By Irmo-(Valar) fka Salmar-(Valar)
June 27, 2001

Lost Valar

When at the end of the year 2000 I was allowed the use of the name Salmar to become a Vala in the Valar Guild, my knowledge of this character was limited to these two facts:

Clearly Salmar knew something about music, both about making and playing musical instruments. But what more was there to write about? To find out I delved deeper into the earlier parts of The History of Middle Earth than I had done before, and I struck upon quite a host of unknown, obscure but nonetheless beautiful threads. It soon became clear that I had two choices: either leave it at the compact information above, or to treat and address the whole can, which would result in a lengthy and complicated article. Of course I chose the latter route. Not primarily because Salmar is an important figure to justify such elaboration – he is not -, but because... well you’ll see for yourself if it was worth it!

In this article I try to treat the material concerning the figure of Salmar in three parts, each more or less chronologically addressing a different aspect of this character as he appears in The History of Middle Earth. A bit of overlapping between the three is unavoidable:

  1. Salmar as a friend of Ulmo. Was the only companion of Ulmo as they entered Arda. Made Ulmo his conches, the great horns that became known as the Ulumuri. As such Salmar survived into the Silmarillion, albeit as a Maia.
  2. Salmar-Lirillo as brother of Ómar-Amillo. They are the Valar of music, song and dance. As such they did not survive The Books of Lost Tales.
  3. Salmar who later became primarily known as the Vala Noldorin, who was a friend to the Noldor and went to the Greater Lands to save them from captivity in the dungeons of Melko, known as Golthadriel to the Noldor (<Noldoli<Gnomes). Noldorin and Amillo and their sister Erinti went to live with the Noldoli after their save return to Tol Eressëa. This is a lost and unfinished thread in the Books of Lost Tales 1 and 2.
The first part contains little surprises. The second part is nice because it sheds some more light on the days of bliss in Valinor and their ending. The latter part – about Salmar-Noldorin – is the most intriguing, I think.

a. Salmar, the companion of Ulmo

Manwë and Varda were the first to enter Arda:

And with them came many of the lesser Vali who loved them and (...) these are the Mánir and the Súruli, the sylphs of the airs and the winds. (BOLT1, 65-66)

Manwë and Varda were soon to be followed by Melkor, who created lots of turmoils at his entering, and Manwë beholding this was wroth.

Thereafter came Ulmo and Aulë, and with Ulmo there was none, save Salmar only who was afterwards known as Noldorin...

Thereafter, at the bottom of the sea dwelled Ulmo, where

... he bethinks him of music deep and strange yet full ever of sorrow; and therein he has the aid from Manwë Sulimo ...

Salmar there was with him, and Ossë and Ónen to whom he gave the control of the waves and lesser seas ... BOLT1, 58

In the 1930s JRRT wrote a new Ainulinadalë, where for the first time Salmar is mentioned as not only being with Ulmo, but also as the one who made the conches of Ulmo (The History of Middle Earth Vol.5, The Lost Road LR, 161.

In the final version of the Silmarillion, Salmar is mentioned as one who came with Ulmo to Arda, the one who made Ulmo his horns, called the ulumúri. Only by looking in the index do we find out that apparently he has become a Maia ( Silmarillion, 34, 420).

b. Salmar-Lirillo, twin-brother of Ómar-Amillo

Salmar and his twin brother Ómar live in Valinor at the time of Bliss under the Light of the Trees, and they are also there when Valinor is darkened, and then when the new Sun arises...

In Valmar too dwelt Noldorin known long ago as Salmar, playing now upon his harpes and lyres, now sitting beneath Laurelin and raising sweet music with an instrument of the bow. There sang Amillo joyously to his playing, Amillo who is named Ómar, whose voice is the best of all voices, who knoweth all songs in all speeches; but while he sang not to his brother’s harp then would he be trilling in the gardens of Oromë when after a time Nielíqui, little maiden, danced about in the woods. (BOLT1, 75)

Clarifying comment of Chr. Tolkien:

(...) my father wrote a list of secondary names of the Valar. (...) It emerges from this list that Ómar-Amillo is the twin of Salmar-Noldorin (...), that Nielíqui is the daughter of Oromë and Vána.... (BOLT1, 93)

In the chapter The chaining of Melko the Valar hold council and decide:

