons?
Stay Well Master Oznerol - I hope that you too will have an opportunity to enjoy the latest HOBBIT movie sooner rather than later!
However I don't want to ruin your expectations, but it's pretty unlikely I do an illustration about Ironborn, their culture "confuses" me, I wouldn't know how to paint them: viking would be too obvious, Late Medieval doesn't fit them, neither a Russian/Varingian style... They are a mess, and their culture isn't appealing to me either, in fact I must confess I call them "Ironmorons". I had to be sincere, dearest Libra.
The Hobbit movie was a great fiasco, mostly atrocious. I only liked: Thorin's descent to madness and Dáin's design. The many plot-holes killed my excitement.
I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, even where this adaption zigged where I would have zagged; flaws and all it was far, far too much fun to watch for me to dislike it! (I hope this revelation has not ruined your good opinion of my taste in art).
Concerning the Ironborn, I must agree that they are a mighty frustrating bunch of pirate-lovers, and I agree that (a) purely Viking influence on their appearance would be a bit TOO obvious (b) borrowing from high fashions of the Late Medieval period would not suit the culture for they are too little influenced by the maritime and not the continental (also that the Rus do not suit them - I would argue that Medieval Russia makes a much better model for The North, given the similarity in climate and landscape).
However I do have some hopes that I can help you find a style out of history that I think would suit the Ironborn very well; for a long time now I have tended to imagine the Iron Isles as very British (as little islands on the very fringes of a mighty continent that remain proudly separatist and yet intimately connected to their neighbours, as well as prone to produce reavers in frighteningly large numbers - not to mention very damp, dreary and unpleasant little islands indeed). The revelations in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE that The Lannisters have long been the nemesis of The Ironborn has not given me cause to think otherwise nor has anything else.
It therefore occurred to me to hunt out influences from the British Islands and I think that I have found a good one - back in the day, after the Viking Age and well into the Middle Ages there were so many warlike and seaworthy folk in the little Islands off Scotland (like the Hebrides and the Orkney Islands), as well as along the Highland coasts that when a leader was able to unite them he became something like a King and well able to defy even the King of Scots when he chose to. He was in effect as much a sea-dog and a pirate king as any Viking, for all that he ruled after the Viking time was over and done with he too counted his power in the longships and the men who sailed in them.
Master Oznerol, given your habitual excellence when it comes to the depiction of Jewellery it has occurred to me that I would love to see you try to design crowns for the Seven Kingdoms of Old - well, all except the North since the Crown of the North has actually been described in canon! - and it occurs to me that this might make for an interesting challenge!
If you like this idea, please let me know - I actually have a few thoughts concerning the Falcon Crown of Mountain and Vale, as well as the Crown of Casterly Rock and will be happy to share these ideas along with the others that I am working upon should you be interested.