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Alarie - A bunch of dwarves.jpg
"A bunch of dwarves" by Alarie
General Information
Other namesNaugrim (S), Nogothrim (S).Khazâd (K), Hadhodrim (S), Casari (Q)
OriginsCreated by Aulë
LocationsKhazad-dûm, Belegost, Nogrod, Erebor, Iron Hills, Glittering Caves, Grey Mountains, Blue Mountains, Gundabad
AffiliationUnion of Maedhros, Last Alliance of Elves and Men
LanguagesKhuzdul (Dwarvish), Iglishmêk (sign language), Westron, Sindarin[1]
Longbeards, Firebeards, Broadbeams, Ironfists, Stiffbeards, Blacklocks, Stonefoots, Petty-dwarves
Belegost Dwarves, Erebor Dwarves, Khazad-dûm Dwarves,
Nogrod Dwarves,
Blue Mountain Dwarves,
Grey Mountain Dwarves,
Iron Hill Dwarves
MembersDurin, Gimli, Thorin, Dáin Ironfoot, Azaghâl, Mîm, Balin
Physical Description
Lifespanc. 200-350 years[2]
DistinctionsStocky; bearded; never bald; especially hardy and loyal; notoriously stubborn
Average height4.5 - 5 feet (1.35 - 1.52 m) tall
Hair colorBlond, brown, black, blue, red, and (when older) grey or white
WeaponryOften axes, swords, hammers, mattocks
GalleryImages of Dwarves
"Since they were to come in the days of the power of Melkor, Aulë made the dwarves strong to endure. Therefore 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 was 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, from whom all other Dwarves are descended, deep beneath an unknown mountain somewhere in Middle-earth. However, Aulë did not have the divine power to grant independent life to any creation, and the dwarves were bound to his will. Ilúvatar came and reprimanded Aulë, who confessed his desire to create more living things, but in repentance lifted his hammer to destroy the dwarves. Even as the blow was about to land, the dwarves cowered and begged for mercy, as Ilúvatar had taken pity and given true life to the creations of his child, including them in His plan for Arda. However, Ilúvatar did not wish them to wake before the Elves, whom he intended to be the first-born. Ilúvatar granted the Dwarves life, and therefore they are known as the Adopted Children of Ilúvatar, but he bade Aulë lay them to sleep in their chamber deep beneath the mountain, and they were to awake after the Awakening of the Elves.[3]

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.[4][5]

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.

In the First Age it is said that some Men had met Dwarves of the East who had fell under the Shadow and were of evil mind and were distrustful of their race.[4]:n. 28

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, and they began exchanging knowledge and 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, which prompted King Thingol to begin 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. This necklace without equal contained one of the Silmarils, and sparked jealousy and conflicts over its true ownership. These initial conflicts receded by the beginning of the Second Age, but were rekindled to a new intensity by the discord sown by Sauron. They eventually created a rivalry and mistrust between Elves and Dwarves that endured to the end of the Third Age, when Gimli the Dwarf bridged the distance between the two races by developing a deep admiration for lady Galadriel and forming a strong friendship with Legolas the Elf.

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

Second Age

In the Second Age, around the year 40,[6] the Firebeards and Broadbeams who lived in Nogrod and Belegost left the destruction behind and came to Khazad-dûm, increasing its wealth and power.[7]

The Dwarves had little participation in most of the important events involving the other races. 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.[8]

Liz Danforth - Annatar and the seven rings

When "Annatar" distributed the Rings of Power, he gave seven to Dwarf Lords in order to subdue and control them. However, they did not have the same effect as they did over Men. Dwarves did not shift into the wraith-world and in fact resisted domination. The Rings only augmented their greed and ability to create riches.

At the end of the Age, very few Dwarves participated in the great War, with some joining the side of Sauron. Some of the Dwarves of Moria joined the great host of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.[9]

Third Age

Angus McBride - The Dwarves are upon You!

