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In J. R. R. Tolkien's epic fantasy legendarium detailing lands in Middle-earth, Harad - or more formally the Harad[1] - was the name for the immense lands south of Gondor and Mordor. In the languages invented by Tolkien, Harad means South in Sindarin, and it was named Hyarmen in Quenya with the same meaning. It is also referred to as the Sunlands,[2] and as Haradwaith (from the people who lived there; the name literally means "South-folk", from the Sindarin harad, "south" and gwaith, "people").

J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location
Flag of Harad.svg
Haradrim chieftain's standard
First appearanceThe Fellowship of the Ring
TypeVast hot region with deserts and jungles
Notable locationsUmbar, Near Harad, Far Harad
Other name(s)Haradwaith, the Sunlands
Locationsouthern Middle-earth

In the world of Middle-earth, Harad is loosely associated with Africa.

Middle-earth narrativeEdit


Extent and bordersEdit

Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings briefly describes his journeys in Haradwaith as "Harad where the stars are strange".[3] Tolkien noted that this meant that Aragorn had travelled "some distance into the southern hemisphere",[4] which in turn indicates that Harad itself extends well south of the equator.

To the north of Harad lay (west to east) the lands of Gondor, Mordor, Khand and Rhûn. Historically the border with Gondor was held to be the river Harnen, but by the time of the War of the Ring all the land further north to the river Poros was under the influence of the Haradrim. The border with Mordor ran along the southern Mountains of Shadow.

Harad's west coast (the nearest to Gondor) was washed by the Great Sea, the western ocean of Middle-earth. Harad's eastern shores looked out on the Eastern Sea, Middle-earth's eastern ocean. In the Second Age, Númenórean mariners explored the coasts of Harad, beginning with the north-western coasts, and eventually rounding the southmost tip of Harad and reaching the Eastern Sea.[5]

Internal geographyEdit

The great harbour and city of Umbar was situated on Harad's north-west coast. Elsewhere in Harad there were "many towns";[6] one of these was "the inland city", the home of Queen Berúthiel (mentioned by Tolkien in an interview[7]).

Two great mountain ranges lay in Harad, at least in the First Age: the Grey Mountains in the west (not the same as the Grey Mountains on the north of Wilderland), and the Yellow Mountains in the east. Ormal, one of the two great Lamps of Middle-earth in the First Age, was located in Harad. When Ormal was destroyed by Melkor it was replaced by the inland Sea of Ringil, which likewise seems did not survive the First Age.

The Harad Road was the main overland route between Gondor and Harad. By the end of the Third Age, "great roads" ran from Mordor to its tributary lands in Harad.[8]

Ecoregions and faunaEdit

The ecoregions of Harad included jungles, grasslands[9], mountains and deserts. In its jungles lived apes,[10] while animals known as mûmakil, which were elephant-like but larger and more aggressive, ranged in areas featuring both trees and grass. The serpent symbol used by one of the chieftains of Harad possibly refers to a large or potent black snake (such as the black mamba) indigenous to the territory of his rule.

Near and Far HaradEdit

From the point of view of the lands to its north, especially Gondor, Harad was divided into the regions of Near Harad and Far Harad. Far Harad, the vastly larger of the two regions, corresponds loosely with sub-Saharan Africa.

Primeval HaradEdit

Originally, in the primeval First Age, the Southland of Middle-earth had been even vaster before its transformation into Harad proper. It had extended from south of the equivalent of the Equator all the way to, and including, the equivalent of Antarctica. A long mountain range, the Grey Mountains, stood along the west coast of this Southland, and, reflecting the symmetry of primeval Middle-earth, another long mountain range stood along the east coast: the Yellow Mountains.[11]

When the god-like Valar built the two Great Lamps which lit primeval Middle-earth, they placed one in the Southland, and it was named Ormal. The Two Lamps were subsequently destroyed by Melkor, and a great inland sea formed at the site of both; the southern water-body was the Sea of Ringil.

