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Silvan Elves

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Wood Elves)
"Wood-Elves" by Kay Woollard
Silvan Elves
General Information
Other namesWood-elves, Tawarwaith (S)
OriginsNandor who remained in the woodlands of the Vales of Anduin
LocationsLothlórien, Greenwood the Great, Ithilien, Edhellond, Belfalas
AffiliationLast Alliance of Elves and Men
LanguagesSilvan Elvish, Sindarin, Westron
MembersNimrodel, Mithrellas, Galion, Haldir, Rúmil, Orophin
Physical Description
DistinctionsSecretive, lovers of the forests and animals, less wise and more dangerous than other Eldar
GalleryImages of Silvan Elves

The Silvan Elves (S. Tawarwaith), or the Wood-elves, were the reclusive, forest-dwelling Elves of Middle-earth. In the late Third Age, the Silvan Elves mostly belonged either to the Galadhrim or to the Elves of Mirkwood.[1]


The Silvan Elves were descendants of the Nandor - and thus in origin part of the Teleri - who had lingered in the Vales of Anduin during the Great Journey of the Eldar in the Elder Days. The Silvan Elves hid themselves in their woodland realms beyond the Misty Mountains and became a scattered folk hardly distinguishable from Avari, the Dark Elves.[1] While some of the Nandor continued to Eriador and later entered Beleriand, they remained in the Vales of Anduin, and from these latter originated the Silvan Elves.[1]

It is also told that the some of the western Avari, dwelling in Eriador and the Vales of Anduin, were friendly to the Eldar, and came to merge with the Wood-elves. These were Nelyarin Avari (Penni), and therefore remotely akin to the Nandor and Sindar.[note 1][2]

In the early Second Age, many Teleri, survivors of Doriath and Ossiriand, left Lindon to establish woodland realms among the Silvan Elves.[3] It was before the building of the Dark Tower in c. S.A. 1000 that the Sindar made this migration.[4]


Greenwood the Great

In the early Second Age, Oropher of Doriath (father of Thranduil and grandfather of Legolas) along with few other Sindar came to Greenwood the Great, east of the Misty Mountains. There, he became the King of the Silvan Elves east of Anduin and established the Woodland Realm in S.A. 750.[5] The culture of the Silvan folk was rude and rustic in comparison to the Beleriandic culture of the Sindar but soon enough, the Sindar had merged with the Silvan Elves and adopted their language, taking names of Silvan form and style.[6]

Although the Silvan Elves initially dwelt in the south of the Wood,[6] centred around Amon Lanc,[7] they constantly retreated northwards (thrice in the Second Age)[7] and after the Shadow had fallen upon Mirkwood by the mid-Third Age, the Silvan Elves dwelt in the far north-east of the forest. Their king, Thranduil (the son of Oropher, who was slain in the War of the Last Alliance), built an underground fortress for himself and his people inspired by Thingol's Menegroth in the far Elder Days.[6]


Little is known of their early history save that in the Second Age, they were ruled by a Sindarin prince named Amdír. After the destruction of Eregion in S.A. 1697, many of its exiles, both Noldor and Sindar, escaped through Khazad-dûm into the east, and had joined the Silvan Elves of Lórien and mingled with them.[8]

Amdír was lost in the War of the Last Alliance so his son, Amroth, succeeded to his kingship. During his reign, Durin's Bane was unleashed in Khazad-dûm and many of Lórien's people fled south to Edhellond. Amroth himself was among them, and he was drowned in the Bay of Belfalas. It was at this time that Galadriel and Celeborn became the Lord and Lady of Lórien.[9]

Later history

Although both Silvan realms were invaded in the War of the Ring, the fall of Sauron ushered in a long peace whence the Silvan Elves in the now-cleansed Eryn Lasgalen long remained untroubled. Now the Silvan Elves once again dwelt in the south of the Wood, but these were Elves of Lórien who crossed the Anduin to live in a new realm named East Lórien. Though the original land of Lothlórien faded after the passing of Galadriel and Celeborn, the Silvan Elves of the Wood lived peacefully under their trees for many long years.[note 2][10]


The English adjective silvan means "of, characteristic of, or consisting of woods or forests" or "living or located in woods or forests".[11]

Other names

An Elvish name for the Silvan Elves was Tawarwaith. It has been suggested that Tawarwaith is a Sindarin name, consisting of tawar (wood, forest) + gwaith(people).[12][13]

Portrayal in adaptations

Elves leaving Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition)

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

In the scene known as "The Passing of the Elves", Frodo and Sam have a meal when Frodo hears Elves in the distance, which, according to Frodo are "Wood-elves", who travel to the Grey Havens and leave Middle-earth.
(Quendi · People of the Stars · Firstborn · Elder Kindred)
Three Kindreds:
(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 (Cuind · Hwenti · Kindi · Kinn-lai · Penni · Windan)
See also:  Awakening of the Elves · Sundering of the Elves · Great Journey


  1. It is not known if this merge occurred during the Elder Days, or during the Second or Third Ages.
  2. It is not clear if most Galadhrim either followed Galadriel and later Celeborn or just migrated to East Lórien; however, it is said that "Celeborn took the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien."