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

Rhûn refers to the little-known lands to the east of Middle-earth inhabited by peoples known as the "Easterlings", from whom many attacks on Gondor and its allies came during the Third Age.

It is known as a wide and vast land with many kingdoms, and strange and unexplored places. Almost nothing of the lands beyond the great Sea of Rhûn is known (see Uttermost East).


[edit] History

Far beyond the Sea of Rhûn was the range of Orocarni, the Red Mountains. Somewhere in the lost east, too, lay Cuiviénen and Hildórien, where Elves and Men first awoke: all the Children of Ilúvatar could trace their ancestries back to the eastward regions of Middle-earth. In ancient days, these lands stood near to the great Sea of Helcar, which drained into the Great Gulf before the coming of the Second Age. It is possible that the Sea of Rhûn may be what remains of the old Sea of Helcar, though it is uncertain.[1]

The first Men who were migrating to the West, passed from northern Rhûn where they met some Dwarves.[2] At the shores of the inland Sea, the tribes separated and their languages soon diverged.[3]

In the later Ages Rhûn was the domain of the Easterlings, Men of Darkness who were ready to follow both the Dark Lords and fought as their allies in war. These lands, too, were peopled by lost Elves, Avari and Úmanyar, and by four of the seven clans of the Dwarves who dwelt in the Orocarni.

Sauron himself journeyed into the eastward lands, in hiding from the White Council during the centuries of the Watchful Peace.

Rhûn was 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 is given in maps of the Westlands of Middle-earth. It contains the great Sea of Rhûn, connected to a part of the River Running in the northwest. A forest lies to the northeast of the Sea, and near the southwestern shores there are many hills. Northwest of the Sea of Rhûn lays 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.

Rhûn's ancient geography can be gleaned a little from The Silmarillion; throughout most of the First Age the vast Sea of Helcar was located there and beyond that the Orocarni ('red mountains').

[edit] Etymology

The word rhûn means "east" in Sindarin. Compare Quenya rómen.[4]

[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.[5]

[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 our world.

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."[6] 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",[7] 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."[8]

The Wainriders as well as the Balchoth were known for traveling in great camps of wagons which they fortified.[9] 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: Of Men (Chapter 9)"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Problem of Ros"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Writing", "The Fëanorian Letters"
  5. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 199
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Pryftan Fragment", p. 9
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"