In Third Age 1980, after centuries of greedy digging for mithril and other minerals, the Dwarves woke a Balrog that was sleeping in the deeps of the Misty Mountains since the First Age. 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 briefly went to Erebor in T.A. 1999. 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 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 T.A. 2770. The King and his company went in exile South, while most of the survivors went to the Iron Hills.

Durin's folk settled in Dunland, and in T.A. 2790 King Thrór traveled North to Moria where he was killed by the Goblin king Azog. Thrór's son Thráin II (who had received the Last of the Seven Rings from his father before his departure) summoned all the Houses of Dwarves to war. Thus began the War of Dwarves and Orcs, in which the Dwarves destroyed all the Goblin strongholds in the Misty Mountains culminating to the great Battle of Azanulbizar where all the dwarven clans united. The Goblin hosts issuing from Moria were strong and relentless until the arrival of fresh Dwarves of the Iron Hills. The Battle ended with the victory of Dwarves, but at great cost. The Dwarven clans however were unwilling to repopulate Moria. Thráin therefore came to the Blue Mountains and established his realm there.

The Wizard Gandalf was instrumental into helping Thráin's son Thorin in reclaiming the Kingdom of Erebor. Thorin gathered around him twelve dwarves, mostly from his own line, and was joined by Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. The Quest of Erebor ended with the death of Smaug. After a quarrel with the Men and Elves over the unguarded hoard, the Dwarves - assisted by those 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 as a representative of the Dwarves 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 behind Helm's Deep and founded a colony there. Subsequently, Gimli went on many travels with his friend Legolas, and History lost track of their fate. Through their friendship and influence, the feud between the two races that had lasted for millennia finally ended, shortly before the departure of the last Elves from Middle-earth. It is rumored that Gimli and Legolas eventually boarded a ship that sailed down the river Anduin, out to sea and across to Valinor in the year Fo.A. 120. Gimli would thus have become the only Dwarf to ever be permitted to cross to the Undying Lands.

Durin VII (the Last), retook Moria and brought Khazad-dûm back to its original splendor, and the Longbeards lived there till the "world grew old and the days of Durin's race ended".


They were 4.5 - 5 feet (1.35 - 1.52 m) tall and 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.[10]

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 had a tendency toward gold lust, and committed their share of rash and greedy acts. Among these was the dispute over the Nauglamír, which led to the slaying of Elu Thingol and stirred up the initial suspicion between Elves and Dwarves to open hatred.[9]

Dwarves generally lived far from the sea and avoided getting on boats, as they disliked the sound of the ocean and were afraid of it.[11]


The Dwarves were created by Aulë to be strong, resistant to fire and the evils of Morgoth. They were hardier than any other race, secretive, stubborn, and steadfast in enmity or loyalty.

Despite their short stature, 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.[10]

Sickness was almost unknown to the Dwarves, as they were immune to human diseases.[12]

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 sowed strife among the Dwarves and filled their wearers with an 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.

Another example was Gimli, who, while Saruman used the power in his voice and the Rohirrim were spell-bound by his magic, Gimli was unmoved and commented that Saruman's words cannot be trusted, causing Saruman to be angered enough to lose his charm.[13]


The lifespan of Dwarves was varied depending on their ancestry. The Longbeards were particularly long-lived, but by the Third Age their lifespan was diminished and they lived, on average, 250 years. Until they were around 30 years of age, Dwarves were considered too young for heavy labor or war (hence the slaying of Azog by Dain Ironfoot at age 32 was a great feat). By the age of 40, Dwarves were hardened into the appearance that they would keep for most of their lives. Between the approximate ages of 40 and 240, most Dwarves were equally hale and able to work and fight with vigor. They took on the appearance of age only about ten years before their death, wrinkling and greying rapidly, but never going bald. Occasionally they would live up to 300 years of age, and Dwalin reached the rare lifespan of 340 years (comparable to a Middle Man living to 100).[12]

Although Dwarves did not suffer from diseases, corpulence could affect them. In prosperous circumstances, many grew fat by the age of 200 and became physically inept.[12]

