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The Lord of the Rings (film series) - Rhun map.jpg
General Information
Other namesThe East
LocationEastern Lands of Middle-earth, east of Mordor and Rhovanion
DescriptionEast of Mordor and the Sea of Rhûn
GalleryImages of Rhûn

Rhûn refers to the little-known lands in eastern Middle-earth. Almost nothing of the lands beyond the great Sea of Rhûn is known (see Uttermost East).


[edit] History

The first Elves awoke far east of the Sea of Rhûn, and many of them were led to the Westlands by Oromë. Some Elves foresook this Great Journey and chose to remain in the east; they were called the Avari.

The first Men also awoke in the far east, where they first met Dwarves[1] and Avari. The ancestors of the Edain and Drúedain traveled west out of Rhûn. At the shores of the Sea of Rhûn, some of the Mannish tribes traveling west separated and their languages soon diverged.[2] Other men remained in Rhûn, and many of them came under the dominion of Morgoth and, later, Sauron. These men were called Easterlings, and they led many attacks against Gondor and its allies during the Third Age.

The most western parts of Rhûn were conquered by Gondor twice, under the Kings Rómendacil I and Rómendacil II, but the Númenóreans never had full control over it. Western Rhûn was finally subdued in the Fourth Age under King Elessar and his son Eldarion.

[edit] Geography

Rhûn by Stefano Baldo

The western part of Rhûn was given in maps of the Westlands of Middle-earth. It contained the great Sea of Rhûn, connected the River Running in the northwest. A forest lay to the northeast of the Sea, and near the southwestern shores there were many hills. Southwest of the Sea of Rhûn lay also the land of Dorwinion.

The inland Sea of Rhûn was located in western Rhûn on the border between Rhûn and Wilderland. There were mountains on the southwest side of the Sea of Rhûn and a forest on the northeast side. Wild white Kine of Araw, or oxen, lived near the shores of the Sea of Rhûn.

Further east in Rhûn were ancient regions where the Children of Ilúvatar first awoke: Cuiviénen for the Elves, which lay on the shores of Sea of Helcar near the Orocarni (Red Mountains); and Hildórien for Men. Four Dwarven clans were also located in Rhûn; their mansions were at least as far east from Mount Gundabad in the Misty Mountains as Mount Gundabad lay east of the Blue Mountains. Additionally, Sauron maintained a fortress in Rhûn in the Third Age.

[edit] Etymology

The word rhûn means "east" in Sindarin. Compare Quenya rómen.[3]

[edit] Other versions of the Legendarium

In an addition by Tolkien (dating from 1948 or later) inscribed on his General Map of Middle-earth, an arrow is drawn from the River Running with the direction to the end of the map, and carries the note: "To Sea of Rûnaer". Hammond and Scull suggest that Rûnaer is likely an alternative name of Rhûn.[4]

[edit] Inspiration

Rhûn and the easternmost lands of Middle-earth seem to be based primarily on the lands of southern, central, and eastern Asia.

In the earliest drafts of The Hobbit, Bilbo offered to walk from the Shire "to [cancelled: Hindu Kush] the Great Desert of Gobi and fight the Wild Wire worm(s) of the Chinese."[5] In a slightly later version J.R.R. Tolkien altered this to say "to the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese",[6] and in the final version it was altered once more to say "to the East of East and fight the wild Were-worms in the Last Desert."[7]

The Wainriders as well as the Balchoth were known for traveling in great camps of wagons which they fortified.[8] Given the eastern origins of the group, this bears much similarity to the orda military structure employed by the Turkic and Mongol peoples.[source?]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Problem of Ros"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Writing", "The Fëanorian Letters"
  4. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 199
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Pryftan Fragment", p. 9
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"