The Steel Grip of the Dark Lord: The Nazgul Gauntlets
In the Peter Jackson adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as well as other recent adaptations set in Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth, the Nazgul are very recognisable. With the exception of the Witch King, who sports a nifty helmet by the end of the trilogy, we see the Nine Ringwraiths decked in black robes, with metal Nazgul gauntlets and occasionally Nazgul leg armor peeking through.
When it comes to putting together a Cosplay or LARP outfit depicting one of the Nazgul, you’ll likely have no trouble finding the black hooded robe. However, the gauntlets are more distinctive and unique in their design. So, you’re going to want a proper Nazgul gauntlet replica to really set off the look.
Unlike the chainmail or comparatively straightforward plate of most other inhabitants of Middle Earth, the Nazgul armor is actually very complex. The metal Nazgul gauntlets are highly articulated, which allow for an incredible freedom of motion.
Each Nazgul gauntlet replica has 58 moveable plates, which are secured with a grand total of 158 rivets. Overall, that’s 116 moving parts and a whopping 316 rivets for the pair of Nazgul gauntlets, which add up to an incredibly impressive piece of armor.
Gauntlets with this level of articulation are very complicated to make, as each part needs to fit perfectly to allow for smooth movement and maximum protection. However, these metal Nazgul gauntlets are also impressive when it comes to the aesthetic side of their design. Each plate is shaped to be perfect for both their practical purpose and to suit an intimidating creature of darkness.
The overlapping finger plates each come to an aggressive point, while the knuckle guard features cruel looking spikes that point both forwards and backwards in relation to the wearer’s hand. The back of the hand is protected in turn by multiple overlocking plates that follow a ridged pattern. This pattern continues as the gauntlet flares at the wrist, finally culminating into yet another spike.
The gauntlets themselves are set onto comfortable leather gloves, like most metal gauntlets out there. These feature adjustable straps that allow the wearer to fit the gauntlet to their hands, allowing you to wear them more comfortably.
So, we know that these are the perfect gauntlets for a Nazgul. But they would also work well with other, less specific fantasy characters, especially those with a darker side. These Nazgul gauntlets would also be a wonderful addition to a collection, as they are arguably a work of art when you consider the beauty and detail of the design.
You can even pick the colour of your gauntlets. We have the options of a powdered black finish, or a polished steel finish. Both versions have the same incredible craftsmanship and would make a budding Ringwraith proud.
The Terror of Middle Earth: Sauron’s War Machine
When Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings, the original intention was for the technology to be around the early medieval level, with most characters primarily sporting mail or leather. The Peter Jackson films fudged this a little, placing some cultures in the high Middle Ages. This is the aesthetic that most of us are more familiar with.
However, we’ve been talking about the articulated design of these Nazgul gauntlets. If we compare them to armor found in history, we wouldn’t find similar gauntlets until very late in the medieval period, or even until the renaissance.
Aesthetically, these gauntlets are very different from anything else we see in the films. Yes, there are other examples of plate armor, but not to this level. This likely is due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, they look really cool and intimidating. It’s an obvious, yet legitimate reason.
The fact that they’re unique to the Nazgul really add to the idea of the Ringwraiths being like nothing else on Middle Earth, alien and mysterious. It also makes sense that the Nazgul would have specially made armor, as they are among the most powerful and exclusive servants of Sauron. Their armor wouldn’t be mass produced.
Aside from the aesthetic value of the complex design of the Nazgul gauntlets, there’s the fact that Sauron’s forces are canonically very technologically advanced. Both Sauron himself and his barbaric orcs have a talent for devising and building fiendish creations, using a combination of cruel ingenuity and dark magic. It makes sense then, that this would be reflected in the Nazgul armor.
Sauron: The Great Craftsman
There are many ways to describe Sauron. He’s known as the Dark Lord, the Necromancer, the Deceiver, and, of course, the eponymous Lord of the Rings. However, Sauron was also an accomplished craftsman.
Sauron was originally one of the Maiar, of the same race of Gandalf the Grey. He was a student of Aule the Smith, who was one of the Godlike beings who shaped the world. Aule was most famous for creating the Dwarves, who were themselves great crafters. Interestingly, Saruman was also associated with Aule before his fall.
Anyway, back to Sauron. As Aule’s student, Sauron had a background in both science and craftsmanship. He knew the best way to use the world’s resources to his purposes, and he had an affinity with fire. Fire is an integral part of forging and industry.
Initially, Sauron could have been described as a proud, but well-intentioned tyrant. He was obsessed with order, which led to him becoming arrogant to the point of believing that he should dominate and control the minds of everyone in Middle Earth whether they want it or not. For their own good, of course.
He decided to join Morgoth (who had also fallen from grace) as he saw a potential for the power that he would need to achieve his purposes. Sauron’s service to Morgoth led to him falling further and further into darkness. After Morgoth fell at the end of the First Age, Sauron emerged as the new Dark Lord.
