Orcs feature heavily in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, forming the shock troops and large armies that terrorize places like Gondor, Minas Tirith and anywhere else in between that was standing in the way of Sauron. But how are orcs made from mud in The Lord of the Rings?
Orcs and their variations are not made from mud instead it is part of their finishing process. Exactly what role the mud plays in this process is unclear, but results in a fully-formed, grown orc, generally in the form of an Uruk-hai.
Let’s explore what we know from the author and the movies about the role of mud for orcs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy to find out more about this fascinating fantasy series.
Do Orcs Come From Mud?
Orcs do not come from mud, instead mud is more like a power accumulator and incubator for existing orcs.
While the concept of orcs has been around long before JRR Tolkien and his epic fantasy, every author always brings something of their own interpretation to the books they write, and the orcs, especially the Uruk-hai, are no different.
Tolkien reveals the history of orcs in his novels, stating that they were originally elves who turned to evil. This process corrupted them, which explains their wildly different look to that of the elves.
Tolkien mentions that it is mostly Morgoth’s sorcery, a malevolent being of evil almost of a higher order than Sauron, that created the orcs.
Morgoth, being the embodiment of evil of Middle-earth, was at war with the elves, men and Valar. Although able to fight these enemies individually, the alliances between them meant Morgoth needed more numbers so he captured elves and tortured them into orcs.
There is the other issue that orcs only really arrive in Middle-earth as part of armies, so we never really get a chance to see orc females. So their actual means of reproduction are not entirely clear from all the information provided by Tolkein and in the films.
The Silmarillion, a mythopoeia released after Tolkein’s death, states that orcs multiply ‘in the same manner as the Children of Iluvatar’, which is to say they sexually reproduce like elves and men.
The universe of Middle-earth has been divided into several ages, generally tracking the rise and fall of certain regimes and powerful forces. The lull after the defeat of Sauron saw many orcs go into hiding away from the other inhabitants of Middle-earth.
This meant they retreated into the darkness of caves and caverns, and while causing issues every now and then, generally kept out of the limelight.
However, the rise of Saruman the White under orders of Sauron saw the creation of a huge orc army, and given the importance of getting the One Ring back, the Uruk-hai were also included.
The Uruk-hai are seen for the first time in the Fellowship of the Ring, being removed from the mud under Isengard, with the other goblins and orcs looking on fearfully.
These fears seem quite justified, considering that one of the first things the new Uruk-hai does is throttle the nearest orc to death.
While according to Tolkein the Uruk-hai were initially created by Sauron, the movies present them as more being created by Saruman. Whatever the case, Gandalf mentions that Saruman bred the orcs by combining ‘orcs and goblin men’.
How Saruman exactly made the Uruk-hai is up for debate, but it seems to be either selective breeding, black magic or something else. There are some theories that point to the orcs being fed human meat to make them bigger and stronger.
These are different again from the Black Uruks, which are the stronger versions of Uruks created by Sauron in Mordor.
The creation of these orcs sees them being born fully-formed, emerging from a sac in the mud. They are seemingly all under the Orthanc, the Black Tower of Isengard, in a huge catacomb of mines.
As with all masterful storytellers, Tolkein draws on great myths present throughout human history, and this miraculous birth from the earth is a story shared across the world such as in Christianity with Adam, Maori with Tane Mahuta, Greek with Prometheus and so many more.
These mines form the headquarters for the creation of the armies of Isengard as ordered by Sauron: ‘Build me an army worthy of Mordor’.
The Uruk-hai are specifically mentioned as being different from orcs, as they can move in the sunlight, as well as being stronger, faster and braver than the standard Mordor orc.