Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

From Numenor to Far Harad...

Moderators: caedmon, Greg

Post Reply
User avatar
jbook
Silent Watcher over the Peaceful Lands
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:58 pm
Location: The Shire/Rohan
Contact:

Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by jbook »

Hello all. It has been quite some time since I frequented your company. I hope you are all well and in good spirits.

I have been reading Return of the King and I was struck by this passage describing the Men of Gondor who rode into Minas Tirith shortly before the siege.

'Forlong! Forlong!' Pippin heard men calling. 'What do they say?' he asked.
'Forlong has come,' Bergil answered, 'old Forlong the Fat, the Lord of Lossarnach. That is where my grandsire lives. Hurrah! Here he is. Good old Forlong!'
Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black- helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind him marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor.
'Forlong!' men shouted. 'True heart, true friend! Forlong!' But when the men of Lossarnach had passed they muttered: 'So few! Two hundreds, what are they? We hoped for ten times the number. That will be the new tidings of the black fleet. They are sparing only a tithe of their strength. Still every little is a gain.'

And so the companies came and were hailed and cheered and passed through the Gate, men of the Outlands marching to defend the City of Gondor in a dark hour; but always too few, always less than hope looked for or need asked. The men of Ringlo Vale behind the son of their lord, Dervorin striding on foot: three hundreds. From the uplands of Morthond, the great Blackroot Vale, tall Duinhir with his sons, Duilin and Derufin, and five hundred bowmen. From the Anfalas, the Langstrand far away, a long line of men of many sorts, hunters and herdsmen and men of little villages, scantily equipped save for the household of Golasgil their lord. From Lamedon, a few grim hillmen without a captain. Fisher-folk of the Ethir, some hundred or more spared from the ships. Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men. And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundreds of men at arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came.


I am especially fascinated with the long line of men of many sorts. The hunters and herdsman of the small villages, scantily equipped, but the entire procession makes you wonder how the common men of Gondor were dressed and equipped.

But for the herdsman, I was thinking probably an assortment of small arms such as a knife, possibly a small hunting sword. I was thinking of trying to put thi this impression together as I have been more keen on Gondorian culture lately. Would love to hear your thoughts!
User avatar
Greg
Urush bithî 'nKi ya-nam bawâb
Posts: 4365
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:50 pm
Location: Eriador; Central Indiana

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Greg »

Pinnath Gelin is of particular interest to me, since it gives such a specific reference to clothing and demeanor.
Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men.
Sounds an awful lot like quarterstaff-bearing yeoman with a thirst for lusty sport. Given their locale, perhaps herdsmen and farmers, but stout yeomen nonetheless.
Now the sword shall come from under the cloak.
User avatar
Udwin
Vendor
Posts: 709
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: central Kain-tuc-kee
Contact:

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Udwin »

Hmmm, I think you'd have pretty free rein in your interpretation of "further Gondor". Of course, we only see Gondor during the height of wartime, so it makes sense that the narrator doesn't take time to describe regional costume. The only clothing descriptions related to the Southern kingdom I noted on my last readthrough were:

Faramir's Ithilien Rangers "were clad in green and brown of varied hues" (TTT 297).

The Guards of the citadel gate "were robed in black...Upon the black surcoats were embroidered in white a tree blossoming like snow beneath a silver crown and many-pointed stars. This was the livery of the heirs of Elendil, and none wore it now in all Gondor, save the Guards of the Citadel before the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree once had grown.” (10).

The three hundred green-clad men from Pinnath Gelin ^ (31).

Hirgon (Red Arrow messenger) "was clad as a rider with a cloak of dark green..." (64).

“…Pippin soon found himself arrayed in strange garments, all of black and silver...Above the mail was a short surcoat of black, but broidered on the breast in silver with the token of the Tree.” (73).

Faramir: “the other, clad all in green, slowly, swaying a little as a weary or a wounded man.” (77).

“[Denethor] stood up and cast open his long black cloak..." (87).
and
Elessar at his coronation “wore a long mantle of pure white clasped at the throat with a great jewel of green..." (264).

