Sundering of the Elves
Minyar, Tatyar & Nelyar
The unbegotten Elves who awoke at Cuiviénen were divided into three tribes, distinguished by appearance and temperament.
- The Minyar were golden-haired and loved poetry.
- The Tatyar had dark hair and grey eyes and loved craft and knowledge. They were noted as being especially quarrelsome.
- The Nelyar were dark or silver of hair and loved song (this was the source of their alternate name, Lindar, meaning "Singers"), the woods, and the Sea.
Eldar and Avari
Some time after the Elves awakened, the Vala Oromë discovered them and invited them to come west to live in Aman. That invitation and the Great Journey that followed split the Elves into two main groups and many minor ones, which were never fully reunited.
The Eldar were those who accepted the summons. Their name, "People of the Stars", was given to them by Oromë in their own language. All the Minyar accepted the summons to Valinor and became known as the Vanyar. Those of the Tatyar and Nelyar who embarked on the Great Journey would come to be known as the Noldor and Teleri respectively.
Sunderings of the Teleri
Unlike the Vanyar and Noldor, the Teleri were subject to multiple sunderings along the Great Journey:
- Those who feared to cross the Misty Mountains and stayed in the vales of the River Anduin were called the Nandor ("Those Who Go Back").
- Those who reached Beleriand west of the Blue Mountains but did not make the crossing to Aman were called the Sindar ("Grey-elves").
- Many chose to remain behind in order to look for their lord Thingol, who disappeared near the end of the journey. These were known as the Eglath ("Forsaken"), because they were left behind when their kindred crossed the Sea.
- Those who came to the shores of the Great Sea but decided to stay there or, like Nowë, intended to cross to Aman but arrived too late to board the island ferry, were called the Falathrim ("People of the Shore").
- The Teleri under the lordship of Olwë who crossed the Great Sea to reach Aman were known as the Falmari ("Wave-folk").
Calaquendi and Moriquendi
The Elves who completed the journey to Aman – the Vanyar, the Noldor, and the Falmari – referred to themselves as Calaquendi ("Elves of Light"). They referred to the Avari, Nandor, and Sindar as Moriquendi ("Elves of Darkness") in recognition of the fact that they never saw the light of the Two Trees. The largest part of the Moriquendi were Nelyarin, since half of the original Avari were so, as were all of the Nandor and Sindar.
Amanyar and Úmanyar
After the Darkening of Valinor, most of the Noldor returned to Middle-earth with Fëanor and some remained there until the end of the Third Age. These became known as the Exiles, and they lived near to the Sindar for the rest of their time in Middle-earth. The Sindar were insulted by the appellation "Moriquendi," so the Exiles instead generally referred to them as Úmanyar ("Those Not of Aman"). Over the ages, use of this term grew to include all those Elves who started on the Great Journey but did not complete it. The Exiles referred to themselves and those who still dwelt in Valinor as Amanyar ("Those of Aman").
Thingol was an exception to the usual overlap of the categories Calaquendi with Amanyar and Moriquendi with Úmanyar. This is due to the fact that he was one of the original three Elven ambassadors to Valinor and saw the light of the Two Trees, but did not complete the Great Journey and never dwelt in Valinor. As such, he alone was both Calaquendi and Úmanyar.
Reunions of the Elves
In the great forests of Middle-earth, several new peoples were born from the unions of tribes that had once been sundered.
The Nandor had lived in the forests that girdled the upper vales of the Anduin since the time they turned back from the Great Journey. Over the course of time, tribes of Avarin Elves spreading westward from Cuiviénen reached the Anduin as well, where they reunited with their Nandorin kin. These peoples effectively "became merged together."
The Galadhrim ("Tree-people") were a composite tribe of Silvan Elves, Sindar, and Noldor that emerged in the forest of Lindórinand in the Second Age. It is unclear when exactly the residents of Lindórinand began to refer to themselves as "Galadhrim," but this name came to include many elves of diverse origin that arrived in Lindórinand in multiple waves of immigration.
After the sinking of Beleriand, the Elves who had lived there and did not wish to leave for Valinor had to find new homes. Those Sindar and Laiquendi who preferred the forests to the sea shores (or who wished to distance themselves from the remaining Noldorin Exiles) went eastward to reunite with their Silvan kin who dwelt in the great forests of Eryn Galen and Lindórinand. In both forest realms, the native Silvan Elves took Sindar for their kings (Oropher and Amdír, respectively) and underwent a process of "Sindarization" as they absorbed the culture of the Beleriandic immigrants. There were also Noldorin immigrants to the forest realms at this time, though evidently lesser in cultural impact than the Sindar.
Separately from Eryn Galen, Lindórinand experienced a second great wave of immigration after the Sack of Eregion in S.A. 1697. Many Elves of Eregion, who were primarily Noldor, escaped Sauron by fleeing through Khazad-dûm and emerged from the eastern side of the Misty Mountains onto Amdír's very doorstep. Some traveled down Anduin to Edhellond to depart Middle-earth, but others remained in Amdír's realm and dwelt there. By the time Galadriel and Celeborn took up the Lord and Ladyship of the realm in T.A. 1981, the Galadhrim had thoroughly absorbed these Noldorin refugees into their culture; there is no further mention of them as a distinct people within the Elves of Lórien.
(Quendi · People of the Stars · Firstborn · Elder Kindred)
(Eldar · Eldalië · Edhil)
|Vanyar (Fair-elves · Minyar) · Noldor (Deep-elves · Tatyar) · Teleri (Lindar · Nelyar)|
(High-elves · Amanyar)
|Vanyar · Noldor · Falmari|
|Úmanyar:||Sindar (Grey-elves · Eglath · Falathrim) · Nandor (Green-elves · Silvan Elves)|
|Moriquendi:||Úmanyar · Avari (Dark Elves · The Unwilling)|
|See also:||Awakening of the Elves · Sundering of the Elves · Great Journey|
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: C. The Clan-names, with notes on other names for divisions of the Eldar", pp. 380-85
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Four. Quendi and Eldar: Author's Notes to Quendi and Eldar", p. 412, Note 18
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Thingol and Melian"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 50
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Amroth and Nimrodel"