To seek out Melko with great power – and to entreat him, if it might be, to better deeds; yet did they purpose, if naught else availed, to overcome him by force or guile, and set him in a bondage from which there should be no escape. (BOLT1, 101)

While Aulë set himself in his smithy to create the chain Angaino , ‘the oppressor’, the Valar make themselves ready to chase the Fallen One: there goes Manwë, with Fionwë and Nornorë. Oromë is there, and Tulkas, with his son Telimektar. There also rode the Fánturi, Mandos and Lórien,

And Salmar and Ómar came behind running speedily (BOLT1 , 101)

In BOLT1 (p. 122 and 126) it is decribed how each of the Valar particularly loved one of the three Elven-tribes. Whereas Manwë and Varda – and also Amillo – taught and loved the Vanyar (then known as Teleri), and Ulmo favoured the Teleri (then known as Solosimpi), Aulë of course was the teacher of the Noldor (Gnomes/Noldoli), but the Noldor were also favoured by Salmar:

Often were the Noldoli with them [=the Teleri] and made much music for the multitude of their harps and viols was very sweet, and Salmar loved them... (BOLT1, 126)

Just before Melkor starts his deeds most foul – the theft of the jewels of the Noldoli and the killing of their king, and the darkening of the trees – all the three elven-tribes and all the Valar are joined one last time at the great festival, the Feast of Double Mirth. And there all the elven hosts are gathered before the gate of Valmar, and at the sign of their High-King Inwë they burst in unison into the Song of Light:

This had Lirillo written and taught them, and it told of the longing of the Elves for light, of their dread journey through the dark world led by their desire for the Two Trees, and sang (..) of their renewed desire once more to enter Valmar and treat the Valar’s blessed courts. (BOLT1, 144)

Comment of Chr. Tolkien here: Lirillo appears in the list of secondary names of the Valar as a name of Salmar-Noldorin. (BOLT 1, 155)

We meet the brothers Salmar and Omar again, when at the start of the Tale of the Sun and Moon, the Valar are completely devastated by the Theft of Melko, his murdering the Trees with the help of Ungoliont/Gwerlum, and the subsequent disasters: the leaving of the Noldoli and the kinslaughter of Alqaluntë. The Valar, predominantly Tulkas and Oromë have given chase, but to no avail. Thus we see Tulkas "weary and dust-covered", and Oromë "his beard of green was torn and his eyes were dim". Also:

Salmar and Amillo stood by and their instruments of music made no sound and they were heavy of heart, yet not so bitterly as was Aulë, lover of the earth (...) with him was Yavanna(..) but Vána and Nessa wept as maidens...

Ulmo (...) stood gazing into the gloom far out to sea (...) and to him alone, lest it be Varda lady of the stars, was the going of the Gnomes a greater grief than even the ruin of the Trees.

Aforetime had Ulmo loved the Solosimpi very dearly, yet when he heard of their slaughter by the Gnomes he grieved indeed but anger hardened not his heart, for Ulmo was foreknowing more than all the Gods, even than great Manwë, and perchance he saw many of the things that should spring from that flight and the dread pains of the unhappy Noldoli in the world, and the anguish wherewith they would expiate the blood of Kópas, and he would that it need not be... (BOLT1, 177-178)

Here we have a fine part, explaining the task Ulmo would later – in the Silmarillion - take upon himself: to help the Noldor Finrod and Turgon, as well as the Edain Huor and Hurin and their heirs, and to help lifting thereby the Doom of the Noldor. Ulmo’s personality is much more evolved in BOLT than in the Simarillion: alone and haughty, but deeply compassionate and endlessly wise... Generally in BOLT, the triad of Manwë, Varda and Ulmo is more sharply differentiated from the other Valar than in the Silmarillion. They are wiser, kinder and more far-seeing than the other Valar, who sometimes are querulous, angry and even afraid.

A fine part also, for it shows the Valar as having such deep emotions. In BOLT the Valar are less lofty and distant than in the Silmarillion....

Later, when Yavanna-Palurien has tried in vain to revive the Trees, Vana succeeds by her very tears to let a shoot spring from Laurelin, and it buds...the fruit grows which will later become the Sun...