Unrelated to clothing, but this little bit piqued my interest (description of the heads of the slain catapulted back into MT):
“…all were branded with the foul token of the Lidless Eye. …thus a man would see again the face of someone that he had known, who had walked proudly once in arms, or tilled the fields, or ridden in upon a holiday from the green vales in the hills.” (92).
I think it's just vague poetic language, but I wonder if the Pinnath Gelin was a 'vacation destination' for wealthy Gondorians?
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Udwin
Vendor
Posts: 709
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: central Kain-tuc-kee
Contact:

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Udwin »

With little else to do in this bitter wintry weather, I keep coming back to possibilities of rural Gondorian costume.

To contextualize my thinking, remember that Gondor is located on the shores of the Bay of Belfalas, which I would roughly equate as the Middle-earth equivalent of the Mediterranean Sea. And while we might describe Gondor's Numenorean mother-culture as having an 'Atlantean-Egyptian' flavour, Gondor itself seems a bit Eastern Roman; like the Byzantines, Gondor survives and lingers long after its other half has collapsed. Tolkien even uses a Byzantine word, dromund, to describe the ships of the Corsairs of Umbar.

While, granted, we don't get a good idea of Gondor's clothing, aside from the Rangers in Ithilien, the fair amount of 'robes', 'cloaks', 'mantles' and other such draped garments suggests there's not a lot of tailoring going on.

With this in mind, I think we should look at what Mediterranean folk were wearing in the ancient world. And when it comes to men, there's nothing more classic than the good ol' chiton (variation exomis), which was originally Greek, but adopted and given local spins by the Romans and Byzantines.
Image
This would be very well-suited to light or medium-weight wool, and to look more 'Gondorian' (and less like a shepherd in a nativity scene), both shoulders could be covered, the lower hemline altered, a decorative border added perhaps, and a soak in a good natural dyebath (green for that Pinnath Gelin look).

Pull on some non-sandal footwear, grab a knife and spear, throw a cloak (chlamys-style, or summat) over it all and you could make a very believable Gondorian country bumpkin.
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Hanasian
Wayfarer
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:01 am
Location: Lakeshore Inn, Annuminas, Arnor
Contact:

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Hanasian »

jbook wrote:Hello all. It has been quite some time since I frequented your company. I hope you are all well and in good spirits.

I have been reading Return of the King and I was struck by this passage describing the Men of Gondor who rode into Minas Tirith shortly before the siege.

'Forlong! Forlong!' Pippin heard men calling. 'What do they say?' he asked.
'Forlong has come,' Bergil answered, 'old Forlong the Fat, the Lord of Lossarnach. That is where my grandsire lives. Hurrah! Here he is. Good old Forlong!'
Leading the line there came walking a big thick-limbed horse, and on it sat a man of wide shoulders and huge girth, but old and grey-bearded, yet mail-clad and black- helmed and bearing a long heavy spear. Behind him marched proudly a dusty line of men, well-armed and bearing great battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor.
'Forlong!' men shouted. 'True heart, true friend! Forlong!' But when the men of Lossarnach had passed they muttered: 'So few! Two hundreds, what are they? We hoped for ten times the number. That will be the new tidings of the black fleet. They are sparing only a tithe of their strength. Still every little is a gain.'

And so the companies came and were hailed and cheered and passed through the Gate, men of the Outlands marching to defend the City of Gondor in a dark hour; but always too few, always less than hope looked for or need asked. The men of Ringlo Vale behind the son of their lord, Dervorin striding on foot: three hundreds. From the uplands of Morthond, the great Blackroot Vale, tall Duinhir with his sons, Duilin and Derufin, and five hundred bowmen. From the Anfalas, the Langstrand far away, a long line of men of many sorts, hunters and herdsmen and men of little villages, scantily equipped save for the household of Golasgil their lord. From Lamedon, a few grim hillmen without a captain. Fisher-folk of the Ethir, some hundred or more spared from the ships. Hirluin the Fair of the Green Hills from Pinnath Gelin with three hundreds of gallant green-clad men. And last and proudest, Imrahil, Prince of Dol Amroth, kinsman of the Lord, with gilded banners bearing his token of the Ship and the Silver Swan, and a company of knights in full harness riding grey horses; and behind them seven hundreds of men at arms, tall as lords, grey-eyed, dark-haired, singing as they came.


I am especially fascinated with the long line of men of many sorts. The hunters and herdsman of the small villages, scantily equipped, but the entire procession makes you wonder how the common men of Gondor were dressed and equipped.

