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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
W is for Woses!

Tweezers of Thu
Rivendell


Mar 25 2010, 12:22pm


Views: 600
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W is for Woses! [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
'Nay, nay,' said Elfhelm, 'the enemy is on the road not in the hills. You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from afar. They still haunt Drúadan Forest, it is said. Remnants of an older time they be, living few and secretly, wild and wary as the beasts. They go not to war with Gondor or the Mark; but now they are troubled by the darkness and the coming of the orcs: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning, as seems likely enough. Let us be thankful that they are not hunting us: for they use poisoned arrows, it is said, and they are woodcrafty beyond compare. But they have offered their services to Théoden. Even now one of their headmen is being taken to the king. Yonder go the lights. So much I have heard but no more. And now I must busy myself with my lord's commands. Pack yourself up, Master Bag!' He vanished into the shadows.


-- from Chapter 5, “Ride of the Rohirrim”, The Return of the King

A Wose by any other name – Drughu, Drûg, Drúadan, Rú, Rúatan, Róg, or Púkel-man – fascinates me as much now as this race of humans did when I first read the cited passage in 1968. Here is yet another race of beings inhabiting Tolkien’s secondary world that call to mind humans of our primary one, and yet are given those fantastical flourishes that immerse the reader in “elvish drama”.

When I first encountered old Ghân-buri-Ghân through Master Brandybuck’s eyes, the Wose chieftain’s appearance – “a strange squat shape of a man, gnarled as an old stone, and the hairs of his scanty beard straggled on his lumpy chin like dry moss. He was short-legged and fat-armed, thick and stumpy, and clad only with grass about his waist” gave a strong impression of an atavistic race of Men who recall f Homo sapiens neanderthalensis as well as the ancient forest deities and Wild Man of the Woods myths (Bigfoot, orang sedapa) of our primary world. I’m certainly not the first to think so. Have a look at Morpheus' essay nestled here (and hopefully accessible) on the archives of TORn. Morpheus speculates that Tolkien’s interest in paleontology influenced the conception of the Drúedain. I’m inclined to agree with this interpretation. The Drûgs are given a more thorough treatment (anthropological, cultural and etymological) in “The Drúedain” of Unfinished Tales:


Quote
To the eyes of Elves and other Men they were unlovely in looks: they were stumpy (some four foot high) but very broad, with heavy buttocks and short thick legs; their wide faces had deep-set eyes with heavy brows, and flat noses, and grew no hair below their eyebrows, except in a few men (who were proud of the distinction) a small tail of black hair in the midst of the chin. Their features were usually impassive, the most mobile being their wide mouths; and the movement of their wary eyes could not be observed save from close at hand for they were so black that the pupils could not be distinguished, but in anger they glowed red. [emphasis mine]. Their voices were deep and guttural, but their laughter was a surprise: it was rich and rolling, and set all who heard it. Elves or Men, laughing too for its pure merriment untainted by scorn or malice.


Yet even if the Woses have a hint of the Neanderthal or other ancient humans of our world, they also possess mysterious and perhaps “magical” qualities that make them all Tolkien. They were “woodcrafty beyond compare” as Elfhelm says above. And look! There’s another example (see bold text) of “glowing eyes” per Nottasackville’s X-ray vision post! Their craftsmanship with wood and stone are noteworthy. From the short story The Faithful Stone in Unfinished Tales, we learn that the Woses can transfer power into the inanimate. As Aghan, the Drûg shaman who constructs a stone statue to guard his friend Barach of the Folk of Haleth while he is away, notes “Alas! If some power passes from you to a thing that you have made, then you must take a share in its hurts.” Tolkien himself remarked on this: "The tales, such as The Faithful Stone, that speak of their transferring part of their 'powers' to their artefacts, remind one in miniature of Sauron's transference of power to the foundations of the Barad-dûr and to the Ruling Ring." The sense of power and watchfulness of the Púkel-men statues are also seen in The Return of the King.

The Woses were also gifted with great foresight. As long-time friends and allies of the Haladin, some of the Drûgs were ferried over to Númenor along with the other houses of the Edain. However, their increasing sense of unease – “"The Great Isle no longer feels sure under our feet, and we wish to return to the lands whence we came” caused them all to depart the Land of the Gift. But even as we’re given to understand that the Drûgs were accepted and even cherished among the Edain, we also find through Ghân-buri-Ghân that other Men hunt them like wild beasts.

