--The Silmarillion, "Akallabeth: the Downfall of Numenor"
Following from my design for the armor of the numenoreans in their earlier, brighter days, here we have the numenorean soldier as he likely would have appeared in the last few hundred years of the history of Westerness, starting around the reign of Ar-Adunakhor the self-proclaimed "Lord of the West" and ending with the Drowning, a period mainly characterized by the changing of Numenor from a peaceful society to an ever expanding empire and colonial presence in middle-earth. The White Tree, the old sigil of the Kings and a symbol of the friendship of the dunedain with the elves and the Powers in the West, has been replaced with the face of Earendil, winged and elevated to godlike stature by the last few generations of numenoreans - like most enduring mythic/historical figures, I imagine the context of Earendil's life and achievements is readily mutable to serve the political/social climate of the time: as the kings of Numenor grow ever more powerful and become more arrogant and hostile to the Valar, Earendil the human hero who reached the West against their ban and obtained eternal life is remembered, while Earendil the half-elf and messenger to the Valar is generally forgotten or ignored - it seems a dependable trait of proud civilizations on the verge of self-destruction that in their pride and vanity they elevate Man to the level of the gods, and if the book of Exodus or the 'Clash of the Titans' movies are indicator, it usually doesn't end well. The sword at his side, an heirloom probably many generations old (as I would expect many swords of the Dunedain to be) still bears the tree.
The dagger is a numenorean eket, a short sword described as about a 1'-18" in length (I expect the numenorean barrow blades the hobbits acquire, with their scarlet and gold hilts, are ekets) imagined here as something closer to a roman pugio than a seax-knife. The leopard skin is a trophy likely acquired during some campaign in the Harad lands. I think of the numenoreans as having a fearsome, predatory aspect about them at this time; that as their civilization has become more advanced and powerful they have actually become more violent and barbaric. These are a people who would build arenas to watch men fight to the death in.
overall I'm quite happy with this design, it hits the "late antiquity" notes I'd hoped for while avoiding the too-familiar look of the roman loricas (or worse still, the muscle cuirass) Rome is the obvious basis for Numenor (and her comparatively humble, byzantine descendants in Gondor and Arnor) but it's 'Rome' through a foreign lens, a Saxon (and decidedly Christian) lens, one though which the general outlines of an ancient, great, powerful, wise, proud, sinful, ultimately doomed civilization are visible, while many of the specific (and specifically Mediterranean) aspects of historical Rome are lost, washed out, or made more readily applicable to the cultural expectations of a more "northern" audience.
Part of the Weekly Tolkien Sketchbook
His helmet reminds me of the kind of helmets worn by Stannis Baratheon and his troops in the Game of Thrones TV Show. What is the historical context for that design of helmet?
It's really impressive.
One wonders if part of the reason Ar-Pharazon rose so high was because he was able to lift the spirits of his countrymen out of the Darkness for a time (with his enormous charisma and sense of Purpose), though the light with which he made all things seem new came with the horrid broil and fume sent smoking up from an unholy kindling.
As per the war-gear, mail might well be on Tolkien's mind, but scale armor might still be made to fill out the armored ranks, especially second-tier troops. That is what Rome did, as well as the Carolignian Franks. Scale armor was made for the Roman auxiliaries, while the legions tended to keep the mail of linked rings. Trajan's Column shows mail and scale armor both worn by auxiliaries, but old Trajanus wanted to see things done right and paid the expense for it too! (The quasi-Dunlending club men only have modest shields though. ) Charlemagne really tightened the requirements on what was considered proper kit for his army, but a few illustrations from his time and his sons' rule show scale armor in use as well as mail. Hey, it's not the mail byrnie mentioned in the lists, but it would pass muster, and thus the newly-made militus would escape a fine. Maybe your soldier belongs to a company raised by a lower-tier Numenorian baron who wants to do his bit and win the King's favor, but lacks the pockets for coats of mail. But Numenorian-crafted scale coats will still do the job, more than adequate really against most of Sauron's crew or the barbarians of desert waste and mountain valley.
