"Minority" descent in middle earth

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Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 10:20 AM
Scribe of Minas Tirith Points: 2766 Posts: 1583 Joined: 25/Aug/2008
I have not read the silmarilion fully and i cannot remember most of ALL of the races of middle earth but as i have looked up many things online, and as it is a curiosity of mine of the cultures and races of middle earth i often wonder if i am right or wrong in what i think about the races, that i know of, and also the ones i know nothing about.

I also wonder if their are races in the world of middle earth that contain african, asian, latin descent and i want to find out but i need some help so please someone tell me if im on the right track.

As i understand it, Tolkien expresses great history and culture through his stories, and i wonder often if some of the cultures are what they think they are, and that if there are cultures not shown in the storie sand movies. Are there races of african descent? I often am told and believe that the Lossarnach is a region in the south. its said to be a civilization with mixed ancestry. Also the Haradrim, were the of afircan descent? arab? persian? indian? I’m not trying to stir controversy but id like to know some things.

I read some articles, some i did nto agree with that stated that these darked toned people were of evil for many diffrent reasons and that it was a bad thing, for tolkien to say so. but also that there was a race or dark-tone in skin color that fought on the side of good. This is what got me wondering about differenat races. Maybe we can talk about it.
Blackrose Bugg 05/Dec/2006 at 10:47 AM
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It has always been my belief that Tolkien did not base his characters on real life races - but on his own vision of what Middle Earth would look like - and who would live there.  For example - in the prologue to FoTR we find:

The Harfoots were browner of skin, .... The Fallohides were fairer of skin and also of hair

Is Tolkien implying that some hobbits sprang from an African ancestry while others were of a more European base?  I do not think so.  Those elves called the Dark elves were named that because their ancestors had not seen the Light of the Two Trees - nothing at all based on race.  To look TOO closely at Middle Earth and attempt to pry out Real World origins for these things cheapens Tolkien’s imagination and creativity, in my opinion.

First Age 05/Dec/2006 at 11:20 AM
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Well you have to think logically about it. There is no mention of the real world in LotR, in that the actual world geography, religion, society and geneology are all left out. I don’t think it would be credable to bring any of that into the story and I think there might be a record of Tolkien saying something similar.

Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 11:49 AM
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Thats very true, but I am more concerned about certain races in middle earth. While i am concerned about the smilarities in our world and tolkiens, im not as much when it comes to races. I just want to know whether these races have some sort of certain look, not neccesarily that there modeled after african culture or the like, only if they do appear as if they are dark skinned etc.
geordie 05/Dec/2006 at 12:52 PM
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I’d like to know where you’re finding these articles. Any article is only as good - that is accurate - as the person writing it. In general, published books and articles have gone through a process to get into print. Some are good; some less so. Esp. the ’self-publishing’ mob. If, on the other hand, they’re published on the net, then it’s a case of buyer beware. Anyone can write anything they like on the net. Does’nt mean it’s true. So, if you read
’Tolkien wrote black/dark skinned people as evil’ I’d ask - who’s writing this? And Where did they get the info?

My advice - for what it’s worth - is stick to books; certainly till you feel a bit more confident in your knowledge of what Tolkien wrote. Start with the Appendices in RK - they tell a lot of the peoples of M-e to do with the story. Then if you want quality books about Tolkien and his works - try Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth; and/or Author of the Century. Then there’s Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien; and whatever else you read, you _must_ read he Letters of JRR Tolkien, ed. by Carpenter. If you want to understand Tolkien better, that is.

I tend to stay away from ’articles’ on the net. They’re mostly poor; any which go on about Tolkien and black people eg - are crap.
Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 01:08 PM
Scribe of Minas Tirith Points: 2766 Posts: 1583 Joined: 25/Aug/2008
I do not remember the articles, ill try and get them, but they are not what im conserned about, not to brush you off or anything, but im just saying what i want to know about is the dark-skinned races in the lord of the rings, i just want clarification on them. i dont take those articles to heart which is why i want to know if from the boks if anyones knows for sure.
geordie 05/Dec/2006 at 02:53 PM
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which is why i want to know if from the boks if anyones knows for sure.