But for the herdsman, I was thinking probably an assortment of small arms such as a knife, possibly a small hunting sword. I was thinking of trying to put this impression together as I have been more keen on Gondorian culture lately. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks jbook for posting the book text! I've used "the few grim hillmen" in an RP written in the Kin Strife era of 1430 - 1450 Third Age. I do need to re-read the books. Been a few years.
Hanasían
Annalist, Physician, & Historian
of The Black Company of the Dúnedain,
The Free Company of Arnor
User avatar
Desert Loon
Wanderer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:51 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Desert Loon »

I know this is an old thread, but it has me fascinated. Indeed, for the past while I've been in and out of obsession about Gondor just south of the White Mountains and about the folk who live there, particularly the men who went to fight in Gondor's defense.

In thinking about building up a persona for reenactment, I thought I might adopt that of a man from Lossarnach who was among Forlong's company. I'm 5'10" and of North Atlantic descent but I do tan pretty well. Or maybe I want to portray a man from the Ringlo or Morthond vales ... or maybe a man from northern Lebennin, still in the foothills of the mountains, who went up the Anduin in the ships with Aragorn.

I've looked at some maps of the areas and I've seen one map that puts the western border of Lossarnach on the Erui River. Are there other opinions about its extent and borders?

Right now I'm thinking that I'm from northeast Lebennin, maybe the vale of the Tumladen or Celos, and that before the war I walked often between Lebennin and Lossarnach and maybe north into Anorien, as a drover, shepherd or merchant. Maybe I had something to do with supplying the beacon outpost on Nardol?

This is all getting me quite animated. One thing's for sure: I have to have a walking stick. I've made several walking sticks over the past few years. I'm wondering what wood would be a good equivalent to lebethron. Maybe I helped tend lebethron coppices for making walking sticks up in them thar hills. One of my walking sticks is a staff of about five feet from mountain mahogany which is common in some areas in the Wasatch. It's strong and beautiful wood: besides my tall staff I've also made a shillelagh out of it.

The idea of chitons appeals to me, because I've been interested in them for years. One Halloween I wore one for my costume (as a philosopher) but I was rather fat then and it looked funny. I also have a patu/patoo, a men's shawl from Afghanistan and Pakistan - another mountainous region, which I rigged into an ersatz kilt for a hike last summer before I got my proper great kilt. I still love wearing my shawl and indeed it's quite chlamys-like: it folds double into a square (and in that form I've often rolled things up in it and carried it tied over a shoulder).

So I'm going to keep playing with these ideas.
Glory be to God for dappled things
...
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. (Hopkins)
User avatar
Cimrandir
Amrod Rhandir
Posts: 664
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 2:44 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Cimrandir »

Ahh Desert Loon, you and I think much alike. Without giving too much away, I'm currently in the midst of planning a second persona influenced much by this thread and the Spring 2018 MERS newsletter here. The idea is to have a secondary kit for those hot summer months so one needn't run around in wool and leather as a Ranger. I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Persona : Cimrandir - late 3rd Age Dunedain
User avatar
Desert Loon
Wanderer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:51 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Desert Loon »

Excellent, Cimrandir! I look forward to seeing what you come up with too. It will be slow going for me I expect, but if I keep it simple it should be doable.

Today I played around with names and for the time being I have my persona coming from the Celos Vale in northern Lebennin.
Glory be to God for dappled things
...
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. (Hopkins)
User avatar
Udwin
Vendor
Posts: 709
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 11:00 pm
Location: central Kain-tuc-kee
Contact:

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Udwin »

Sounds like a great starting point, DL! Love to see folks doing more 'peripheral' kits...looking forward to seeing your impression!
Personae: Aistan son of Ansteig, common Beorning of Wilderland; Tungo Boffin, Eastfarthing Bounder, 3018 TA
User avatar
Desert Loon
Wanderer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:51 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Desert Loon »

Thanks for the encouragement mellyn. I've been thinking about those foothills of the White Mountains: seems like it could resemble the Piedmont or other subalpine parts of Italy, or northern Spain. The climate in those regions should at least have colder winters than Pinnath Gelin and especially Anfalas. So there would be some layering needed in winter or for high mountain journeys in summer. I want to choose stuff that's practical for Utah and the adventures I hope to have wearing and carrying it in our mountains here.