A good sword will be used regardless of age or fashion. Old swords were favored, sang the bards, and why not? An old sword is a proven sword. It is not a heroic blade like narsil, but t'will do, t'will do, and one might imagine this warrior's descendant strapping it on before going to form up in the lines on the Dagorlad at the end of the Age. The eket is to my mind properly depicted, a backup weapon and survival knife beyond the scope of a by-knife or feasting knife. By chance or choice the spear has remained the same in its general shape. You have still omitted the great war-shield here as well...
i think this armor is a decided improvement over the pen and marker piece that served as its foundation, the plate elements of that drawing, while kind of satisfying, always seemed to me more film design-like than practical (which incedentally, almost always causes a design to look less beautiful to me, especially upon continual re-viewings) i was shooting for a maritime look with it but really i think the helmet by itself is all that's needed to convey that. This is very much like the armor that i imagine elendils forces at the siege of barad dur would be wearing, rather than (again) some film-design like notion of trying to make the armor of the kingsmen and the faithful immediately distinguishable. In real history, time seemes to have been a much greater factor in the differences between armors than place; the armor of the dark age irish, british, anglosaxons, franks and vikings (despite the attempts of films like "king arthur" or shows like "vikings" to differentiate them for our viewing convienience) were likely all but indistinguishable, and i tend to imagine that, similarly, with the numenoreans of the late second age, the general style of their armament would have gone for both those of ar-pharazons imperial troops and elendils following, the latter's only slowly evolving (as roman armor did following the fall of their empire) and assimilating with the more typically "germanic" styles of their neighbors and allies in middle-earth as the third age progressed, with certain articles distinct to their culture such as the "karma" style of helmet largely falling out of fashion in favor of spangenhelms more like to those of the northmen, and becoming lost in time.
really, this speaks to a larger aesthetic point i formulate and try to present when adressing the armor/dress/customs of the numenoreans living in exile in middle earth; that the third age is something of a return to form for them, a return to their decidedly northern roots in the ancient past. I regard the heroic first age as being, aesthetically, the"default," the time in which the "viking epic" aesthetic of chainmail and tall helms with elegant golden nose-bars and viking-style longswords was established by the never to be equalled, tireless artisans of belegost and nogrod, himring and gondolin, nargothrond and hithlum. The second age, atleast for the dunedain, is the odd man out stylistically, the age inwhich they arrived in a new, warmer land, had a thousand years without war in which to develop a new cultural style, influenced by some of the more antique, warm-weather styles of the elves of tol erresea and aman beyond (like the karma) unique and beautiful, but in many ways almost out of place in middle-earth. The third age, though dog-poor and ever diminishing in granduer and dignity over its three thousand plus years (marked primarily by the departure of the elves at an increasing rate and unending conflicts between tribes and nations of men) is, atleast aesthetically, a (again, much diminished) return to the old classic look and feel for the dunedain, while retaining some (and lamentably little at that) of the glory and uniqueness of their days in the second age.
Your idea of the Numenorian warriors of Arnor & Gondor gradually reverting to a style of armor comparable to their First Age ancestors is compelling and interesting. Form, function, and aesthetic adapting to times and places, and keeping a discrete linking symbolism to the heroes of elder days long gone, but as familiar as yesterday.
Nous autres, civilisations, nous savons maintenant que nous sommes mortelles
Nous avions entendu parler de mondes disparus tout entiers, d’empires coulés à pic avec tous leurs hommes et tous leurs engins ; descendus au fond inexplorable des siècles avec leurs dieux et leurs lois, leurs académies et leurs sciences pures et appliquées, avec leurs grammaires, leurs dictionnaires, leurs classiques, leurs romantiques et leurs symbolistes, leurs critiques et les critiques de leurs critiques. Nous savions bien que toute la terre apparente est faite de cendres, que la cendre signifie quelque chose. Nous apercevions à travers l’épaisseur de l’histoire, les fantômes d’immenses navires qui furent chargés de richesse et d’esprit. Nous ne pouvions pas les compter. Mais ces naufrages, après tout, n’étaient pas notre affaire.
In English :
We civilizations now know ourselves mortal
We had heard of worlds lost entirely, of empires cast with all their men and all their gear; down the impenetrable depths of the centuries with their gods and their laws, their academies and their sciences, with their grammars, their dictionaries, their classics, their romantics and their symbolists, their critics and the critics of their critics. We knew that all the apparent earth is made of ashes, ashes that means something. We could see through the thickness of history, the ghosts of huge ships laden with wealth and knowledge. We could not count them. But these wrecks, after all, were not our business.
