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- "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."
- ― Quenta 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, unrivalled in some of their arts even by the Elves.
While there were seven Houses of the Dwarves, the most prominent was that of the Longbeards.
- Main article: Fathers of the Dwarves
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.
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.
The seven clans of the Dwarves were:
- Longbeards, Durin's Folk, originally from Gundabad.
- Firebeards and Broadbeams, originally from the Blue Mountains.
- Ironfists and Stiffbeards, originated in the East.
- Blacklocks and Stonefoots, originated in the East.
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.
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.
Sometime after the Elves had awakened at Cuiviénen,[note 1] the seven Fathers of the Dwarves were released from their stone chambers. The eldest of them, called Durin, wandered until he founded the city of Khazad-dûm in the natural caves beneath three peaks: Barazinbar, Zirakzigil, and Bundushathûr. The city, populated by the Longbeards or Durin's Folk, grew and prospered continuously through Durin's life (which was so long that he was called Durin the Deathless, also a reference to the belief by his people that he would be reincarnated seven times).
Far to the west of Khazad-dûm, the great Dwarf-cities of Belegost and Nogrod were founded in Ered Luin (the Blue Mountains) during the Years of the Trees, before the arrival of the Elves in Beleriand. The Dwarves of Belegost were the first to forge mail of linked rings, and they also traded weaponry with the Sindar and carved the Thousand Caves of Menegroth for Thingol, the Lord of Beleriand. In Nogrod, the Smith Telchar forged Narsil and Angrist, two of the most fateful weapons in the history of Arda, as well as the famed Dragon-helm of Dor-Lómin.
The Dwarves of the Blue Mountains fought against the forces of Melkor during the First Age, and the Dwarves of Belegost were the only people able to withstand dragon-fire in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, when Lord Azaghâl, who died in the battle, stabbed Glaurung, the first dragon. The Dwarves of Nogrod fought against Melkor as well. However, they slew Thingol out of greed and stole the Silmaril they had been charged to set into the necklace called Nauglamír. A number of retaliatory actions ensued, and the Nogrod army was destroyed by a force of Laiquendi and Ents. Both dwarf kingdoms would eventually be destroyed, along with nearly all of Beleriand, after the War of Wrath, with the dwarvish refugees mainly resettling in Khazad-dûm.
The Dwarves had little participation in most of the important events involving the other races. However their friendship with the Elves 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 "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 War of the Last Alliance, 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.
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 travelled 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.
Not much is known about the Dwarves after the Third 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 rumoured 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.
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 it is said that they could die of shame if they were subjected to shaving.
They 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.
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.
Of the people of Middle-earth, Dwarves are the most resistant to corruption and influence of Morgoth and later Sauron. The seven rings of Power of the dwarves did not turn them to evil, but it did amplify their greed and lust for gold. It is said that very few wilfully served the side of darkness.
In the First Age, the Petty Dwarves that dwelt in Beleriand were descendants of Dwarves exiled for evil deeds from their great mansions of their kind. And after their Awakening, some Men had met Dwarves of the East who had fallen under the Shadow and were of evil mind and were distrustful of their race.:n. 28 Of the Seven Houses, few fought on either side during the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the Second Age, and it's known that none from the House of Durin ever fought on the side of evil.
During the early parts of the Third Age (or at least in legends of the previous), it is known that in some places wicked dwarves had made alliances with Orcs. Those most likely came from the Dwarves of the far eastern mansions.:n. 28
However, it is said that there was an enmity between some Dwarves and some Men of old (who were jealous of the Dwarves's wealth and works), and the latter alleged evil things about the Dwarves.
Skills and industries
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. They were considered unrivalled in arts such as smithing, crafting, metalworking, and masonry, even by the Noldor.
The Dwarves were the greatest miners ever to exist in Middle-earth, building immense halls under mountains where they built their cities. They built many famed halls including Menegroth, the fairest dwelling of any king that has been east of the Sea, Nargothrond, Khazad-dum, the grandest mansions of the Dwarves, the Elvenking's Halls,[note 2] and the Kingdom Under the Mountain.
In the darkness of Arda already the Dwarves wrought great works for even from the first days of their Fathers they had marvellous skill with metals and with stone; but in that ancient time iron and copper they loved to work, rather than silver and gold.
