PROLOGUE

Many of you know Matta Hu’uri from Gwent – a Tutor Card with following ability:

Matta’s in-game description

Matta’s Card has been introduced in the most recent Expansion for Gwent called Merchants of Ofir – suggesting exotic roots of this card.

Why exotic you ask?

According to a scholar from Northern Kingdoms – Markus Hohlenberg, Ofir is a land of vast steppes, forbidding mountains, untouched wildernesses and crystal-clear lakes and it is populated by horses, camels, elephants, tigers and cobras.

The climate is said to be much warmer and sunnier, creating a very different fauna such as legendary white horses with black stripes.*

* description of Ofir’s mysterious mentioned in the book Sword of Destiny by Andrzej SapkowskiThe second Withcher Book. As you probably know, the description suggests it’s a Zebra.

But let’s talk about Ofir some other time, we are here to talk about Matta Hu’uri.

Matta’s relation to the Witcher Universe

There’s not much we can say about Matta, when it comes to the Witcher Universe. Only as much as the flavour text on her Gwent card reveals: “Sorceresses use magic to hypnotize. I use dance.” From this it’s almost clear that she wasn’t a Mage.

But could she still have some magic powers?

There are few examples of creatures with similar powers of hypnotizing/seducing a poor soul. One of these as we know is Succubus.*

Výsledok vyhľadávania obrázkov pre dopyt succubus witcher

* Succubus is a creature, sometimes considered “a demon”, looking like a highly attractive human being seducing real humans, first appearing in dreams from time to time, then physically, and is interested only in men that have already come of age. Neither succubi nor incubi are particularly violent, though they draw energy from the men and women to sustain themselves, often until the point of exhaustion or death of the victim.

Succubuses also posses the magical power which allows them to, in a way, hypnotize their victim and Matta could have been born or somehow acquired said hypnotizing ability, as it is very unlikely that she could hypnotize people just by dancing.

So does Matta have magical powers? I cannot say it with certainty, but am pretty confident she does.

Matta’s real life origins

As pointed out by my friend BabyJosus in his Tweet Matta is almost certainly based on a real life person Mata Hari, who happens to have been born in the same town in Netherlands – Leeuwarden, as BabyJosus.

So who she really was?

Her full name was Margaretha Geertruida “Margreet” MacLeod but she was mostly known by her stage name Mata Hari. As suggested above she was born in a Dutch town Leeuwarden in 1876 and died in 1917, aged 41, in France’s Paris.

Coat of arms of Leeuwarden
Leeuwarden’s Coat of Arms

Mata was a Dutch exotic Dancer and a courtesan, who was later convicted of being a German spy during World War I and then executed by a firing squad.

Mata Hari 13.jpg
Early life

When she was 18 years old she got married, but in a really strange way – she has answered an advertisement in newspaper. By this marriage she was able to move to the Dutch upper class. Together they moved to the island Java in the Indian Ocean(here we are getting to the exotic origins of Matta’s card). After few months she has temporarily fled from her husband who was a drunk and moved in with another Dutch officer.

There she started intensly studying Indonesian traditions and joined local dancing company and revealed her artistic name of Mata Hari, meaning “eye of the day” in the local Malay language.

Then her first husband urged her to move back with him promising to change, but it still didn’t work out so they were legally divorced. This was followed by her exit to Paris.

Life in Paris

At first she was working as a circus horse rider and also posing as an artist model.

Later on she started to earn fame as an exotic dancer, being promiscuous, flirtatious, and openly flaunting her body. While performing she was wearing jewelled clothing and a large number of jewels in oriental style. Eventually she became a longtime mistress to a French millionaire.

She has became famous in the wealthy circles as much as for common folk thanks to the various newspapers writing about her. One journalist in Vienna wrote after seeing one of her performances that Mata Hari was “slender and tall with the flexible grace of a wild animal, and with blue-black hair” and that her face “makes a strange foreign impression.”

Due to the fact that she has starting her dancing career so late, the decline of her career was inevitable. She has started to gain weight, what led to her last audition to 1915. But this was no problem for our Mata as she has gained various contacts throughout her short, but exquisite career in the high military and political positions. As World War I has approached, the new chapter in her life began to unravel.

Espionage

When the World War I started, Netherlands remained neutral. As a Dutch subject, Mata was able to freely cross national borders. During the war she has travelled betweeen France in Netherlands and got involved with a Russian pilot serving in France. Their relationship was described as immensly romantic and sexual.

Later he got terribly injured and had to stay in a field hospital. Neutral subjects were not usually allowed near battlefield so the French decided to abuse her love to the Russian pilot. They told her that if she wants to be seeing her lover, she needs to spy for France and also offered her one million francks. They sent her to spy on Germany’s Crown Prince Wilhelm, for whom she has performed before war.

She has agreed to this deal and went to Germany by a steamer that called port in Britain on the way to Germany. There she was arrested by a assistant commissioner in charge of counter-espionage. After long interrogation she admitted spying for France and was held at the police station, but later released.

After being released, she travelled to Madrid to meet Germany’s military attaché to whom she tried to sell France’s secrets. Then the attaché transmitted a message to Berlin about a helpful Germany Spy code-named H-21, who’s description fitted the description of Mata. Also the transmission was done in a code that was long broken(this fact was known by the German intelligence), which ultimately meant that Germans wanted Mata imprisoned by the French(because of insufficient information about France’s secrets).

In December 1916, the French let Mata Hari obtain the names of six Belgian agents. Five were suspected of submitting fake material and working for the Germans, while the sixth was suspected of being a double agent for Germany and France. Two weeks after Mata Hari had left Paris for a trip to Madrid, the double agent was executed by the Germans, while the five others continued their operations. This development served as proof to the French that the names of the six spies had been communicated by Mata to the Germans.

Arrest and trial

She was arrested in her room at the Hotel Elysée Palace and put on trial on, accused of spying for Germany, and consequently causing the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. Although the French and British intelligence suspected her of spying for Germany, neither could produce definite evidence against her. Supposedly, secret ink was found in her room, which was incriminating evidence in that period. She contended that it was part of her makeup.

Her famous line from her trial was: “A harlot? Yes, but a traitoress, never!

Mata’s mugshot

She was executed by a firing squad. Her death was described like this:
*do not continue reading if you can’t stand description of horrifying imagery

“Slowly, inertly, she settled to her knees, her head up always, and without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second it seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life. Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her.” A non-commissioned officer then walked up to her body, pulled out his revolver, and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.

This was the end of Mata Hari.

Epilogue

Thank you very much for your attention and I hope you enjoyed this article piece. What card would you like to read about next?

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