Orcs Folk-Lore: Overview
One of the greatest authors of the past century, J. R. R. Tolkien, is famous for writing The Lord of the Rings series, other books in the same fantasy universe, and a few lesser-known stories. He was a wonderfully creative man who was well ahead of his time in some of his ideas. His creativity sparked a wonderful series of books, which gave way to movies and countless pieces of fan merchandise. With his creative talent, he crafted adventures, legends, and even his own creatures. This article will talk about one of Tolkien’s self-created monstrous creatures, the Orcs.
Tolkien himself once said that the Orcs, or Orks, that he created were somewhat based on the goblins in other stories and folklore in general. However, he did try to make a distinction between the goblins and Orcs in his own stories. He wanted it to be clear that these were two different creatures, even if the readers of his stories sometimes thought of them as subspecies of the same creature. Although, goblins and Orcs do seem to have many similarities, even in Tolkien’s own books. This could be why the two creatures are so often confused for one another.
Tolkien stated in his book, The Silmarillion, that Vala Morgoth created the first Orcs. These creatures were not bred from two other creatures but instead were created from nothing. Their sole purpose was to be evil. However, once Orcs were created, they could breed with each other so that they no longer needed to be created solely by the Vala Morgoth.
Tolkien’s Description of Orcs
The description given in Tolkien’s books makes these creatures sound like disgusting creatures. They seem to be able to stand upright, and in general, have many humanistic characteristics. They were almost as tall as humans but could also be as short as hobbits, so their size varied greatly. These creatures had ape or goblin-like faces with a couple of long fangs for two of their teeth. Their mouths were wide and large, while their eyes were small and slanted.
Their arms were also longer than humans, looking like they came from monkeys or apes. In addition, they seemed to arch their backs in a funny way like they were crooked; this could be why they sometimes appeared to be so much shorter than their human counterparts. Overall, the Orcs looked like a disturbing mix of humans, apes, and goblins; they were not pretty creatures.
However, the Orc’s appearance could vary somewhat depending on what “breed” of Orc that they were. There are several different types of these mythical creatures. The strongest type, the Uruk-hai, is much larger and more powerful than the usual type of Orc. These Orcs are specially bred by Saruman to be better fighters. They look more like humans than other Orcs. These Orcs can also tolerate sunlight better than some of the other breeds of Orcs.
A weaker type of Orc, the Snaga, which were smaller than ordinary Orcs. They were used for grunt work. These Orcs were not only smaller, but their skin was also darker than the others of their kind. Orcs sometimes bred with humans to make Men-Orcs or Orc-Men. As a result, they have more human characteristics than many other types of Orcs, and they can fully tolerate sunlight.
However, making Orc-Men is not a pleasant process, as it does not naturally occur in nature. Saruman bred these Orcs especially to fight for him. Saruman used male Orcs to fight for him, and female ones were rarely mentioned in Tolkien’s works.
Orcs Mythology: Summary
Even though these mythical creatures were brutish, they did have a culture of their own. However, these creatures had no language of their own. Instead, they took parts from other languages like Westron and Black Speech; although, they did implement their own dialects into these languages. Much of the Orc’s culture revolves around fighting, as that is what they were created for.
They knew how to do a few healing arts to help each other. They also have specialized ways of making poison blades and torturous devices. The Orcs also like to eat a variety of things, but mostly different kinds of meat. This ranges from animals to people, even to their kind.
Overall, the Orc may be one of the vilest creatures that Tolkien came up with. With their brutish culture and generally evil acts, they are doubtful to ever act as the hero. Although the Orc is terrible, they are still interesting creatures, which is probably what Tolkien was trying to do when he created them.