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Variag by John Howe.

The Variags were a little-known people who dwelt in the land of Khand.



They were allies of both Rhûn or Harad, to neither of which they belonged.

Khand was east of Mordor, at the time of the War of the Ring. They were allied to Sauron, and their warriors were seen at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.


Variag is a word of a Harad language[1], but its meaning is unknown.


Variag is a Slavic word derived from Norse Varingar "mercenary people" (vár "contract"). The Norse root indicates that perhaps Tolkien intended Variag to be a "translated" Northern Mannish word.

Also, the meaning suggests that the Variags of Khand were not an ethnic group but a kind of elite mercenaries or corps in service of Mordor.

Portrayal in adaptations

1982-97: Middle-earth Role Playing:

Variags, who speak the tongue Varadja, share ties with both Easterlings and Haradrim.[2][3]

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

Variags of Khand is a Man Faction.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Appendix on Languages
  2. S. Coleman Charlton (1993), Middle-earth Role Playing (2nd edition, hardcover) (#2000)
  3. Peter C. Fenlon, Jr. et al. (1987), Lords of Middle-earth Vol II: The Mannish Races (#8003)