Was Tolkien influenced by India?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by rcscwc, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. brucep Valued Senior Member

    Great analysis. I love it. I love Tolkien.
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Do you mean the Anglo-Saxon invaders from whom the name Anglisc is derived, or the original Brythonic people, who were Celts?

    Why not? There were plenty of Indians in South Africa. Gandhi himself lived there at the beginning of the 20th century, fighting for the rights of the Africans.

    One thing about the British Commonwealth: If you were a citizen, you could travel to any part of it freely. Quite a few Chinese took advantage of that and emigrated to Canada right before the lease on Hong Kong expired.

    Speak for yourself. I found them charming. So did Mrs. Fraggle, who has an M.A. in English literature.

    I wept when it ended, when the world became round and all the magic drifted off into space on a straight line. Me, the rational scientist.

    I'm not sure I ever want to visit England. I'd like to believe that the Shire is still there, somewhere. (Fortunately, the Hundred Acre Wood from "Winnie the Pooh" is well preserved.)
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  5. rcscwc Registered Senior Member

    Some members have objected like : Tolkien is not known to have visited India.

    Is it necessary to visit to pick Indian influences? Max Muller NEVER ever visited India, but he definitely had a deep knowledge of ancient Indian literature at large.

    The parallels I have pointed out cannot be dismissed easily.
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  7. The Marquis Only want the best for Nigel Valued Senior Member

    ...and you know damn well that really doesn't matter, in terms of the "image" Tolkein wrote from.

    Yazata's comment about the "early" English doesn't mean a damned thing. You can go to an isolated village in England even today and see the Sackville-Bagginses running around being important, and old Hamfast Gamgee leaning over his fence watching everything going on with a pipe in his mouth.
    It doesn't have anything to do with "early".

    It's still there.
    Although perhaps not for much longer.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2014
  8. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

    Is this true? And if so what region exactly are you talking about? It would be interesting to know if life goes on there today as it did when Tolkien visited, and whether the people there are aware that the hobbits are modeled on them.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It's true that Tolkien visited Kentucky as a young man, and the people he saw there were as described.
    The hill country. Which counties I don't know.
    No. They have cars and television sets and shoes and Walmarts now. Also the internet, which has hit the isolated regions of America the way whiskey hit the Red towns in the 1700s
    Nobody has ever known where hobbits came from, including Tolkien. If he did model them on Kentucky hillbillies, he left out some stuff - those were the people who invented the long rifle, the felling axe, dynamite fishing (replaced poison fishing), moonshine from maize, the log cabin with rifle slits in the window shutters, the term "redskin", and the feud. And, rumor hath it, the toothbrush.

    The feud is what you get when you import a Scottish clan conflict modified by Irish civil war to a lawless wilderness, and arm its factions with good rifles.

    They are almost perfectly paced and structured for reading aloud - which is when you notice such stuff as Merry and Pippen not being interchangeable personalities, among other aspects partly hidden by soundless and over-rapid modern reading. Also, they have content for almost any age listener.
  10. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

    Thanks for that, iceaura. I should have guessed that Tolkien's hobbits were idealized whomever they were based on, and that simple hill folk of the 1930's would be Walmartized and Internetized by 2014. As for the toothbrush, I am fairly certain the Chinese must be given the credit for that.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The origin of the term Redskin is not at all clear. But the one that is strongly suggested in most discussions is the practice of several Native American tribes (notably the Beothuk people of Newfoundland, which is nowhere near Kentucky) who painted their bodies with red ochre simply as decoration.

    Interestingly, neither the American colonists, the people of the United States, nor any other cultures of European origin thought the Native Americans had "red" skins until rather recently. Many people casually thought their skin is about the same color as ours (having spent most of my life in the West, I'd have to agree), and almost universally referred to them by Columbus's mistaken ethnonym, "Indians." "Redskin" pops up in the mid-19th century and was, of course, emphasized in the 20th century by Hollywood movies.

    Feuds have been going on for centuries before any Europeans set foot in the Western Hemisphere. I'm not an expert on the subject, but from the casual references I've come across, they seem to be a time-honored custom in many Muslim communities. They are so common in 21st-century Albania (a rather secular Muslim country) that the government is powerless to do anything about it... or perhaps doesn't care. It has been argued that the centuries-old rivalry between the Sunni and Shiah Muslims, which turns violent at almost regular intervals and is roiling the Middle East today (particularly in Iraq and Syria), is a feud over who was the rightful heir of Mohammed. This goes back to the time when the first Irish explorers sailed to the northern part of Britannia, displaced the Picts, and established a new colony which was eventually named "Scotland." Scoti is simply the Latin name for the Gaelic people.

    The first toothbrushes were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty, which ended in the 10th century. They used boar bristles.
  12. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

    - and using boar bristles would have upset the Shiahs and Sunnis equally, I suppose.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You're thinking clan war or sectarian conflict or intertribal stuff, something like that. For a proper feud you have to have whiskey and rifles, and intratribal disputation: same race, religion, ethnicity, economic class, social status, food, clothing, weapons, and possibly grandfathers.

