The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
First recorded 26 February III 3019;1 Isengard fell on the following 3 March
Races
The symbol of one of the Ainur, though borne by Orcs (and probably also Men) in the service of Saruman
Division
Order
Settlements
Associated with Isengard, the seat of Saruman
Meaning
Uncertain2
Title of
Used as a title of Saruman by his servants

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 23 January 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

White Hand

A symbol used by Saruman

An emblem of Saruman during the War of the Ring; a long white hand with one pointing finger.


Notes

1

Aragorn and his companions first encountered the symbol of the White Hand emblazoned on the shields of fallen Orcs at Parth Galen. They did not recognise the emblem, so it was clearly not widely known at the time of the War of the Ring. Saruman may conceivably have adopted it earlier, presumably at some point in the sixty-five years since he claimed Isengard as his personal domain in III 2953. If so, the fact that even Aragorn did not know the symbol must mean that Saruman had kept it well concealed until he was ready to reveal himself.

2

The significance and symbolism behind Saruman's choice of the White Hand are difficult to unravel. The white of the hand suggests a connection with the Wizard's traditional colour and title of 'Saruman the White' (though by the time of the War of the Ring, Saruman was referring to himself as 'Saruman of Many Colours', so even this connection is open to question).

Saruman's choice of a hand as his emblem is never explained, and there are various possibilities. Perhaps it represents Saruman's place as the 'hand' of Sauron, though our only detailed description of the hand has it with a pointing finger, which seems to suggest direction or control rather than subservience to the Dark Lord. Perhaps it suggests an opposite to Sauron's Black Hand (though Sauron was only called the 'Black Hand' by Gollum, and it's far from clear whether this was a general title). Alternatively, it may connect to the fact that the name 'Saruman' (and its Elvish equivalent Curunír) means 'Man of Craft', with the hand representing Saruman's skill in making, and the pointing finger suggesting progress or achievement. Ultimately we can do no more than conjecture in this area.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 23 January 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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