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Chamber of Mazarbul

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==Related Links==
==Related Links==
Location: [[Khazad-dûm]] | [[North End]] | [[Twenty-first Hall]]
Location: [[Khazad-dûm]] | [[Seventh Level]] | [[Twenty-first Hall]]
*[[Balin's Tomb]]
*[[Balin's Tomb]]

Revision as of 15:47, 17 April 2006

The Chamber of Mazarbul was the old Chamber of Records of Khazad-dûm. Probably built during the earlier years of Khazad-dûm, it was later used as a base by Balin when he began his ill-fated attempt at recolonization in the late Third Age.



Mazarbul means "records" in Khuzdul. This name was used in connection with the Chamber of Records of Khazad-dûm and the Book of Records found in that chamber.

The Books

Illustration of the skirmish between the Fellowship and the hordes of Moria in the Chamber of Mazarbul, by Angus McBridge (Iron Crown Enterprises).


The chamber itself was probably built at around the same time as the Twenty-first Hall. This would have been slightly later than the earliest Dwarven delvings, which were to be found in the lower levels near the Great Gates. In Third Age 2989, Balin led a group of Dwarves to recolonize Moria. Balin chose the Twenty-first Hall as his headquarters and set up his seat in the Chamber of Mazarbul. When Balin was killed a few years later, he was laid to rest in a tomb inside the chamber. The Fellowship found the chamber thirty years after Balin came to Moria and it was here that Gandalf found the Book of Mazarbul, a record of Balin's recolonization efforts. It was in the Chamber of Mazarbul that the Fellowship engaged in a brief fight with a band of Moria orcs and a Cave-troll and where Gandalf made his first stand against the Balrog.

Geography & Appearance

The chamber was located to the right of a pathway that branched off the north end of the Twenty-first hall. When the Fellowship found the chamber as they passed through Moria, Balin's Tomb was located inside it, and a bright shaft of sunlight streamed in from outside the mountain to land directly on the tomb. It is not clear whether the shaft was an original feature of the chamber or whether it was added later by Balin's group of dwarves. It seems more likely that it had been an original part of the chamber construction. There were two stone doors leading into the chamber (one entrance from the Twenty-first Hall, one from the stair tunnels that the Fellowship later used to flee the Balrog). Many deep recesses were cut into the chamber rock containing chests that had been recently looted by the Orcs inhabiting Moria. A deep dust had fallen upon the entire room by the time the Fellowship entered it, and the remains of a long-abandoned battle sight were to be seen strewn across the floor.


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Book II: Chapter 4: A Journey in the Dark and Chapter 5: The Bridge of Khazad-dûm.

The Films



In Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, the Chamber of Mazarbul is presented much as it is described in the books, with a few notable exceptions.

  • First, its geography has been slightly altered. It is placed in the center of the Twenty-first Hall, rather than on the right of a corridor running off the hall to the north.
  • Second, there is only one proper doorway leading into the chamber, rather than the two described in the book.

These alterations are likely the result of geographical simplification and enhancement of geographical drama. Placing the chamber in the center of the Twenty-first Hall gives it greater prominance and significance and provides a less cumbersome position than that of the book. The elimination of one of the doorways allows the chamber to take on an even more unique design than that found in the book (while, again, simplifying it for dramatic purposes).

  • A well is also introduced into the layout, directly below the shaft of light. This well was found in the guardroom of the Moria Crossroads in the book, but was transplanted here to serve greater dramatic purpose.

The design of the chamber follows the general Dwarven design ideology employed by the filmmakers for all of the Moria sets.

The Mazarbul Chamber Wall Runes

In the film, the walls of the chamber are covered in runes (seemingly Angerthas Moria). These runes detail the history of Moria from its foundation by Durin to the Battle of Azanulbizar. From the rune translations, it is clear that the authors were the Dwarves led by Balin during the recolonization of Moria. The larger text is Khuzdul, the smaller text is in the Common Speech (English). The rune histories were probably written for both Dwarvish and foreign readers. Notable peculiarities have appeared in translations of this text. It is not clear whether this was deliberate on the part of the filmmakers.

