Tolkien Encyclopedia > Objects > Angainor > Tilkal


by Varda-(Valar)
March 7, 2011

Tilkal was a material that could be made only by the Vala Aulë and was used to aid in the two times in which Melkor was chained. The metal is not mentioned in The Silmarillion but is told of in an early version of the stories in The Book of Lost Tales 1. Only a small amount was ever formed.

Tilkal was made by using portions of copper, silver, tin, lead, iron, and gold brought together with Aulë's magic. The new metal had properties of all six of the ingredients plus new properties of its own. It appeared bright green or red in varying lights.

The name is an acronym, according to a footnote in the manuscript that stated: T(ambë) I(isa) L(atúken) K(anu) A(naga) L(aurë). ilsa and laurë are the "magic" names of ordinary telpë and kulu. This seems to be an unusual way for J.R.R.T. to make a name, although it may well fit Aulë.

The two manacles and four fetters were made of tilkal alone. For the chain, Aulë had only enough tilkal left to add a little to each link, but those links included all seven metals.

The manacles were named Vorotemnar, that bind forever. The fetters were Ilterendi, for they could not be filed or cleft. The chain was Angaino, the oppressor.1 In the shortened tales in The Silmarillion, the chain was renamed Angainor while no mention is made of names for the fetters or manacles although it does say that Melkor was "bound hand and foot"2. Also in The Silmarillion it states that the second binding was by the same chain: "Then he was bound with the chain Angainor which he had worn aforetime..."3

Angainor was very heavy, since even Tulkas found it a strain to carry around his neck and arms.4

When used on Melko (old name for Melkor), the tilkal turned red at his touch. Two fetters were put on each ankle, the reason for four being made instead of two. The bands have never since been removed, apparently only the chain that was not of pure tilkal and was smithied to them.5

In The Book of Lost Tales 1, Manwë's decision for Melko's first incarceration included a hope for his future redemption as one of them. Melko was kept chained by Angaino in a vault of Mandos for three ages, only then to be let out to serve Tulkas four ages before being allowed a place of his own within Valinor. Unfortunately Melko's heart only grew blacker. This time of peace was known as the age of "Melko's Chains".6

After the discovery of the elves, the Valar were in such great joy that Manwë released Melko early so that he might also be included in their happiness, although in Melko's case it was feigned. Although Angaino was removed, the tilkal bands remained.7

Tilkal does not seem to be mentioned again nor the manacles and fetters, although the chain is mentioned. Angainor is referred to in The Book of Lost Tales 2 as the chain Angainu, when Tinúviel is singing her hair into great length using a listing of great things that were tall or long, and suggests that Tulkas as well as Aulë had something to do with its making8. Notes at the end of the chapter state that in the tale of "The Chaining of Melko", there is no suggestion that Tulkas aided, and that the name of the chain was there Angaino9. Yet, another name of Angainor is given in The Lays of Beleriand as Engainor10. Angainor is mentioned as the chain's name in both chainings of Melkor in The Lost Road11Morgoth's Ring tells that the chain was called Angainor, but earlier was referred to as Angaino and Angainu12.

1 "The Chaining of Melko", The Book of Lost Tales 1, pp. 106-107
2 "Of the Coming of the Elves", The Silmarillion, p. 52
3 "Of the Voyage of Earendil", The Silmarillion, p. 312
4."The Chaining of Melko", The Book of Lost Tales 1, p.110
5."The Chaining of Melko", The Book of Lost Tales 1, p. 111
6."The Chaining of Melko", The Book of Lost Tales 1, pp. 112, 113
7."The Chaining of Melko", The Book of Lost Tales 1, p. 123
8."The Tale of Tinuviel", The Book of Lost Tales 2, p. 17
9."The Tale of Tinuviel", The Book of Lost Tales 2, p. 69
10."The Lay of Leithian", The Lays of Beleriand, p. 250
11.The Lost Road, pp. 234, 363
12.Morgoth's Ring, pp. 167, 168

No mention of Angainor, Angaino, or Angainur, or Tilkal were found in the indices of:
Unfinished Tales
The Shaping of Middle-earth
The Treason of Isengard
The Return of the Shadow
The War of the Ring
The Peoples of Middle-earth
The Children of Hurin
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

The War of the Jewels is not available to the author at this time.

Written at the request of Galdor-(V).