- "Lembas, Elvish waybread. One small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man."
- ― Legolas, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lembas, translated as waybread in the Common Speech, was a special food made by the Elves. The cakes were very nutritious, stayed fresh for months when wrapped in leaves, and were used for sustenance on long journeys. Lembas had a brownish colour on the outside and a cream colour on the inside.
Lembas was made first by Yavanna from special corn that grew in Aman, and Oromë gave it to the Elves of the Great Journey. For this reason, it was an Elven custom that only women should make lembas; they were called Yavannildi (or by the Sindar the Ivonwin) who knew the secret of its recipe. Also, the custom requested that only an Elven Queen should keep and distribute the lembas, for this reason she was called also massánië or besain. Like other products of the Elves, it was offensive to evil creatures; Gollum refused outright to eat of it.
Only on rare occasions was it given to non-Elves, because it was believed that mortals who ate it would become wary of their mortality and would desire to live among the Elves.
The corn itself was an enduring plant that could be sown at any season and then sprouted and grew swiftly. Furthermore the corn needed but a little sunlight to ripen. Yet it was prone to north winds, while Morgoth dwelt there. The Eldar grew it in guarded lands and sunlit glades. The ears were harvested without scythe or sickle but each one was gathered by hands and the white stalks were drawn from the earth and used to weave baskets in which the grain was stored.
Melian, as the queen of Doriath, was one who held this recipe from Yavanna. By giving lembas to Beleg for Túrin, she showed great favor because never before lembas was given to a Man and seldom it was again. Later it was passed to Galadriel and other Elves.
Galadriel gave a large store of it to the Fellowship of the Ring upon their departure from Lothlórien. One of the elves commented that it was more strengthening than any food by Men, and more pleasant than Cram. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee subsisted on it through the majority of their journey from there into Mordor.
Etymology and Names
Lembas is Sindarin and derived from the older lenn-mbass which means "journey-bread". As a rough translation of this term it was also often called Waybread.
Tolkien most likely based lembas on bread known as hard tack that was used during long sea voyages and military campaigns as a primary foodstuff. It was little more than flour and water which had been baked hard and would keep for months as long as it was kept dry.[source?]
Portrayal in Adaptations
In The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy, the term "lembas bread" is occasionally used. This is incorrect usage; but because the gift of lembas at Lothlórien is not included in the theatrical release of The Fellowship of the Ring, the redundant term "lembas bread" was probably chosen in order to immediately identify the substance to filmgoers at the beginning of The Two Towers.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Lembas"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Túrin Turambar"
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring