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Discussing: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Hey all! Couple questions pertaining to the symbol of the Stewardship of Gondor. I'm hoping someone can help me out a little. ^_^ 1. In book canon, is the symbol of the Stewardship a ring or a rod or both? In the movie they seemed to imply that it was the ring that John Noble was wearing as Denethor, but I don't recall a reference to a ring in the books and upon searching recently, I haven't found one. Yet I keep seeing a ring pop up in fanfic by people who have proven themselves to be fairly savvy and research-conscious. Is there some reference more obscure that I don't know about, or is this just coming from the movies? On the other hand, a rod seems rather unwieldy to carry around all the time and I can see how it might be for more formal events, only. Does the ring step in during other times? 2. Just how long was the White Rod, anyway? I always pictured it as being a full-length staff, but I recently saw a picture of John Noble, as Denethor, with a white rod in his lap that was only about 18 inches long. So, you can imagine that I suddenly started wondering why I had always pictured it the other way. I suppose because of the bit where Denethor breaks it over his knee. Imagine trying to do that with an 18 inch stick. It might take a couple of tries and... ouch! On the other hand, there's still the "being unwieldy" issue. Anyone have any answers? Even some opinions might do. Bado na sídh. Berz.



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Hello, Berz. Good questions. First, the ring. There is no mention of a ring in connection with the Stewards that I have been able to find within Tolkien's corpus. The only emblems of their office were the White Rod and a white banner:
Nonetheless the Stewards never sat on the ancient throne; and they wore no crown, and held no sceptre. They bore a white rod only as the token of their office; and their banner was white without charge;... (LotR: Appendix A: The Númenorean Kings : (iv) Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion: The Stewards)
The ring, AFAICT, is strictly movie-verse (In book-verse there was no kissing of a ring when Pippin swore his oath to Denethor). So, what about that White Rod? Tolkien likewise used the term rod at various times when speaking of Gandalf and Saruman's staffs. He also used the term wand, as he did in UT: Part Three - The Third Age: II - Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: (iii) Cirion and Eorl:
There the company sat for a while, until Cirion rose and from his esquire took the white wand of office and the white mantle of the Stewards of Gondor.
And again:
Cirion then made answer. Standing to his full height he laid his hand upon the tomb and in his right hand held up the white wand of the Stewards,...
Also in UT is the essay on the Istari, in which Tolkien wrote concerning Gandalf:
Mostly he journeyed unwearingly on foot, leaning on a staff; and so he was called among Men of the North Gandalf, “the Elf of the Wand”. (UT: Part Four: II - The Istari)
And to bring the description full circle, in RotK: The Pyre of Denethor Tolkien wrote:
Then Denethor leaped upon the table, and standing there wreathed in fire and smoke he took up the staff of his stewardship that lay at his feet and broke it on his knee.
As Tolkien repeatedly used the same terms to describe the longer wizard's staffs as are used in relation to the Stewards' White Rod, I believe it should be longer, more of a staff like Gandalf and Saruman's than the short scepter-like rod depicted in the movie. HTH ~Nessime Addendum: You can find the relevant quotes re: the White Rod and the banner of the Stewards in Resources (check the links in the righthand navigation bar for more information on the various stewards and their emblems of office) ~N.



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Hi Berz, I agree with Nessime. In all the rooting around that I've done in the books, looking for symbols of office, I've never seen anything mentioned of a Stewards' ring. Also, never thought of this before, but since Tolkien says that the Stewards bore no sceptre, then turns around and says that they used a white wand, then it would make more sense if that wand were more of a long staff. I think of a sceptre as short... - Barbara



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Okay, good. That's how I've been writing things. I was dreading having to rewrite a bunch of dramatic moments. ^_^; You have both put my mind at ease. Le hannon! Bado na sídh. Berz.



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

You're welcome! - Barbara P.S. If you want a tangible insignia, say something to press into sealing-wax, check out the Seal of the Stewards of Gondor...



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

Respectful disagreement! :-) "At the foot of the dais, upon the lowest step which was broad and deep, there was a stone chair, black and unadorned, and on it sat an old man gazing at his lap. In his hand was a white rod with a golden knob." "Minas Tirith", RotK I think it is perfectly reasonable that the Steward would have a relatively short rod with a gold knob on the end, perhaps a foot long and not very thick. Also, it isn't clear what this item is made of. I have thought either wood or ivory, whereas a sceptre (to me) is made of a precious metal and possibly has gems set in it. The way in which Tolkien describes Denethor handling this mark of office has made me think it is something short and easy to manage with one hand. A staff (3' or more in length) is going to be darn awkward to deal with when sitting in a chair or at a council table. If it had been a staff, Tolkien would have said it was a staff, it seems to me. I compare his descriptions of this to how carefully he talks about the walking sticks that Frodo and Sam get from Faramir, the wizard's staffs, Theoden's cane. Anyway, I don't think it is a big deal - short or long, as long as it is white and capped with gold, it will do. Toodles - Ang



Re: Steward's Rod vs. Steward's Ring and Canon Vs. Fanon

I think it is perfectly reasonable that the Steward would have a relatively short rod with a gold knob on the end, I admit that a short rod was my original conception, but it would be awfully hard to break such a thing across a knee, even if it were made of a breakable material, such as wood. Another case where Tolkien left us confused... - Barbara P.S. You might want to check out the birthday forum...



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