It is here that we see his skill as a craftsman come to a fore. One of the first things that Sauron began to build was Barad-dur, his fortress in Mordor and the base of his operations. It took six hundred years to build and was mind-numbingly huge in scale, looming over Sauron’s domain.
However, the most famous and world-changing creation of Sauron was the One Ring. This was created as part of a ploy to bring the powerful Elves under his dominion. Using his shape-shifting abilities, Sauron disguised himself under several aliases and tried his luck at offering the Elves hidden crafting knowledge.
One of these was known as Artano, the “High Smith.” Most of the Elves refused his services, but Sauron eventually found some who were willing to learn. The alias that he used for these Elven Smiths was Annatar, the “Lord of Gifts”. These Elven smiths were already famously skilled at crafting, to the point that the Dwarves befriended them. The fact that Sauron could teach them anything was a testament to his crafting prowess.
Sauron taught these smiths how to create Rings of Power, along with an unknown number of less powerful magical rings. Sauron himself had a direct hand in sixteen of these rings, but three were created without his help. However, Sauron didn’t teach the elves this skill out of the kindness of his heart.
In secret, Sauron forged his own ring. This was the One Ring, which was designed to bind all other Rings of Power to his will. It superseded the other rings in both ability and in malice. In order to forge this ring, Sauron fed it his own power, including his twisted personality in the mix.
Using the One Ring, Sauron was able to dominate the nine human bearers of the Rings of Power, bringing them under his sway as the Nazgul. He also used it to reinforce the foundations of Barad-dur, and to secure his power.
When we consider the abilities of Sauron, especially his skill at crafting using both the materials of the world and his own dark magic, it isn’t a stretch of the imagination to imagine him decking out his greatest servants in armor unlike any other found in Middle Earth. Even the greatest Elven smiths couldn’t match his abilities.
The Technology of the Orcs: Brutal and Advanced
Moving away from Sauron himself, let’s look at Mordor as a whole. As you probably know, Sauron’s forces primarily consisted of orcs, along with a few other creatures and even some humans. There was a huge variety in the orcish forces, but for our purposes, we’re including creatures ranging from goblins to the Uruk-hai.
At first glance, the orcs seemed to merely be stupid and cruel creatures. While some varieties of orc were stronger than others, they were only a threat because of their vast numbers and brutality. Generally, orcs were often cowardly, and their vicious nature meant that they turned on each other as often as not.
But that’s just the first glance. The orcs were destructive and savage, yes, but they were by no means stupid. Orcs were cunning and inventive, especially when it came to finding new ways to inflict pain. While their crafts were usually ugly and seemingly crude in form, they were often incredibly effective and sometimes very complex.
Orcish technology was in many ways more advanced than the other peoples of Middle Earth. Usually, this advancement was evident in their instruments of war. They created war machines, basically invented mass production, and even were among the first to use gunpowder in battle.
In the Peter Jackson adaptation, we see a great visual demonstration of this aspect of the orcs. As Saruman raises his army, they burn much of the nearby Fangorn Forest to fuel their forges and machinery, all to create more and more weapons. The result is reminiscent of the historical industrial revolution, with smoke pillars signalling mass production on a scale not seen anywhere else in Middle Earth.
On an individual level, Elven and Dwarven craftsmanship likely wins out to the Orcish equivalent. But remember, the Orcs weren’t at their best at an individual level. They were a wave of black metal and cruel weapons, all designed for one purpose.
Orcish armor and weapons were by no means of poor quality, however. They commonly wielded swords and pikes in battle, depending on where the orc originated. They also used bows. Their armor was often formed of plate and chain, although the status of the orc decided the quality of their armor. As orcs were apparently immune to infection, some orcs had metal plates embedded directly into their flesh.
In fact, much of their creations involved twisting metal and flesh into one tortured machine, both for war and for more mundane purposes. Beasts and slaves alike would turn great wheels, opening enormous gates. Trolls were used in battle, both as beasts of burden and of war.
It actually makes a good deal of sense that the Orcs would be such good inventors. After all, the first orcs were supposedly “Elves once. Taken by the Dark Powers… tortured and mutilated… a ruined and terrible form of life…”
This suggested history suggests several things about the orcs. First, they are potentially ageless like their Elven relatives. This would also explain their immunity to disease and infection, a trait shared by the elves. Most importantly, however, Elven heritage would explain the Orcish affinity to both crafting and magic. Especially if they were guided by a being such as Sauron.
The question of what orcs would be like without a Dark Lord is one that even Tolkien struggled with. Perhaps they did have the potential to be more than the savage, warlike creatures they were portrayed as.
The technical specifications for the Nazgul Gauntlets for sale are as follows:
- Materials: 16g steel plates and leather
- Colours: either black or polished steel
- Size: one size, adjustable with straps