Then the best thing I can suggest is to read The Battle of the Pelennor Fields - the one and only time Tolkien mentions black men out of Far Harad- and also Appendix A, for more on other races. But close reading is required - there is not much, and it’s spread out a bit.

But if you want to know if Tolkien says black men = evil - you won’t find anything to back that up. He wasn’t like that.
Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 06:32 PM
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Oh definately not. I know he does not say that, nor did i believe that junk when i heard it. I believed the latter, that then were races ’of color’ on both sides for whatever reason. Though i beleive it as said that the Haradrim were corrupted and enslved while the Lossarnach were a kin of gondor, both on each side. Actually i still wonder if there are more races i have not read about, i hope to find out more.
Ankala Teaweed 05/Dec/2006 at 06:45 PM
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Tenharionthe races of Middle-earth are Elves, Men, Halflings, Dwarves, Ents, Orcs, Trolls, and perhaps the Eagles. Also, in Valinor are the Ainur, who are deities.

And yes, the majority of the Hobbits are brown skinned.

The Elves and the Dwarves became divided in early days due to the plots and lies of Morgoth. Legolas and Gimli became great friends, symbolizing putting that old adversity behind their peoples in the War of the Ring, when all free people had to unite and fight Sauron.

Whoever wrote the articles to which you refer, has no evidence at all to back up those allegations. There is nothing in them, nowhere, no how, to illustrate any connection with the peoples of the modern world.

Men of Middle-earth are represented as having different traits of skin color, hair color, height and stature, and longevity. But their divisions among themselves have to do with the history of Middle-earth and the evils done to her by Morgoth and by Sauron.

Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 07:09 PM
Scribe of Minas Tirith Points: 2766 Posts: 1583 Joined: 25/Aug/2008

Wow, well thats cool to find otu something i never knew. Thank you all for your info. I think its great that i can ask these things here. Other people have no idea what im trying to say. The races of middle earth are definately diverse and i hope to find otu more about morgoth is it? as well.

Damn this computer, the keyboard sticks. anyway,

NineFingered 05/Dec/2006 at 09:22 PM
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About Men... Actually, I don’t if it’s the movies fault or what, but when I think of the Haradrim, or Easterlings or whatever, they remind me of sort of Middle East people. No offense implied, I guess it’s just because of their manner of dressing. Ironically, both are from what we term the "East", as compared to the "west" (Europe and America). Likewise, the Rohirrim remind me of Celtic-kind of people. But I have no idea if Tolkien actually basd some of his ME races on actual kinds of people on our planet.
Qtpie 05/Dec/2006 at 09:36 PM
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Here’s two quotes on the description of how the Southrons were dressed up if you are interested:

"...a man fell, crashing through the slender trees, nearly on top of them Frodo and Sam. He came to rest in the fern a few feet away, face downward, green arrow-feathers sticking from his neck below a golden collar. His scarlet robes were tattered, his corslet of overlapping brazen plates was rent and hewn, his black plaits of hair braided with gold were drenched with blood. His brown hand still clutched the hilt of a broken sword..." The Two Towers: Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits

’Dark faces. We have not seen Men like these before, no, Smeagol has not. They are fierce. The have black eyes, and long black hair, and gold rings in their ears; yes, lots of beautiful gold. And some have red paint on their cheeks, and red cloaks, and their flags are red, and the tips of their spears, and they have round shields, yellow and black with big spikes. The Two Towers: The Black Gate is Closed

The Haradrim actually aren’t from the ’East’. As so you see their other name is Southron, which implies that they are south of Mordor.
NineFingered 05/Dec/2006 at 09:42 PM
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I didn’t mean the Haradrim are East of Mordor. Who knows, they might have extended East and South, much more towards the East than any other tribe of Men we know. I also included them under the name of Easterlings because they lived East of the Blue Mountains in the days of Beleriand, while the 3 Houses of Men moved to the West.