In addition to the essay in Unfinished Tales, the Drúedain received some press in The History of Middle-earth, vol XII The Peoples of Middle-earth. In this, Tolkien made clear that the Woses were not to be confused with Hobbits or Dwarves – that they were a distinct race, even to the extent that Tolkien decided to omit an otherwise fascinating passage about the liking of the Drûgs for mushrooms (from HoMe XII):


Quote
'Delete all this about funguses. Too like Hobbits' (a reference of course to Frodo and Farmer Maggot's mushrooms). This followed the account of the knowledge of the Drûgs concerning plants, and reads: To the astonishment of Elves and other Men they ate funguseswith pleasure, many of which looked to others ugly and dangerous; some kinds which they specially liked they caused to grow near their dwellings. The Eldar did not eat these things. The Folk of Haleth, taught by the Drúedain, made some use of them at need; and if they were guests they ate what was provided in courtesy, and without fear. The other Atani eschewed them, save in great hunger when astray in the wild, for few among them had the knowledge to distinguish the wholesome from the bad, and the less wise called them ork-plants and supposed them to have been cursed and blighted by Morgoth.



As an aside, my son, also a Tolkien fan, dislikes mushrooms and has cited the passage above to justify his opinion that they are “fruit of Morgoth” as he calls them. I’ll also opine that it beggars belief that the Silvan Elves, just as woodcrafty or more so than the Woses, would not eat mushrooms. Perhaps the Tawarwaith were a superstitious lot. Anyway…

The Woses intrigue me now just as much as they did back in 1968. As I have come to read more of their background over the years, and to learn more about the scientific interests of the creator of the world they inhabit – our own world and yet not quite – I appreciate these Wild Men of the Woods all the more.

So here’s to W for Woses!

Many thank to N.E. Brigand and Magpie, too!

