Dwarves

by Eonwe-(Valar)
February 11, 2009
Updates: August 18, 2009, January 25, 2011

Tolkien Site > Articles by Subject > Dwarves index > Dwarves 

Contents:
Information from the Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings:
    Race Name
    Creation/Description
    Death and Fate
    Noegyth Nibin (The Petty Dwarves)
    Dwarf Mansions
    Dwarf Women and Marriage
    Dealings with Elves
    Dealings with Sauron and his Minions
Information from The Histories of Middle-earth series:
    Book of Lost Tales 1
    Book of Lost Tales 2
    Lays of Beleriand
    Shaping of Middle-earth
    The Lost Road and Other Writings
    Return of the Shadow
    Morgoth's Ring
    War of the Jewels
    Peoples of Middle-earth
References/Citations

Information from the Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings

  Race Name:

        Dwarves call themselves Khazâd. They are called Naugrim (Stunted People) and Gonhirrim (Masters of Stone) in Sindarin. Their language is Khuzdul. 

Creation/Description:

      The first Dwarves were created by the Vala Aulë “in the darkness of Middle-earth”1 after the destruction of the Two Lamps, when Valinor had been founded upon the westernmost continent of Arda, Aman, but before the Awakening of the Elves. Aulë was impatient to see Arda populated with beings that he could teach, and so attempted to create his own. As he finished, Eru confronted him, reminding him that “thou hast as a gift from me thy own being only, and no more.”2 The Dwarves were doomed to only have life when Aulë gave thought to them. Realizing his error, Aulë offered his creations up to Eru, and was about to destroy them when Eru had compassion upon Aulë and granted them being of their own. However, Eru changed nothing else about the Dwarves, and would not suffer them to walk abroad in Arda before his own Firstborn had awakened. Therefore, Aulë placed the Seven Fathers in locations distant from each other and left them to slumber. 

    Dwarves, as created by Aulë, were made strong and unyielding, stone-hard and stubborn. They are “fast in friendship and in enmity”3 (meaning they are loyal to friends and do not easily forget when they’ve been wronged), secretive and quick to resentment. They have lives far longer than those of Men (but they are not immortal as are Elves) and suffer physical conditions such as toil, hunger, and injury (apparently including dragon fire such as in Nirnaeth Arnoediad) more hardily than the other speaking peoples of Arda. Dwarves are described as being “a warlike race of old,”4 fighting fiercely against any foe, including other Dwarves. They always require payment for services whether the work was done with delight or toil. 

      Based on comments in the Prologue to Fellowship of the Ring stating that Hobbits are not much shorter than Dwarves (and that Hobbits average between two and four feet), Dwarves are probably between four and four and a half feet tall on average. 

Death and Fate:

      Of Dwarvish death, the Elves believe they “return to the earth and stone from which they’re made.”5 The Dwarves themselves say Mahal (Aulë) gathers them to halls set aside for them in Mandos. The Dwarves also believe the Seven Fathers return to live again in their own kin. They believe this has happened six times already in the case of Durin the Deathless, the eldest of the Seven Fathers and ancestor of the kings of the Longbeards (who dwelt in Khazad-dûm and their later kingdoms in exile such as Erebor and the Iron Hills). 

       Of their fate after the Last Battle, the Dwarves believe that Eru will hallow them and give them a place among the Children in the End. They will then aid Aulë in remaking Arda.

Noegyth Nibin (The Petty Dwarves):

      The first Dwarves to enter Beleriand were the Noegyth Nibin. The only ones known by name are Mîm and his sons Khîm and Ibun, who were the last of this group of Dwarves living by the time Túrin Turambar met them. In origin they were Dwarves who were banished “in ancient days” from great Dwarf-cities in the east (possibly including Khazad-dûm, though no actual city is named). They’d found their way into Beleriand long before Morgoth’s return to Middle-earth. However, they had become “diminished in stature and in smith-craft, walking with bowed shoulders and furtive steps.”6 The caves of Nargothrond (which “Of the Ruin of Doriath” tells us was called Nulukkizdîn by them) were discovered first by the Petty-Dwarves, and they’d begun its delving. Amon Rûdh, where Mîm made his home, was also once a city of the Petty-Dwarves. By Mîm’s time, the Petty-Dwarves were “remembered only in Ancient tales of Doriath and Nargothrond.”7  

      They are described as loving none but themselves, and thinking little more of the Elves than they do of Orcs. This is somewhat justified, as before the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost made their way into Beleriand, the Sindar didn’t know what they were and hunted them. They accused the Noldor of stealing their lands and homes. 

