Thread: Khand > Variags
Thanks for every answer! ...............
Iverna alias Nessa
Thanks for every answer! ...........
There is not a lot of information about Khand, or any of the Eastern or Southern lands for that matter. It is known that the race of Variags came from there, and that they were on the side of Sauron. In TA 1944 they allied themselves with the Easterling Wainriders and attacked Gondor before being defeated at the Battle of the Camp. I think the Variags tended to fight from horseback, and for some reason they always remind me of the Mongul Horde.
Apart from that, I've been able to find very little about either the Variags or Khand. During the Fourth Age Aragorn and Eomer campaigned several times together in "the lands beyond the Sea of Rhun and on the far fields of the South." It is quite possible some of these campaigns would have been against the Variags.
Khand lies south-east of Mordor, the people who live there are Variags indeed. It is possible that other peoples live there too.
The Variags fought at the battle of the Pelennor Fields too, if i'm not mistaken JRRT described them as dark and with red or white eyes. (i should check this)
...Easterlings with axes, and Variags of Khand, Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.
- Lord of the Rings, Book Five, Chapter VI: The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
When I looked around, I found a short message by David Salo, concerning the Variags and the linguistic background of their name:
Delivery-Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 01:17:02 +0000
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 1996 20:27:27 -0600
From: David Salo
Subject: And Variags of Khand
Reply-To: Tolkien Language List
X-Original-From: David Salo
_The Return of the King_, Book VI, Chapter 6:
"...new strength came now streaming to the field out of Osgiliath. There
they had been mustered for the sack of the City and the rape of Gondor,
waiting on the call of their Captain. He was now destroyed; but Gothmog
the lieutenant of Morgul had flung them into the fray; Easterlings with
axes, and Variags of Khand, Southrons in scarlet, and out of Far Harad
black men like half-trolls with white eyes and red tongues.".... "East rode
the knights of Dol Amroth driving the enemy before them: troll-men and
Variags and orcs that hated the sunlight."
The following item may come as no surprise to the Slavicists on this
List, but it was news to me, and will probably be news to many Tolkien
fans, certainly to those who recently on one of the Tolkien-related
newsgroups were wondering whether "Variags" referred to some sort of
I had simply supposed that "Variag" was a national designation with
some internal meaning in Tolkien's world, but I was often struck by the way
it was casually dropped into the text without previous reference, as if it
were a word one might recognize, or at least find in an English dictionary.
And I also wondered why only the people of distant Khand should have this
strange designation; why do we not know the names of the nations of the
I can now report that my uneasy feeling, which drove me to search out
the origins of this word, was well founded. The word Variag is indeed
English, but is so rare that it cannot be found in most dictionaries and
encyclopedias. Yet I have before me a definition from Webster's Third New
International Dictionary of the English Language:
variag n. cap [Russ _Varyag_ of Scand origin; akin to ON _Vaeringjar_
The Varangians were the Vikings of the east, marauders not by sea but
by land and river, and also mercenaries and traders. Originating in
Denmark and Sweden, they spread across the Baltic through Russia and
Ukraine to the Black Sea in the 9th-11th centuries, some of them finding
employment in the Byzantine Emperor's "Varangian Guard" (though this was
actually a kind of Foreign Legion, and included many nationalities). It is
therefore probable that when Tolkien used the word "Variag" that he meant
little more than "barbarian mercenary". It is however interesting that he
should use the Russian version of the word. Together with Beorn/Medved and
other interesting items, it suggests that more attention needs to be paid
to Tolkien's knowledge and use of Russian.