Hello people of the internet.
I wish to fill everyone in on what there is to know about the Humans of Harad, Rhûn and Khand from the Lord of the Rings and other Middle earth novels. I will do geography first, then genetics & culture, then linguistics, and lastly the motives and back story for them being Forces of Darkness
The only nationally sovereign term of these three setting names is Khand. The other two, Harad and Rhûn, are not exact nation names but rather are just the Sindarin words, or Nandorin Elvish words, for South and East respectively. Likewise, the Quenya words (Noldorin Elf words) for these are Romen = east and Hyarmen = south. Let me do a bullet point for each land’s geography.
- Harad is described in the novels to be a very hot land of both deserts and jungles. The deserts are mainly Near or “North” Harad and the jungles are mainly Far or “South” Harad. Something to take note of is Umbar takes up much of the northwestern coasts of Harad. There is speculation about a “Great Forest of the South” where the Elephant-like Mûmakil, or Oliphaunts, are from.
- Khand is suspected to be much like Rohan in its geography, which according to the novels implies that both Rohan and Khand are lands of lush pasture and tall grass. To assume that this gives Khand green grass, even though Near Harad was desert, does not make sense, but also keep in mind that there are other geographically possible grasses besides the green grass of Rohan, like in a Steppe [land too lush to be called desert but too dry to be called pasture]
- Rhûn has a geography that is more detailed in the Silmarillion novel than in the Lord of the Rings ones. From what we can gather sticking to just the Third Age, the Lord of the Rings tells us that the inland Sea of Rhûn has some mountains as southwestern neighbors and a forest as a northeastern neighbor. However, in the Hobbit novel, we are given some idea what Rhûn geography might be like – Bilbo talks in the first act of the book about “East of East” and “The Last Desert”, but perhaps this refers metaphorically to the Gobi Desert of the real world’s Far East. Which leads us right into what Rhûn and Harad are supposed to be: Middle-earth’s Far East and Middle-earth’s Deep South, respectively.
One can say the Flora and Fauna [plant life and non-sapient animal life] of these three lands is similar to the Flora and Fauna of Africa’s north half as well as the Flora and Fauna of Asia’s west half. However, JRR Tolkien never clarified what kind of flora and fauna we should be imagining in Rhûn, Harad and Khand. That makes the biological geography of these lands a zone of nothing but speculation.
Genetics And Culture
As much as I love the pseudo-Aztec armored Moors and 24-Karat Ming Dynasty armored Turks of the gorgeous Peter Jackson film trilogy, we must acknowledge that the Haradrim and Easterlings (and even Variags of Khand) as JRR Tolkien wrote them are strictly based on North African Knights and West Asian Knights as were until the intorduction of gun powder: Fatimid Egypt, Seljuk Turkey, Ayyubid Egypt, Almoravid Morocco, Timurid Persia, Mamluk Egypt, Abbasid Arabia, and even 13th to 17th Century AD Mali. The black hair, olive skin, and brown [or black] eyes of these humans indicate a notably Afro-Asiatic DNA. The deep voices of these people is reflective of deep voices predominant in the Saharan and Middle Eastern sultanates of the Medieval world. Chariots and Elephants have been regular parts of Afro-Asiatic warfare from the start of the bronze age all the way to the time when mounted archery began to supplant both of these, around the classical age, and then mounted archery was the deadliest soldiery until the making of gun powder. Abbasid Arabians and Seljuk Turks were and are renowned for having outstanding horseback archers and superb other horse warriors. The Timurid Persians were the only Medieval Army still using Elephants to get their way on battlefields. Almoravid Moorish armies sometimes brought camels into battle as mounts, but on the other hand JRR Tolkien gave no indication whether the Haradrim used camels for steeds or not. Like the Easterlings, the Seljuk Turks also possessed a legion composition that was mainly “swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen upon horses”, but did not have the war chariots of the Easterling military. Many Middle Eastern and North African individuals average 5’9″ for height and 160 pounds for weight, and are slim. This can be connected metaphorically to the Haradrim, Easterlings and Variags having a description as “shorter than Numenoreans” [the Humans of Numenor stand 7 feet tall]. However, the oldest human of any nationality at all nowadays lives to be 100. Middle earth humans, like the Haradrim & Easterlings & Variags, live to be 80 at oldest, shorter than the 350 years lived by Numenor humans.