He was writing at the end of the First World War but I feel that his words on the fragility of state and civilization are still accurate nowadays : we should never overestimate the solidity of it...
I think you should have kept one of the marine elements of the previous design (either the waves on the armor or the fit-like protection on the thigh) especially since that piece doesn't show the karma's shell-like shape but that's a minor critique but one I think that explains our fellow DBRv6's question.
It's interisting to read your thougts on the subject after reading an history magazine on "The fall of Rome" that highlights especially the role given to christians in that fall both by contemporaries and modern writers and the defense of christians against that accusation. You can feel the ambiguities of Saint Augustin who is both chocked that such a mighty city could be sacked and consider it as a lesson to human pride (a judgment that resemble the Fall of Númenor in many ways). What is annoying for the christians is that Rome was sinful but is now a sacred city and home to the Pope and its fall occurs in christian times. Tolkien solve the problem : in Arda "Rome" was a sacred place and home to the purest form of pre-christianity among Men but went back to paganism and was justly striken. Also interisting in it is an article (titled Rome's fall never ends) about how Rome's fall was defining in western europe's mentality (opposed to, say, the chinese who have maintained the fiction of state continuity for thousand of years and strill try to do so...). It is striking to see how Númenor plays the same role in teaching Men humility by reminding them Paul Valéry's words : We civilizations now know ourselves mortal.
I don't know what other plans you had, but I'd like to see what you'd make of the Exiles' and the Black Numenoreans' armour, as extensions of the "Imperial" era adapting to both new surroundings, and diminished technical skill and access to resources.
a far better example in my mind of an historically justified mistrust/animosity between the descendants of numenor and the men of middle-earth (and probably only one such example among many) is the betrayal of their oath to isildur on the part of the hillmen of what later became the lands of rohan and the white mountains (the dead men of dunharrow) as a people of what I think of as middle-earth's "celtic fringe" (meaning the largely Haladin-stock peoples of southern eriador, dunland, the gap of rohan and likely the coastal regions of what later became Anfalas) they must have born much of the brunt (atleast as those populations north of the bay of belfalas go) of the several hundred years of numenorean colonial abuse and all-out genocide recounted in the passage i quote in the description, only the last and worst generation or so of which were the numenoreans under sauron's influence. and imagine Isildur explaining the dunedain's corruption by sauron to people who's fathers and and grandfathers had been hauled off into slavery or for sacrifice on numenoean alters when he looks like and dresses like and speaks the same language as the people who commited these acts. it's always been my opinion that for the men of dunharrow, caught between two mighty powers, very recently abusive toward them (sauron and the dunedain) who they dont even entirely understand the difference between, and who are now apparently at war with eachother and enlisting volunteers, sitting out the conflict sounds a justifiable move, whatever they'd "sworn"
And I don't know why I didn't consider the Dead Men, that does fit very well. Bit of a wonder they even bothered to come to Erech at all.
That evolution in Numenorean warfare you were thinking about and portrayed in your pictures is really a fascinating one. Even the more plausible for it's indeed similar to "real" world military history that happened in Ancient Rome: It's rise from a small, kinda peaceful agricultural society to a restlessly expanding empire built on stone and war.
I particularly like your use of colours showing that transformation. As I believe to remember once the Numenorean colours were bright or of red, blue, white and gold as it was mentioned at the Golden King's campaign eastward in ME. And as the times themselve grew dark, Numenorean view towards colours (and as you plausibly stated - heraldry) changed as well and became black and gold (like Ar-Pharazon's giant fleet leaving for Valinor). Well, it also seems reasonable that a great military power chooses to daunt their enemies by displaying itself as a dark, uniform force.
As for the general design I am happy that you managed to stay away from all to modern (and even Roman) plate armour and created with that clibanion (is it?) and the slight use of maille a gear that still feels "Middle-earth"-like and has some major distinction to everything that would be expected in really Anglo-Saxonian Middle earth (at least the better known part of it).
Concerning the influence from more eastern cultures I dont spot that much yet, but maybe you can help me? That beast's hide is a nice add-on, of course and I might recall that this "deification" of Earendil is also something the Romans imported from the East (and did it to almost everyone of their Emperors, especially Cesar and Augustus). I cant help it, but I always imagine some marks of Mesopotamian culture - Adunaic just sounds so damned Sumerian or Akkadian to me (as are the Dwarves kinda Semitic People), so some huge beards, angled edges maybe?
