Dwarf-women were few among the Dwarves, kept in secret, and were seldom seen by other races.
Role in society
Dwarves wanted their women to be protected from other races and they usually kept them concealed inside their mountain halls. They seldom traveled in the outside world, only in great need, and when they did, they were dressed as men; with similar voice and appearance as male dwarves, even when they are rarely seen they are usually mistaken for a male.
Family and fertility
Women joined their husbands' families. Women were seldom named in genealogies but if a son is seen to be 110 years younger than his father, this usually indicates an elder daughter. Thorin's sister Dís was named simply because of the gallant death of her sons Fíli and Kíli.
Gimli stated that only approximately one-third of their population consisted of women, which was the reason for the slow increase in population of the race. Moreover, while Dwarf-men outnumbered Dwarf-women two to one, less than half of Dwarf-men actually married: many preferred to spend their time with their crafts instead. Meanwhile, many Dwarf-women never took a husband either: some desire none, or desired one who could not or would not marry them, in which case they would have no other.
Misconceptions among other races
Because of the scarcity of Dwarf-women, their secrecy and similarity in appearance to males, and their lack of mention, many Men failed to recognize their existence. They believed that the Dwarves' population was only of men, and a legend said therefore that they were 'born' by growing out of stone.
Other versions of the legendarium
In The War of the Jewels, all Dwarves are described as having beards, including women. In later writings published in The Nature of Middle-earth, Tolkien did not discuss female Dwarves when listing the characters he imagined with or without beards, simply mentioning that all male Dwarves had beards.
Portrayal in adaptations
1989: The Hobbit (comic book):
- During Thorin's and Gandalf's narration about Erebor and Smaug, a flashback panel shows the exodus of the Dwarves of Erebor. Among them, a woman can be seen, since she has no beard and is wearing woman's clothes.
- Dwarf women are mentioned in the Extended Edition only, during Gimli's rant to Éowyn concerning Dwarven culture. The dialogue actually reproduces some of the information seen in Appendix A: Durin's Folk. On his mention that Men believe that there are no female Dwarves, Aragorn whispers a tongue-in-cheek explanation "It's the beards!" causing Éowyn to laugh.
- Some Dwarf women can be seen briefly in the beginning of the film, when the story of the destruction of Erebor is told. Some women have beards, whilst some have sideburns of varying length.
2018: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- After having been mentioned earlier, female Dwarves make their first definite appearance at Erebor, Dís in particular. While a few special characters such as her have a distinctly feminine (yet still bearded) appearance, most Dwarf-women in the game share character models with the men. They usually have more feminine voices, but not in every case.
- Dwarf-women are portrayed fighting in major battles alongside Dwarf-men, including the Battle of Azanulbizar and the game's "War of Three Peaks". It is possible to designate a Stout-axe player character as female (which has no effect on the character's appearance), but not characters of the original (Longbeard) Dwarf race.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
- 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, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: Concerning the Dwarves (Chapter 13)", p. ?
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Two. Body, Mind and Spirit: V. Beards", p. ?