Dwarf Mansions

      There are three Dwarf mansions mentioned. These are, in Sindarin, Belegost (meaning Mickleburg), Nogrod (meaning Hollowbold), and Hadhodrond, which was later named Moria.
      Belegost, called Gabilgathol in Dwarvish, was located in the Ered Luin north of Mount Dolmed.
      Nogrod, called Tumunzahar in Dwarvish, was located in the Ered Luin south of Mount Dolmed.
      Hadhodrond, called Khazad-dûm in Dwarvish, is located in the Misty Mountains on the eastern border of Eriador, and became known as Moria (meaning the Black Pit) after the release of the Balrog. 

Dwarf Women and Marriage

      Dwarf-women are less than one-third of the entire Dwarvish population. “They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart..”8 This implies that Dwarves (or at least dwarf-women) do not dress the same way at home as they do abroad. Thus, it would probably be easier to distinguish between the sexes in Dwarf kingdoms. Dwarf-women, however, do not go abroad except at great need. 

      The Dwarf population increases slowly, and can be threatened when they have no secure dwellings. This is partly because the number of dwarf-men who marry is actually less than one-third. Some dwarf-men are more interested in their crafts than in marrying, and likewise some dwarf-women have no interest in marriage. Of the dwarf-women who are interested in marriage, some want a dwarf-man they cannot have, and so will have no other. When married, Dwarves – both men and women- take only one spouse in their life, and are jealous, as in all matters of their rights.

Dealings with Elves

      As already mentioned, the first dealings between Dwarves and Elves came in the form of the Sindar hunting and killing the Noegyth Nibin. It was during the second age of Melkor’s captivity that the Dwarves came over the Blue Mountains. Both the Sindar and the Dwarves benefited from the trade and, together with the Sindar, the Dwarves of Belegost delved and created Menegroth for Thingol. The Dwarves preferred to learn Sindarin than teach Khuzdul to the Elves, and from the Sindar learned Cirthas Daeron. Through the Dwarves, Cirth was taken east to peoples beyond the Blue Mountains. 

      They were more willing to give friendship to the Noldor due to their mutual reverence for Aulë. Their first dealings with the Noldor were with Caranthir, whose realm was furthest east of the Noldor. The Dwarves had ceased traffic into Beleriand after Morgoth’s return, and so it was when Caranthir’s people traveled into the Ered Luin that they first met. Both the Dwarves and Caranthir profited from their alliance, but there was no love between them due to the haughtiness and scorn directed by Caranthir’s people toward the Dwarves. The Dwarves of the Ered Luin also assisted in the building of Nargothrond (the delving of which had been begun long ago by the Petty-Dwarves). 

      During the Second Age, the greatest friendship between Dwarves and Elves was that between the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm and the Gwaith-i-Mirdain led by Celebrimbor, grandson of Fëanor. The Dwarves say that of the seven rings given to the Dwarves, the Ring given to Durin III was the first to be forged, and was given to him by the Elvensmiths, not by Sauron. 

Dealings with Sauron and his Minions

      After giving the rings to the Dwarf-kings, Sauron found they were hard to tame, and that the rings only inflamed their greed of gold, such that without it all else seemed worthless. Some Dwarves fought for him in the War of the Last Alliance at the end of the second age of the Sun, albeit few fought upon either side. The Dwarves of Khazad-dûm (Durin’s folk) fought against him. 

      The greatest mustering of Dwarvish forces was likely during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs (2793-2799 of the Third Age), sparked when Thror, descendant of Durin, the eldest of the Seven Fathers, was hewn down by Azog, who had taken up lordship of Moria after it was abandoned by Durin’s Folk upon the awakening of the Balrog and its slaying Kings Durin VI and his son Nain I. It took three years to muster their full might, and when completed they cleared every orc stronghold they could find from Gundabad to the Gladden. The fight was hard and cruel on both sides, and culminated at the Battle of Azanulbizar, where the Dwarves won the day but lost half their army in the process. Of those who died there, it is proudly said “he was a burned Dwarf,” which is contrary to Dwarves’ preferred method of dealing with their dead. There were too many in this case to build stone tombs for, as they do not lay their dead in earth, so they chose to burn the bodies and carry home the weapons and armor rather than leave them for scavengers.

Information beyond the Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings

    Due to the (sometimes drastic) changes that can occur from book to book in the History of Middle-Earth series, this section will be grouped by book, and only include information either changed or previously unmentioned from earlier volumes. As a result, not all volumes will have information included, as not all have information pertinent to a general article.

