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Harad

Marmoon
Bree


Oct 27 2022, 2:20pm

Post #1 of 9 (802 views)
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Harad Can't Post

Based on the known stories and the Second Age map, it's all but guaranteed that we'll see Harad's western coast developed and explored in the show, perhaps initially from the Númenórean perspective. But I would love to follow stories into Harad’s interior, too.

Per Tolkien himself, we know that the lands of the South were, in effect, Africa. Harad contained deserts, grasslands, forests, and mountains. Near Harad is often approximated with Northern Africa (Sahara Desert) and even the Middle East. The deserts were apparently home to camels (see Baynes’ map of Middle-earth approved by Tolkien). Mûmakil were probably found further south in savannas and forests. In LOTR, it was said there were “apes in the dark forests of the South”, again alluding to Africa. The Haradrim were likely influenced by Tolkien’s etymological research that resulted in his early 1930s essay Sigelwara Land on the ancient Aethiopians (Sigelhearwan), with the Greek’s “Aethiopia” referring to pre-modern sub-Saharan Africa, not just to Ethiopia.

At first I thought Amazon’s map lacked definition in inland Harad because those lands were being deemed mostly barren for the show, therefore unlikely to be used for settings. But on closer inspection, many landforms and features can be seen, though faint, such as hills and rivers. This can most easily been seen by following the well-defined Red Mountains in the East as they extend into the South - the illustration becomes faded beginning in Khand and continues until the end of the mountains around the latitude of Númenor. Similarly, the visibility of the Harad Road varies as it goes from Ithilien, over the rivers Poros and Harnen, and through Near and Far Harad. Additionally, the word “Umbar” is less bold than other labels on the map. I can think of only two explanations for these faint details: (1) The map’s expanded view of Harad (compared to previous maps of Middle-earth) was merely a consequence of the broader dimensions to account for Rhûn and Númenor. There’s no plan to explore Harad beyond the coasts. Or (2) inland Harad will be a setting but map details were delayed until relevant for a future season. However, this explanation is complicated by the fact that Harad’s coastal features, as well as the features of Rhûn, are not faded on the current map, yet these locations did not feature in season one.

The simplest answer is that inland Harad will not feature in the show. But still I’m holding onto hope.

I’m curious how the show will treat diversity in this region. The native inhabitants were described as having black and brown skin-tones (“swarthy”). The appearance of the black-skinned “half-troll” men of Far Harad is doubtful (I think for obvious reasons), unless portrayed as hybrid “troll-men”. Concerning diversity: Will white or light-skinned actors be cast as Haradrim in similar proportion to the actors with darker skin-tones seen in the northern lands?

In LOTR, Tolkien described the Haradrim soldiers, their dress, their standards, scimitars and painted spiked shields, and all that. For PJ’s films, Weta Workshop drew inspiration from different cultures in designing the Haradrim warriors and their battle-mûmakil and the Corsairs of Umbar. But all that is limiting - it’s tough to extrapolate an entire culture from wartime appearances. Even more, styles might have changed dramatically over thousands of years. I can think of only one small detail from the films that could inform the design of the Haradrim of the Second Age: the Ringwraith from Harad was portrayed in the Dol Guldur fight scene in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. I have to assume this character’s appearance remained unchanged since the Second Age. I think it’s highly unlikely it will be built upon, but it’s there.
Ringwraith of Harad full costume design (second from right): http://www.henneth-annun.ru/...ronicles6_spread.jpg
Helm of the Ringwraith from Harad: https://www.wetanz.com/...-ringwraith-of-harad

As with my previous comments and hopes for the show, I’m interested to see the Blue Wizards and the Nazgûl developed. Following the description that three Ringwraiths had been powerful Númenórean lords, I imagine Sauron would have no trouble finding candidates among the Black Númenóreans in Harad. Stories revolving around Númenórean colonialism and the oppression and enslavement of the Haradrim would also make for strong storytelling. In 1958, Tolkien wrote that the Blue Wizards “went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Númenórean range” - with that “range” presumably limited to the coasts, thus hinting that the Blues’ missions were deep inland. Tolkien seemed unsettled on exactly what they got into, but his final notes explained they were successful in disrupting Sauron’s plans and operations and aided his defeat in the major Second Age conflicts. If the Stranger / Istar does turn out to be one of the Blue Wizards, his quest to observe the Hermit’s Hat constellation in Rhûn may fail (and rightly so, as extensively discussed by scholars and fans). Maybe he’ll meet the other Blue in Rhûn and get from him the heading for Harad. Alternatively, a second shooting Istar could land in the South if the fate of the first one becomes uncertain after he encounters perils in season two, or because his memory recovery / mission progresses too slowly.