In the tempering of steel alone of all crafts the Dwarves were never outmatched even by the Noldor, and in the making of mail of linked rings, which was first contrived by the smiths of Belegost, their work had no rival. During the third age of the captivity of Melkor, the Dwarves smithied for Thingol; for they were greatly skilled in such work, though none among them surpassed the craftsmen of Nogrod, of whom Telchar the smith was greatest in renown.
They were also capable masons and smiths - Dwarven smithing skills were said to be unrivalled, and their masonry creations were bested by none. The crafting skills of the Dwarves were unmatched; they crafted objects of great beauty out of gems and metals. They crafted many famed weapons, armours, and items of art and beauty, among them Narsil, the sword of Elendil, the Dragon-helm of Dor-lómin and the necklace Nauglamír, the most prized treasure in Nargothrond and the most famed Dwarven work of the Elder Days.
In the Third Age, Dwarves wrought with patient craft works of metal and stone that now none can rival.. However, as stated by Gloin at the Council of Elrond, the Dwarves of Erebor have surpassed their predecessors in mining and building before Smaug descended on the Lonely Mountain, but not in metal-work, smithing or the making of mail, as their predecessors' secrets have been long lost.
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.
The Dwarves are described as "the most redoubtable warriors of all the Speaking Peoples" - a warlike race who would fight fiercely against whoever aggrieved them including Dwarves of "other mansions and lordships". Highly skilled in the making of weapons and armour, their main weapon is the battle axe, but they also use bows, swords, shields, and mattocks.
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.
The lifespan of Dwarves was varied depending on their "breed". The Longbeards were particularly long-lived, but by the Third Age, their lifespan was diminished and they lived, on average, 250 years. The Kings of Durin's Folk named "Durin" were particularly long-lived. 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).
Until they were around 30 years of age, Dwarves were considered too young for heavy labour 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 vigour. They took on the appearance of age only about ten years before their death, wrinkling and greying rapidly, but never going bald.
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.
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 trade allies in the Second Age.:n. 29 In earlier times, whenever the Dwarves were unable to barter for grain, they practiced agriculture using a plough-like tool that they invented. However, Dwarves did not enjoy doing such labour.
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 half, 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Dwarves believed that the reappearance of the person of one of the Dwarf-fathers (in the lines of their kings), is not one of re-birth, but of the preservation of the body of a former king, to which at intervals their spirit would return.
- Main article: Khuzdul
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 neighbours. 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.
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. 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. 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.
Dwarves had great interest in languages since their first contact with other peoples and had good hability to pronounce foreigner sounds from other languages. However, they could not conceal their voices, which were deep in tone, with laryngeal coloration, so among themselves they could even speak with a laryngeal whisper.
The Dwarves called themselves the Khazâd, the name Aulë gave them; this was 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").
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 or inspired 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 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.
- In one of the texts associated with the chapter Of Aulë and Yavanna of The Silmarillion in The War of the Jewels, it is said that the awakening of the Dwarves might have taken place at the time of the departure of the Eldar over the sea - in other words, either in c. Y.T. 1132 (when the Vanyar and the Noldor departed) or in c. Y.T. 1150 (when the Teleri departed).
- In the Lord of the Rings, it is stated by Gimli that the Dwarves aided in the making of Thranduil's halls. However, in the Unfinished Tales, it is stated that Thranduil's halls "were not to be compared with Menegroth. He had not the arts nor wealth nor the aid of the Dwarves."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Aulë and Yavanna"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "Of Dwarves and Men"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)", pp. 211-212
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Notes", #28
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men", pp. 302-303
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Other Races"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants", pp. 304-305
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Road to Isengard"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Doriath"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "IX. The Making of Appendix A": (iv) "Durin's Folk"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Voice of Saruman"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "Relations of the Longbeard Dwarves and Men"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: V. Note on Elvish Economy", Second paragraph
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Michaël Devaux (ed.), La Feuille de la Compagnie, vol.3, J.R.R. Tolkien, l'effigie des Elfes, "Fragments on elvish reincarnation", "III. Some notes on 'rebirth', reincarnation by restoration, among Elves. With a note on the Dwarves"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar", p. 395
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIX. Note on Dwarvish Voices", p. 371
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "On Translation"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", p. 391, fn. 22
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "IV. The Nauglafring"
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