The very first thing we learn about these people and how they talk is that they speak nothing of common speech, but they do speak. And this is reading the novels in the order they were published. When you stumble upon the Silmarillion, you notice the language of Harad, Rhûn and Khand being described as “similar to Dwarf-speech”. Looking at Dwarf Speech, Dwarvish or Khuzdul as it is officially known, leads one to notice a literary structure that mirrors the basic traits shared by all Afro-Asiatic languages like Hebrew, Arabic, Maltese, Yiddish and so forth. One of these is the lack of English P sounds. Another is the frequency of “Kh” having a slightly larger emphasis on the H than on the K. The most similar Human language in Middle earth to Dwarvish is Adûnaic, the language of Second Age Numenor. This makes it debatable whether the Haradrim, Easterlings, and Variags spoke Adûnaic during and after the reign of the bigoted Numenor King Ar-Pharazon, but this is me getting ahead of myself.
In the Third Age, the Men of Darkness [humans of the three nations this post focuses on] seem to have been speaking in deep voices with a language entirely alien to the Free Peoples. Could this language have been Black Speech? Yes, no, maybe so. Perhaps it would not be recognized by the Orcs and Uruk-hai of Mordor as black speech, perhaps it was an odd mix of Black speech and Adûnaic, but again this is once again something we can only speculate over. Contrary to Middle Earth Role Playing’s PDF lists of Haradrim and Easterling names, Arabic and Turkish cannot just be randomly thrown in as the official languages of Harad and Rhûn, there is just plenty of Middle-earth exclusive languages one could realistically claim shares words with… well, we will call it Eastron. However, the genetics of these people could easily give them real world Afro-Asiatic accents, but not real world Afro Asiatic languages.
To me, Eastron seems to combine words of Adûnaic, Black Speech, and Dwarvish during the Third Age and the post Ar-Pharazon parts of the Second Age. Eastron seems, at least to me, to be a good name for the Harad-Rhûn-Khand speech as Westron is the premier name for British English, or as its known in Middle earth Common speech. Granted, Eastron has a few words of its own. The word Inka means north, Nus means spy, and Mûmak means elephant while the suffix “il” is added for the plural Eastron word for elephant. Other than this, I can only assume based on the bond they share with Sauron they may have been speaking nothing but Black Speech during the Third Age.
Motives and Origins
The Haradrim, Easterlings, and Variags all have the following things in common concerning story and concerning character development:
- All three were far from Rivendell Elf level of moral perfection, but all three were not of Mordor Orc barbarity either
- All three were fiscally permissive social moderates with a free trade focused foreign policy and a cultural centrism to them, before Ar-Pharazon entered their politics
- All three share one of the darkest, most depressing back stories in the history of Fantasy Fiction countries.
- These three nations were of human beings who were treated horrifically by other humans pretending to be benefactors.
The Men of the East [as Harad shares many longitudes with Khand and Rhûn] started their relations with the Men of the West with peace, trade, and non-alliance friendship. There was a mutual respect between The West and The East. The East taught the West horsemanship, shooting from horseback, how to cook with exotic spices and how to make gold as tough as steel. Simultaneously, the West taught the East how to make actual Steel, how to turn tribes of themselves into satraps of a nation, the Adûnaic language, and how to makes architectural drafts and designs.
Unfortunately, this is where everything the West and the East did with each other began to go to eternal venom: King Ar-Pharazon didn’t want his subjects treating the Eastern World humans like humans, and wanted Numenor to treat them as pets to deny national sovereignty to instead. Once he did this, it resulted in Harad and Rhûn and Khand losing resources and losing their military. But then he decided, again out of bigotry, that to repress these people was not enough for him. He wanted his people to use these people for sacrificial ceremonies, among other, some far worse, things, thereby treating the Men of the East like objects. This lead the Men of the East to become a severely depressed people.
The Men of the East then ended up going to a Fortress in the Far East, surrounded by fire. They went to this fortress and told its owner everything, and even asked him for their national sovereignties back. But of course, this individual was the Dark Lord Sauron in one of his fairest forms. And it did not take long at all for Sauron to strike a deal with them they vastly approved of.
Feeling a dire need to change strategy, Sauron sought the End of Numenor’s bloodline through the Men of the East, and the Men of the East’s severe depression over Numenor’s descendants became something remarkably ferocious; Sauron was a way for them to seize back their three national sovereignties and to punish Gondor for it’s Second Age crimes, and they were a way for Sauron to make his side the numerically superior side of his fight with Free Peoples.
There is meaning behind Dark Men [men of darkness], there is meaning behind the interdependency the Dark Lord and the Dark Men have on each other in order to be successful with their goals. Sauron had taken not one but three nations that had become depressed tributaries and turned them into three strong militaristic power houses; meanwhile the Dark Men have given the Dark Lord the ability to set himself up as the numerically superior side of his fight with the Free Peoples.
And the Dark Men call themselves Dark Men, because the Darkness is who they needed to ally with in order to get the tools needed by them to return to national sovereignty.
If you made it all the way here to the end, congratulations! I applaud you for your willingness to read a highly mysterious trio of fictional cultures. Thank you very much,