We then meet the brothers Ómar and Salmar again, the one in a typical brotherly way being a wiseguy to the other:):

Then sped Vána a little way out of the plain, and she lifted up her sweet voice with all her power and it came trembling faintly to the gates of Valmar, and all the Valar heard. Then said Ómar: "’Tis the voice of Vána’s lamentation", but Salmar said: "Nay, listen more, for rather is there joy in that sound", and all that stood by hearkened, and the words they heard were I.kal’antúlien, ‘Light hath returned’. (BOLT1, 184).

One more detail can be told about the brothers Ómar and Salmar. For originally they were to have a sister, Erinti, who of course later became the daughter of Varda, and then Ilmarë her handmaiden:

Nothing is ever told of Erinti in the Lost tales, but in this note [Quenya Lexikon] she is called the Vala of love, music and beauty, also named Lotossë and Akaïris (‘bride’), sister of Noldorin and Amillo. These three alone (i.e. of the Valar) have left Valinor, and dwell in Inwenórë (Tol Eressëa)...

Another lost storyline here, which is not found elsewhere. But the fact that they are recorded to live on The Lonely Island, is a link to the storyline about Noldorin as a friend of the Noldor/Noldoli/Gnomes, who brought them back from The Greater Lands to Tol Eeressëa, a storyline which will be treated now.

The conclusion is clear though. In the original concept of the Ainulindalë and the Days of Bliss in Valinor, the brothers Omar and Salmar were an integral part of the Valar community. As to why they were left out of the final Silmarillion there is no substantial clue.

c. Salmar-Noldorin, friend of the Gnomes

The very first versions of the tales of the first age were told by the inhabitants of The Lonely Island, Tol Eressëa, to their visitor Eriol the Mariner, a descendent from Eärendel (Eärendil). A Noldo (‘Gnome’) called Lindo tells Eriol how his forefathers, led by Inwë (Ingwe), left the Blessed Realm and went forth to the lands of Men where they did great deeds but also went through great sadness. But after many ages they came back to Tol Eressëa:

Ingil son of Inwë, seeing this place to be very fair, rested here and about him gathered most of the fairest and the wisest, most of the merriest and the kindest, of all the Eldar. Here among those came my father Valwë who went with Noldorin to find the Gnomes... (BOLT1, 16)

Notes from Chr. Tolkien here read:

The original reading was Noldorin who the Gnomes name Goldriel; Goldriel was changed to Golthadriel (BOLT1, 22)


Lindo’s words (...) refer to the return of the Eldar from the Great Lands after the war with Melko (Melkor, Morgoth) for the deliverance of the enslaved Noldoli. His words about his father Valwë ‘who went with Noldorin to find the Gnomes’ refer to an element in this story...

What element in which story? The hint of an answer is not to be found in BOLT1, but more so in BOLT2, so much later.

In The Tale of Gondolin we meet Ulmo, who is anxious about the fate of Tuor when he is enchanted in his stay in the "Land of Willows". Before he speaks to Tuor and orders him to find out the city of the Gondolithlim, he ponders in his heart:

Then Ulmo grew in dread lest Tuor dwell for ever here and the great things of his design come not to fulfilment. Therefore he feared no longer to trust Tuor’s guidance to the Noldoli alone, who did him service in secret, and out of fear of Melko wavered much. Nor were they very strong against the magic of that place, for very great was its enchantment. Did not even after the days of Tuor Noldorin and his Eldar come there seeking for Dor Lómin and the hidden river and the caverns of the Gnomes’ imprisonment (..)? Indeed sleeping and dancing there (..) they were whelmed by the goblins sped by Melko from the Hills of Iron and Noldorin made bare escape thence. But these things were not as yet. (BOLT2, 154)

Then a further clue on page 195 (BOLT2), where the flight of Tuor and his party after the Fall of Gondolin is described, where according to Chr. Tolkien originally was to be read:

Now here goes the Sirion (...) running clearly again above the Pools of Twilight, even where Tulkas and Noldorin after fought with Melko’s self.

From the commentary by Christopher T. we can establish that the reference to the ‘bare escape’ is to a ‘Battle of Tasarinan’, which was held when a host of Eldar went to find the lost Noldoli.

According to Chr.T. the second reference, where Tulkas and Noldorin fight Melkor together, is to an event at the ‘Silent Pools’ which took place after the battle of Tasarinan.

