Satrap of Khand

The words Rhûn and Harad evoke great interest and curiosity in many Tolkien readers. Neither Rhûn nor Harad were specific lands or nations; the names are simply the Sindarin terms for “the East” and “the South”, respectively. Similarly, the people of Rhûn, the Easterlings, and the people of Harad, the Southrons, did not belong to a single monolithic culture, but to many different nations, clans, and tribes. These were peoples and lands outside of the common experience of the Free Peoples of the West, and what little interaction they had with each other was often during times of war. Only one specific realm outside of the West was known, and that was the land of Khand. It lay to the southeast of Mordor under the influence of the Shadow, and the Men of Khand were held to be Men of Darkness. Beyond its name, precious little is known of Khand. The Men of Khand supplied Mordor with horses, and so may have been a people of riders; they may  have employed foreign “barbarian” mercenaries of northern stock, or pressed into service naturalised foreign populations (the Variags; discussion). Khand had come into conflict with Gondor in the first half of the Third Age, and then again during the War of the Ring upon the battleground of the Pelennor Field. Ultimately, the land of Khand remains extremely mysterious, and it is even unclear whether it belongs to Rhûn or to Harad.

This man is a warrior-satrap, a high-born governor of a province of Khand that pays a tribute of horses, gold, and slaves to the god-king of Mordor. A man of wealth and privelege, he is richly arrayed in a long coat of iron scales overlaid with a heavily dyed silk tunic embroidered with golden thread. He wears a brazen war-mask and a round steel shield for additional defence and wields a deadly axe. Well-trained, he is prepared to lead his warriors against the foes of the Eye should he be called upon to bolster the hosts of the Black Land. When that day comes he will ride on his small but swift steed away from his home and through Mordor until he comes at last down into the Westlands where the fate of Middle-earth shall be decided.

When I started writing this blog, I told myself that I wasn’t going to present any “evil” outfits, but the cosmetics of some of the pieces that crop up are so suggestive of cultures outside of what I would expect to see in western Middle-earth that I’m afraid I’ve given into temptation. I’m extremely fascinated and curious about the Easterlings and Southrons — what little we know about them is so tantalising and so scant, and yet there is so much more to discuss than I can fit into one blog post. I’m really looking forward to seeing the ways that Turbine will portray them in-game. We have already seen some Easterlings in the Great River region; Turbine seems to have blended Turkic, Sassanid, and Indic influences to create their look. I’m not sure where these particular Easterlings are meant to hail from; probably not Khand or they would be identified as such (and I don’t think we will see Men of Khand until we have reached Gondor and the final battles of the War). Nevertheless, they are clearly southern Easterlings (northern Easterlings, such as those who attacked Dale, would likely have a more Slavic/Alanic/Hunnic visual influence; somwhere in the middle, near the Sea of Rhûn — for example the Wainriders — we might expect a Scythian/Sarmatian influence). With this outfit, I am imagining the land of Khand as having a vaguely Parthian or Median (ancient Iranian) culture. I have tried to give him an exotic look, clearly foreign to western Middle-earth, that attempts to recall the long heavy scale armour and masked faces of the Iranian cataphracts. I can envision the land of Khand as consisting of lush, high meadows contrasted with wide arid plateaus stetching beneath high snow-covered peaks, much like the Iranian Plateau of the Primary World. But all this is my own imagination, and I hasten to point out that there is nothing in Tolkien’s writings to support it. Ultimately, I saw an eastern influence in the design of the chest piece in this outfit and my imagination was inspired by it!

  • Head: Battle-mask of Rhûn (purchased — LOTRO Store), red
  • Shoulders: Dwarf Leather Shoulder Guards (purchased — Gabilshathûr medium armour vendor; or looted — world drop/general), crimson
  • Chest: Saets-crus (looted — Fangorn’s Edge/tier 1 Undúrz), crimson
  • Hands: Gauntlets of the Golden Wood (crafted — tailor T6/Galadhrim), crimson
  • Feet: Footman’s Boots (crafted — tailor T6), crimson
  • Shield: Light Bronze Buckler (crafted — metalsmith T1; or looted — world drop/general; or purchased — Bree-land light armour vendors)
  • Weapon: Steel Axe (crafted — weaponsmith T2)

Tips: Saets-crus has the same appearance as a variety of heavy armour chest pieces rewarded by Dunland quests. The recipe for crafting the Gauntlets of the Golden Wood is available from a barterer in Caras Galadhon once you have reached Friend standing with the Galadhrim. They have the same appearance as the gloves from the level 60 Mines of Moria instance cluster medium armour sets.

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22 Responses to Satrap of Khand

  1. C.T. says:

    Ah, red and gold. Ever the colors of “eastern barbarian” nobility. Good job, though I have never liked the shoulders; the pointies disagree with me. For the boots, have you ever tried the Greaves of Growing Light (from Erulian skirmish raids)?

    I am heartened to see you venturing beyond Anduin for your getups – hope this is the start of something ongoing. Your knowledge of real-world historical cultures only makes this doubly endearing to my history buff’s heart.

    • Thanks CT! Yes, history is definitely one of my interests — so much to learn and so little time!

      I hven’t seen the boots you mentioned, but I’m intrigued. Do you happen to have a screenshot? I’d love to see them! 🙂

      • Iaksones says:

        Those are like the Captain’s DN boots. They’d match the shield super well. They’d retain the nice Eastern vibe the pointy boots you selected give off, but with a heavier appearance. The steel part might look a tad off compared to these boots though.