Tenharien Calmcacil 05/Dec/2006 at 09:43 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by NineFingered on Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Yes I have also heard that too. I also thought about this possibility. I mean I guess it could be that, and though its not fully clear, at least to me about the different cultures, its good to hear all the ideas.

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Qtpie 05/Dec/2006 at 09:57 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by NineFingered on Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I also included them under the name of Easterlings because they lived East of the Blue Mountains in the days of Beleriand, while the 3 Houses of Men moved to the West.




As far as I know, the Haradrim stayed in Harad and the Easterlings in the east beyond the Blue Mountains and Eriador. I don’t think that the Haradrim lived east of the Ered Luin. Can you get me a quote that says that the Haradrim lived east of the Blue Mountains? That would be appreciated .
NineFingered 09/Dec/2006 at 10:06 AM
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In the days of Beleriand, the Ered Luin was much longer, so of course the Haradrim would live East of it, as I haven’t read of any of them going into Beleriand. However, when ME was changed, the Ered Luin was much diminished, so the Haradrim ended up far away from them, in the South as you say. I don’t have a quote now, and I am awful at finding any. I have an idea that the Haradrim are the descendants of the Easterlings, but that’s just my guess.
Arvellas 09/Dec/2006 at 10:43 AM
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It has always seemed to me that "Men" in Middle-earth were one race, regardless of different physical features.  The Haradrim are dark-skinned, but that has nothing to do with their being good or bad; they just had the misfortune of being tricked or forced by Sauron.  They were not bad, though, because we do know that Aragorn was able to make peace with the Haradrim after the fall of Sauron.  I am still looking for the quote, but I remember reading it in ROTK.
geordie 09/Dec/2006 at 11:50 AM
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It’s in The Steward and the King - shortly after the crowning of Elessar.
Spearleaf 09/Dec/2006 at 01:47 PM
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I realize that I’m new to the site, but if I’m correct, the Haradrim are described a lot like the peoples of Ancient Persia in the Two towers.  Also, although I’m unsure, I don’t believe there was any mention of dark skinned or african peoples (orcs were dark skinned, but not as Africans or other Eastern cultures) throughout the story.  You must understand the time period that this was written in, coming close to the height of African American Rights movements, and Tolkien understandably wouldn’t have wanted to anger any people in his writings.

I apologize that I’m unable to back up my writing with any sources, but I do not have my book onhand.  If you have any questions or would like to refute my writings, please respond to me personally as I won’t be checking up on the forums very often

geordie 09/Dec/2006 at 02:57 PM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Spearleaf - [hope you do come back to check ] - everything you wrote is, well, incorrect. The Haradrim were not based on Persians. As far as I know. There was mention of black-skinned men, in RK, as I mentioned above.

You must understand the time period that this was written in, coming close to the height of African American Rights movements, and Tolkien understandably wouldn’t have wanted to anger any people in his writings.

Nope. - I don’t know when the African American Rights movements were founded, but I think they were at their height in the 60s. [correct me if I’m wrong]. Tolkien began writing the book in the 30s, and there’s no reference that I know of to these events. Tolkien did’nt mention them in Letters. I’m afraid that all of what you say seems to be opinion. Nothing wrong with opinions per se; but on the Plaza, they need to be backed up with facts.

Welcome to the Plaza by the way.

Istanira 09/Dec/2006 at 05:40 PM
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the African American Civil Rights movement began in the 50s with the 1954 ruling Brown vs. Board of Education, which decided unanimously that segregation was unconstitutional, overthrowing the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that had set the “separate but equal” precedent. But the 1896 case shows that the push began much earlier.