Later the Valar and Melkor had a titanic battle. This battle not only changed the shape of the coasts of Middle-earth, but split the continent near the Sea of Ringil. The portion of the Southland north of the split, together with much of the Midland of primeval Middle-earth, was transformed into the Harad of subsequent history. The large southern portion of the Southland, now separated by a wide expanse of oceanic sea, was no longer part of Middle-earth, but was now its own continent: the Dark Land.


Also known asSouthrons
Created dateFirst Age
Home worldMiddle-earth
Base of operationsHarad



The Men of Harad were called Haradrim ("South-multitude"), Haradwaith, or Southrons. These terms were Gondorian generic descriptions of any of the peoples that came from the vast lands to the south of Gondor. The Haradrim are often viewed as a collection of proud and warlike races. They were particularly formidable when riding their great beasts, the mumakil.

However Samwise Gamgee, a key protagonist in The Lord of the Rings, sees one of the Southrons close up. "He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home".[12]

The Haradrim were of various ethnicities and cultures. Some of the people of the Harad were organized into kingdoms.[13][14]


At the beginning of the First Age of the Sun, the race of Men awoke in Hildórien, a land in the East of Middle-earth. Many groups of Men migrated thence to other parts of Middle-earth; some travelled to the south-west and settled in Harad, becoming the ancestors of the Haradrim.

At first, for many centuries, the Haradrim were independent peoples, generally isolated from the rest of the world. However in the Second Age they became increasingly caught between the ambitions of two great powers — namely Sauron (the Dark Lord) and the Númenóreans — a situation which lasted thousands of years.

The Númenóreans were, like the Haradrim, Men, but the Edain (the ancestors of the Númenóreans) had migrated north-west from Hildórien, eventually crossing the Great Sea to found the great island-nation of Númenor, far to the west of Middle-earth. The Great Ships of the Númenóreans began arriving in Middle-earth in S.A. 600, and at first the Númenoreans came as friends and teachers. But as the centuries went by, the Kings of Númenor grew hungry for wealth and power and established territories in Middle-earth. In Harad they built a great city in the firth of Umbar, a vast natural harbour on the southern shores of the Bay of Belfalas, and eventually turned the city into a fortified citadel from whose gates they levied great tributes upon the tribes of Harad. Often Haradrim were killed or sold into slavery. From the latter part of the Second Age, Númenóreans dominated many of the Men of Harad as well as many other peoples whose lands included a coastline.

At the same time as facing subjugation from the coast, the Haradrim were also threatened from inland. In about S.A. 1000 Ssuron established his great fortress realm of Mordor, which stood on the northern borders of Harad. Over the centuries many Haradrim fell under Sauron's dominion, and to "them Sauron was both king and god, and they feared him exceedingly".[15]

Many of the Númenórean settlers in Middle-earth, especially those who ruled the Haradrim, also fell under the sway of Sauron, and became known as the Black Númenóreans. Shortly before the War of the Last Alliance, two Black Númenórean lords, Herumor and Fuinur, "rose to great power amongst the Haradrim". Their ultimate fate is not recorded, although Sauron and his allies were soundly defeated in that war, which ended the Second Age.

For many centuries of the Third Age, many Haradrim were still ruled by Black Númenóreans lords, or further north by the Kings of Gondor. There was often conflict between Gondor and the Black Númenóreans, but at times there was trade and diplomacy. There was even inter-marriage: Tarannon Falastur, king of Gondor from T.A. 830-913, married a high-born Black Númenórean lady from an inland city in Harad; she is remembered as Queen Berúthiel. However most Black Númenórean inter-marriage was with the Haradrim, and they became increasingly indistinguishable from the natives.[16]

Gondor continued to increase its power over the Haradrim. This reached its height under Hyarmendacil I "South-victor" (king of Gondor T.A. 1050-1149); the kings of the Haradrim acknowledged his overlordship, doing homage, and "their sons lived as hostages" at his court in Osgiliath.[17]

With the Kin-strife in Gondor and the fall of Umbar to rebels, the Haradrim were eventually freed, at least from Gondor. The Corsairs of Umbar, often led by Gondorian rebels, increasingly co-operated with the other Haradrim from 1540 onwards.

