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TurnerMohan's avatar


As with my recent Numenorean  Armours, this one was basically me just falling back on old concept material for photoshop practice, but I'd always wanted to revisit the vampires of middle-earth; as folklore monsters go, vampires (largely owing to their many iterations in modern pop-culture) typically seem baroque and elegant, almost to the point where it's a little strange to see them making an appearance in Tolkien's decidedly archaic world of goblins, trolls, dwarves, elves, dragons, wargs, and giant spiders, but it's often forgotten that vampires haunted the imagination of ancient man in many confused, meandering traditions - some of which painted them as originally living humans that had been attacked by/succumbed to evil, some as essentially lesser demons - long before those mannered, dapper, always-formerly-human Draculas and LeStats and Edward Cullens monopolized the genre. Tolkien's vampires, as is to be expected, are of the archaic variety; inhuman, malevolent spirits, servants of Satan, taken form on the earthly plane to afflict and prey on the children of God. It's a picture of "vampires" not as a specific, taxonomic type of monster following all sorts of pre-set genre dictates, but as yet another demon of the Pit so to speak, something you might expect to see flying around the satanic bacchanal atop Bald Mountain in Disney's 'Fantasia' (needless to say, if I ever get around to doing a take on Morgoth's throne room, it will be heavily indebted to that amazing little cartoon sequence).

From what little information we have to go on (essentially a few throw-away lines about Thuringwethil, the only named vampire in Tolkien's world) they are purely bestial, bat-like monsters, rather than being corrupted men or elves, and it's easy to imagine them in this form perched amid the upper parapets of Tol-in-Gaurhoth like living gargoyles, but I always wondered (as I have often wondered about the "werewolves" of the first age, the other major group of the lesser maiar in service to Morgoth) if Tolkien's vampires could change shape, appear human (or elvish/darwvish/ect) at need. The betrayal of their secret councils and the possibility of the servants of the Enemy taking on the appearance of friends and kin is a constant fear in the kingdoms of first-age Beleriand - and indeed it happens many times - and it seems reasonable to assume that that is largely the domain of those lesser fallen angels, Morgoth's middle-wrung servants, higher up the chain, more powerful and more wicked than his hordes of orcs or lumbering trolls, but far below the mighty spirits that inhabit Glaurung, the balrogs, or Ungoliante; an important caste within the forces of evil - encompassing the vampires, werewolves, boldogs and likely other, unnamed hellspawn - and one which I imagine, based on the text, to be largely controlled and administrated by Sauron, the so named 'deceiver' and ensnarer of the free people, the mighty sorcerer and lieutenant to Morgoth, a powerful maiar spirit himself who can freely change shape and is remarked to do so many times.

It was largely speculating on their possible function as shape-shifters that inspired the decision to give the vampires' faces this somewhat jarring bone-white coloration and almost human appearance; it's easy to imagine Thuringwethil (whose rather elegant-sounding name means "woman of the secret shadow") as being able to adopt a more human and appealing version of the monstrous visage we see here; full red lips, pale skin, black hair, perky breasts, she'd be quite the looker showing up at some feast among Beor or Hador's people. Throw some mead in the mix and you probably get all kinds of valuable information.

Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchblog
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rainchickk's avatar
These are the real vampires as they should be