As geordie has pointed out, Tolkien was writing well before the modern day civil rights movement. Tolkien was also writing in the U.K. not the U.S. where the movement was taking place.
Novgwath 10/Dec/2006 at 05:46 AM
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I have done a lot of reading around the books, especially using the internet, and i happened to stumble upon an article on the site Wikipedia, which highlights an apparent racism that flows throughout tolkiens works.

the article can be found here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolkien_and_racism

I must encourage to view it ASAP as it is under review and may be deleted. This article presents both arguemnts for and against the point.

I personally think it is not racist. After all many books have been written without characters from the ethnic minorities. It would appear that being voted the UK’s favorite book, and being revered the world over it makes it an ideal target for the PC brigade!

geordie 10/Dec/2006 at 06:42 AM
Hugo Bracegirdle Points: 20570 Posts: 14087 Joined: 06/Mar/2005
Novgwath - I agree that LotR is not racist, and neither was Tolkien.

But articles like this - as indicated by the amount of ’citations needed’ and other editorial remarks - show that the Net is not a safe source of info. Not on Tolkien at least; that being my only area of interest. Thing is, anyone can write anything they want on the Net; and they don’t have to back it up with citations. Or facts. [these are not always the same thing. eg. if anyone backs up a ’fact’ with a citation from the movies, or a book by David Day, then that’s a whole new area of misinformation to be going on with.]

Generally, I’m a bit alarmed at the seeming inclination these days to make the net the first [and sometimes only] resort to find out info. Books are much better [leaving Day aside] because a book has to go through a process involving people other than the author; it takes time and money to put together. In some cases, it takes years of work and slog.

On the other hand, there is the current trend towards ’self-publishing’ these days, which in the two or three cases I can think of, amount to ’Web-publishing’ in disguise - where the author[s] wish to give their stuff the cache of being published in book form, but the content is dubious at best. In fact, the reason authors have to go to ’self-publishing’ is usually because a proper publisher wouldn’t touch their stuff.

There are a lot of folk out there who see something in Tolkien’s works [well ok, LotR because that’s the only book of Tolkien’s that they’ve heard of] and look to find stuff that they can hang a tag on. Racism, mostly. Though I suspect most of the knuckle-draggers who come up with rubbish like this haven’t actually read the book. It’s just what they hear. And if anyone should tell them that T. denied any such thing, the knuckle-draggers come up with ’well he would sy that would’nt he’ and tap their noses in a wise and knowing way. It’s all crap.

Basically, my advice to anyone wishing to know more about Tolkien would be this- get away from the computer. A lot of what’s written there about Tolkien is inaccurate, if not downright lying. There are one or two good bits, I suppose; but how is one to know what’s true and what’s not? Go to the books: anyone who can afford a PC and an internet connection can afford the busfare to the local library at least. Get ’logged on’ [or whatever the saying is - I mean, sign up] at your library; use the Inter-Library Loan system to find books. Read.

I don’t mean scan; like on the net. I mean Read. Absorb. Books likeHumphrey Carpenter’s JRR Tolkien: A Biography. Thirty years old; still the best. Don’t waste your time with White’s biography; White is down there with David Day. Then read The Letters of JRR Tolkien ed. by Carpenter, with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien. These books are actually a good read in themselves; it’s not a chore; nor like homework. They’re fun!

For deeper stuff, the best book is still Tom Shippey’s The Road to Middle-earth. Or for an easier read, try his later book - JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century. I did’nt get far with that; seems to be at least some of the ’themes’ in _Road_, but dumbed down so as not to ’confuse the cinema-going audience’.    Seriously, these are all good books. And a serious reader will learn a lot more from these and other good books than they wiould in fifty years of goggling at most of the dross that’s available on the net.

Lastly - I would’nt be doing my duty by serious Tolkien afficianados if I didn’t mention the latest book[s] by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond. No ’self-publishers’ these; top-class Tolkien scholars, who work closely with Christopher Tolkien, and who were given access to Tolkien’s unpublished papers. A lot of previously unpublished stuff finds its way into this book. Or books, strictly speaking; there are two volumes. The work is called JRR Tolkien: A Companion and Guide, and took the authors seven years to write. [Along with one or two other projects, such as editing the 50th ann. ed. of LotR and also writing the volume of annotations for LotR - called [by an unhelpful publisher] ’The Lord of the Rings Reader’s Companion’ It’s a confusing state of affairs - Christina and Wayne sometimes get confused themselves, when referring to the titles.