Two things striking me after a closer look on your soldier: 1. Is he supposed to carry a shield (since the exiled Dunedain's combat tactic used something like a "thangail")? 2. What's that golden stuff on his helm - an inscription? Doesnt look rather Elvish, even if I assume Numenor used "cirth" or "tengwar" for a long time. Did they abandon that "humilation" of their own un-creativity and devised a mannish alphabet, or is it something from the East, or even signs made by Sauron himself to strengthen his god-like position as bringer-of-gifts-and wisdom?
Keep up your amazing and enlightening work.
the parallels to roman history (or all of greco-roman history) are apparent to me and I have little doubt they were by tolkien's intent, numenor occupying this "great, lost empire" position in the minds of the people of the very european dark age-flavoured 3rd age, and their comparatively humble but "faithful" descendents in gondor seeming a fair stand in for the byzantine civilization or the post-imperial, Christian roman presence in the dark ages and early middle-ages, both as an ally of the viruous-pagan "northmen" of rhovanion like the eorlings and as the bulwark against attacks into the free peoples' lands from the south and east. I tend to think of the Early Numenoreans as a more or less classical greek, helennic period type of people. the "golden age" of numenor, around the mid 2nd age, i envison as this stylistic parallel to the hellenistic world established by alexander the great, and the early days of the roman republic; a time in which the dunedain were trading with the men of middle-earth and helping them, and seemed eager to expand their knowledge and their scope rather than their power. by the time of Ar-adunakhor around SA 2900 numenor was turning into an imperial power, and from then to the drowning seems to parallel the worst aspects of imperial roman civilization, the decadence, materialism, pride, greed, and contempt for and abuse of the people of middle-earth. as i say in my description, the numenoreans at this time seem like they'd be into things like gladiator fights and orgies and such; all that general stuff that a religious reading of history might call "a people falling into wickedness," which is an important point to me, as tolkien's reading of history (and his presentation of his own fictional history) was very much a religious reading, one in which rome joins (and validates to a much greater historical degree than the others) the pattern ascribed to egypt in the book of exodus, ninevah in the story of jonah, atlantis according to plato, or civilisation prior to the biblical flood; of human civilization grown proud and evil, making themselves into gods and ultimately paying for it. it's a reading of history which must have dominated the zeitgeist of the christian, monastic, far-fallen dark ages, from which tolkien seems to draw his primary inspiration.
I'm glad you appreciate my color scheme here, as I re-read the akallabeth several time to ensure i'd gotten it right. black, red, gold, deep blue, steel-grey, it seems the color pallette of a conquerors' society (actually the spanish court at the time of the conquistadors is as much an influence on my imagination of the numenorean color pallate as that of ancient rome) it seemed fitting to put these guys in overcast weather as well; in the akallabeth (as in so many legends throughout human history) nature itself seems to turn upon a wicked king and people.
for a very good depiction of this archetypal trajectory of civilization which tolkien seems to be shooting for with numenor, i would reccomend checking out thomas cole's five paintings collectively called "the course of empire" any one of which could be an illustration of the isle of numenor.
Aye, it's a really interesting view in Tolkien's legendarium on how Evil came into human hearts. Different to Elves Men appear to have been built with the nature of succumbing to Evil (well, Feanor and his kin were an infamous exception but is said of them that Eru granted him with some sorts of special gift that might have caused in him that fatal Rebellion and secondly calling the Everlasting Darkness on oneself will literally cause Evil). As in many real religions it had to be waken up by the "genuine" Evil - and that happened fairly soon: Im not quite sure about it, but I think that Elmon and Elmir who were supposed to be the two first known-by-name humans did something like Kain and Abel did. The conflicts following out of this might indeed have formed a society of fear and terror you referred to as prior to the biblical flood, enhanced and worsened by Melkor's emissaries. This sort of unhappy pre-civilazation must have been located in whole ME except the tiny group of people later known as the Edain who sought their salvation in the West.
It is actually quite teasing to think about which role the forefathers of the Edain had in those archaic dark years. Were their innocent saints which were persecuted by their own kind or weren't they even free of crime since Beor (I think) refused to tell about the deeds of his ancestors. Certainly it is reported that even the morally perfect three houses (as for their leaders) had a dark side in persona of the Gaurwaith, the outlaws Turin was with.