  • Khuzdul phrases appear in the midst of the English text and peculiar spellings of certain words and irregular constructions of some phrases exist.

The consistency of the irregularities seem to suggest that these may have been at least partly intentional. Several explanations have been postulated, the most obvious of which is that the Dwarves who carved the runes made mistakes. Other theories have been put forth: perhaps the Dwarves used idiosyncratic rune forms or a slightly altered mode of Westron in order to better convey the deep meanings behind Moria's history. The latter two seem the most likely, given all the available evidence.

  • The phrase "Made in New Zealand" can also be seen in at least one place along the Mazarbul Chamber walls.

The filmmaker's left this as their trademark for those who translated the runes to see. Some fans have rationalized its appearance by citing the meaning of "zeal" as "seal" in Danish, which is closely related to the Danish word for "soul". Thus, the true phrase would be "Made in new-soul land", with "soul-land" referring to Moria, a land of many dwarvish souls that had come and gone, new because it was being recolonized. The theory postulates that the word "zeal" was originally Khuzdul but made its way into modern Danish.

Translations From Angerthas Moria

Below are the phrases that have been translated from the Mazarbul walls thus far:


  • "Great Chamber of Records of the Longbeards of Khazad-dûm. Lord Durin built (it)."

(from Khuzdul: "Gabil gund Mazarbul Sigin-turgul Khazaddûmul. Durin Uzbad zahra.")

  • "Durin III, lord of Khazad-dûm."

(from Khuzdul: "Durin [certh for 3] Uzbad Khazaddûmu".)

  • "Durin slain by Durin's Bane, and Náin Durin's son, Durin's Bane also slew him."

(from Khuzdul: "Durin mabazgûn au Abzag Durinu & [certh for "and"] Náin Durinul Abzag Durinu ya bazghu".)

  • "Thrór Heir of Dáin; Orcs slew him; Azog cut off his head."

(from Khuzdul: "Thrór Rayad Dáinu; Rakhâs bazghu; Azog wakrish shathûrhu".)

  • "Frerin Thráin's son, slain in the Battle of Azanulbizar, on the shores of Kheled-zâram, and Fundin slain."

(from Khuzdul: "Frerin Thráinul, Mabazgûn zai Azgâr Azanulbizarul, zai shakâl Kheled-zâramu & Fundin mabazgûn".)

  • "The great Battle of Gundabad and Gladden; remember the Dead."
(from Khuzdul: "Gabil Azgâr Gundabadul & Ningulul; Mernak Mabazgân.")
  • "(The) mines of Barazinbar."

(from Khuzdul: "Ganâd Barazinbarul".)

(from Khuzdul: "Azgâr Azanulbizarul".)

  • "(The) house of Durin."

(from Khuzdul: "Zahar Durinul".)


  • "...of Nogrod and Belegost year sixteen..."
    A portion of the Mazarbul wall runes from the Casa Loma Exhibition.
  • " tower established at highest peak..."
  • "...of Zirakzigil with star from Thirtieth Hall ..."
  • "...fathoms gold smelter built..."
  • " return for silver and cloth and lumber..."
  • " thousand and twenty news of fall..."
  • "...forces of Sauron's army gates to Moria..."
  • "...Zirakzigil in year forty of the..."
  • " seams to east of Durin's door..."
  • "...ninety-seven Template:Ref Eregion laid waste by billions..."
  • "...shut against hordes and continuous Template:Ref attacks..."
  • "...made in New Zealand. Dragon..."
  • "...on the shores of Azanulbizar..."
  • " diamonds and gold..."