Those are my thoughts. What would you like to see in Harad?


...


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 27 2022, 8:37pm

Post #2 of 9 (736 views)
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In Reply To
I’m curious how the show will treat diversity in this region. The native inhabitants were described as having black and brown skin-tones (“swarthy”). The appearance of the black-skinned “half-troll” men of Far Harad is doubtful (I think for obvious reasons), unless portrayed as hybrid “troll-men”. Concerning diversity: Will white or light-skinned actors be cast as Haradrim in similar proportion to the actors with darker skin-tones seen in the northern lands?


There's probably little to no reason to move the story to Far Harad. However, I would like to see this Southron folk developed as a distinct culture. I want to see what they might be like when they are not at war with others. Maybe the show can introduce some supporting characters from Far Harad when events take it to Umbar. One or two might even become main characters (at least for a while). Just don't screw it up, Amazon, the way that the 2000 D&D movie did with Snails!

“Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” - Tony Isabella


TFP
Rivendell


Oct 28 2022, 8:37am

Post #3 of 9 (676 views)
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Harad [In reply to] Can't Post

Yeah, I'm not sure they need to go there much, really, especially if Poppy and hopefully-not-Gandalf really do go to Rhûn.

Regarding 'diversity' - as others have said, I think they've probably done away with any straightforward parallels between this ME and our world. The choice of 'Northern' English accents for Southlanders [despite Mordor really being in the Balkans or thereabouts] is probably as clear a signal of this as any other. Also as previously discussed the strange way that seemingly isolated communities maintain so much ethnic diversity. And e.g. even in Tolkien's books, Rohan is arguably too far South for the degree of Anglo Saxon influence to be an obvious choice. I suppose I'm saying there'd be no really strong need for the show makers to base Harad on Africa.


(This post was edited by TFP on Oct 28 2022, 8:46am)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 28 2022, 1:59pm

Post #4 of 9 (647 views)
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On Africa and Rohan [In reply to] Can't Post


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Yeah, I'm not sure they need to go there much, really, especially if Poppy and hopefully-not-Gandalf really do go to Rhûn.

Regarding 'diversity' - as others have said, I think they've probably done away with any straightforward parallels between this ME and our world. The choice of 'Northern' English accents for Southlanders [despite Mordor really being in the Balkans or thereabouts] is probably as clear a signal of this as any other. Also as previously discussed the strange way that seemingly isolated communities maintain so much ethnic diversity. And e.g. even in Tolkien's books, Rohan is arguably too far South for the degree of Anglo Saxon influence to be an obvious choice. I suppose I'm saying there'd be no really strong need for the show makers to base Harad on Africa.


Well, there is Tolkien's own description of the Southron warriors of Far Harad; that's one reason. There is also Tolkien's sketch of Arda in the First Age that shows that Harad is a continent that resembles Africa.

As for the Eorlingas, they are descended from the Northmen who were self-described as the Princes of Rhovanion who as the Éothéod) were dwelling in the Vales of Anduin from Third Age 1977 to 2510. That's what makes the Anglo-Saxon parallels viable.

“Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” - Tony Isabella


TFP
Rivendell


Oct 28 2022, 2:46pm

Post #5 of 9 (636 views)
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...Well, there is Tolkien's own description of the Southron warriors of Far Harad; that's one reason. There is also Tolkien's sketch of Arda in the First Age that shows that Harad is a continent that resembles Africa....


sure, but I meant none of this stuff is needed to move the story along.