Magpies_alphabet

Gothmog and Draugluin


Subject User Time
It's Tolkien Reading Day! Post your ABCs of Tolkien here. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 25 2010, 3:48am
    C is for Cerin Amroth... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 3:57am
        Wow - nicely done! NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 25 2010, 11:57am
            <Bows low> GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 1:24pm
                GREAT ELEPHANTS! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 3:27pm
                    No problem - it's a common mistake NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 25 2010, 3:53pm
                        But you did so... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 4:56pm
        A question Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 1:42am
            Yep.// Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 27 2010, 3:01am
            As Lady Elizabeth says... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 3:18am
                It *raises* the question... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 27 2010, 4:09am
                    <chuckle> GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 5:57am
                    A good poet is aware of all levels of meaning in his work. Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 2:32pm
                        But he never tells us... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 3:56pm
                            A guess... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 27 2010, 6:20pm
                            A good poet offers the poem not its meaning Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 6:26pm
                                (smile) GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 7:07pm
                                    Simbelmyne or Evermind in ths common tongue Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 7:16pm
                                        Thank you! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 7:21pm
                                            Yes it is about time I reread the Silmarillion. It has been a couple years.// Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 8:09pm
                                    The Heart of Elvendom on earth Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 8:03pm
                                        Am I to understand then... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 27 2010, 8:21pm
                                            A bit more difficult to explain Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 8:41pm
                                                Cool! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 28 2010, 1:44am
                                                The perilous realm FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 31 2010, 4:22am
                                                    Nicely said! // Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Mar 31 2010, 2:33pm
                                                        No. Night Wolf Apr 1 2010, 4:58pm
                Perhaps the place chose them. // Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 2:22pm
    T is for Tolkien Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2010, 4:10am
        Very "British"... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 3:25pm
            British wit Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 26 2010, 1:16am
                "Frank-ness" GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 1:32am
        well... batik Send a private message to batik Mar 26 2010, 1:11am
            re: coffee Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 26 2010, 1:14am
    X is for X-Ray vision ... NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 25 2010, 4:12am
        LOL at #5 :-) // Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2010, 4:16am
        Interesting question! FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 25 2010, 7:21am
        E is for Emission Theory Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Mar 25 2010, 3:46pm
            Interesting - good to know I wasn't alone... NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 25 2010, 3:54pm
        I think.... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 4:54pm
        Light of eyes White Gull Send a private message to White Gull Mar 26 2010, 2:00pm
        The answer to Smaug's powers... Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 2:05am
    P is for Peregrin Took! fairelvenlady Send a private message to fairelvenlady Mar 25 2010, 4:46am
        Give or Took... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 5:20pm
    K is for Kirith Ungol Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 25 2010, 5:32am
        corrected link Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 25 2010, 12:33pm
        Tolkien - word pictures. Istari68 Send a private message to Istari68 Mar 25 2010, 4:16pm
    "Ha, hmm, my friends, let us go for a walk!"... batik Send a private message to batik Mar 25 2010, 5:54am
        sidestepping the quiz for a comment on the word Quickbeam Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2010, 1:57pm
            Wow! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 5:32pm
            My son is Rowan Kangi Ska Send a private message to Kangi Ska Mar 27 2010, 3:15pm
        Hmmmm.... Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone Mar 25 2010, 7:38pm
    T is for Thursday! sador Send a private message to sador Mar 25 2010, 6:10am
        How subversive, satirical and sharp of you SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 7:49pm
    E(ä) is for Eärendil Night Wolf Mar 25 2010, 7:15am
        Interesting SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 9:13pm
    B is for Beowulf SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 9:35am
        worthy of study Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 25 2010, 5:56pm
            I'm glad we agree! SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 9:18pm
        Scholarly... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 6:01pm
            Thank you SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 10:33pm
            Yes but don't forget... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 26 2010, 4:52am
                (laughs) GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 1:30pm
                    I have to agree FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 26 2010, 2:05pm
                        Cool stuff! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 4:14pm
                Would that be a stoat? N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 26 2010, 5:51pm
                    Whoops! FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 27 2010, 1:13am
                        Regardless of the typo SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 27 2010, 3:38am
    F is for Fëanor Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 25 2010, 10:03am
        In pity for Feanor... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 6:39pm
            Thank you! Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 25 2010, 8:05pm
    I is for Ioreth dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Mar 25 2010, 10:15am
        I think it says a lot... Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2010, 2:07pm
            Yes, a favourite SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 26 2010, 3:42am