Book of Lost Tales 1
    Notes for Gilfannon’s Tale mentions Dwarves were always considered evil and were associated with a servant of Melko(r) named Fankil(earlier Fukil/Fangli), who is in an early version called a “child of Melko.” It also gives the name “Nauglath” as an early name for the Dwarves.

    The Names List in the appendix gives for Nauglath:
        naug and naugli “dwarf”, naugla “of the dwarves” nauglafel “dwarf-natured, i.e. mean, avaricious.” The qenya (Quenya) equivalent of naug = nauko

Book of Lost Tales 2
    The Tale of Tinuviel Gives the Nauglath/Dwarves a special name: Indravangs/Indrafangs, translating to “Longbeards.”

    The Nauglafring suggests the Indrafangs and the Nauglath were two different types of Dwarves, with the Indrafangs being the Dwarves of Belegost. It gives the name of Naugladur to the king of Nogrod, and Bodruith to the king of Belegost. This chapter also says Dwarves couldn’t stand sunlight.

    Of the Indrafangs and Nauglath it says, “they serve not Melko nor Manwë and reck not for Elf or Man, and some say that they have not heard of Iluvatar, or hearing disbelieve. Howbeit in crafts and sciences and in the knowledge of the virtues of all things that are in the earth or under water none excel…Old are they, and never comes a child among them, nor do they laugh. They are squat in stature, and yet are strong, and their beards reach even to their toes, but the beards of the Indrafangs are longest of all, and are forked, and they bind them about their middles when they walk abroad…their crafts and cunning surpass that of the Gnomes in marvelous contrivance, but of a truth there is little beauty in their works of themselves...”9 It also says these Dwarves sold arms and armor to both the Elves and to Morgoth.

    The History of Eriol or AElfwine
mentions the Dwarves hired orcs for the sack of Artanor/Doriath, and gives the new name of Nautar for Nauglath.

Lays of Beleriand

    The Lay of the Children of Hurin blames Dwarves for the evil nature of one of Turin’s outlaw companions. This Blodrin was said to have been kidnapped as a child and raised by Dwarves.

    It is also mentioned in this chapter that Dorwinion wine passes into Beleriand through the Dwarves of Nogrod.

Shaping of Middle-Earth
    Quenta 9 says the Fëanorians made war with Nogrod and Belegost, but did not discover the Dwarves’ origins. It does say that mail and weapons were their chief craft, and “Trade and barter was their delight and the winning of wealth of which they made little use.”10 It also gives a new form of Nauglir, and changes the identity of the Indrafangs to the Dwarves of Nogrod.

    Quenta 11 says Nogrod and Belegost made weapons and armor for the Union of Maidros (Maedhros), but didn’t march with him.

    Quenta 14
indicates Dwarves first came into Beleriand after the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, and being a pragmatic race, chose to stay out of the war with Morgoth.

    The Earliest Annals of Beleriand
says Elves first learned of Dwarves from the Swarthy Men who came into Beleriand, as these men preferred the Dwarves. The Elves didn’t know the Dwarves’ origins, only they were “not of Elf, nor of mortal (Man), or of Morgoth.”11 

The Lost Road and Other Writings
    The Later Annals of Beleriand gives the first mention of Aulë creating the Dwarves, but it says of them “they have no spirit indwelling, and they have skill but not art.” 12

    The Lhammas 9
discusses briefly Dwarven speech, that it was “Aulian” in origin. Aulë created a fresh language for them, and the language of Men was in part derived from Dwarvish.

    The Quenta Silmarillion
Chapter 10: “Of Men and Dwarfs” paragraph 122 says “Naug-rim” was a name for Dwarves given by the Dark Elves, and compares Dwarves to Orcs, “in that they come of the willfulness of one of the Valar, but were not made out of malice of mockery, and were not begotten of evil purpose.”13 However, they derive their thought and being after their measure from only one of the Powers, “whereas Elves and Men, to whomsoever among the Valar they chiefly turn, have kinship with all in some degree.”14

    It also says Dwarves have “great skill, but small beauty, save where they imitate the arts of the Eldar.”15

    A description for them is also given: short and squat of stature, strong arms, sturdy legs, and long beards.

    Khuzud is the name Dwarves give themselves at this time. The Gnomes (Noldor) call the Dwarves “Neweg” meaning “the stunted”, and specifically of Nogrod “Enfeng,” meaning “Longbeards.”

    At this time, Nogrod is the identity of Khazaddum (one word), meaning Dwarfmine, and Belegost is Gabilgathol, meaning “Great Fortress.”

Return of the Shadow
    “At Rivendell”, which is an early draft of the Rivendell chapter of LotR, commentary by Tolkien suggests he was considering that a Ring was necessary to found a Dwarf colony’s wealth.

