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Lindion, a mountain fay in MECCG

Sprites, or fays, were creatures only mentioned fleetingly in the earliest versions of the tales of Arda and linguistic writings of the Eldar.[1][2]



The sprites and fays 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.[1]

"About them fared a great host who are the sprites of trees and woods, of dale and forest and mountain-side, or those that sing amid the grass at morning and chant among the standing corn at eve."[1]

"...their number is very great: yet must they not be confused with the Eldar, for they were born befoxe the world and are older than its oldest, and are not of it, but laugh at it much, for had they not somewhat to do with its making, so that it is for the most part a play for them"[1]

Names and divisions

While "sprites" and "fays" seem to have been the most common names for these creatures, other names were also used: brownies, pixies, and leprawns.[1]

A basic division of four groups of sprites and fays, with their Elvish names, are given as follow:

  1. Nermir: "fays of the meads";[1][3] Gnomish nermil: "a fay that haunts meadows and riverbanks"[2]
  2. Tavari: "sprites of trees and woods",[1] or "fays of the woods";[3] Gnomish tavor: "a wood fay"[2] (Qenya tavar, tavarni "dale-sprites", root TAVA;[4][5] the plural noun tavárin, nominative of tavārin "fay(s) of the woods"[6][7])
  3. Nandini: "fays of the valleys";[1][3] Gnomish nandir: fay of the country" (Qenya nandin)[2]
  4. Orossi: "fays of the mountains"[1][3]

In a poem appear the oromandi, "wood-spirits".[8]

Some other mentions of fays seem rather to be referring to individuals:

  • Sacha "the fire-fay" (Qenya Sāya)[2]
  • Tethil: "a flower fay who dwelt in a poppy"[2]
  • Tinfing or Tinfang the fluter (surnamed Gwarbilin, Birdward) a fay[2]


Based on etymological information, linguists have suggested that Tolkien intended "the wood-fays to 'use' the forest as their home", and that such forests were watched or guarded by the fays.[6]

The later legendarium

As the sprites and fays 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)[9] — 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.

Portrayal in adaptations

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

The Warrior Ally card "Lindion the Oronín", portraying a unique character, is given the following description: "The fays of the mountains pipe melodies that harmonize with wind and weather, pleasing to the ears of all creatures aloft on wings", apparently inspired by the Orossi (see above). Lindion is playable at the site Stone-circle in the region Old Pûkel Gap.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 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
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 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)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Index
  4. 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)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part One
  6. 6.0 6.1 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. 80
  7. 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. 10
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, "A Secret Vice", pp. 215-6
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Valaquenta: Of the Maiar"
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