                Intriguing idea indeed! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 1:33pm
                Concurring with GAndy dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Mar 26 2010, 3:43pm
        Ioreth is a fun character. fairelvenlady Send a private message to fairelvenlady Mar 27 2010, 8:26pm
        A little learning... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 28 2010, 1:01am
            From a medieval history syllabus... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 28 2010, 1:51am
                my own favorite quote sevilodorf Send a private message to sevilodorf Mar 28 2010, 5:43pm
    L is for Lothórien drogo Send a private message to drogo Mar 25 2010, 10:19am
        through a high window Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 25 2010, 5:49pm
            I'd never thought about it that way Oiotári Send a private message to Oiotári Mar 25 2010, 9:36pm
        Nasmith, for me. Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Mar 25 2010, 10:46pm
        Thanks for those links! Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Mar 26 2010, 1:00am
        Middle-earth in HD... batik Send a private message to batik Mar 26 2010, 9:16pm
        I guess it depends FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Mar 29 2010, 1:09pm
    J is for Josef Stalin Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Mar 25 2010, 11:36am
        It seems, SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2010, 9:32pm
            He does seem to dislike "globalisation" doesn't he?... Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Mar 25 2010, 11:01pm
    'D' is for Denethor Hamfast Gamgee Send a private message to Hamfast Gamgee Mar 25 2010, 11:38am
        Denethor, son of Ecthelion GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 6:57pm
    W is for Woses! Tweezers of Thu Send a private message to Tweezers of Thu Mar 25 2010, 12:22pm
        always something new Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 26 2010, 12:20am
            Oh, yes! Even after 44 years (gasp!)... Tweezers of Thu Send a private message to Tweezers of Thu Mar 26 2010, 4:58pm
        Ack - they're everywhere! NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 26 2010, 12:24pm
            Another example! Flame-eyed Elves! Tweezers of Thu Send a private message to Tweezers of Thu Mar 26 2010, 5:36pm
    "L" is also for "Letters" Elwen Send a private message to Elwen Mar 25 2010, 1:37pm
        (Soft, benevolent smile for Frodo) GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:17pm
    O is for Olórë Mallë Oiotári Send a private message to Oiotári Mar 25 2010, 2:33pm
        Roverandom? GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:23pm
    R is for Rosie Rosie-with-the-ribbons Send a private message to Rosie-with-the-ribbons Mar 25 2010, 3:27pm
        (laughs) Getting two in at once? GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:29pm
            Yep Rosie-with-the-ribbons Send a private message to Rosie-with-the-ribbons Mar 26 2010, 9:23am
                Wish I had your impishness! GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 4:50pm
                    Muchos gracias Rosie-with-the-ribbons Send a private message to Rosie-with-the-ribbons Mar 26 2010, 6:59pm
                        It's not too far off... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 7:14pm
                        Close enough... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 7:21pm
                    Marido Oscuro, lol... Evernight Send a private message to Evernight Mar 26 2010, 7:03pm
                        <Takes his lumps> GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 7:16pm
    G is for Gandalf Nerdanel Send a private message to Nerdanel Mar 25 2010, 6:01pm
        At a guess... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:35pm
        laughter Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 26 2010, 2:33am
    S is for Smith of Wootton Major. Evernight Send a private message to Evernight Mar 25 2010, 6:08pm
        (Daubs tears) GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:44pm
        "Why is Faery important? How important is it to you?" SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 26 2010, 4:12am
    A is for Arkenstone! entmaiden Send a private message to entmaiden Mar 25 2010, 6:53pm
        Because you asked... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 25 2010, 7:51pm
        It just so happens Oiotári Send a private message to Oiotári Mar 25 2010, 8:57pm
    Z is for Zirakzigil weaver Send a private message to weaver Mar 25 2010, 8:29pm
        "I need no map," said Gimli... N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 25 2010, 9:20pm
            Aha! More Z's! weaver Send a private message to weaver Mar 25 2010, 9:46pm
            On living rock. Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Mar 25 2010, 11:34pm
            Zis monument, carved into ze hillside - it is zuspicious, no? squire Send a private message to squire Mar 26 2010, 1:53am
    U is for Uolë Kúvion, the Man in the Moon Dân o’Nandor-on-Anduin Send a private message to Dân o’Nandor-on-Anduin Mar 25 2010, 10:43pm
        How charming... SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 26 2010, 2:48am
    E is for Erendis acheron Send a private message to acheron Mar 26 2010, 12:39am
        I really like this story Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 27 2010, 1:49pm
    V is for Voronwë Voronwë_the_Faithful Send a private message to Voronwë_the_Faithful Mar 26 2010, 2:12am
        One of the amazing things about the depth of Tolkien's writing - NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 26 2010, 12:48pm
            I remembered... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 4:55pm
    H is for Halfling! aranelthehobbit22 Send a private message to aranelthehobbit22 Mar 26 2010, 2:21am
        No worries SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 26 2010, 2:30am
    Thank you GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 2:40am
    M is for Morwen Saelind Send a private message to Saelind Mar 26 2010, 2:54am
        The saddest... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 3:18am
            M is for Morwen Saelind Send a private message to Saelind Mar 26 2010, 3:48am
    'H' is for, hip, hip, hooray, everyone! Altaira Send a private message to Altaira Mar 26 2010, 3:33am
    N is for Niggle Finding Frodo Send a private message to Finding Frodo Mar 26 2010, 4:11am
        Whoops! Finding Frodo Send a private message to Finding Frodo Mar 26 2010, 2:33pm
        Niggle and Tasks... GAndyalf Send a private message to GAndyalf Mar 26 2010, 4:33pm
    Y is for Yggdrasil. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Mar 26 2010, 6:42am
        How did drasils turn into wargs? NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 26 2010, 3:47pm
    A is for N.E. Brigand - NottaSackville Send a private message to NottaSackville Mar 26 2010, 12:28pm
        Seconded! sador Send a private message to sador Mar 26 2010, 12:31pm
        Thirded! entmaiden Send a private message to entmaiden Mar 27 2010, 12:09am
        All in favour Modtheow Send a private message to Modtheow Mar 27 2010, 1:57pm
            And a big thank-you from me, too Lily Fairbairn Send a private message to Lily Fairbairn Mar 28 2010, 6:03pm
    Wow! This is great! Compa_Mighty Send a private message to Compa_Mighty Apr 4 2010, 7:52pm

 
 
 

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