    Note 39 in “The Mines of Moria” gives Nargun as the Dwarf name of Mordor.

Morgoth’s Ring

    Section 4, Year 1250, paragraph 84 on the Annals of Aman suggests Nornwaith as a name for Dwarves.

War of the Jewels

    The Grey Annals Year 1250, paragraph 19 gives us Norn-folk for Dwarves. Year 1300, paragraph 22 says the Enfeng were Longbeards of Belegost. Year 1300-50, paragraph 25 indicates the Naugrim feared and hated the sea.

    The Later Quenta Silmarillion
, Chapter 13, “Concerning the Dwarves,“ in the section entitled “Of the Naugrim and the Edain” tells that only the Seven Fathers “return to live again in their own kin and bear once more their ancient names.”16 Paragraph 5 gives a slightly fuller description of Dwarves: “short and squat in stature, deep-breasted, strong in the arm, and stout in the leg, and their beards were long.” These beards were attributed from birth to both men and women among the Dwarves. Other races can’t discern female dwarves “be it in feature or in gait or in voice.”17 Dwarf women do not go to war, and seldom left their halls save in direst need. Furthermore, few but the Dwarf-king and chieftains wed.

    Several inserted passages pose different creation stories for the “Mothers” of the Dwarf race. The first suggests Eru created them, but made them to resemble the men (save being female of course) since Aulë had only made the male form at that point. Another suggests that Aulë first made Durin, then the other six, then gave the six mates and began to instruct the Fathers (leaving Durin without a mate). The others are along similar veins. In the end, it seemed Tolkien abandoned the origin of female Dwarves, not being satisfied with the solutions.

    Chapter III of Part 3, titled “Maeglin” gives the form “Anfangrim” from “Enfeng” in paragraph 9.

    “Qendi and Eldar,” Appendix B says (relating to their discovery by the Sindar in Beleriand) the Petty-Dwarves attacked the Eldar first, by stealth or night, and seldom the Elves got a good look at them. Thus, the Eldar, having no clear visuals to base their assessment on, thought the Petty-Dwarves were a kind of cunning, two-legged animal. The name Dornhoth “the Thrawn Folk” is also given for Dwarves, because of their stubborn mood and bodily toughness. The following paragraph mentions the Noldor learned of the Dwarves from the Sindar, and later developed independent relations with them. The Dwarvish name “Khazad” was adapted to “Kasar,” plural “Kasari”, partitive plural “Kasalli”, race name “Kasallie.” The Sindarin adapted to Qenya was “Nauko” or “Norno”, the whole people being “Naukalie” or “Nornalie”, with “Norno” being the more friendly term.

    Appendix D of the same chapter tells us Dwarves had “greatly elaborate and organized gesture systems which varied greatly from community to community.” They called their gesture-language Iglishmek. While Elven gesture systems were used to communicate at a distance (Elves have excellent sight), Dwarves (who were described as short-sighted) used theirs for secrecy and the exclusion of others. As with their language, they were not eager to teach this to outsiders. However, they understood and respected a disinterested desire for knowledge, and eventually Noldorin loremasters were allowed learn enough of both the language and the gestures to understand the systems. 

Peoples of Middle-earth

    In The Making of Appendix A, there is a sentence indicating how the Dwarvish race ends: “And the line of Dáin prospered, and the wealth and renown of the kingship was renewed, until there arose again for the last time an heir of that House that bore the name of Durin, and he returned to Moria; and there was light again in deep places, and the ringing of hammers and the harping of harps, until the world grew old and the Dwarves failed and the days of Durin’s race were ended.” (pg 278)

    “The Making of Appendix A” Part IV: Durin’s Folk suggests different Dwarf “breeds” vary in longevity, giving an average life expectancy of 250 years in the Third Age, though some made it to 300. Dwarves are said to “harden” and gain the appearance of age (by human standards) quickly. Between the ages of 40 and 240 was their prime, and they looked much alike in age. During this time their capacity for toil and fighting was equally great amongst most Dwarves.  After 240 they began to age, wrinkle, and go white quickly (though they don’t go bald). While immune to the diseases that affected Men and Halflings, they could suffer from corpulence (a danger when they had stable lodgings), and if they grew very fat at 200 or before, they couldn’t do much except eat afterwards.

    Dwarf women were never forced to marry against their will (which, as it says, “would of course be impossible”), and seldom married before the age of 90. They were seldom named in genealogies, as they joined their husband’s families (an exception to this is Dis, because of the gallant death of Fili and Kili. The sentiment of affection for one’s sisters’ children was strong among all peoples of the Third Age, but less so among Dwarves). If a son is 110 or more years younger than the father, it usually indicated an elder daughter.

