"Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul"
The translated inscription upon the One Ring, in the Black Speech of Mordor

The Ring-inscription was a Black Speech inscription in Tengwar script upon the One Ring, symbolizing the Ring's power to control the other Rings of Power.

Normally, the One Ring appeared perfectly plain and featureless, but when heated in a fire the inscription appeared in fiery letters inside and outside the Ring. A drawing of the Inscription appears in Book I, Chapter 2 of The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past". A transliteration appears in Book II, Chapter 2, "The Council of Elrond", where the inscription is read by Gandalf (listen to the inscription).

One Ring inscription.svg

These words, in the Black Speech of Mordor, are physically painful to all the free people of Middle-earth,[citation needed] except hobbits, who are especially resistant to evil. At the Council of Elrond, the elves present stopped their ears upon hearing the inscription spoken in that tongue. The inscription uses the Fëanorian characters (Tengwar) because all forms of writing Tolkien describes at that time were invented by the Elves.

Roughly translated, they mean:

One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them; One ring to bring them all

and in the darkness bind them.

Note: some recent editions of The Fellowship of the Ring accidentally omit the first two clauses of this phrase from Chapter 2.

The One Ring showing inscription

The entire poem reads:

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.

Gandalf first learned of the Ring-inscription when he read the account that Isildur had written before marching north to his death and the loss of the Ring. When Isildur had cut the ring from Sauron's hand, it was burning hot, and so Isildur was able to transcribe the inscription before it faded.

When Gandalf subsequently heated the ring that Bilbo had found and passed on to Frodo, the inscription appeared, leaving him in no doubt that it was the One Ring.[1]

Portrayal in adaptations

The ring-inscription appearing to Isildur (top), Frodo (middle), and as the ring is destroyed in Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the ring-inscription appears similarly to its description in Tolkien's works.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.