What is Uruk Hai? Fearsome Creatures
Lord of the Rings is famous for creating many creatures and making us to look deep within ourselves to find what we believe. I often hear people asking What is Uruk Hai? They have maybe read the books and not quite understood the origins of these creatures. Or maybe they are new to the Tolkien universe and have just heard snippets of them. Shall we venture into Middle Earth to find the answers to the question?
Where do they come from?
This question has three distinct answers. The most general and obvious one being The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R Tolkien created these fearsome creatures to show the power and gruesome nature of evil. Every dark lord needs their own army right?
The next two answers are more of a team. Both the dark lord Sauron and Saruman the traitorous wizard created Uruk Hai. While both have their own traits and features the most well known are the ones created by Saruman. In the movie adaptations the Uruk Hai of Sauron have a noticeably rougher look than the ones made by Saruman.
What is Uruk Hai?
The term Uruk comes from the black speech a language Tolkien invented as a branch off of Query his created language for the elves. Uruk means Orc. Hai means folk. So in a technical sense Uruk Hai are Orc Folk.
This is far from a complete answer to the question however. Since there are numerous orc folk throughout Middle Earth and they are not all Uruk Hai. Many of them are called sanga by the Uruk Hai meaning slave.
Some of Saruman’s hybrid Orc-men were described as attacking the shire. They are referred to as Half Orcs and described as having sallow skin and squinty eyes. They are as tall as a man.
The Uruk Hai that were created by Sauron were the first of their kind. However they were dark skinned and came from Mordor. First mentioned when they conquered the city of Ithilien and destroyed Osgiliath. Larger and more powerful than the Orcs that came from Moria, they have long arms and crooked legs.
The Uruks in the service of Barad-dur were marked with the red eye of Sauron and referred to the dark lord as the great eye. They were still feared by the men of Middle Earth. Even if the Isengarders became more so.
The Uruk Hai from Isengard however really stood out from the rest. Bred in the pits of Isengard. They were stronger, more powerful and smarter than all other species of Orc or Uruk Hai.Having large hands and thick legs they could run farther and faster than most species. Bred to be able to withstand the sunlight they could travel during the day without problems even if they did not like it.
In The Two Towers chapter The Uruk Hai they are described and compared to the other races of orc. Aragorn notices the difference in the fallen creatures as they look for signs of Merry and Pippin. Noting that they have different equipment.
Uruk Hai Warfare
Bred specifically for battle the Uruk Hai are fearsome and strong. Saruman was a scholar and well skilled in warfare. He knew exactly what traits to look for in his creations. He made them fast, strong, powerful and fed them human flesh to keep their blood lust up.
They comprised most but not all of his army. Joined by Dunlendings, dark skinned swarthy men from Dunland that were the enemies of Rohan. They fought along side Orcs from Mordor led by Grishnakh, and Orcs from Moria. Out of the three groups of Orcs the Isengard Uruk Hai were the tallest, strongest, most powerful and fearsome.
They named themselves the fighting Uruk Hai for a reason. Battle was what they lived for. They were not creatures to settle down and make a family. In fact no mention of females is ever given. So if the creatures were able to reproduce on their own we will never know. All they did was destroy anything they came in contact with.
Heavily armored by Saruman they were ready to fight. Instead of the traditional curved scimitar that most orcs carried, Uruk Hai used straight broad blades with a hook at the end. They carried large black shields with the white hand of Saruman on them. Often these were adorned with blades themselves.
The Uruk Hai wore iron helmets with a white elven rune standing for ‘S’ on them. It was assumed the symbol was for Saruman since they also had the white hand of Saruman on their shield.
Not all Uruk Hai stuck with the sword however. Some were bowmen, crossbowmen, pike men, sappers, scouts and berserkers. It should be noted that the berserkers were even larger than your everyday Uruk Hai. I frightening sight on a battlefield to be sure.
This is one of the few times we can be truly glad that this terror exists only on paper and in our minds. We will never have to come face to face with these fearsome brutes. We can safely watch their destruction from the comfort of our couch. Or can we? They may very well be a metaphor for the darker side of human nature. For greed and lust. All the things we try to repress and extinguish within ourselves. What do you think? Please Comment below. To read more on these and other creations of J.R.R Tolkien check out my list of his works by clicking here.