The Mantis Tribe Lore – Hollow Knight

The Three Mantis Lords wielding their nails

In the world of Hollow Knight there are many memorable moments. I’d like to say that every moment in Hollow Knight is a memorable moment, actually.  
Personally, one of my favorite is when I met for the first time the members of the mantis tribe before entering the village. There was a sudden change in the enemy’s behavior, so different from the mushroom clan folk found up until that point: the mantises were elegant and merciless (and well, less cute for sure). 

So, this morning I woke up with the idea to share with you, dear reader, everything I know about the Mantis Tribe. Hopefully you are going to find something insightful about this particular piece of the lore of Hollow Knight! 

Understanding the Mantis Tribe’s Hierarchy

The Mantis Tribe is made up of warriors. Each member of the tribe is born and raised to fight and defend the mantis territory.  
Said territory is situated in a remote part of Fungal Wastes, an already unwelcoming zone of Hallownest also inhabited by the Mushroom Clan, known for having a shared consciousness. 

When I previously stated that a mantis in Hollow Knight is born to fight, I meant it: young mantises that are still not completely developed join the fighters’ ranks by providing aerial support. Once adult and only after having proven themselves in battle, they can become fully-fledged mantis warriors and change their fighting-style for a more melee-focused one, slicing enemies with their long claws.   

This warmongering tribe is not made of mindless berserkers with a lust for blood. This is actually as far from the truth as it can get! 
They have a mostly matriarchal hierarchy that values honor over everything else, and sees nowadays three Mantis sisters, called Mantis Lords, keeping the leadership.  
Historically, though, a male Mantis ruled alongside the three sisters. But let’s keep this particular topic for later.  

First Contact: Mantis Tribe and the Pale King

When the Pale King formed the Kingdom of Hallownest and went on his campaign to unify all the territories under his banner, he eventually clashed with the Mantis Tribe, who didn’t really care about him being some kind of demi-god and all that stuff.  
While it is not completely stated anywhere that the two factions fought, it is said that at a certain point the Mantis Tribe negotiated a Truce with the Pale King.  

Now, as far as my notion of the word “truce” goes, it means to sign a general agreement to stop fighting. Knowing also the nature of the Mantis tribe, I am quite certain that the two factions were not having tea and biscuits together and were actually killing each other. 
I believe that the mantis tribe ended up negotiating the truce because they were severely outnumbered: Pale Dude had a KINGDOM. Even though you are strong, you can’t really compete with that.  

The truce left the Mantis Tribe sovereignty over their territory, but in exchange they agreed to be the first line of defense for the Kingdom of Hallownest against the relentless attacks of the beasts of Deepnest. And honestly, f*** that place: it’s as creepy as it can get.  

The Infection and the Traitor Lord 

The Traitor Lord

Do you remember that I said that there was a male Mantis ruling the tribe alongside his three sisters? After the truce, the leadership started to crack. He harbored a deep hatred for the Kingdom of Hallownest, and did not really like the idea of the Mantis Tribe being its shield against Deepnest.  

Once the Infection spread throughout Hallownest, the Mantis Tribe was among the very few that resisted it by sheer will alone. The fourth Mantis Lord, which I am going to address as Traitor Lord from now on, and some of his closest followers instead embraced the infection to further increase their powers. While it is indeed true that an infected host in Hollow Knight is technically stronger, it is also true that makes this one a mindless individual.  

It is not known if the Traitor Lord did indeed conquer the infection, but considering some Dream Nail dialogues, I don’t think so. He and his fellows betrayed the Mantis Tribe and established a colony in Queen’s Garden and tried to take the whole place from the White Lady, but they failed, pushed back by one of the Five Great Knights, Dryya. The Traitor Lord and his newfound colony remained there, killing anything blindly and justifying it as “survival”, although this is most probably enhanced by the infection taking its toll inside of them. 

Oh, and can I add that I HATED THIS BOSS FIGHT?  

Mantis Tribe in Present Days

Even though when we journey as the little knight in a most lifeless Hallownest, this can’t be said when reaching the Mantis Village. We are going to be relentlessly attacked by the Mantis Tribe in our quest to obtain the Mantis Claw (which makes us jump from walls), but it is us to be at fault: we are invading their territory. 

The Mantis Tribe is keeping their end of the bargain with the Kingdom of Hallownest, keeping the beasts of Deepnest at bay, even though the Pale King’s reign is nothing more than a dead shell of what it once was. The King itself is long dead.  
The little knight can challenge the Mantis Lords in a fight and gain their respect once the three sisters are vanquished. From that moment on, the mantises of the village will bow to the knight… and we can kill them mercilessly because they’ve kicked our a**es before. 

Additional Mantis Lore 

Additionally to the main lore regarding Hollow Knight’s Mantis Tribe, I must add two more pieces of knowledge in order to shed a more complete light on their whole lore.  

The Traitor’s Child and Ze’Mer 


The first one is about the Traitor Lord’s daughter. She was in love with one of the Five Great Knights, Ze’Mer, but her father rejected a possible union because Ze’Mer was not a mantis.  

Even worse, Ze’Mer was not from Hallownest altogether. She came from a distant land, and we come to know most of this whole situation straight from her mouth while meeting her as the Grey Mourner. 
Named like this because the Traitor Lord’s daughter eventually died, she will give us a very difficult quest, involving delivering a flower to her beloved’s burial site in the Queen’s Garden. If the knight is hit even once during the trip, the quest will fail.  

Interestingly enough, in my first Hollow Knight Run I gave the flower to Elderbug instead, because I wanted that little grandpa to just be happy. Fortunately, I discovered that I could just go back to the Grey Mourner and take another flower to bring to the Queen’s Garden! 

Elder Hu 

Elder Hu was a sage who traveled around Hallownest trying to purify the land from the infection. Once he reached the Mantis Village, he helplessly discovered that everybody was infected. 
In truth, it was Elder Hu the one who was infected, and the infection was making him believe the opposite.

He was eventually struck down by the mantises who were just defending themselves from him, and a memorial was built in honor of everything he tried to accomplish. 
We can confirm Elder Hu’s beliefs of the Mantis Tribe to be corrupted when meeting his warrior dream form once acquiring the dream nail. Only after we defeat him, he will come to term with what the Infection did to him. 


I hope to not forget anything regarding one of Hollow Knight’s most tenacious tribes, but hey, in case I did, nobody’s perfect!  
If while reading this article, dear reader, you felt lost regarding the general lore of Hollow Knight, I do have an article that should cover most of it that you can access HERE

I hope you gain some video game knowledge, and I’ll see you in the next article! 

2 thoughts on “The Mantis Tribe Lore – Hollow Knight”

  1. Pingback: Hollow Knight Lore: What Happened to Hallownest?

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