This website contains archives of the Tolkien Discussion Group from 2009 to early 2013.

The discussion group continues to meet
in Second Life in Alqualonde the Swanhaven. Contact AelKennyr Rhiano in Second Life.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dwarves (Reading Material)

Tolkien's notes, published in History of Middle Earth, volume 11, The War of the Jewels
from a note titled Concerning the Dwarves, written partly in 1951 and partly in 1958

“The Naugrim are not of Elf-kind, nor of Man-kind, nor yet of Melkor's breeding; and the Noldor of Middle-earth knew not whence they came, holding that they were alien to the Children, albeit in many ways like unto them. But in Valinor the wise have learned that the Dwarves were made in secret by Aulë, while the earth was yet dark .... Wherefore, though the Dwarves are like the Orcs in this: that they came of the wilfulness of one of the Valar, they are not evil; for they were not made out of malice in mockery of the Children, but came of the desire of Aulë's heart to make things of his own after the pattern of the designs of Ilúvatar....”

“In the darkness of Arda already the Naugrim wrought great works, for they had, even from the first days of their Fathers, marvellous skill with metals and with stone, though their works had little beauty until they had met the Noldor and learned somewhat of their arts.... But in that ancient time the Dwarves still wrought iron and copper rather than silver and gold; and the making of weapons and gear of war was their chief smith-craft. They it was that first devised mail of linked rings, and in the making of byrnies and of hauberks none among Elves or Men have proved their equals. Thus they aided the Eldar in their war with the Orcs of Morgoth; though the Noldor believed that some of their folk would not have been loath to smithy also for Morgoth, had he been in need of their work or open to their trade. For buying and selling and exchange were their delight, and the winning of wealth thereby; and this they gathered rather to hoard then to use, save in further trading.

“The Naugrim were ever, as they still remain, short and squat in stature; they were deep-breasted, strong in the arm, and stout in the leg, and their beards were long. Indeed this strangeness they have that no Man nor Elf has ever seen a beardless Dwarf – unless he were shaven in mockery, and would then be more like to die of shame than of many other hurts that to us would seem more deadly. For the Naugrim have beards from the beginning of their lives, male and female alike; nor indeed can their womenkind be discerned by those of other race, be it in feature or in gait or in voice, nor in any wise save this: that they go not to war, and seldom save at direst need issue from their deep bowers and halls. It is said, also, that their womenkind are few, and save their kings and chieftains few Dwarves ever wed; wherefore the race multiplied slowly, and now is dwindling.

“The father-tongue of the Dwarves Aulë himself devised for them, and their languages have thus no kinship with those of the Quendi. The Dwarves do not gladly teach their tongue to those of alien race; and in use they have made it harsh and intricate, so that of those few whom they have received in full friendship fewer still have learned it well. But they themselves learn swiftly other tongues, and in converse they use as they may the speech of Elves and Men with whom they deal. Yet in secret they use their own speech only, and that (it is said) is slow to change....”


Associated with this text are a series of what Christopher Tolkien describes as “tentative and roughly-written passages”:

• “But it is said that to each Dwarf Ilúvatar added a mate of female kind, yet because he would not amend the work of Aulë, and Aulë had yet made only things of male form, therefore the women of the Dwarves resemble their men more than all other [?speaking] races.”

“He wrought in secret in a hall under the mountains of Middle-earth. There he made first one Dwarf, the eldest of all, and after he made six others, the fathers of their race; and then he began to make others again, like to them but of female kind to be their mates. But he wearied, and when he [had] made six more he rested, and he returned to the seven fathers and he looked at them, and they looked at him, and whatever motion was in his thought that motion they performed. And Aulë was not pleased, but he began to teach them the language that he had designed for them, hoping thus to instruct them.

“But Ilúvatar knew all that was done, and that very hour that the Eldest Dwarf first spoke iwht tongue, Ilúvatar spoke to Aulë; and Aulë”

• “Aulë made one, and then six, and he began to make mates for them of female form, and he made six, and then he wearied. Thus he buried six pairs, but one (Durin) the eldest he laid alone.”

• “And Aulë took the Seven Dwarves and laid them to rest under stone in far-sundered places, and beside each [of] them he laid a mate as the Voice bade him, and then he returned to Valinor.”

• “Then Aulë took the Seven Dwarves and laid them to rest under stone in far-sundered places, and beside each he laid his mate, save only beside the Eldest, and he lay alone. And Aulë returned to Valinor and waited long as best he might. But it is not known when Durin or his brethren first awoke, though some think that it was at the time of the departure of the Eldar over sea.”


from a letter to Miss Rhona Beare, 14 October, 1958

“Aulë, for instance, one of the Great, in a sense 'fell'; for he so desired to see the Children, the he became impatient and tried to anticipate the will of the Creator. Being the greatest of all craftsmen he tried to make children according to his imperfect knowledge of their kind. When he had made thirteen [Footnote: One, the eldest, alone, and six more with six mates], God spoke to him in anger, but not without pity: for Aulë had done this thing not out of evil desire to have slaves and subjects of his own, but out of impatient love, desiring children to talk to and teach, sharing with them the praise of Ilúvatar and his great love of the materials of which the world is made.

“The One rebuked Aulë, saying that he had tried to usurp the Creator's power; but he could not give independent life, his own derived from the One, and could at most only distribute it. 'Behold' said the One: 'these creatures of thine have only thy will, and thy movement. Though you have devised a language for them, they can only report to thee thine own thought. This is a mockery of me.'

“Then Aulë in grief and repentance humbled himself and asked for pardon. And he said: 'I will destroy these images of my presumption, and wait upon thy will.' And he took a great hammer, raising it to smite the eldest of his images; but it flinched and cowered from him. And as he withheld his stroke, astonished, he heard the laughter of Ilúvatar.

“'Do you wonder at this?' he said. 'Behold! thy creatures now live, free from thy will! For I have seen thy humility, and taken pity on your impatience. Thy making I have taken up into my design.'

“This is the Elvish legend of the making of the Dwarves; but the Elves report that Ilúvatar said thus also: 'Nonetheless I will not suffer my design to be forestalled: thy children shall not awaken before mine own.' And he commanded Aulë to lay the fathers of the Dwarves severally in deep places, each with his mate, save Dúrin the eldest who had none. There they should sleep long, until Ilúvatar bade them awake. Nonetheless there has been for the most part little love between Dwarves and the children of Ilúvatar. And of the fate that Ilúvatar has set upon the children of Aulë beyond the Circles of the world Elves and men know nothing, and if Dwarves know they do not speak of it.”