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"Who told you, and who sent you?" — Gandalf
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General Information
MembersDurin I, Gimli, Thorin II Oakenshield
Physical Description
Lifespanc. 195 [1]
DistinctionsShort in stature, beards
Average height4 to 5 feet
GalleryImages of Dwarves
"Since they were to come in the days of the power of Melkor, Aulë made the dwarves strong to endure. Therefor they are stone-hard, stubborn, fast in friendship and in enmity, and they suffer toil and hunger and hurt of body more hardily than all other speaking peoples; and they live long, far beyond the span of Men, yet not forever."
The Silmarillion, "Of Aulë and Yavanna"

The Dwarves, or Khazâd in their own tongue, were beings of short stature, often friendly with Hobbits although long suspicious of Elves. They were typically blacksmiths and stoneworkers by profession, unrivaled in some of their arts even by the Elves.

While there were several tribes (Houses) of the Dwarves, the most prominent had been that of the Longbeards.




Unlike Elves and Men, the Dwarves are not counted among the Children of Ilúvatar. Their creator was Mahal, known as Aulë the Smith. Aulë created the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves somewhere in Middle-earth, from whom all other Dwarves are descended. Aulë though, did not have the divine power to grant independent life to any creation; Aulë repented and confessed to Ilúvatar and promised to keep them; the voice of Ilúvatar though spoke to Aulë and agreed to grant them true life, and include them in His plan for Arda. Ilúvatar granted the Dwarves life, and therefore they are known as the Adopted Children of Ilúvatar and they were to awake after the Awakening of the Elves.

Dwarves as portrayed in The Battle for Middle-earth II game.

The Seven Fathers awoke in their places in pairs with their wives, though Durin I had awoken alone. The seven different groups of Dwarf-folk originated in the locations where the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves first awoke

The seven clans of the Dwarves were:

Durin settled in the caves above Kheled-zâram which later became the greatest of Dwarf realms, Khazad-dûm. Therefore the halls of the Longbeards were not located near the halls of another Dwarf-kingdom.

There was also an eighth group of Dwarves that was not a separate member from these seven kindreds, but composed of exiles from each: the Petty-dwarves, who were hunted like animals to the point of extinction by the Elves in the First Age.

First Age

The Dwarves for many years did not know any other folk, until Firebeards and Broadbeams had their first meeting with the Elves in Beleriand in the year 1250 of the Years of the Trees. From that time on there was friendship, between the Sindar and the Dwarves, creating ring-mails, and many other works; the Dwarves of Nogrod were unmatched in Middle-earth in smithing. They delved the caves of Menegroth, and adopted the writing of Daeron. It was the Dwarves who told the Sindar about Orcs attacking their Elven kin on the other side of the mountains and King Thingol, began a build up of arms which the Dwarves made for him.

Later on a great army of Orcs attacked the Elves, but in the First Battle of Beleriand were defeated and fled. Those that got away ran south right into an army of Dwarves who issued from Mount Dolmed and destroyed them.

After the Return of the Noldor, Finrod Felagund desired to settle himself in the Caves of Narog and the Dwarves of the Ered Luin aided him and gave him the dwarven name Felak-gundu (Felagund). They eventually made for him the Nauglamír.

Things finally came to a head between the forces of Morgoth and the Elves, Men, and Dwarves in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. The Dwarves fought for the Union of Maedhros

In early Second Age the most many of the Firebeards and Broadbeams houses migrated to Khazad-dûm from their cities in the Blue Mountains which were ruined during the sinking of Beleriand.

Second Age

The Dwarves did not participate in any important event of history. However their friendship with the Elves perhaps became more close than ever; the Dwarves of Moria maintained close connections to the Gwaith-i-Mírdain of Eregion; the Doors of Durin of Moria were built to facilitate the communication between the two people, and was constructed jointly by both races.

When Eregion was sacked by Sauron's forces, the Dwarves assailed them from behind however it was too late to stop him from conquering all Eriador.[2]

Annatar and the seven rings, by Liz Danforth.

When "Annatar" distributed the Rings, he gave seven to Dwarf Lords in order to subdue and control them. However it was not as he expected; Dwarves did not shift into the wraith-world and the Rings only augmented their greed and ability to create riches.

At the end of the Age, some of the Dwarves of Moria joined the great host of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men and went to the great War.

Third Age

The Dwarves are upon You! by Angus McBride

In Third Age 1980, a Balrog awoke in the deeps of of the Misty Mountains and the Dwarves fled Khazad-dum, which from then on was called Moria, which means "Black pit". Most of Durin's folk left for the Grey Mountains in the North, while some followed the new king, Thráin I, who went to Erebor on the eaves of Mirkwood in Third Age 1999 and started his kingdom there and later Ered Mithrin.