But all three books are top class. I would go further. I would say that all the books I’ve mentioned - Carpenter; Shippey and Hammond & Scull - are essential reading for an understanding of Tolkien: who he was; and what he wrote. And you’ll find nothing more accurate on the subject anywhere. Certainly no-where on the net. And if we’re going to discuss the works of someone whose stories we’ve come to love and admire, I reckon having an accurate basis for doing so is the least we can do for the old bloke. Seems like just common courtesy to me.

*gets off soap-box*
kitsuneyouko5 11/Dec/2006 at 06:28 AM
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it is to my understanding that Tolkien originally intended the Middle Earth tales as a sort of origins myth for the isle of Brittain. Of the countries surrounding them they are the only ones with no solid story of how their country came to be, when I say story I mean legend, due to the constant taking over of various other peoples not the least of which was William the Conqueror in 1066. It can be concluded that Tolkien, with no prejudices intended, based the characters appearance wise on the native peoples of Brittany. Note also that the wizard Radagast has a strange resemblence to the legends of the Druids speaking to animals. does any of that make sense?
geordie 11/Dec/2006 at 01:12 PM
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Nope - in a letter to Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote that he had once wanted to devise a series of tales which he could dedicate to England - which is not the same as Britain.

It can be concluded that Tolkien, with no prejudices intended, based the characters appearance wise on the native peoples of Brittany.

Lost me there - Brittany is part of Nort-West France. How does this tie in with Tolkien’s tales for England?
kitsuneyouko5 12/Dec/2006 at 05:59 AM
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my apologies geordie....i’m afraid i’m still stuck on the antiquated names, brittany was the name of the british isles (england for one) in the tales of king arthur and on the old maps, the name england didnt come into popular use until much later, around the 1400’s i believe
Rochir Mumakdacil 12/Dec/2006 at 01:51 PM
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kitsun - ’England’ goes way back before the 1400s, but you are right that it is newer than the concept of ’Britain’. When it was a Roman province the island was Britannia, and in 325 BC a Greek by the name of Pytheas wrote of it as Prettaniké .

England (Angleland, Englalond) goes back not much earlier than the coronation of Alfred the Great in 886 AD as ’King of the English’ - these being the folk (Anglo-Saxons) who invaded and took over most of the island beginning in a small way in the 5th century AD.

kitsuneyouko5 14/Dec/2006 at 05:50 AM
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guess i have a bit of brushing up to do on british history, havent bothered in about 8 years to refresh my memory. thanks Rochir
Angdring 15/Dec/2006 at 06:20 AM
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Well, I certainly don’t think Professor Tolkien , or his books were racist . I can’t think of another author , that points up the utter folly , of all the petty , prededuces , and angers for each other , that people carry , as well.   IMHO . To a lessor extent , Mark Twain , does this in Huck finn.  I allways pictured the Harradrim as Mediteranian (?)  ,  As  Rome, and Carthage are both seen as invaders in our own history.

I think some of these Racist  claims may come from the  movie versions . Before the movies aired I was hopping the only bad folks in the movie wouldn’t be black. It wasn’t as bad as I feared.

I actually hoped that Peter Jackson would somehow cast one ot the " good " races of men , as black .  Maybe the Rohirim .  Just  so the little black kids could see, people like them fighting to save the world.  Hey, this is all a fantasy , Right ? No problem though,  I know several black LOTR fans .  They ,and the kids identify with Legolass , and Gimli , and Arwen, complain about the movie not sticking to the book, just like everyone elsle.

This all sprang out of proffesor Tolkiens mind , it wasn’t a story about our world, or history.  Though it sure has some lessons our world could learn from.