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The Children of Tama, also known as Tamarians, were a species from the planet Sigma Tama IV. They were first encountered by the Federation in the mid-23rd century, but the extremely metaphorical nature of their language prevented the universal translator from intelligibly translating it, preventing successful contact until 2368.


Tamarians general appearance resembled many humanoid species common to the Milky Way Galaxy, apart from some minor differences.

The Tamarian head possessed two long slitted nostrils and had no visible auricles, but instead had two small holes located on the sides of the head, a little higher than humanoid ear. A large ridge ran from the top of their nose to the back of the head and several more bony ridges or flaps of skin could be observed on the sides of the skull. Apart from typical sexual dimorphisms observed in many humanoid species, female Tamarians featured the same characteristics.

Tamarian dagger

A Tamarian dagger, along with the characteristic thumb

Tamarian hands varied in that their thumbs were elongated and had a sucker-like tip at the end.

Tamarian skin was colored light brown with several darker red markings, especially on the head. The species seemed to be completely hairless and their blood was white, which shone through in some small arteries on the head.

History and politics[]

Although the species was encountered a total of seven times in the hundred years after first contact, formal relations were unable to be established, due to the complexity and provincial nature of the Tamarian language – which was entirely composed of metaphors derived from their collective experience and mythology.

In 2368, a Tamarian ship sent a general hail towards Federation space, a standard mathematical progression interpreted as a request for communication. The USS Enterprise-D was dispatched to El-Adrel IV to establish contact. While there, the Tamarian captain Dathon beamed himself and Enterprise captain Jean-Luc Picard to the planet's surface, in an attempt to establish a dialogue through the idea of "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" – the idea of cooperation against an enemy leading to mutual understanding and friendship. To prevent any interference, the Tamarian ship established a particle scattering field in El-Adrel's ionosphere, preventing transporters on either ship from functioning, and fired attenuated energy weapons on an Enterprise shuttlecraft dispatched to retrieve Picard. Unfortunately, Dathon was killed by the creature inhabiting the planet, but not before Picard was able to gain an understanding of the Tamarian language, and communicate with the Tamarian ship, which was engaged in combat with the Enterprise as a result of the misunderstanding over Picard's "capture." Dathon's sacrifice and Picard's experiences were remembered as a new "word" in the Tamarian language: "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel." (TNG: "Darmok")

After this event, Picard was given an award from the Children of Tama. The award was inscribed with these words, "He who was my companion through adventure and hardship is gone forever." This award was stored in Picard's section of the quantum archive at the Starfleet Archive Museum. (PIC: "Remembrance")

By 2381, one Tamarian, Kayshon, had entered Starfleet and reached the rank of lieutenant junior grade. By this time, the Federation's universal translator was able to translate the Tamarian language, though imperfectly. (LD: "Kayshon, His Eyes Open")


Tamarian written language

The Tamarian written language

Tamarian ornaments

Tamarian ornamental decoration

Apart from their unique language, Tamarians followed several rituals and some characteristic gestures were observed.

Before sleeping, Dathon performed a ritual on El-Adrel IV. He removed five ceremonial objects from the right side of his uniform. He then threw those objects to the ground gazing at the pattern the objects formed on the ground and repeated the ritual. After each new pattern, he touched his forehead.

After finishing the ritual, he took the five objects and placed them on the ground forming a circle around his sleeping spot. Again, he touched his forehead after placing each of them on the ground. The next morning, when Captain Picard explored his camp, he found two of the objects still on the ground, Dathon had reattached the other three to his uniform.

After hearing the news of their captain's death, the two Tamarian bridge officers took their dagger out of the sheath, touched the blade and then touched their forehead in mourning or remembrance of their captain. Captain Picard did the same with the knife that was given to him by Dathon after he had returned to the Enterprise and found a quiet moment in his ready room to remember Dathon.

The Tamarian written language consisted of thin horizontal and vertical lines with small letters written in the spaces between the lines. The lines met at right angles in the handwritten form of the language but at an angle of roughly seventy degrees on control interfaces. Tamarians used paper, colored bright green, to write down notes. Dathon took a small book, perhaps a captain's log, down to El-Adrel IV in a leather pouch. His other officers didn't carry such a book. (TNG: "Darmok")

Tamarian spiritual beliefs included a form of ascension. Florkas were an essential part of their ascension process. (LD: "Moist Vessel")

In the 25th century, Tamarian drugs had found their way to the black markets of District Six on M'talas Prime. (PIC: "The Next Generation")

See also[]


Tamarian uniform

A typical Tamarian uniform

The dominant colors used by the Tamarians as evidenced by their starships, uniforms, and interfaces were shades of green and red. The engines of their starship glowed red and their weapon's beam was green. Consoles on the bridge of their ships were colored mostly red and walls were green. Tamarian computer interfaces were transparent but the writing was blue and green.

Tamarian uniforms did not show much variety. All uniforms consisted of several layers of olive green fabric and dark green leather. Several small colorful applications and stripes were only visible when viewing the uniform from a close distance. The full uniform consisted of the trousers and tunic, long dark green leather boots, and a double shoulder-strap connected to a belt, both made from leather as well. A sheath for a dagger was fastened to the front of the two leather straps and a small pouch for a book, possibly the captain's log, was attached to the left side of the belt.

A decorative pattern could be seen on the sides of the sleeves. Several small ornaments made from thin metal pieces and small colorful stones were attached to the front right side of the uniform. Dathon carried five such pieces; his first officer wore three.

According to the call sheets of this episode, these ornaments were talismans.

Every Tamarian carried a dagger. The weapon had a green handle with a smaller yellow inset and the silver blade had one smooth and one serrated edge. Kayshon wore a teal sash across his chest to hold the sheath in which his dagger was kept, as part of the cultural allowances for Starfleet uniforms. (TNG: "Darmok"; LD: "Kayshon, His Eyes Open", et al.)

The Attrexians from the Star Trek PC game, Star Trek: Elite Force II bore a striking resemblance to the Tamarians.






Background information[]

According to the Star Trek: Star Charts, on page 35, the Children of Tama were from the M class planet Tamar. This planet was located in the Alpha Quadrant. In 2368, a cultural exchange with the UFP was established in this year. Tamarians were warp-capable circa 2050.


In the novel Articles of the Federation, the progress the Federation made in relations with the Tamarians following the events of "Darmok" was considered one of the noteworthy accomplishments of Federation President Jaresh-Inyo and his administration.

The Voyager relaunch novels Full Circle and Protectors introduce the Tamarian doctor Sharak who is assigned as the chief medical officer of the USS Voyager following the death of its previous CMO Jarem Kaz and Voyager's return mission to the Delta Quadrant to further explore it with an expeditionary fleet in 2381.

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