So the seed of Evil went too on Numenor without even Morgoth having to deploy it a second time after Hildorien. And if one reads the Akallabeth carefully it strikes that the Numenoreans leaved the path of Good long before they took a certain one on their island. (Sure, they encoutered the Dark Lord in combat once and he was probably teasing them to expand by attacking their costal settlements, but the Numenoreans once aware of the awesomeness to be a military force would have continued anyway to stretch their influence over ME as those unknown rulers of the East would have done it as well.)
So yes, there seems to have never been hope for mankind to be just "good". As in Christianity men were sinners from almost the beginnings a could not be made to something more "integer". An odd parallel makes it even more distinct: There was no redemption for Men. Neither through the Passion Christi, nor through the uplifting of the three houses to almost Elf-like beings. Both actions seem more symbolically. Sacrificing oneself for the spiritual salvation or placing Men close to paradise, both did not really work for Men always yielded to their own nature staggering on the egde between Good and Evil, some choosing the one side like Amandil and his kin and some the other side like the Golden King.
I didn't even think about old Spain when marvelling your piece. However it is a nice conclusion you drew: The Spains were the first European people after Rome doing that really hardcore thing of Imperialism with almost the same tremendous splenour of gold and goods, superior technologies and a greedy deity wanting everyone dead who did not worship it.
Sorry for having you confused about more or less visible Eastern influences. My fantasy might have spread a bit far, but that ornament on his helm looks just pretty much non-elvish so I was suddenly dreaming about Arabian alphabet or something similar.
Thomas Cole's works about Rome? Funny, I used to have it as my notebook screen for quite a long time. I really love the feeling of movement and confusion in "the fall of Rome" and the incredible way those tiny, little creatures scurry around the monuments of a superior but long gone civilization. Kind of same thing if a Nortman woul wander through the vast ruins of Osgiliath or even the forgotten cities in the South of ME.
i didn't really have a set image myself of what it was, which is why i left it vague, but generally i intended a kind of frilly, classical looking bit of symmetrical design like you see on the surfaces of roman muscular breastplates or italian rennaisance armours, wings possibly or some woven garland of leaves. actually i'd done some studies of this helmet model in profile with a set of detachable seabird wings (likely worn in "triumph" style parades rather than on the field) the helmets of the citadel guards in minas tirith at the end of the third age are said to wear winged helmets, and elendil's crown that aragorn dons is a winged helmet, and these would indicate perhaps an uninterrupted (and kind of goofy, if you ask me) tradition of winged helmets hearkening back to tuor and the winged helmet he finds left for him at vinyamar by turgon. it seems a consistent aesthetic expression of this culture of "sea people" and "sea longing" in tolkiens fictional world. seabirds are mentioned everywhere, the telerin ships are fashioned like them (as in vingilote) elwing becomes a bird (many times) and is borne over the sea, the men of gondor wear seabirds' wings, legolas cant get the sea out of his mind after he hears the gulls. that said the numenorean "karma" helmet (which, as you might have noticed, i'm quite fond of i've drawn many times, most recently hear) is entirely at odds with the "tall, winged helmet" tradition, and as a design a feels considerably more, well... aquatic. my current leaning (which i'll probably try and convey in some "evolution of helmets" study) is that the karma is a helmet style from another tradition (possibly telerin) which came into fashion with the numenoreans because once they get to their island they're no longer "longing" for the sea, they're in it, but as we approach the end of the age, likely prompted by, as i mention above, this ever increasing deification of figures like earendil or tuor (the first man to cross the sea and live forever, seems like that'd make him an aspire-able figure to a people not crazy about the ban of the valar or the "gift of men") the "wings" associated with these first age heroes would sort come back in style (after the drowning, elendil and his followers are relegated to being this constantly backward looking culture, no longer innovators as they were before, so it seems like the winged helmet idea just sticks around for lack of any better ideas) actually the side view i did for this one is an interesting hybrid, because this helmet is supposed to be a type of "karma" (more functional and less ornamental than the leather version in that other piece, with the twisting tail becoming incorporated into the back of the skull) so with the wings it's kind of a "winged karma" whereas the winged helmets of later gondorians - or of tuor in the first age - i tend to imagine as the more classic, wagnerian winged spangenhelm.