By the time of the War of the Ring (T.A. 3019), the Haradrim were again under the dominion of Sauron. Sauron attacked Gondor and its allies by land and sea, and the Haradrim were heavily involved. Sauron's entire seaborne invasion was manned by Haradrim (namely the Corsairs aboard their Black Fleet); many other Southrons fought alongside his Orc-armies, some riding atop gigantic, elephantine beasts called mûmakil. In the Battle of the Pelennor Fields the chief leader of the Haradrim army bore a standard of a black serpent on a red field; he was slain by King Théoden of Rohan. The Corsairs were prevented from reaching the battle, having been defeated by Aragorn and the Dead Men of Dunharrow. An army of Haradrim fought in the Battle of the Morannon.

When the battles of the War of the Ring turned against the Haradrim, some fled. But many fought on bravely.[18] As the War ended and the Fourth Age began, Aragorn, the new King of the West of Middle-earth, made peace with the Haradrim, and they sent embassies to Aragorn's court.[19]

Although Aragorn's reign was largely one of peace, it was occasionally necessary for him (together with his ally King Éomer of Rohan) to lead military expeditions against some Haradrim.[20]

Appearance and dressEdit

The appearance of the Haradrim varies, indicating different ethnicities and varying climates in Harad.

The Southrons from Near Harad were those most familiar to Gondor. They were also those most closely encountered by the protagonists in The Lord of the Rings, and The Two Towers gives relatively detailed descriptions. Frodo and Sam meet Faramir and his Rangers of Ithilien just before the latter ambush a company of Haradrim on the North Road. Frodo and Sam do not see much of the battle, since they are positioned elsewhere, but they hear the sounds of fighting, and a slain Harad warrior crashes at their feet. This warrior is described[21] as having "brown" skin, with black plaits of hair braided with gold. He wears a scarlet tunic, as do the other Haradrim, and a gold collar. He is armed with a scimitar and garbed with a corslet of brazen scales. Here Sam experiences his moment of empathy; also here they see a mûmak, to Sam's terror and delight.

The people of Far Harad are described as black-skinned, but there is also a group of them described as "black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues" and "troll-men". It is unclear whether these were just large Men who are being compared to Trolls or some sort of crossbreed between the two races. Supporters of the latter interpretation point to the similar terms "half-orcs" and "goblin-men", appearing in the same book (chiefly in the second volume, The Two Towers), and "Orc-men" and "Man-orcs", appearing in later writings (published in Morgoth's Ring) — all applied to the products of Sauron and Saruman's Orc/Man breeding programmes.

Scarlet, gold and serpentsEdit

The Haradrim soldiers wear scarlet uniforms and are adorned with gold, their standards are scarlet, and their great beasts, the mûmakil, have scarlet and gold trappings. This indicates that scarlet cloth and gold, both valuable commodities, are a significant part of the culture and economy of the Haradrim.

The serpent emblem used by a powerful leader of the Haradrim could be merely heraldic, or it could signify a culture of serpent symbolism, or the use of the serpent as a totem.


Although Tolkien constructed a number of languages for his Middle-earth stories, he did not specifically work out any particular languages for the Haradrim. The only word which is stated to come directly from a Southron language is "mûmak", the name of the great war-oliphaunts of Harad.[22] Despite having a meaning in Quenya ("fate"), the name Umbar is said to be adapted from the natives' language and not from Elvish or Adûnaic.

Gandalf states that his name in "the south" is "Incánus" (which is Latin, meaning "very grey-haired" and thus may be simply a translation of the original Olórin's name among the Haradrim, just like name "Gandalf" itself is an anglicized Old Norse translation of a Westron), thought by some to be a Haradrim name, but speculated by Tolkien to actually be a Westron or Sindarin form from Gondor.

In early sketches for The Lord of the Rings, names such as "Barangils" and "Harwan" appear, but it is uncertain if Tolkien intended any of these to be names from Haradrim languages.

