During my time in Bree I have been asked, many times, about my origins. Clearly I am somewhat exotic to the locals; indeed the hobbits who work at The Pony refer to me as a Swerting. I gather this means swarthy and is a reference to my dark skin. Well, I cannot take offense at that for it is true.
The truth is that I know very little of the area known as Harad and I have only found a few books that make reference to either the geography or history. However, I will share what I know and endeavour to seek out new libraries where I may discover more. I have been told that I should journey to Rivendell and seek out one called Master Elrond. This I will do.
Now, Harad. First of all I understand that there is, in fact, no area called Harad. It is a Sindaran term meaning “south.” The people have been called (by outsiders) Southrons or Haradrim, what they call themselves I know not. Generally, I use the term Haradrim.
I did find an interesting description, “And further still there are more lands, they say, but the Yellow Face is very hot there, and there are seldom any clouds, and the men are fierce and have dark faces. We do not want to see that land.”
Like the Easterlings, the Haradrim’s language appears to be more akin to Khuzdûl (the tongue of the Dwarves), as opposed to any of the Elvish or western Mannish languages: perhaps they had as close an association with the Dwarves as the Edain did with the Elves.
Geographically, the region Haradwaith can be split between Near Harad and Far Harad and has been described as “…the great region south of Mordor and east of the Bay of Belfalas.”
Near Harad is the more northerly and eastward of the two lands, located just south of the Mountains of Shadow (Ephel Dúath) and east of Harondor (South Gondor). Far Harad is directly south of Harondor.
The northern boundary of Harad is the River Harnen: north of that is Harondor, or South Gondor, a disputed territory between the peoples.
The Harnen begins on the southern slopes of the Mountains of Shadow (Ephel Dúath) where they separate Mordor from Near Harad. It flows south-west, bending slightly at the Harad Road to flow nearly due west before emptying into the Bay of Belfalas.
It is located roughly halfway between Umbar and the mouths of the Anduin along the coast. The distance in either direction is approximately 100 miles.
This river, at least in its northern portion, appears to have been the mark of the limits of Gondor’s realm at its largest. While some of the coastland was taken and occupied by Gondor, the inland area was never made a part of Gondor. It is noted of the Haradrim: “They contested the designs of Gondor to occupy the coast-lands beyond R. Harnen; they therefore tried to take Umbar, where Gondor maintained a great fort and haven.”
Next time, I will write about the people and the early history.