For more than 300 years the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains prospered until the Dragons in the far North started to gain strength. Some fled to the Iron Hills, while most followed the the new king Thrór to Erebor to start a new Kingdom under the Mountain. There, they prospered for over 200 years until the dragon Smaug descended in Third Age 2770. The King decided to wander South along with a small company of family and followers, while most of the survivors went to the Iron Hills.

Durin's folk settled in Dunland, and in Third Age 2790 King Thrór gave to his son Thráin II the Last of the Seven Rings of the Dwarves, and with Nár he traveled North to Moria. Thrór was killed there by the Goblin king Azog. Nár returned, and an enraged Thráin called all the Houses of Dwarves to war, to avenge his father. Thus began the War of Dwarves and Orcs, in which the Dwarves destroyed all the Goblin strongholds in the Misty Mountains one by one, until they came to the East-gate of Moria, where the great Battle of Azanulbizar was fought. In this battle all the dwarven clans united, but the Goblins were still slowly winning, until at last help came - Náin son of Grór came with fresh Dwarven forces from the Iron Hills. The Battle ended with the victory of Dwarves, but at great cost. Náin was slain by Azog, but his son Dáin avenged him by killing Azog. Thráin wanted to enter Khazad-dûm, but the other Dwarven clans would not, and Dáin also warned him of the Durin's Bane that he felt when he came close to the Gate.

Then Thráin came to the Blue Mountains and established his realm there but later he took a company and traveled to Erebor. On their way, he was taken by the Necromancer to Dol Guldur. Gandalf met him and was given his map and key of Erebor before his death.

Thorin met Gandalf who told him about his father Thráin, and Thorin gathered around him twelve dwarves, mostly from his own line, and was joined by Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins.

Thorin brought twelve Dwarves to Bag End to recruit Bilbo for their treasure hunt. The Twelve Dwarves were:

The Quest of Erebor ended with the death of Smaug at the hands of Bard. After a quarrel with the Men and Elves over the unguarded hoard, the Dwarves - assisted by his cousin Dáin from the Iron Hills - united with the Men and Elves to fight the attacking Goblins and Wargs, in what was called the Battle of Five Armies, where Thorin was killed.

Gimli son of Glóin joined the Fellowship of the Ring and befriended Legolas during the War of the Ring.

Fourth Age

Not much is known about the Dwarves in the Fourth Age. After the War of the Ring, Gimli brought a part of Durin's Folk from Erebor to the Glittering Caves and founded a colony there. Gimli was later permitted to go across the sea to Valinor with Legolas in the year Fo.A. 120.

Durin VII (the Last), retook Moria and brought Khazad-dum back to its original splendor, and that the Longbeards lived there till the "world grew old and the days of Durin's race ended". With the downfall of Sauron, it can be assumed that the rest of the northern and central Misty Mountains as well as the Grey Mountains were reclaimed by Durin's folk.


The Dwarves were created by Aulë to be strong, resistant to fire and durable to the evils of Morgoth. Thus they were secretive, proud and hardier than any other race, and never forgot a wrong or debt. They were generally less corruptible than Men. When Sauron attempted to enslave the Free Folk of Middle-earth using the Rings of Power, the Elves completely resisted his power (indeed, his hand had never sullied the Three Rings), while the Nine Rings utterly corrupted the Men who bore them into the Ringwraiths. In contrast, the Dwarves were sturdy and resistant enough that Sauron was not able to dominate them using the Seven Rings. At most, the Seven Rings filled their wearers with an ultimately insatiable greed for gold, but they did not turn them into wraiths subservient to the Dark Lord, and he considered his plan to have failed. Sauron was furious at the Dwarves' resistance, spurring his drive to recapture the Seven Rings from them.

Dwarves on average live to be 250 years of age. A 30 year old Dwarf is very much considered a young stripling, having not yet reached full adulthood. Thus it was considered very remarkable when the young Dain Ironfoot slew Azog the Orc chieftain of Moria, at only 32 years old. Once a Dwarf has reached maturity, he will stop aging almost entirely, remaining in prime physical condition, or perhaps middle-aged at the most, for over two centuries. However, when Dwarves reach 240 years old, they will begin to age very rapidly and their physical condition drastically worsen, essentially condensing the aging process that Men experience from 40 to 80 years of age into only ten years. It is not, however, unheard of for an elderly Dwarf to live beyond 250 years. Once again Dain Ironfoot was renowned for his health in this matter as he died in the Battle of Dale at the age of 252 years, still wielding his battle-axe and cleaving dozens of enemies during a rearguard action. Even Gandalf the Wizard was astonished that Dain was still healthy and hale enough to lead troops into battle at an age when most Dwarves would be lucky to be on their deathbed, much less engaged in close-quarters combat.

