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In Tolkien’s Middle-earth; was Rhun based primarily on Asia? I think there are Bilbo references to this in The Hobbit, but I do not know certainly. Does anybody know the answer of this topic?

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  • According to The One Wiki to Rule Them All (a fandom wiki and hence not necessarily a 100% credible source), Rhûn is inhabited by Easterlings, which seem inspired by Middle Eastern cultures. There are also quite a lot of Dwarves living in Rhûn. lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Rhûn – Klaus Æ. Mogensen Jul 10 '20 at 12:58
  • Given Rhun just means "East" then yes: middle-earth.xenite.org/is-rhun-a-part-of-middle-earth – Edlothiad Jul 10 '20 at 13:06
  • The appendices describe an Easterling invasion of Gondor in which the invaders travel on yurts called "wains", which make them sound like a steppe culture. – tbrookside Jul 10 '20 at 13:15
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    @tbrookside Did you really mean "yurts"? They're not a type of conveyance. – Spencer Jul 10 '20 at 13:26
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    A "wain" is a wagon, so that's the conveyance. I read that as intending to say "travel on yurt-covered wains." And yurts on wheels is a thing. – DavidW Jul 10 '20 at 13:41
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We don't know that much about Rhûn but I think it's safe to say that it is Middle-earth's equivalent to central Asia. The Wainriders seem to be inspired by cultures like Scythians and how they fight wars (which was discussed in the comments under the question).

Also, In the early drafts of The Hobbit Bilbo does mention China existing in the east:

to the last desert in the East and fight the Wild Wireworms of the Chinese

Source: J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Mr. Baggins, The First Phase, "The Bladorthin Typescript", p. 40

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There was an interview of Tolkien to clarify the topic.

Excerpts from: Henry Resnick, “An Interview with Tolkien [March 2, 1966],” Niekas No. 18 (Late Spring 1967).

(“Rhun is the Elvish word for ‘east.’ Asia, China, Japan, and all the things which people in the west regard as far away. And south of Harad is Africa, the hot countries.” (Resnick, “An Interview,” 41))

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  • Note that for a time later in life (after LotR was written) Tolkien tried to make his world markedly more "real" in the sense of making it consistant with science. (Happily, These later musings and re-writings were not allowed to infect LoTR or the Silmarillion. We should not assume that a later interview necessarily reflects Tolkien's meaning when he wrote the book. – Mark Olson Jul 11 '20 at 12:49
  • Tolkien clearly said where he thought Rhûn and southern Harad were in his interview. I don't need to think too much other way. – user128662 Jul 11 '20 at 20:45

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