Your analysis about the Numenorean helmets is rather inspiring. I too wondered a long time about how those two rather different designs could be made compatible (or might they even have existed next to each other with mutual influence?). But you are right that the "Karma" (I looked it up: it just means "helmet". What a surprise! I hoped it could be something Adunaic.) would resemble the "original" Numenor as they are kinda similar to those fancy Korinthian-Greek helmets, being a quite meditteranean and sophisticated society while winged-helms where really more known in Northern territories as supposed to be worn by the Gauls, Teutons and Vikings (I know that's a legend, but likely with a true core), so it fits well to the return of the Edain's descendents into the Nortwest of Middle earth. Btw, I am actually quite satisfied by the way the movies were depicting the winged helms. I was really relieved as they werent that sort of Wagner-stuff or even those Asterix-style add-ons making the wearer to look like having large ears and disproportioning him. While the citadel's guards' helms were fairly lofty and aloft (100% ceremonial) the Dunedains at the Battle of the last alliance appeared to wear something still functional (and seemingly made of metal instead of organic material) and the late gondorian troops reduced the custom to a mere stylized engraving.
I pretty much agree on the "longing"-motif in Tolkien's writings. The first age Edain longed for the Sea and the better life they expected beyond it, so they wore the wings of creatures they could pass thence. On Numenor they were pleased with their situation for a while so they stopped longing and adapted/created another style of head-wear. And after the Drowning the survivors started to long again but this time after their bygone home so they wore the wings again.
The other depictions you did about the "Karma" I checked out as well and I like them a lot. It is incontestably a design totally unique (half of the praise goes to the original creator, of course)in Middle - I dare to say in whole the fantasy genre - for it appears not only completely otherworldly, but also stays still realistic in some kinda way. It is imaginable that real people might have used it one time who did not need to be an overall omnipotent CGI-character. And your interpretation of it makes Middle-eart a bit more touchable than it already is.
Suggest instead of using the influence of Barbarian (considering the Greek meaning) look at the philosophy of the Luddite's. Tolkien was a Luddite. Much of his conflict in the story's and the ideas of good/evil reflects there ideas. The machinery versus nature.
cheers and keep up the great work.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "barbarian, considering the greek meaning" as far as i know "barbarian" was in origin basically an onomatopoeic term referencing non-greek speakers, and I have no idea how you expect the 19th century luddites (about whom I already know a bit) or tolkien's sympathy/identification with the movement should come to bear in this particular piece. I don't expect the numenoreans, even in their late generations prior to the Drowning, were compromising the quality and artisanship of their arms and armour for mass manufacture, if that is what you're suggesting/recommending.
Not sure what advance or mass manufacturing has to do with this. Even the Romans developed mass manufacturing. I was more thinking of the lines. Barbarian seems wrong choice to me so I was wondering about your influence there and thinking something from the Luddite tradition might give a better idea. Especially considering Tolkien's reported influences.
I saw your comment about Tolkein and Rome below. Where in any of his writings does he reference Rome/Roman? I have read a lot of the material his son published of his notes and some of his other work and not come across this.
oh so you keep bringing up "barbaric" because the word's in my description, got it. it's just a word choice, don't get too hung up on it, and i don't mean by it that i think the late-stage numenoreans are reverting as a culture in terms of societal advancement (and for the record i didnt say "barbarian") I mean they become a culture that engages in "barbarities" like enslavement or human sacrifice. they're becoming barbaric the way titus andronicus feeding tamora's sons to her at a state dinner is barbaric; a moral reversion to behavior from a time when humanity was in it's "savage" state, the kind of actions that the dunedain aught to be beyond (gandalf, trying to talk denethor down from burning himself, points out the moral incorrectness of "heathen kings" committing suicide and having their servants die with them, the point seems to be that this is the kind of thing denethor should know better than as a man of gondor) the reason i used the word regarding the leopard skin is because draping yourself in the un-tailored skin of a creature (as in, with the head limbs and claws on display) is one of those "barbaric" style calls that "civilized" people have nonetheless opted for at various times in history. i suppose my point was that it's not necessarily something the numenoreans would have gone for earlier on in the second age when they were less violent and predatory as a culture. also, I brought up mass manufacturing and the compromise of quality only in response to your bringing up the "luddite tradition" because as far as i know the luddites were in opposition to industrialization and the compromise of quality for the sake of mass manufacture, and my best guess as to how you thought "luddite philosophy" could be relevant to my conception of the numenoneans was that it would have something to do with that. if theres some other part of their philosophy or it's relevance to tolkien's fiction (and the numenoreans specifically) that you're attempting to point out let me know because i don't know what you're talking about.
