Halls of Mandos

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Halls of Mandos
"The Halls of Mandos" by Ralph Damiani
General Information
Other namesThe Halls of Awaiting
LocationNorthern shores of Aman
People and History
The souls of the dead Elves, Dwarves and Men
EventsLúthien's pleading for Beren before Mandos
GalleryImages of the Halls of Mandos

The Halls of Mandos were the dwellings of Námo, the Doomsman of the Valar; he was more often given the name Mandos from his own halls.


The Halls of Mandos stood on the northern shores of Valinor,[1] looking out across the Encircling Sea. They were said to be great cavernous delvings, growing in size as the World aged, and their walls were lined with the tapestries of Námo's spouse Vairë, depicting all the events of unfolding history.

It was to the Halls of Mandos that the spirits of Elves were gathered to await their respective afterlives, and so Mandos was given its name of the Halls of Awaiting.[2][note 1] After brief respite in the Halls, the immortal Elves would be re-embodied, and return from the Halls to their kin in Aman. Men followed a mysterious path to the afterlife, a fate which, even among the Lords of Valinor, only Mandos and Manwë truly understood. No one, however, not even Morgoth, could escape the Halls without Mandos's permission.[3]


See Mandos: Etymology

Other versions of the legendarium

Halls of Mandos by Jonathan Guzi

In the earliest form of the legendarium (The Book of Lost Tales), Christopher Tolkien notes that there is a distinction between the wider region of Aman, and the Halls which doesn't appear in The Silmarillion;[4] both share the name with the Vala, who is called Ve, Vefantur Mandos (Qenya) Bannoth Gwi, Gwi-fanthor (Gnomish).[5]

Mandos (Gnomish: Bannoth) is the name of a region of vast caverns in northern Aman, full of gloom and echoes, that went down under the Shadowy Seas. Aulë built them for Vefántur and Nienna far from the beautiful houses of the other Valar.[6] Mandos is also occupied by spirits older than the world, that were with Ilúvatar.[7][5]

The region of Mandos contain the Halls proper, that are called after the Vala's own name, Ve (Gnomish: Gwi or Ingwi). The sable Hall has floors and columns of jet and is draped with dark vapours. It is lit only with a single vessel containing some gleaming drops from the pale dew of Silpion, placed in the centre. The Elves who die fare for days in Mandos until Vefantur spoke their doom, and they wait in the darkness, dreaming of their past deeds, until reincarnated.[6] In Gnomish, the Halls are also "improperly" (according to the Gnomish Lexicon) named Bannoth, after the Vala and the region. The Qenya Lexicon also refers to Mandos as "the Halls of Ve and Fui" without commenting whether it's proper usage.[5]

After the Hiding of Valinor, Mandos and Fui made Qalvanda, the Road of Death, which however leads directly and only to their Halls.[8]

In the later Etymologies, Mando or Mandos(se) is the proper name of the Vala, being a personal noun meaning "Imprisoner".[9]

Tolkien originally intended the Halls to be in northern Aman, on the edge of the Outer Sea. Christopher Tolkien, erroneously seeing a discrepancy, changed this to western Aman, on the edge of the Outer Sea for the published Silmarillion.[10] In The Book of Lost Tales Part One he referred to this change as a "piece of unwarranted editorial meddling."[11]


  1. In The Hobbit, there is a reference to the halls of waiting in the last words of Thorin: "'Farewell, good thief,' he said. 'I go now to the halls of waiting to sit beside my fathers, until the world is renewed.'" (Chapter 18).


Dwellings of the Valar
  Halls of Nienna · Halls of Mandos · House of Oromë · House of Tulkas · Ilmarin · Lórien · Mansions of Aulë · Ulmonan