It always seemed apparent to me that the Aiel were based on the Ancient Irish (a few reasons below). Robert Jordan just moved them from a rainy wee Ireland in the Atlantic to a desert setting. The importance of Honour - to the point of ridiculous - is a feature of both cultures, more so than even in the culture of somewhere like Feudal Japan. The clan system, the constant inter-clan raiding and warfare, the formalized warfare, the lack of armour, the favoured ambush tactics, the spear being their primary weapon, their love of books and learning, the red hair (though few Irish actually have red hair despite what the popular view is), the fact that the Aiel and Tuatha'an are of the same people just separated by time - OBVIOUSLY the Tuatha'an are the Irish Travellers, their name alone is Irish and their way of life is very similar (bar the way of the leaf, Irish travellers being somewhat more inclined towards violence!). Having said all the above, all the cultures in WoT are a mixed bag to one extent or another. RB also seems to have borrowed from the Irish in some respects with regard to the Seanchan and their concept of he geas which is lifted directly from Irish culture. Any thoughts??