Tolkien's final published words more or less unanimously point towards Galadriel being 6'4" [ish] tall and a peerless beauty, but neither's really material to the main thrust of the story, so it doesn't matter that they went with a very different casting. they could do something similar for Harad and its population and it wouldn't really matter.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Oct 28 2022, 3:51pm

Post #6 of 9 (623 views)
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sure, but I meant none of this stuff is needed to move the story along.

Tolkien's final published words more or less unanimously point towards Galadriel being 6'4" [ish] tall and a peerless beauty, but neither's really material to the main thrust of the story, so it doesn't matter that they went with a very different casting. they could do something similar for Harad and its population and it wouldn't really matter.


True, there is no particular need to explore the South beyond the Havens of Umbar, although I wouldn't mind if that happens (depending on how it turns out). However, it makes perfect sense to cast folk of Far Harad as persons of color and it works well with Amazon's current policies. There are no good reasons NOT to do that unless the issue is never raised in the first place.

A chief reason that I was disappointed that Amazon never followed through with the proposal to base a series on the early travels of Aragorn II is that I wanted to see our favorite Ranger interact with the diverse cultures and peoples of the distant East and far South.

“Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved.” - Tony Isabella

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Oct 28 2022, 3:54pm)


Hopefull Harfoot
Rivendell


Oct 28 2022, 5:22pm

Post #7 of 9 (608 views)
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I liked Lotr's depiction a lot, but doubt we will go there in this series [In reply to] Can't Post

The Lotr film's and possibly Tolkien seemed to take inspiration from North African sources. The warriors dress, reminds one of the Blue People of the Desert, the Tuaregs. The War Elephants could derive from the Carthagenians, though they also were used in the Middle East, India and into Asia.

I think the main reasons for not going there are that there is no basis in the texts for a journey (that I am aware of) and maybe even more so because England is a wretched place to film Desert sequences. Wink

Tuareg


War Elephant Armor (India)


50th year anniversary since I first read The Lord of the Rings


Rostron2
Gondor


Oct 30 2022, 10:25pm

Post #8 of 9 (486 views)
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Umbar, Harad, etc. [In reply to] Can't Post

I too don't think we'll see a lot of Harad, unless there's some origin story about why the kings of the regions south of Umbar chose -- or were coerced -- to align themselves with Sauron in later centuries.

I just think how a viewing audience can barely keep up with the many places, names, and characters of Middle earth as it is. Certainly as the Numenorian kingdoms expands and becomes Gondor, etc. there's ample time to do a little bit of diplomacy and /or
and off-screen treatment of the wars that always seemed to be on the borders of the men of Westernesse in Middle Earth.

I won't even attempt to speculate on the design aesthetics of the region of Harad.


Felagund
Rohan


Nov 30 2022, 12:44am

Post #9 of 9 (264 views)
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an origin story, more or less [In reply to] Can't Post

Not unequivocally an origin story but there is what Tolkien wrote about the long association between the more rapacious and imperialist of the Númenóreans and Umbar - arguably going back to its foundation era early in the third millennium of the Second Age. Then there is this specific passage in 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age', dating to the end of Second Age:


Quote
"But because of the power of Gil-galad these renegades [the Black Númenóreans], lords both mighty and evil, for the most part took up abode in the southlands far away; yet two there were, Herumor and Fuinur, who rose to power among the Haradrim, a great and cruel people that dwelt in the wide lands south of Mordor beyond the mouths of the Anduin."


Essentially the Haradrim of the various Third Age wars between Gondor and the enemies of the Free Peoples have a backstory, more or less, drawing on their exposure to the overbearing power of Númenor at its imperialist peak. Númenórean subornment, military conquest, enslavement were all probably in the mix. And this dynamic survived the Downfall, via the likes of Herumor and Fuinur for many centuries.

Whether all of this would make for good TV, it's hard to say - setting aside the copyright for the moment. Personally, I would like to see the above themes explored in subsequent series, perhaps tied to the rise of Pharazôn

If you're interested in more about the 'feigned histories' of Umbar and its Haradrim neighbours, I've pulled together most of the source material previously, over in the Reading Room. part I and part II of the essay series 'A Tale of Two Cities: Umbar & Pelargir' cover the early history.

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

 
 

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