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The Riders of Rohan
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By TurnerMohan   |   Watch
Published: October 25, 2014
© 2014 - 2019 TurnerMohan
"Their horses were of great stature, strong and clean-limbed; their grey coats glistened, their long tails flowed in the wind, their manes were braided on their proud necks. The Men that rode them matched them well: tall and long-limbed; their hair, flaxen-pale, flowed under their light helms, and streamed in long braids behind them; their faces were stern and keen. In their hands were tall spears of ash, painted shields were slung at their backs, long swords were at their belts, their burnished skirts of mail hung down upon their knees."

---The Two Towers, chapter 2

My image of the moment when Aragorn Legolas and Gimli find themselves encircled by the Riders of Rohan has stuck in my head, more or less unchanged, since I first read TTT, I'd always wanted to see it rendered as a painting. What I'd hoped to capture here (and only partially succeeded, in my estimation) was a feel for both the land and people of Rohan, and for the moment itself; the tension between the rushing horses and the stable trio, like the calm eye in a spiraling storm, the power and motion of that foremost horse, the endless flat plain and vast, vaulted sky of the riddermark.
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anonymous's avatar
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compressorman's avatar
Nice! My favorite part in all the books.
Dgarauz's avatar
DgarauzHobbyist Traditional Artist
Great work.
zwartekraai's avatar
In my mind I always saw the riders of rohan a bit more like huns or mongolians. I mean I like the viking look but viking's weapons and shields were designed for sea raids and infantry fights, not for chavelry.
TurnerMohan's avatar
TurnerMohanProfessional General Artist
They are described pretty point blank in the book as being "vikingish" or more accurately anglo saxon, with their chainmail hauberks, longswords and all. There are many references throughout the two towers and the return of the king to the anglosaxon nature of their culture; not only the physical description of meduseld but the way inwhich galdalf aragorn legolas and gilmi approach it is borrowed heavily from beowulf's arrival at heorot, the rohirrim even speak anglo saxon. Tolkien envisioned them as a fictional version of his anglosaxon forebears, one which, though the use of horses, might have successfully resisted the norman invasion of 1066. He even remarked in one of his notes that the norman soldiers (whose dress and armament was largely similar to that of the anglosaxons they defeated) as depicted on the bayeux tapestry, was how he saw the rohirrim. I think he intended a more hunnic/mongoloid look to the "sallow skinned" easterlings with their scimitars, and the few times i have depicted them i try to go for a more mongol look, both for the easterlings themselves and for their clothing/armor.
zwartekraai's avatar
Yes but I bellieve the anglosaxons used teardop shaped shields when on horseback right? Or am i mistaken here? Anyway thank you very much for telling me this its facinating.
TurnerMohan's avatar
TurnerMohanProfessional General Artist
The normans used teardrop shaped shields for the most part, those are better suited to cavalry (although plenty of peoples throughout history have used rounded shields on horseback) i dont honestly remember for sure if tolkien refers to the rohirrim as using rounded shields, though I think he did; he's often very sketchy on descriptions, with everything that we might know about the shields of the rohirrim hanging on a single word like "long" or "round". I usually depict their shields as round because that seems better in keeping with the anglo saxon archetype, even though that archetype is usually one of foot soldiers, and in general the long teardropped shaped norman shield (and the crusader shields which followed and came from them) tend to start looking a little too medieval, i try to keep the rohirrim dark age, aesthetically.
zwartekraai's avatar
fair enough keep up the good work. I like how your artstyle really puts me in the idea of faery.
TotCzechowicz's avatar
TotCzechowiczStudent Traditional Artist
this painting is amazing! It has such an energy in it! Great job
DanielPillaArt's avatar
DanielPillaArtProfessional Digital Artist
Great art!
Dulliros's avatar
DullirosHobbyist Traditional Artist
I like the dynamic picture design.
Also, we get the impression of Rohan as the vast grassland, Tolkien describes.
TurnerMohan's avatar
TurnerMohanProfessional General Artist
yes, i'm big on riddermarks that look like they wouldnt cripple horses with a thousand volcanic rocks underfoot :)

Dulliros's avatar
DullirosHobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome!
Oznerol-1516's avatar
Oznerol-1516Hobbyist Digital Artist
I love the perspective here, you made a right decision placing the ride in the foreground and the Three Hunters in the middle. The cloak of the foremost rider is wonderfully shaped, the drapery is great there! The glittering mail and the stout scabbard are wonderful and I also love the hilt's design, something you could expect to find in a British burrow. It's great to see how energetic and nimble his horse is, captured in the middle of its intense galloping.

