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"Back to pasture, back to mead,
Where the kine and oxen feed!
The Hobbit, Barrels Out of Bond[1]

Cows, also known by the archaic plural Kine and occasionally as Oxen, were pasture animals in Middle-earth.


[edit] History

Cows were domesticated for farm use in most of Middle-earth. They produced milk, which was used as a beverage in Gondor,[2] and the Shire.[3] Being generally stronger than horses, cows also pulled the heavier wagons and wains in Middle-earth.[4]

Yet still, there were undomesticated oxen. The wild-oxen of the East were, according to legend, descended from the Kine of Araw, the herd of Oromë.[5] Vorondil the Hunter hunted them in the far fields of Rhûn, and of their horns he made the Great Horn of Gondor, which served as an heirloom to the House of Stewards until its destruction.[4]

[edit] Inspiration

Cows are a major source of food even in today's world. Their use as farm animals seems little more than logical. J.R.R. Tolkien spent most of his life in Oxford, and cows would also play a role in other stories, such as Farmer Giles of Ham, where the Giant steps on Farmer Giles' favourite cow, Galathea.[6]

The white oxen of Rhûn were likened by Tolkien to an aurochs[7], a bovine species common in the ancient and medieval world until its extinction.

[edit] Etymology

An "elvish" word for "bull" is mundo.[8] The Root MBUD, which lists among its derivatives a Quenya word mundo meaning "snout, nose, cape",[9] could perhaps be related to mundo.

In Qenya, the word for "ox" is yakko or yako, "cow" is yaksi or yakse. In Gnomish, "milch cow" is gach, "cow" is gacha, and "a yoke ox - bullock" is gagron. Other Gnomish names are mûs or mui ("cow"); muir ("heifer"); ("ox"), muin ("kine, cattle"); and mugli ("calf").[10][11]

In Tolkien's juvenile language Nevbosh, the word for cow is woc, which is both the reverse of cow, and an alteration of the French word vache.[12]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

A cow can be seen being milked by a Hobbit. Another Hobbit is also seen ploughing a field with a plough pulled by two oxen.[13]

2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:

Bilbo Baggins passes by a cow while he jumps over a fence, during his hurried running from Bag End through Hobbiton, to catch up with Gandalf and the dwarves of Thorin's company. [14]

[edit] See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Barrels Out of Bond"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Siege of Gondor"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Realms in Exile"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Tales from the Perilous Realm (2008 edition), "Farmer Giles of Ham"
  7. Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, page 265
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 342, (dated 9 November 1972)
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", root MBUD
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenyaqetsa: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon", in Parma Eldalamberon XII (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 105
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 36, 58
  12. Nevbosh article in Ardalambion
  13. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (extended edition), "Concerning Hobbits"
  14. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (extended edition)