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10.000 x 8.500 inches
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Drawing - Pencil
The word oliphaunt is a variant spelling of the archaic word oliphant meaning "elephant", "ivory", "elephant-tusk", "musical horn made of an elephant tusk", or "a musical instrument resembling such a horn". The most famous use of the term in literature outside Tolkien is in The Song of Roland: the knight Roland fails to call for help at the Battle of Roncevaux using his oliphant horn until it is too late for him and his comrades. Roland's horn is echoed in The Lord of the Rings by Boromir's horn and counterposed by Helm's horn and the horns of Buckland.
Employed as a beast of burden by the natives of Harad, the Haradrim, the oliphants or m�l were also used in battle during the wars of the Third Age. In the War of the Ring, they were used by troops in Ithilien and in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, much like war elephants of the real world. In battle, they carried tower-like structures (corresponding to, but much larger than, the real world's howdahs), bearing Haradrim archers. These beasts had skin so thick, it was almost impenetrable - making them almost invulnerable to arrows. The only known way to kill one was to shoot it in the eye. Also, as with real elephants, horses (other than the Haradrim's own) refused to go near them, making them effective against enemy cavalry. Tolkien implies that the creatures became extinct and that its "kin that live still in latter days are but memories of his girth and majesty."
December 5th, 2008
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