i suppose by "comment about Tolkein and Rome below" you mean my response to Missingfive above. I thought I went pretty well into detail there on the reasons why I believe a reading between the lines will yield a very roman/byzantine picture of the numenoreans and their third age descendants, particularly with regard to their relations with their neighbors the rohirrim, who are very much a germanic, anglo saxon people, even speaking anglo-saxon. that's simply my analysis of tolkien's intent (and i don't think it's his sole intent either) if you're not convinced or if a design like this doesnt resonate with you as "numenorean" that is of course not a problem; tolkien was much more favorable toward applicability than allegory anyway, so i'm sure he didn't intend gondor to be a strict stand-in for rome or constantinople in the dark ages and nothing else, but there's certainly many ways in which the comparison seems apt. ultimately all of middle-earth, i believe, is best looked at with a kind of double-vision; tolkien was crafting a fictional world for an "english" audience - whether that audience was his own children (as with the hobbit) or an imagined audience of anglo saxons of alfred the great's time (for whom he imagined his "lays" being performed) - and therefore a lot of the details of his presentation of his fictional world seem to stem from inspirations in english and european history and culture, but in the "real middle-earth" (which is to say the "untranslated" version of middle-earth in which the adunaic-derived "westron" language that the characters speak is not represented as english as it is in 'the Hobbit' or LOTR, and in which Theoden's real name is Turak and Merry's is Kalimac and such) maybe nothing would look anything like fans of Tolkien generally think. I tend to draw a lot of inspiration for my designs on the artwork and material culture of particular real historical cultures while depicting middle-earth because, like i said, the fact that the tales of this (invented) lost age (or possibly alternate universe) are brought to us in a format that we can understand at all, and one which seems to contain applicable parallels to our real world history (such as the rohirrim) encourages me to draw other parallels, where appropriate, for the sake of creating a compelling and reasonably consistent visual presentation.
1 > If you took away your title and your description and the print on the picture. Would you still call it Numenorian and think it belongs to Middle Earth? I do not think this applies to your other work, which often is very recognizable. I think you need something to place it in the world of Middle Earth. Does this perhaps make more sense? Perhaps this is not always possible with a fictional environment. Yet I think there should be a way.
2 > Barbaric - I understand what you meant from the start. I obviously failed in trying to communicate.
As you noted in your writing they armed themselves for war with Saruon. This was a major significant change and key - The entire moving onto a war footing and then taking Sauron prisoner working a massive change that made them ripe to fall to the poisoned words of Sauron feeding their pride. Then instead of coming with gifts and wisdom they came with arms and to conquer and rule. The symbols do not disappear but change. So before very few of them would have arms or at least not taking them off the ship or out of the luggage. Now almost all of them come girded in arms to stay and rule and to take the resources and send them back home.
Luddites: An example of what I am reaching for that you have done: 'Your earlier Numenorian has a lot of organic shape to his armor and in the scene. The later has more straight and harsh lines in the armor and scene'. This is a great example of what I think of the Luddites. The later straight/harsh lines being more mechanical. I think this is part of what's excellent about the comparing the two. I was thinking that there might be something more along that line/idea?
I think if you where to say drape the un-tailored skin of a creature across a Soldier/Lord of Umbar it would be perfect by the time of the 3rd age. The impact is undoubtedly there and the symbolism too. Possible right before the downfall, certainly.
3> Rome - I have no objection to you taking your inspiration and it is interesting as well as enriching to read what you have to say and consider different perspectives. I just have not read in any of the literature or notes that his son has had released of an association with Rome. There are references to other traditions. It is interesting. I have always looked at what happened during WWI and some of the results of the fall of the Holy Roman Empire - the last of which the Ottoman empire falls during WWI. I have not found any evidence that this is true either. I was only asking if you had read anywhere in his writings that his son has published/released. If you know I would be interested so I could find it and read it too.
Cheers - I hope you find something here of value.