One particular perplexity I'm facing concerns headgear. I wonder about some variation on a beret - in fact, maybe something like an old-fashioned highland bonnet, which is basically a larger variation on that theme. But maybe it would look a bit less odd if I went for a more generic medieval-looking variety of this kind of hat than an obviously Scottish version. One vendor I found has this:
Image

Or perhaps a wide-brimmed felt hat? Buy a blank and leave it floppy? Or something like this:
Image

I imagine my persona as more of a traveling merchant than a shepherd or drover, and I still like the idea of helping supply beacon outposts. It gets complicated by the story I have in mind: after going south and sailing up the Anduin in Aragorn's fleet, helping to take Cair Andros and then going on a very long walk through very many places, where I could pick up a variety of clothing and gear. I've been encouraged in that kind of thinking by the examples of some here, whose gear is influenced by the stories of their personae. So, depending on what time I settle on to show in the kit I make up, it could have more or less of a resemblance to what I imagine a man from subalpine Lebennin would typically wear.

That seems to be liberating in one way, but then there's that bewilderment from too many choices...
Glory be to God for dappled things
...
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. (Hopkins)
User avatar
Elleth
êphal ki-*raznahê
Posts: 2655
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2010 5:26 am
Location: in the Angle; New England

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Elleth »

Oh I like this!!!

... I've a very VERY vague memory - it might even have been from an old children's book - of a picture of a (late?) Roman drover wearing I think a chiton-like-thing and a wide floppy hat and a walking stick. Regardless... I like the floppy hat idea. (though I wonder now that I think on it whether it might be too much of a bother in mountain winds?)

The edging on your top also sounds very good. Did you see the drawing of proposed Gondorian costuming doing the rounds from deviantart some years back?

That is, maybe keep some of the lines here, just in much more rusticated fashion?

Image

... maybe something like the shoes on the left, a simple chiton or tunic with late-Roman style vertical trim (sans the fancy yoke) like the gentleman second from the left... in a light wool?

Regarding the trim, there's a number of tablet-weavers doing lovely work on Etsy, and some are happy to do custom patterns. I wonder if one of the Numenorean patterns could be adapted into something that would work? Though.. hrm. I can't recall the derivation of those peoples. I assume they're descended from the men that never went west to Numenor... maybe there would be good fruit in the Etruscan direction for inspiration?

This is very exciting, I can't wait to see what you all do with it!
Persona: Aerlinneth, Dúnedain of Amon Lendel c. TA 3010.
User avatar
Desert Loon
Wanderer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:51 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Desert Loon »

Elleth, these costume ideas are lovely, and I think something like them could be within my reach before too long. I think I'll start with a three-season kit before worrying too much about winter layers.

I appreciate the thoughts about hats. I guess a chin strap would help.

One of these days I'll put on a sort of rough draft with what I have so far and get pictures.
Glory be to God for dappled things
...
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. (Hopkins)
ForgeCorvus
Dúnadan
Posts: 87
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2021 8:07 pm

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by ForgeCorvus »

Loon: Your red cap can be worn in different ways. Pulled down over one ear or the other beret style, smoothed flat to the head down over both ears (thats a pretty good one in the rain), pulled forwards into a flatcap type peak (thats how Fandabidozy wears his bonnet), raked backwards to cover the nape or piled up like an arming cap under a helmet or a straw hat.

If it had a chinstrap you could also use it as a forage bag.


My re-enactment group (Napoleonic Redcoats) use a Bonnet de Police as our undress cap, its a long pointy thing like a nightcap or a Santa hat. That can be worn in several ways so we had to pick a standard one as its uniform.

Image
Image
Image
Image
All debts are paid....... Nothing forgiven. Nothing forgotten.

Sullu iglukhul ya bark ra targ. (All is well with axe and beard.)

"All Things Strive" Gd Tak 'Gar
User avatar
Desert Loon
Wanderer
Posts: 43
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:51 am

Re: Men of Gondor : "Always less than hope looked for..."

Post by Desert Loon »

That's cool.

I'm reminded of how, even though we might associate a certain garment shape strongly with a time and place, there are forms that are simple and could easily be imagined among just about any culture with basic levels of technology and skill.
Glory be to God for dappled things
...
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. (Hopkins)
Post Reply