We know that The One Ring had an inscription on it, revealed when heated by fire:

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

Question: Why was the inscription on One Ring - forged by Sauron himself and not the elves - in the Elvish tongue? (Tengwar)?

The inscription of the One Ring, written in the Black Speech of Mordor using the Elvish Tengwar script.  Transliterated, it reads "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul"

  • 3
    If I remember propery, on the ring there were only a couple of verses of the full composition that you mention: "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them"
    – Yaztromo
    Mar 9, 2012 at 23:09
  • 1
    Tengwar was invented by Feanor himself, whose craft was even greater than Sauron's. So it would have been an ideal choice for that kind of work.
    – user8252
    Dec 18, 2012 at 4:17
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    It isn't elvish tongue, but black tongue.
    – MadTux
    Mar 10, 2013 at 8:22

3 Answers 3


The inscription itself wasn't in the Elven tongue. However it was in the Elven script because the Black Speech, the language the inscription was in, has no written variant. Both Gandalf and Isildur make reference to this.


The letters are Elvish, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here.


It is fashioned in an elven-script of Eregion, for they have no letters in Mordor for such subtle work; but the language is unknown to me.

  • Is that elaborated in the books? Thx Mar 8, 2012 at 23:23
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    I'm at work so I don't have direct access to the books. I swear there's a reference somewhere but I just spent five minutes trawling through Google without luck, only finding references to the Black Speech being written in Tengwar and none elaborating on why that was. Will continue the hunt...
    – dlanod
    Mar 8, 2012 at 23:25
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    +1 The Gandalf quote is a classic line from the The Fellowship of the Ring. I think it is in the Council of Elrond where Gandalf does say the lines in their original Black Speech.
    – Andres F.
    Mar 9, 2012 at 0:00
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    "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul." A rouugh language very unlike Quenya and Sindarin. Mar 9, 2012 at 12:28
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    The Isildur quote is from the Council of Elrond, the same passage where he calls it precious: "It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain"...
    – user8719
    Jan 20, 2014 at 16:10

Morgoth, and to an extent, Sauron were highly motivated out of hatred for and jealousy towards Illuvatar. The Elves were long the favorite creation of Illuvatar, as seen throughout the Silmarillion, and the Unfinished Tales. In fact, that is why Morgoth made Feanor his primary target. As a great elf, his fall would be all the more palpable. As far as I have seen, Black Speech had no written form. It is my opinion then, (as there is no canon on the topic) that Sauron chose Tengwar (a creation of Feanor) to enscribe the ring with deliberately. The Ring would be the fall of all elves, or so Sauron thought. They weren't bound by it because the Three were not forged by Sauron, like the Seven and Nine were. Sauron intended to undo the elves using a creation of Feanor, hearkening back to Morgoth's pursuit of the Silmarils. Again. That's just my opinion, but it is held by many who study the work.

  • 2
    The Three were no less bound to the One than the other Rings of Power. They were not corrupted, though, since Sauron had no part in their making.
    – chepner
    Aug 30, 2019 at 17:56

The script was invented by Sauron himself...for a time he was called Annatar, Bringer of Gifts. The script is called Annatar Italic. The language is Morbeth, but the alphabet is Elvish.

  • 3
    Do you have any source for this?
    – ibid
    Sep 12, 2018 at 4:02

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