Despite being 4.5-5 feet tall, they were known for their strength and endurance in battle, as well as their fury, particularly when avenging their fallen kin, and for being some of the greatest warriors in all of Middle-earth. They fought valiantly in many wars and battles over the Ages holding axes. In appearance their more distinctive characteristic was their beard which they have from the beginning of their lives, male and females alike; and which they shave only in shame.[3]

Also, as creations of Aulë, they were attracted to the substances of Arda and crafts. They mined and worked precious metals throughout the mountains of Middle-earth but were noted for their gold lust; they committed their share of rash and greedy acts. Among these are the slaying of Elu Thingol and the dispute over the Nauglamír, which first brought suspicion and hate between Elves and Dwarves. An interesting trait of the Dwarven nature was that they would not be controlled or tamed by the Rings of Power, nor shift into the Wraith-world like Men did. The Seven Rings only augmented their greed and power to generate wealth.[4]

The Dwarves although sometimes flourished, were marked for their waning numbers, suffering heavily in the wars. Dwarves married around the age of 100; few Dwarf-women were born and not all did wed and made up only about a third of the total population. They seldom walked abroad, and that only in great need. Dwarf-women are also so alike in voice and appearance, and garb when they must travel, that it is hard to tell them apart from Dwarf-men. It is because of the fewness of women that the Dwarf population increases slowly. Dwarves only take one husband or wife in their lifetime, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of Dwarf-men that marry is actually less than a third, and not all the Dwarf-women take husbands either; some desire none, some want one they cannot have, and will have no other one. There are also many Dwarf-men that don't want a wife, because they are obsessed with their crafts.

Women are seldom named in genealogies. They join their husbands' families. But if a son is seen to be 110 years than his father, this usually indicates an elder daughter. Thorin Oakenshield's sister Dís was named simply because of the gallant death of her sons Fíli and Kíli.

The scarcity of women, their scarce mention and their identical looks with the males, coupled to their idiomatic culture, led many to mistakenly believe that Dwarves were born out of stone, and upon death they returned to that stone.[5]

The Elves claimed that the Dwarves will have no future in the Arda Unmarred, but the Dwarves hope that Mahal will gather them to the Halls of Mandos with the other Children of Ilúvatar. About their death, some other peoples believe that Dwarves melt into the stones they are made of.


The Dwarven language was created by Aulë, and was called Khuzdul. It was a strange language to Elves and Men, and few non-Dwarves learned it, also because they kept it secret. The Dwarves preferred to communicate with the languages of their neighbors, and did not reveal their names (the petty-dwarves were an exception). During the Third Age, the Longbeards used northern Mannish names in public.

The Dwarves also had devised a secret gesture language to communicate between themselves in silence, the iglishmêk

However, one Dwarven phrase is well known: the ancient battle cry, going back to at least the First Age: "Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!", which means "Axes of the Dwarves! The Dwarves are upon you!"


The Dwarves called themselves the Khazâd, the name Aulë gave them; this is adapted as Hadhodrim in Sindarin, and Casari in Quenya. Casari was the common word for Dwarves among the Noldor, but the Sindar usually called them Naugrim or Nogothrim, the Stunted People.


Almost all the names of the dwarves of Middle-earth are taken from the Icelandic saga of Völuspá.

According to Tolkien, the "real 'historical'" plural of dwarf is dwarrows or dwerrows. He once referred to dwarves as "a piece of private bad grammar" (Letters, 17), but in Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings he explains that if we still spoke of dwarves regularly, English might have retained a special plural for the word dwarf as with man. The form dwarrow only appears in the word Dwarrowdelf, a name for Moria. Tolkien used Dwarves, instead, which corresponds with Elf and Elves, making its meaning more apparent. The use of a different term also serves to set Tolkien's Dwarves apart from the similarly-named creatures in mythology and fairy-tales.

The enduring popularity of Tolkien's books, especially The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, has led to the popular use of the term dwarves to describe this race in fantasy literature. Before Tolkien, the term dwarfs (with a different spelling) was used, as seen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In fact, the latter spelling was so common that the original editor of The Lord of the Rings "corrected" Tolkien's dwarves to dwarfs (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 138).

Other versions of the Legendarium

In the earliest versions of Tolkien's Middle-earth mythology (see: The History of Middle-earth) the dwarves were evil beings created by Melkor.

See also


  1. Emil Johansson, "Lord of the Rings in Statistics", Lord of the Rings Project (accessed 9 September 2012)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
Dwarven Clans
Longbeards · Firebeards · Broadbeams · Ironfists · Stiffbeards · Blacklocks · Stonefoots · (Petty-dwarves)