Culture and family

The Dwarves didn't have relationships with animals, didn't harbour even dogs and wouldn't mount a horse willingly. For this reason they found the Northmen useful allies in the Second Age.[14][4]:n. 29

The Dwarves' numbers, although they sometimes flourished, often faced periods of decline, especially in periods of war. The slow increase of their population was due to the rarity of Dwarf-women, who made up only about a third of the total population. Dwarves seldom wedded before the age of ninety or more, and rarely had so many as four children. They took only one husband or wife in their lifetime, and were jealous, as in all matters of their rights. The number of Dwarf-men that married was actually less than a third, for not all the Dwarf-women took husbands; some desired none, some wanted one they could not have and would have no other. Many Dwarf-men did not desire marriage because they were absorbed in their work.[15][12]

Dwarf-women seldom walked abroad, and that only in great need. When they did travel, they were so alike Dwarf-men in voice, appearance, and garb that it was hard for other races to tell them apart. They were likewise seldom named in genealogies, joining their husbands' families. The only Dwarf-woman named in Tolkien's legendarium is Dís, sister of Thorin Oakenshield, who was given a place in the records because of the gallant deaths of her sons, Fíli and Kíli. The scarcity of women, their rare mention, and their identical looks with the males, coupled with the Dwarves' secretive culture, led many to mistakenly believe that Dwarves were born out of stone, and upon death they returned to that stone.[15][12]

Dwarves are fiercely devoted to their parents and children. In their desire for their children to grow up hardy and enduring, they may treat them harshly, but they will protect them at all costs. Dwarves resent injuries to their children and to their parents more than injuries to themselves.[12]


The Dwarves loved and revered the Vala Aulë.[11][3]

Of old the Elves believed that the Dwarves would have no future in Arda Unmarred, but the Dwarves themselves held to a promise that Ilúvatar would hallow them and adopt them as his Children. They maintained that after death Aulë (Mahal) cared for them, gathering them to the Halls of Mandos with the other Children of Ilúvatar, though in halls set apart. It is said that after the Last Battle they will work alongside Aulë in the remaking of Arda.[3]


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, because it was difficult, and the Dwarves kept it secret, preferring to communicate in the languages of their neighbors. Only one Khuzdul phrase was well known to outsiders: 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 taught Khuzdul carefully to their children, as a learned language, not a cradle-tongue, and thus the language changed very little over the ages, unlike those of other races. The Dwarves also devised a secret language of gestures to communicate between themselves in silence, the iglishmêk.[16]

Certainly in the First Age when they first made contact with the Elves, the only tongue in Beleriand would have been Sindarin at that time as the Noldor had not yet returned from Aman. As a logical consequence, therefore, Sindarin was a language used by the dwarves. [17] But the Dwarves were swift to learn and indeed were more willing to learn the Elven-tongue than to teach their own to those of alien race. [18] In fact, the Dwarves were so impressed by the Elvish runes (The Cirth of Daeron) for writing Sindarin that they adopted them for use in their own tongue and used them forever more.


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.[19]

An epithet for the Dwarves in Quenya was Auleonnar, meaning "offspring of Aule".[20]

In their dealings with people of other races, the Dwarves did not reveal their true names, rather adopting new names in other languages (the petty-dwarves were an exception). During the Third Age, the Longbeards used northern Mannish names in public.


Almost all the names of the Dwarves of Middle-earth are taken from the Old Norse 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.

In an earlier version of the legendarium it is hinted that the Dwarves do not know about Ilúvatar, or that they disbelieve his existence, but later writings contradict that suggestion.[21]

See also

External links


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  2. Emil Johansson, "Lord of the Rings in Statistics", Lord of the Rings Project (accessed 15 April 2018)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "IX. The Making of Appendix A": (iv) "Durin's Folk"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Voice of Saruman"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men"
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar", p. 395
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 391
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "IV. The Nauglafring"
Dwarven Clans
Longbeards · Firebeards · Broadbeams · Ironfists · Stiffbeards · Blacklocks · Stonefoots · (Petty-dwarves)