But maybe the strong point of the artwork are the Hunters, who you painted without detail, insinuated, but still instantly recognizable. Like the dark, stern and tall Strider/Aragorn or the stout and brave Gimli.

The grass caressed by the wind and the fast riders in the background are masterworks on their own. Like the cloudy sky, which reminds me to those painted by Velázquez and the Baroque artists (even if that was purely practical, cloudy skies meant less blue used, and blue was the most expensive color. Forgive my rant here) and creates a nice atmosphear.

However I'm so contaminated by ASOIAF and G.R.R. Martin, because I miss the wavering silken, green, standard of the galloping white horse of the House of Eórl. I'm a bit obsessed with heraldry because it isn't mentioned in the book that they ride under such banner.

This reminds me to Alan Lee.
TurnerMohan's avatar
TurnerMohanProfessional General Artist
thank you my friend (somehow i missed this one).

this was one of my favorite parts of the two towers, especially the wait; i love that the trio (thanks to legolas) can see their overtakers from an hour's ride off, but cant really do anything to get out of their way on foot, so they just have to wait there and find out if they'll be well recieved or not. It's a great, calm but anticipatory moment, like something you'd see in a kurosawa movie, and gives aragorn the opportunity to monologue about the rohirrim, and we havent really seen yet how he, being this wise but also proud and confident king in exile, would interact with his fellow men (except the breelanders, which is a very different story) I'd considered doing the trio seated in the waving grass, fairly closeup as if from a vantage point sitting beside them, but for a dramatic composition this moment was the clear winner. i'm glad you like the way i did the trio, i myself was prticularly happy with how they came out, and glad the decision to put them relatively out of focus in the middle ground paid off; aragorn seems to be looking at the rider in the foreground, tall and formidable girt with his sword ofcourse (as he later demonstrates for eomer) but with his hands at his sides, gimli's a little more on the defensive about these men and their horses, and legolas the immortal has his face turned away (atleast from our vantage point) not really relateable to the men of rohan, less so even than his companions.

as for the rohirrim themselves tolkien once described them as looking like the horsemen figures on the bayeux tapestry (even though those were actually normans, as tolkien must have been well aware, norman and anglo saxon dress and armament in the 11th century were all but indistinguishable for our modern purposes, especially represented as basically as on that tapestry) and i liked how this angle afforded this sort of tapestry like side-scrolling view of the eorlings riding in cohort, and then we get that one in closeup, more an archetype than an individual character, i'd hoped in the ready pose, the swiftness of that strong horse, the maille and sword, and that viking-helmeted head with blond beard and streaming hair, to capture the essence of the people of rohan; that is a silhouette against the vast prairie sky that you would see unchanged at any time in their history.
Wisdom-Thumbs's avatar
Wisdom-ThumbsHobbyist Traditional Artist
You have redefined that scene for me, and there truly is a great deal of motion+power in that horse. It's the foggy-day colors that stick right in me headbox, though.
TurnerMohan's avatar
TurnerMohanProfessional General Artist
well they stuck in my head since my first time reading TTT (especially curious since the day is clearly described as bright and cloudless :P )

glad you like it, and the horse especially, those are hard i find, so i'm glad this one's doing it for you.
MatusHyzny's avatar
MatusHyznyHobbyist Traditional Artist
Great composition! I really like this piece.
liasid's avatar
liasidHobbyist Digital Artist
beautiful :)
NordicLynx's avatar
NordicLynxHobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, great work :) Very dramatic and well made
peet's avatar
peetProfessional Traditional Artist
Stunning compositionally - thats  what speaks to me most here. It would have been nice to see something more artistic and interesting, perspective-wise, with this scene in the film. Something similar to this, of course. I was just watching TT again. I don't know why I bother torturing myself. Anyway, as ever a wonderful piece. It is poetic.
teb1013's avatar
This is a unique perspective on this iconic moment. The riders in the back have a stylized look, almost like the Bayeux Tapestry. The one in the front (Eomer?) is very dramatic. I like how you have portrayed our 3 heroes isolated in the middle. Good work.
sanctuaryfthebeast's avatar
I love your artworks! Love You are really awesome!
woutart's avatar
woutartProfessional General Artist
Now THESE are the Rohirrim as the are supposed to be. Awesome depiction!
anonymous's avatar
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