Translation Notes

  1. Template:Note S-E-CH-O-N-D…possible variant rune usage.
  2. Template:Note E-S-T-B-L-I-S-H-M-E-N-T…possible variant emphasis from alternate word construction.
  3. Template:Note E-O-T-A-B-L-I-S-H-Y-D…possible variant emphasis from alternate word construction.
  4. Template:Note D-I-M-R-I-L…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  5. Template:Note K-I-E-L-E-D-Z-A-R-A-M…possible variant emphasis from alternate word construction.
  6. Template:Note E-N-E-D---L-U-I-N…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  7. Template:Note S-E-R-V-I-CH-E…possible variant rune usage.
  8. Template:Note D-E-CH-O-N-D…possible variant word construction and/or rune usage; variant emphasis also possible.
  9. Template:Note S-E-V-E-N-T-A---T-W-O…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  10. Template:Note CH-A-V-E-S…possible variant rune usage.
  11. Template:Note K-H-E-L-E-D---Z-A-R-M…possible variant emphasis from alternate word construction.
  12. Template:Note W-E-S-T-R-N…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  13. Template:Note N-I-N-T-Y---S-E-V-E-N…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  14. Template:Note N-O-L-D-O-N…possible variant word construction or rune usage.
  15. Template:Note A-G-A-I-N-T-S-O-R-D-E-S---&---G-O-N-T-I-N-U-O-U-S…possible variant phrase and/or word construction and/or rune usage.
  16. Template:Note S-E-V-N…possible variant word construction or rune usage


The Use of English

The use of English to represent the Common Speech in primary sources such as the Mazarbul wall runes is in keeping with Tolkien's own vision of completely translating all Westron into modern English, even in authentic documentation, although upon reflection Tolkien said that this translation was "an erroneous extension of the general linguistic treatment" (The_Peoples_of_Middle-earth, pp. 298-9: "Of Dwarves and Men"). The filmmakers obviously followed Tolkien's original intent, representing what would have been Westron on the "original" Mazarbul walls as English.


Justification for the variances that appear in the Mazarbul wall text comes from Tolkien himself. He specifically claims having used a similar methodology when creating samples of the Book of Mazarbul: "...the text was cast into English spelt as at present, but modified as it might be by writers...who where transliterating the English into a different alphabet"; "...since documents of this kind nearly always show uses of letters or shapes that are peculiar and rarely or never found elsewhere, a few such features are also introduced..." (same reference as above, pp. 298-9). Thus, the variances found in the Chamber of Mazarbul wall runes represent, as closely as possible, the idiosyncracies found in the original Westron.

Behind the Scenes

File:Mazarbul concept.jpg
Concept illustration of the Chamber of Mazarbul by Alan Lee.

The Chamber of Mazarbul was commonly referred to by the filmmakers as "Balin's Tomb" (as it was, more specifically, the site of said tomb).

The Chamber of Mazarbul was a locale that the filmmakers took special care to match carefully to the book descriptions. As with many other locations, Peter Jackson and his team tried to bring a sense that this was indeed the place that Tolkien had described.

Alan Lee was likely the primary conceptualizer of this location. The architecture of the Mazarbul chamber followed the filmmakers' general rules for Dwarven architecture. (for more information, see Dwarven architecture).

Grant Major specifically tried to retain the evocative image of the shaft of light landing directly on Balin's Tomb, though there was a need to shift the geography of the chamber slightly to make this idea work dramatically on screen.

Andrew Lesnie has commented on the challenges he faced while trying to light the set, while maintaining the sense of a shaft of strong white light. His camera team eventually followed the idea that the shaft's light would bounce off the rest of the chamber, creating a glowing ambience that would work well for that specific sequence of the film.

Grant Major authored the English text that would be carved in runes onto the chamber walls by carefully scoring the books for information about Moria's history. His findings were transcribed into the runes that adorn the walls, along with translations of certain sentences into Khuzdul by David Salo.

The runes on the chamber walls were the catalyst for one of the biggest fiascoes for the art department during production. A visiting Tolkien scholar claimed to have seen inane comments written on the walls. The art department searched the wall runes carefully but could find no offending sentences. The scholar revealed that he had simply been told this by a member of the crew. Grant Major and Dan Hennah assumed this was said crew member's idea of a joke. But the scholar later said that he had heard this from a member of the Weta Workshop minatures crew and that the offending comments in fact appeared on the miniature of the Second Hall of Khazad-dûm, though they were unable to be read in the final film and could not be translated using the Dwarvish runes anyway. (See Second Hall). In truth, no such "inane comments" exist on the Mazarbul Chamber wall runes.


Related Links

Location: Khazad-dûm | Seventh Level | Twenty-first Hall