        I second the call for more ethnic outfits. Maybe play with the Oathkeeper’s Helm from Halls of Night?

      • C.T. says:

        Look for “Song of Gil-galad” on Hymne’s blog; that getup uses the Greaves. Not sure how it’d look dyed crimson, though.

        And yes, moar spotlight on Gondor’s ancient foes, please!

        • Ah yes, thanks CT. Those are really nice. They would look awesome with the shield, but I fear that even dyed crimson you’d kind of lose the head-to-toe crimson-and-gold effect.

          I’d love to do an outfit with those boots and this very shield, though. Something for me to ponder if the boots should ever tumble into my inventory! 😀

  2. Ivy says:

    I agree with C.T. Your anthropological bent really shines in this post. And I like the shoulders, gives him a darker, crueler feel which supports his background.

    At the risk of seeming unoriginal, I have an Eastern feel to an outfit coming up on my blog soon and using the Mask of Rhun as well! I just have not found a “flavor” for her yet.

    Thank you, Starry, for continuing to inspire as well as feeding the culture buff in me. I so look forward to your posts. 🙂
    –Ivy

    • Glad you enjoyed it, thank you Ivy!

      Haha, the same thing has happened to me sooo many times when Hymne or Freyjuska or Savs have posted something using a cosmetic that I had as a planned centrepiece. I just go for it anyway, there are so many possibilities using the same pieces and it’s always great to see different uses for various items. Can’t wait to see your use for the mask! 😀

  3. Now why would Southrons and Easterlings be “evil” by definition of origin? Most of them are suggested to have served Sauron, but even Tolkien’s world isn’t all that black or white. The character Gollum, and even Frodo’s last temptation of the ring are good examples of that.
    I don’t see this outfit as evil per se, only because it has particular characteristics. What I do like about it are the bold features. The mask goes really well with that hauberk, and even though I’m not a big fan of those shoulders either, I think they convey that typical eastern style and I think they fit very well here. Nice job!

    • No, I completely agree — it’s not realistic or possible to say that all or even most of the Men of Darkness were evil just because their societies were under the sway of Sauron. Even those who believed whatever lies Sauron told about the West could have been good at heart, just misguided — and Sam’s musings about the slain Southron in Ithilien show that Tolkien had this in mind. That’s why I put “evil” in quotations.

      I’m firmly on the side that believes there are many shades of grey in Tolkien that superficial readers fail to see — after all everyone in Middle-earth is living in a Fallen world, and all Men are Fallen Men. Perhaps it would have been better to say that I had originally intended to avoid outfits for the Men of Darkness (whether evil or not).

      • Laenlis says:

        Absolutely. It’s such a common thing to say, that Tolkien was utterly black/white in his depictions of people, but it’s just not so.

        And I love this outfit. Love. It’s rather ridiculously handsome, in its way.

      • I’m glad you had a change of heart, because these peoples open up a new full range of outfit styles! We have to work with what we have in Lotro of course, but that’s actually a nice challenge, and you worked out the theme brilliantly. 🙂

      • Baranwen says:

        I agree with this.
        I think Tolkien also felt attracted to those cultures which surrounded the center of the scene of that version of the history of Middle Earth, but I imagine he just felt obliged to mantain the point of view of the people who was creating/inspirating that history/mythology (the Noldor, IMO, and that it’s why the story end when the last of them leaves for the West, and their allies). I believe he was aware he was crafting a “version”, of many possible.

        • Baranwen says:

          Oh, and about other version or point of view, there’s this book written by Russian author Kirill Eskov, The Last Ringbearer. According to wikipedia, the premise of the novel is the proverb “history is written by the victors”, and just attemp to show the other side of the War of the Ring. Seems interesting.

        • Yes, I think you’re right. The setup of the narrative frame (i.e, that The Lord of the Rings is a translation of a book written by Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam) is so important that the perspective has to be consistent and believable. I believe Tolkien’s later essays show some of his discomfort with concepts like irredeemable Orcs and so on.

          • Fionnuala says:

            Tolkien clearly decided that Orcs must be redeemable, however unlikely it is. Perhaps some Orc were redeemed and rejoined the mortal races after Sauron’s defeat. And perhaps they eventually became the lawyers and marketing executives of the future. 😉

  4. Theofried says:

    Great Outfit. It looks great ,and I think you succeeded in making it look ..persian ( meaning ancient Persia )
    Only problem is: your text about the east made me want to see the Rhûn/Dale theater of the war even more 😦

  5. serendistupidity says:

    This outfit is amazing, and my eyes love the first and the second screenshots to tears! I believe the best thing about your blog is that you create not just an outfit, but a personality.

    In my opinion, this chestpiece is more Mongolian in appearance, thus more suitable for a khan-leader of the consanguine nomads – an avalanche-like force when called to arms, but unruly and elusive the rest of time. But this is only the perception 😀

    There should be more ethnic-infused armor and clothing items, especially the headpieces. The existing options to develop the Eastern or Southern themes are disturbingly scarce (or hard to get for casual players – yes, Ost Dunhoth burglar set, I am looking at you!). Hopefully, we will see more in September.
    And I’d like to join the anticipation about how Turbine would portray these unknown regions should they lay their hands on them!

    • Thank you Serendistupidity and welcome! Glad you enjoyed this one! I have another attempt on an Easterling variation coming up on Wednesday that you might be interested in as well. 🙂

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