    Dwarves had few children, with even as many as four being rare. Parents were fiercely devoted, even if they seemed harsh (to ensure the children grow up “tough, hardy, and unyielding”), and would defend their children with all their power. Children were equally devoted to their parents.

    Chapter 10: “Of Dwarves and Men” subchapter “Relations of Longbeard Dwarves and Men” gives the names (quite likely descriptive) of the seven Houses of the Dwarves. Besides the Longbeards (which were now the Dwarves of Khazad-Dum), the Fathers were set in pairs in mountain ranges. The Firebeards and the Broadbeams are the Dwarves of Nogrod and Belegost in the Blue Mountains. Durin was the father of the Longbeards of Moria in the Misty Mountains, though he awoke in Mount Gundabad (same mountain range, north of Moria. His awakening there is why it was revered by the Dwarves). The other two pairs, the Ironfists and Stiffbeards, and the Blacklocks and Stonefoots, were placed further eastward, at distances as great or greater than that between the Blue Mountains and Gundabad. Despite the distance, the Dwarf houses had communication, and in early ages delegates met at Mount Gundabad. In the Third Age, Mount Gundabad was occupied by the orcs, and this was the chief source of Dwarf hatred towards them. In time of need, even the most distant Dwarf houses sent help (like in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs). Dwarves didn’t like to migrate or make permanent dwellings or mansions too far from their original homes, but did so when pressured by enemies (such as Smaug’s attack on Erebor or the Balrog in Moria) or after a catastrophe (such as the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age or the world being made round at the end of the Second). Despite this, they were also skilled roadmakers.

    The earliest dealings between Men and the Longbeards were during the Second Age in the northern parts of Eriador and Rhovanion. The union began in war with the orcs. The Longbeards (described as the proudest but also the wisest and most farseeing) held the Iron Hills, the Ered Mithrin, and the east dales of the Misty Mountains as their own land, and had spread down the Vales of Anduin. They were glad to ally with the Men in the area, who were mostly akin to the House of Hador. The Men became the chief providers of food, herdsmen, shepherds, and land-tillers, and the Dwarves were the builders, roadmakers, miners, crafters, armorers and weaponsmiths. This arrangement became typical of dealings between Men and Dwarves, and left the Dwarves free to refine their arts, especially in metallurgy. The Longbeards at this time also adopted the speech of Men.

    This alliance of Dwarves and Men commanded great strength, swift attack, and well-protected defense. There was great respect and esteem between the two races, and sometimes even warm friendship. Men acted as scouts to watch for attacks or roving bands, and Dwarves supplied the arms, since Men had tamed horses, and as Note 29 says, “No Dwarf would ever mount a horse willingly, nor did any ever harbour animals, not even dogs.”18

    In a note in Chapter 13: “Last Writings,” it is mentioned that the flesh of Dwarf bodies is far slower to decay or become corrupted than that of Men.19

References/Citations

(Citations do not represent the extent of knowledge gleaned, only that which was directly quoted)

The Silmarillion

    1, 2, 3, 5Of Aulë and Yavanna”
    4 “Of the Sindar”
    “Of the Return of the Noldor”
    “Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad”
    6, 7Of Túrin Turambar”
    “Of the Ruin of Doriath”
    “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”

  The Fellowship of the Ring Prologue
8 The Return of the King Appendix A, Section III “Durin’s Folk”

The History of Middle-earth series:
    HoME volume 1: Book of Lost Tales 1
    HoME volume 2: Book of Lost Tales 2
            9The Nauglafring
    HoME volume 3: Lays of Beleriand
    HoME volume 4: Shaping of Middle-earth
            10The Quenta, Section 9.
            11The Earliest Annals of Beleriand, Year 163
    HoME volume 5: The Lost Road and Other Writings
                12The Later Annals of Beleriand, Year 104
            13,14,15The Quenta Silmarillion Chapter 10: “Of Dwarves and Men”, paragraph 123
    HoME volume 6: Return of the Shadow
    HoME volume 10: Morgoth’s Ring
    HoME volume 11: War of the Jewels
             16The Later Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 13: “Concerning the Dwarves“,
                                    “Of the Naugrim and the Edain” paragraph 3
            17The Later Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter 13: “Concerning the Dwarves“,
                                    “Of the Naugrim and the Edain” paragraph 5
    HoME volume 12: Peoples of Middle-earth
            18Chapter 10: “Of Dwarves and Men”, Note 29
            19Chapter 13: "Last Writings", Note 24
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