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The Moriquendi (the Elves of Darkness, singular Moriquende) are, in essence, the Elves that did not join the Great Journey over the sea and behold the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. They lingered on the shores of Middle-earth or never passed the Blue Mountains and remained in the East. Those Moriquendi who originally started on the journey but for some reason did not finish it are known as the Úmanyar ("Those not of Aman").

It is a term for Avari, Sindar, and Nandor, but in practice is only applied to the Avari. An exception to the hiarachy of Elvish peoples is King Thingol, who, though he did not complete the journey, had earlier been to Valinor. Thingol was therefore considered Úmanya but not Moriquende.

"Those Elves the Calaquendi call the Úmanyar, since they came never to the land of Aman and the Blessed Realm; but the Úmanyar and the Avari alike they call the Moriquendi, Elves of the Darkness, for they never beheld the Light that was before the Sun and Moon."
The Silmarillion, "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"

The population of the Dark Elves in Middle-earth was in the proportion of 82 to 62, outnumbering the population of the Amanyar[1]

The term "Dark Elf" seems to hold an additional special (not explained) meaning, as it is given as a special title of Eöl of Nan Elmoth. It is also used as an insult by the Sons of Fëanor to King Thingol (which is incorrect, since Thingol alone of the Sindar was reckoned under the Calaquendi).

In later versions of the Legendarium, Eöl was rewritten as a Tatyarin Avari, making him a proper Dark Elf.


In Norse mythology, there are the Light Elves (Ljósálfar) and the Dark Elves (Dökkálfar or Svartálfar), a tradition which was well known to J.R.R. Tolkien.[2]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, "Appendix A: Origins of the Legend", p. 359
(Quendi · People of the Stars · Firstborn · Elder Kindred)
Three Kindreds:
(Eldar · Eldalië · Edhil)
 Vanyar (Fair-elves · Minyar) · Noldor (Deep-elves · Tatyar) · Teleri (Lindar · Nelyar)
(High-elves · Amanyar)
 Vanyar · Noldor · Falmari
Úmanyar:  Sindar (Grey-elves · Eglath) · Nandor (Green-elves · Silvan Elves)
 Moriquendi:  Úmanyar · Avari (Dark Elves · The Unwilling)
See Also:  Awakening of the Elves · Sundering of the Elves · Great Journey