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The Men of Harad were called Haradrim, "South-multitude", or Southrons. "Haradrim" was merely a Gondorian generic description of any of the men that came from south of their borders. They are a collection of proud and warlike races. They are a race of men and can be extremley unpredictable, especially with the War Mumak Of Harad.
Harad's tribes were divided into those of Near and Far Harad, although there were many tribes of the Haradrim, often mutually hostile.
During the Second Age, the Haradrim first came into contact with the Men of Númenor, a great island-nation apart from Middle-earth. At first, these came as friends and teachers, but later the Kings of Númenor grew hungry for wealth and power and established territories in Middle-earth. 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. Many of the Haradrim were killed or sold into slavery.
From the latter part of the Second Age, many of the Men of Harad were dominated by the Númenóreans, as were many other peoples whose lands included a coastline. Shortly before the War of the Last Alliance, two Númenórean lords, named as Herumor and Fuinur, "rose to great power amongst the Haradrim", but their ultimate fate is not recorded.
For many centuries of the Third Age, many Haradrim were still ruled by Black Númenórean Lords, or further north by the Kings of Gondor, but ultimately, Harad fell under the influence of Mordor, for much of the Age. Near Harad later formed an alliance — or maybe even a coalition of some sort — with the Corsairs of Umbar, and was involved in a series of continual battles with Gondor over South Gondor or Harondor.
At the time of the War of the Ring, the Southrons were in league with Sauron and fought alongside his orc army, riding atop gigantic, elephant-like mûmakil. One of the leaders of the Haradrim at the time of the War of the Ring bore a standard of a black serpent on a red field, and was slain by King Théoden of Rohan at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in T.A. 3019.
After the revival of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor in the Fourth Age, peace was made with Harad.
The appearance of the Haradrim is somewhat ambiguous, but The Two Towers gives relatively detailed descriptions of at least some of them. Frodo and Sam encounter Faramir and his Rangers of Ithilien just before the latter ambush a company of Haradrim. Frodo and Sam do not see much of the battle, since they are positioned somewhere else, but they hear the sounds of fighting, and a slain Harad warrior crashes at their feet. He is described 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. Later men 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 programs.
Tolkien did not especially work out a notable language for the Haradrim. The only word which is stated to come from a southron language is "Mûmak", the name of the great war-oliphaunts of Harad. 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 Olorin's name among the Haradrim, just like name "Gandalf" itself is an anglicized Old Norse translation of a Westron name), thought by some to be a Haradrim name, but speculated by Tolkien to actually be a Westron or Sindarin form from Gondor. On early sketches for the Lord of the Rings names as "Barangils" and "Harwan" appear, but it is unsure if Tolkien intended both to be names from a Haradrim language. 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.
Portrayal in AdaptionsEdit
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy the Haradrim are inspired visually by Aztecs and Pacific Kiribati tribes (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.
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 original line from the novel is frequently cited by Tolkien fans as arguing against perceived racism in the work, a more common topic of discussion in recent years.