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Mermaids

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File:Nenselde.jpg
Nenseldë the Wingild in MECCG

Mermaids, or water spirits, were creatures only mentioned fleetingly in the earliest versions of the tales of Arda and linguistic writings of the Eldar.[1][2] Other names for these creatures were foam-maidens, foam-fays, foam-riders,[3] and nymphs.[2]

Contents

Characteristics

The mermaids were part of what apparently was a three-fold division of the lesser Ainu spirits: sylphs (spirits of the air), sprites (spirits of the earth), and water spirits.[4]

In poems, the foam-fays are described as having "blossom-white hair" shining "in the light of the sun", "pale arms on the sea's bosom", and to be "chanting wild songs".[3]

Ui (the precursor of Uinen) was given the title "Queen of Mermaids".[5][6]

Names and divisions

A basic division of two groups of water spirits, with their Elvish names, are given as follow:

  • Oarni (troop of Ossë): "spirits of the sea"[7]
  • Falmaríni and Wingildi (troop of Ossë): "spirits of the sea-foam"[7] (also wingildin, "foam-maidens, foam-fays"[3]; also wingild- "nymph",[2] or "foam-maiden"[8])

Also mentioned are flathwin or -nir "foam fay", and nendil, nennil "waterfay".[9]

The later legendarium

As the mermaids are not mentioned in later versions of the legendarium, it might be that Tolkien envisioned these creatures as the "servants and helpers" of the Maiar (mentioned in later versions of Elven chronicles)[10] — lesser spirits that would have remained in Middle-earth (and would thus perhaps be equivalent to the Faeries). As Tolkien never cared to elaborate much on these "lesser Maiar" in the texts used by his son Christopher when preparing the published The Silmarillion, one could speculate on how much Tolkien would have retained or rejected of this earlier conception.

Inspiration

Patrick H. Wynne and Christopher Gilson have noted that Tolkien's use of nymphs (and related spirits) is likely influenced by Paracelsus's chart of four elementals: sylphs (air), pygmies or gnomes (earth), nymphs (water), and salamanders (fire).[11]

Portrayal in adaptations

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

The Ally card "Nenseldë the Wingild", portraying a unique character, is playable at Dol Amroth.

See also

External links

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, passim
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenyaqetsa: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon", in Parma Eldalamberon XII (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, "A Secret Vice", pp. 216-7
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "The Coming of the Valar and the Building of Valinor", p.66
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part One, p. 263
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Qenyaqetsa: The Qenya Phonology and Lexicon", in Parma Eldalamberon XII (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), p. 97
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Index
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Elvish Poetry and Pre-Fëanorian Alphabets", in Parma Eldalamberon XVI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, Carl F. Hostetter and Bill Welden), p. 100
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne)
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Maiar"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Early Qenya and The Valmaric Script", in Parma Eldalamberon XIV (edited by Carl F. Hostetter, Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, Patrick H. Wynne, and Bill Welden), p. 8
Legendary Races of Arda
 Animals:  Dumbledors · Gorcrows · Hummerhorns · Pards · Swans of Gorbelgod · Turtle-fish
Dragon-kind:  Great glow-worms · Sea-serpents · Spark-dragons · Were-worms
Evil Races:  Giants · Gongs · Half-trolls · Hobgoblins · Ogres · Snow-trolls · Troll-men · Two-headed Trolls
Fairies:  Dryads · Mermaids · Sprites · Sylphs · White cow
Other:  Badger-folk · Great beasts · Lintips · Mewlips · Nameless Things · Spectres
Individuals:  The Hunter · Lonely Troll · Man in the Moon · The Rider · River-woman · Tarlang · Tim