Concept and creationEdit


The description of the people of Far Harad, and their homeland in the far south of Middle-earth, bear similarities to the Sigelwara, whom Tolkien knew in Old English writings as a translation of Aethiopians: the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa. In drafts of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien toyed with names such as Harwan and Sunharrowland for the Haradrim generally and their land; Christopher Tolkien notes these names are derived from the Old English Sigelwara, and refers to Tolkien's essay Sigelwara Land.[23]

In other mediaEdit

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy the Haradrim are inspired visually by Middle Eastern or Western Asian (rather than an unspecified African influence as in the book) according to the ROTK DVD's Weta Workshop documentary. The Haradrim here fight only from the backs of the Mûmakil, having no cavalry or foot-soldiers as in the book, nor are the associated "half-trolls" or variags of Khand portrayed on film. The apparent leader of the Haradrim force is killed in the film not by Théoden, but by Éomer. They appear in much merchandise for the film trilogy, such as toys, The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game, and the computer game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II. They also appear as "Haradrim Slayers" in the computer game, The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring.

In the movie, Faramir (rather than Sam, as in the book) comments on a dead Southron, philosophizing whether the soldier was actually evil or just goaded or blackmailed into serving the enemy. This was partly to establish Faramir's character in the movie as having more empathy than his proud brother, Boromir.

The Middle-earth Role Playing game and the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, the latter based on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, both include original material about Harad and the Haradrim. In the former, the Haradrim language is called "Haradaic". In the latter the leader Théoden kills is called "Suladân the Serpent Lord", its forces include assassins called "hasharin", and other names such as "Dalamyr", "Kârna", "Badharkân", "Hidâr", "Nâfarat", "Abrakân", and "Dhâran-Sar" appear. The conceit of Harad representing some African or Arabian equivalent (being south of the "European" part of Middle-earth) is more explicit in these materials; most of these original names have no relation to Tolkien's writings, and some, such as "hasharin", are actually Arabic words.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, 2nd edition 1966, George Allen & Unwin, book 4 ch 4 p 267, ISBN 0 04 823046 4. The character using the expression "the Harad" was a Gondorian, people who spoke in a "more gracious and antique style".
  2. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, 2nd edition 1966, George Allen & Unwin, book 4 ch 3 p 255, ISBN 0 04 823046 4. The Sunlands are to be distinguished from Sunlending, the Rohirrim name for Anórien in Gondor.
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "The Council of Elrond", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
  4. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 4 ch. III 'The Istari' p. 402 note 10; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
  5. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Akallabêth' p. 263; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  6. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age', p. 290; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  7. ^ "The Realms of Tolkien". originally published in New Worlds in November 1966, reprinted in Carandaith in 1969 and again in Fantastic Metropolis in 2001. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |work= (help)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 6 ch. 2 p. 201; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  9. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, George Allen & Unwin 2nd ed.1966, Appendix A:II p 352 ("the far fields of the South"), ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  10. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, George Allen & Unwin 2nd ed.1966, bk 3 ch VII p 140 ("apes in the dark forests of the South"), ISBN 0 04 823046 4
  11. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1986), The Shaping of Middle-earth, George Allen & Unwin; section V map IV p. 249; ISBN 0-04-823279-3
  12. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 4 ch. IV p. 269; ISBN 0 04 823046 4
  13. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 4 ch 4 p 267, ISBN 0 04 823046 4
  14. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A §I(iv) p. 325; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  15. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1977), The Silmarillion, George Allen & Unwin, 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age', p. 289-290; ISBN 0 04 823139 8
  16. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A §I(iv) p. 325 footnote; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  17. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A §I(iv) p. 325; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  18. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 5 ch. VI p. 124 & book 6 ch. IV p. 227; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  19. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, book 6 ch. 5 p. 246-247; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  20. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1955), The Return of the King, 2nd edition (1966), George Allen & Unwin, Appendix A(II) p.352; ISBN 0 04 823047 2
  21. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1954), The Two Towers, George Allen & Unwin 2nd ed.1966, bk 3 ch IV p 269, ISBN 0 04 823046 4
  22. ^ "Mûmakil". The Encyclopedia of Arda.
  23. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien (1989), ed. Christopher Tolkien, The Treason of Isengard, Unwin Hyman, ch. XXV p. 435 & p. 439 note 4

External linksEdit