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Variag by John Howe

The Variags were men from the land of Khand, of whom little is known about apart from the fact that they fought for Sauron in the War of the Ring. They first appeared in the year 1944 of the Third Age in the north-east of Middle-earth, fighting alongside the Easterling tribe known as the Wainriders. On March 14 - 15 (Third Age: 3019) the Variags fought in Sauron's army at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

The Variags were a group of nomadic people. As Khand produced horses for Mordor, the Variags have been guessed to be horsemen. The Variags are modelled on the Huns. Other speculation based on the etymology of their name has suggested they may have been axe-wielding berserkers. The Bronze Age ancestors of the Huns and Scythians, a people known to the ancient Greeks and Persians as the Saka, wielded axes in battle much like Tolkien's fictional Variags.

Potrayal in adaptations Edit

Variags Art


No Variags appear anytime in the film in the War of the Ring, not at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields or the Battle of the Morannon, probably because Peter Jackson had so little to go on due to a lack of description in the novels.

Variags have however featured in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game, which was based mostly on Jackson's films. In this the Variags, also called the Khandish, have an oriental theme with an Eastern Asian look, much like the Easterlings, who were constantly close allies with these less advanced people. This interpretation is taken from Tolkien's work alone due to the absence of Variags in the trilogy. The Variags of Khand have since been discontinued, however.

Like the books, they were portrayed as axe-wielders as well as using bows. They were also noted as skilled horsemen as well as using chariots in combat as well. The Khandish warriors also had banners attached to their backs in a similar fashion to Japanese samurai of the medieval period.3

Appearances in the BooksEdit

Behind the Scenes Edit

  • In the real world, Variags is another name for the Scandinavian Varangians.


  • 1:Matthew Ward, A Shadow in the East, 2005, ISBN 1 84154 695 X, p 48
  • 2:Ibid p 18
  • 3:Ibid pp 4–5
The People of Middle-earth

Edain | Dúnedain | Númenóreans | Haradrim | Easterlings | Variags | Northmen | Dunlendings | Drúedain

Vanyar | Ñoldor | Teleri | Sindar | Eldar | Avari

Durin's Folk | Firebeards | Broadbeams | Ironfists | Blacklocks | Stonefoots

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