    And mosquito repellent.

    The hill people Tolkien encountered in Kentucky were (and are) by no means confined to that that State, but are found the length and breadth of the eastern mountains and various points west. They pioneered the country, the shock troops of Western civilization north of the Rio Grande - which is why most posters here live in a county.

    The people we now think of as hillbillies and rednecks were in the early days apparentlythought of by their betters - and referred to - as a sort of tribe, like the Cherokee, only with white skin. Benjamin Franklin referred to them as "white savages". The general skin tone difference was at any rate obvious to pretty much everyone, from first contact.

    You're thinking of the teethbrush.

    Sorry, old joke about hill folk.
  14. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member


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    I don't get it.
  15. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    Interesting opinions.
  16. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

    kentucky didn't invent moon shine
  17. NCDane Registered Senior Member

    This is rubbish.

    I seem to be the only one here who has actually read a biography of Tolkien,
    and I can promise it did not mention any visit to Kentucky. Tolkien spent the
    first part of his young adulthood as a university student, proposed to his future
    wife as soon as legal adulthood freed him to, served in the army during WWI,
    was invalided home, and returned to professional academic life where he remained
    until he retired. I do recall any mention of a visit to the USA.

    Jesus. Jesus H. Christ.

    Did these hillbillies have hair on the soles of their feet, or only on the palms
    of their hands like you do?
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  18. Arne Saknussemm trying to figure it all out Valued Senior Member

    I don't understand your anger. I don't mean to use the inane, 'you can't prove he didn't' argument; however, it really could be that a trip to Kentucky wasn't mentioned in his biography. Perhaps his biographer did not make the association between hillbillies and hobbits.

    Returning to the OP: are there any hillbillies in India?

    Here's a couple of candidates:

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    Jethro is rather dusky here, and I believe his name does have Sanskrit origins.​
  19. NCDane Registered Senior Member


    That is because you do not know enough about the subject to be offended by
    what could only have originated as an outright lie. Lies piss me off, and gullibility
    pisses me off, don't they you?

    It occurs to me, in fact, that this Kentucky hillbilly bullshit is a clumsy attempt
    at caricature of OP. In which case I ought to be pissed off at myself, but I can
    live with that- it's happened before.

    I can come close enough to proof by observing that JRRT had no motivation for
    making such a trip, and that such a trip would have been an event so noteworthy
    that no biographer could conceivably have omitted it.

    There is no association to be made.
  20. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Lord o' them fried onion rings. No-nonsense Kentucky version.

    Gandalf an Frodo sat down an had a good meal.
    Of guess what?
    Kentucky Fraad chicken, that's what.
    Then they fell ter sleepin an were killed bar Orc thangs.
    Folks with baldy heads an nasty pointy teeth, lark sumthin they tol you about in Barble school.
    Thee Ayend.
  21. Marathon-man Registered Member

    When I saw the Trilogy what stood out for me that was so Indian was the battle scenes. In one battle scene, they ride out to meet the Orcs in a final show of force. It was so vivid from the annals of Rajasthan where the Rajput Kings would ride out to meet an ocean of Mughal soldiers.

    I remember telling this to my friends several times. Unlike the movie version, the real history was far worse. Before the Rajput Kings rode out to their doom the Queens, the Royal family and all the Women and children would dress up in their wedding dresses or the best attire, sing Hindu Hymns and walk into a giant pyre. At the Rajput Fortress of Chitor over 36 thousand women and children committed Jauhar. It was repeated twice. At another Fortress, over 12 thousand committed Jauhar.

    The next day the Kings would anoint themselves with ashes of their loved ones, take Opium to kill any pain and then ride out to their doom. Mughal Armies seldom took prisoners. They would kill anything that moved after they took over the Fortress. Women were violated and then killed.

    Usually, one Prince is smuggled through secret tunnels deep into the mountains so that he will grow up and reclaim the Fortress, which often happened. that was also present in the Trilogy where the people of the Kingdom of Rohan hid inside a mountain. In Sri Lanka, there was the Kingdom of Rohana. Again that name rang a bell with me. I am from Sri Lanka.

    The Ents are so Hindu I could not shake it off. All of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism believe that trees have living spirits called Yakshis. Yakshis are found profusely carved on Temples and Buddhist Viharas. The Forests are alive.
    Of course, the war elephants seem to come straight out of India.

    On another note, in Star Wars there is a system called the Dagobah system. I wasn't aware of it till I wrote up an article on Sri Lanka and her ancient "Dagobahs" which are some of the largest ancient monuments ever created. The Jetevaranama Dagoba is 400 feet and only shorter than the tallest Pyramid of Ghiza. At 93 million bricks it is still the largest Brick structure in the world.
  22. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Well, marathon man, you are limping across the finish line five years after everyone else has gone home.

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  23. Marathon-man Registered Member

    I just discovered your website after reading about an upcoming movie on Tolkien. Better late than never

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