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Balrog armor

Grey Havens

Mar 7 2019, 5:14pm

Post #1 of 9 (3641 views)
Balrog armor Can't Post

So I'm attempting to illustrate the Balrog a bit closer to the descriptions given by Tolkien in his various texts, and what I'm having trouble with is the clothing. Some of Tolkien's letters make mention of iron armor and helms, but I don't know if this every translated over to the actual books themselves. I know the Balrogs are more humanoid in shape, but I can't imagine that they were running around naked.

So did the Balrog wear armor? And if so, what kind? My understanding is that sophisticated armor like plate armor did not exist in Tolkien's mythology, so are we thinking something more simplistic? Perhaps something more akin to Greek cuirasses, vambraces, and greaves? What about footwear?

I appreciate that a lot of these questions don't have definitive answers, so I'm more looking for the opinions of experts here. Wink


Mar 7 2019, 8:14pm

Post #2 of 9 (3602 views)
I think the texts will be of very little help to you, unfortunately [In reply to] Can't Post

The balog from LOTR is described mostly in its effect and presence rather than in its costume - it seems mostly to be clothed in shadow and flame.

Aside from reading LOTR, I'd highly recommend Reverend's post about Tolkien's Balrogs: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=956757#956757

A key point from that is that Tolkien wrote about balrogs over many years, and his ideas changed. Balrogs started out as a humanoid cavalry force and (may have) ended up as winged demons. I think that dipping into all those years of different accounts ad lib would be like someone in the future trying to draw "The Apple Computer" from mixed descriptions of everything from a Macintosh 128K to the latest iPhones, with some other folks insisting that of course it looked like an actual apple.

Tolkien isn't very specific about anyone's armour either, unfortunately. "Chained rings" are mentioned (for Earendil), and Frodo has a mithril garment that appears to be chainmail or scale. So that is the kind of equipment that non-balrog characters have, and goes with the origins of the stories in the Norse and Anglo-Saxon epics that Tolkien used to love so well. But for all I know balrogs wear plate, or kevlar, or carry around very large cannons.

Pretty much whatever you do is therefore arguably right (and therefore also arguably wrong).

As an idea you're welcome to try out if it pleases you, (and not an 'expert' opinion in any way) I suggest experimenting with what chain mail might look like if it were made of shadows, smoke and flame.

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Mar 7 2019, 8:22pm)


Mar 7 2019, 8:30pm

Post #3 of 9 (3597 views)
Why not go the full Monty? [In reply to] Can't Post

He's a demon, not a warrior.

"Naked" would have no meaning to such a creature. And if you're going for the PG rating, delicately composed smoke and shadow could do wonders to keep him mysteriously menacing without raising inappropriate questions.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
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Mar 7 2019, 8:48pm

Post #4 of 9 (3596 views)
When is a naked orc like a Balrog? [In reply to] Can't Post

When itís a William Blake orc! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orc_(Blake)

Aside from being a humanoid figure with wings of flame, Orc was also drawn as a serpent (which is kinda interesting too from a Gandalfís Balrog Account point of view).

Anyway, Orc in humanoid guise seems to be naked, though Drawn in such a way that Speedos canít be ruled out either...

But Blake asides aside, I agree with squire: Balrogs May have no armour; Balrogs may need no armour.

"Go down to the shovel store and take your pick." Traditional prank played on dwarves when they start down the mine.


Mar 8 2019, 4:31pm

Post #5 of 9 (3550 views)
That Apple comparison was really on-target (Do apples have wings too?) // [In reply to] Can't Post



Mar 8 2019, 4:36pm

Post #6 of 9 (3552 views)
My own head-canon goes something like this [In reply to] Can't Post

They are very hard to kill, but they CAN be killed by great Elvish warriors and a Wizard using swords. But they also seem very primal, and armor or even loincloths seem out of place on them. So my conclusion is they had a very thick hide which served as armor. Gandalf mentions hewing his Balrog repeatedly, so those blows were bouncing off something, either armor, or thick hide, or some magical coating.

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Mar 10 2019, 12:02am

Post #7 of 9 (3524 views)
What is with you people and Balrogs? [In reply to] Can't Post

Something I should know? Smile Actually I would think some armour might make a Balrog more powerful. Possibly something to enhance his flame-throwing abilities. And thinking about it, maybe a weapon like a great big tree trunk. Might be useful for smiting irritating small Wizards.


Mar 12 2019, 9:31pm

Post #8 of 9 (3493 views)
'Fall of Gondolin': early (ish) depictions of Balrogs [In reply to] Can't Post

If you go back to the earliest 'Fall of Gondolin' text, as recently cleaned up in CT's 2018 edit, you can find snippets of use - although this material did not make the cut for The Silmarillion (bold = my emphasis):

"Of those demons of power Echthelion slew three, for the brightness of his sword cleft the iron of them and did hurt to their fire, and they writhed...".

Welcome to the Mordorfone network, where we put the 'hai' back into Uruk


Apr 10 2019, 3:57pm

Post #9 of 9 (2714 views)
Probably shouldn't be an issue [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think a Balrog benefits by being drawn in nitty-gritty detail. A great part of its terror lies in its very vagueness: "of man-shape, maybe, but greater;" a shadow wreathed in flame


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