What to make of these battles?

The end of the Book of Lost Tales was never written, but rough outlines were made and then forgotten when JRRT dropped the entire Tales of the First Era project and started working on The Lord of the Rings.

The story of "Earendel" is already hinted upon in a few scribbled notes, according to Chr. T.. After that we find an outline for the first version - that never was written down - of the March of the Elves of Kôr, so actually a first outline of the events leading to the War of Wrath and a sketch picturing the War of Wrath itself:


Coming of the Eldar. Encampment in the Land of Willows of first host. Overwhelming of Noldorin and Valwë. Wanderings of Noldorin with his harp.

Tulkas overthrows Melkor in the Battle of the Silent Pools. Bound in Lumbi and guarded by Gurgumoth the hound of Mandos.

Release of the Noldoli. War with Men as soon as Tulkas and Noldorin have fared back to Valinor.

(BOLT2, 278)

These then are the events that were already hinted at in The Fall of Gondolin above, and by Lindo in his speech to Eriol.


Noldorin escapes from the defeat of the Land of the Willows and takes his harp and goes seeking in the Iron Mountains for Valwë and the Gnomes until he finds their place of imprisonment. Tulkas follows, Melko comes to meet him.

(BOLT2, 279)

Christopher Tolkien has not much to add here. He concludes:

It seems that there is nothing else to be found or said concerning the original story of the coming of aid out of the West and the renewed assault on Melko.

It is quite clear, that when all of these outlines and notions would have made it into the final version of the Silmarillion, Salmar would indeed have earned that title of Noldorin...

For clarity, the outlines do not end here. In a concluding sketch the final battle of the War of Wrath is described. Here we find Melko once more walking free (escaped with help of Tevildo, the cat-like forerunner of Sauron, also featured in the original Tale of Tinúviel). The Valar are in dissension about what to do. Tulkas then sends his son, Telimektar, who together with Inwë’s son, Ingil, fight a celestial battle finally overcoming Melko. Telimektar and Ingil metamorph into the constellation of Orion and the star Sirius as a result. (See also under Telimektar ).

In the first sketches for the Silmarillion (1926-1930) some of these BOLT-ingredients for the War of Wrath which I mentioned above are still present. It now becomes clear that the War is undertaken against the best judgment of the primary Valar (!!). Manwë, Varda and Ulmo in particular, seem to be against the whole idea. But Noldorin-Salmar and Tulkas are still there to fight Melkor nonetheless, possibly without the consent of Manwë. (The Shaping of Middle Earth , History of Middle Earth Vol. 4, SHAPE, 68). Also Fionwë reappears, now as the son of Tulkas (sic!).

How far from all this are the two pages in which the War of Wrath is – very shortly and scarcely – described in the final and published version of the Silmarillion.

As Chr. T. puts it, the Quenta Silmarillion was seen by his father

(...) as a compendium, a ‘brief’ history ‘drawn from’ a much longer work; and this aspect remained an important element in the conception of ‘The Silmarillion’ properly so called.

But can we now withhold a smile when we reread in the Silmarillion that of the final battle that ended the First Era little is said in any tale ? (The Silmarillion,, 301)

The names of Salmar

Index to BOLT 1:

Salmar: Companion of Ulmo, called also Noldorin, Lirillo, Golthadriel (BOLT1, 290)

Salmar: According to the Quenya Lexicon (BOLT1) this name must belong with derivatives to the root Sala: salma ‘lyre’, salmë ‘harp-playing’etc.

Noldorin: Quenya, shares the root Nol- (‘know’) with Noldor, Nolmë etc..

Golthadriel: Gnomish (>Sindarin) for Noldorin.

Lirillo: derived from the Quenya root Liri ‘sing’. Gnomish (>Sindarin) also Lir- ‘sing’ and glir ‘song, poem’.


JRR Tolkien, The History of Middle Earth, Volumes 1, 2, 4 and 5 (ed. Chr. Tolkien):
The Book of Lost Tales Part One
The Book of Lost Tales Part Two
The Shaping of Middle Earth
The Lost Road and other Writings

JRR Tolkien, The Silmarillion (ed. Chr. Tolkien)
JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Irmo-(Valar)'s List (fka Salmar-(Valar)